Friday, January 26, 2007

Pictures and Whatnot

Last weekend I spent some much-needed down-time up in northwest VT with the family and I stayed the weekend with my sister and grandmother, I also got to visit with my aunt, soon-to-be-cousin-by-marriage (?)(sorry, her name escapes me right now), and one of the newest additions to the family, stbcbm's adorable new baby boy, Isaiah. I had a good time while up there and I've gained a lot of insight. For reasons I won't explain right now, my sister & grandmother have been a huge blessing to me and have helped me to understand the rest of my family a little better. I actually owe many positive life changes to these two fine ladies. It is because of their wisdom and example that I am not so much of an angry person as I used to be. Also my dear sister keeps recommending good reading to me which has helped me see a lot of things differently. Speaking of which, I finally picked up the book: The Color Purple, by Alice Walker. It is much better than the movie and I can't believe that I've procrastinated for so long in reading it! I am already about 2/3 of the way through and quite impressed. Further proof that just because a book is frequently banned does not mean that it is literature without high merit.

...and a few pictures from my weekend:

Hats hanging in the entrance lobby in The Lincoln Inn in Essex Junction, VT, where my sister, grandmother, and I went for breakfast (a piece of local color that I would recommend by the way, not as good as it used to be, but still worth having a meal at).

Grandmother and Sister

Grandmother and I

In random other news, I'm still having issues with my roommate's cat, Mr. Spud (previously mentioned in this posting). He is very cute and I have no desire to eject him from the household, but he is still a discipline issue. Please consider that I am very permissive about where I allow cats to roam in my household, but food-surfaces such as kitchen counters and tables are strictly off-limits. He still gets up on the counters and tables regardless of all the discipline he's had. I've tried yelling, I've tried throwing light, noisy objects, I've tried scruffing and light smacking with a rolled newspaper (whenever caught in the act). All of this to no effect. It also does not help that he literally has developmental issues and it generally takes him seven times longer to pick up behavioral cues. So for lack of any other method working, I tried something new. I've noticed that my other cats do the usual cat-thingy and hiss while showing their teeth when his roughhousing with them gets out of hand, and he understands that perfectly well. So now whenever I catch him in the act of doing something which he shouldn't do, I take a threatening posture and bare my teeth, hissing very loudly and it actually WORKS. It looks ridiculous and I hope none of my neighbors ever see me doing this... but I am glad to finally have a working method for training him.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Religious & Apocalyptic Theory

For frequent readers who are not of religious mindset or are generally turned off by religious matters, I assure you that the following post will sound like a bunch of insane blather.

There have been a lot of spiritual queries and observations circulating around in my head lately... It is no secret that my first two decades of life in a fundamentalist/evangelical/baptist background have been both a blessing and a curse. The fundamentalists who I've encountered are mostly of the ilk who do not perceive themselves as being fundamentalists (and are offended if given this label). They think that they are purely acting as a tool of God, not bothering to question whether or not it is wise to follow a literal interpretation of a book which was written as a moral code for an ancient, largely undeveloped society. I frequently consider my past spiritual life and how it compares with my views in more recent times, how it all fits into the big picture, and I continue fighting to keep a clear perspective in order to stay on the right path.

Admittedly, I am not the best or most astute Christian... in fact I can be quite the "Doubting Thomas". I frequently call my own beliefs into question, I sometimes treat my religious outlook with irreverence in mixed company, and I often have a hard time with fundamentalism: despising the mindset while attempting to understand and love those who have been trapped by it. Despite this doubting nature, I still find myself right back at a place of Faith. I've also not cracked the cover of my Bible for almost a decade. One could say that I've developed an aversion to Bible-reading due to all the times that I've seen the Good Book used by cruel people as an instrument of control, an assault weapon, or as a torture device. As of lately, I am cautiously attempting to revisit the Scriptures with a new attitude and different mental framework, without the fundamentalist dogma filter... much of this with the hopes of subverting many of the lies which I frequently encounter within my family and the general Christian community.

