Sep 28

Are you an optimist?  Do you like to look on the bright side?  Do you see the glass as half-full instead of half-empty?  Do you tend to tell friends who are going through hard times things like, “Don’t worry, things will get better,” or, “Smile, at least things can’t get any worse”?  I’m sorry, but things don’t always “get better,” and things can always “get worse.”  In fact, I recommend that if you are going through hard times, you should not only not expect things to get better… but plan on them getting worse!  I’m a pessimist, and I’m proud of it.

Being a pessimist isn’t always easy.  Sometimes, we too let a little bit of hope crowd its way into our daily lives.  However, once that hope is shattered by the lead bullet of reality (hollow-point-style), we are quickly reminded why we chose to be a pessimist in the first place.  That’s right, I wrote “chose”, because being a pessimist or an optimist is initially a choice.  Over the course of a lifetime, different experiences form our attitudes and opinions, and we can chose how to experience those… well… experiences.  My belief is that most of us start out pretty naturally optimistic.  Our parents take care of us.  We always have food in our tummies.  When we get a boo-boo, there is someone to kiss it.  Santa Claus is going to bring those presents.  The tooth fairy leaves some pocket change for our lost teeth. Our friends are going to be happy to see us after a summer apart when school starts in the fall.  When we make a mistake, an apology is all that it is going to take to make things all better again.  And then reality sets in.  Over the summer, maybe we put on a little weight and now have a belly (yes… I’m a fatty), or maybe we developed a case of acne.

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Rich as a kid...

Don't call me "pizza face"... that just makes me hungry for pizza!

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Our friends may still be happy to see us, but they are making fun of us as well.  The reunion with those friends we hadn’t seen over the summer isn’t as enjoyable as we had imagined it would be.  Or maybe we studied really hard for that final exam and believed we were going to ace it… and then we barely pass because the stupid teacher made it an essay test instead of multiple choice… and she didn’t care for the way we worded our answers… and our GPA plummeted.  Or maybe you ask that nice, pretty fellow-junior girl to the prom, and she tells you that she won’t go with you because she is expecting that tall, popular, good looking senior boy to ask her.  Or perhaps you apply for that dream job only to be told that you aren’t as outgoing as the person needed to fill the position… and that stupid optimism leads to more hurt and pain than necessary if we had just been more realistic in our expectations.  We slowly learn that pessimism is synonymous with avoiding pain.

My belief is that people who have more positive experiences in life tend to be more optimistic.  For people whom life isn’t quite as “fair”, pessimism is the road more often chosen.  There are those who would argue that optimists attract more positivity because of their optimism, but I would disagree.  I believe an optimist is more optimistic because, through physical appearance, family wealth, station in life, or plain and simple luck, they tend to have more positive experiences.  Of course this is not all inclusive, nor is it, in my strange little belief system, a steadfast rule.  There are people who have a picture-perfect life who tend to be pretty negative, and there are people whom life has completely screwed who are able to keep their chins up… but these are the exceptions and not the rules.    However, as a basic, general rule, I believe I am right.

It always kills me when the pretty person who comes from the upper-middle class family says stuff like, “If you believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything,” or, “I don’t understand negative people…”  Of course you don’t understand negative people!  It’s easy to have sky-high self-esteem when the masses in general find you attractive and you and your family aren’t worrying about how they are going to pay for your college.  The world population in general treats people it finds attractive different than it treats the rest of us.  Don’t believe me?  A middle-aged, overweight woman in a muumuu is broken down on the side of the road.

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Pessimist

Please, won't someone help me? My belly has fallen and it can't get up!

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Along that same stretch of road, a twenty-something of better-than-average appearance wearing short-shorts is broken down as well.

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Optimist

Do you really think she is going to have any trouble getting free roadside assistance?

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Who do you think is going have more offers of help from passersby (and I’m guessing that this would be consistently higher for both men and women stopping).   Which one of these stranded ladies do you think tends to be more optimist… and rightfully so.  Nobody said that life was going to be fair… but it seems to be less unfair when you’re good looking (or so it seems from a relatively unattractive person’s viewpoint).

Let’s move on to success.  Who do you think is going to have a better shot at a career in sales: an attractive gentleman who has a aura of financial success

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Dude

Buy from me... because I obviously make a lot of money doing this.

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… or the poor, ugly schmoe who, based on appearances, you would be afraid to leave your small children in a room alone with.

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Perv

Hey... I got some candy in my left-front pocket. Why don't you reach in there and grab yourself a little piece!

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Which of these gentlemen do you believe would be more optimistic?  Of course it’s the rich-looking dude… that’s how life works.  This is why the wealthy constantly find themselves on the cover of the local newspaper.  There are articles about how this rich person is doing this, and that rich person is doing that.  One local rich guy is going to be on TV on the Speed channel because he is rich and has fancy cars.  Do you think this guy is more of an optimist or pessimist?  I, on the other hand, am not rich (well, I am “Rich”… I’m just not “rich”… stupid name).  I’ve never been on the cover of the local newspaper, even though I did write a relatively funny article about technology one time.  I work relatively hard and have what I consider to be a strong work ethic.  In my 42-years of life, I have never once called in sick to a job.  I’d have to be puking my guts out with a brain-searing fever to consider calling in sick.  Luckily, I don’t get sick very often.  When I do get sick, I have never felt that I was sick enough to not be of some value to my employer.  Want to know what my years of working through my mild illnesses has garnered me?  Absolutely NOTHING… except boiling my blood pressure whenever I have to take-up the slack of someone who has called in sick.  And the pessimism simmers below the surface all the while… eroding my hope and will into the darkest abyss.

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Dark Abyss

Don't know what this exactly has to do with the "darkest abyss," I just love this picture. Goth stuff is cool...

