Wednesday, July 19, 2017

It took a year...

...but I finally made it through all of the modules on Harvard's World Religions Through Their Scriptures open online courses. To be fair, I took a 6 month break, so it would have gone much faster, but I was quite honestly bored and burned out after Christianity. I was also pretty upset that so many facts had been altered and omitted in my non-denominational charismatic, hyper-protestant upbringing. At any rate, it's done. I can't change the past, but I can take what I learned and make the best of it.

The five major religions are Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism. Each course summarized each religion's history, belief system, deities, prophesies, and doctrines, and impact on society throughout its existence. The courses are 100% unbiased and created by professors who have devoted their careers to giving people around the world the facts about the specific religion in which they have studied. There is nothing persuasive about the material in any course.

I feel like I accomplished what I intended, and that was to venture out of the confines of 30+ years of biased Bible teachings and learn not only about Christianity from an unbiased, highly educated source, but the other large religions as well. I wanted understanding, and for the most part, I believe I obtained it. It has been quite a ride, with emotions including aggravation, fascination, boredom at times when it was snore-worthy, sadness, and inspiration. Overall, it was worth the time.

At the risk of turning this blog entry into a novel, I'll touch on some teachings that pop into my head. This will be a stream of consciousness, pretty much:

There isn't a single major religion that isn't deeply misogynist and unfair. This is acknowledged in the course material, and acknowledged in the professors' lectures. Yes, even the male professors talk about it, which is notable because it is something that is rarely admitted to by men where I'm from. Some of the courses had entire chapters on the issues that women faced within the religion. I obviously feel that this is an important topic, so I am glad they feel it is important also.

Buddhism almost doesn't qualify as a "religion" because they aren't theistic (they don't believe in one true God) and their scriptures are written by regular humans who are inspired to live happy and decent lives. It's refreshing in a way, because nobody is claiming to be a god, or God, or God's offspring, or God's favorite. It IS acknowledged as a religion, however, because people live by the philosophy of another, the Buddha, whom they believe in and pray to for help.

Both Buddhism and Hinduism are extremely complex. Whereas Christianity, Judaism, and Islam focus on rebirth and the afterlife, Buddhism and Hinduism focus on being released from it. Hinduism is polytheistic, and as I mentioned before, Buddhism doesn't worship God or gods. They do, however, acknowledge the gods of Hinduism and other religions without prejudice (isn't that nice?) and even respectfully include them in some of their writings.

The best thing about Hinduism class was getting to watch Little Krishna, ha. Cute TV show. There are more differences between Hinduism and Christianity than there are similarities, but Krishna is a strong example of a similarity. He's the chosen one, a miracle child, with powers. It even tells of him being a precocious child who would get in trouble for running off, only to tell his parents that he was busy doing his sacred duty. It's tempting to label him the Christ of the Hindus.

Everyone I've ever met who has ever cited karma does not understand karma. It is not "what goes around comes around". It is the action that produces a result exclusively in the next life. Not this one. If you have a terrible life, they believe you did something terrible in the last one. If you do something terrible in this life, they believe you will reincarnate into a lesser life after this one. In order to believe in karma, you must believe in reincarnation. Full stop. If you have bad karma (actions), the only way to cancel them out is good karma (deeds) and pray that it's enough to redeem yourself. Nobody wants to be reborn...the goal is to cease the curse of reincarnation.

Brave yourselves: Christianity and Islam are almost identical. Most of the same prophets, and even Jesus, are in the Quran. Noah's Ark? In the Quran. Joseph's oppression? In the Quran. It's all there, some stories with minor changes (for example, one of Noah's sons dies in the flood for refusing to follow God). And while I'm on that subject, I will go ahead and say that much of the Old Testament of the Bible and pre-Jesus stories of the Quran, including Noah's Ark, are plagiarized from much earlier writings and tales labeled the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is Assyrian mythology (look it up, if you care that much). The Quran acknowledges Jesus as one of the great prophets, even believing that he was born of virgin Mary, and talks about his teachings in a positive light. The one thing they don't believe is that he is the embodiment of God. That makes a little bit of sense, because in the original scrolls (called the Codex), there is no documentation of Jesus ascending to Heaven to sit at God's right hand. Those verses were added by Mark at a later date, seemingly to make the ending of Jesus' story sound nicer and more complete.

