Monthly Archives: November 2014

Haitian Refugees at Sea

The pictures are blurry because I had to zoom in considerably to get the shot and I notoriously bad at taking pictures.

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Several years ago, Allen and I were on a cruise in the Caribbean. At some point during the day, the ship stopped. I didn’t really notice it but Allen did. We heard some loud speakers outside the ship and went out on the balcony to see what was going on. Down about 12 or so stories from our balcony was a boat of Haitian refugees. I’m pretty sure there’s at least 35 people in that boat including some children.

These people wanted out of Haiti bad. Their boat was dangerously overloaded and I seriously doubt there were any life jackets aboard. As far as I know, we were not particularly close to Haiti and these people could have been at sea for quite a while. I don’t know.

What did they think when they saw this massive luxury ship in the middle of the ocean? What a sight this must have been to them. They were a sobering sight for the passengers on board the cruise ship, I’m sure. We could hear someone from the ship speaking to someone in the small boat; they were speaking in French.

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The cruise ship stayed  next to the refugees and waited for the police to show or whoever it is that has authority in international waters. I have no idea who came. Eventually, the Haitian refugees were escorted away. I wonder what happened to them.

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Why do people collect autographs? Is it to show that they actually met the person? That isn’t really proof though. You can buy celebrity autographs on eBay. Or is it like collecting marbles or souvenir spoons when you travel? There’s some connection made between the celebrity and the person who obtains the autograph, but what exactly is that? I don’t know.

I’m not knocking it, I collect things myself. I look for really big rocks that I can stack. I also have a really nice collection of music books as well as many musical instruments. I collect them because someday I may wish to learn how to play them and if so, I’ll be prepared.

I sometimes buy pieces of my past back. I bought a Magnus Chord Organ on eBay. It was the exact model I had as a child. It got me started down the road to becoming a musician. I hope I’m a musician. I play the keyboard and write music. Is that what one has to do to be bona fide musician?

But I don’t collect organs although I do have two keyboards and a piano (which I play once a year). I used to collect bells. I don’t have any of them anymore; none that I know of anyway. I also used to collect crystals. I still have them all but they’re stored in boxes in the basement. If I collect anything else, I am unaware of it.

Oddly enough, I actually do have a autograph. It’s Yoko Ono’s autograph. She sent me a card about 15 years ago. Oh yeah, she sent me an unpublished CD too. I think it was entitled Watch the Snow or something with the word snow in it. I have it somewhere. I pretty sure that is also signed. Hey! I must be a collector of autographs! Wow. That’s so weird.

I’ve decided to provide my autograph here free of charge and you don’t even have to meet me.

It’s a matter of faith


do the little things
quietly keep faith with oneself
this peace treads softly
~Sarah McMaster, 2014
I think keeping faith with oneself is the only reasonable use of the concept of faith.
In my opinion, when faith is discussed in a religious or spiritual context, the concept of faith becomes absurd and dangerous. I think that believing in something for which there is no empirical evidence opens the door for ridiculous and bizarre practices with a high probability (and history) of doing great harm. 
Religious apologists are great defenders of blind faith. Their greatest tenet is that the bible is an actual “How to Live Your Life for Dummies” handbook; one that was written by an omniscient, all-powerful intentional agent. For them, the fact that there is no evidence for such a being is not important. In fact, they consider it irrational and dangerous not to believe in God. They base their entire body of evidence for the existence of God and adherence to His religious laws and practices (no matter how atrocious or absurd) as being legitimate by simply taking it all on faith.
The bible is the word of God.
How do we know this?
Because the bible says it is so.
Faith in something magical will not result in the occurrence of any real event or have any actual consequence. You can believe that you can fly, but when you leap from a building, you will only realize injury or death, not flight. Having faith that mystical imaginative thought experiments are real and worthy of serious consideration should be discounted and relegated to the fiction section of the library.
So sayeth I.

When desserts were simpler

When I was young, there was pudding that needed to be cooked and, well–that’s it. Instant pudding didn’t yet exist although instant karma may have. Perhaps I should clarify this: instant pudding didn’t exist in my mother’s world. Neither did any type of instant fudge. But back to the pudding… After cooking a batch of pudding, my mother would pour it into what were called pudding bowls. These were of a size determined to be appropriate for one serving of dessert. After filling the bowls, my mother would cut out round circles of wax paper and lie them on top of the still warm pudding. Then off to the refrigerator they’d go.

When the pudding cooled and was ready to eat, one would pull the wax paper off the top of the pudding before eating it. Apparently, the thick skin that forms on the top of the pudding was undesirable. I have (and had at the time) two concerns about this practice:

1) WTF? The pudding is what it is. The skin is just part of the pudding experience. If you don’t like the skin on the top, eat Jell-o, for God’s sake.

2) I liked the skin. So in order to eat it, I had to scrape it off the wax paper with my teeth. This was stupid. It’s sort of like stripping flour of all its nutrients in processing then adding some back in and calling the flour enriched.

It’s interesting to me that they haven’t come up with instant pudding that forms a skin necessitating a wax paper hat. After all, the skin pulls off a significant amount of concentrated pudding so the pudding companies would sell more pudding if people threw away a portion of each batch they made.