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Pessimism is a defense mechanism.  Like I stated earlier, we all pretty much start out as optimists.  It’s only after (usually) years of unmet expectations and irreconcilable defeats that we develop our pessimism.  When you expect a positive outcome, and that outcome is negative instead of positive, it hurts.  A few of these defeats are natural and build character… or something psychobabblish like that.  After a few, the pain involved with the disappointment of failure becomes more powerful than any character-building gains you may receive.  We begin to expect the worst.  In most situations, the pessimist is the voice of restraint (or, as I like to think of it, “reason”); the one who has thought-out all of the possible negative outcomes to any given process or procedure.  The pessimist isn’t prone to “dream”, because “dreams” in the past have meant painful disappointment.  To refrain from hope is to avoid the torture interwoven with that hope’s demise.  And guess what… every once in awhile, things don’t turn out as poorly as we expected they would… and that is a gracious surprise!  Like around 17-years ago when I asked my wife to marry me.  Do you think I had any hope that she would say yes?  Of course not!  I expected a resounding “NO WAY”, and then I would have been free to get on with my miserable life.  However, she surprised me by saying “yes” and it was a pleasant surprise indeed.  If I had actually been expecting it and she had said yes, it wouldn’t have been a surprise, nor would it have meant as much.  So, by avoiding the optimistic risk-taking that so often ends in failure and despair, we actually glean a gleam of happiness when our negativity is proven wrong.  It is better to be wrong and happy about being wrong than it is to be wrong amongst the shattered remains of a precious dream.  Pessimists don’t dream much.

The problem with being a pessimist is that we don’t dream much.  Sometimes, in order to find some sort of value in this life, we need to dream.  Often, after decades of having giving-up on all dreams, the pessimist forgets how to dream.  This isn’t necessarily bad, since dreams so often lead to disappointment.  However, at times, the pessimist may find that a dream is something he or she may want to work towards making come true.  We used to have the choice to be optimistic or pessimistic in any given situation.  After so much time passing with pessimism working so well for us, we forget how to be positive.  We forget how to believe in ourselves or others.  We still have a choice, but we have forgotten how or lost the tools necessary to follow a dream with a positive attitude.  We can’t see the glass as half-full.  We don’t really even see it as half-empty anymore.  Now, we believe that because the glass isn’t full to the brim, it’s not even worth drinking… and through our stubbornness we run the risk of dehydration.  The choice is still there, but the pain that used to be experienced by being an optimist has reached legendary proportions in our memories, and it is a very difficult choice to make.  So, we usually continue along in our pessimistic ways with the occasional happy surprise of being wrong.  And we hate optimists.

We are all equal in the eyes of God, and He loves us all equally as His children.  Sometimes, I’m sure, He has to wonder what exactly we are thinking when we do stupid stuff, but He still loves us.

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Jesus has a sense of humor
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However, in the eyes of man, the pretty people with the money rule and find themselves with the self-confidence necessary to be optimistic on a day-to-day basis… which leads to less misery in this realm.  I wish I had been born with good looks and money, but I’m afraid I posses neither.  My only hope for a touch of optimism while here on earth is the coming zombie apocalypse.  My hope is that when the zombies attack, they will go for the rich, pretty people first.  It’s only fair that those who have had people falling all over them because of their looks and wealth in this life also have the brain-starved zombies falling all over them during the apocalypse.

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Die, optimist!

Die, optimist... DIE!

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Then again… nobody said life was fair…

Tagged with:
Mar 18

I have really big plans for this blog.  Someday, I will make enough money with this blog that I can spend all of the time that I now devote to my job doing nothing more than bitching about stuff here all day.  You know what they say, do something you love, and it won’t really be “work”.  Well, bitching is about the only thing I do that I really enjoy, so this has to be the answer to my prayers… at some point… right?  Oh please, let it be so.

Okay, so to make money with a blog, you have to… uh… COME ON!  There has to be a way to make money with a blog! Every once in awhile, I put a link to something on Amazon on here.  I’m an Amazon Associate, which means I can get commission if someone clicks one of those links and actually buys something from Amazon.  I have been an Amazon Associate for about two years, and I have actually made some money doing it.  Of course, I haven’t seen any of that money yet.   Amazon won’t actually pay anything out until you have built up at least $10 in commission… and I haven’t hit that mark yet.  In another three or four years, I should get my first $10 check from Amazon.

$10

I’m stoked!

There is also Google Ads.  I could have a list of stupid links on the side of my blog with Google ads and I would get paid every time someone clicks one of those links.  Happy Stinking Joy doesn’t really have a lot of visitors, and, at this point, I’d rather have you stay and read my thoughts than get distracted by the ads on the side and leave my site.  Also, it would mess up my ultra-professional layout… or something.

I haven’t exactly had an onslaught of individual advertisers approaching me with bids for some of the precious real estate on my site.  I guess rant sites aren’t real popular with traditional advertisers.  Before I’m going to see any real revenue from this site, I’m going to have to get more than a handful of people coming here on a daily basis.

Most popular blogs seem to fall into a couple of categories, the first of which is the “expert” blogger.  You know, these are the Seth Godins of the world who share all kinds of free insight into crap that they are experts about.  Their whole ploy is to give you “free advice” to make you feel like a friend, and then they try to sell their books to you or try to talk you into hiring them to do consulting or speaking engagements.  Well, my forty-one-years of life have not exactly led me to become much of an expert at anything.  I know a little about a lot, but a lot about little.  I have been too busy chasing the next-step-up in middle-class pay to stay with any one company in any given field for more than a couple of years.  If your current promotions and pay increases aren’t getting you where you want to be: quit, and maybe the next job will take you where you want to go.  Of course, the next job never does.  So, I’ve had the opportunity to work with all kinds of interesting people in many different fields, but I haven’t stuck around any of them long enough to actually have become an expert at anything.  I’m an expert bitcher, but companies aren’t going to hire me to give a “bitch seminar” to their workforce… at least not yet.  I figure if I pray about it long enough, God, if nothing else, will get tired of me asking and either give it to me just to shut me up or strike me dead…

Strike me Dead

… either of which would lead to no more Monday mornings dreading work.

The other major category of successful bloggers seems to be those who cover current events.  Whether it be Perez Hilton covering the latest embarrassments of the rich and famous, or any of the slew of Yahoo! bloggers covering the latest in world events; people who get the story first tend to get a following.  I think this may be the route I need to follow.  I need to get the hot stories first.  Of course, I live in Nebraska, so the celebrity fodder may be a little out of my grasp.

Miss America

Ooh… Ooh… Miss America is from my part of Nebraska, so I could dedicate my blog to digging up all of the crap I can to humiliate Miss America I did a little blog about Miss America right after she won and it was actually one of the most visited rants I have posted!  But… I have a pretty strong suspicion that Teresa Scanlan is almost as squeaky clean as you would think a Miss America should be. I bet she actually believes what she says she believes, and I don’t think that “Miss America thought about skipping church once because she was just too tired to go, but then she prayed about it and changed her mind” will draw a lot of visitors to my little site.

