My First NaNoWriMo Experience (NaNoWriMo 2013)

I have participated in my first ever National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November and it was a hell of an experience. Out of 312, 866 people signed up for it worldwide only about 40,000 or so succeeded. As one of the 40k+ I can count myself as one of the 2013 NaNoWriMo winners (winner means having submited your novel and had it validated at 50k+ words). On the early afternoon of Friday, Nov 29th, I submitted my incomplete science fiction novel, The Veritus Engagement, for word count and it came back at 50, 309 words. Praise be to the gods that I was able to finish. There were moments when I was not sure.

I have to thank my wonderful wife who was more than understanding and allowed me to make time for writing in order for me to participate. Did I mention that my wife was awesome? If I have not said that before let me state this now – My wife roxors my boxors! For reals!!

The Veritus Engagement (overview)

Set over a hundred years in the Earth’s possible future where a semi-united Earth has achieved limited space travel and has colonized some of the planets in our solar system, the United Alliance of Interstellar Earth (UAIE) is mired in seceded corporate space colony politics, the threat of a reignited war with the aliens, and competitive corporations vying to monopolize precious resources throughout the solar system.

The Veritus Engagement follows an elite off-the-record paramilitary group, called the Wardens, in which Kuulgan while assisting an elite human military organization, must wade through racial tensions and gun fire to help stop radical alien insurrectionists from reigniting war between the humans and the aliens.

The Preparation

I spent a good portion of September and October planning the writing in MS One Note, which rocks as software. If you have not tried and you are a writer or Dungeon Master, please give it a try I started with a one sentence synopsis, then a 6 sentence synopsis, and then I jumped into writing chapter synopsi using the 5 act plot arrangement with 5 chapters per section @ 2,000 words per chapter. Now, having an even number of chapters per act is not the preferred way to go as I understand, but that is what I went with in order to keep it simple, especially since this was my first time ever attempting anything like this – NaNoWriMo or writing a book. Each chapter synopsis was 3-4 sentences long stating what I was expecting to accomplish during that chapter, and, on occasion, there were also a smattering of bullet points too. I also worked on putting together some character information as I went and was thinking about the plot and needed supporting characters. I spent most time on the protagonist, an alien Named Kuulgan, and his supporting characters, of which there were a total of 14. I also spent a little time on the setting, technology, and history that was needed to support and make sense of what was going on. I even setup Scrivener, my writing tool of choice, with the chapters and 4 scenes per chapter.

The Month of Writing

November 1st came really fast and landed on a Friday. On that Friday I made my 2500 word quota and I was surprised with this and I thought that, with my first 2500 words completed, that I might just be able to this.  The first week of writing went fast and furious. I kept to my daily quote quite easily. Although as we jumped into week 2 I was finding that the 5 chapters about diplomacy that were spread around the book were only going to be about 500 words, so I knew I was going to have to make up for it somewhere. This amounted to about 7500 words of extra writing I was going to have to figure out. Fortunately, a few chapters sprung up that were at least a 1000 words over so I was fairly confident that I was going to be able to get it done. Week 2 was a little slower, but I kept pace pretty well. I used the weekend to get myself ahead by a little over 1300 words. Week 3 was tough. Some of the chapters were coming out, writers block seemed like it was going to be a problem. I had some setting issues that I had not figured out yet, and eventually said the hell with it. Just write and I will figure out the specifics later. I struggled that weekend to get myself caught up but, I was able to. By this time I was not ahead, only just keeping up. I even had to create another chapter with some background writing to fill up the writers block I was having. I was only keeping up, which was good enough for me. Week 4 was the week of Thanksgiving and I had no idea how this was going to work, plus at work my PC was upgraded to Windows 7 which was an all day affair, so I missed an entire day worth of writing, but fortunately I had Thursday and Friday off and was able to easily take the late nights if needed. At this time I also realized the way I budgeted my time I did not compensate for the extra 2 days of the month. I did the math based off of 4 weeks at 5 days a week, so I had extra time if needed, and, fortunately, I kept pace and finished on Friday, just like planned. I was soo happy that I finished. I was glad to finally be done and have conquered this beast. The NaNoWriMo Beast! I think that ding sound means I made it to second level! Squee!

The Experience

I was glad to be done with NaNo. It is not that I did not enjoy it, since i really did enjoy the experience. Writing 50,000 words in 30 days is an incredible challenge with a full time job, wife, kid, and a business to manage. I learned that what you plot out and plan to take up a complete chapter worth of words may not actually end that way. I learned that even if you have everything planned out well that writers block may decide that you need more of a challenge. I learned that as you are writing that the writing may take on a life of its own and take you somewhere that you had not planned or it will reveal to you something about your book that you had not realized. I learned that Warrant Officer Giovanni did not like the sound of vibro weapons. The last combat that I had writing turned out nothing like I was intending – no one died. =( I am not sure who is boss here me or the book. =O

What Now?

