Archive for June, 2010

Judy, Judy, Judy

Friday, June 25th, 2010

It’s Gay Pride month. Many of you probably already know that. A few less of you know why June is the official Gay Pride month, and for you I’ll give the short and quick explanation.

It’s quite simply to celebrate the contribution of a bunch of drag queens and other homosexuals who in late June of 1969, were subjected to another in a continuing series of harassing raids by the New York police. At the time they were mourning the death of Judy Garland, who was a good friend to the Gay community, such as it was in those beleaguered times. To the patrons of the Stonewall Inn, it was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, and they finally fought back, taking on their oppressors in a riot that lasted into the wee hours and then began again the next night.

A year after the riots, and the start of the gay rights movement they spawned, they were commemorated in the first Gay Pride parades, a tribute that has continued ever since. I don’t make it to one of the parades every year, but I go as often as I can manage. This year I went to the Portland parade and watched from under a tree that sheltered me from the intermittent rain. I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve gone to a Pride Parade and not come away with some amount of sunburn. Oregon is definitely my new love.

Maybe Just One…

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Temptation is all around us. As Americans, we’ve collectively done a pretty shoddy job of resisting it. I was telling God that the best way to resist it is to avoid it, to plan your days and weeks so you encounter it as seldom as possible, but she told me that that missed the whole point. See, we’re supposed to face temptation and then we’re supposed to choose to resist it. Not all the time, but enough of the time.

But why?

She explained to me that it’s like our immune systems but in our minds. If we don’t face the small temptations and learn to say no enough of the time to keep from getting sick or shunned, we’ll not have any resistance when the big temptations come. When we get offered a big bonus to forge an inspection certificate, we need to have the moral fortitude to give it a pass. When we find a wallet stuffed with money and also the address of the owner, we need to not just know that it’s not right to choose our own level of reward, but to not give it a second thought.

So the little challenges matter. Passing up the donuts that the guy in the next row of cubicles brought in, because you’re trying to eat healthier doesn’t just help your waistline, it helps your moral fiber.

On the other hand donuts are pretty tasty.

Health nuts are pretty fond of telling us that our bodies are our temples and that we should be careful what we put into it, lest we offend our god. But what if our god is Dionysius?

Visiting Ants

Friday, June 11th, 2010

I had an infestation of ants this week. They came in from under the carpet in a corner of the pantry. I have no idea why anyone would want a pantry to have carpet by the way, but it’s as connected to the living room, in this apartment, as it is the kitchen, so it ended up carpeted. Hopefully nothing I put in there leaks. Anyway, they trekked from there the short distance to my kitchen trash, which, due to space considerations is actually even more towards the living room and just as much not in the kitchen as the pantry; but enough about apartment geography…

Now I don’t have anything against ants, but I do have something against uninvited house guests, so I decided that the ants had to go. The only thing is that I don’t have any sort of insecticide at the moment. So I decided to get some. But I wasn’t in any real rush. The ants were pretty well behaved, I thought they might have been intimidated by God hanging around my place, but she tells me that ants don’t really care about her one way or the other. That’s one of the areas where were different from ants. So I asked her if it was okay that I was going to decimate the invaders, and she told me it was between me and them.

So I figured I’d pick up some ant spray in the normal course of my shopping, no need to make a special trip or anything. It turns out though that the normal course of my shopping just doesn’t seem to get near bug spray very often. I do most of my shopping at Costco, and they don’t seem to stock the stuff. Well, things that I don’t get at Costco, I generally pick up at Trader Joe’s. They also don’t seem particularly interested in helping me end the lives of some nuisance visitors. God just grinned at me when I’d bring up the subject. I began to suspect that she was keeping me from getting the stuff, but she of course denied it.

So where do I get bug spray? I’ve had it in the past without going out of my way, so where did I get it. To the best of my recall, I get it at those big home improvement stores, but since I’m renting an apartment now, I haven’t had much call to go to one of those, so I haven’t even learned where one is up here.

All in all, it’s been a most unsatisfying turn of events. Then I came home today and the ants were gone. Maybe they had finished off whatever was in the trash. Maybe God chased them away, for their own good. Maybe they found some ant bait in a neighbor’s apartment. I really don’t know. One thing I do know, though, is that I finally got God to admit that she sees humans and ants differently, that we’re not just two different species united by being among those that the world has far more of than it needs. The difference between us and ants? The difference is that we mourn our dead and missing, and the ants don’t. And apparently that’s enough to make God not care if I kill them. Suddenly I feel a lot better about attending funerals.

Sweet Music

Friday, June 4th, 2010

The music group “Boiled in Lead” created a song with the lyric “caffeine, sugar and THC are all the doctor’s are gonna find in me, when they do the autopsy.” God and I were listening to this fine music the other day and it lead to a discussion of various drugs.

One of the unstated points of that lyric is that sugar is as much of a drug as either caffeine or cannabinoids, I think they would have tossed in alcohol as well, if it wouldn’t have messed up the scansion, but far be it from me to put words in other people’s mouths. The thing that God found interesting in this is that, with the exception of dealing with hyperactive kids, we don’t treat sugar the same way that we treat other drugs.

With most drugs it’s all about the dosage. The amount of caffeine in cup of coffee, a cup of tea, or a glass of soda is pretty similar. That’s part of why the average soda is twice or more the size of the average coffee drink. Now I know some of you will point out that Starbuck’s has managed to notably increase the size of what an average person considers a coffee drink, but I’ll counter that convenience stores and fast food outlets were way ahead of them with the size of soft drinks, so really Starbuck’s was just playing catch up. So moving on, I’ll also point out that the amount of alcohol in a glass of beer, a glass of wine, or a shot of spirits is also pretty consistent, and the amount of THC in a joint, a pipe bowl or a brownie works out to a pretty standard dosage.

So the thing about our social drug use is that our cultures worked it out, worked out how to standardize doses, even before we could measure the active ingredients. We didn’t work out which were the better drugs to keep legal, very well, but that just goes to show that we’ve always been better at the quantitative side than the qualitative side. I think we’ll get there though. I have faith. I asked God if he liked that I had faith about something. He just shrugged. He’s like that.

I still don’t know why we’re so laissez-faire about sugar though.