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So, I’ve got to find a way to get the latest and greatest news before anybody else.  This is a “must” if I ever want to make this thing my sugar daddy.  Okay, so here it goes:

Breaking news… Charlie Sheen has gone insane!  The impact was devastating.  Damages are estimated… oh, great, my kid just looked over my shoulder and informed me that this is old news.  Okay, I guess I need to find something a little more “hot”.

Alright, I just did a Google search for “breaking news” and I don’t think I’m going to be able to go this route.  It seems that all of the “news” sites already have the breaking news covered.  The news sites and a bunch of Twitter people.  I don’t tweet or chirp or cockadoodledoo… or whatever it is that those people do.  I’m not quite hip enough for that.  Besides, all I’d be able to add to the Twitter conversation would be unique things I’m experiencing.

“It’s windy in Nebraska… again!”

Windy Trees

See, it just doesn’t work.

Hmmm… I gotta figure something out.  Okay, I know, I could just make kind of creative news stories.  No, that wasn’t “make up news stories”, it was “make kind of creative news stories”.  There’s… uh… sort of a difference.

Breaking news…. There is a humongous oil leak in the… uh… Gulf of Istanbul.  Yeah, and it’s causing infertility in the… uh… Great Northern Spike-Backed Whale.  Oh, you should hear the sad song those poor whales are singing at this moment.  It would make you cry.

PETA

Okay... yeah... I don't know what Alicia Silverstone being a Vegetarian has to do with "funny whale oil leaks" either, but a Google image search came up with this. I love Google...

This just in… apparently the oil spill was caused by… uh… Miss America!  Yeah, that’s it!  Apparently Miss America was on a diplomatic mission to Alderan and she and her entourage accidentally knocked over a big oil thingie in the Gulf of Istanbul.  Anti-American sentiment is through the roof in the countries bordering the Gulf… and by Great Northern Spiked-Back Whale lovers around the world!  Check back to this site often for more of the latest…

This just may work 😉

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Feb 14

My snore has been likened to the thunderous growl of a Tyrannosaurus rex. Now, I know that no living person is exactly sure what a T. Rex growl really sounds like, but I have been told that my snore has to be in the ballpark.

T-Rex

Of course, I have never heard my snore. My snoring has woke me up in the middle of the night on thousands of occasions, but by the time I’m actually awake, I’m done snoring. Funny how that works.

Anyway, my wife and I have been married for over 16 years.  My wife has complained about my snoring for, well, a little over 16 years.  I finally decided that maybe it was time to do something about it.  See what a great guy I am?

Why would I avoid going to the doctor to have something done about my snoring?  Well, the reasons are multiple:

1st:  I hate doctors.  I don’t hate them on a personal level, I just don’t like the fact that I have to rely on someone who makes a buttload of money for my physical well being.  I also don’t like the fact that I have to pay said person a buttload of money for services rendered.  Yeah… it’s all about the Benjamins.

Benjamins

I couldn’t be a doctor because I’m really not smart enough, and the thought of messing with someone’s other than my own bodily fluids makes me slightly light-headed.  Just another of the “life isn’t fair” deals that pisses me off.  Okay, so maybe I do hate them on a personal level…

2nd:  When you go to the doctor, he or she always ends up finding a bunch of crap wrong that has nothing to do with the reason for your visit.  It’s kind of like when you take your car in for an oil change, you know.  All of a sudden, you’re needing new brake pads and a front-end alignment and your head-gasket is leaking… you, at the doctor… your car, at the mechanic… it’s all the same.  Now that I am “in my forties”, I know that crap is going to start breaking down at an alarming rate.  I’d really rather just not know about it.  After all, maybe I can get another 2000 miles out of the car without fixing the problem, right?  Besides, it seems like when they start trying to fix one problem, everything else starts to go to hell.  You know, like the 35-year-old lady who goes in because she sprains her ankle, and they discover she has pancreatic cancer, so they cut her open to get to the cancer, and they find out that it is EVERYWHERE, and she is dead within a couple of weeks… because of a stinking sprained ankle.  If she hadn’t gone in for the stupid sprained ankle, she would probably be alive today!

3rd:  Uh… I don’t take exactly the best care of myself.  I know this.  I don’t need some yahoo driving a BMW to point this out and talk down to me while doing so, because when he or she does, my level of class-envy goes through the stinking roof!

Okay, so I don’t like going to the doctor.  In fact, I don’t even have a doctor.  I go to a local urgent care clinic (Quick Care) for all of my medical needs… which are few and far between.  You’d think that, seeing as how I’m getting to the point where annual visits are looming on the horizon, I should probably find a doctor.  I don’t like shopping for shoes… and I like shoes… so why would I spend time shopping for a doctor?

So, back to the snoring.  I call one of them “sleep centers” (Western Sleep Medicine, I believe it is called) to see how I go about getting fitted with one of those Darth Vader masks to make me stop snoring.

Darth Vader snores?

They say I have to be referred by a doctor.  I say I don’t have a doctor.  They say I can use Quick Care to refer me.   I call Quick Care and make sure that they can refer me, which they reassure me that they can.  I ask, “So, uh, I’m wanting a referral for a sleep study… and that’s it.  You aren’t going to test me for a bunch of other crap, are you?”  And I am reassured that I will only be tested for the condition that I am visiting about.  Great!  So I drive on over to Quick Care.  Never believe medical people.

I get to Quick Care and they make me fill out the stinking form that all medical places make you fill out when you first arrive.  I get done filling the stupid form out and I realize that right beside the line where I fill-out my date of birth, there is a line for me to fill-out my age.  I ask the receptionist, “So, why is there a line right beside my date of birth for my age.  Wouldn’t just my date of birth be sufficient?  Can’t you figure out my age?”  Of course, I’m being a little smart-assy, but in a good-natured way.  The receptionists at Quick Care are not exactly “good natured”.

“It’s there so we don’t have to figure it out,” the receptionist says, and I can tell by the look on her face that I’m pissing her off by breathing her air, so I let it drop.

So now I’m thinking to myself that I may be making a mistake by not actually having an actual doctor.  I’m thinking that using Quick Care for a referral may not have been the swiftest of my most recent decisions.  Did I have to list my age beside my date of birth so they didn’t have to figure it out… or because they couldn’t figure it out?  I know, I should assume that the receptionist (or anyone else who touches my chart) would be able to figure out my age from my date of birth.  However, before I entered Quick Care, I assumed that a receptionist in a place where people are going to have medical issues addressed and are looking for a little comfort would be able to smile… or at least be partially pleasant.  I have learned to never trust my assumptions.

