Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Update on My Mother

Well, my mother is back from the hospital ER. CAT scan was negative for a brain bleed, but she still needs a series of three MRIs to find out what is going on with the numbness and pain. She goes back this evening for those tests, and hopefully I'll hear something tonight.

Thanks for everyone's continued support!

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Prayer Request

I found out this morning that my mother was taken to the emergency room complaining of severe headaches, tingling in her lower neck, and pain elsewhere. Not sure what's going on yet; at some point the word "aneurysm" came up, which immediately sent us children into panic mode. My mother has had nerve pain in the past, stemming from a neck injury sustained when a coworker accidentally rubbed her neck and shoulders the wrong way (think "Vulcan nerve pinch"). She's been getting pain shots over the past year or so, but the last time she went (yesterday) they refused to give them and ordered a series of MRIs. Today she complained of numbness and the doctor ordered her to the ER.

So we in the family are awaiting word and trying not to panic. If you would, include my mother and family in your prayers, thoughts, and meditations today. I appreciate it, and will update as information becomes available.


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Monday, July 28, 2008

Big Life Changes

Things are gradually improving in my life, but that is not to say that means I'm reaching a point of stability. Far from it, it seems.

First there's the dog formerly known as Nana. Her name is now Kona, and it looks like she's pregnant. The X-rays the vet took on Thursday were inconclusive, but he's 95% positive she's carrying puppies. We do another shoot in about a week, when we should be able to see just how many of the little ones we can expect. Judging by her girth, the vet expects we may be up to our eyeballs in doggies in three weeks or so. Anybody ever midwife a dog before? We need advice!

Yesterday I decided to quit Kung Fu, following yet another 95+ degree, high humidity day that would have been spent outdoors working out. I just can't deal with that kind of heat. I loved the art; I just felt so lousy while there and so sick while driving home. No matter how much water I drank, I never felt like it was a good work out. So now I am no longer bound by the guilt I felt when I would skip on nasty days and am looking for a place nearer to home that is indoors where I can train. I'll post more about that as things progress.

I'm also on the verge of leaving Tibetan Buddhism and going back to my progressive Christianity and Zen roots. Without going into too much detail, the issue of being told that I needed to believe in six planes of existence (two "hells," two "god realms," and the animal and human realms) and a pantheon of divine beings just did not sit well with me. I've written my spiritual director in Virginia (who is studying Tibetan Buddhism) in the hopes that he can help me make heads or tails of the situation. I've never heard of Buddhists stressing belief in anything; normally they say that you have to see if a teaching is true for you and not take anything on blind faith. But that's what I heard on Sunday at the meditation session. Needless to say, I'm a tad confused, stressed, and probably putting way too much energy into fretting about it! In the meantime, I'm keeping my own spiritual meditations and studies going, even as I transition out of chaplaincy and enter the secular world for the first time in 16 years. Very, very weird feeling there.

Speaking of that transition, I've set next Monday for my first day and will be starting my informal training this afternoon. I'm not sure how posting will go once I go over to the new office (assuming I have a new office - nothing is definite). But I will be posting about this and other events whenever I can. For now, though, I'm a bit nervous about the whole thing. People keep saying things like, "Well, I'm sure you will be able to pick that up in no time" or "You've probably seen all of this before" in reference to procedures I've never heard of! Basically I've been doing a lot of nodding, grunting, and praying! Wish me luck.

Okay, back to work.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Moving Right Along (Finally!)

It's Friday. It's payday. And I feel like I'm the only one here working. I think that's because most of the staff here have children, and what with the county schools starting up next week (odd, I know. In Virginia it's not until after Labor Day), everyone is squeezing in one last family vacation. But I'm here, and I'm trying to get my transition to my next career move to go as smoothly as possible. Yep, it's moving time again.

I should be receiving an email from HR today (it was supposed to come yesterday, but, true to form, it didn't) regarding my trasfer to addiction medicine. For the first time in 16 years (if you count my missionary work in Siberia, 14 if you don't), I will be taking a career path that doesn't involve the church or religion. It's a very odd feeling. Sometimes I feel very free, and other times I feel very sad. Not sure what's going on behind either emotion. But life is always changing, and I, like everyone else, need to learn how to better roll with those changes.

In the doggie department, Nana's name has been temporarily changed to Bandit, due to the darker area around her eyes that resembles a mask (if you squint). Whirling Dervish suggested "Bandana," since it sounds similar enough to Nana that it would be less of an adjustment for her. So we'll see. We talked with the SPCA last night in order to arrange for Nana / Bandit's healthcare; today I'm taking her to the vet to see if she's 1)pregnant, 2)healthy, 3)partially blind, and 4)sane. More on that later tonight, once things get settled down and figured out.