The word Allah is no different than the word Abba, or the word Father, or the word Jehovah. God is God...in Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. He has many names, but he is the same God.

Whereas Christianity stops at Jesus (unless you're Protestant or Mormon, in which case Martin Luther and Joseph Smith are important to you), Islam continues with the prophet Mohammad. Mohammad was a regular man who devoted his life to scripture, and after spending time with a Christian monk, who declared him a prophet, he began to form his own doctrine based on scripture and his supposed direct line with God. He sounds no different than Moses or Jesus when you learn that. He simply isn't acknowledged by Christianity because the Bible had already been written by then. I repeat: a Christian is responsible for Mohammad claiming prophesy.

If you're unaware, King James was an English Episcopal royal who wanted scripture to be rewritten to his specifications, including the dialect. He had things added and removed as he saw fit. Do whatever you like with that information. It was first published in the year 1611.

Martin Luther, a German man who reformed Christianity in the 1500s and is responsible for Protestantism, omitted Mary's book and several other books from the original Codex that he didn't like. I never knew this, but Orthodox and Catholic (the first two Christian denominations) have these books in their Bible. He didn't like the concept of salvation by deeds, so he formed his own doctrine (sound familiar?) and used his status as a professor to teach it to the masses. Opinion: I was raised Protestant, as I've said, but I find it astounding that this man had the nerve to remove parts of the Bible simply because he didn't like it. Perhaps he thought he was above the scripture? I'm only speculating, but it states very clearly at the end of Revelation that if anyone adds or takes away from the book, they will be cursed for eternity. I guess he didn't think that applied to him, but it's there, even in his version.

I don't have much to say about Judaism, and I'm sorry if that's offensive. I'm sure if that offends you, you're already pissed off by previous paragraphs anyway, so...it revolves around Moses, who said God gave him new laws about how to live. He asked people to follow him. And they did.

I also don't know what to say about Mormonism. A guy named Joseph Smith in the 19th century said God gave him new laws about how to live. He asked people to follow him. And they did.

Okie dokie.

Opinion: The problem with religious terrorism is fanaticism. It's not the religion itself, it's the radicalization of the ideals of people who are overboard. Call it obsessive-compulsive disorder if you like. Hyper-religion is indeed a facet of mental illness, but the religion in question is not the problem.

The problem with religion is people. People are control freaks, and they want everyone to think like them, believe like them, look like them, act like them, and be like them. People have egos, and they insist that they're right and anyone who doesn't agree is wrong and is therefore dangerous. To resolve the many, many problems with religion, we would have to first resolve ourselves.

People who are radicalized take an idea or doctrine, interpret it in a bad way, and run with it like a maniac. For example, the Bible says "Go into all the world" and bring the masses into the kingdom so that they may be saved. Radical Christians take it as a fundamentalist (literal) command and pillage other lands, taking ownership of everything and everyone, and forcing Christianity upon them because it's what the book says to do. Except it doesn't. Lunatics are scared, and sometimes, lunatics with money and resources do terrible things because they can. In modern times, people have murdered OBGYNs in the name of Christian beliefs. Tea Party American militant Tim McVey bombed a building, killing over 100 people including a daycare full of innocent babies because he felt threatened by the Feds. They think they're protecting themselves and others.

And obviously, we know other religions do the same. Radical Islamists (Jihad) are militants who think non-Muslims are trying to harm them, so they do everything in their power to take them out before they're taken out. Destroy or be destroyed. They have it in their heads that they're in danger and it is the instinct of humanity to prevent danger even if it means removing the source. It's extreme paranoia by reason that they've seen and heard and read about the infiltration of other cultures and know that other radical religious people are just as serious as they are. The Quran isn't anti-Christian. Lunatics are scared, and unfortunately, they have the money and resources to fuel their twisted ideas.