After a short wait, I am led into an examination room.  The nurse tells me that the first thing she needs to do is check my blood pressure.  Crap!  This is exactly what I don’t want.  This is why I called before I came… to make sure unnecessary crap wasn’t going to be tested.  What does my blood pressure have to do with my snoring?  But I’m already thinking I need to keep my mouth shut because of the whole receptionist encounter, so I sit down and let her test it.

170 over 130.

She looks at me like I should already be dead.

“Uh, is your blood pressure always this high?” she asked.

“No, these places freak me out,” I said.  “It’s usually more like 150 over 100.” Of course my blood pressure is high.  Everyone and their dog stresses me out.  I hate any sort of confrontation and life is full of it… confrontation that is.  The older I get, the less I am able to deal with the basic BS that every person on the planet seems intent on dishing out.  If I could hole-up in a dark room and not have to ever deal with anyone or their problems, I bet my blood pressure would be just fine.  I pray to God to let me not get stressed out, but stress is still there around every single stinking corner in this road of life… and God just looks down from heaven and laughs.  I think jacking around with me is how God deals with His own stress.

Again… she looks at me like I should already be dead.

“I’m going to get the P.A.,” she said and disappeared out the door.

P.A. stands for “physician’s assistant”.  A P.A. is like a doctor, except they didn’t have to go to school as long as a doctor, and instead of BMWs, they usually drive Audis.  I don’t hate P.A.s quite as much as I hate doctors.

The P.A. comes in and he talks about getting me a referral for the sleep test, he fills out the necessary paperwork, and then he starts talking about what we are going to do about my blood pressure.  He has the nurse run a ECG, and then she sticks me with a needle and red crap comes out my arm into a little vial.  I’m ready to pass out as he tells me about the blood pressure medication that I’m going to be put on.

Crap!

So, I leave, I go and get my blood pressure medication, and I go home.

The next day, I take the first of the pills.  It’s Lisinopril.  It’s supposed to have very few side-effects.  I notice nothing and think I’m golden.

I take my second pill the following morning.  All is well… until I get out of the shower, reach for the hair gel (it’s Sunday, and I gel my hair up on Sunday to keep from looking like such a hippie freak), and I fall to the floor with chest pain.  I can’t even stand up.  The wife and kids are already gone, because the wife takes the kids to Sunday school.

Crap!

Okay, so I figure I’m having a heart attack.  Figures, right?  I mean, if I hadn’t gone in for the stupid snoring issue, I would have been fine.  Anyway, I’m downstairs, and I need to find a way to get upstairs.  I figure out that if I bend over and do not stand straight up, I can walk without a ton of pain.   So I hunch it upstairs and sit down at the dining room table.  I start weighing my options.

I can call the wife and freak the crap out of her.  Yeah… not going to happen.

I can call 911 and get an ambulance coming.  That would, however, be expensive.  I’m all about the Benjamins.

Benjamins

Then, I start thinking that I really don’t feel like I’m going to die.  You know how people who have heart attacks claim that they get all freaked out because they can tell that they are dying?  Well, I’m not freaking out.  I’m just pissed because my chest hurts.  There is no pain shooting through my shoulder or up my arm, just a sharp pain under my left man-boob.  Feels more like something is pulled than I’m dying.  I think to myself, “If this cramp in my chest gets worse, do I feel like my heart is going to stop?”  I answer myself, “No.”  So, I sit there and wait for the pain to go away.

Western Sleep Medicine is supposed to call me to schedule a sleep study.  I haven’t heard from them yet.  I may not have to worry about it.  After all, I went to medical people for one problem and they discovered another.  I give myself two weeks, tops.  Damn it…  I swear, I could have got another 2000 miles out of this s.o.b.

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Dec 25

If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, stay away from Nebraska!

I can remember the Christmases of my youth in Montana: Christmas days filled with sledding and snow-fort building and snowball fights and ice skating.  These are fond memories that my children will most likely only experience on the rare “Christmas visit to the extended-family in Montana.”  My boys will grow to adulthood thinking of Christmas as a time of brown grass covering the earth and patches of dead leaves that avoided the rakes of fall.  Dust and dirt, brown on brown… nothing screams “Christmas” like the colors of death and decay.  This is Christmas in Nebraska.

When most of us think of Christmas, reds and greens and whites (is there more than one?) fill our imaginations.  Red represents the blood of Christ that was spilled for our sins.  Green stands for life, the eternal life found through Christ’s sacrifice.  White is for snow; snow that covers the earth and hides all imperfections, just like Christ.  Brown is for… uh… well… there really is no “brown” in the Christmas color-scheme.  Brown is reminiscent of… crap?  Crap that life can be without Christ, I guess.  Or, maybe a donkey in the manger or something.

Southern states can boast of the green of year-round vegetation and temperate weather, and I can see how Christmas could be enjoyable down there what with the reminder of the eternal life that awaits us.  Northern states are covered in the virgin snow that reminds us of the love of God.  Central states, like Nebraska, remind us that this life can be a pile of crap and, I don’t know… maybe that we can expect donkey-rides in heaven?!?

Christmas should be all about Christ.  This time of year, we get caught up in the gift-giving and the gift-receiving and the food and the extended mid-day naps (ok… so that’s probably just me).  We all remind each other to remember the true meaning of the  Christmas, and then we head out to buy that one last present, or we run to Walmart to get that last box of Jello for the salad.

I’m gonna keep this post short, because I don’t want to complain too much on the day we set aside to remember the birth of Christ.  I’m going to try to end this post in a positive manner in tribute to the ultimate sacrifice of our savior.  As I look out the window at the brown grass and the blowing dead leaves, I shake my head and try to think positive.  It’s too cold outside to enjoy the lack of snow, but it’s not cold enough to go ice fishing or ice skating.  Brown upon brown upon brown… I guess riding a donkey would be kinda fun…

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Aug 27

The church which I attend has a lending library.  I had never checked out a book to read until recently, when I picked up and started thumbing through Fearless by Max Lucado.   Because my every waking moment (and most of my dreams) are overflowing with fear in one form or another, I figured this may be a good book to read at this point in my life.

Now, the full title of the book is  Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear.  Hey, that sounds pretty sweet, huh?   Yeah, a life without fear is a life I wouldn’t mind living.  I had never read a complete Max Lucado book before.  My mom is big on reading Christian books and is always sending the wife and me books that she feels will help us in our daily struggles with life.  I’m sure I have a Max Lucado or two in my current library that the wife has read .  I’m sure I have read their back covers as well.  Books that show one how to apply the bible to his or her life should probably consume more of my free-time, but I have always preferred reading books that help me escape from reality.  Because of the high level of fear I have been experiencing recently and  because Max Lucado is a best selling author, I figured this was the time to give Fearless a read.