We're also dogsitting for One Ring's brother, who had to travel to some kind of conference. So now we have three dogs in the house and Barney is very happy. Insanely hyper, but happy! Yesterday went much better in terms of the dogs getting along. Bandit / Nana actually played with Barney for a little bit, although he did scare her at one point, sparking a violent reaction that caused some panic for a few moments. All is well, though, and One Ring and I feel good about getting her. Although if she is pregnant, things are really going to get crazy!

More later.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

When Rituals Go Very Wrong

Back when I worked in the church, I was responsible for plenty of rituals. Communion, baptisms, weddings, funerals, all sorts of stuff - including a few I made up, I did them all. Except foot washing - Blech! Anyway, when you do that many, some are bound to go wrong. Like the time I tried to break the bread for communion and found that it had been overcooked, and now had the consistency of a brick. I forced it so hard that it finally exploded, sending pieces of the host flying all over the first three pews. Believe me, communion should never, EVER, look like a Gallagher concert!

But no matter how sloppy my work got, it never got this bad:

Woman runs sword into foot during Wiccan ceremony

The irony is that she was trying to give thanks for good luck!

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Puppy!

Today we brought home Nana, an 8-month old (so they say) Beagle-Basset mix (again, so they say). She was not my original choice when I went over to PAWS, the Rutherford County Animal Welfare service. Yesterday, I saw a Dachshund-Beagle mix online. But when I went to the shelter, the puppy was way to skittish to fit in my chaotic household (blame Barney, who is still very much the hyper puppy!). Wonderful puppy, but one that would need a lot of rehab and quiet space. Then I saw Nana.

Nana is sweet, quiet, and (so far) putting up with Barney. Which is wonderful. However, judging from her body shape, she's either just given birth to pups or (please God, no!) pregant. Which is going to make life very, very interesting indeed.

We were able to get her with help from the SPCA of Tennessee. The wonderful director called PAWS and arranged for us to pick up Nana and "foster" her. Doing so allowed us to get her early, with the understanding that we have her spayed within a month. Also, it gives us a safety net, in case Barney and Nana don't get along.

So, without further ado, here she is!

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Shouldn't Have Posted That Picture

Well, One Ring just got word from the family in Birmingham, AL. Turns out they had another family looking at the puppy, and when we said that we couldn't pick up the dog for another two weeks, they gave them to that other family. So we're back to being a one dog household.

One Ring is looking at the adoption websites for Beagles and Dachshunds (and in some cases, mixes of the two). So we'll see what happens. Now that we've decided that Barney the Dog of Destruction needs a playmate, I guess it's only a matter of time until he gets one!

In other news, I'm still waiting to hear from HR regarding my new job. They said last week that they were going to call me soon to have me fill out more paperwork (it is a government job, after all). But so far this week, nothing. My supervisor-to-be asked me if I'd be willing to work in Nashville rather than out here in Murfreesboro. I told her that while I'd rather be on this campus, I was grateful for any opportunity and was certainly not going to bite the hand that feeds! More later as the job situation develops. I hope it does soon, though! Things are excessively boring in chaplain land of late, and I need to present a case study on Wednesday. Definitely not good.

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Monday Morning Catch Up

Wow, six days without a post! Sorry about that. Life as really been moving along here on board this pirate ship. So far we have news on a new job, a new puppy, birthdays, religious conversations, family reunions, and various and sundry other things. So much, in fact, that I'm probably going to have to break it up over a series of posts.

Anywho, here we go!

One Ring's birthday was yesterday, so if you have a chance, drop by her facebook page and wish her a happy one. I'm still waiting on one of her gifts to arrive by mail - grumble! - so I'll hold off on saying what I (tried to) gave her. I think she had a good birthday. It was quiet, involved her family, and she met her new four legged child.

Yep, that's right. Looks like we're welcoming another stray into the family. As Stitch says in the movie Lilo and Stitch, "Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten." This Beagle puppy is four months old, and is owned by a good family. Only trouble is that their two year old is terrified of the puppy. So they asked around if anyone was interested. One Ring's father heard of it, passed the word over to us, and while we were in Birmingham this weekend met the dog. He immediately jumped up and licked my face. That pretty much sealed the deal. So now we're trying to come up with possible names. Any and all suggestions are appreciated, so send them in!

Here's the newest member of our family:

The little girl, by the way, is a neighbor who was taking care of the puppy while the owners were away.

More on the chaos later as we try to introduce Barney the Dog of Destruction to his new playmate and try to inform him that he will now have to share our attention.

One Ring's family had their family reunion this past weekend. Good time. Ate way too much, as usual. I really need to learn how to handle myself at these things, consumption wise. I keep coming away from them wanting to beach myself like a bloated whale! Got to meet some members of her family that I have not seen for years. Some I had never met. So over all, it was good to hear the family tales, meet the people, and come to understand where some of One Ring's quirks come from. My family doesn't hold reunions for a variety of reasons, so she doesn't have that opportunity. Guess she assumes that my quirks originate with me! : )

Well, that covers just about everything. I have a patient coming in a few minutes, so I better stop here. More later, including the religious conversation that came up at a new book club that met at our church. It was interesting, honest!