It's a tremendous delusion to believe that all people in any religion see things this way. The crazies are a minority, but we live in an age where we are enslaved by radicalized media news sources who thrive on our fear, lack of real education, and instinct to outlive the next guy.

Thus, radicals on all sides are obsessed with taking out the others to protect themselves. It's sad and terrible, and it has existed since the beginning of time.

I remember the OKC bombing and 9/11 well and know how scary and infuriating terrorism is. But, I think it's really important to remember that there are billions of people out there that we don't know and never hear about because they are perfectly normal and are simply living their lives.

In summary: an immense amount of discord in the world is the result of misunderstanding and misinformation. I'll go as far as to say that I think if everyone was willing to accept unbiased, non-persuasive education about world religions, there would be far less manipulation and abuse, fewer xenophobes, and a reduction of conflict altogether; not an absolute resolution by any means, but positive change. Too much to ask? Apparently so. But I'm putting that out there.

Thanks for allowing me to share.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

2017 Goal: MawMaw's Gumbo


If you've been following long enough, you know one of my goals for the year was to nail my late MawMaw's seafood gumbo. I decided today would be the day. You should see my kitchen right now...total carnage...but the gumbo is darn close to MawMaw's, and may very well be spot on tomorrow after the flavors mesh a little more. I'm happy to finally cross this off of my bucket list.

I miss you MawMaw, and I hope my attempt made you smile.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

July so far (in pictures)

A gift for my stepfather

Southwest Frittata

Blueberry Shortbread Pie

No joke, an awesome friend gave me a laptop free of charge. I love it.
And not a moment too soon, as Bessie the Macbook was three keys in the grave.
She's retired on my shelf now. She had a great run of almost 8 years.




I participated in a gaming night at a great shop on the north side of Mobile, AL.
I was in a lot of pain, but I had fun and I hope to feel up to attending future events.




It is this angel's first birthday.
I feel very fortunate that I was able to spend a few hours with him.
He's my one and only nephew, and what a sweetheart he is.
He took a selfie in that last pic, haha.

I joined a rock painting group that paints rocks
and leaves them in public places for others to find.
When I'm feeling well enough to leave my home again,
I'll start dropping them around the county.


This every day. Every day.
I look and feel absolutely horrendous, and it is a daily struggle.
I am trying to function and be an occasional member of society.
I truly want to spend time with friends, family, and in the world in general
but it is hard, and frustrating, and exhausting, and not worth it sometimes.
I have been determined to get around without a power chair
but I pay the consequences of every bit of muscle activity I force on myself.
I am in more pain than I can describe, and weak, and without adequate rest,
and I know my condition will only get worse without a real solution.
I am better off than I could be, yet worse off than the world seemingly expects of me
and there isn't a thing I can do about that except remind myself and everyone else
that I did not f#@$%&# ask for this. Sorry for the language, but it's how I feel.


Last, but not least, I'm back on Instagram @ugottafriend.
Feel free to follow. I'll follow back unless you're a spam whore. :-P

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Internal Medicine June 2017

I updated my medical blog at Fighting HKPP. Feel free to go there for the FYI, TMI, and all of that jazz.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Mario Marathon 2017


My pals in Indiana have currently raised over $40K for Child's Play Charity this year.
Check out the shenanigans and donate to the kids at MarioMarathon.com!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

I'm a Burrito





I'm too tired to live, so I've decided to be a burrito this week. I don't have much of a choice. My spoons, as they say, are few. The weather is a big factor, but life in general is just plain exhausting these days. There's plenty that I wish I could do, but it'll have to wait. I have Internal Medicine on Monday. I'll give a health update after test results and such. Back to my blankie until then.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tropical Storm Cindy


Click on the pic to see it in motion on the NWS Facebook page.

