September 30, 2003

The Mouth of the Righteous Speaketh Wisdom, and His Tongue Talketh of Judgment.

That's from the book of Psalms, chapter 37, and verse 30 from the Holy Bible.

I was brought up in the Pentecostal church and in spite of my devout atheism today I find that the language of King James, especially when followed by listing of book, chapter, and verse, still carries quite a bit of drama and flare.

It's just so John-Goodman-is-about-to-whack-you-in-the-head-with-a-tree-limb or perhaps a little more ominous.

Anyway, the stylistic virtues of biblical quotations are not the topic of this entry. The topic of this entry is judgment and the point of the Bible quotation is to bring no small amount of attention to my proclivity for sermonizing and passing judgment, mostly the latter.

Late 1996, I acquired some information that made me realize that my friends in high school were never completely honest with me. It wasn't that they lied per say, but they certainly withheld information. Not information I needed to know, mind you. It was their personal information. Information they had every right to withhold at their discretion. On the other hand, it was information that they might have disclosed, or so I thought, to someone they considered to be a close friend.

But they didn’t disclose it to me and I felt betrayed.

As it was revealed to me, whether or not it’s true, my friends didn’t want to disappoint me.

See, while I remain relatively dogmatic in my adherence to principles and yet also maintain a habit of moralizing, in my youth the source of my philosophical understanding was religion. Translation: I was a Bible thumper.

Apparently, my friends thought I was right in what I was saying (I wasn’t) but they didn’t follow their belief with action and they felt that their hypocrisy would be a disappointment. I denied it at the time but frankly, it would have. Nevertheless I would have been polite and sensitive about it.

Today, I find myself in a similar situation but unwilling to deny my judgment its name and voice.

I don’t particularly care to get into the details, but I find myself reflecting on those feelings of bewilderment and betrayal that I felt before. In addition to that, I also find myself insulted.

But really? Honestly?

I just want to roll my eyes at folks who do this. Perhaps today's sermon should have been titled: Get over it and get on with life.

It’s true. I don’t think highly of the fact that they’re guilty of committing some sin. I also don’t think highly of the attempt to cover it up. There. I did it. I’ve totally judged you just now.

But the other hand points to the fact that I judged you before this moment, too, and some how I still count you as my friend.

But who cares what I think? Because another thing that I think is "People who constantly think about what I may be thinking aren't thinking about very much at all." And that's even with my high opinion of myself.

The person who inspired this small homily agrees although with some grudging emotional dead-weight yet to cut loose.

So, with a gesture similar to the one used to shoo flies, "You're still moving too slowly. Hurry up. I miss my friend."

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September 28, 2003

So, Tell Me Whacha Want, Whacha Really, Really Want!

So, I've been looking around the internet at different blogs and personal sites for ideas for this site.

The truth is, I'm the sort of person who sometimes just does SOMEthing to avoid doing NOthing. That's what has happened with this site.

I set it up because I spend no small amount of my personal time surfing the internet and reading different web sites and I started feeling like the conversation was a bit one-sided.

But the question to me is that of format.

Would it be better to write lots of short, personal, informal entries or fewer, longer, more carefully edited entries that focus more on current events? The former seem to attract more readers. I think it's related to the reality TV phenomenon. The latter, however, more easily garner my respect.

That's not to say that there isn't anything in between. Look at Andrew Sullivan.

And that also isn’t to say that those other kinds aren’t respectable. Johndavid.diaryland.com is a prime example of a blog that has adopted a personal approach and I respect it quite a bit. But there’s a reason his blog is that way.

I guess that strikes to the heart of the matter: What precisely is the reason for this blog?

Obviously, I want some attention. Otherwise, I'd buy a notebook and journal until my fingers bleed.

I'm also trying to practice writing and argumentation. I want to bring a little more awareness to ideas and issues for those who read my site. I'd also like to amuse and entertain. And after a long list of just these sorts of goals, I'm left wondering if they're mutually exclusive goals or if they can be integrated here in a single forum.

I suppose that's what we're here to find out.