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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Buddhism Dying in Japan

Never thought I'd hear this! It appears that Japan is undergoing a major religious shift, one that might spell the end of Buddhism in the country long associated with Zen. Since World War II, when it's reputation was tarnished as major Buddhist leaders sided with the totalitarian regime, membership has gradually been on the decline. Now it's known more of a religion associated with death rituals - apparently Buddhist funerals are very elaborate and can be very costly - while Shinto and Christianity are the religions preferred for weddings and other events. Membership is way down, temples are closing, priests are having to get second jobs and the popular idea is that it no longer meets the spiritual needs of the people. You can read the full NY Times article here.

I suppose that what strikes me is how religious beliefs seem to grow in one area while they die off in others. Christianity is growing in Latin America and Africa, but dying off in Europe and (depending on the denomination) in North America. Buddhism is growing in some areas, but has all but is very small in India - the nation where it began - and, as you read, Japan.

There was a time when I believed that the growth and decline of religious beliefs was God's doing. I once thought - many, many, years ago - that eventually God would straighten things out; the people who had "the right idea" would eventually win out over those who had "the wrong idea." My dichotomous thinking had divided the world into right and wrong, orthodox and heretical thinking.

Now, though, I have come to the point where I believe that there are no absolutes. No right, no wrong. Maybe better, maybe worse, but no good and evil. No religion has all the answers. No religion is perfect in all ways and answers all questions. And I say this after devoting my life to one religion and finding that it (and, I admit, I) fell far short of expectations.

So I suppose it's no surprise that the religions of the world grow and shrink as their believers are encouraged and disappointed by the behaviors of their leaders or the teachings of their scriptures. I've been there; we've all been there. All I am left with are two quotes, and I find that these are enough for me. One is a shorter version of a quote that I framed and hung in my office, while the other is from the musical Les Miserables:

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.
- Shakyamuni Buddha

To love another person is to see the face of God
- Les Miserables

That just about sums it up, for me at least.


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Meetings, Who Needs 'em?

Boss is out for the day, and I have a meeting in 10 minutes. Temptation is creeping in and inviting me to run off campus to do something fun (such as attack the local Hobby Lobby or something equally irresponsible). But no, I'll probably do the right thing and just go to the meeting and do my job. Darn you adulthood for stealing my fun!

I just sent One Ring an email in which I once again bring up the topic of lightsaber creation. It's become an inside joke, where I act like an obsessed geek who is still living in his parent's basement. It usually drives her to exasperation! Anyway, in this email I told her about a Disney forum post where someone listed how many saber parts you could buy for the listed 20 buck price:

(2)saber grips
(2)saber covers
(1)end cover
(1)coloured stone
(2)coloured lens

Apparently, though, the only colors are blue, red, green, and purple. That's okay, though, because of the lenses I found online. Only question is if they'll fit.

In other - far more serious - news, I've been working on my meditation practice and understanding as it relates to spirituality and other aspects of everyday life. One Ring mentioned that the program employed by Weight Watchers, for example, uses a great deal of mindfulness training in not only picking what one will eat, but how much one will eat in a serving. I had a momentary burst of insight (before coffee, even!) that while I've been practicing mindfulness in some areas, I've allowed my mind to wander during much of the day. This has led to suffering (expanding waist line, lack of attention paid to patients, skipping meetings, etc.) in many areas. So I'm going to have to work on that.

And on that note, I'm about to be late for a meeting.

More later.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Monday, Monday

Nothing much to report today, aside from the fact that I actually accomplished some of the things I had set out to do this past weekend! I managed to make it to both the Buddhist meditation center and kung fu on Sunday. Had an interesting time at both.

The Buddhist session opened with a period of silent meditation in which we were asked to contemplate why we were there. The leader chuckled, saying that there were many, many spiritual places we could choose to be on any given Sunday, so why did we choose to show up at a Tibetan Buddhist center?

Dang good question, if you ask me. And I was stumped. I know that I'm searching for something, that the answers that I previously believed are no longer working, given what I've seen and lived through thus far in my 38 years of life. But aside from that nebulous notion, I have no idea why I'm attracted to something as alien as Buddhism. One would think that I'd start attending a Unitarian-Universalist congregation, because they are much closer to the denomination I called home for so long. But no, like Bugs Bunny did in so many cartoons, I've decided to take a right turn at Albuquerque!