I was disappointed.

Max Lucado is a good writer.  He has a very casual style and he incorporates great little stories into his writing that help emphasize his points.  The stories seem like they could be true, but could very well be made up; either way, the stories make the read more interesting.  I guess I was hoping that reading his book would cause an epiphany.  You know, there would be that one passage that would change the way I look at things.  I guess my major disappointment was that passage doesn’t exist.  The book wasn’t really that deep.

Max did a great job of highlighting most of my major fears.  The problem is, he kept going back to the Bible.  I know, I know, the Bible should be the source for alleviating fears.  The Bible should be the reference one turns to when times are tough (and when times aren’t tough).  After all, the Bible is God’s Word, right?  The Bible should have all of life’s answers, right?  A person should be able to live a fearless life with little stress by trusting in God’s word, right?  Yeah, easier than it sounds.

Faith is hard.  Life is hard.  Constantly having examples thrown at you of people from like 2000 years ago who actually saw Jesus, and saw his miracles, and touched him, often sounds a little empty to those who have never heard a voice from the clouds overhead… or seen the dead brought back to life.  If it was easy, it wouldn’t be called faith.

In the portion of his book dealing with those who find occasional doubts in their faith, he uses himself as an example.  He claims that he overcomes his doubt by remembering that even the disciples doubted after the crucifixion.  Jesus had to physically visit them after the crucifixion to get them to believe.  Thomas actually had to put his fingers in the wounds on the hands of Jesus to believe… and these are the guys who saw the miracles.   That is how Max overcomes his doubt.  Seriously?  I’ve never met Jesus in the flesh, all I have is the Word of God contained in a testament written over 2000 years ago by a bunch of guys who had to touch Jesus after the crucifixion to truly believe.  I was hoping to find an epiphany regarding faith in Fearless.  What I found I already knew: faith is hard.

Max stresses again and again (and uses Biblical quotes to drive the point home) that God does not want us to be afraid.  Jesus does not want us to be afraid.  As bad as the world gets and as hard as life can become, don’t get stressed.  There is nothing to fear.  I fear pain.  I fear getting my throat slit by a radical muslim because having my throat slit would hurt.  I fear dying a slow, painful death by cancer because it would hurt.  I know the pain would be over when I’m dead, but I fear the pain.

“But look at the pain Jesus endured before he dies,” you may say.  “Jesus didn’t complain about the pain!”

In response to that, I’m pretty sure that it is glaringly obvious that I am not the son of God… and before the crucifixion, even Jesus prayed that He might not to have to go through what was about to happen.  He didn’t complain, and He did submit Himself to the fact that God’s will be done, but he did throw out a “Hey, if there’s anyway We can do this sin-forgiveness thing without My flesh being stripped from My body and the whole trip to hell thing, that would be cool.”  I’m paraphrasing, of course.

There is a section of the book where Max discusses the fear of global calamity.  He begins the chapter discussing disclaimers.  He makes fun of disclaimers from pharmaceuticals and goes on to a “what’s next?” type disertation on how maybe babies should be given a disclaimer before being born about the hazards of life.   It is all tongue-in-cheek, of course, but it got me thinking.  Why weren’t we given a disclaimer before birth?  Wouldn’t that have been fair?  You know, something like the following:

You are about to be born.  God loves you and wants you to become a faithful servant.  Of course, after you pass through these vaginal walls, you will have no recollection of God… nor anything else.  You will be an infant who must learn everything that you are ever to know in this life starting in a few minutes.  This life will not be easy.  If you are lucky enough to be born in a place that allows Christianity, you will have to build your faith based on the writings of people who lived thousands of years ago.  If you are not born in a place that allows Christianity and you still become a Christian, there is a chance you and those you love will be brutally murdered.  There is also a chance that you will never even hear about Christ; if so, you’re on your own.

This life will also contain sin.  Sin is full of fun things that everyone else is doing that are bad for you and God doesn’t like it.  Sin should be avoided, but you are human, so you will sin.  Sin is accompanied by much guilt, but if your faith is strong, you can ask for forgiveness for your sin and the guilt should disappear.  At times, the sin will be quite tempting.  You must focus on your faith to avoid the temptation.  Faith most likely will not always come easy.  If you decide that faith is not for you, you will find yourself in hell after you die.  Hell is an awful place  full of constant suffering.  It appears that a vast majority of people in this life will end up going to hell.  The odds are stacked against you.

The choice is now yours:

1)  You are about to enter a life where there is much pain and suffering, many broken dreams, and physical and emotional pain (and where the odds are strong that you will end up in hell, where the pain and suffering are multiplied by infinity for infinity).  This life also contains bouts of unexpected joy and happiness, but they don’t last for long.  If you make it through this life with your faith intact, you will gain entrance into heaven.  Heaven is a great place with no pain or suffering, and you will be surrounded by the constant presence of God’s love.  All of your questions will be answered and you will have no fear.  But please remember, the odds are stacked against you.  If you are willing to take the chance,  please proceed toward the light… and don’t say that you weren’t warned!

2)  If you prefer to go back to the black nothingness from which you came, please press the exit button to your left.  No harm, no foul… thank you for your time.

I don’t remember being given the choice, do you?  Not to say that I would have chosen option 2, but sending a bunch of people to hell without giving them the choice pre-birth doesn’t seem quite right.  We all have the choice after birth, but that’s when we have been touched by sin and have the influences of the world to deal with.  Sometimes I get quite pissed at Adam and Eve for eating that stinking apple!

I always have issues taking advice from someone who makes a ton of money giving out advice.  Dave Ramsey is an example; Max Lucado is another.  Max has written dozens of best selling books, and you don’t get poor by writing best selling books.  As noble as his intentions may be, he still has a financial security that the average person does not have.  Why don’t we hear from more poor Christians proclaiming that the only true security is in Christ?  It’s always the rich dudes who are telling us that money can’t buy security, and this is usually in the same breath with which they are trying to sell us something else.  In Fearless, at the end of the book, Max is trying to peddle everything from calendars to more books to stinking t-shirts.  It always seems to me that professional advice givers are teeming with hypocrisy.  Dave Ramsey tells us to only spend on the things we need in the same book where he peddles his coffee mugs and crap.  Max Lucado portrays himself as a good Christian who tries to lead a Godly life not focused on the things of this world, as he tries to sell his readers all kinds of worthless crap.  Isn’t buying worthless crap a sin?  If not, it should be :)

Max’s book is good reading for the existing Christian.  I don’t think he is going to convert anyone, but I’m not sure that was his purpose.  I don’t feel any less fearful than I did before reading it.  The epiphany I was hoping for didn’t come.  I guess that’s what I get for trying to find epiphanies in the words of man.  I need to look Elsewhere.

