Saturday, November 12, 2022

Dr. Robert Sapolsky's lecture about Biological Underpinnings of Religiosity

Leaving this here, highly recommended lecture:

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

With Apologies to Greta Christina

 Skepticon – A Celebration of Science, Social Justice, and Dinosaurs!

Whenever I can, I love attending atheist conventions. The several that I have attended have been over 2-3 days and have had some really wonderful speakers, events, and vendors. The first atheist convention that my husband and I ever attended was about 2012 or so, I think, at an event called Skepticon.

My husband and I had been chomping at the bit to spend time with others of like mind. We'd watched and listened to other conventions on purchased CDs and DVDs during the naughts with excitement. So we clearly remember the first convention that we were finally able to attend. 

Atheists like myself who now enjoy being open will recognize some of the speakers: Rebecca Watson, David Fitzgerald, Richard Carrier, PZ Myers, JT Eberhardt, Joe Nickell, David Silverman. And Greta Christina. Jerry and I felt amazed! The openness, the goodness, it was like taking a drink after being in a desert. Finally, human beings who were openly discussing issues that are so often glossed over in the world.

Greta Christina is a woman who has written a couple of "atheist books" and who is a regular speaker on the atheist convention circuit. I'm delighted that I've had time to speak with she and her partner over several meals shared at the conventions. (though I seriously doubt she remembers me at all. ) Her book Why Are You Atheists So Angry?: 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless is a book that I've read several times and have, even, plagiarized the idea of here on my blog.

This morning a video of her doing the talk came across my FB feed through two friend of mine, Pam and Scott. Listening to this talk again today brought up some other reasons why I, a totally kind and nice and positive atheist, am pissed off at religion. Strap yourself in.

  • Today, a cousin of mine posted THIS DRIVEL; and she means it:

This crap is religious rhetoric that is ACTIVELY keeping us all trapped in our homes for fear of continued outbreaks and infection of this hideous virus. Over THREE HUNDRED days after our general and public knowledge of it!

  • Now, speaking as a therapist working with human beings who are wounded, traumatized, pained, and shamed by their varied religious upbringings:

    • SHAME. Good, kind, well-meaning human beings who are, now, living with a sense of being irrevocably wrong or evil or bad, all thanks to the absolute nonsense taught to them with the expressed goal of making them unable to doubt, question, think clearly, leave their parents' religious community.

    • SEXUAL ABUSE. Again, good, kind, well-meaning human beings who are, now, living with a sense of being irrevocably wrong or evil or bad from having been used and abused as children for the sexual gratification of some grotesque adult who was unable to get their sexual needs met in a healthy relationship with a consenting adult. Not to mention the protection that the church has and IS affording the offenders, while shaming, wounding, and not choosing to support the actual victims: the children.

    • SELF DOUBT. Good, kind, well-meaning human beings who are, now, living with a sense of being irrevocably wrong or evil or bad, ADULTS who struggle with those long-ago messages that good exists within this tiny box of what is acceptable, necessary, worthy of love. 

    • SUICIDAL. Good, kind, decent, well-meaning human beings who are, now, living with a sense of being irrevocably wrong or evil or bad, unworthy of this life because their brain's unlikely ability to break through the brainwashing is allowing for questions, reason, exploration of concepts outside of the box. And the brainwashing tells them that free thought is sinful, unworthy, and not worthy of life.

    • TRAPPED. Good, kind, well-meaning human beings who are, now, living with a sense of being irrevocably wrong or evil or bad if they question or attempt to live outside of the male-dominated, white-dominated lists of what is OK.
      From domestic abuse to racial disparity and white superiority to male-dominated roles in life, these good hearts, in addition to struggling to change life-long behavior patterns, also have to deal with the negative self talk that they've inherited from their parents, their community, their culture, THEIR GOVERNMENT and their religions.

DAILY, I am working with beautiful human beings who are tortured by the brainwashing and upbringing within religions. Grown men and women who sob, cry, scream themselves into exhaustion for the struggle of the hideous, ugly, bullshit brainwashing...

Pissed off?
Me too, Greta.


P.S. Greta, if you're ever here, PLEASE leave a comment!  😉

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

That Post with the Random Questions


For no reason other than to entertain myself, I have a long numbered list of questions next to me. It has over 200 questions, all numbered. I'm going to question myself for this post by randomly choosing numbers and, therefore, questions. 🤣
WHAT? It's fun!

