Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Home Chef (A Review)

A retail store gave me the opportunity to try Home Chef at a significant discount. I had to say yes!

Thanks to Hurricane Irma, it arrived a day late, but thankfully it was well packed and still cold upon receipt.

Everything comes in these zipper bags.

Whoops! The crushed red pepper was already open and spilled everywhere.
No big deal, really. I informed them but I didn't want compensation.

Here's the haul! I only paid $4.80 for all of this. I would have been crazy to pass it up.

This is a nice-sized potato.

Look at all of this prosciutto! Do you have any idea how much this costs at the grocery store? A lot!

The steaks are vacuum-sealed.

Naaaaaaaaaaaan! Imagine I yelled that like Captain Kirk yelled at Khan, and it'll be funnier.

Ooooooh, I love binders. That's a weird fact, but it's true.


The two-sided recipe cards are great. They show you how to do this step-by-step.

Now let's get to it! Here's my perfect potato.

Good 'ol port mushrooms rarely let me down.
These will make a nice sauce. I can't wait!

Yeeeesssss. I made Steak Marsala with Parmesan Potato Mash!
Disclaimer: I accidentally overcooked the steak. My fault. Everything else was downright luxurious.

Pizza day! Believe it or not, I've never had arugula or prosciutto before!

To be honest, my hopes were not high about fig preserves. Not only was I pleasantly surprised, I wanted more!

Toasted pine nuts and shaved parmesan raise the roof. Have you seen the price of pine nuts? They're outrageous.
I am really happy I took advantage of this special offer.

The arugula was still good a couple of days after receiving the box.
It has a unique flavor: a little bit minty and a little bit peppery.

Please enjoy this terrible photo of fig and prosciutto pizza on a fancypants paper plate. Ha!
In all seriousness, I loved this more than I was expecting to. It was delightful!

Here's a short vlog I made to show you how this works!

- Home Chef has no idea I'm writing this review. I'll give them the URL after I publish. :)
- I received an offer to try Home Chef at a huge discount. Since I am only one person, I chose the smallest shipment of four servings and I paid $4.80.
- My affiliate link will give you a total of $30 off regardless of which membership option you choose.
- I receive no compensation for this review other than credit if someone signs up.
- I am not a salesperson. If you're not interested, feel free to move along. I'll never spam you.

If you would like to try Home Chef, you can get $30 off of your 1st order with my reference.
Just go here!

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Ramen Bowl



- 1 box beef broth
- 1/2 "spicy beef" ramen flavor packet (it is now MSG free, according to the package, so I used it)
- Sprinkle of dried ginger
- Sliced carrot (canned carrots work well in this, and it cooks much faster)
- Sliced yellow onion
- Sliced green onion (whites in the soup, greens as garnish)
- Sugar snap peas
- 1 chopped mushroom (I only had one left in my fridge, feel free to add more)
- 4 oz sirloin steak, sliced very thin
- 4 oz smoked pulled pork (no sauce)

Bring to a rolling boil for several minutes until onions are tender. Put ramen in the bottom of the bowl and ladle boiling soup on top. Walk away (it's too hot to eat anyway) while the ramen softens. It should be perfectly al dente in 5 to 7 minutes. Top with green onion and more pulled pork.

Don't spill it on the stove like I did, ha.

Optional additions at the table, by the drop: soy sauce, hoisin sauce, chili oil, sriracha
(I added none of these this time).

If you don't want to use the ramen flavor packet, you can simply add a pinch of red pepper and some salt to the broth. You can also use the entire packet instead of half, if you wish.

This is a great way to use leftover meat and veggies. It was my best ramen bowl yet.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Let's Help Florida and the Virgin Islands

Irma is gone, but there is much to be done. While some areas were lucky, others were definitely not. There is plenty of wind and water damage. Many people lost homes, businesses, and vehicles, and sadly I've learned that there have been some lives lost as well.

Here are some places who could greatly use donations:

SOS Children's Village received damage, affecting 70 children in foster care. Their site is here.

St. John Rescue covers the island of St. John and surrounding areas. You can donate directly on their site or their GoFundMe page

Operation BBQ Relief is serving meals in Florida. See their efforts here.

I don't support the Red Cross for personal reasons. Do what you like.

Thanks for thinking about those affected by natural disasters. It looks like we have another one, Maria, headed this way. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Good riddance, Irma

It is an absolutely beautiful day in the Bayou, and I know everyone here is sighing with relief that we dodged another huge frickin' bullet this hurricane season. I hope all of my friends in Florida are good. If you're not, please make it known. I really do want to know if you're not OK. My area is gathering supplies to take down there. You know where to find me on the interwebs.