So there you go, and there I was. Some of the aspects of the (service? meditation period?) still seem odd to me, such as reciting the mantras so fast that it sounds like a charismatic ecstatic outburst. Then there's my ongoing desire to pin someone down on who or what are all these deities whose pictures are painted all over the place. I cornered the leader after the session today and he basically said that they are archetypes which symbolize ideal attributes (wisdom, compassion, etc.). To some extent, they serve the same purpose as saints in the Catholic tradition - they are intercessors. On the other hand, at some point they are imagined to merge with the meditator, so that the person takes in those seemingly divine attributes. Like I said, I'm still working on that part. Suffice to say that the radical monotheist in me is still kicking and screaming, to some extent. Still, the people are nice, and stressing the importance of improving all three aspects of life - physical, mental, and spiritual - of all humanity, is very important to me. Also, despite having the aforementioned plethora of deities, none of those deities were actively sought out. There was a mantra of Manjushri, but nothing more was said about him or the mantra.

I'm going to write my old spiritual direction mentor, who coincidentally converted from Catholicism to Tibetan Buddhism, and see what he has to say. So we'll see.

I also made it to my kung fu class, for the first time in over a week (possibly two). It went so-so; I didn't learn anything really new. I'm going to email my instructor and talk about things. My concern is that since I only have 3 years in this area before One Ring goes job hunting with a brand spanking new Ph.D., I have this desire to really push myself and learn as much as possible. So we'll see what we can do. Obviously showing up for class is a good first step!

Okay, got to head to a meeting, then loads of spiritual assessments. Happy, happy, joy, joy!

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Friday, July 11, 2008

End of the Day Blahs

If there's one thing I cannot stand, it's having to sit at work with nothing to do. Granted, things could be a whole lot worse (I am, of course, grateful beyond measure that I HAVE work!). Still, sitting here waiting for 4 to roll around does get a little bit annoying. Especially when I could find hundreds of interesting things to do that do not involve this place!

Well, One Ring reiterated that she was not getting me the lightsaber kit for my birthday. Sigh! That's okay, though, because I found out that this is hitting the shelves next month!

According to the write up, there will be more parts, which equals the potential for building some of the more interesting sabers that the series has produced. Mind you, I'd still like to build my own one day; it's just not going to happen anytime soon. Shoot, knowing me, this interest will burn out just like the rest of my temporary obsessions. I have a feeling that One Ring certainly hopes so! : )

If the characters on the box look, well, strangely drawn, it's because they are. The Clone Wars is the name of a new CG animated film due out on August 15th. I've seen the previews, and once you get past the odd sort of animation style (sort of a cross between anime and Saturday morning cartoons), it looks really good. Although Count Dooku looks rather bizarre, in my humble opinion.

All in all, I'm looking forward to the new movie, and reserve the right to buy the kit above. Might not - in all probability I'll just hold off until I head to WDW in October and see what's there.

Funny how the heat can affect my mood. During the day today, when I was cool and indoors, I felt fine and energetic. Now, after making a round trip to the other building, I'm exhausted and worn out. I even stopped for a smoothie at the Starbucks, but I'm still zonked. I've got Kung Fu tonight (and it's held outside), so I need to get my act together. Otherwise I'll miss it like I've missed the last couple of weeks (of course, some of those have been due to holidays and the weather, so it's not all my fault!). I've got errands to run, too. : (

Okay, 30 minutes (roughly) to go. Hope everyone has a great weekend!


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Expensive Hobby!

Well, One Ring just informed me that my not so clever attempt to hint at a potential birthday present fell through (it would have burned through her budget). So I decided to take my lunch break and price how much it would take to build a "working" (lights but no sound) lightsaber. Let's just say I'm going to have to save my pennies!

Here's the breakdown:

PVC pipe (easier to work with than steel), either 1 1/2" or 1 1/4" - $4.43

PVC 45 degree bend 1 1/2" (for a Count Dooku style saber) - optional - $3.12

Fasade copper covering (stick on for cosmetic purposes) - $10.14

Chrome spray paint to hide the fact that it's PVC - $unknown but not that much

1 1/2" adapter to blade holder rig - $8.50
w/ screw-on led blade holder with LED heat sink - $24.25
1 1/4" adapter w/ bladeholder and heat sink - $20.49

Luxeon K2 Electronics kit (battery pack, LED light, wiring, switch, etc.) - $19.21

1" x 40" standard blade - $30.49
1" x 40" "Corbin" blade (looks cooler and brighter) - $33.99

Soldering iron kit - $7.99

For a grand total (not including S&H or screw-ups on my part during the construction process!) of approximatly: $92.75 - $111.63!

Yeah. I don't think this will be happening anytime soon! : (
Okay, back to work.

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Colors, Symbolism, Religion, and Star Wars

Altogether now! "One of these things is not like the other ..."

