Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bust Your Windows

As bitter breakup songs go, this one ranks right up there with "You Oughta Know."

A New Year's Eve Toast to Earth Sign Mama

If I won $50,000 on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, I would pay off my school loans. And then I wouldn't have any money left. But pretending for a moment that my school debt is not quite that horrendous, I would then buy a couple hundred CDs and several hundred comic books. Maybe I'd buy myself some superhero undies. If I were feeling really generous, I'd buy each of my family members a candy bar.

My mother-in-law, on the other hand, is much more generous with the $50,000 she won on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Apart from the nice little chunk of cash she gave each of her children, she paid for a family vacation in San Diego this past weekend. She paid for the rooms in a very nice hotel, she paid for every meal, she bought plane tickets for those who needed them, she paid for San Diego Zoo tickets, she spoiled her grandchildren with overpriced memorabilia and treats that their parents would never buy them. All we had to do was show up. And then enjoy a weekend of having grandparents and aunt and uncles entertain our children.

It was fabulous--a great way to end the year.

What did your mother-in-law get you with her game show money?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Judging by the Color of One's Skin

After the all-out flamewar that erupted from yesterday's highly-controversial post, I've been wondering the following: Do you suppose that as high a proportion of the (very few) female dinosaurs that (may or may not have) really existed had pink skin as their modern-day animated counterparts? Why or why not? Please keep your response to under 1000 words.

(Yes, I know Cassie is a dragon, but really, what's the difference?)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Inter Solstice!

Dear Internet Friends,

You may know that today is winter solstice and tonight Chanukkah begins, but did you know there is another holiday today, celebrated only in cyberspace? Today is Inter Solstice, a day to celebrate the holiday season by making charitable donations in honor of your online friends. So just for you, dear blog reader, this morning I've made a (small) donation to Doctors Without Borders.



If you'd like to spread the holiday cheer to all your virtual friends but aren't quite sure where to start, you can find a few ideas here.

Happy holidays!

Love,

Mr. Fob

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mr. Fob's Bowling Tip #2

If you bring small children with you, don't pay for more than one game.

Mr. Fob's Bowling Tip #1

Take small children with you so no one looks at you funny for using the bumpers.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I Miss You Most at Christmastime

It's been a little over a year now since God died. Or at least he stopped existing in my mind. I notice his absence from time to time, often when I'm scared or lonely or otherwise needy and a lifetime of religious training gives me the impulse to pray, only to be cut short by the recognition that I no longer believe anyone is listening. Other times I'm feeling particularly happy with my life and I don't know who to thank. His absence has been particularly notable in the past week or so as we've begun to listen to Christmas music and the familiar songs bring with them powerful feelings inseparably connected to beliefs long dead, signifiers that have lost their signifieds. Christmas has always been such a happy time of year for me and now I'm left wondering what to be happy about--why should the birth of Jesus mean more to me than the birth of Siddhartha Gautama or Muhammad or Joe the Plumber?

If I honestly take into account how important religion once was to me, the removal of God from my life really was equivalent to the death of a loved one, and at the time I was so relieved to be free of a belief system that had caused me so much pain that I never took time to mourn. The other day my father-in-law sent me an article about studies being done on the positive effects of religion on health. The article says that critics of these researchers see an agenda to sneak religion into science and point to the impossibility of separating religious belief from other factors such as the social involvement a religious community brings. I had actually been pondering the effects my lack of religion has on my emotional wellbeing for a few weeks before I read this article. Like the critics of these religious researchers, I worry about jumping to unfounded conclusions about the necessity of religion to human health, but I am interested in what it is about religion--whether the sense of belonging or the beliefs themselves--that contributes to physical, mental, and emotional health.

In an attempt to do a little research of my own and to fill that hole left in God's wake, I've decided to give the Universal Unitarian church a try, hoping to find in it a place where I can be part of a community of people who have common goals of finding peace for themselve and others, but require no belief in any kind of doctrine. I've also found a renewed interest in Buddhism and other forms of spirituality. I feel no need for religion to explain the nature of the universe to me--I trust science and basic observation to suffice there--but I am interested in finding what one atheist Buddhist minister from the UU church describes as "a roadmap to train the mind for happiness."

Meanwhile, I suppose I'll enjoy Christmas for its trees and pretty lights, for the joy of giving and receiving, for the happy times with family and friends. It's hard sometimes to see beyond the pain and suffering brought to the world both historically and recently by people who call themselves Christians, but this Christmas season I'll do my best to remember the good things Jesus and his teachings offer, to find some common ground where I can rejoice along with those who believe him to be the son of God.

In Semi-Solidarity with the MoHos


You might not know that November was National Wear Your MoHo Uniform to Church Month. Despite the fact that I've never liked the term MoHo much and I don't consider myself a Mo(rmon )Ho(mosexual), I thought it would be nice to participate in honor of my many gay Mormon friends. I ran across a couple problems. First, I don't go to church or, for that matter, any place that requires a dress shirt and tie. I overcame that problem this morning, albeit a week late, by attending a service at the local Unitarian Universalist church. I was overdressed for their casual Sunday meeting, but not so much that I felt uncomfortable.

The second problem was that although I have several blue dress shirts, it turns out I don't own a single green tie. I found a remedy by reversing the official MoHo uniform with a green shirt and a blue tie. MoHo purists, who stick to the official (albeit backward) definition of the term as a Mormon who happens to have ties to homosexuality, might find this inversion appropriate, as I am by their definition a HoMo, a homosexual who happens to have ties to Mormonism. Never mind the fact that the shirt and tie really don't go well together at all.

Please note, everyone, that if this trend catches on and other LGBT former Mormons hop on my green-shirt-and-blue-tie bandwagon, leading to the adoption of new terms to define gay Mormondom--i.e. "Are you a Blue Shirt?" "Oh, no, I used to be, but now I'm a flaming Green Shirt."--I want you (I'm looking at you, Oxford English Dictionary) to remember that I was the first.