Hmmm…

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September 24, 2003

How Your Bright Lights and Honking Lead to Death and Destruction, You Stupid Twit

This evening I left class enjoying the cool autumn air and struggling to understand the bombast of Mahler's 8th symphony. My drive started out as nothing worthy of mention even to the point where I noticed either a fire truck or an ambulance speeding around the curve behind me. There was but a single, small truck behind me and the road was two lanes with no shoulder.

Naturally, I did what one is supposed to do in these situations. I stopped.

The truck behind me apparently found my actions to be unintelligible as he nearly rear-ended me and proceeded to honk and flash his lights at me. To my mind, that is reason to conclude that he is not the observant driver we all hope he would be.

I watched the fire truck turn into a subdivision behind us.

Lately, I've been making an effort so, though I was irritated, I made a conscious effort to ignore that rude man behind me.

It’s over. No need to dwell on it.

Then, an ambulance rounded the curve in front of me. So, I carefully slowed to stop once more. Again, the annoying little truck flashed his lights. I did not budge until the Ambulance had passed. At least the driver behind me didn’t honk this time.

Now, let me tell you all something: Not only is it the law to either pull over or stop when an emergency vehicle approaches with lights ablaze and sirens awail, it is at the very height of civil conduct to defer to their special authority. That's right. There are lives on the line and the least you can do is pull over or stop the car for a minute.

Now, the certain driver, a white male in his late 20’s to early 30's with auburn hair and goatee, of the truck, a green, Nissan XE pickup truck with Forsyth county plates numbered 486 YRP, from tonight clearly lacked this bit of home training.

But I’ve recently noticed that this is nearly as common as it is abhorrent.

Mothers of the world, please teach your children better. The rules are clear and easy: When you see the lights and hear the siren, pull over and stop. If there is no shoulder or you are in traffic, simply stop. The only exception is that if there is a median, then you may proceed without pause.

I see two sound arguments for why people should abide by this rule.

First, someone’s life IS in danger. The ambulance drivers, firemen, and police officers of our great nation are not simply out joy-riding. By acting without due deference, you’re obstructing their ability to do their jobs. You are directly aggravating an already bad situation and indirectly contributing to the possible mutilation and death of the unfortunate victims of tragedy.

And you still look your mother in the eye.

Second, and corollary to the first, it is the job of our government to secure our rights against physical violence. That IS the proper role of the government. When you stand in the way of proper police action, then you stand in the way of our government and the protection of our, including your very own, rights.

Now, what other judgment could possibly be laid upon this citizen of Forsyth County, driver of a green, Nissan XE pickup truck with tag number 496 YRP?

My mind is flooded with creative invective.

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September 23, 2003

Deep Thoughts and Lunchtime Banter

I recently got into an uncharacteristically deep conversation with a friend of mine today about spirituality. It’s not that I’m not prone to so-called “deep” conversations. It’s just that she and I usually don’t talk about such things. We have a mutual understanding that we are both people passionate about our ideas and that our stated ideas on this topic are in violent opposition.

My first comment on the matter is that one must be terribly careful when speaking with friends about religion, philosophy, or just spirituality in general. I could easily lump other subjects, such as politics, into the category of things-to-approach-carefully-in-casual-conversation.

The sort of clarity and specificity that is required to discuss philosophy fruitfully is often frustrating. One must first define all the terms carefully, because more often than not you can’t rely on your partner having the same understanding of some crucial term that you have. Further, Ayn Rand named reason eloquently as “the art of non-contradictory identification,” which means that so-called "hair-splitting" or dismissively labled arguments of semantics are actually of significant importance to clarity of thought and discovery of truth.

Another point of frustration for some is that people often have a certain amount of undue pride on these matters. No one wants to think that they don’t “get it” or that they don’t have a sound grasp of the very concepts about which their lives and happiness are established. I would be quick to point out that there is no shame in admitting a mistake and changing one's mind toward the acceptance of truth. However, a refusal to do so in light of reasonable argument is perhaps the greatest sin one can commit.

In summary of the above, I'd say simply that philosophy generally makes for unpalatable conversation among common, polite society. The reasons for that are for another post, however.

Thus, my second comment on this extraordinary event is that the conversation wasn’t terribly satisfying, and I dare speak for both of us on this matter. I highly respect her opinion and thoughts and I know that she’s intelligent enough to put a sound, objective value on the conversation. I'm sure we agree: It wasn’t a very good conversation on the matter.