Currently, I am working on what I hope will be an 7 book fantasy series based on a character and character history from a Dungeons and Dragon’s Second Edition game that played in the 1990′s during my time in the Navy. This was a single player game  that someone else DM’ed for me while we were on our 6 month cruise in the Mediteranean. I am currently in the process of plotting it out and workin on history. The series will be based on the character history titled ‘Of Books and Blades‘ (see link below) and the first book was going to basically be a large rewriting of this short story. I have since come to find out that I have almost completely abandoned this. The only part that is kept is that Jaerle and Kari and the rest is completely jettisoned. I am having the most problem figuring out the plot for this first book. Books 2-5 are fitting together pretty well. 6 and 7 are still a work in process I think either I will get the basic plot for book one done first, or book one’s plot may not happen until the plot for the last two books  are fitting. We shall see.

Wish me luck!

NaNoWriMo (3 Days and Counting)

OK, everyone there are 3 days and counting before National Writing Month (NaNoWrimo) which runs all through the month of November. It is coming… brace yourself!!

I do not have as much prepared as I would like, and I am not sure if the chapter synopsi that I have prepared will work well enough for me to be able to actually write each chapters with 2500 words. We shall see. This is my first attempt at something like this so it will be a huge learning experience.

I Have Joined the Green Party!

How I Found Out About The Green Party

I have officially joined the Green Party. “How did this come about?” you ask. Well, the short of it is that I took a thorough survey during the 2012 presidential electoral cycle which was titled “I side with…?“. I knew who I was going to vote for – Obama, but I was curious as to what the survey would come up with – looking to validate/invalidate my current political label or to illuminate where I really stand even if I think  I stand else where. The result for me from the I side with …? survey was a bit surprising – 98% Democrat, 92% Green Party, and 5% Republican. Agreeing with Democrats and not agreeing at all with the Republicans I understood, but I had no idea who Jill Stein or the Green Party were. I was kinda stunned. Who the hell are these people and how do I agree with them so much?  This started my search into the Green Party – the Green New Deal and other Green Party related sites. Recently I quickly took the survey again and I am at 95% Green and 91% Democrat and still @ 5% Republican. =)

Joining the Green Party

A little over a month ago (29 June 2013) I attended the Wisconsin State Green Party‘s Annual Meeting @ UW Oshkosh officially joining their ranks and become an Alternate Delegate for the state of Wisconsin to the National Party, as well as joining the National Green Party Platform Committee. About 2 weeks ago (25 – 28 July 2013) I attended the 4 day Green Party Annual National Meeting (ANM) in Iowa City, Iowa, and after a day and a half of training and talks on how to run for office, and like 2.5 days of committee meetings, I also have jumped on their IT and Outreach Committees, as well as assisting their Campaign Coordination Committee.

What Appeals to Me About the Green Party

The Green New Deal really appeals to me because it provides real answers to the many issues that we are facing as a country and as a people if we are to have any hope of a future for our country and the world. I do not agree with everything in there, but all most all of it makes a lot of sense and really attacks the real problems that we face in which the Republicans and the Democrats are too spineless to tackle for fear of losing their corporate sponsorship, and their seats. They are more concerned with money and power than actually solving the problems the real problems.  This saddens me greatly. Below I will highlight one of the areas that appeals to me about the Green Party and the Green New Deal, as well as add my thoughts to it:

Electoral Reform

One of the most powerful problems which truly prevents real change and real solutions to our problems is an electoral system that is rigged by the system to keep others out beside the two entrenched major parties. It is a herculean effort for a 3rd party to get on the ballot to be up for voting, especially for presidential elections. When the powers that be write the laws that keep them in power it is very, very difficult for anyone else to really participate in our “democracy”. I do not believe in any way that the Republicans and the Democrats truly represent the breadth of views that the entirety of the American people believe. Americans are not truly represented as long as there are truly only 2 parties able to run for office – the super conservative and the quite a bit less conservative. Voters are more concerned about “wasting their vote” than voting their conscience. I have been victim of that as well. I wanted to vote for Jill Stein in 2012, but did not. Below are four main reforms that need to happen to help correct this. These are not all that needs to be done, but this will go a long way towards fixing things:

  1. Government Paying for Elections: Elections are to be paid for by the federal/state government. This will limit the money wasted on such things, but more importantly it will get rid of corporate money from elections. This is the single most important change that can radically change the political and electoral landscape over night. Corporations will lose their power and will lose their primary method of bending the political process to their will and against the people.
  2. Proportional Representation: This will only really affect the senate and assembly and other seats where their is more than one person position available. In proportional representation seats are put up for vote in a block of seats. In this case let us say that their are 10 seats up for vote. Seats will be portioned out in proportion to how may votes they have received. If democrats receive 40%, Republicans receive 40%, Green Party receives 10%, and Libertarians receive 10% then they shall receive seats as follows: D – 4, R – 4, GP – 1, L – 1. This will allow for other parties to access the ballots and allow people to vote for who they really want and not fear “wasting” their vote.
  3. Shortened Electoral Window: The current electoral season is huge. Congress “works” for like 5 months out of the year and then they spend the rest of the time fund raising and campaigning. I am pretty sure this is not what we voted them in to do – campaign and fund raise. I think we voted them in to legislate and lead our country forward. The electoral window should be shortened to a month or so, so that time and money is not wasted on such things when people are going hungry, are without homes, and our education system is continually being cut.

Running For Office

Now, with all of that said  I would like to run for office so I can be apart of bringing about that necessary change that the Republicans and Democrats do not have the resolve and caring to make it happen. I am looking at running for local offices first to get my feet wet and then hopefully run for  state office. Since I work for a county government I cannot run for County Supervisor and then only spot that is interesting to me and available for this next electoral cycle is School Board, so, hopefully, things will work out so that I will have that opportunity. If I do I will definitely post that event here too.

Read More…

There is so much to than this in the Green New Deal. Please take the time to look at it and consider what it offers. We offer a real way forward to solve our countries problems.

Attempting to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

OK everyone…. I am going to attempt to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which is all through the month of the November (Nov 1 -30). The challenge is to write a 50k word novel in one month. I think 50k words is technically classified as a novella, but whose counting anyhow? Not a fully edited one, of course, just a rough draft. I have no idea if I can accomplish this, but I am going to try. I have a Google+ Community setup for those who wish to assist me in this craziness. If you would like to look up the community titled: FX’s 2013 NaNoWriMo GP – the Vertitus Engagement, or you can find a link below

FX’s 2013 NaNoWriMo Entry
Genre Sci Fi
Title The Veritus Engagement
Cover Summary Kuulgan, and alien from another galaxy and a former member of their alien military, while assisting an elite human military organization, must wade through racial tensions and gun fire to help stop radical alien insurrectionists from reigniting war between the humans and the aliens.
Setting Set over a hundred years in the Earth’s possible future where a semi-united Earth has achieved  limited space travel and is colonizing the planets in our solar system. The United Alliance of Interstellar Earth (UAIE) is mired in seceded corporate space colony politics, the threat of reigniting war with the aliens, competitive corporations vying for the next great technological advancements that can take our species beyond our system, and monopolize precious resources, tries to keep the peace with an elite off-the-record paramilitary group, called the Wardens.

Humans have encountered one sentient alien species which has traveled to our system resulting in a decades long war, but finally ended in a tense detente with the aliens colonizing the he periphery of our system. An eventual agreement allowed some cross immigration for both humans and aliens.

The Apology: The Church could start by asking for forgiveness.

The following article titled 'The Apology' is pulled directly from Dr. Stewart Edser's Website 'Being Gay, Being Christian'. I felt compelled to reproduce his wonderful article for posterity, if, for some reason, his should go off-line. Please do not read it here. Click on over to his site Being Gay, Being Christian

The Apology

Here is the apology that the Christian Church needs to offer the gay people of the world. It doesn't seem to be forthcoming at the moment from the Church, so I have penned one myself on the Church's behalf to give it an idea of how this might go. To give credit, there are some in the Church who do feel this way, but still not enough. So share it with your Christian friends. Share it with your pastor, your priest, share it with your bishop. The church needs to change its view of gay people and its treatment of gay people. We too are part of God's incredible human family.

The Church could start by asking for forgiveness. It could start with an apology.

To Gay People the World Over

We the Christian Church, while professing that our reason for existence is to spread the knowledge of God in the manner of Jesus of Nazareth and to show God's love and compassion for all humanity by our lives, with Jesus as our exemplar, most especially to the down-trodden, the weary, the sick, the old, the widow, the orphan, the prisoner, the weak, the oppressed, the poor and the marginalised, acknowledge that we have fallen so far short in our attitudes toward and our treatment of one marginalised group – gay people – that our actions can only be described as sin. And sin of the gravest kind. We have called that which God has created good, evil. We have contaminated the worth of your lives with toxic shame and presented you to the world as reprehensible and filthy, as the epitome of moral repugnance.

We know that one of the earliest words in the Scriptures for sin was an archery term, the Greek word hamartia (ἁμαρτία) describing an arrow 'missing its mark.' As the Church of Jesus Christ, we freely acknowledge that we have completely missed the mark regarding gay people from the very beginning and that two thousand years of history has not seen us grow any more enlightened. To this very day, we continue to judge you, deny you, reject you, pillory you, vilify you, denigrate you, condemn you, besmirch you, denounce you and exclude you and we do this for one reason and one reason only – your sexual orientation.