 I'll select five numbers first, then go and look at the questions I'm asking myself:

17. How do you maintain your physical health?

Actually, I don't go great with this.
I mean, I take my meds as prescribed. I see my doctors regularly.
But I don't exercise and I don't eat particularly well. My husband and I were doing the keto diet for almost two years when this dang quarantine started. Since the quarantine, I fell off of that particular wagon completely. It bums me out, but it's incredibly difficult to get back to it.
Also, my sleep patterns suck, really suck. I get enough sleep, but most of it is during the day.

55. What do you wish others knew about you?

Really? I have this blog. What don't you know?! 🤣
OK, I'll add another question for this flip answer.  LOL

42. How does it feel to be the age you currently are?

I think I've covered this a couple of times here on my blog, but I really love it. I love being my age. Never in my life have I felt so free, so confident, so peaceful, so sure of myself, so authentic. Never have I felt so in the right place. I thank being 57 for these things.
I don't love being this close to 60, but I'm grabbing life for all it's worth. Even during this quarantine, somehow, and I have never spoken this one aloud, I feel awesome. I love my life and I'm absolutely OK with being "stuck" here in this house with my loved ones.
I don't love this country's politics right now, nor do I love the global pandemic. But my life is amazing.
I love being my age.

113. I feel happiest in my skin when...

I'm with my people.
I love my family and our time together makes me feel incredible.
My husband and I created this family as it is. We've both healed from our childhoods and we've created the type of family that we are incredibly proud of. A set of children who don't have to recover from anything.
I'm also very happy in my skin when I'm working.
For several decades I couldn't have imagined being here, now, doing this. It almost feels like I was born to be here, now.

75. What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

Other than babysitting and such, my first job was at a small department store in my small hometown, selling shoes.
I worked there for two years during high school and the year after I graduated. It was a small shoe department that catered to the older crowd of mostly males. We sold Hush Puppy shoes.  lol

What did I learn? First, I learned that my feet are difficult to shod. I have weirdly wide Fred Flinstone feet. Do you know Fred Flintstone?

I also learned that I was poor. I really didn't realize that; how could I know? I didn't have clothes to wear to my job. I didn't have decent shoes to sell shoes. I couldn't afford medical care when I was too sick to go to work. I didn't have  ride to work. It took me until I was at this job to realize that we didn't have anything.

71. What is your first memory?

I remember being 3-4 years old. I was in the downstairs basement (I think) of the house we lived in when I was teeny. It was a white-tiled bathroom with some dark green tiles mixed in. I had opened the bottom drawer of the bathroom vanity sink and I was climbing up onto the sink by stepping in the drawer.
That's it.
That's my first memory.

That's it. That was five/six random questions from the random question list. Here are  few questions for YOU, if you choose to comment:

  • What memory do you cherish most?
  • What is your favorite color and why?
  • The words I live by are...
  • What is one small act of kindness was shown to you that you will never forget?
  • Does it really matter to you what others think about you?

Sunday, December 20, 2020


I was talking to someone recently who told me that they are an empath. They claimed that they are able to read people's auras. I assure you, they told me,
I read people's energy.
The person went on to report specific instances where they felt successful in reading people...

Instantly seeking proof one way or another, I handed the Zoom call over to my daughter and she and I allowed the caller to "read" my daughter.
The "read" was hilariously, hilariously inaccurate.

The person went on to tell me that I am so empathetic and I, too, could be an empath.  🤣

I'm on social media about as much as the next person and I notice many claims of people being empaths. It's like the new Wicca of ten years ago, a place of empowerment for people feeling disempowered or disenfranchised. It's very trendy to be an empath these days.


Is anybody interested in my thoughts about this?

Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings of another person.

As for being an empath, my experience is that people claiming such things enjoy suggesting some sort of mystical energy is visible or sensible to them. So-called empaths claim to take on the energy/emotion/vibe of other people. Even to experience vibes of those far away from them or to experience the actual physical pain of others. In fact, those who claim to be empaths have a variety of claims of these exceptional powers of awareness and knowledge.
And, at the risk of offending a number of readers, I think it is an effort of people who are feeling particularly disconnected and powerless to reclaim some personal power, not dissimilar to how I think of Wiccan. These things seem very faddish to me.

 Also, I'm convinced that those who have undergone trauma, who have spent years reading the violence of others, who are looking for empowerment, are extremely empathic...

Furthermore, we humans do read the emotions of others. We do notice ourselves feeling energy-depleted after being in a crowd. We do sense when others are experiencing something, even if we can't name it. Humans experience the emotions of books and movies, tht's what books and movies are intended to do! Humans are soothed by nature...It's fricking human.