But it made me think. What’s up with all this religion business? How does spirituality play into these, our modern lives? Where are so many people missing the point?

More to come…

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September 19, 2003

You're My Number One Fan

Today, I learned that I have a reader. In fact, I ate lunch with my reader and she told me that she read my new website.

I guess I should first qualify my claim of readership. She had seen my website before I started this blog, back when it was mostly just pictures of me and my friends and an advertisement to buy my car. (It’s still for sale by the way. Make me an offer!)

But the old site has been down for a while and this one has been a coming soon page, so I didn’t think anyone was looking anymore. But, lo! Here she is! She mentioned that she had read my list completely without me prompting her to do so.

I’m also aware that I have shown people my new website, but this is my first spontaneous reader, nay, fan!

And so we had lunch.

We ate at the erratic East-West Bistro. The food was very good this time. I had the Barbados Chicken Sandwich because I felt like living life on the edge. I was pleasantly surprised.

Don’t mistake. East-West is a nice restaurant. They some really good entrees and I enjoy going there every now and then. But I say they’re erratic because sometimes you get food that is not delightful. And sometimes the service is spotty. But today, it was on the mark.

I suggest trying it out sometime if you’re here and feel like eating some place nice that doesn’t fall in the category of “regular food.”

My companion was lovely as usual. I am constantly struck by how casually glamorous and beautiful she is every day. She really is one of the most physically beautiful women I’ve ever seen and her company is very pleasant as well. This always makes for a good time.

She told me, among other things, that I need to update my website. So, here’s to you, my beautiful, first, spontaneous reader! Thank you again for a wonderful lunch.