This is all very overwhelming and I will confess that I am a bit disillusioned by a large part of Christianity because of it's rampant hypocrisy... People preaching about loving others while happily supporting a war with extraordinarily high collateral damage (and severe long-term repercussions); insecure men who claim to be spreading the love of Jesus while treating all the females in their life with utter contempt and allowing their family to rot and wither from the inside out; people in the church hierarchy who put on an heir of acceptance and love during services but outside of it they cast revulsion and complete disrespect toward women, homosexuals, and other ethnic groups. I've watched churches eject people for simply disagreeing with what the pastor says (wouldn't any pastor worth his salt attempt to gently explain his position?), and observed congregations who tame their guilty conscience by sending a token sum of money to missions overseas while completely ignoring the abundance of physical and spiritual need within their own community (it seems to be easier to look at a few photographs and read stories instead of confronting the problems head-on). I've heard all manner of sermons about the evils of sexual immorality yet the deacons and/or pastor physically and emotionally abuse their wives, keeping them subservient with the vague threat of salvation-loss or even physical harm. When women in some churches become pregnant outside of marriage, they suddenly become an object of ridicule and stigma... yet if it is found out that a man (within the church) had sex outside of marriage, he might get a slap on the wrist or his behavior is tacitly accepted as being just part of the nature of men. There are all these supposedly "Christian" political organizations who have all sorts of lofty spiritual aspirations on the surface, but a strong bloodlust and desire for control underneath it all. Men who claim that women are to be respected, then blame them for being raped or molested by insisting that it was the woman's own fault for wearing immodest clothing or unintentionally leading the aggressor on. Church folks who profess a strict moral code except when it directly contradicts their personal interests. A society of people who greedily consume material goods at the expense of other societies and the earth (as well as all the natural life that it contains). Instances where people who come to God seeking relief from drug or alcohol addiction are warmly accepted, yet are treated like the filthy stray dog who raided the garbage bin if they happen to lose their way and backslide a bit. I forget which blog I read it on, but I recently came across a quote that stated,"Christianity is one of the only religions which shoots it's own wounded." Regrettably, I have to agree with that statement somewhat. Am I sounding overly negative yet? I apologize, bear with me here.

I've read on various Christian websites about what a sorry state the world is in, supposedly because of the decrease in true Believers. Well I ask this: Why should everyone else believe? Would you go to a psychologist who talked to inanimate objects? Would you pay for the services of a doctor who never washed his hands and was always sick? Would you be quick to form an alliance with someone who commanded unquestioning loyalty, demanded complete control of all your thought processes, and severely persecuted or executed anyone who did not follow these requirements? I do believe that all churches and branches of Christianity suffer with the aforementioned problems to a greater or lesser degree. I also firmly believe that we are witnessing the False Church spoken of in Revelation, growing within the pews of our own churches today, feeding off of the ignorance and all of this fake intellectual/moral sanctimony. It seems to consist of the minds of those who would blindly follow a doctrine just because it says so in a book, bypassing all common sense or leadings of the Spirit, and engaging in the hypocritical behaviors mentioned in the last paragraph. In deference to the fact that none of us are perfect, I conjecture that the False Church exists in all of us in some measure, the two sides continuously having a knock-down, drag-out war with each other... the ultimate prize being control of the human consciousness. I confess that I often feel the war going on within my own self and am fighting every day to see clearly past the lies.

On the positive side, there are a lot of good things coming about as a result of this conflict within the religious world... things are starting to polarize... while the False Church spews hatred and punishment, there are Christian groups who are now practicing the true teachings of Christ and embracing areas of society which were previously considered too filthy to touch... with a humble heart (not a sense of moral superiority) taking in those who are broken by drugs, abuse, and ignorance, rebuilding them and turning them into stronger people and continuing to lay a healing hand on those whose struggle is not so easily won, regardless of how many times they mess up. The Spirit is starting to move deeply within the gay community... bringing about a new sense of awareness and spiritual strength to many 'former Christians' who have been ostracized by the teachings of the False Church. There are Many in all religions and walks of life who are mobilizing to fight the corrosive ideologies which have become so deeply rooted in our failing system. I have faith that regardless of how strong or prominent the Beast gets, there will always be a balancing, healing, understanding, transcending Presence that is even stronger.

