Sunday, January 28, 2007


The Blue Panther Experience is host for Blog Your Blessings. Click this link, grab the blogroll code, add the code to your blog, leave a comment on Blue Panther Experience and post your blessing. Quick and easy!

In the spirit of blogging about everyday things in my life that I am grateful for, I'm glad that BYBS is around. In particular, it gets me to think about something positive, it has enlarged my world and it has given me many things to think about.

As a half-empty kind of guy, it's important for me to remember the positive things in my life. Without this, at times, the negative aspects can encompass my world. BYBS gets me out of this mindset and makes me think about the positive aspects of my life.

One of the hazards of being introverted is that I forget that my view of the world is not the only viewpoint. When I visit other participants I see things through another person's eyes and give myself a chance to look at the world in a different way.

Reading BYBS articles has given me a lot to think about. Thought and ideas are very important to me, but all too often I find the internet a very frustrating place. Too much of it is banal and vacuous, whereas BYBS is a much more thoughtful and interesting part. I've found other people's insights to be very interesting and in some cases profound.

Thus I add Blog Your Blessings Sunday to the list of things that I feel I have been blessed with.

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P.S. Alright this isn't fair. I posted this one but forgot to reset the date, so it did not show up before the "Nothing" post. I made a point of logging on this morning to post before BYBS and all that. I did. Idid!Idid!Idid! Oh well :-)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


The strangest part of the whole business was that I didn't feel anything.

Another man walked up and I handed out another tray.

Some of them smiled and said "bless you." Others said "thanks." Most just took the trays without saying anything.

I looked at the stuff we were giving them: a sort of shapeless macaroni in spaghetti sauce with some vegetables. The people at the other tables were serving salad, bananas and cookies.

From time to time, I felt like asking the other volunteers why they were doing this. I wondered why I was doing this.

The company I was working at had a quarterly goal that three quarters of the employees spend 8 hours in some form of community service. If the employees meet that goal, there would be a quarterly bonus – essentially a cash incentive to take part.

Money has never been a good motivator for me. All other things being equal, money is more like a gauge of what people think of me. A bit extra might make more comfortable, but it really would not make a difference in my life.

I would like to think that I'm helping people, but I simply felt like I was handing out trays. As I watched the men eating, I knew that, after this was done, they would be back onto the freezing streets. This was but a short respite for them from the realities of life. Giving them a tray of food wasn't going to change that.

I guess it did give me a little more insight into their situation. At the time all I thought was "I don't know squat." I don't know what it's like to live on the street, I don't know what the freezing cold is like or what these people want. I'm just handing out trays.

There was a woman helping me hand out trays. She asked people how they were doing and the like. The men, for it was mostly men, responded well to her. She was very good about getting the trays to me to hand out to the people in line. In situations where I'm standing right next to a person that's much better than me, I felt useless. Before things had started up, she had mentioned that she was here as part of a church group.

I handed out another tray.

I still didn't know why I was there.

There were all kinds of people in line. There were older ones and younger ones. There were black people and Hispanic people and white people. There was one guy who had a book on computers. One or two skipped the hot portion of the meal and just got the rest.

I had been afraid that things would drag by, but time went pretty quickly. When we were finished we had served over 280 people. The people at the soup kitchen thanked us for helping out. I didn't feel like I had helped anyone.

As I drove back home with my usual lack of directional ability I wondered what I had expected or hoped for. I guess I had expected something: empathy? Understanding? Pity? Self-righteousness? The one thing I hadn't expected was what I felt: nothing.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

BYBS: Healthcare

In this context I mean "members of the community helping sick members become well again." While I could spew out that sentence fragment every time I used that concept, or perhaps come up with an acronym (MCHSMBWA), I will use the term healthcare to refer to this. Now then, on with the article…

A great blessing in my life is that, if I become ill, others will help me become well again.

This is a pretty universal concept among human beings, although it takes many forms and different societies place more or less emphasis on it. Regardless, in all societies that I am aware of, if someone gets sick other members of the community will help that person until they get well.

There is a great deal of variation in how this is done. The US uses a mix of private companies (i.e., health insurance) and the government (Medicare, etc.) to administer a hugely complex system. Other countries use a government-oriented approach (socialized medicine).

There is also a great deal of variation in how much time and effort should be spent on healthcare. The US spends over 16% of its GNP on healthcare, whereas in Europe it is more like 10%.

Less developed nations use a much more informal approach: family and friends try to help sick members of the community.

While there is debate about how much time and effort should be put into healthcare, I think that everyone will agree that it is a major part of what it means to be in a community. One of the points of working together is that we are better off than if we did things as individuals.