Okay, I've been on this lightsaber kick for a few days now. Don't worry, I'm still the pirate chaplain. It's just that a pirate with a lightsaber would be so much cooler! Especially with the new Star Wars movie coming out next month! But I digress. Anyway, one of the questions that has come up, while I've been contemplating heading off to WDW and making my own (or having a wonderful person buy me one for my birthday - hint, hint!), is what color should it be. A few days ago I took the various blog quizzes and, based on very unscientific (and, in many cases, silly) questions, the results were yellow, yellow / orange, and some shade of blue-green. So, now that I have time to kill (I'm waiting for an appointment to show up), I figured I'd take a look at the symbolism of colors.

When it comes to lightsaber colors, the sky is now the limit, thanks to at least one company that is putting out colored plastic discs for the purpose of changing the color of LED style sabers:

But at any rate, colors are important, and very symbolic. Back when I worked in the church, I used colors all the time to set moods, mark the various times of the year, and to reinforce ritual and myth. Purple was used for advent and lent - it's a color of preparation, repentance, yet also of royalty (sometimes blue is used for Advent, but I didn't do so). Green was symbolic of life, growth, and the maturation of the people into a better spiritual place. White means purity, holiness, baptism, and so forth. The absence of color is used for mourning, introspection, etc. And finally, in the church, red is used only once a year, on Pentecost, to denote the Holy Spirit flowing into the world and the birth of the church. It's also used for certain celebrations, but I've seen that done only rarely.

So, with that in mind, I've been playing with the idea of how color symbolism applies to building a kick butt lightsaber ("kick butt" is a technical term, of course!). Since I want a blade that I can change the colors (I plan on picking up those discs after I get home), I'm not going to get a red blade; those belong to the Sith (the bad guys in the Star Wars universe) anyway, so ...

At first, my color choices seem to be limited to blue, green, purple and yellow (at least from the pictures I've seen online. After I get the discs, though, my options will obviously increase. Here's what I read about each, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Blue: Seas, men, productive (interior) skies, peace, unity, harmony, tranquility, calmness, coolness, confidence, conservatism, water, ice, loyalty, dependability, cleanliness, technology, winter, depression, coldness, idealism, obscenity, tackiness, air, wisdom, royalty, nobility, Earth (planet), Virgo (light blue), Pisces (pale blue) and Aquarius (dark blue) (star sign), strength, steadfastness, light, friendliness, July (sky blue), February (deep blue), peace, mourning (Iran)[citation needed], truthfulness, love, sadness, aloofness, the Virgin Mary, liberalism (U.S. politics); In many diverse cultures blue is significant in religious beliefs, believed to keep the bad spirits away.

Green: Great intelligence, life, nature, bad spirits, spring, fertility, youth, environment, wealth, money (US), good luck, vigor, generosity, go, grass, aggression, inexperience, envy, misfortune, coldness, jealousy, disgrace (China), illness, greed, corruption (North Africa), life eternal, air, earth (classical element), sincerity, hope, Cancer (bright green, star sign), renewal, natural abundance, growth, health, August, balance, harmony, stability, calming, creative intelligence, Islam, the ordinary. During the Middle Ages, both green and yellow were used to symbolize the devil. Green is believed to be the luckiest of colors in some western countries including, Britain, Ireland, and the U.S.

Yellow: Sunlight, joy, happiness, earth, optimism, intelligence, idealism, wealth (gold), summer, hope, air, liberalism, cowardice, illness (quarantine), hazards, dishonesty, avarice, weakness, greed, femininity, gladness, sociability, summer, friendship, Gemini, Taurus, Leo (golden yellow, star signs), April, September, deceit, hazard signs, death (Middle Ages), mourning (Egypt), courage (Japan), God (gold). Yellow ribbons were worn during times of warfare as a sign of hope as women waited for their men to return. During the Middle Ages, both green and yellow were used to symbolize the devil.

Purple: Envy, Sensuality, bisexuality, spirituality, creativity, wealth, royalty, nobility, ceremony, mystery, wisdom, enlightenment, arrogance, flamboyance, gaudiness, mourning, profanity, exaggeration, confusion, pride, Scorpio (violet, star sign), May, November, riches, romanticism (light purple), delicacy (light purple), penance. Purple is the color of mourning for widows in Thailand, favorite color of Egypt's Cleopatra, and the purple heart - given to soldiers who have been wounded during warfare.

And, of course, White (if I decide to not include a color disc): Light, Reverence, purity, snow, peace, innocence, cleanliness, simplicity, security, humility, sterility, winter, coldness, criticism, surrender, cowardice, fearfulness, unimaginative, air, fire, death (Eastern cultures), hope, Aries, Pisces (star signs), bland, empty and unfriendly(interior), January, celebration.

