Toby T's Account

Account Name: Toby T
Member since: 2006-10-01 19:44:19

Hi, I'm Toby, and I've been given the extraordinary privilege of talking with God. Other than that I don't really have a lot to say about myself. I'm sure some stuff will leak out as I write about my conversations, so keep reading the blog entries and maybe you'll figure me out. And maybe I'll come back and add to this description from time to time.

Where do you live: Phoenix, Arizona
What is your gender: Male
What religion were you raised as: Catholic
What religion do you practice now: Direct Communication
How often do you attend formal services: null

Most Recent Posts

Even with the Funny Hat

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Like a lot of ex-Catholics I’ve been watching the things that Pope Francis has been saying with something like awe. Not “awe” like the Church expects us to give to God, but “awe” as in I can’t believe the head of the Catholic Church is actually sane, compassionate, and intelligent. The latter of those is the only one I’m sure applied to the previous Pope.

I could cite some of the things that Francis has said, but there’s too many to put in a single post and I’d hate to try and cherry-pick.

God, too, is impressed. He’s admitted before to giving a little help to the Cardinals in making the right choice, but because of the free will that he’s given to us humans, even he couldn’t be sure how things would turn out. After all, politics has changed more than one soul once they’ve made it into office.

And the Rain, Rain, Rain, Came Down, Down, Down

Friday, December 12th, 2014

There’s been a lot of talk this week about Noah’s ark, with the worst storm in a decade bearing down on the west coast. According to The Bible, God gave us the rainbow as his promise that he would never flood the whole world again, but I’ve noticed that most of the time, when it rains, we don’t get a rainbow. So I asked God what that means for his promise.

He said that he gets moody sometimes.

I was about to start on some follow-up questions when lightning struck a nearby tree and a large branch cracked free. I decided some questions are best not pursued.

Eggnog Latte or Bust

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Ginger snaps are available all the year long. So is ginger ale, and ginger beer, and candied ginger. Yet somehow gingerbread is reserved mostly for the Christmas season. And then there’s eggnog. Eggs are available all the year round. So are vanilla and sugar and nutmeg. So why is it that eggnog, as a product, is only available in the run-up to the end of the year?

We’ve made great strides, albeit at a notable cost to the environment, at bringing in fruits and vegetables from around the world so they can be in stores for much of the year, seasons be damned, but there’s still these things that we reserve for no apparent reason to “the season.”

I’ve asked God to do something about it, but I think that may have backfired on me. It seems that every year the eggnog season gets shorter. This year Starbucks tried to eliminate it completely, or at least their version of it, but it seems that I’m not the only one that complains at its lack.

If we could just harness our culture’s addiction to flavored coffee toward solving the lack of world peace and other cultural problems I think we could even do without God altogether.

Black Humor

Friday, November 28th, 2014

It’s Black Friday. The biggest retail shopping day of the year here in the United States. Sensible people stay away from the stores today. That says a lot about how few sensible people there are. Even God stays away from the stores today. That says a lot about why there are so many reports of awful things happening in the stores.

Still, there wouldn’t be so many people desperate for whatever bargains they can get if our economy weren’t so heavily tilted toward the uber-rich.

Yesterday we gave thanks. Today we take it all back.

Just Eat It

Friday, November 21st, 2014

I watch the squirrels in my backyard run around and dig up food that they buried a while ago and happily munch on it. Then I think about how many people agonize over whether or not they can invoke “the five second rule” when they accidentally drop a piece of bread on the kitchen floor.

They agonize over how long it’s been since they did a thorough mopping of the floor. They gauge how dry the bread is. They wonder if anybody has sneezed in the house in the last week.

God says we’re wimps. She says that affectionately, but that doesn’t lessen the truth of it. She does admit that it’s not entirely our fault and when I pressed her on the issue she also said it kind of works to her advantage. She says a lot of the prayers she gets credit for answering are really just cases of hypochondria. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, I suppose it’s neither.