Monday, January 15, 2007


I was just chatting with someone regarding html and the subject touched on the most obnoxious html tag known to man: the blink tag. I've not seen it in so long and it is not likely that I will EVER use it in any of my web-based creations. So here is a memorial to the seizure-inducing blink tag:

*a moment of austere silence if you please*


...and now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

By the way, I just noticed that five posts back was my 100th blog post. YIPPEEE!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Operation Banana Prank

So, my buddy Dimitri and I had the day off on Friday and we were really bored (and I mean really REALLY bored). So we decided to go back up the mountain on the north side of town to find the odd little shack that we accidentally discovered while lost in the woods last year (mentioned in this previous blog post). We have since determined that it is not the home of a mentally ill homeless person, but the frequent meeting place of a few outdoorsy locals who (judging from the copious amount of empty liquor bottles lying around) like to go up there once in a while for a wild night of drinking in the wilderness... on the front of a steep, rocky cliff no less (hmmm.. is this safe? lol). Just for giggles, we decided to do something to mess with their heads, so we brought along a plastic banana upon which we wrote in permanent marker,"Thank you for the wonderful acomodations, though your staff needs a bit more training in how to brew a good cup of Darjeeling," and we left it sitting on their wood stove. We did not touch or remove any of their belongings and we don't expect the prank to be understood or make any sort of sense, we just wanted to do something that would leave them trying to figure out what the heck their camp was used for while they weren't there. We decided to take the main trail back down the other side of the mountain, which turned out to be mostly ice. I forgot to wear my yaktraks (incidentally, a product which I VERY HIGHLY recommend for anyone who is serious about winter hiking) so I ended up slipping and landing directly on my coccyx on a softball size rock. I didn't break it, but now I am reminded of the fall whenever I go from a sitting to standing position. Karma for the prank I guess :-p.

My town framed by trees and rays of sun, this particular hike always offers awesome views.

Dimitri and I

The cabin, whoever built it did a great job building a solid structure out of odd scrap materials and cut saplings, rather ingeniously constructed.

The insides of the camp.

Weapon: Banana, Objective: Confusion
(Why? Because a plastic banana is, by nature, amusing and it is one of the last objects that one expects to find at their camp site.)

Mission Complete

Side note: this prank is pretty harmless and mild compared to some of the evil high jinks I pulled when I was a bit younger.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Home Remedies Posting #1

I'm the sort of person who only goes to the doctor when I am on my deathbed, which turns out to be maybe once or twice a decade... not prudent I know, but welcome to the life of a lowly retail employee who can't afford to give up over 1/3 of his check for health insurance and would be paying for a doctor's visit for a dang long time. Yeah yeah, story of half the workforce in this country, certainly not unique. As we know, necessity is the mother of invention, and over the years necessity has lead me to craft a number of inexpensive home remedies for various ailments. Some of these ideas or parts of them are directly stolen from someone else, but I'll write some of them down here anyway for the sake of whoever might benefit from them. I will stress that I am NOT a medical professional of any sort, I am merely stating recipes and/or methods which have worked for me.

Conjunctivitis Treatment:
As some of you may know, over the Holidays I contracted conjunctivitis from my dear little brother. It is a little-known fact that most cases of conjunctivitis will clear themselves up within a week, without the need for the expensive antibiotic eye drops that many health care practitioners prescribe. Here is the recipe for some wonderful compresses which I used for my own issue. They soothed the irritation and cleared me up very quickly.