Right now, it's a toss up between yellow or green. Of course, if I decide to make my own, using either parts from the hardware store or kits from companies like this one, I can do whatever the heck I want. Still, I find the choice of color interesting, especially if you look at who was swinging which color and what that says about the character's personality.

Then again, I may just shelve the whole thing and decide it's too much work. I get lazy like that sometimes! However, on days like this, when my appointments don't show up and there's little else to do, goofing off and imagining building something geeky and cool is fun.

I may write some more serious stuff later.


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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Been a Busy Day

I'm tired. I'm going home. Hope everyone had a good day. Tomorrow will be better, promise!

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File This One Under "You're Not Helping!"

Let's see. Gas is over $4 a gallon across much of the country. Food prices have risen sharply as a result of transportation costs and the transition to ethanol. We're in a financial crisis due to the mortgage market collapse and bad credit loans. And I won't even get into the health insurance dilemma that this country has had for years. But that's not the real problem.

The real problem is that you're a whiner.

That's right. We're all whiners. At least, that's what former Senator Phil Gramm, McCain's economic advisor, said in an interview with The Washington Times. Here's the article.

So much for compassionate conservatism!

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Not What I Expected to Get for an Answer!

So in one of yesterday's posts I mentioned my silly desire to build a lightsaber. I had come across a blog post in which I learned that there was a kiosk at Walt Disney World where one could do just that. The only question left, then, was what color should I make the blade. So tonight, while resting this evening, I decided to take some geeky online blog quizzes to find out which color would best fit my personality. Here's what I found:

What's your lightsaber color?
My Result: Yellow
Myspace Quizzes Often violent, you are the most emotional of the jedi. It's easy for you to fall to the dark side.

Take What's your lightsaber color?
Find more quizzes at Quibblo.com


Meanwhile, over at quizfarm, I got the color result "yellow / orange" for an answer, but they offered no explanation for what the color symbolized. I then found this explanation from a deleted quiz over at quizilla:
Orange is your Lightsaber color.

Orange represents energy and enthusiasm. It also
symbolizes strength and endurance. People with
orange lightsabers are curious about life, and
the world around them. Fascination catches them
at every turn, and they are creative enough to
understand life's potential.

Weird. So finally, I decided to get a third opinion. Behold what the ULTIMATE Lightsaber Color Selector Quiz said:

ULTIMATE Lightsaber Color Selector


A powerful version of the Master's Blade. Yet very rare. This bolder blade has the force flowing through it fully.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz

Quizzes and Personality Tests

So why am I thinking that Disney's not going to have any of these colors? : )

Okay, enough silliness. I'm going to bed. Peace!

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Wow, And Here I Thought Peanut Was a Wimp!

Peanut, in case you didn't know, was my Dachshund, who died around this time last year. She was also afraid of her own shadow. Literally. And noises. And movement. She would step on a stick and then jump four feet into the air because the stick snapped and moved under her paw!

All of that I could never understand, because Dachshunds were originally bred to hunt Badgers, which are not all that gentle. I figured that all of the tenacity and aggression had been bred right out of them and they were now pretty much lap dogs.

Nope. Turns out they're vicious beasties!

Miniature dachshund gnaws off diabetic owner's toe

Sadly, the dog had to be put down for "safety concerns."

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Monday, July 7, 2008

It's Monday - I'm Not Working, So There!

Actually, I should be working. It's just that there's so little of it for me to do! Monday's are dead here. No new patients to visit, most of the staff is gone in light of the Fourth of July holiday weekend, so I've been chilling out here and - obviously - blogging. I'm also trying to catch up on some things that I've been meaning to put up here. Like my latest obsession, one that can only be done at Disney World:

I want to build my own lightsaber!

Okay, okay. Quit laughing. I'm know I'm not the only pushing 40 geek out there who never owned one but wants to relive childhood! Shoot, I bought a minister friend of mine a lightsaber when he decided to move and become the pastor of a large church in NC ("Ready are you, my young Padawan!" I said as he unwrapped the gift). And yes, he's a Star Wars fanatic so it was appropriate. One Ring and I also bought a friend of ours the Hasbro make your own lightsaber kit (which now gets $40 or more on ebay!). He likes the series, too, though no word on whether or not he ever used the kit.

Anyway, the time has come for me to get one, and I'm driving One Ring nuts by my constant answering of "building a lightsaber," whenever she asks, "What are you looking forward to the most for our next Disney trip?" We're going with Tigger and Pooh in October, btw. I'm trying to convince Tigger that he needs one, but I think he wants the $150+ Master Replica ones.

My obsession started when I found this blog entry, written by a Disney fanatic who went with her son to Downtown Disney's Once Upon a Toy store. The setup looks awesome, and the idea of building your own saber is just plain cool. Plus it's part of the Star Wars saga - every budding Jedi has to build his or her own saber! Not only that, but I'd like to have it in my office, and occasionally whack patients over the head when they say something annoying.

