Monday, November 1, 2010

Stability and Change

I am adjusting to life at home again. After my trip to Hawaii I am home without work for two months. My first few days have been bewildering, not because things have changed but because they have not. The same issues and difficulties I had before leaving still remain, the routines, both good and bad are exactly the same. It seems from my perspective that so much has happened and I have lived so much, yet at home it has been stasis.

I should be comforted that in my abscence my wife kept things running so well and without disruption, but instead I am put off and feeling uncomfortable. Not that I am displeased or ungrateful, to the contrary am very happy, I said bewildered. I feel this way whenever I return home, but ususally I am only gone for less than a week, this time it was nearly a month and it strikes me harder when that happens. I think it is because I have changed. On the road my life is a flurry of work accompanied by recreation and pleasure. At home everything is slower, I have many chores but they are not loming things with pressure and deadlines. Likewise there are pleasures and recreation, but they are the mild and quiet sort that one enjoys with the family not the wild and loud things that one enjoys with friends, when the responsibilities of home are set aside.

When traveling it seems that the only stability I have sometimes is McDonalds. That is a never ending constant. Sure it varies a little here and there. In Anchorage for example they serve Big Macs with quarter pounder patties and call them McKinley Macs, In Honolulu you can get Spam and Saimin noodles, but for the most part they are much the same and I take comfort in that. Not that I go there often, in fact I try my best to avoid it, but still when I go it makes me feel somehow grounded.

At home everything is stable, which is not always a good thing, my wife does a good job of maintaining things in my abscence, but not at fixing things. It is as if all of the troubles wait for me to return and solve them, or not depending on the troubles and my ability.

This time is a particularly intense transition. I have gone from, living in the tropics where the sun is shining, the ocean is warm, happy hour starts at eleven in the morning and the nightclubs don't close until four AM. I have returned to cold and rain, broken cars, and bills that need paying. Away the company takes care of my lodging,transportation, meals, and even some of my recreation. At home it is up to me to care for all of this.

I am not saying I am unhappy to be home, I missed my family and have had pure joy, playing with the kids, taking them trick or treating, attending their parent teacher conferences this morning, and just being a family man again. It is not unhappiness that troubles me it is adjustment. It is approaching eleven o clock right now and part of me is thinking about calling friends and going for lunch and cocktails. Of course I am not. I am instead taking a moment to blog, in between paying bills online, repairing my wifes van and taking my daughter to ballet and my son to wrestling. This is all to the good but very strange feeling. After Christmas, unless I am called to other work I will be back on the road, first to Seattle then all around. There is even talk I may join some friends working in Minnesota though I have not yet been asked to. When that happens I will go through this same adjustment in reverse, I will be just as bewildered, and I will be feeling that empty ache when I am not driving the kids to activities and helping with the household chores.

It is my hope as it is every year that I will soon be able to take the family travelling and share these experiences with them first hand, rather than through phone calls, stories and photos. Unfortunately my life currently suffers from the familiar old dillema of either having the time but not the money, or the money and not the time. I do try though and one of these days I will find myself ahead of the game, and we will once again enjoy a true family vacation. For now though, we have the pleasures of hearth and home, Thanksgiving is around the corner then Christmas. There are to be dance recitals, concerts, school carnivals, and wrestling meets. All things that, mundane as they are, I love far more than exotic locals and wild nightlife. At heart I am a family man and it is the family which calls and fulfills me, yet it is if my life is schitzophrenic and it is always difficult to transition between the two versions of me.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Almost Home from the Islands

It has been a wonderful trip, but I am excited to be home. I miss my keiki, that and I am running out of money. It has been an action packed and fun filled three weeks in Hawaii. I barely noticed that I am here for work. My co-workers and I get our work done quickly and then it is off to the beach or the bars or whatever. It also helps that of the twenty one days we are spending here only nine are scheduled for work. The rest are either travel days or days off.

Our first night was just an overnight in Honolulu after flying over from the mainland. We went to Waikiki beach and revisited some of our old hangouts from last year, I even ran into a few people who remembered me, which was nice. The next day we flew to the island of Kuaii for our first work destination. The company put us up in a lovely resort right on the beach. The day we arrived I spent swimming and snorkeling and drinking Mai Tais by the pool. The next day I went sightseeing and visited Wimea canyon and several waterfalls, followed by a great dinner of fresh mahi.