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Feb 15

My wife and I recently finished up Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.  I am not going to dog on Dave’s system too much… ’cause I think it works and is pretty much worth the effort for anyone who wants to gain control of his or her finances.  Dave teaches a lot of common sense stuff (and makes a buttload of money teaching it… how much is a buttload… well, it’s more than most of us will ever see; an amount of money that verges on the border of being uncomfortable.)

Dave teaches “baby steps” that anyone can follow and everyone could benefit from implementing.  Dave’s little catch-phrase is that you should “live like no one else” (i.e. sacrifice having any sort of life-joy now,) “so later, you can live like no one else” (i.e. so if you find a way to avoid death and make it to 70, you can finally start realizing some of the fruit of your labor.)    Yeah, doesn’t sound real dreamie to me either, but it sounds a lot better than completely depending on the soon-to-be-extinct Social Security (damn democrats… instead of finding more ways to spend my flipping tax money, like health care, why don’t you guarantee that I’ll get back some of the stinking Social Security benefits that I have given those who went before me!)  Dave paints a much rosier picture than what I believe is truly possible for average folks out there.   I think Dave may be a little unrealistic and misleading in some of his assertions and examples.

Dave Ramsey: “If you start investing $2000 per year beginning at age 12 and can make a simple 20% interest, by the time you retire at age 90, you will be a millionaire!”

Ok, this example may be a little far fetched… a little.  Maybe Dave didn’t actually use any examples that were quite so retarded.  It is funny, however, that whenever he gives an example of the average guy, he picks some 30 year-old schmuck making an above average income(’cause I think you have to make above average to really “live like no one else” in the long run,) and Dave proceeds to tell us all of the sacrifices this guy is going to have to make to (which usually involves, for some strange reason, a night job delivering pizza?!?); this is the first part of the “live like no one else.”  Then, when we get to the second half of the “live like no one else,” Dave is throwing out examples of multimillionaires (like himself) who can drop cash for about anything because, well, they’re multimillionaires.  The thing is, that 30 year-old schmuck isn’t going to get Dave Ramsey-rich just because he delivered pizzas.  The only way to get Dave Ramsey-rich is to make a lot of money through your career (maybe by charging honest folks $100 to take your class where you can teach them how to find financial peace…,) which those of us living in the remote, rural areas of this country will never do.  So, although Dave never actually comes out and says that the 30 year-old schmuck will get Dave Ramsey-rich, the way the “live like no one else, so later, you can live like no one else” is presented could be interpreted as a little misleading by anyone who is actually paying attention.

In most of his examples, Dave starts with a savings plan starting at or around age 30 and a retirement age of 70.  He gives several examples of how you can amass a ton of wealth (MILLIONS) by investing X amount of money at age 30, making 12% on that money, and retiring when you are 70.  First of all, I don’t know what the average age is of someone going through Financial Peace University… but I’m guessing it is well above 30.  Crap, I’m 40, so I guess I would have to retire at 80 to hit Dave’s projections.  Second, 12% earnings on a retirement fund may be slightly unrealistic in today’s market.  I’m going to cut Dave a little slack on this one because the video series I watched was made like 2 years ago (I think it was made in 2008), so things are a little less financially rosy at present time than they were 2 years ago, and who know, maybe the markets will completely rebound and no other major damage will be done to the markets again (but I think the radical Muslims may have a thing or two to say about that.)  Finally, even if I had started working toward financial peace 10 years ago, I have no intention of working until I’m 70!  Hell, I have no intention of living until I’m 70, so why would I base future plans on retiring at that age?

Dave Ramsey is, first and foremost, a salesman.  He tries to sell his ideas, and his books, and his program, and his swag (it kills me that Dave preaches that we shouldn’t spend money on unnecessary crap and there, right in the middle of his workbook which tells you not to buy crap, is an add for all kinds of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University CRAP that Dave would love for you to buy… ’cause God knows that coffee is going to taste a helluva lot better while you’re doing all this personal sacrifice stuff if you’re drinking it out of a Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University coffee mug!)  Dave portrays himself as, you know, just this dude who is trying to help others.  He is so willing to help others that it only costs like $100 to take his course that will help you gain control over… uh… your money.  But seriously, no harm, no foul.  The dude needs to make money, and the course is well worth the money it costs to take… but the “I’m just here to help you” front doesn’t fly.  Dave, if you are going to be honest with us and yourself, let’s try, “I’m here to help you, but it’s gonna cost you about 100 bucks because that’s how I got Dave Ramsey-rich and I ain’t ever going back, you’re gonna have to sacrifice more than you are probably comfortable with and you are going to miss out on a lot of crap for now, and you will NEVER be as rich as me.  Want to buy a Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University fanny-pack?”

Dave works a biblical approach into his plan, which I like.  He actually seems sincere when it comes to his faith, so I’ll give him props for that.

One of the portions of the course I really enjoyed was Dave’s philosophy on insurance.  He starts out this section of the course talking about how insurance agents HATE this part of the course.  Dave then goes on to talk about why whole life insurance is for idiots and all kinds of other things that I’m sure most insurance agents would not like the average person thinking about.  Well, Dave gets done, the DVD player gets turned off, and the one insurance agent we have in our class goes off about how Dave Ramsey is not “all knowing”; about how Dave Ramsey is a salesman more than anything, after all we all paid for his class… he isn’t doing it for free… and about how each individual’s insurance needs are different and we can’t all base our needs for insurance off of what Dave Ramsey is trying to sell us on.  In other words, the insurance agent in our class HATED this part of the course.  The thing is, the “crappy” stuff that insurance agents try to do which Dave discussed are not things this agent does. I think Dave ended up pissing every person off in our class with one point or another… and it wasn’t that I really enjoyed Dave’s teaching so much as I enjoyed watching how right Dave was about insurance agents not liking this part of the course.  Our insurance agent (who is, by the way, a good, honest person… and I like the dude) made this section enjoyable just by how much he let it upset him.  It’s always fun to watch someone unnecessarily defend what they do for a living!  I know, I used to work for a cell phone company… and there are few jobs that require more defense than when you represent one of the cell phone monsters:

“Isn’t cell phone insurance a rip-off?”