One Step Back

Friday, November 14th, 2014

I’ve had some time now to get over the initial pain of the 2014 midterm United States elections. I’ve mourned the passing of the control of the U. S. Senate from the centrist party to the right wing party. I’ve put up with God telling me that this too shall pass.

I know that the bend of history is ever towards progressive ends. It’s almost tautological, as humanity progresses we, well, progress.

But why does it have to be in fits and starts? Why did California have to get Same Sex Marriage and then lose it and then get it back. Why do we have to put up with the Affordable Care Act before the inevitable transition to a single payer system? Why, well why so many things?

God tells me that if he knew the answer to that, he wouldn’t have needed to make the universe in the first place.


Friday, November 7th, 2014

One of the pleasures of living alone (God may come here every day, but he hasn’t become a roommate yet), is that there are things that I can defer. If I come home from a trip and don’t feel like unpacking for a few days, no problem, the luggage will site undisturbed at the side of the room. If I don’t want to sort out the mail for a few days, it may be unsightly while it piles up, but, hey, I can just as easily look in another direction as in its direction.

It’s a freedom you don’t get with roommates, or spouses, or kids. You may leave these things undone, or they might, but the things I can ignore and the things they can ignore usually don’t perfectly overlap. It’s a source of friction in many relationships.

I’d like to tell all of you that I feel your pain, but I think I just finished saying that I don’t, so you probably wouldn’t believe me. And you’d be right.

But what I really want to know is how it can be time for me to pack again, when the luggage from last time still hasn’t finished getting unpacked?

He Wears a Funny Hat

Friday, October 31st, 2014

It’s Halloween. Earlier this week Pope Francis took time to remind his flock of more than a billion Catholics that Evolution and the Big Bang are not only good science but completely compatible with creation of mankind and the universe by God.

I had to ask God if this was a Trick or a Treat.

She was insulted. She said it was neither. She said it took a lot of time and work on her part to get the Catholic Cardinals to elect a Pope that wasn’t insane and she didn’t like me devaluing her effort.

I apologized and thanked her.

Actually, I thank her pretty much every time Pope Francis comes up in the news.

Up, Up, and Away

Friday, October 24th, 2014

The “South” has been dragging down the United States, politically speaking, for a very long time. It really all goes back to slavery and anybody that tries to tell you different is lying to you or lying both to themselves and you. I’ve seen a lot of the arguments and some of them are pretty good at the misdirection but ultimately they all resolve back to that root.

The modern version, if you can call something that’s been going on for more than a century and a half modern, is summed up in the slogan, “the South shall rise again.”

I hadn’t thought about that phrase too much, but it came up while God and I were talking politics this week. “The South shall rise again.” God asked me if I knew how they planned to do that. I gave it some thought, but I couldn’t come up with anything that resembled a coherent strategy. Then God told me that as near as he could see they planned to take the “rise” part of it literally, and their current strategy revolved around getting lifted up as part of “The Rapture.”

He also said they probably shouldn’t get their hopes up too high.

Spider in My Room

Friday, October 17th, 2014

God has his own way of decorating my house for halloween. He gets spiders to move in and set up their webs. They don’t really wander around much, seeming to be the ultimate homebodies, content to stay in the same few inches of space day in and day out.

God asked me if they bothered me.

I decided that the spiders don’t bother me nearly as much as the notion that they’re getting enough to eat.

A Blog of Your Peers

Friday, October 10th, 2014

Sometimes it helps to have friends in high places. I’m pretty sure God got me out of being put on a jury this week.

Normally I wouldn’t consider that a good thing. I’d actually like to sit on a jury. I think I could make good judgements, and I have a keen eye for detail. Also, I’d like to see the process from the inside out. This week, however, I had better things to do. I had a trip planned that would be cut short by having to be in court, so God pulled a few strings, not that she’ll admit it.

They asked me if I had a blog. They hadn’t asked this of any of the previous twenty-something prospective jurors. They prefaced the question by noting that I work with computers, but really, the connection between working with computers and blogging is pretty tenuous.