The next day we flew to our next work destination on the Hilo side of the big island. I can't say to much about Hilo because we were only there for an evening before having to work. One highlight however was a little burger and plate lunch joint called Vernas, if you visit I highly reccomend it, everything looked good and my co-workers were all thrilled with what they ordered. I had a gravy double cheeseburger. I did not know what it was when I ordered it, I just saw the words "gravy double cheeseburger" and had to have it. It is exactly what the name says, two burger patties dipped in brown gravy, put on a bun and smothered in cheese. It is so insanely good I will be making them at home in the future.

After working the next day we drove to the Kona side of the Island for a few days. Kona is so fun. A block from our hotel is what we call the strip. It is a single street full of resteraunts and bars of every description. We traveled from one to the other, having a drink at this place or a snack at the other. Dancing and listening to music, and just generally having a good time. On our last day before flying to Mauii we went driving just for fun and ended up on a gorgeous black sand beach. I did the tourist thing and took all sorts of pictures. Then we went to the airport for our flight to Mauii.

Mauii is my favorite Island to visit, people are very friendly and everything is beautiful. Some friends of mine and I rented a car, rather than rely on one of the company drivers and got ourselves all over the island. We drank in Lahaina and checked out all of the tourist shops. Ate fresh cut pineapples and papaya. Then we went to Mackenna beach which was our favorite from last year. It was later in the year this trip and the waves weren't the huge majestic things they were on our first visit, but still respectable. I used up a genies worth of wishes that day, without knowing I had them. Had I known I probably would have wished better. First, while playing in the water and trying to body surf, I said "I wish we would get some big ones, six footers maybe." Sure enough the waves started getting bigger and shortly we were riding nice waves. Then I said " This sure would be great if we had a boogie board. Shortly after my friend Norma who had gone walking, came back with a boogie board, saying "look what I found." After riding waves all day, and picking up a nasty burn, we headed back and I said, "I'm starving, I wish I had something to eat." Just then we go around the corner into the parking lot and, behold there was a truck selling burgers, tacos and shave ice. So there went my three wishes, they made for a perfect day, but you know if I had known I had wishes coming....

After Mauii it was back to Oahu for the rest of our stay. Honolulu is a non stop party. Beaches all day, then drinking in our favorite Karaoke bar until the wee hours of the morning, then off to the nightclubs to dance until they close at four AM, at which time we go back to the hotel to wake up and do it all over after a couple hours sleep. I have made time to see some sights I visited Hanama bay and hiked Diamond Head, I have been to beaches all over the Island, except North Shore which I am going to today.

Tommorow we have one more job and then we fly home Thursday night. I will miss these islands, they are beautiful and fun, but I will be glad to be home with my family, and my beautiful city. It has been great but it is time to tell Hawaii goodbye, until next year anyway.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Aloah Bruddas

It has been an amazing day, My Ducks moved up to #2 in the na\tion and I am off for three weeks in Hawaii, on the company tab no less. As I said, amazing. I will update soon.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

An Atheist believes nothing created everything!

Ray Comfort, the televangelist and cult leader that I refer to on here fairly often, made a knew variant of his argument from ridicule, that atheists must believe nothing created everything, and that makes us stupid. This is the current version.

Still, there are some who deny their God-given common sense and believe the unscientific thought that nothing created everything. Atheists can't have their cake and eat it too. Either something made everything, or nothing made it.

Here is my response
Well yes Ray I am perfectly agreable to the idea that nothing created everything, I just don't follow why you think it is unscientific. "Invisible magic dude that nothing created, made it" is a bit unscientific, but my understanding is based on pretty solid science and logic, so let us begin disecting your premise and why I find it true.

You Say

An Atheist

This I can say is true if you are reffering to me specifically, as to other atheists I can not say. They could believe the universe was licked out of a block of ice by a giant cow and still be atheists as long as they don't think a God did it. By the way that would be just as reasonable as the Christian creation myth.

I am cool with believes as the appropriate term in this instance. I would prefer "understands" but believe works just fine.

