Bumper stickers?

Just got the new Northern Sun catalog, with it's plethora of bumper stickers. I thought that maybe if I get enough bumper stickers, I can cover up the spots where the paint is peeling off the Camry. Tee-hee.

Here are some of the possible candidates:

Want to save a trillion dollars? End the wars.

Going to war over religion is like killing people to see who has the best imaginary friend.

For once, I'd like to vote for the greater of two goods.

Darwin loves you.

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.

Hatred is not a family value.

Slower minds keep right.

I think, therefore I'm dangerous.

Born okay the first time.

Hang up and drive.

Keep your butt (cig butt pictured) in the car. The Earth is not your ashtray.

If ignorance is bliss, why aren't more people happy?

Ignore your rights and they'll go away.

Nobody knows the exact age of the human race, but everyone agrees it is old enough to know better.

Unhappy for seven decades or Be Happy

Unhappy for seven decades or Be Happy (a nicer title for this post)

It's terrible to discover someone who is nearly 70 and is unhappy. It's almost enough to make you feel sad, even unhappy.

Speaking with my MIL yesterday, I realized what a miserable existence she has created for herself.

She is intensely unhappy and unhappy with her life. Among the things she said was that she has had to "settle all her life". Another thing of note was that her house (currently on the market) was her "dream house", and it was what she always wanted out of life. She said she has "no interests, nothing (she) likes to do". And then she bemoaned that she can't afford what she wants to do: sew, garden and bake. Here is a woman so wrapped up in being unhappy that she can't find or make pleasure in what she supposedly likes.

Then after endlessly talking about how bad her life is and how unhappy she is, she says that she has no one who understands and no real friends. Is she kidding? Would you want to hang out with someone so miserable?

Then she started to vent how it was everyone else's fault. How she always tried to make other people happy. How she always had to be the giver. How (again) she had to settle.

Well, let me tell you what: It was all pretty depressing to hear. But here I am the next morning, happy with life.

So a few words about happiness and life in general. To start with, the only person you are responsible for "making happy" is yourself. Happiness boils down to finding contentment where you are, doing things you enjoy, and expressing that in the place you call home.

Happiness doesn't mean you're bouncing, bubbly all the time. It's okay to get mad, even pissed, and vent it. There are legitimate reasons for sadness: death, pain, disappointment. Happiness is a general assessment of your life, not always reflective of the immediate situation in which you find yourself. It is hard to be happy at someone's deathbed, for example. But even then I have thought about the good things that dying person experienced.

Happiness, I believe, has to do with contentment primarily. Some might say it includes making the most of a bad situation. I say it means working with the situation you are in. I have been in spots where a soft pillow and a hard night's sleep have been the best thing in that bad situation.

Some people say happiness is living for today. I say that another day is coming. Time heals a lot of wounds and time also gives perspective to any situation. With time, a situation changes, and eventually you will move beyond it into something different.

I have lived out of a bag before, a 60 LB duffel. My life was been reduced to 60 LBS of basic stuff, having given away all my things, to move abroad. My car was placed in storage, too expensive to give away. What I took were the essentials and ME. And that's what it boils down to. Can you live with yourself? After all, it's essentially all we have entering this world and leaving it. So it is within yourself that you find contentment and happiness, because that's all we actually have.

When my MIL talked about the dream house she is selling because she can't afford it, she was heartbroken because it defined her. She saw herself as the house. The house was the cumulative work of her life. But this was a house that was her dream alone. When it was built, her husband didn't want it. It wasn't his dream. That house represented a long road of discontentment his wife had always traveled on. Never satisfied with what she had. Always wanting something bigger, something better; it was never enough.

And now the house is too much. Her husband (my FIL) left her for a woman content with her life, happy with what she has, happy in and of herself.

I tried to explain that my house didn't define me. My home that I created within the walls of my modest home expressed my life that I had created and reflected the happiness I have. It's not even the people inside the home, whom I love and enjoy being with. I am at home where ever I am because I am happy with my life, I am happy with me.

When my MIL spoke of how she had no interests, and then spoke of how she couldn't do what she wanted because it cost too much, I was flabbergasted by her explanation. She said a cake would cost $25 to make. Since when?? But if you don't blink when you shell out $60 for a shirt, maybe you don't make cakes from scratch like the rest of us.