We do humbly and abjectly apologise for our actions. We acknowledge our mistreatment of you. We ask for your forgiveness even though we know we do not deserve it.

We own this great transgression of Jesus' first and only commandment of love. We have been anything but loving. We have been the antithesis of loving. We have been an organ of hate.

For these sins we are truly sorry.

We have clung to out-dated interpretations of Biblical passages. We have refused to openly explore modern scholarship that brings to light so much about the Bible, Jesus and his teachings that we never knew before. We have been openly belligerent towards you and have acted in pride as we shot you down in flames and pronounced judgment over your lives as an abomination. We have behaved towards you in dialogue from a place of hubris where we haughtily saw ourselves as the saved and you as sinners. We have ignored your feelings as if they did not matter; that only our precious pronouncements mattered.

For these sins we are truly sorry.

We have told the world that your life is not natural, that you are set against nature and in so doing, you are set against God. We have told the world that you are sick and disordered and sinful, that you are deviant and that your love is not real but is only lust. And we have told the world that lust is evil. We have told the world that your whole lives are 'inclined to moral evil,' a statement so grandiose in its language and so all-encompassing in its reach that you gay people are left reeling because such language is usually reserved for despots and tyrants, the cruellest of the cruel.

For these sins we are truly sorry.

We have pitted parents against their gay children. We have caused untold damage in families. We have stopped you from ministering in our churches. We have sacked and dismissed you from legitimate posts because of your sexual orientation. We have impeded your promotion and even put up barriers for your housing. We have refused the communion service to you. We have forbidden you to remain in our fellowships because of your lives. We have persisted in calling your life a ‘lifestyle’ and your orientation a ‘preference,’ knowing full well that those words are not only illegitimate but are also heavily loaded emotionally and politically.

For these sins we are truly sorry.

We have ignored the wisdom of science. We have refused to acknowledge that you are born gay. We stubbornly declare to the world that your 'sexual preference is a choice,' despite knowing the fact that science has been able to show definitively that there is a substantial genetic component determining all human sexuality. But we haven’t cared about that. That does not fit our ancient world or mediaeval worldview, so we just ignore the research and dismiss it out of hand, acting as though it does not exist. And we continue to trot out our worn-out arguments and pronouncements with divine certitude while we argue with one another as to which of us has faith the most right. And while we're busy arguing among ourselves, we trample you underfoot with carefree abandon as we pour out rejection and judgmentalism from our bile-filled mouths.

For these sins we are truly sorry.

We set up our own idols. Men usually. We follow their every pronouncement and treat them as celebrities. Hatemongers who are either ignorant, prejudiced or have some personal axe to grind about sexuality. But also the Church. We construct its systems as though they are set up by God and use the weapon of bureaucracy against you. The Bible. Some of us worship the book instead of seeing it as a pointer to the One.

Idolatry. Ecclesiolatry. Bibliolatry. We listen to homophobes and misanthropists and share their words while we worship a book instead of the God that it speaks of. And we hide behind church governance instead of relating to you as fellow human beings. And from our book and from our churches and from our God, we exclude you. We other you like we have othered no other group in history. We have resolutely painted the picture as us and them. We have done this for centuries. We are the us. And you are the them.

For these sins we are truly sorry.

We have even told you that you had to change, even though we know in our heart of hearts that there is no change. We have set up ministries to lie to you to tell you that your lives are worthless as they are. You must change, that you are not good enough as you are. You must turn yourselves into heterosexual people. Against all evidence, we have told you that you can do this by the power of God and with our support. We did not tell you that should you succumb to our ministrations you would forever be in limbo, a no-man's land where you will never be straight and you cannot call yourselves gay. And even if you do marry an opposite sex partner and even have children, we will still never quite accept you. We do never quite go the full distance to full acceptance. We have ignored the signs from around the world after some of you have committed suicide because you couldn't cope with what we did to you in these ministries. However despite the deaths, we have continued on, referring young vulnerable gay people, mostly brought up in the church and in Christian families, to these ministries at a time when they are emotionally defenceless and the power differential between them and us is gargantuan. We have harmed you. We have killed you. We are responsible.

For these sins we are truly sorry.