Here is a sticky part as I don't believe that nothing exists. If something can be referred to it exists, if only as a concept, so not even "nothing" can actualy be nothing it is something, a concept, a word, and an idea. However outside of the realm of language and concepts there is no true nothing known to exist. We can however refer to a void in which there is no matter, energy, or even quantum particles. I do not know if such a thing existed but if it did it would not be nothing it would be something, a void. So for purpose of discussion I will take nothing as a reference to a void. However as a something even a void has properties, and according to quantum physics these properties may well be creative ones.

The process physics refers to as quantum vaccum friction is one in which in the partial voids possible in the universe as we know, virtual quantum particles are spontaneously created. (some say these particles are actually teleported from elsewhere, and if this is shown to be true that would make my hypothesis much more complicated but I am for this purpose going with the premise that they are created.) If this happens in limited partial voids it seems a certainty that in a universal void, a massive creation of particles would occur, say in a sudden expansion of space including matter and energy. There are mathematical equations that reinforce the idea that a void is inherently unstable and would in fact respond in such a manner. While "creation" may not be the appropriate word for this, it is usually called a singularity, creation works well enough.

This is perfectly fine with the caveat that we really have no idea what everything actually is, there are certainly a great many things we don't know about this vast universe you call "everything".

Now in truth my case here isn't really even a hypothesis, just conjecture based on my understanding of some studies I have read. I am not a physicist, although I do have a good education in physics and math, and I am certainly not a quantum physicist so I am not going to say my "hypothesis" is an accurate accounting for the big bang. I will say that this account does not conflict with the science or math, it may or may not be well supported by them but I am pretty confident there is no conflict.

Ray Comfort calls the idea of "nothing created everything" unscientific and an intellectual embarrasment. I call it pretty damn reasonable. Much moreso than his contention that invisible magic man did it. Now there are Christians who, not being whackdoodle cultists, have versions of creationism which are better reasoned and less kooky than the Comfortian one and their theories are worth listening to, however I have yet to see one that is based on anything more than speculation so I feel that responding with speculation of my own is a fairly acceptable response. If however actual observable evidence of Gods or "Divine Creation" were presented I would have to respond with something better than this.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I Must Always Remind Myself

I must always remind myself that the majority of those who post at Ray Comforts blog and others like it are not Christians. At least they are not like any Christians I have met in the real world. I need to remind myself of this to avoid becoming bigoted against Christians. I know that there are those who despite their belief in gods are rational, intelligent and moral people. I know this because I know them. I may not understand why they believe what they do but I can respect them as good friends and good neighbors.

The folks at Comforts swamp, Rapture Ready, Debunking Atheism and other such places give an entirely different impression. They are hateful, lying, degenerates. I say degenerates because by their own admission without belief in their mythology they would be robbing, and raping children and committing murder all of the time. They even describe themselves as evil and wicked. They claim that Atheists must be degenerates because we do not follow the dictates of Christian mythology so we must be raping and murdering and doing all of the things they would want to do if they weren't afraid of hellfire.

I say lying because that is what they do. They lie, they distort and misrepresent peoples statements. They continue to do so after repeatedly being shown exactly how they have taken statements out of context or repeated a lie someone else has told. Ray Comfort, for those who don't know, is a smarmy televangelist and cult leader who is the chief liar of the bunch. Nothing he says is truth and when called on his lies he dodges or changes the subject or simply deletes responses that make him look bad.

I say hateful because they are. They throw around mockery and false accusations. They make generalisations about Atheists and non Christians. They engage in the most atrocious bigotry that if it were directed at blacks or Jews it would be reviled by every decent person on the planet. Yet they get away with it because they do it in the name of their religion and the more sensible and decent Christians are either unaware or look the other way. Not that Christians outside the cult all approve, to the contrary, many Christian denominations widely decry Comfort as a heretic, but not because of his bigotry, it is his doctrine that draws their ire. His works based salvation and slavish literalism is what gets him shunned. This is fine and probably appropriate, but I would also like to see him called out for his lies and bigotry.