They also give you a pin, and I collect Disney pins. Must have Disney pins ....

So that's the latest on my non-serious life. Our celebration of the fourth went well, though I developed stomach problems yesterday and couldn't go to kung fu. I'm having a really hard time making classes lately. I hope that I'm not asked to leave for lack of participation! Saturday we went to Smithville, TN for a town festival with Whirling Dervish and his wife. Had a good time though I nearly melted in the heat. I was born in Massachusetts and lived for a short while in Siberia; I do not like hot weather! One Ring bought some earrings and I bought a print that has the Chinese character for eternity. Very cool. We're going to look for frames for that and some other prints we own soon.

Okay, time to find more work to do. The fun thing about being a resident is that they really don't expect you to do all that much. In fact, I've had more people express surprise when I do my job than not! Not that I normally don't do my job. It just seems that residents aren't expected to work. Odd, when you stop to think about it.

My application for the Addiction Therapist job went to HR today. I've been given a time frame of 2-4 weeks to hear a response, and most of the people in the department don't see any obstacles to my getting the position. However, knowing this facility, I am taking nothing for granted. Until I get it in writing, and my first paycheck in hand (or in bank!), I'm not assuming anything. Still no word from the Hospice agency. I should hear something this week. We'll see.

More later.

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Well, This Should Stir Things Up!

According to a New York Times article, a stone tablet found years ago in the Dead Sea region of Jordan has finally been translated. And what a translation it is!

Apparently, it is the first pre-Christian source to speak of a messianic figure who dies and is resurrected in three days, defeating the evils of the world through the act of self-sacrifice. The big question is: how will this affect Christianity?

At issue is the question of uniqueness. Is the resurrection of Jesus a unique, historical event, or was it part of Jewish beliefs prior to Jesus' day? And should it even be seen as a historic event, or as a metaphor / myth that points to something else? Perhaps we need to start with the question of what is a messiah, and what does it mean to anticipate the coming of one (or the return of one).

Alas, I'm going to have to wait until I delve into this one. I need coffee and I have work to do!

So read the article and let me know what you think.

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A Response, of Sorts

As a rule, I don't publicly respond to comments that people leave on the blog. I have that policy for a couple of reasons. First, hardly anyone leaves comments! Second, I have the advantage here, in that my words appear on the main page of the blog, while a comment has to be sought out. So in all fairness, if I'm going to respond, I pretty much email the person who leaves a comment and let it go at that.

However, there was a comment left on my post Burnout, Spirituality Style that I feel I must respond to publicly, simply because I fear my words were misunderstood and it might have appeared as if I was advocating something I actually oppose. So, if any of that interests you, click and read on ...

Okay, first, I'm assuming here that you read the post. Now here's the comment, written by someone in India (Wow, I've gone global!):

I was looking for spiritual blogs, here I found yours, dear, tell me one thing which I didn't get in your article, that when you're getting training to be a spiritual leader, your mentor told you listen to your spirit and body, that's fine, but next line !!! 'when hungry eat, when tired sleep, when energetic move, don't you think through these things, we'll depend on our body, many times body says go to sleep, go take rest, mostly it say so, then should we keep on fulfilling it's wishes like this??

I must admit, at first I was taken aback by this comment. But the more I thought about this individual's words, the more I thought that perhaps it could be understood that I was advocating a hedonistic spiritual path. You know, sleeping, eating, and having fun instead of practicing the spiritual disciplines. Well, that is not what I meant at all.

Remember, both Buddha (explicitly) and Jesus (implicitly) advocated a type of "middle of the road" approach to faith and spirituality. In the Christian tradition, stories abound of Jesus being criticized because he ate and drank (!) with sinners, and talked about not going to extremes. The Buddha tried the ascetic life, and it almost killed him before he chose the path that would lead to his enlightenment. Jesus did fast in the wilderness, but he also talked about putting ones faith in God, and not worrying about what the future would bring ("Consider the lilies ...").

So when I said that my mentor told me "that I need to learn to listen to my body and spirit. When energized, move. When tired, sleep. When hungry, feed. That sort of thing." what he meant was that we need to listen to what our bodies say, but at the same time not go to the extreme of letting them take over our lives. In other words, when tired, sleep, but not so much that we stay in bed all day and all night. When hungry, eat, but don't become gluttonous. And so on. Find that happy medium and stick with it.

If we refuse to listen to what our bodies say, everything in our lives is affected. When I'm exhausted, I don't think clearly. I become irritable, and my perception of reality is skewed. The same happens when I'm hungry, or when I'm sick. My relationship with the Divine suffers, especially if I try to plow ahead with my spiritual life when my physical and mental selves are suffering.