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September 08, 2003

37 Times Three or 111 Things About Me

1. I’m gay. All the live-long day.
2. I’m libertarian but not Libertarian. I’m mostly optimistic about them, though.
3. I’m atheist and thus prone to offensive fits of blasphemy.
4. I’m a Capitalist, too. In summary of this and the previous two points allow me to further clarify and say that I’m an Objectivist. Bring on the haters!
5. I’m charming when I want to be but mostly I don’t play well with others.
6. I’m cute but I’m not exactly sure what I look like unless I’m looking in a mirror. This is problematic at times.
7. I enjoy dumb jokes.
8. I cannot sing very well but I can sing very loudly. And so I do. In the car. A lot. I will not stop singing in the car if you’re looking at me from the car next to me and we make eye contact.
9. I also dance in the car. I don’t stop that if you look at me either.
10. I am aware of the fact that you wish you were at this party. It’s ok. I have that awareness of everyone.
11. I’m self-centered.
12. I’m a sectional eater.
13. Though, I eat bread now and then, I can’t honestly say that I like it very much.
14. I don’t like Mexican food.
15. I don’t like Chinese food.
16. I don’t like mixing fruits and vegetables.
17. I don’t like mixing sweet things with savory things, e.g. Pineapple and ham pizza, honey-baked ham, steak with chocolate sprinkles.
18. I am not a picky eater. I will try it once or even twice but I know what I like and don’t like.
19. I hate trying to plan dinner parties around people with special eating habits like vegetarianism but I do it if they’re good people.
20. I have a lengthy list of places I really don’t want to visit at the top of which is India.
21. I’m judging you. It’s ok. I do that to everyone.
22. I don’t have many very close friends. I think there’s too much obligation in friendship for most people. I like to keep things simple and do as I please.
23. I’ll be rich.
24. I’ll live in New York City.
25. I’ve often been accused of being insensitive but, to clarify, I know how you probably feel, I just think that’s more your business than mine.
26. I was a nude model. That’s more my business than yours but I did it for the money and to see if I could. I can. Now, I won’t.
27. I worked construction for a while. I was sure I hated manual labor before that and I’m sure I hate it now.
28. I love skyscrapers, airplanes, laser beams, computers, cars, tanks, movies, and all such wonderful things.
29. I like plants and animals. In gardens and zoos, respectively. Some animals are allowed to be pets, too.
30. I hate monkeys and birds. Monkeys especially. I also hate spiders.
31. I am an anti-environmentalist in the popular sense of the word.
32. I’m a Type A personality.
33. I ALWAYS have a plan B.
34. I’m on time.
35. I’m a creature of habit.
36. I miss Jared more than anyone really but I did what had to be done.
37. I don’t miss Dyess specifically but I do miss him generally.
38. Bad things don’t happen to me.
39. My body sleeps exactly 8 hours each night if I don’t interfere with it.
40. I had laser eye surgery. Photorefractive Keratomileusis to be exact.
41. The toenail on the toe next to my big toe on my left foot comes off with some regularity albeit infrequent. It’s very strange and undeniably gross but it doesn’t really hurt.
42. The most important thing I ever learned is that I can do anything I put my mind to. My mom taught me that.
43. I enjoy a life without regret. I think that if you don’t want to be sorry you shouldn’t do things for which you’ll be sorry later. I taught myself that.
44. I’m shy in a peculiar way and I embarrass easily.
45. I have a very difficult time recognizing people’s faces.
46. I can remember things I read very easily.
47. I think that people are generally pretty good but I also think they’re usually in my way.
48. My favorite book is Atlas Shrugged. My favorite color is red. My favorite singer is Sheryl Crow. My favorite food is the chicken Cuban sandwiches served at Caliente Cab.
49. I have expensive tastes.
50. I like to be spoiled.
51. There are lots of things that I want just for the sake of owning them like power tools, dresses, jewels, buildings, laser beams, cars, and hydroelectric dams.
52. The farthest distance I have ever run without stopping as of this date is 9.4 miles. (9/8/3) It took a long time and I was very tired but when I was done I wanted to do it again.
53. I love water. I like to swim. I take very long showers. I like the rain.
54. I like to wear suits.
55. I do not like being in direct sunlight.
56. When I go from relative darkness to a relatively bright place, I sneeze.
57. I have a sister that people have often mistaken for my twin even though she’s 3 years younger than me.
58. I hate “mouth noises” but I’m trying to get used to them. These are the noises that discourteous and ill-mannered people make by chewing with their mouth open, slurping their food, or licking their fingers. I don’t mind so much that they do these things; I just wish they’d be quiet about it.
59. I walk fast. I drive really fast. I do these for lots of reasons but one of the biggest is the fact that I despise being “in transit.”
60. I smell things.
61. I love work.
62. I have ranked all of the single digit numbers in order of my favorite to least favorite. The rankings are as follows: 3, 7, 2, 1, 5, 0, 9, 8, 6, 4. The order was created based upon rules I made up to make sure that my favorite numbers were first.
63. I have a deep and profound admiration for those who excel in the areas of science and mathematics.
64. I didn’t really think Office Space was that funny overall.
65. I’ve only walked out of one movie in my life and that was Insomnia. I ought to have walked out of The Royal Tennenbaums and Eyes Wide Shut. I would have walked out of Bloodwork and Punch-Drunk Love, but it would have imposed upon my company in a bad way – or so I thought.
66. I’ve gone to the movies alone several times but I’ve never gone to a restaurant to eat alone.