And I didn’t even mention talking to God.

New Versions for Old

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

God and I were talking about the computer industry the other day, about the big consumer facing companies. God asked me how many tries it generally took for Microsoft to get things right. I was tempted, of course, to say that they never do, but in fairness, when I really look at it, it’s usually about the third version of something that Microsoft gets it more or less right.

Then God asked me about Apple and the fanboy in me wants to jump out and say that Apple gets it right, right out of the gate, but again, if I really look at it they don’t, but they usually have something really good on the second version.

So then God asked me about Google and Facebook. Well a trend was clear, from three to two, to…? The trend suggested that I could expect God to want me to answer “one,” to say that Google and Facebook get it right the first time. I wasn’t buying it though, so I thought hard again and I realized that you can’t tell what try it is when they get something right. Unlike Apple and Microsoft, Google and Facebook aren’t putting out discretely packaged things. They have the advantage that most of their product lives on the server side of the client/server relationship so they don’t have to put out new versions in a discrete fashion, they can slip in little improvements here and there until one day you realize that things are working better than they used to but you don’t really remember when the problems you used to have went away.

I asked God if this was some sort of parable. I asked what the moral was, what was the lesson I was supposed to learn. She told me there wasn’t any, it was just something she noticed. I’m not convinced that was true, but what am I going to do, call God a liar?


Friday, September 26th, 2014

I spent most of this week at work cleaning up other people’s messes. In a way I mean that both figuratively and literally, in that the messes were more virtual than physical, being messes of the bytes inside of computers.

I asked God why it was that he let people come into my systems and break stuff. He said it was his way of keeping me humble. I told him I thought I was humble enough, but he just grinned and said that was my ego telling me that.

Bar Joke

Friday, September 19th, 2014

God and Jesus walk into a bar. The bartender looks at the two of them and then asks, “Where’s the Holy Spirit?”

God says, “That bottle in your hand will have to do.”

Jesus says, “I’ll just have a glass of water.”

In The Woods

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Last week I went camping. It’s kind of nice to be able to sit out with God, poking at the campfire after everyone else has gone to bed. He likes it too, because it gives him a chance to show off the Milky Way, which he doesn’t much get to do in the city.

I got to add a new carnivore to my seen-in-the-wild list, a fox. I’m not sure I even knew we had foxes here in California, but there he was, so now I know.

Also, we all know what a bear does in the woods. I can now also tell you what they don’t do. They don’t chew their food properly, and trust me it’s not a pretty thing to find out.

Basket Cases

Friday, September 5th, 2014

I bought a new laundry basket. I know that doesn’t sound like much but I did it without doing any comparison shopping or research. Okay, I bought it from a store whose stocking judgement I trust, but still.

See, for the last several years, that’s right, years, I’ve just been putting my dirty clothes into a pile on the floor until I had enough clothes and time to do a load. When I think back on it, the last time I bought a laundry basket was when I lived in an apartment where I had to go outside and wind my way through the buildings to get to the laundry room. So that sort of counts as buying one under duress. This time I bought it just to make my space a little bit neater, a little bit tidier.

It’s not the money. I spent less on the basket than most lunches cost me these days. It’s that I bought something that is to have semi-permanence in my home, something with which I will interact on a daily basis, and I didn’t make sure that I was getting the best fit for my sensibilities, my lifestyle, and my budget. I’d say it was almost impulsive, except that I bought it at a store where I shop every couple of weeks and twice I almost bought it, picked it up and held it but then put it back, before finally taking it on the third trip.

God says he was the same way when he wanted to put some in-his-imageness out there. There were all these good choices available, chimps, raccoons, bears, but he finally got tired of not committing and didn’t feel like looking at all the possible futures, so when Adam and Eve came along he zapped them. Pretty soon we were hunting and gathering and talking up a storm. And needing laundry baskets.