I'm so sorry for the Caribbean islands who are affected, some of which are U.S. land and citizens...something people tend to forget at times. I wish everyone, no matter your affiliation of course, the swiftest possible recovery, and I wish I were capable of doing more to help.

Hugs to all.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Hurricane Irma

Photos: NOAA

Now monitoring this insane beast.
It is currently 185 Atlantic record.
A Category 5 hurricane is maximum catastrophe.
It's creating havoc in the Caribbean at the moment, but my beloved Florida is next.
After that, who knows.
The size of this storm almost guarantees that I'll get a few of the feeder bands.
It could also turn at the 11th hour and hit me directly, but that isn't expected.
Again, that's probably not going to happen, so I'm trying not to worry.
I am making all of the preparations to the apartment that I can, though.
It's better to be overprepared than underprepared.
Management told us to make a plan of escape.
I'm working on it, but my concern is for the Caribbean and Florida most of all.
I have many friends there, and they are in my thoughts.
I'll give an update later this week.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Such a silly overused pun, but I couldn't resist.

12 inch donation, a new record! :)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

In The Red (Because Harvey Is Still Here)

Credit: NOAA

Here's Harvey, just hanging out, being a jerk.

Folks who aren't experienced with tropical storms or severe weather in general (btw where on Earth do you live? and may I come live with you?) can learn a great deal from the various radars NOAA Hurricane Center presents. This one, for example, shows that the eye of the storm is on the Texas/Louisiana line, still bringing (moderate, according to the color coordination) rainfall and wind. Then on the right, 400 miles away, is also Harvey...the dreaded East side of the storm, that historically (in tropical cyclones) tends to bring a lot of havoc in the form of torrential flash flooding, sometimes lightning and hail, and a high risk of tornadoes. Red means severe, if that wasn't obvious. The media usually focuses on the largest city affected by storms, in this case Houston, and understandably they need the attention, but know that there's a lot happening in a lot of different areas when a cyclone occurs. Some towns who are in catastrophe are often ignored, which is sad.

I'm perfectly fine. The feeder bands were pretty rough overnight, but I have no water in my apartment. I'm immensely grateful for that. Other places around here aren't so lucky. My area has had a lot of damaging flash floods this year already, and the last thing we need is a hurricane, so believe me when I say all of us here in the Alabama swamp feel very fortunate that we're not five feet under water. Community centers and churches are collecting items to take to Texas. We've been down this terrible road before, and our empathy is sincere.

I send all of my love (and everything in my pantry) to those affected.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Harvey Update

I'm sure I don't have to tell you how bad things are on the Texas coast right now. They've received a record-breaking 51 inches of rain in some places. Towns are engulfed, and people have died.

I remember the horror well. Twelve years ago today, I was facing this nightmare myself in Hurricane Katrina. The trauma and destruction are etched in my mind forever. I'm getting some of Harvey's feeder bands, and flooding is a concern living on a bayou, but so far so good. I'm fine.

Texas is not fine, and they need our help.

Relief efforts have begun even as Harvey isn't over and rescues are still occurring. I'll post a few links here, and add as I feel the need.

Google is matching donations.

A great organization called Operation BBQ Relief has deployed to the area. I've followed them for years and they serve hundreds of thousands of meals.

The Salvation Army

You can have dog and cat food shipped to Houston SPCA at this address:

Houston SPCA
900 Portway Drive
Houston, TX 77024

Hill's Science Diet is preferred. They also have an Amazon Wish List for other supplies.

I'm not going to share images here. They're all over the internet if you really want to see the catastrophe. The effects of this storm will be ongoing for years to come. When everything has gone "back to normal" everywhere else, the Gulf Coast will still be devastated, still be recovering, and still be in need. For those who lost everything, the nightmare is just beginning. Remember them. Help if and when you can. I know it will be appreciated.

Thanks for caring.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Hurricane Harvey

(Credit: NOAA)

This monster, needless to say, is on everyone's mind here on the Gulf Coast.
It's a Category 4 now, and the consequences of such a storm are catastrophic.
I am so sorry for Texas, who will receive the worst. I have dear friends in its path.
Louisiana is also going to suffer, and I am concerned for my family there.
Mississippi and Alabama will get plenty of rain from feeder bands, possibly flooding.
There is a state of emergency, and I hope and pray everyone is prepared and safe.
I'm in a major flood zone on a bayou, but I'm pretty confident I'll be fine.
It's everyone to the west that I'm worried about. Keep the Coast in your thoughts.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Health Assessment 8/24/17

I took a digital health assessment today, and almost burst into tears over the results. In my defense, it doesn't take much right now as I just said goodbye to one of my dearest friends. I miss her, and loss has a way of reminding us of our own fragile mortality, doesn't it?

