Saturday, April 30, 2016

To coast or not to coast

Mulling over not working.

Well, not NOT WORKING, but not working where I currently work, or even working in a regular full-time job. (Except, maybe, at one particular orthodox Catholic school - but that one does not seem to be hiring right now.)

When my parents passed they left enough money to pay off all the major bills - mortgage, cars, etc. I am currently debt free.

There was also extra money remaining. There's enough that I could stop working for a couple of years and still be able to pay all my bills, especially if I simplify. There's enough that if I worked part-time I might be able to coast for several years until I can start collecting Social Security and IRA/pension income.

Of course, that money in the bank is my cushion money - money to supplement all the retirement income, and so if I use it now I won't have it then.

But ...

What if I used this as a time to push my free-lance writing, to finish that novel, to polish and market the plays I finished, to devote more time to Santa gigs? What writer would not like a year or two to be free just to write?

The big bugaboo is health insurance. If Nancy still has a job, she could add me to her health insurance, and I could pay her the difference in premiums. But that puts a burden on her, and she might not be happy if I were not working a regular job. Of course, if I used the time to also get some painting, repair, and housework projects done around here that might help make it more palatable to her!

If she is not happy about the insurance issue, I could go on one of the health exchanges - that would be a few thousand a year until I qualify for Medicare.

I've estimated the amount I'd need to survive for a year even if I was on an exchange. With a part-time job, Santa, and writing sales, it would be even easier.

And if I finish that novel and it sells, it could be a good gamble.

What to do? 

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Pope Pius Clerihew

Pope Pius
is a victim of bias.
Only a closed-minded dope
still thinks of him as "Hitler's pope."

Pax et bonum

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Unfriending a friend

One of the things that social media sites allow you to do is to argue without human contact. One sometimes feels freer to argue in a much more aggressive, even hostile, way than one might  were one sitting with the opponent.

It's bad enough when that happens with anyone. But it's even worse when the other person is a friend.

I faced that situation recently on Facebook.

I post about controversial topics. I get into dialogues about them all the time. And some of my friends and I disagree regularly. But that's okay - as it's done in a respectful way. I think in particular of two friends with whom I spar often. Even as we verbally fence we joke, admit when the opponent has a good point, even acknowledge we were mistaken at times. Those debates come on top of a long series of friendly interactions. We know we like each other, and can argue like friends.

But I have another friend who argues in a consistently aggressive, dismissive, critical way. He never backs down, never acknowledges good points, has no sense of humor during the exchanges. One tactic he uses is constantly shifting the  subject: you respond to one point he makes, and he immediately redefines it and goes off in a new direction. My "favorite" was when he used a word incorrectly a few weeks back - a word that was insulting and was directed at me as part of yet another critical comment about something I'd posted. When I pointed out that the word did not fit, he gave a new definition for the word - one I could find in no dictionary. When I cited the standard definition, he sidestepped the issue (as it would have weakened his argument) and went off on a tangent that included more thinly veiled insults.

This all comes on top of the fact that he rarely posts or comments on anything lighter. No jokes. No friendly chat. No jovial sharing. No celebrating life's happier moments. It's almost always some snide or critical comment. Not what one would expect from a friend.

He did it again yesterday.

I had complained before, but he persisted. So last night  I decided it's not worth it. I unfriended him.

I know, not very Franciscan. But engaging in dialogue with him was often a temptation to be uncharitable.  It often brought out a less pleasant side of me with which I constantly struggle.

Oh, if he ever wandered back this way - he moved out of state several years ago, so our only contact now is by mail or social media - I would welcome him into my home. But social media is not a healthy place for us to interact.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Of Flying Spaghetti Monsters

Back in 2005, a fellow named Bobby Henderson, protesting the teaching of intelligent design, created a satirical deity, the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

He originally wrote a letter citing the Monster, then put the letter online, where it attracted attention. Since then, a "church" has been created - The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster - with a whole set of beliefs and stories. It has even been recognized as a real church in a couple of countries, though a U.S. court recently declared that it is a satirical creation, and hence not a true church.

Given its obsession with pirates, the wearing of colanders, and the speculation that heaven includes a beer volcano and a stripper factory, such a ruling is not surprising. On the other hand, Scientology and Mormonism are recognized, so you never know if a court some day might not rule  "pastafarianism" legal.

Henderson has also penned a book - The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster - that has sold more than 100,000 copies. (Hmm, maybe there is hope for my own The Slug Chronicles, or my Wisdom of Baba Dada.) Plus, you can buy ordination credentials or t-shirts and other merchandise from the church.

I suspect Mr. Henderson has made a few dollars off all this.

The original motivation behind creating the FSM was satire. That's fine. Religion certainly can be the object of humor and satire. Indeed, G. K. Chesterton observed, “It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.”

I'm guilty of my own silliness with Baba Dada, for example.

But I've seen FSM used too often in an adolescent and even mean-spirited way to mock people and their beliefs.

Maybe it's time to send in the Dread Pirate Roberts.
Pax et bonum

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Latest Trump Clerihew

Another Trump one:

Donald Trump
on the stump
will almost always spout a platitude
or something rude.

Pax et bonum

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Gospel According to Joe (Very Aprocryphal)

The Gospel According to Joe
(A very apocryphal work)

And it came to pass that some of the followers of John, along with several scribes and Pharisees, came to John and spoke to him.

"Teacher, you are correct about Herod and his sin. But he is the King, and so what he does is legal because he is the law. And what he does is part of the spirit of the times, anyway. We men of faith will not be able to change it any time soon, or change the minds of those like the King who are not likely to listen.

"Rather than speaking out, it would be better if you stuck to praying. You should just continue baptizing, calling on people who come to you by their own volition to repent, and otherwise saying positive and affirming things. Leave the sinners to God. By speaking out so strongly you may turn people off, and may lead them to dismiss you and us. Yea, they may even attack you and us.

"After all, it's a personal, private decision by the King. Certainly not something to lose our heads over."

Pax et bonum

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Yep, used to be a jock!

Dang. I even won a letter for bowling!

Pax et bonum