That is why, as I have said, I must always remain aware that these creatures are not representative of Christianity in general. Rather they are more akin to other cultists of any faith. They are the fringe loonies. The ignorant wingnuts. The mad bombers that the mainstream members of all faiths be it Islam, Hindu, Buddhism, or Christianity, would very much like to see go away.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Nature with my son

I finally got an actual weekend off after being away from home for over a month with only one day home. My wife was away at girl scout camp with my daughter so it was just the boy and I for the weekend and we made the most of it. We started off Friday after school with a trip to the park to visit the new goslings and feed the geese. Afterwards we took a long walk on the back trails down the river. The Willamette river is just perfect this time of year. Everything is just a wash of green and blue. The riot of different greens from all of the trees, the blue of the sky, and the river swirling shades of both cascading over the rocks. We spent the whole afternoon hiking and talking before going home to make "guy food" in this case bacon cheeseburgers.

Saturday we went with some friends to play disc golf in the park. We played several rounds and my son played right along with us. We give him a substantial handicap but even considering that he played very well. Saturday night is usually the night when my friends come over to play cards and bullshit. We dealt my son in and included him in the conversation and he was absolutely thrilled to be one of the guys.

Sunday was the Wildflower Festival at the arboretum and my son and I went together for the day. It was a great day. There was great food, good music, wine tasting from the local vinyards, and of course the wildflowers which are magnificent. We went hiking on the many nature trails. I let my son lead and he kept taking every trail upwards and after about an hour we had climbed all the way to the top of Mt. Pisgah. Exhausted but triumphant we stopped to survey the fields around us and revel in our victory before making the trip down. Downward I let him lead as well and before to long we were well and truly lost. Well not exactly, I knew where we were and had a pretty good idea how to get back but I let him struggle with it. He decided to use his tracking skills to find the way and started following horse prints. He actually did a good job and got us on a trail I knew would get us back but I also knew it was very long walk. Eventually I suggested we follow the stream down cross country and he loved the idea. We went off helter skelter downhill through the woods and fields, jumping and laughing the whole way until we made it right back down to the festival grounds.

We stayed another hour or so listening to the bands and making friends before going home to meet my wife and daughter.

The most interesting part of our trip was my sons curiosity. The whole weekend he had millions of questions. He wanted to know where rocks come from so I explained erosion and how rivers change course and everything else I could think of about geology. He wanted to know why some berries were poisonous, so I explained about natural selection and survival. Question after question I answered with the best science I had, simplifying it only so far as absolutely neccessary and he soaked it all up like a sponge.

I wonder if this is what religious people do with their children. Do they walk in the woods answering questions with "God did this" or "God wanted it this way" I imagine they do. I honestly don't know. My best Christian friend is without children and the other Christians I associate with don't really talk about child raising at least not from a religious perspective. I was not raised with religion myself, so have no personal experience.

I would think that they would want to but I am not sure how effective it would be with my son. He would not be satisfied with "Goddidit". Even if he believed in a God he would be asking things like "how did God do it" or "Why did God do it". He is only seven but already his brain looks past the surface and as he gets older I hope this continues and I see him probing deeper and deeper. I hear from many Christians of my acquaintance and in articles and reports that a big problem Christianity is suffering is that children are falling away from the faith after adulthood. That when going to college or when moving from home they abandon Christianity either formally as atheists or in everything but name keeping a token Christianity to please their parents. Could this be because my child is not unique in wanting deeper and better answers than the Bible and the church are capable of providing.

Note: Sorry I have still not posted Alaska pictures, my wife has still not located our memory card reader. I bought another one but it turned out it won't work with my camera. I promise they will be forthcoming.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

60000 years of history

Yesterday I visited the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau Alaska and was impressed not only by the natural beauty, but the sense of age and history. The glacier is a remnant of the last ice age when glaciers advanced accross the globe carving out entire landscapes. The last ice age ended roughly 10000 years ago and began as many as 60000. Somewhat older than creationists would have you believe the entire earth is. I enjoyed seeing firsthand evidence that creationists, at least the young earth variety are wrong.

Primarily though my interest was in the sheer beauty of the glacier and the landscape it sculpted. The water was full of ice floes, the glacier was tall and shining in the sun, beautifully contrasted by the surrounding green forested mountains. There was also a towering and mighty waterfall. My companions and I drank at the base of it and tasted the sweetest water of our lives.

It had been my hope to trek all the way up to the glacier but it was a three hour hike and my friends weren't interested particularly in the light rain which accompanied us. We did however approach the base and marvel up at the huge expanse of blue ice.

Today I am in the town of Ketchikan it is my last stop before returning home. I have enjoyed my working vacation in this remarkable place, but I miss my family and am eager to be home.