In our realisation of the grotesque distortion of the Christian Gospel that we have offered the world, a distortion that the world rightly rejects, we abjectly apologise to you. We have debased the Good News and driven people away from God and from life in the Spirit. We have put before the world a false dichotomy between the sacred and the profane and we have put sex and desire in the profane. It is no wonder we have rejected you for you have had to go on a spiritual and emotional journey to be able to accept yourselves at the sexual level. We are frightened of this. We are frightened of sex, of desire. We always have been. We fear you and your comfort with sexuality. We have placed celibacy as the zenith of human conditions and even mandated some of our clergy to live this way against all inclination for the rest of their lives. And we tell young gay people that they too must be celibate and deny an integral part of their identity for the rest of their lives too.

For these sins we are truly sorry.

We are mortally and grievously at fault here. Like the old Latin words we say contritely, 'mea cupla, mea cupla, mea maxima culpa – through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.' We are stripped and laid bare and our transgressions are unveiled for all to see.

Our sins have been grievous and manifold. We have not acted like Jesus at all. We have not shown love or compassion. We have been quick to occupy the divine judgment seat and speak with hubris as if the plank in our own eye were not big enough already.

In apologising and asking for the forgiveness we do not deserve after perpetrating so much hurt and so much harm, we seek to redress our sinful actions. We need to make recompense. We need to change.

We will be the followers of Jesus we were always meant to be. We will have love and charity as our foremost test of everything we do and everything we say. We will seek out and ask for your views and value your opinions. We will include you in our liturgies and as part of our clergy. We will happily employ you. We will desist from calling you unclean, disordered and evil. We will abandon such language forever. We will stop using the Bible as a weapon against you and start reading the scriptures in the light of modern scholarship. We will be big enough and strong enough in our faith in God to say where we think the peoples of the ancient Biblical world got it wrong, such as with slavery, women, the death penalty, and gay people, among other issues. We will have a strong and robust faith that is partnered with reason so that our God and our faith are not mocked and laughed to scorn by an educated, literate, post-enlightenment humanity. We will speak out for equality for all human beings and denounce homophobia specifically. We will be strong advocates for gay people so that you feel welcome, valued and loved as part of the family of God.

We will do our best to make up for the centuries of trauma. We do not know how long it will take for you to trust us and to forgive us. But we openly and honestly offer you our sorrow, our contrition, our apology for our actions past and present.

For these and all our sins against you we are truly sorry.

Pax et Amor – Stuart

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    Google Glass Features: How Medical Uses Will Revolutionize Your Healthcare [VIDEO]

    Here is a great article with videos from Medical Daily (mar 2013) titled ‘Google Glass Features: How Medical Uses Will Revolutionize Your Healthcare [VIDEO]‘ which goes over the ways the Google Glass is set to revolutionize health care.

    Reflections on My Grandmother Dying

    A week or so ago my grandmother had gotten sick with something like triple pneumonia from which she seemed to recover from fine, and then she stopped eating and her kidneys began to shut down. Thus started the downward spiral. I had a chance to say good bye while she laid there unconscious toward the end. At age 79 she passed away last week on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 @ 11:00pm at the St. Clare Meadows assisted living center in Baraboo.

    I took Thursday off and helped mom take care of the funeral arrangements with the Baldwin-Rago Funeral Home. They were great, supportive and helpful. Fortunately, things worked out so that we would only have to pay a few hundred or so out of our own pockets to cover everything. We did a little shopping on Thursday looking for an outfit for grandma and sent pictures to the funeral home. Friday we OK’ed the obituary, and sifted through numerous picture albums to put together 2 pin boards of pictures of her for the funeral.

    Visitation was from 10-11:00am on Tuesday, April 2 followed by her funeral @ 11:00am. At her funeral we saw some family come in that rarely see except for moments like this – funerals and weddings. As I had previously done for my grandfather’s funeral I read the 23rd Psalm for grandma’s funeral too. I wrote about reading for my grandpa’s funeral a little in a previous post.

    Reflecting On Her Passing

    My grandparents did not really take good care of themselves, unfortunately. =( Since even before grandpa passed, grandma has not been all that lucid, which is sad. Her last 15 years were not filled with life. They were filled with just living = breathing, going to the bathroom, eating. She did not really have a “life” – her health and mental state would not allow it. She could recognize me and knew my face, but it was not really possible to have a conversation with her. Her mortal shell was, in some ways, a shell. The shell in which my grandmother had lived and existed, but “she” was slowly fading from the living energies that bound her to the mortal plane.

    In thinking about this I have come to realize that I really did not know my grandparents too well. I knew them as a child – as a child knows their grandparents, but I never knew them as an adult – as an adult would know them. My grandfather passed shortly after I returned from the military after 6 years of service right out of high school, and even then grandma was having issues. =( I was also busy with a new marriage and its subsequent all-too-soon-divorce, a new job, and starting college all in that short span, so my life consumed me. Because of their poor health and not taking care of themselves I have, in some ways, been denied the ability to get to know them.