“Well, it makes it easier to replace your phone if something happens to it.”

“But you don’t get a new phone, do you?”

“No, you don’t.  You get a refurbished phone.”

“How can you push cell phone insurance when it puts a customer in a refurbished phone?”

“Because I have had the people without insurance come up to me with the 2-day old phone that they dropped in the toilet and which now does not work, and I have had to explain to them that they are under a two-year contract and they have no insurance so their only option is to spend $200 or more full-retail price for a replacement phone.  These people almost always yell at me, like I make the rules or I have the power to just give them a brand new phone because they have, after all, been a customer for three years or something.  I don’t like being yelled at, I have no control over the policies and procedures of the company, you’re the retard that dropped a $300 cell phone in the toilet, I don’t make any more commission just because you have been a customer for three years… in fact, I don’t make any money unless you actually purchase something… and did I mention that I hate being yelled at… so buy the stupid insurance and quit wasting my time.”

Yeah, working at the cell phone company sucked… the money was good, but people are pretty stupid when it comes to their cell phones.  Anyway… long story short (too late), I understand the insurance dude trying to justify around Dave Ramsey’s observations.  No one likes to have what they do called into question by a “professional” like Dave Ramsey.  Thank goodness there were no credit card customer service reps in our class :)

Probably my favorite lesson in the Financial Peace University course was the one on careers.  Dave said some stuff that I thought really made sense.  He spoke of finding a job that utilizes your natural talents.  He said that those who tell you that you can “learn” to overcome personality traits that work against certain aspects of your career… well, those people are full of crap (ok, he didn’t say crap, but it was implied.)  If managing people, or outside sales, or whatever, is not something you are good at or comfortable with, you will not “learn” to be good at this stuff.  You need to find something you are naturally good at or enjoy and go full forward with that.  I love this advice… and I agree wholeheartedly!  Those people who tell you that you need to “work outside of your comfort zone” to be successful have no idea how extraordinarily craptastic the area outside of the comfort zone can be for many of us!

Dave refers to using personality tests to help you figure out what careers you can be successful in.   Upon completing the Gary Smalley test, I have determined that I am almost 100% pure golden retriever, which means I have no self-confidence and do almost anything to avoid conflict… wow, big surprise there.  There aren’t exactly a ton of high-dollar jobs available to golden retrievers.

Librarian was one that I think I would actually love… but that would mean, probably, another stinking bachelor’s degree  PLUS a MLS degree to actually be able to make ok money… so, at 40, sell the house, take out some student loans, go back to school, and hopefully by the time I’m 50 I can have a career I love… and a crapload more debt.  Yeah, that ain’t gonna happen.

I can’t really remember what other jobs a golden retriever could excel at, but I know they all paid CRAP!  For example, I would probably make an excellent file clerk.  I don’t care how long I work as a file clerk… or how GREAT I get a being a file clerk… or how indispensable I become to my employer as a file clerk… I ain’t ever topping about 12 bucks an hour as a file clerk, and I REALLY ain’t gonna get even close to Dave Ramsey-rich at $12 an hour.  Ok, so the “follow your personality trait” deal sounds golden… but in all reality, I think it’s really just a stinking pile of pyrite.

Dave Ramsey has some great ideas, and if you are having issues with your personal finances… or have no idea how you are ever going to be able to retire… you might want to check Dave out.  Dave’s system is not get rich quick (and he stresses that it is not get rich quick.)  Financial Peace University is touted as a get-rich-very-slowly-system, and if your earnings are above average, you can get there.  For those of us with a little less income coming in through the front door, Financial Peace University may offer us the hope of not having to reverse-mortgage our homes to survive when we retire!

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Jan 17

The garden was especially peaceful on this day.  The air was warm and calm as the sun shed it’s midday light amongst the dense,  prismatic vegetation.  Adam, leaning against a large rock in the shade of a dragon’s blood tree, watched a distant tyrannosaurus rex just outside the garden feed on a wooly mammoth.

‘Glad those things aren’t allowed in the garden,’ thought Adam.

A rustle of brush behind Adam announced the arrival of Eve with the midday meal.  Adam loved Eve, and he loved the fruit she harvested for the midday meal each day.

“What’d you bring today, Hon?” Adam asked.  “Mango… I hope you brought some mango today.”

“Something even better,” replied Eve, blushing.  “I brought something new.”

Adam had never seen Eve blush before.  “Why are your cheeks turning red?”

“Uh, ’cause you’re naked,” Eve said.  She handed the golden fruit in her hand to Adam and immediately went to the nearest fig tree.  Grabbing a couple of fig leaves, she covered her “womanly” parts.

“What are you doing?”  Adam asked.

“Try the fruit and you’ll see.”

“Why are you covering the parts of yourself that make you different from me?” Adam asked.

“Try the fruit and you’ll see.”

Adam looked at the golden fruit in his hand.  Other than the single bite taken from it, the fruit was unblemished.

“Where did you get this?” Adam asked.

Eve pointed to the south and, realizing that her woman-parts were exposed, quickly put the fig leaf back in its protective position.

“Over there,” Eve said, nodding to the south with her head.

“I’ve been south and I have never seen a fruit like this.”

“Oh, it’s there alright,” Eve said.  “The serpent showed it to me.”

“The serpent?” asked Adam.  “The freaky long thing with no arms or legs that slithers along the ground with the fangs and stuff?”

“That’s the one.”

“Oh, okay, cool,” said Adam as he started to take a bite.  As the fruit approached his lips, his brow began to furrow.  The fruit froze inches from his mouth.  “Hey, this isn’t from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, is it?”

“Well of course not,” said Eve.  “We were expressly forbidden from eating that fruit.”

Adam furrowed his brow further and, hand on hip, glared at Eve.

“Okay, maybe it’s from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

“Maybe?” asked Adam.  “What, you have a death wish or something?  We were expressly forbidden from eating this fruit or we will die.”

“Or touching it,” said Eve.

“What’s that?” Adam asked, his eyes growing wide.

“Or touching it,” repeated Eve.  “We were forbidden from eating it or even touching it.”

Adam looked from Eve to the fruit in his hand.  “Crap.”

“You might as well try it,” Eve said.  “You already touched it, so if God is gonna kill me he’s gonna kill you too.  You might as well get a taste of it.”