Today is the first time I've documented my BMI in an unacceptable range, and I am currently at my highest weight. It says I am about 9 years older than I am, but it doesn't know how poor my health is so I imagine I'm physically quite a bit older.

Certain types of Muscular Dystrophy can cause significant weight gain (whereas other types result in being underweight), and the high protein/fat diet I'm on because of MD is not helpful in this regard. At any rate, something must change. I'm headed down a road that will destroy me if I don't turn around. I have to find a happy medium, or at least a medium, even if it's not the "happiest" one. Here's the plan so far:

  • I put a battery back into my bathroom scale so I can use it again.
  • I'll buy a food scale when I get paid so I can monitor portions.
  • I will reassess my grocery list and menu asap.
  • I've installed multiple apps to help me keep track of my numbers.
  • I need to continue to look for distractions so I'm not cooking or eating out of boredom.
  • I absolutely must get over my desire to try to cook everything and feed others (Let me love you! Eat this feast I have prepared! Literally me. I have to stop even though it pains me to do so.)
  • Somehow, some way, by magic and determination, I really gotta give up caffeine.
  • To be honest, I should go paleo, but I am currently kicking and screaming every step of the way.
  • My body falls apart into HKPP mode every time I attempt to exercise. Even PT is a problem. This has always been the case, even in young adulthood. There is no solution for it, and I have no choice but to acknowledge that fact.

Life is sad and frustrating lately, but I know I can't let myself be consumed and I strive to "pull myself together", as I often put it, and carry on. It's hard, but I'm trying. Always.

I'll share a new assessment at the end of the year to see if things have changed.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

I have lost a wonderful friend

She died in her sleep. No cause known at this time.
I had talked to her mere hours beforehand.
It seems so impossible. I am sad, angry, shocked.
She was a funny, empathetic, loving and kind person.
The loss is immense for everyone who knew her.
Funeral tomorrow. Please spare a thought for her children.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Wicked Cool Cell Biology Video

This is an animated video from the course I just zipped through at HarvardX.

I'm done...tore through it like a bat out of you-know-where. The last half was more difficult than the first half. The last test was so challenging, I've opted not to take the final. I have to avoid stress, so when a hobby becomes stressful, it's time to walk away, right? The content was overwhelming, but really cool! Thanks Professor Lue for a fascinating course. I especially recommend it to anyone with Mitochondrial Myopathy or other condition involving the Mitochondria.

Food Science starts on August 23rd.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

August So Far

The neighbors gave me some of their beautiful hot (and I mean HOT) peppers.
I haven't decided what to do with them yet, but I'll be using gloves!

I dropped my first #MobRox!

Someone offered to make a safety pin decal for my car, but didn't follow through (she's plenty busy I'm sure), so I bought a shirt. It represents solidarity with those who have been victimized. Safety is a human right, and I will speak against abuse and oppression until the day I die.

I'm struggling with severe pain, photo sensitivity, and social anxiety, but I went to the local game store to play Pokemon in person. I have been doing this off and on for a few months. I don't get to go very often, due to my sucky condition, and I pay the consequences each time as symptoms inevitably arise from sitting up for a few hours in a stuffy room under florescent lighting. Sometimes, I don't handle it well, at least in my opinion. I don't know how noticeable my physical meltdowns are to anyone else. As long as I don't annoy anyone or overstay, I think I'll survive every so often. The folks there have been nice, and a few customers even helped me break into my car when I stupidly locked myself out the other day. I'm an idiot. Anyway, it's a decent geek hangout.

P.S. - I'm terrible at the game in person. Just terrible.

I'm more successful online. Most recently, I had a 10 game winning streak, lost game 11, then returned a couple of days later and won 15 times in a row. Go me? Sylveon GX, if you care.

I booked my room for MDA clinic in 6 weeks. I used Airbnb last time with great results. Hopefully, this time will work out just as well. They even have a pool (which I won't use, so I don't know why I just mentioned it). It's a nice house in a safe neighborhood 10 minutes from the hospital. The joys of being an outpatient, out-of-state patient, I guess.

I am continuing free, non-credit courses through Harvard. If you're new here, I am too ill to attend actual college, even online. I confirmed that by almost dying while in community college 7 years ago. At any rate, these work-at-your-own-pace non-credit courses are a challenge, but I love learning. Biochemistry was a big NOPE, and I dropped it, but I'm currently in Cell Biology and doing well. More than well, I guess, since I started it on the 8th and I'm 3/4 of the way finished already. I'll wrap up the course material on the 10th (that's today), and start studying for the final.