    I can only imagine how much longer grandpa would have lived if they would have eaten half-way healthy. I can only imagine how much more full of life that my grandma’s last years could have been if they had taken care of themselves better. Perhaps I could have had a conversation with her; perhaps she may still have been able to drive for a few more years; perhaps even take care of herself for a few more years before having to go into a an assisted living center; perhaps she would have been able to live longer and happier since she would have been able to communicate with us and her doctors.

    My Parents

    I see my parents and they way they live and eat and it worries me. They take care of themselves an order of magnitude better than my grandparents, but still, there is so much more that could be done. I worry that even with what good things they are doing that a similar thing will happen with them. How will I take care of them? How will I be able to afford it? Will they be able to provide for themselves until the end of their lives? I look at my financial situation and I cannot see where I can fit in an extra thousand dollars a month to provide for their healthcare and other expenses, or nine thousand dollars or so to pay for a single funeral.

    My Familiy

    I also begin to think about this for my family too. I am thinking I will also need to somehow put together a funeral trust, a will, and perhaps, even better – to take better care of myself. I would actually like to see my daughter graduate high school and college, and perhaps even get married. As is stands right now I will be like 52 when she graduates high school. Not too young. I still do not have a 529 account set up for her yet, which really annoys me.

    Cultural Problems

    This is something that greatly worries me about our world today. We do not take care of ourselves. We do not eat healthy enough. We do not exercise enough. Taking care of ourselves is not a core part of our family lives, our work, our laws, or our culture. There is still so much more that needs to be done to get ourselves ready to live better and to prepare ourselves for the future, and yet the world around us works against us in this endeavor. Eating healthy is expensive as hell. Eating unhealthy is cheap. Food that we are lead to believe should be healthy especially to the uneducated are even more harmful than the foods they are supposed to replace as a less harmful alternative. Our laws and subsidies do not support or promote healthy living as a core value or desirable goal – cheaper mass produced food and profit is the end goal. Our hospitals and health care system is not preventative based. It is based on emergency care. Our health care system should, in most cases, start with 2 questions: “How has your diet been?” and “What is your exercise regiment?”. Most diseases and health issues can be prevented with proper diet and exercise and yet this is not the foundation of our health care system? I find this confusing until the point that I allow a horrible thought to creep into my mind – there is not so much money to be had in actually making and keeping people healthy – less money for hospitals and doctors, less money for drug companies who create diseases out of thin air with which their drugs can help with, and yet create more physiological problems that more new drugs can help you with. =(

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    Busy Week for Same-Sex Marriage in the Supreme Court

    This week on Tuesday and Wednesday we had the Supreme Court final hearings on California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage of Act (DOMA), respectively. These are the final hearings prior to the Supreme Court’s final decision which should be given sometime near June (possibly unless they dismiss the cases due to lack of standing). After that, the Supreme Court’s decision will be up for appeal by the affected parties.

    Prop 8: I am fully expecting that the Court will strike down Prop 8 in a narrow way and that it this will likely be appealed, but I am, thankfully, losing faith in the possibility of the appeal by the National Organization of Marriage’s since their funding seems to be drying up.  We can only hope that their biggoted nut-jobbery can come to a screaming and embarrassing halt by a Supreme Court slap-down.

     DOMA: I fully expect that this will also get struck down, but, after listening to the judges questioning I cannot help but wonder that they may be thinking of a slightly larger scope decision. We can only hope.

    If you have not read or listened to the transcripts please do:

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    Are You Still Bored? – the Archives

    I have aggregated 2 other “Are you still bored?” posts (originalpart II) and the 3rd I was in the process of putting together so you do not have to look around for them and their associated links.

    You can find them here on this new page: Are You Bored?

     

    Declaration of Principles from Babylon 5

    This is the text of the Declaration of Principles as written by the character G’Kar in an episode from the science fiction series Babylon 5, a Star Trek spin-off. These are powerful words and quite applicable to a liberal theology. I think here is the actual reading from the series.

    The universe speaks in many languages, but only one voice.
    The language is not Narn, or Human, or Centauri, or Gaim or Minbari

    It speaks in the language of hope
    It speaks in the language of trust
    It speaks in the language of strength and the language of compassion
    It is the language of the heart and the language of the soul.

    But always it is the same voice
    It is the voice of our ancestors, speaking through us,
    And the voice of our inheritors, waiting to be born
    It is the small, still voice that says
    We are one

    No matter the blood
    No matter the skin
    No matter the world
    No matter the star:
    We are one

    No matter the pain
    No matter the darkness
    No matter the loss
    No matter the fear
    We are one

    Here, gathered together in common cause, we agree to recognize the singular truth and this singular rule: That we must be kind to one another
    Because each voice enriches us and ennobles us and each voice lost diminishes us.
    We are the voice of the Universe, the soul of creation, the fire that will light the way to a better future.
    We are one.
    We are one.