Go read any website claiming to tell you who is an empath.
You WILL be an empath by their standards. 🤣


I think we can all agree that some people are very sensitive to the feelings of others and some people do seem to experience emotions and events quite deeply. Most of us know humans who are highly-sensitive in one way or another. This deeper sensitivity often takes a toll on the highly-sensitive people. The deeper empathy can make these people feel very vulnerable, exhausted, even lonely. It's not a thing they brag about...

As for the idea of an empath, I could not be more skeptical. This self-claim of exceptional powers of energy-reading truly ring my bullshit-o-meter bell. The person who made this claim to me recently was weirdly bragging about how special they were and how, with a little effort, I, too, could be an empath. UTTER WOO.

Good grief. It was like watching a movie or something. Look at me. Appreciate my specialness. Notice my uniqueness. Acknowledge how very myyyystical I am. I must be seen as special!!!

Good grief.
All of these claims of mystical empaths are nothing more than our country's acceptance of bullshit and our willingness to believe extraordinary claims without extraordinary proof. TYPICAL of our dumbed-down world.


As for the person on the phone, our relationship is not a close one and I very much doubt it will ever be...
Don't worry, I'm not being randomly and instantly judgey, this person and I have had an extremely contentious relationship as adults...It's exhausting.

What do you think?


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

My Own Damn Mind

“My own mind is my own church.”
Thomas Paine,
The Age of Reason


Saturday, October 3, 2020

Yann Martel's The High Mountains of Portugal

If I've never mentioned it before, I often write these blog posts about books seconds before I fall asleep. That's why the posts are somewhat offbeat and windy. And this one is no different. I wrote this one in my head about two nights ago and I'm certain that I've forgotten the parts that made me laugh.

When I finished the book The High Mountains of Portugal the other night, I went online to see if I had really understood the book that I'd just finished. As it happens, according to some book analysts, I didn't.
Don't get me wrong, I did see some religious undertones and symbology. I didn't think the whole thing was a treatise on religion and grief! Superstition, allegory, and mythology certainly play their parts, though.

Yet, I have the nerve to write my own review, and forgive me, for I've returned the book to the library and don't remember deets:


The book is divided into three sections, each section with the word "home" in the title. The first section, in 1904 or so in rural Portugal, a guy, Tomas, having discovered a hint of a hidden wooden, carved figure hidden away in a church in the high mountains of Portugal, is given a car to drive to discover this wooden item treasure.

Cars were nearly nonexistent in Portugal at the time. This fellow, Tomas, learns to drive the machine as he drives out of the city and into the rural areas of Portugal. This drive of several days, maybe ten days, are among the most entertaining driving pages I've ever read! Not only does the character describe his struggle with this new-fangled machine, the people he meets in the tiny villages are equally amazed with the roaring machine as he drives into their town square and their behavior is adorable. I would I could have been there.
Speaking Portuguese.

If you go, as I did, and Google the high mountains of Portugal and, specifically, some of the villages mentioned in this book, you will not be sorry. It's beautiful.
The entirety of rural Portugal should be a puzzle.
(High praise.)

I'm thinking that the machine that Tomas was driving looked something like this. >>>
Or thereabouts.


This journey to find the treasure takes our hero Tomas on country roads that give him the thrilling experience of going at least twenty miles per hour!
This third of the book was almost entirely delightful. Surely some will find the talk of engines and leather and lights and the idiosyncrasies of early driving a total bore. I did not.

Second section, we're about thirty-five years in the future and, somehow, in the morgue with a Portuguese forensics guy. He's working late when his wife visits with dinner, wine, and some Agatha Christie books. They discuss his wife's theory that Agatha Christie's books somehow reveal religious overtones, truths, and explanations. None of it made a lick of sense to me, but I requested Aggie's titles from my local library nonetheless... and enjoyed the repartee between the couple.

And then the morgue guy is visited by a woman who brings him a dead body in some luggage, yes, to be autopsied. Upon opening up the body of the woman's husband, the pathologists discovers a cache of bizarre items, only a few of which could I connect with any other part of the story. But OK, a bit of magical realism that did bring color and, weirdly, delight, to the entire autopsy experience. Perhaps, especially, the flute.

And, thirdly, the last segment of the book brings up a Canadian politician, after retiring, making several BIZARRE* changes in his life. Some entertaining connections are made. I enjoyed his experiences that I choose to not be specific about because that might give away too much...just in case you decide to read this book.

