Monday, June 21, 2010

so help me god

I have an old friend with whom I've recently reconnected on Facebook. His son was sworn in to the United States Army today. My friend was pretty upset because the Lieutenant in charge of the swearing in gave the soldiers a choice about whether to end their oath with "so help me, God". My friend is a conservative, a blue collar worker and he believes strongly in the Christian faith. His post ended with the statement "the liberals are taking over".

After I read my friend's post, I thought about a book I had read entitled So Help Me God: The Founding Fathers and the First Great Battle Over Church and State, authored by Forrest Church. The author cites numerous historical documents that show quite clearly that separation of church and state was an issue way back at the birth of our nation. It has never been a settled issue and probably never will be. Although I had no hope that it would make any difference whatsoever, I added a comment suggesting that folks interested in this issue might want to read Church's book.

But more interesting to me were the comments that other friends added to his post. One friend added the comment, "or less government interference in personal beliefs". At first I thought she was giving a contrary opinion to his. To me, less interference would mean that each person would decide for himself/herself about whether to add "so help me, God" to an oath. But after a few other people left comments indicating how disgusted they were at each enlistee being given a choice, she added another comment, "Is this America?"

I don't think she was even aware of how contradictory her two comments were. On the one hand, she was suggesting that the government stop interfering with private religious decisions. But on the other hand, she was indicating that she would like the government to force every person enlisting in the United States military to end the oath with "so help me, God". None of the commenters said anything contradictory to this train of thought. My comment came as close as I dared without risking endless flaming.

This is the problem with debates like this. Most of my friends, who are admittedly liberal to one degree or another, would state their opinion, then follow it with a statement that indicated that they would be fine with all people deciding for themselves. My few conservative friends are absolutely adamant that everyone should think like them. And many of them go on to add that anyone who doesn't agree with them is anti-American, evil, unpatriotic, anti-military, stupid or some other negative description. Insults usually fly in the direction of anyone who disagrees. And facts are NOT WELCOME.

The TEA Party, for instance, feels they are "Taxed Enough Already" and are protesting wildly all over the country. When you point out to them that some of the largest tax cuts for the middle class have been passed by Congress within the last year, under a Democratic president and a Democratic-controlled Congress, they refuse to believe it. For them, Democrats mean MORE taxes, so they do not want to be confused with the facts.

I am absolutely amazed at this failure of grown men and women to read and do their own research. They blindly repeat the conservative talking heads. There are probably times when I am guilty of believing the liberal talking heads, without doing my own research. But most of the time, I want to see the evidence with my own eyes. That's what we should ALL do, in my opinion. Demand to see the evidence!!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010


The week of July 19th will be the week that I relocate to Pennsylvania. There is so much to get done before then. It seems such a short time ago that I was going through this process to get ready for my move to Memphis. Moving is exciting, but it can also be really annoying!

Step One

Find a place to live in Pennsylvania. This is COMPLETE! I'll be living in a small apartment in Norristown, PA.

Step Two

Contact movers. Schedule walk-through to get estimates. I have to provide three estimates to my company. Then they will tell me which mover to use.

Step Three

Schedule PACK date for packers to come pack all of my stuff. Schedule LOAD date for the day the movers actually load my stuff on the truck. Schedule DELIVER date for the day the movers actually deliver my stuff to my new apartment.

Step Four

Sort and categorize. Am I packing it, selling it, throwing it away or giving it to charity? I am EXTREMELY thankful that my friend (Holly) has agreed to come to Memphis to help me with this project. My home is almost 4000 square feet and I am moving into a 1000 square foot space. I am thrilled to be down-sizing, but I am also fearful that I will not get rid of enough stuff.

Step Five

Yard sale!!! Holly is helping me with this too.

Step Six

Throw out or donate anything that doesn't go at the yard sale.

Step Seven

Packers, loaders do their thing.

Step Eight

Clean that house!

Step Nine

Contact all utilities and schedule shut off dates.

Step Ten

Submit change of address to post office.

Step Eleven


During this same time period, I have a school to run, employees to supervise, problems to solve, a trip to New Jersey for a conference, a trip to North Carolina for a family reunion and two animals to deal with. I have still not found a home for Scamp, the Toy Fox Terrier who appeared in my neighborhood in December. I simply can NOT take him with me, so I am afraid I am getting closer and closer to an inevitable trip to the animal shelter where he will almost certainly be euthanized. Very sad!!!

This should be an interesting time!!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

oil slick & tar balls

The cruise I took last week followed a track around the island nation of Cuba. So, from Fort Lauderdale, we took a short jaunt to an island in the Bahamas. Then we sailed around the Eastern end of Cuba and tracked back to the west towards Jamaica. Then we skipped further west to Grand Cayman. A little past the southwestern tip of Cuba, we stopped at Cozumel. After leaving Cozumel, we sailed back east across the northern coast of Cuba, just east of the Gulf of Mexico for a full day at sea.

There was a period of time during that sea day that I sat out on our balcony looking out at the ocean. It was the last day of the cruise, which always brings some sadness. I was gazing down at the water when I noticed that the surface of the water had a strange sheen to it that I did not remember ever noticing on any of my prior cruises. I stood up to take a closer look. My neighbor happened to be out on his balcony. He asked me, "Does that look like oil to you?" It did. I nodded my head. The pattern in the sheen could not have been the result of just water.

Watching CNN coverage of the oil spill off the coast of Louisiana, one would think that it is not possible that we could have seen oil on the water that far south. But I truly think that we did.

This morning, tar balls began washing up on the beaches of Pensacola. If you've never vacationed on the west coast of Florida, this may not bring tears to your eyes like it did mine.

I am completely amazed that there are multiple people who shamelessly pontificate about the harmless nature of this oil spill. "There is always some oil naturally spilling into the ocean from oil sources." "Five years from now, this oil spill will have been naturally absorbed." "The liberal media is already running the sad pictures of the birds covered with oil, all designed to convince people that this is a catastrophic event." Logodaedaly usually amuses. In this case, it just makes me furious.

My prediction is that British Petroleum will ride this out with very little consequence. I do not trust politicians to hold BP accountable. And I believe that lawyers could keep any final decisions in stasis for years and years and years.