67. I hate renting movies or watching them on TV. I almost always fall asleep. I think I learned that from my mom, too, but she actually likes to rent movies and watch them on TV. Maybe I learned it from my Gramma.
68. I like to read things I’ve written aloud to people.
69. I rock at dodge ball.
70. I don’t like hippies or curse words although I think they both have their place. Without getting into too much detail about it, that place is hell.
71. I’ve learned that being called a “sell-out” is actually a compliment. I usually like to buy what they’re selling.
72. After seeing the sequel, I earnestly gave thought to what it would take to have a little speaker box greet me in my office every day with “Good Morning, Angels.”
73. I like to rap.
74. I broke my leg once in second grade and had to spend many weeks in a body cast. I got around by pushing myself on a mechanic's creeper. My mom came up with that idea when my sister broke her own leg. The two events were otherwise unconnected.
75. Sarcasm is too easy. I tend to think ill of those who praise it as sophisticated humor.
76. I really enjoy Saturday morning cartoons.
77. I am passionate about Art. Several of my favorite artists are, in no particular order, Maxfield Parrish, Alphonse Mucha, Sam Axton, Bernini, Jack Vettriano, and JW Waterhouse. I hate Kahlo, Miro, Duchamp, Picasso, Zurburan, Cezanne, Dali, Rothko, and most acclaimed artists after 1914.
78. I have a knack for language.
79. I enjoy filling out surveys and questionnaires.
80. I like lists, maps, tables, graphs, charts, dictionaries, encyclopedias and generally all forms of information that is presented in an orderly, condensed format.
81. I really like ice-cream a whole lot and my favorite flavor is vanilla. I also like it when the ice-cream has melted just a little and refrozen. Due to the slower re-freezing process, the ice-cream contains larger ice crystals and gives it the texture and flavor I like. I’ve been told that this preference represents an unsophisticated taste.
82. I have a dislike for having to explain myself that ranges from mild irritation to extreme frustration but I do like to brag in detail.
83. I’ve never done illicit drugs but I think they should be made legal.
84. My favorite pet as a child was a dog named Murphy. I was sad after I saw her get hit by a truck while I was waiting for the school bus.
85. I wish more people would get abortions. They need them.
86. I am upset by the state of modern politics, modern art, and modern philosophy. But I am happier than most to live in these modern times.
87. I have a thing for motorcycles but I’ve never driven one before.
88. I’d like to learn to surf, mountain climb, skydive, and scuba dive. One day I’ll probably actually spend time learning those things.
89. I’d like to learn to fix cars, build computers, build houses, fly an airplane, and make my own clothes. It is extremely unlikely that I will spend any time learning those things.
90. Until July of 2003 I hadn’t done my own laundry for almost 4 years.
91. I started college as a history/political science major with a minor in Spanish. I graduated college with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts Degree for Interdisciplinary Studies in Digital Media and a minor in Spanish. Now, I’m after my Masters of Business Administration. Never once have I been without a 5 year plan.
92. The best compliment anyone ever gave me was to say, “You’re going to be a great dad.” It’s too bad that the person who said it didn’t know me very well and didn’t mean it to be a statement of fact.
93. I love lemon-filled doughnuts.
94. I like Sprite from the fountain but not from a can or a bottle.
95. I don’t sit and relish the flavor of foods I love. I eat them as fast as possible.
96. I was recently informed that before I’m about to gripe about something I usually ask the question, “Do you know what I hate?” or some variation thereof.
97. I love roller coasters.
98. I’ll leave a message if I want to be called back. Otherwise, let it go.
99. When in a restaurant I often prefer to look at the menu of the person next to me over the one in front of me. I usually order the same thing every time.
100. My dad’s pet name for me growing up was “Toadman” and my mother used to tell people I am an alien (the kind from outer space). They used both in good humor and affection but I didn’t like it.
101. I do not ever want to be “unplugged.” I refuse to plan for my own death, and if I do ever die, you’ll be sorry.
102. Some of my favorite movies are French Kiss, Steel Magnolias, The Long Kiss Good Night, Silence of the Lambs, Moulin Rouge, and Grosse Point Blank.
103. The soundtrack of my life contains music by Sheryl Crow, Blind Melon, Antonin Devorak, Tim McGraw, ABBA, and Wyclef Jean.
104. I never really believed in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth-Fairy. It was always just a fun game of pretend that my parents used to play with us but they never told us it was real. This is the way things ought to be. Don’t lie to children!
105. When I get angry, my face turns bright red. And I forget why I’m mad almost as quickly. Then, I tend to be too forgiving. I know why and I’m working on it.
106. I’m usually the last to know. At least I think I am. I am usually the first to forget, so it’s hard to tell whether or not I knew before.
107. My nickname at work is “Evil Warlord.”
108. My favorite two drinks from Starbucks are White Chocolate Mocha and White Chocolate Mocha Frappachino. I drink one or the other almost every week day.
109. On the Meyers-Briggs personality test, I am an ESTJ. This means that I am the boss of you. Based upon DiSC personality testing, I’m a D which stands for “still the boss of you.” Some have mused that perhaps the D stands for something other than that. You’re fired.
110. I am allergic to a substance that I have not yet been able to identify. I also suspect that I am allergic to penicillin.
111. I like giving gifts.

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