But allow me the latitude to say that I enjoyed what I THINK was something of a shape of the story. Beginning with a back-to-simplicity and ending with a truly back-to-nature series of events and life choices. To me, that was a beautiful journey.
Like going back home, only more so.

Although I had to go figure out what I'd just read, eventually I just accepted my own read of the book. And I say this, it was oddly tender and funny and introspective and surprising. Yes, and bizarre.
And that's saying something about a book that seems to be about grief...

This seems like a fun book to use with a book club. So many ways to interpret things...but better you than me. I think I'd feel unschooled!

I'm left with some curiosity about the author,
Yann Martel. I think I'll go read more about him.  🙂
This book is a zillion miles from The Life of Pi.
I think.

I give this book seven stars for the gorgeous healing and journeys that one experiences during the reading of this book.

  * I SELDOM read books that require this frequency of use of the word "bizarre". LOL

 Have you read it?

Thursday, October 1, 2020

The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel

Surely you've read The Life of Pi by Yann Martel when it came out in 2001.
Everyone did.

Or maybe you saw the movie, which was pretty good, but still not the book.

From that book, and the HOURS that I spent thinking about it and its meaning, I began to understand a concept that my friend Kendra introduced me to: Magical Realism. A concept that, according to Kendra, appears often in Mexican literature, like hers. In magical realism, smack dab in the middle of a normal piece of literature, the author plops bizarre or symbolic bits of magic. And, interestingly, as Kendra told me, it is all without fanfare or attention of any kind. We are merely to accept its existence in the literature.

It took me years to truly appreciate magical realism and The Life of Pi, though I'm quite sure I misinterpreted THAT ONE for years, helped me to understand magical realism and to savor the flavor and color that it adds to the dish (subtle allusion to Like Water for Chocolate by Mexican novelist Laura Esquivel).  

And so, in my reading of The High Mountains of Portugal, besides the gorgeous language and everyday wonder, I thought I was reading a novel of magical realism. But when I went to the lit analysts of the internet, I discovered that I, again, had missed the whole point of the book. Apparently it's about religion.

Oh well. Stay tuned for my review anyway. 


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Strange Job Situations

I was on FB with some friends talking about the weirdest or oddest thing that had ever happened to us at work. Here's mine:

I'm a therapist and I used to work in my home town;
I switched from one agency in this small town to another agency in the same small town.

Starting this new job, I took over a caseload of clients that another therapist had been seeing. While I was reviewing and looking at the files of my new clients, I noticed that one my new clients was the best friend of one of my clients from the OTHER agency across town. I'd already met this new client of mine several times because the two girls would often be together when they'd "drop in" to chat with me in the office.

So I started reading my new client's file. It told of how the client and her friend were in love with and stalking the friend's therapist at the other agency.
Yes, ME.
They were stalking me.
 What's YOUR weirdest work story? 
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Tuesday, September 8, 2020

How Can I Convince Them?

I spend YEARS of my life trying to convince someone that they were wrong about me.

It was someone determined to believe what he wanted to believe. Reality, truth, emotion, evidence. NOTHING convinced him otherwise and, worse, he spread stories and his opinion about me far and wide. To this day, I still feel it in some people when I interact with them. There is very little I can to do change it.

Why am I talking about this?
Because I see it on Facebook all of the time.

HOW can I convince my loved one to see that BL really do M?
What can I say to explain to my loved one how horrible the current president and his administration are?

Good people are constantly looking for the perfect words and phrases to convince their loved ones of fundamental humanist beliefs, of the belief in the goodness of all people.

So what are those words?
I'm sorry, but the answer is there are no special words.

There is nothing you can say.
These people aren't lacking in evidence; they are lacking in desire to believe what you believe or know to be true.
That is racism and that is a choice.

Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world.
All things break. And all things can be mended.
Not with time, as they say, but with intention.
So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally.
The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you

~L.R. Knost

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Friday, July 24, 2020

What to do When my Girlfriend is PMSing

OK, so you've identified that, indeed, she is probably PMSing.
Now what?
It's true that it can be a bit of a minefield at first, so it's no wonder you're confused. Each woman feels different and handles her own cycle issues differently. So how can you possibly know what to do, right?

The good news is that it's temporary. A day or two and she'll be back to her normal self. But these two days...Dude.
In the meantime, I do recommend that you arm yourself with knowledge and with a few suggestions.

As always, it's your choice what you choose to do at these times.
Just keep in mind that this will happen every single month. How you choose to handle it will affect your overall relationship over time. Of course, there is time to figure it out.