Eye Level

Friday, August 29th, 2014

I spend far too much time looking at (clothed) women’s bellies.

I do it while riding the train to and from work. See, I’m in the habit of sitting in one of the seats near the doors when I ride at commute times. The seats that are supposed to be given up to the elderly, the handicapped, and the pregnant. I’m old enough myself that between my grey beard and my balding head I’ve been offered these seats by other riders, but I’m not yet old enough that I’ve ever accepted such an offer. So I’m sensitive that it can sometimes be a jarring and even unwelcome thing to be offered access to one of these seats.

I watch for people obviously older than I am and I watch for people that clearly have a need to not have to stand. But on the judgement calls, well I’d like to say I’m erring on the side of not hurting people’s feelings but I’m pretty sure I’m just being as selfish as I can without feeling too bad about myself.

And I watch for pregnant ladies. And I struggle to discern the difference between pregnant and pudgy. One thing I don’t want to do is to inadvertently point out to someone that she is getting a little fat. Some people are very sensitive about that.

So I spend a lot of time looking at women’s bellies. To make up for having to do that I also spend some time looking at the crotches of men who are standing right in front of me and speculate about what lies hidden. God says that doesn’t really “make up” for it, but hey it makes me feel better, so it must be good, right?

Art of Complaining

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

There’s a meme running around that is expressed in the phrase, “first world problems.” I used the phrase the other day in conversation with God and he stopped me and made me define my terms. I don’t think it was so much because he didn’t understand them, or me, as it was just that he wanted to get me to focus so that I could better understand what he wanted to say next.

To me the phrase is a sort of post-modern recognition that the thing I’m about to complain about is pretty high up in the hierarchy of needs. Generally, so high up that I (or whoever) feel kind of guilty bothering to complain about it at all.

God says that although the particular expression is recent, the concept that our complaints may be trivial compared with those of our forebears is not. He says that one of the first times he talked to someone about it with someone was with a caveman complaining that the limited palette of pigments available to him didn’t allow his drawings on the wall to really capture the essential spirit of that day’s hunt.

Oh Captain, My Captain

Friday, August 15th, 2014

We lost Robin Williams this week. He was something of a superhero in the realm of comedy, but he had his kryptonite. God and I have been watching such of his films as I have in my collection. She tried to warn me that it wasn’t a good idea to watch The World According to Garp in the same week as Dead Poet’s society, but I’m notoriously bad at taking her advice.

The thing that stands out about his career, to me, is that there is so much work that only existed because he was there to make it. I’ve seen the stage version of Aladdin at Disney’s California Adventure more times than I’ve seen the movie, but as good as the stage genie is, it’s always clear that he’s doing Robin Williams. That movie only existed as a showpiece for Robin. God says so, so don’t let anyone tell you different. Mork and Mindy couldn’t have existed without Robin.

And Dead Poet’s Society. A brilliant film, directed by the always brilliant Peter Weir, but even for that, I can’t imagine anyone else in Robin’s role.

Sure he had his flubs, but I’ll not name them here. The world was a better place with him in it, but now that he’s gone, the world is still a better place, both for him having been in it, and for the work he’s left behind.

The Light from a Bulb

Friday, August 8th, 2014

How many Gods does it take to change a lightbulb?

Gods don’t change lightbulbs, they just say “Let there be light.”

Playing Dress Up

Friday, August 1st, 2014

Last weekend was the San Diego Comic Con. The biggest geek event of the whole year.

I didn’t go. I almost never do.

It’s full of things I love, but it’s also well, just full. It just too crowded for me.

God went without me. He says he likes hearing about upcoming movies and checking out what’s for sale in the dealer’s room, but mostly he goes for the costumes. He says people are at their best when they’re playing and he wishes we’d do more of it.

He also has a soft spot for costumers. He says it’s because when he goes amongst us in human form he’s essentially wearing a costume and he likes it when we act like him.