    Category: Politics, UNDHR  Tags: ,  Leave a Comment

    Life Partners Who Aren’t — And Never Will Be — Lovers

    Here is a great link talking about a nontraditional family structure where people find others to raise kids with, without romance messing things up: Life Partners Who Aren’t — And Never Will Be — Lovers  (Buzz Feed)

    At 40, Dawn Pieke had just broken up with a live-in boyfriend who cheated on her, but she was ready to have kids. She didn’t want an anonymous sperm donor — “because I hadn’t grown up with a dad myself, it was important to me to have my child know who their dad was.” So she started looking online, and eventually found a Facebook group devoted to something called coparenting.

    “Single mothers by choice” have gotten a lot of attention in the past few years, and most discussions of single women — a topic of much recent scrutiny — include at least a nod toward women who go the sperm-donor route. But a growing number of single people want to have kids with someone else — and that person doesn’t have to be a romantic partner. Instead, it can be a coparent — someone they meet online or in life and agree to raise kids with, in a relationship that can be very close but isn’t sexual. And some coparents say this system has big advantages over the more traditional one.


     

    2012 Presidential Election is Historic for Many Reasons

    I can say that I am really happy at the results for the 2012 Presidential Election. I was very worried about this election. I stayed up late into the night watching the results as they were slowly tallied. My stomach was upset when I saw that Romney had the lead like 23 to 8 electoral votes.  I greatly feared the possibility of Romney winning and imposing more Republican foolery upon us to turn back all of the progress we have made and drive us right back into the ground where Bush put us, but that is neither here nor there at this moment.

    Firsts for Elected Officials

    President Obama won and was the first black president elected, and the first to be reelected with back-to-back terms. This alone is a wonderful, historic, and powerful fact that is more than worthy of praise for our country, but there were even more electoral events that happened that made this election even more historic than Obama’s relection. What will  follow is a wonderful sample of firsts and this is just the beginning, which all bodes well for the United States and its future. We are supposedly a melting pot of the world and it is about time our governmental representative show that. All American citizens are not all white conservative Christian males.

    • Tammy Baldwin was elected as the first openly gay senator for Wisconsin
    • two Hindu congresspeople
    • Buddhist Representative
    • openly non-theist
    • 4 new openly LGBT people
    • bisexual and polyamorous person
    • openly gay congressman of color
    • First state to elect an all-woman House and Senate delegation and governor: New Hampshire
    INFOGRAPHIC: The 113th Congress Will Be The Most Diverse In History

    INFOGRAPHIC: The 113th Congress Will Be The Most Diverse In History (Think Progress)

    Firsts for Social Issues

    This is was also a first for a few social issues too. These show a significant shift in the cultural values and acceptance of mainstream Americans and it is a wonderful.

    • 2 states voted on an accepted gay marriage
    • 1 state denied a ban on gay marriage
    • 2 states OK’ed medical marijuana
    • 1 state legalized marijuana

    Read More About 2012 Election Firsts

    Obama Rally at Bascom Mall in Madison (Oct 2012)

    AMONG FRIENDS: President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Thursday (4 Oct 2012).

    On Thursday (Oct 4) I went to the Obama rally in Madison @ the Bascom Mall in the University of Wisconsin. Now, I will first tell you that that this is my first time going to one of these events so I had no idea what to expect. I had some ideas in my head, with nothing to base these thoughts on. I was, for some reason, expecting something a little more intimate, maybe a few hundred people in an smaller arena of some sort, but what I experienced is far beyond what I expected….

    Where It Started

    I received an email from the Obama campaign letting me know about the grassroots rally in Madison on the 4th and gave me the option to RSVP for it, and I did so, thinking “What the hell. Why not?”  This is my first time doing so and it will be an experience, especially since I consider this one of the most important elections in contemporary history.

    Obama Rally Invite for 4 October 2012

    Obama Rally Invite for 4 October 2012

    I cleared the time with the wife and arranged for additional babysitting for Uliana in case things went longer than I expected, and I took a vacation day from work. I was kind of excited about the whole thing, especially since this will be my first experience at a political rally. Yes, I am a rally virgin.

    The Morning of the Rally

    The day of the rally came and I was thinking I would be smart and get there a little early so I can get a good seat, so I looked at getting there about and hour early (~11:00). Boy was I silly!! Driving there was easy enough: Hwy 12 -> Park St -> Charter St -> parking ramp. Prior to leaving I ate light thinking that getting to a bathroom more than once was going to be an issue so I had a 6″ sub from Subway and a protein bar with a moderate amount of water so I did not over do it.