She bitched about how much garden equipment costs. What did people do on the frontier, or just 50 years ago without a Lowes 10 miles away? I thought of my grandmother pinching leaves from annuals to make cuttings. Those Coleus cuttings sat in old prescription bottles on the window sill all winter awaiting planting in the spring.

Then my MIL complained about how much it costs to sew. I remember when she decided to try quilting. She complained it cost $80 to make a quilt because she had bought the batting and matching squares from the fabric store. Recently, my dad gave me some old photos of his parents. In one picture, my grandparents were courting and Granny was wearing a dress with a very distinctive pattern. Three children and at least 10 years later, there's a picture of her in a different outfit, but it's that same distinctive patterned cloth. Granny made her own clothes and she quilted too. Granny was part of a quilting bee. Everyone brought scraps to contribute to those community quilts.

It seems some people are never satisfied with life, always finding something wrong. Well, how the hell can you be happy with that attitude? It makes me wonder if there is anything that will "make" you happy, if you can't find contentment on your own.

And then there are her complaints about others: How she always tried to make other people happy. How she always had to be the giver. How she had to settle.

First, you can not depend on others to make you happy. Only you can do that. It's not your job to make anyone happy. Make peace, sure. Help others, okay. You can create positive experiences. You can be a pleasure to be around. But as for happiness, that's an individual thing that everyone has to find on their own.

Second, if you are of the opinion that you are always the giver, stop playing the martyr. A lot of people give of themselves. Sometimes, it's a small thing like listening to you bitch about your life. Sometimes, it's a lifelong commitment like being a parent, and that's what being a parent is about. So suck it up and join those who aren't walking around with a cross strapped to their backs.

And third, so sorry you had to "settle". Unless you're a Rockefeller or Rothschild, you will have to "settle". (And even those wealthy families came up against trust busting and the Holocaust.) No one gets the best life has to offer but you can make the best out of what you get.

My MIL says she won't settle this time. Well good luck with that. You just hold firm to your selling price on your dream home. It hasn't sold in 3 and 1/2 years and this was the only offer you've had. You live in a poor county, with little zoning, and terrible schools, in the middle of chicken shit country. When a buyer offers $40K less than your asking price, don't get personally offended. It's the way the game works.

As for your new "dream house" that will cost $200 K, you think that if you hold to your asking price, you can pay the $65K off on the old mortgage and have this new "dream house" with no mortgage, look at the bigger picture. The cost-of-living is higher. Higher taxes, higher groceries, higher utility costs. And then there's the annual association dues which will go up. And all the maintenance-free stuff isn't free. There will be associated and non-associated costs (things not covered in the contract). You'll also need a new Cadillac soon. And then there will be something else- another new sofa, new paint, new counter tops- because you're not happy. You seem to equate happiness with stuff, after all. And let's not forget the cost of keeping up with the Jones.

But you don't want to settle, do you? If you settled, you could buy a nice used or bank owned property for a lot less. Sure, you might have to pay for upkeep, but it's the same as those association and maintenance fees. But the easiest answer would be if you had "settled" a long time ago. I imagine one of the five homes you've owned could have made other people a nice home, a happy home. And you wouldn't have to worry about a mortgage now, in past years, or in years to come. And you would have a nice little nest egg. Perhaps you could have spent it on those things you can't afford now, like $25 cakes and more $80 make-your-own-quilts.

I know my $55K home isn't what you would have "settled" for, ever. But somehow, I have made a home for myself. The outside may make a house, but it's what is inside that makes a home. And it's a happy home, with happy people inside, filled with things we enjoy doing both separately and together. Life is what you make it. Find happiness, it's all around.

Oglethorpe County GA Stinks...of chicken shit

Day three of Chicken Shit HELL here in Oglethorpe County, Georgia, USA.

Every month or two there are several days- upwards of several weeks- of chicken shit hell in Oglethorpe County, Georgia. The local chicken farmers, who have factory farm quantity chicken houses, dump their shit- the actual SHIT- everywhere. They perilously race down the back roads and highways dropping shit as they go. Reaching cow pastures, family held land holdings, and other tracts, they spread TONS of dry shit. And it is TONS because there are MILLIONS of chickens in these chicken houses all over the county.