“You lied to me,” Adam said.  “You… you…” and because Adam had yet to actually take a bite of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he could think of none of the really good words to scorn her with, “you… stinker!”

Adam looked at the fruit in his hand and, although he had lost his appetite, he took a bite.  As the sweet flesh of the fruit burst to juice in his mouth, Adam realized that he was naked.  He ran to the fig tree and grabbed a leaf.

A-HEM!” came from the sky… and the ground… and everywhere.

“Crap,” whispered Adam, “it’s God!”  Adam grabbed Eve by the wrist and forced her down in the bushes as he climbed in beside her.

Why are you hiding?” asked God.

“I heard you coming and didn’t want you to see me naked,” said Adam.

Who told you you were naked,” asked God.  “Have you eaten from the tree I warned you about?”

This is all your fault,” Adam whispered to Eve, elbowing her in the side. “Yes, but it was the woman you gave me who who brought me some, and I ate it.”

How could you do such a thing?” Eve felt the voice of God against her flesh as goosebumps rose on her body against the vibrations of His words.

“The serpent tricked me,” she replied.

God rolled His eyes.  Then God started doling out punishment for the serpent.

Meanwhile, Adam stared at Eve.  Adam was sure that God would take his side on this matter.  After all, Adam had been tricked by that stupid Eve to touch the fruit.  Eve, succumbing to the long, seductive form of the serpent, had sold them both up the river.  ‘Plus, she lied to me,’ thought Adam.  Of course, he still took a bite of the forbidden fruit… all on his own with no physical coercion.  Like most of the men to follow him, however, Adam  decided at this point in time that he was going to do everything within his power to blame every ill in his life on the sex bore of his rib… and all men to follow fell to Adam’s fate.

Adam started to listen to the punishment appropriated for the serpent, and he realized that Eve and all of womankind was being punished just as much as the serpent.  God then directed punishment to Eve and all of womankind.

You shall bear children in intense pain and suffering; yet even so, you shall welcome your husband’s affections, and he shall be your master.”

Adam snickered.  Eve was getting her due.  Adam felt pardoned; he felt that God had forgiven the sins that Eve had led him to.  Adam felt that silly little women was getting her just desserts, and Eve and all of her ilk would, throughout eternity, pay for the dishonest lies of the first woman taken from the rib of the man!  Adam smiled.

…and then Adam felt The ShiftThe Shift was the formation of two oval-shaped appendages springing suddenly from the groinish-area of Adam’s loin.

“What the…” Adam exclaimed as his hand fell to the new addition of his outward appearance.

These, dear Adam, in addition to the life of sin and the need for repentance that lie ahead in your and your descendant’s miserable little lives, are a reminder of the affront to My name that you have allowed here today,” said God.

“But Eve…” said Adam.

Yes, Eve has done much wrong,” said God.  “But Eve is also in a vulnerable position when compared to you, my dear Adam.  She is not as physically strong as you, and she is more emotionally unstable than you.  So, in order to offset the differences between you and her, I am allowing the ‘dropping of the balls’.

“The dropping of the what?” asked Adam.

The balls… those things swinging about your fig-leaf-covered groin,” said God.

Adam touched the balls and asked, “Where did they come from?”

They were attached to the appendix and were a significant force in the ability of humankind to remain immortal,” said God.  “They will still play a significant role in the future of humankind, but having organs that were meant to be protected deep inside of the male body suddenly exposed for all of the natural world to rape… oh, woe it is to be ‘man’.

Eve and all of womankind are relegated to a position of inferiority and complacency when compared to man.  Of course, the feminists will come along and try to disparage these facts,” said God.  “The balls will act as an equalizing force in the battle between the sexes.  The feminists will see the balls as a sign of repression and weakness and will strike against them.  The insecure woman will see the balls as a sign of power through which they will struggle to find their own identity.  The average woman will see the balls as a comical extrusion from the male body and America’s Funniest Home Videos will be born!

America’s Funniest Home Videos,” whimpered Adam.

Oh, my son,” laughed God.  “The balls will be both your best friend and your worst enemy.  And you will provide to all of humankind more laughs through your balls than you could ever, throughout a thousand lifetimes, imagine.”

Adam looked at the protrusion from his groin and whimpered.  Surely this all had to be some sort of horrific joke.  Suddenly, Eve grabed Adam’s balls with her clenched fist.  She tugged once, softly, and said, “You ready to go start our new life of sin together?”

“Screw you!” exclaimed Adam.  He was going to have no part of this new life of sin and regret.

Eve squeezed and pulled at the new appendage between her fingers.  Nausea fell upon Adam’s being; from the tip of his toes to the top of his head, he felt pain as Eve pulled at his balls and led him in the direction she desired.

And so it has been ever since…

Yeah, probably not entirely Biblically correct, but his is how I see it going down.  Much more believable than evolution, isn’t it?  :)

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Dec 06

Yeah, after the pity party of my last post, I thought I should list some of the things that I have going in a positive direction in my life.  After all, if all I do is gripe, God may see fit to throw a little Job-action my way to wake me up… and I ain’t ready for that :)

God is good.  He sent his only begotten Son to die for my sins, and that’s pretty cool.

I have a wife whom I love and who loves me.  Yeah, believe it or not, she loves me!

I have two sons that I would die for… when I’m not wanting to strangle them because almost all they do is fight with each other with the sole intention of driving their mother and me insane.  I have to remind myself that they are gifts from God and I need to cherish them… which I do.  I’d also cherish a little brotherly love from them from time to time :)

I have (finally) a decent house.  I wish we wouldn’t have had to waited this long to get a decent place, but patience is a virtue that God is trying to teach me (of which I am, I believe, a horrible student.)

I have a job that doesn’t suck (finally.)  I like what I do, I feel like I make a difference in the course of our business, my boss is easy to get along with and my coworkers (although the most eccentric group of coworkers I have ever worked with) are all good people that I, for the most part, get along with.

I like snow.  It is cold and pretty and it covers up the imperfections of the dead earth created by fall.  I really like snow and am thankful for it.

Nebraska isn’t really that bad.  Ok… yeah, it’s pretty bad, but things could be worse; I could live in Texas.

I have good friends with good senses of humor (have to have a good sense of humor to be my friend or I’ll drive you completely stinking insane!)

I love my dog, Buffy.  She is AWESOME!  Beagles rock… even 10-year old ones that shed like there’s no tomorrow.

Life is, for the most part, pretty good.  Now that I got the sentimental crap out og the way, I can get back to the griping.

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