1 tblsp. loose-leaf black tea leaves (or sub the contents of 2 black tea bags)
1 tblsp. eyebright herb
2 tblsp. rolled oats (uncooked oatmeal)
1 tsp. mint leaves
1 tblsp. dried chamomile flowers. (or sub. the contents of 1 chamomile tea bag)
1/4 cup witch hazel
1/2 cup water

Heat the water in a mug or small bowl to just below boiling, add black tea, eyebright, mint leaves, and chamomile, stir thoroughly and allow to steep for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the witch hazel and the oats into the water, stir again and wait 5 minutes. While it is still warm, pack a couple heaping tablespoons of this mixture into a compress composed of a coffee filter gathered up around the edges and tied off with a piece of string. Hold the compress on the afflicted eye for 10-20 minutes then gently wipe the eye with a clean washcloth from the inner canthus (corner closest to the nose) toward the outer canthus (corner closest to the ear). One may leave the compresses on their eye(s) overnight while sleeping by using a snug-fitting knitted winter cap pulled down over the eye area to keep the compress(es) in place.

Some things for speeding up cold/flu recovery:
We all know the traditional wisdom which states that one should get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, take vitamin C and/or zinc, and protect from a chilly environment, but if you want to speed up recovery time (and you are DESPERATE) this is what to use:

2 fresh, uncooked cloves of garlic, peeled, crushed, diced, and swallowed like a handful of pills with water. Yeah, it tastes horrible and your household cohabitators will likely avoid you like a powerfully garlic-scented plague, but garlic has long been known as one of the best things to take in order to bolster immunity. Take in the evening before bedtime so the potent effects will be minimized by morning.

Drink LOTS of green tea... a powerful detoxifier and rich source of antioxidants.
It helps to tune up your immune system to work more efficiently. (I've found it also helps to nullify some of the garlic odor if you try that method in addition to this).

Horseradish, used heavily as a garnish on some sort of food, or if you're just plain suicidal, take it directly by the spoonful. Another immune system enhancer and it clears sinuses rather effectively.

Heavily curried foods.

Sore Throat:
Licorice Root tea - I had severe strep throat about 5 years ago and this was recommended to me by an excellent nurse practitioner who had a heavy focus on holistic & herbal medicine. I was surprised how well it worked.

Chamomile tea with a tablespoon of lemon juice and a tablespoon of honey in it.

Seasonal Allergies:

I used to have severe seasonal allergies which kept me miserable from mid April until late October and I was on antihistamines for about 2/3 of this time (which usually left me spacey, tired, and irritable). Now I take them very rarely and usually only if I am traveling far from home.
This method was recommended to me a few years ago by a knowledgeable friend, and I thought it was crazy-talk at first, but I decided to try it any way and I can honestly say that it worked: locally-raised, raw, unfiltered honey, a teaspoon a day. It does not have to be taken straight either, you can mix it in with your tea, coffee, oatmeal, cereal, or spread it on your toast.

Let me first explain that it is very important to obtain honey which is collected within 50 miles of where you live, the closer the better, and it MUST be unfiltered/raw and this is why: raw honey contains a wide assortment of various pollens and other plant-based debris which are the most common causes of seasonal allergies (filtered honey contains almost none of these allergens and will not serve any purpose in this capacity). When one takes a teaspoon of it faithfully, every day, they are ingesting micro-doses of the allergens which commonly cause their allergic reactions. This is not usually enough to trigger any sort of noticeable allergy symptoms, yet it is enough to start building up a resistance to said allergens, much in the same fashion that allergy shots do for many folks. It is important to buy raw honey locally because honey produced by bees visiting plants a long distance away contains pollens which are genetically unique enough that they may not build up a resistance to your local plant allergens. It typically takes at least 3-6 months to notice a lessening in seasonal allergy symptoms and almost a full year before the full effect is realized, but trust me, it is totally worth it and honey costs much less than allergy shots or meds.

Now if only there were such a thing as honeybees who lived on household dust, then ALL of my allergies would be in check.
More home remedies to be posted as I remember them.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Whitman's Wit

One of my other reading projects lately is a biography/tribute by the author Helen Nearing, written primarily about life with her late husband, the activist & writer, Scott Nearing. The book is entitled Loving and Leaving the Good Life, a beautiful recollection of her husband's passion for life. In the fourth chapter, she quotes the preface to Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. For the most part, I found this passage to be wise and well-written and I wanted to share it here:

Life is a school, exactly adapted to your lesson.
Your present life is only a chapter out of the middle of a book.
You have written previous chapters and you will write later ones.
You are your own author.