As usual, forgive the wonky blog formatting. It's stupid. Or perhaps I am. Everything wrong with this blog is probably user error, to be honest. Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

I'd like for my patronus to be a wise owl or a beautiful zebra, but let's face it, it's probably a fat panda with Narcolepsy.

If you're one of the few people on Earth who does not know Harry Potter, and don't want spoilers, exit the page now.

You probably think this is absolutely nuts, but I introduced myself to Harry Potter in July.
Yep, it was my first time.
Crazy, right?
I've never read the books, and I'm not sure I'll get through them with my vision impairment and adult ADD, but I'll give it a shot someday. The movies, though...the movies. I was so so so impressed by everything: the acting, the storyline, the special effects, it was all fantastic. I honestly think I like it more than Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, and that's big. Really big.

Harry has a lot of empathy, and there's nothing better in my opinion. I hated how mistreated he was; what a burden to be "the boy who lived". I wanted to give him a hug. Great character, and Daniel Radcliffe did an excellent job. Of course Emma Watson is superb as both a human being and in the role of Hermione. I loved her. Harry and Hermione are serious friendship goals, people. To have that level of platonic intimacy - yes please!

I have to say I am shocked that I managed to avoid the massive spoiler concerning Severus Snape for 20 years. It took me by surprise, and I wept and wept. Then I watched it a second time and wept again. If you are unaware, Alan Rickman has been a beloved favorite of mine since Junior High School. It's a shame that I had not seen his role in Harry Potter until now, but I'm glad I finally did. Needless to say, it only reinforced my affection. Nobody portrays a hardened man painfully in love like Alan Rickman. Damn, he's good. And he is so missed.

It was also a joy to see Maggie Smith and so many other British actors that I am familiar with from film and television. There's a running joke that the UK has the same 12 actors in everything, ha. That's a slight exaggeration, but I get it. It's fun to me, though, to see the same folks pop up again and again. It feels like we get to know them after awhile, doesn't it?

I wanted to explain why I was unfamiliar with the stories, but I don't want to turn this post into a downer, so I've decided not to get into that. I'm glad I've enlightened myself and now I finally understand years of my friends' and siblings' Harry Potter references. Yay!

I plan to marathon it again soon.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Ancestry DNA

I was excited to be given the opportunity to send my DNA to Ancestry for heritage analysis. The process was easy, and they didn't keep me waiting very long. I'm happy to share the results:

I am 99% European and 1% Native American! Here's how it breaks down:

64% Europe West

Primarily located in: Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein
Also found in: England, Denmark, Italy, Slovenia, Czech Republic
I already knew this would be the biggest percentage, since I am primarily French and my maternal grandmother's mother was German.

15% Irish

YAAAAAAAY! I knew I was Irish because my paternal great grandmother was full-blooded Irish, but I didn't know it would show up as 15%. Awesome!

8% Iberian Peninsula

Primarily located in: Spain, Portugal
Also found in: France, Morocco, Algeria, Italy
Important to note that although IP is primarily Spain and Portugal, it also includes Southwest France, and that is exactly where one of my French ancestors is from. I will be genuinely surprised if I ever find an ancestor from Spain.

6% Great Britain

This is strictly England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland (however, I don't think NI is a part of this percentage, since Ireland is its own category).
I was expecting a higher percentage, but I don't doubt their findings now that I know I'm 15% Irish!

1% Americas (I am specifically Mississippi Choctaw)

This includes all of the Americas, and refers to Native/Indigenous ancestry. I agree with this percentage because my full-blooded Mississippi Choctaw Great Grandmother is from 7 generations ago. I'm just happy they recognized it at all!

Additional information:
As you can see in the first photo I shared, I am related to the first settlers of the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts. This information is spot on. Important note: The Alabama coast is included in this category, as you can see on the map.

It also tells me that I am possibly related to first settlers in North Carolina, which is accurate because that is exactly where my confirmed ancestor Alexander Elliott Clark was born. If only anyone knew who his parents were, I could close the gap in my family tree!

It also tells me I am possibly related to first settlers in the deep south region, which includes much of the Southeast. This of course is accurate also, not just because of the Gulf Coast settlers, but my German ancestor George Heinrich Seibel migrating to east central Mississippi. The family grist mill where my grandmother grew up, Sciple's Water Mill and Opry, still exists today.

I have absolutely nothing to contest, and that makes me happy.

If interested, my genealogy blog is in the beginning stages and can be found here.

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.

Brace 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 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, 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 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.