Monty Memories

Friday, July 25th, 2014

This week I saw Monty Python perform live. I was thousands of miles away at the time, so I was not only not in the room with them, I wasn’t even on the same continent. Not that they were on a continent. They were in England, which is an island, but, well… You know what I mean. Because of the distance, I watched them in a movie theater, broadcast up on the big screen, so really, performance-wise, it wasn’t any different then if it had been recorded in advance.

Yet I put value on it being live, and on it having an element of artificial scarcity.

But why?

God tells me that the value comes from the same part of my brain that handles nostalgia. She said it’s the same part of me that values memories of having been to Old Faithful over having seen professionally produced film that showcase the geyser in ways that merely being there can’t match. But was particularly odd about this, she said, was that I was putting together a sort of memory stew in my brain, mixing in bits and pieces from having seen the Monty’s so many times before. Memories from seeing their TV show, from having gone to their movies, from hearing them on the radio and from when I did see them live and in-person at the Hollywood Bowl. So, yeah, nostalgia. Nostalgia for what had come before but also fresh nostalgia, created there on the spot for what was happening right in front of me even though it was happening a third of the way around the world.

Zounds What Sounds

Friday, July 18th, 2014

I was pondering this week that the slang terms “frou frou,” “hoity toity,” and “chi chi,” all pretty much mean the same thing, all follow a consistent pattern, while all not quite being words. They have a certain onomatopoeic feel to them, but they’re not actually onomatopoeia.

I tried to get some insight from God on the subject, but he just said that following the minutiae of the evolution of English slang was just too too much to expect of him.


Friday, July 11th, 2014

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but for a few months now a sort of corporate street fight has been going on between Hachette Publishing and Amazon. I’m not going to actually take sides here, though I’m definitely on one side over the other, based on the publicly available information. God pretty much refuses to discuss the situation at all, let alone take a side.

What I do want to talk about though is the further devolution of the language that I’m seeing in this fight. Time and time again, I’m seeing articles that talk about Amazon’s contribution to the publishing ecosystem citing how valuable it was that they invented the Kindle.

And that’s what angers me. I hold inventing things in very high regard. Inventors, to my thinking, are probably the pinnacle of the human species.

The Kindle was not “invented.”

To invent something there has to be a spark. There has to be inspiration and a new way of seeing things or of doing things; there has to be uncharted territory, a path that isn’t visible. What was unclear with the Kindle was whether or not there was money to be made. It was unclear if the product could succeed. But it was never unclear if it could be made.

And don’t think I’m trying to put down the engineers that created the Kindle, engineering is noble and important, but creation, well creation is a pretty god-like ability. So full props to the engineers who created the Kindle, but my hat’s off to the inventors out there. May they never rest, never settle, and always love what they’re doing.

All Growing Up

Friday, June 27th, 2014

This week I’ve been attending Frameline, San Francisco’s LGBTQ film festival. Not surprisingly there’s been a number of coming of age stories. After one of these God leaned over to me and asked if I knew the first sign of someone becoming an adult. I asked if it had anything to do with facial hair and she chuckled a little. But then she got serious and told me it usually was when a teenager started talking about not being ready to be an adult. Especially after years of telling their parents that they were old enough to be treated like one.

It’s amazing what happens in people’s minds when fantasy starts having to confront the real world.

Interesting Times

Friday, June 20th, 2014

One by one the things that have always set me apart from “normal” people are becoming either things that people don’t care about or things that they view in a positive light.

I was a geek growing up. I read Science Fiction and Fantasy from the time I could read. When I was in what was then called Junior High and is now called Middle School, I read books on computers and microprocessors; and this at a time when there wasn’t yet a pocket calculator, let alone a home computer. I was also gay, but I’ve been, I suppose, lucky enough that I’ve always “passed” for straight, so I didn’t get called faggot more than any other random outcast of my age, though I didn’t know it at the time. I felt that difference, though, even if I didn’t show it. At first I just noticed that I didn’t have the attraction to girls that I was supposed to and then later, a fair amount later actually, I realized what that meant and then spent years slowly coming to terms with it.