The love of one's country is a natural thing. But why stop at the

So think as if your every thought were to be etched in fire upon
the sky for all and everyone to see. And so in truth it is.

So speak as if the world entire were but a single ear intent on
hearing what you say. And so in truth it is.

So do as if your every deed were to recoil upon your head. And
so in truth it does.

So live as if your God himself had need of you, his life to live.
And so in truth He does.

Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms
to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote
your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not con-
cerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people,
take your hat off to nothing known or unknown or to any man
or number of men, go freely with the powerful uneducated persons
and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these
leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-
examine all you have been told at school or church or in any
book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul...

Saturday, January 06, 2007


I've had a heck of a green thumb since I was only 4 years old. There is something about digging in the dirt and growing your own food which I find very relaxing and fulfilling. It has been over 2 years since I abandoned all my outdoor gardening projects due to neighbors who will not control their children and keep them from trampling my plots and ripping the plants up. So far I've been perfectly OK with this, dreaming that some day I will have a huge garden again when I own my own land and am able to erect a barrier fence around it should the need arise. Now all those blasted seed catalogs start arriving in the mail. I don't have the heart to throw them away, but I also avoid them because I know what it will do to me if I even take one little peek... and yesterday it happened. My compulsive side opened to a listing of heirloom-variety tomatoes and I found myself fighting the urge to unpack the gardening tools in the basement. Deep breaths, deep breaths, must be smart about this and wait.... :-)

Friday, January 05, 2007

Reflecting on 2006

The past year has been a year of learning, a time of extremes and a time of turning my shrewd, critical eye back on myself. I have had to slash and burn a lot of excess out of my life in order to set myself back into a state of receptiveness and growth... much in the same fashion that one has to prune the appropriate parts off of an apple tree if it is to bear more fruit in the future.

What I have learned:

  • Bad things will happen to good people regardless. Common sense and careful planning will minimize them, but won't completely eliminate the possibility of them happening. So keep them in the back of your head, but don't let the potential for said bad things rule you and steer your life. One can't simultaneously have true happiness while living in a personal ice fortress that was built to keep the bad people out.
  • The world does not revolve around me. There are causes, ideologies, and forms of spirituality which are far bigger than myself and they deserve far more attention.
  • I have technically now been reclassified as a liberal democrat/libertarian/communist instead of a centrist because anyone who disagrees with the Bush administration's ideologies often gets labeled as a disloyal, namby-pamby pinko commie faggot (or so I've learned from catching occasional doses of venom from folks such as Rush Limbaugh & Anne Coulter on their radio shows).
  • Don't take life quite so seriously. All work and no play makes Nonsequitur a dull boy. While it's important to maintain a good work ethic and be mindful of the fashion in which one lives and presents themself... there is also laughter, love and music to be had.
  • Love thy neighbor... try to see things from their perspective and strive to find the common Good in them. It isn't always easy, but it is one of the most essential practices for being in connection with the Divine.
  • Trite but true: Don't sweat the small stuff. If it won't matter tomorrow, next month, or 5 years down the road, what does it matter now?
  • Emotions can't be left unchecked. Yeah, they're there for a reason, but they don't serve you well when your hand is always on the trigger. It has been especially hard for me to learn to reign them in... I come from a family of reactionaries. I am now constantly reminding myself to examine my first impulse long and hard before acting on it.
  • Walk away from problems which are eating up loads of your energy, but not producing any results. I was raised on the idea that hard work and an iron will can accomplish anything... not true. If anything, setting down an issue for a while or walking away from it can give you time to reflect and maybe revisit it later with a different set of tools.
  • Forgive.
  • Openly admitting your faults takes away most of your adversaries' ammunition.
  • Cheap dish detergent isn't worth it, you end up having to use three times as much.
  • The bumper sticker saying is true: "It is important to speak your mind, even if your voice quivers."
  • Stainless hoop earrings are very tempting toys for parrots, but hazardous to the people that they are attached to if within range of parrots.
  • For Heaven's sake, I really need to get into the habit of leaving my car keys in the same location consistently!