With no concern for neighbors, the chicken houses are in all parts of the county, adjacent to towns and cities. The house fans blow the smell, the filth, and and waste onto neighboring properties and into waterways. The buffers are so small that people can't open the windows without the fans blowing chicken feathers against the screens and the smells are so bad that many of us can not open the windows at all.

Cook outs for Memorial Day weekend have been cancelled because, once again, our not-nice-at-all neighbors dumped tons of dry shit. Dry is worse because it becomes airborne and spreads the smell and the feces and bacteria everywhere. If only it would rain and wash the filth into the streams and keep the smell down. But then the fish die off and this "fertilizer" causes strange algae growth and die off of other flora and fauna. But, of course, it'll reach the upper 90s this holiday weekend, with no rain in sight, and we are ONCE AGAIN buried in shit in Oglethorpe County, GA.

As for the neighbors, the former slum lord, has now died. The culprit of much of the shit-spreading in my local area, I had hoped that it would end with his death. But alas, the SLUM (the trailer park)remains and chicken shit lines the fields of his home and properties.

His home is for sale at 300 Yancey Rd in Arnoldsville, GA. I can only assume another chicken shit farmer will move in. It borders fields that reek of routine chicken shit spreading. The Trailer-TRASH park remains across the road from the home. We've had three murders in and within 3 miles of the trailer trash park. Drug dealers and drug users and other thieving low life brought in by this eyesore of a "park" have destroyed Arnoldsville, GA. The chicken shit wafting throughout the county has destroyed livability in this county. And the mentality of an county administration which allows whole sale destruction of a county by one group, the chicken farmers, has contributed to the overall destruction of quality of life for Oglethorpe County. This has filtered into all aspects of the county including the High School, which is currently headed by a man called King-of-the-bullies, by the students, and Richard Cranium by the teachers and staff.

If we didn't have a mortgage. we would have left a long time ago.

Fab-O Richard Dawkins Article

Why I want all our children to read the King James Bible

The good book should be read as a great work of literature – but it is not a guide to morality, as the education secretary Michael Gove would have us believe

For some reason the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (UK) was not approached for a donation in support of Michael Gove's plan to put a King James Bible in every state school. We would certainly have given it serious consideration, and if the trustees had not agreed I would gladly have contributed myself. In the event, it was left to "millionaire Conservative party donors".

I am a little shocked at the implication that not every school library already possesses a copy. Can that be true? What do they have, then? Harry Potter? Vampires? Or do they prefer one of those modern translations in which "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, all is vanity" is lyrically rendered as "Perfectly pointless, says the Teacher. Everything is pointless"? That is Ecclesiastes, 1:2, as you'll find it in the Common English Bible. And you can't get much more common than that, although admittedly the God's Word translation provides stiff competition with "absolutely pointless" and the Good News Bible challenges strongly with "useless, useless".

Ecclesiastes, in the 1611 translation, is one of the glories of English literature (I'm told it's pretty good in the original Hebrew, too). The whole King James Bible is littered with literary allusions, almost as many as Shakespeare (to quote that distinguished authority Anon, the trouble with Hamlet is it's so full of clichées). In The God Delusion I have a section called "Religious education as a part of literary culture" in which I list 129 biblical phrases which any cultivated English speaker will instantly recognise and many use without knowing their provenance: the salt of the earth; go the extra mile; I wash my hands of it; filthy lucre; through a glass darkly; wolf in sheep's clothing; hide your light under a bushel; no peace for the wicked; how are the mighty fallen.

A native speaker of English who has never read a word of the King James Bible is verging on the barbarian. In the week after the 2011 census, my UK Foundation commissioned Ipsos MORI to poll those who had ticked the Christian box. Among other things, we asked them to identify the first book of the New Testament from a choice of Matthew, Genesis, Acts of the Apostles, Psalms, "Don't know" and "Prefer not to say". Only 35% chose Matthew and 39% chose "Don't know" (and 1%, mysteriously, chose "Prefer not to say"). These figures, to repeat, don't refer to British people at large but only to those who self-identified, in the census, as Christians.

European history, too, is incomprehensible without an understanding of the warring factions of Christianity and the book over whose subtleties of interpretation they were so ready to slaughter and torture each other. Does the eucharistic bread merely symbolise the body of Jesus or does it become his body, in true "substance" if not "accidental" DNA? Prolonged wars have been fought over how we should interpret the words allegedly uttered at the Last Supper. Three bishops were burned alive just outside my bedroom window in my old Oxford college for giving the unapproved answer. Centuries-long schisms were based on nothing more serious than the question of whether Jesus is both God and his son, or just his (very important) son. Even bloodier wars were fought against a rival religion that sees him not as God's son at all but just reveres him as a prophet.