No flooding yet, but I've made some preparations, unfortunately breaking my toe in the process. Now I'm lying on the couch with my foot elevated watching the wind and rain from the window.

Talk to you soon.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Getting Too Old


39, and I'm already there.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Follow-up about Facebook

I am noticing that some of my friends have unfriended me because they didn't see my announcement about the name change (I am only on Facebook under my pen names now, on total lockdown). If you feel that you unfriended me in error, you are welcome to send me a FB message. In fact, anyone who isn't blocked is still able to send me messages if they choose.

If you unfriended intentionally, this of course doesn't apply to you. I'm not worried about it at all. We all have to do what we have to do. :)


Friday, June 9, 2017

Quick note about Facebook

I finally did it. I ditched facebook.com/ugottafriend. The page is gone, so if you used to follow there, you're not going to see me anymore.

I don't need more stress than I already have. This week was the straw.

I still own a few accounts associated with my various pen names, but those links won't be shared here. Sorry. It was time to find a permanent solution to my frequent privacy issues. Of course, in the event I ever finish a manuscript, I will certainly share that information with you all, and invite you to read the finished product. I'm still looking at years down the road, to be honest, but as long as I don't keel over in the next five years, I should have at least something for you to download, if not several things.

We'll see. At any rate, thanks for not taking my changes on social media personally.

TBN Rape Scandal

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/07/us/trinity-broadcasting-verdict.html

I believe Carra 100%. Some of the Crouch's devoted followers, who were my peers/mentors as a teen, tried to blame and shame me when two people committed sexual battery against me. They demanded that I never speak of it again, and they have covered it up to this day. I'll never forgive them.

Both the TBN (Crouch) and CBN (Robertson) empires are disgustingly scandalous. Due to the fact that I used to be involved in charismatic ministries, I'm aware of more behind the scenes garbage than the average viewer. I have no intention of giving details, at least not here on the blog, but I will say this: in a perfect world, all of these creeps would be held partially responsible for the abuse of countless women and children, and crumble into poverty.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Rainy Day Ramble

It has been raining for days. I'm always sleepy.

I'm at level 29 on Pokemon TCGO. Thirty (30) is the finish line where Challenges are concerned, so I'm very close. I've also started playing TGC in person at a game shop in the city about once a month. It takes a lot out of me physically to sit up that long, so I can't be there often. It also gets extremely busy and overwhelming, which is draining. But the people are cool, and it has been a mostly good experience so far. I'm being cautious, and if I ever get to the point where I'm feeling more stress than not, I'll stop going.

This is one of those weeks where I'm forcing myself to eat. I said I wasn't going to do that, but I can't fast for very long without serious symptoms, so I have to find some sort of happy medium. I bought a lot of protein drinks, and I've made a couple of decent meals, but I'm not feeling it. Any of it.

Not feeling social media lately, either. Twitter has been a riot with the "covfefe" thing, but it's back to being an angry cesspool again, so I've deactivated for now. Make no mistake, I'm definitely on team angry, but I'll spare you the details. Facebook is a different monster altogether. I use Social Fixer to filter out a lot of crap. If I didn't, I'd lose my mind over the politics and general stupidity. There are also people who act like their goal is to misunderstand everything I say. They don't detect humor or sarcasm, or they think I meant something I didn't mean, or whatever. Not many people get it wrong, but the few that do make me want to throw up my hands and walk away. I have no patience for this anymore. I guess it's a part of being sick, or tired, or in pain, or simply getting old.

Things have calmed down at the apartment complex for the most part, so that's a plus. I don't really understand what's going on across the hall anymore, but I've decided I don't care. Sometimes, not caring is for the best.

Miss Crankypants, over and out.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Final dollar store grocery blog (probably)

The original vid is here. There are other posts in the archive in the sidebar also.

It took me a while, I realize, but I wanted to wrap up my dollar tree grocery review.