But now, geek is the new black; it’s cool, at least if you’re successful at it. Science Fiction and Fantasy have won at the movies, at least when it comes to box office gross if not always when it comes to critical acclaim. And being gay, while not exactly being celebrated is at least becoming not only accepted but well, not championed, but defended, defended by those whose only skin in the game is having a friend or a relative or, increasingly, by those who are just being decent human beings.

I asked God if I was maybe just born a little too soon. She said that it isn’t always pleasant being on the front of the spear, but that it can make the victories seem a little more sweet. And she asked me if I’d really rather have missed it, missed the interesting times, missed the setbacks and advances, missed the transitions and transformations? I didn’t have to think about it for long. I wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t been born just exactly when I was, and I like who I am. So, yeah, I was born just exactly when I should have been. I hope you were too.

Grapes of Wrath of God

Friday, June 13th, 2014

God was with me today when I went driving past a vineyard, so I asked him, if grape juice spoils and becomes wine, and wine spoils and becomes vinegar, when vinegar spoils, what does it become? He threatened to send me to bed without supper, but the trick was on him, because I’d already eaten.

Step Lively

Friday, June 6th, 2014

I was complaining to God today about a type of person that I seem to find myself behind more and more often of late. This would be a person that makes sure they’re at the front of the pack when we’re queueing up but then when the pack is released, instead of rushing forward with the urgency their position implies they sort of saunter forward, ambling along without a care.

For example, my station is approaching when I’m riding the train on my way home from work, I move into the area near the door but the train isn’t too crowded so I leave plenty of space between me and the other riders. Another rider comes up and threads his or her way through the crowd to get right up to the door. The train stops, the door opens, everyone behind this person surges forward anxious to get where they’re going, but the person in front steps cautiously forward, mind you at an angle so that even though the doorway is two people wide, still no one can slip past them. Then they proceed hesitantly forward, always looking like they’re about to move both to the right and the left. If you find it hard to imagine how someone can look like they’re about to go two directions at once, just picture someone looking interestedly to one side while slowly drifting to the other, and then suddenly drifting back in the direction they are looking just as you move to go around them, anticipating how far you need move to clear them by analyzing the speed of their drift, but being drawn up short when the drift changes.

If I seem like I’ve given this too much thought, well, there’s plenty of time to think when you’re stuck behind someone moving at a turtle’s pace. And speaking of turtles, that’s what God brought up in answer to my complaint. She told me that these are people that embraced the story of The Tortoise and the Hare, but who took the wrong lesson from it. instead of learning that the hare threw away his chance to win by his cockiness and that the tortoise won by staying on task, they took to heart the notion that the tortoise won not despite being slow but because of it.

Dietary Cleansing

Friday, May 30th, 2014

I stayed in a hotel last week where the soap was “sugared citrus.” I’ve got a bar of “chocolate” soap with cocoa nibs at home that was given to me at a baby shower. My shampoos have had fruit in them for years and other household cleaners have been boasting about the “power” of lemons for as long as I can remember.

God is trying to convince me, even as I type this, that cleaning products aren’t behind the epidemic of obesity in America, but I’m not buying it. Now where can I find some reduced calorie facial scrub?

Cream of the Crop

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

God wants to know what is it we’ve got against cream?

We banish it from our milk. We whip it. We sour it.

And I’m not sure how it feels about having to compete with condensed milk, either.

The Green One

Friday, May 16th, 2014

I don’t like doing yard work but nonetheless I like to do my own. Sure it saves me money, but it also gets me exercise and keeps me in touch with nature. In spring especially but also in summer, though, it can seem like the yard work is never done. There’s always weeds to pluck, bushes to trim, leaves to rake, lawns to mow and any number of improvements that can be made.

That’s why God invented the modern trash collection system. Thanks to company provided containers, I now know when I’m done; I’m done when the green bin is full.

Now if I could just figure out when I’ve watered enough but not too much.

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