Hopefully, all of this makes more sense now. I will say that I'm not sure what tradition the person who left this comment comes out of; my attempts to go back through her blogs (most of which lacked posts) and the websites to which she linked didn't reveal much. Not that it matters in the long run - she raised an issue and I hope I've answered and ended any confusion as to what I was trying to say.


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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Thought I'd Share This

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Burnout, Spirituality Style

Seems to be a lot of that going around. I don't know if it's the weather (it's too dang hot!), the natural slowdown in traditional places of worship, my personal frustrations with the job search that is (almost!) over, or what. It just seems that lately I haven't been as excited or energetic about my spiritual growth, research, and life as I was a few months ago.

Turns out I'm not the only one, though.

I went over to Blogickal's website, which I've been reading every so often because I find her insight and her tradition (she's wiccan) to be fascinating. Do I subscribe to her beliefs? No, but it doesn't mean that she is, or I am, wrong in any way shape or form. If there's one thing I've learned during my journey, it's that there are very few absolutely "wrong" answers when it comes to our relationship with the Divine. Unless you think that Tom Cruise is a great spiritual leader, that is. Then you're absolutely wrong! : )

Anyway, in her latest post, she talks about her feelings of ennui. I later met with Whirling Dervish, and he and I chatted about how all of us seem to be feeling run down and stagnant in our spiritual progression. Despite learning opportunities in both of our lives (as well as the coming new career paths), we're both sort of, well, just here.

I'm sure that further introspection will reveal the source of this, but for now I think I'll just let it be. I remember when I was training as a spiritual director - one of the best things I ever did, despite not doing much directing these days! I remember my mentor telling me that I need to learn to listen to my body and spirit. When energized, move. When tired, sleep. When hungry, feed. That sort of thing. As simple as it sounds, too often I try to plow ahead when I'm exhausted and drained, and go hungry when I should be taking care of myself. So now might be a good time, since I'm waiting on people to process my paperwork, to just sit back and doing some resting and healing. Self-care is a must when you're in this business!

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Still Tired, After All These Hours . . .

It's certainly been a day of ups and downs here at work. I was called in last night due to a death and my being on call. Thing was, I took a sleeping pill as I had spent the last few nights having little sleep (racing thoughts and stress about life the universe, and employment). So I was really groggy when I answered that call. The family didn't seem to notice, so either I'm that good, or they were equally spaced out!

Today was the usual drudgery of meetings, patient visits, and missed appointments. But I was pretty up, as I was able to get answers to questions I had regarding the application process. I also received the kudos of colleagues and several recommendations / references for the position. But then came the drop - I had to talk to Human Resources.

First off, I found out that the per day pay is less than I was originally told. Still good pay, mind you, but nowhere near as good as the original quote. Then I was told that I couldn't buy into the hospital insurance plan, as I won't technically be an employee of the hospital - it's called a fee basis position, which makes me a contractor / mercenary / mini-Halliburton sans Dick Cheney. Yucks all around.

HR is evil. That's all there is to it. When I was working towards getting a chpalain job, it was HR that gave us all a hard time, both at headquarters and here. Now it's HR again, giving me vast amounts of paperwork (that they already have) to fill out and less money and fewer benefits (okay, no benefits). Granted, I knew that there weren't any benefits, but they won't even let me pay full for the same ones I have now. So now One Ring and I have to find insurance coverage for me. She's covered by her Ph.D. program, but I'm going to be out of the loop very, very soon.

I am having a Milton moment.

Good thing I'm leaving in 30 minutes. Peace.

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Proof That the Universe Will Never End

So here's my theory. You know how the idea of how God and Heaven works is based on medieval life (king, servants, kingdom, Lord, Pearly Gates, and all that kind of language) that was projected onto the divine? If not, it was, so keep reading. Anyway, since those ideas were formed during medieval times, and now that we are long past those days, we need to change our thinking of how God and Heaven and everything else works. The model that we should now use is (drum roll, please!) ... the Federal Government!

Now if that's the case, then it can easily be reasoned that the end times which people have wasted their days predicting for so long (Great Disappointment, anyone?) will never happen. How is that? It's simple, really.


I've been working in my current position for just shy of a year now. I'm about to move (internally) to a new position. One would think that all that would be needed is for the powers that be to take the information that is already on file and move it to the department where I will be working. Piece of cake, right? Wrong.

I just finished printing about 50 pages of applications, instructions, direct deposit forms, and other miscellanea, most of which I filled out a year ago when I took my current job and is now gathering dust in a file cabinet in Human Resources somewhere! But no, to get anything done in the government, there is a mountain of paperwork to be filled out and hand delivered (because to mail it is to kiss it goodbye).

So, going back to my first point, if God and all that is holy can be thought of in terms of Federal Government, rather than a medieval monarchy, then the universe will never come to a close. There's simply too much paperwork to fill out before the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride!

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