I forgot to take a photo of the ham, beans, and peas that I turned into a meal, but anyway: the ham is ok, it's just plain 'ol cooked deli ham. The beans and peas, which are Margaret Holmes brand, were a bit plain other than a ton of black pepper. They weren't bad, but if you buy their seasoned varieties, you had better like black pepper, and a lot of it. I think with a bit of rinsing, and cooking in a crock pot with ham or bacon in some sort of broth would make them great. I don't plan to try that anytime soon, since my digestive system is no longer tolerating legumes. But do give them a try if you need a cheap meal. I'm confident they would go well in soups.

The green beans were freezer-burned, and the snap peas I bought later on were also. This stuff may be partially thawing during shipping and being refrozen. I have no proof of that, but I think that's what's happening. I do feel that it is not the norm for Green Giant products.

(I borrowed a stock photo from Jennie.)

The turkey burger and the bacon are still in the freezer. I'll get to them eventually, but I don't expect them to be anything to write about. If they end up being notable in some way, I'll share.



The fries are good, and I've purchased more since then. I like to bake them until crispy. The white potato fries are equally good and crisp from the oven. I'd compare the taste of the white potato fries to Lay's potato chips.



All of the frozen boxed foods...fish sticks, cheese sticks, peppers, and especially the mushrooms...disgusting. The mushrooms were horrifying, in fact. The photo on the box is nowhere near what they looked like inside the box. They looked like I dug a handful of dirty mollusks out of the bayou. Holy cow. I should have taken a photo, but I didn't because I'm a failure at reviews.

I've concluded that dollar store grocery blogs really aren't my thing (nor is photography or videos, for that matter). Since it was something I needed to do to get by, I wanted to share about the experience. These days, I'm grateful to have protein drinks in the fridge and access to cheap tacos.

Friday, May 26, 2017

39.25 year old head for trade


For Trade: Head. Approximately 8 pounds, possibly fatter. Eyes don't see very well, but enough to get by. Mouth attached is anatomically small, but packs a punch when necessary. Carnivorous, but not cannibalistic. Sinus cavities are a bit wonky, and ears would have benefitted from tubes in their youth, but alas. The brain inside likes to repeat nightmares and scream in piercing agony for no known reason. It also fights sleep to an unruly and miserable extent. Kind of useless. In fact, I'll rescind my trade offer and give it to you for free. Just take it from me already.

No phone calls or solicitations, please.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

My Favorite Salad


Tis the season for my beautiful red, white, and blue salad!

Spring Mix
Romaine
Strawberries
Blueberries
Goat Cheese
Sunflower Seeds
Poppyseed Dressing

I make it every year during Spring and Summer.
My sis in law loves it too, so we make it whenever I visit.
Pair it with a chicken breast for a wonderful, balanced meal.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Oh my goodness. Hi.

I rarely or possibly never wait this long to blog...it has been two weeks! For the record, it has been incredibly hectic and unexpected, and I will explain as soon as I have time to sit down and share the details.

In preview: multiple burglaries in my apartment building, and lots of out-of-town family time.

Talk to you soon!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Tamale Day



They turned out pretty great.
I shared with the neighbors.




I had extra masa dough left over,
so I made tortillas for the freezer.

It is definitely a labor of love, and not one I can conquer often.
I'll have to rest for a few days. Thankfully, I have leftovers.

I still need to wrap up my dollar store grocery run. I'll do that in May.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

2017 Goal Update (April)

So you don't have to click on another page, here's a screenshot of the list:


#3

I've continued to declutter my apartment. This piece of crap bookcase from Walmart decided to help by collapsing in one fell swoop. It's torn up and too heavy to hang as wall shelves, so in the dumpster it went. Take it from me, save $40 and your sanity and go buy furniture somewhere else.

As for actual decluttering, I'm making progress. It's not really that bad, but I tend to hang onto things, especially paper things like receipts, and they add up. I'll post more pics later.

 #4

I ran out of room on the Mac, so I finally took the time to deal with it. I zipped thousands of photos and deleted thousands of files, in fact, I have 66 GB of space again (which I will proceed to fill with episodes of Doctor Who, probably).