I myself am a big fan of cooperation and community. I think these things set human beings apart from other living creatures; they make us special.

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Note: I wrote and uploaded this article last week with the idea that, when next Sunday rolls around, I can just publish the article and thereby get it out on time instead of having to write it at the spur of the moment. Please mention in your comment whether you think it is "stale" or at least moreso that my usual stuff.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

BYBS: Significant Others

This Sunday for BYBS I'm writing about the blessing of having someone else to share life with: the significant other or SO. Being cagey about sharing personal information over the net, I will refer to my SO as "The One." I thought of referring to her as "TON" for short, but reconsidered.

She laughs at my jokes, puts up with my questionable friends, and reviews the articles that I post here. Her sense of grammar makes her a very good editor, even though I think that the rules of grammar should yield to art, or at least my writing, from time to time.

She is someone I can love and someone who loves me. She is someone to whom I can say "I love you" and who says the same thing to me; and we both mean it. Well, I do, not so sure if you can really mean it wearing shackles, but I digress.

She is also a companion: someone who is there with me each day. When she is with me, I do not feel lonely. She is a companion of choice – not someone who shares an elevator ride with me, but who is there because she wants to be with me. Once again the shackles get in the way of this theory, but still.

And let's not forget housework. I am very grateful for her doing the housework.

For whatever reason, our society is pretty touch-averse. If you went around hugging people during the day you would be considered somewhat strange. Persist and you would be fired. She is someone who I can hug or share a bed with during a cold night without having to spend time in jail afterwards. At least until I'm caught.

Then there's the whole sexual thing, which I will skip. As Roger Zelazny put it, "such things are not of interest to the sophisticated." I happen to disagree, but hey, this isn't a porn or erotica site :-S.

I could go on and on, but I'm pretty lazy, so I'm going to stop here. The One is a great blessing in my life.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

It's not my Fault!

It's not my fault! Copyright (c) Lucasfilm Ltd.

I'd like to point out that I have a very good reason™ for not having posted recently. Mind you I don't actually have a good reason, so this will have to remain in the realm of desire instead of reality.

The sad but honest truth is that I'm lazy and haven't bothered to write anything, which is especially sad since I missed Blog Your Blessings Sunday. Perhaps I'll try one of those "Wednesday is Sunday at blather-n-rants!"

I also want to claim that I caught Shay's flu, which will hereafter be known as "Shay's Plague," but once again that's a lie. However, according to my theory of "lying," I would have to be actively trying to mislead. Seeing as how I just mentioned that it wouldn't be true, trying to mislead would be a pathetic enterprise, so therefore I can say with a clear conscience that "yes, the Shay Plague is responsible for this lack of posts!"

At any rate, here's to more posts and lack of flu!

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  • its_not_my_fault is from Star Wars: Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back. That being copyright (c) 1980, 1997, 2004 by Lucasfilm, Ltd.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

It Was Nice While it Lasted

The graph of woe

About a month back I noticed something very odd about my site: people were actually reading it.

Or at least that's what my site meter said.

As many* of you have remarked, my site does not display a hit counter. This is largely because the information is so pathetic…er…because I don't want my gawd-like stats to intimidate other would-be bloggers!

At any rate, about a month ago, I noticed a dramatic rise in traffic to my site. Checking my trusty, "100% free" hit counter thingie, much if not all of this was coming from Blog Explosion. This continued for several weeks, over which time I concluded that someone had sneezed on the Blog Explosion accounting screen and thereby given me a whole bunch of free hits.

Then, perhaps a week ago, the traffic subsided. Once again consulting my hit counter, which more often than not says "access denied" these days, the people from Blog Explosion had stopped visiting.

This convinced me of several things:

  • I was glad that I had not paid Blog Explosion for this dubious service.
  • Very few surfers had ever returned to this realm.
  • Never trust strange hit counters.
  • Make up numbers.
  • There are UFOs.
  • No I'm not crazy.
  • No really, you are conditioned not to see them.
  • Well, I don't know why I can see them but…never mind.

Anyhow, I don't know why BE had decided to send traffic my way, but it was nice while it lasted. But now, however, I'm forced to deal with the grim reality that not a whole lot of people™ read this site. I've gone through that whole song and dance in previous articles, but this did not stop me from calling on an old friend for a boost.

(Me): I need a boost. (The Critic): Then why did you call me? (M): You mean this isn't BE customer support? (TC): If it were I wouldn't have picked up. (M): Good point. Could you give me a boost anyways? (TC): About what? (M): My site. (TC): click. (M): Hello? Hello?!

Thus fortified, I continue to am…therefore I blog. Or something.

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* = actually nobody.