I have an ulterior motive for wishing to contribute to Gove's scheme. People who do not know the Bible well have been gulled into thinking it is a good guide to morality. This mistaken view may have motivated the "millionaire Conservative party donors". I have even heard the cynically misanthropic opinion that, without the Bible as a moral compass, people would have no restraint against murder, theft and mayhem. The surest way to disabuse yourself of this pernicious falsehood is to read the Bible itself.

Do you advocate the Ten Commandments as a guide to the good life? Then I can only presume that you don't know the Ten Commandments. The first two – "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" and "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image" – come from a time when the Jews still believed in the existence of many gods but had sworn fealty to only one of them, their tribal "jealous" god.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy": this commandment is regarded as so important that (as our children will learn when they flock into the school library to read the Gove presentation copy) a man caught gathering sticks on the sabbath was summarily stoned to death by the whole community, on direct orders from God.
Honour thy father and thy mother." Well and good. But honour thy children? Not if God tells you, as he did Abraham in a test of his loyalty, to kill your beloved son for a burnt offering. The lesson is clear: when push comes to shove, obedience to God trumps human decency, to say nothing of obedience to the next commandment, "Thou shalt not kill". This is the only one of the commandments that many devotees actually know. Its obviousness was appropriately mocked by Christopher Hitchens, but my imagination hears the response of the Israelites to Moses in the voice of Basil Fawlty: "Oh I SEE. Thou shalt not KILL. Oh how silly of me. You see, before you came down from the mountain with the tablets, we all thought it was perfectly fine to kill. But now that we've seen it written on a TABLET, well that makes all the difference. Thou shalt not kill, well, who would have thought it? Oh silly me … etc etc."

In any case, the commandment meant only "Thou shalt not kill members of thine own tribe". It was perfectly fine – indeed strongly encouraged throughout the Pentateuch – to kill Canaanites, Midianites, Jebusites, Hivites etc, especially if they had the misfortune to live in the Promised Lebensraum. Kill all the men and boys and most of the women. "But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves" (Numbers 31:18). Such wonderful moral lessons: all children should be exposed to them.

Sophisticated" theologians (what is there in "theology" to be sophisticated about?) now treat these horrors as parables or myths, which is just as well. But many fundamentalist Protestants still take them literally and positively state that, if God told them to kill their own children, they would obey. Hard to believe, but it is fully documented in a brilliant film, In God We Trust?, by Scott Burdick. Other theologians will accept that the Old Testament is pretty horrible but will point with pride, and nods of approval from all sides, to the New Testament as a truly righteous moral guide. Really?

The central dogma of the New Testament is that Jesus died as a scapegoat for the sin of Adam and the sins that all we unborn generations might have been contemplating in the future. Adam's sin is perhaps mitigated by the extenuating circumstance that he didn't exist. In any case it never amounted to more than scrumping or, depending on your theology, seeking knowledge – which a minister of education should surely consider a virtue. But the unmistakable message is clear. We are all "born in sin" even if we no longer literally believe, with Augustine, that Adam's sin came down to us via the semen. And God, the all-powerful creator, capable of moving mountains and of begetting a universe with all the laws of physics, couldn't find a better way to lift the burden of sin than a blood sacrifice.

In the words of Paul, the inventor of Christianity (or whoever really wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews), "without shedding of blood, there is no remission". And the scapegoat couldn't be just anybody. The sin was so great that only his son (or God himself, depending on your Trinitarian theology) would do. It was necessary for God to come "down" personally to Earth and have himself tortured and executed, after being "betrayed" (though why it was a betrayal since getting himself executed was the main purpose of the visit, is never explained, nor is the millennia-long vendetta against Jews as "Christ-killers").

Whatever else the Bible might be – and it really is a great work of literature – it is not a moral book and young people need to learn that important fact because they are very frequently told the opposite. The examples I have quoted are the tip of a very large and very nasty iceberg. Not a bad way to find out what's in a book is to read it, so I say go to it. But does anybody, even Gove, seriously think they will?

From http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/may/19/richard-dawkins-king-james-bible