It is a dinosaur...almost 8 years old...but it has been a great system. Thanks for hanging in there, Bessie Mac.

#7

I've been watching a lot of watercolor tutorials online, and I'll eventually sit down and participate in a free course. I'll post pics here when I do.

#1

Sad fact: I don't understand the tin whistle. I move my fingers and blow into the thing, and all notes sound the same. I'm obviously doing something wrong. I'll talk to a variety of music professionals about this at a later date. YouTube hasn't been helpful thus far, but I'll continue to browse there as well. Although my oxygen is almost always in normal range, I don't breathe that easily. It takes more effort than it should, and at times it's painful. This goal isn't a priority for that reason, but I intend to pursue it at some point before the end of year.

Numbers 2 and 5 are in progress. Technically, #3 still is too. I completed #6 at the beginning of the year, as you may have read in a previous post. #8 will be attempted again soon. Even though a shop less than a mile from my apartment sells gumbo that tastes like my late MawMaw's gumbo, I'm determined to figure out the exact balance of flavors for myself. My gumbo is good, but it's not hers. Hers is the goal.

Enjoy the rest of your month, readers.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A visit to a farm, and a little Spring cleaning






I overworked my muscles badly yesterday, which resulted in very low function today. I was finally able to get out of bed and move around at 3:30pm. I'm able to do little more than prop up on the couch, drink fluids, and take my meds, but here's what I did yesterday:

Indy500 the rolling walker and I visited a farm in north Grand Bay to inquire about their community supported agriculture program. I picked up my first sunflower, which is now hanging out in the yard outside my bedroom window.

I moved my little desk to the foot of my bed. I am rarely strong enough to sit there for more than a few hours a week, but when I can I will be able to see my sunflower from the chair.

In the living room, I pushed the tables against the wall and set it up for drawing (which won't be today because I can barely even type), so it feels a lot less cluttered in here again *breathe* of course I will happily push them back into the middle of the room again when folks come over to play board games.

I'm going to have to stay home and rest my muscles for the rest of the week, but I will plan to venture back out to the farm in May for some fresh organic produce.

Support your local businesses!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Twitter Art Exhibit 2017


I don't know why in the world I keep forgetting to post about this.
I painted another postcard for Twitter Art Exhibit, hashtag #TAE17.
It was held in Stratford Upon Avon, England this year.
Since my card was going to the U.K., I painted a British candy collage.
The exhibit has already ended, but the postcard is for sale online!
It benefits a great organization called Molly Olly's Wishes.
Check it out.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ok, ok, I'm here.

I am really slacking on the blog lately. Sorry.

What I've been up to:


























I finally said goodbye to LJ once and for all.
I was there 16 years.























Pears are a lot like people
Different shapes and sizes
But inside, they're all made
of the same stuff.

(Pastel on Bristol)
















This is a "Nicole" rose from Bellingrath Gardens.
I attended their 85th anniversary fish fry...walker in tow, of course.
I'll share more pics soon.























Gettin' my Easter on.



















Accidentally ran across a little car show,
so we stopped to have a look.
I've always liked car shows.























I burned my dang hand again.
It's sore, but recovered well.



































You know you live in the country when
you get stuck behind this guy.


















I might be hooked on Pokémon TCGO.
A friend sent me some real cards, too!
I've won one online tournament and got 3rd place
in my 1st live tournament. It was exhausting, but fun.
The folks at the game shop are very accommodating.
It's not something I'll be able to do often due to illness
but I'll take whatever I can get. Gotta live a little.






















I've been cooking here and there.
(That comic cracks me up!)

But I've been dealing with a lot of Gastroparesis.
It is a miserable condition. Digestion shouldn't be so hard.
There is no photo accompanying this paragraph.
You're welcome.

I have plenty more photos of Bellingrath to share,
and I swear on my life I will eventually get to it.
My OneDrive app went kaput, which has been part of the problem.

See you soon.