Monthly Archives: November 2013
Today I feel so accomplished and I am thankful for my rare OCD cleaning days. Laundry, dishes, living room, kitchen, bedroom(s), bathroom… All clean. Yay me!
Today, well this time of the year, is a strange one because it seems perfectly normal to do what my family has done this afternoon. We are watching the Thanksgiving Chopped while we are raiding the Halloween candy bags with Christmas music in the background.
I write today as I am awestruck by the amazing power of nature. Storms come and go and no two are the same. The shear power of the wind and rain and lightning should put everyone in a state of awe. It would be very easy for this subject to digress to a conversation of gods and their powers and their very existance, but I will not. Even for those who give the powers of nature to the gods they must be awestruck by the power and beauty of it all.
I’m not feeling well right now, so a quick post for my day’s thanks goes to Vicks. If it weren’t for Day/Nyquil I don’t know if I’d’ve made it to work this weekend.
One of my only celebrity thank yous that I will post this month and today is dedicated to Penn Jillette and James Randi and all of the atheistic celebrities that have helped and will help the image of atheists.
I’m sure most of you know him from Penn & Teller and their magic routines, but I must admit my first encounter with him was from the series Bulls**t.
This show was one of the first things that taught me about critical thinking outside of school. He would confront topics like PETA, circumcision, the bible, astrology, etc and would point out things that most people don’t know about those topics. It was not a straightforward documentary show Penn and Teller combined the facts with comedy to ensure emotions didn’t run so high as to keep people from listening to the information given. Sadly I never watched the show while it was on HBO, it was already ended by the time I heard of it so all of my viewings have been on YouTube.
Penn also has a podcast called Sunday School (because they record it on Sunday mornings) that I have gotten into. He has guests on and they talk about the news and current events and upcoming events for them and of course the comedy is always included. I think the reason I enjoy this show so much is that it has taught me that a group of people can get together (atheist and religious) and not have the topic revolve completely around religion. I like to think that it has been one of the items that has smoothed over my edges.
James ‘The Amazing’ Randi is a magician that has used his training in magic to assist his life as a skeptic. He too had a television series that I missed out on, but that series was devoted to allowing people with supernatural powers to show off their power and have it tested live. To this day he has a prize of $1,000,000.00 to anyone who can demonstrate evidence of a supernatural power or event under test conditions agreed upon by both parties. No one has even come close to claiming the prize.
James Randi is one of the best people to teach critical thinking. He is able to relate the process of belief to believing a magic trick but then encourages critical thinking to figure out how the trick was done. Randi’s television shows featured people showing off their powers but then he would explain how he thought the trick had been done or more usually why the trick hadn’t worked on the stage. His largest feat to date has been his most thorough debunking of the famed Uri Geller. If you don’t know about this and you still believe Uri has some kind of power you should look it up.
No amount of belief makes something a fact.
Many young people are growing up seeing these celebrities and are finding out that it is ok to not believe. The stigma still exists but has been significantly lessened and we work everyday to rid ourselves of it entirely. The image of the atheist has changed over the past decades and it is a direct result of the actions of people like Penn Jillette and James Randi.
Today I must give another thankful post that will likely be seen my some to be superficial but I am just overwhelmed by Pinterest.
Remember back in the day when you had to think of craft ideas yourself or get an idea from a monthly magazine? Remember when dinner was the same meals rotated through until we got an idea for something new? Remember when holidays could be simply decorated for? Well, not anymore!
Pinterest is the Borg of crafty/recipe/design ideas. A hive of people sharing their tips and tricks with everyone else. We’ve been lucky enough to get a few good recipes and craft ideas from there but like anything else there is always a darker side. The majority of pins either don’t link to the item they should or the idea just doesn’t pan out. For those lucky few ideas that do work our lives are made a little better.
I am glad that Pinterest is around because it gives Sariah and I some ideas of things to do when we’re home, and it also gives Crystal and I some recipes to help mix up our rotation. If you haven’t tried it, you should but be warned it can be addictive.
Continuing on about my trip with the People to People organization, I move on to Spain and the friendships that formed.
France was our first destination but as we moved on as a group into Spain we formed closer bonds with each other that helped our trip to feel less awkward. We have all likely grown apart now but at that time these friendships were extremely close. We were all away from our families and anything we’d ever known. We were all each other had at that time. I remember that I missed talking to my mom on her birthday because I hadn’t thought about the time difference and it hit me hard. My friends consoled me and comforted me through it. Strangely that event was very rough to get through because at that moment I realized just how far away I was. I wasn’t the only one who had an experience like that but each time we came together to help each other out.
I have learned from them a lot about friendships. Not every friendship is meant to last a lifetime, it just isn’t realistic to think that way. The best friendships are formed during trials and help us get through them. Parting with a friend shouldn’t always be a tearful goodbye, each of you have learned and grown from the experience and can now impart that knowledge and experience to other people and help the world.
Gracias my friends and gracias for being my friends.
Merci, French for thank you, the perfect title for a post about being grateful for my trip to France.
For those who don’t know what it is, the Louvre is THE art museum. Within its walls are masterpieces that we’ve all grown up hearing about. The Mona Lisa, Michelangelo’s David, the Winged Victory, and much, much, much more. Possibly one of the reasons that this spot is one of my favorites is because in April before our trip the summer of 2003, Dan Brown released one of his best books. The DaVinci Code featured the death of the curator of the Louvre and the opening sequence of the book was the travel through the empty museum. The intrigue brought longing for me to see this museum and be in the places it was talking about. To this day when I think of art my thoughts travel to the Louvre and on to Robert Langdon.
Another of those dream destinations that I have had the luxury of going to is the Eiffel Tower. Someday I will get a blog series going about my travels not only to save my thoughts for the future but also the pictures, but for now I will say this was awesome. Being able to go up the tower and see out for miles over the cityscape of Paris is breath taking, and not just for those afraid of heights.
The art and people I encountered on this trip opened my mind. I have a much greater respect for art since my time in France, and I like to think that actually meeting some of the people who live so far away and in some ways so similar a lifestyle but at the same time such a different lifestyle as we do has made me a better person.
I know its hard to read but the thing is, we all know what it says. This is the Bill of Rights. Within this document is laid out some of the most basic rights that we as Americans are granted. I am rightfully thankful for these freedoms; Speech, Religion, Press, Petitioning the Government, and others.
In the news everyday we are given glimpses of parts of the world where these most basic rights, that we sometimes don’t even think about, aren’t allowed. Thankfully most of the world is moving in the right direction but the fact is that the majority of the world’s population are not allowed even a percentage of the rights we are. I take this opportunity to tell you to think about them, to appreciate them, and to protect them.
Something we may not think about everyday but that we certainly are touched by everyday are the freedoms we have as Americans. I must pay tribute to the past, the present, and the future soldiers who have, are, and will fight to maintain them.
Coincidentally enough today is Veteran’s Day. A day that has been set apart for us to all spend just a bit of time thinking and thanking those people who have fought to make our country what it is today.
Throughout all of our lives we have known someone who has served and I must mention just a few of my connections. First and foremost my cousin, Michael. I will admit that I probably wouldn’t be much of a soldier but I would most definitely want Michael on my side. Ever since we were kids he always wanted to be the soldier and I always saw him as such. He was deployed over to the middle east many times and has thankfully returned to us safe and sound.
As I have gone through my family tree I have found many people have been enlisted at some point including my father, grandparents, uncles, and great-grands. Many friends and acquaintances have also been a part of the American military at one point as well.
To you, if you are reading this THANK YOU.