    Now once I arrived in the area there were road blocks with traffic diverted around the area as could be expected for security reasons with the president to arrive. I asked someone where  Bascom Mall was once I parked my car in one the parking ramps,  and the person just knowingly smiled at me and pointed out the direction. It was but a block or two away. As I came closer I saw some officers redirecting traffic amidst a crowd of people and watching over things. Then I saw it… it was huge and really unexpected. A line of people, no… a river of people 6 wide and rolling over the hill and out of sight. I was amazed to see so many people, a veritable river of people, here for the rally and to hear President Obama speak.

    I told the officer I thought I was getting here early. He smiled and said that officers were on the scene since 6:00am this morning and the people started arriving at 7:00am. =O I was shocked, amazed, and happy. As I worked my way towards the back of this seeming endless river of people talking and patiently waiting, I walked with my mouth agape, surprised at the massive turn out. I saw many, many college-aged kids there which was quite reassuring to see that the new generation has some sense in their head. I also saw one person with a Jill Stein Sign, which I was also happy to see.

    The Line Dance

    As stood in line until the bell tolled noon I stood there quietly and listened to the people talking, mostly college age kids (Wow, do I feel old =O ). Shortly  after the bell tolled the line slowly moved forward a few feet at a time. Along the way there was plenty of bottled water made available, cases upon cases of bottled water to keep us hydrated and upon our feet. While in line I met this nice older couple and started to talk with them. I initiated the conversation because the husband was reading a Great Courses catalog, and since I love Great Courses, I started a conversation with him and his wife. He was just starting to listen one of their courses, and she had a visionary father who passed away recently. They walk most everywhere and do not use internet or TV, which was interesting to hear of in this day and age. They were a great couple to stand in line with and to get to know. We stood inline together and talked until we finally were able to enter the Bascom Mall area through the metal detectors and police, which was after 1:40pm or so. The first thing we did was to find the porta-potties and get that taken care of.

    The Pre-rally

    By the time we were able to get in there was already an ocean of people there. I was so far away from where the president was going to speak that I could barely see it. I had to stand on my tippy-toes to get a glimpse of the speaking area over the sea of anxious and excited people. The speaking stand was down at the bottom of the grassy slope, bleachers were at the top of the hill, and countless people in between. Live music was playing which stopped shortly after I got in. Then a repeating track of 8 or 9 songs was played over loud speakers, which grew old or even annoying as the anticipation grew and our feet grew tired. There were a few large TV’s in a few areas so that people who were in a place where they could not see even if they wanted to so they would have a chance to see the president speak. Bottled water was also offered too. NO food was allowed in nor was food offered in there either.

    I stood up and looked around in awe at all of the people. I listed to the people talk politics and of hope. There was a man there standing near me with his two kids who were probably 7 and 5 years old too, fidgety and curious. A wide variety of people of every ethnicity and background. I was amazed at the diversity here. Time wore on slowly, but eventually the time came and the speaking started. It was then that I noticed black suited swat team type people on the roof tops with guns and binoculars surveying the area for threats.

    A Time for Talking

    Finally the times comes when we are going to hear people speak, which turned out to be around 3:30pm… quite a wait, especially since we are standing the whole time. I did take a few moments to rest my feet by sitting down on the ground amidst the crowd, which was an awkward thing to do, but there were no incidents. I am so thankful by this time, especially since I spend all my days sitting behind a computer desk. My feet were sore from standing and I had no idea when things were going to get started, or, more importantly for my feet, when this was going to end for that matter. Obama’s warm-up speakers were Mayor Paul Soglin, Herb Cole, Tammy Baldwin, the graduating class president (I think). All speakers were great and it was great to see all of these people together speaking out in support of and uniting behind President Obama. I do not remember much of their speeches, to be honest. They were positive, supportive, and full of hope as you would expect at a political rally. After they finished their speeches there was still some time to wait until the President arrived. It was probably another 40 minutes or more after the last speaker before the president arrived and began speaking.

    I really enjoyed Obama’s speech. It was smooth, playful and poking, yet poignant

    Would I Do It Again?

    Ok, so I will admit that I am getting older *sigh* at almost 39. With that being said I think that would only do it as a group and if we prepared for it as an all day event. I am glad I went and had that experience even though I could barely see him. This is how I could see him from where I was:

    Obama at Bascom Mall Rally in Madison, Wisconsin

    Obama at Bascom Mall Rally in Madison, Wisconsin

    America is not the Greatest Country Anymore (Video)

    I agree with this 100%. We are behind other countries in so many ways. Other countries are ahead of us and more advanced that the US, and there a tremendous amount of different answers out there that we can learn from and use to catch up and exceed those who have supassed us.

    The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality [video]

    Matthew Vines speaks on the theological debate regarding the Bible and the role of gay Christians in the church. Delivered at College Hill United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kansas on March 8, 2012.