Here are a few ideas for you:

  1. Ask her what she wants from you. She knows, so believe her.
  2. Listen to her. Your attention shows you care.
  3. She is probably experiencing low-key pain.
    Doesn't mean she doesn't want sex; she probably does.
    It only means that she might be feeling a bit achy-breaky for the day.
    It might be headaches, body aches.
  4. If she prefers to be alone, leave.
    Let her do this thing alone. It's pretty darn unpleasant to be around her and she knows it. She's probably protecting you and she's probably embarrassed.
  5. If she is craving chocolate ice cream, get two.
  6. Check under the sink to see if there are enough pads or tampons. It won't hurt you to pick some up from the drug store.
  7. Make her favorite things magically appear.
    She will cry happy tears and love you even more.
  8. Use your words. She would like it if you would remind her that you love her and why. For some reason, she can't do this for herself at the moment and she wants to hear it.
    She needs to hear it.
  9. She is doing her best. Her emotionality is never an attempt to manipulate you or anything. It's an unpleasant chemical situation, for real.
  10. Be gentle and kind and patient.
    She will notice and thank you for it. Tomorrow.
    At the time she is in emotional turmoil; your quiet kindness will be very appreciated.
  11. Be there. She really wants you to be there.
    If you're off with the guys while she's suffering...let's just say she might not understand that in the moment. Her interpretations miiiight be a bit...skewed.
  12. Do a little research of your own on Pre-Menstrual Syndrome.
    The physical and emotion symptoms are well-documented.

 Extra hints for your peace of mind:
  1. If she is angry or weepy, it's not really about you.
    Or about anything else. Or about nothing.
    It's weird.
    I promise you, she is trying to control it. But chemistry is super strong on these days. 
  2. She's probably been in fear or in shame of showing you herself on these days.
  3. These emotional waves are overwhelming and powerful.
    The emotions might swing rather dramatically rather quickly.
    You simply being there quietly supportive can be very grounding.
    Enjoy the moments she's able to laugh about it.
  4. Listen, console her, hold her of she wants you to.
    And, hear this, she cannot help it.
    Tomorrow will be a better day.
  5. Don't offer advice.
    She totally knows what to do.
  6. Have a conversation with her on non-PMS days about what you can expect, what she needs, what to plan for.
  7. She might cancel plans on you; staying home is comforting.
    Don't take this personally.
    Maybe even keep it in mind when you're planning upcoming events that you want to share with her.
  8. And never EVER accuse her of PMSing.
    In the moment, or EVER.
    It's a real sore spot in the moment. And it's a rude, aggressive act at other times.
    Tomorrow she might even laugh about it, but not today.
  9. It might be better for your peace of mind to, occasionally, take a break for your own self care. This stuff is not for the faint of heart. If she's got a sharp tongue, you are well within your rights to go into the next room. No reason why you should be a punching bag.
  10. Remember, she literally can't help it.

Things she might like:
  1. Low lights.
  2. Motrin or Tylenol.
  3. Some nice, hot soup.
  4. A hot bath.
  5. A glass of wine.
  6. A reminder to rest.
  7. Sex.
  8. No sex.
  9. A blanket and a puppy.
  10. Rest.
  11. A hot water bottle or heating pad.
  12. Gentle stretches.
  13. A book. 
  14. Crying.
  15. To be left alone.
  16. To cuddle.
  17.  A nice warm cloth over her eyes.
  18. Romance.
  19. Kind and loving words.
  20. Going out on a low-key, romantic date.

Many couples can take months or years to figure out the best way to weather this monthly storm. If you figure out the chemicals and the calendar of the whole thing, you can plan for it so you're not surprised every time. Keep your calendar empty for those few days and plan for low key activities and homebody time. 

Communication is key. 

   What do YOU think?   

Other posts you might enjoy:

I'm here to offer you that much-needed advice that you are beginning to be aware that you need. You might not have the words for the question yet, but this is the answer:
She's PMSing.

First, how to identify when or if your girlfriend is PMSing.
  1. She will tell you. Believe her.
  2. She has a few tiiiiny blemishes.
  3. She appears fatigued.
  4. She is having cravings for chocolate or almost any other food.
  5. She is particularly negative or pessimistic or weepy.
  6. She seems a tad bit...moody. 
  7. She feels overwhelmed.
  8. She seems to need extra validation from you.
  9. She's irritable.
  10. She is either staring at you with daggers or she can't make sustained eye contact. 
  11. She is sleeping more or not at all.
  12. She is negative on herself.
    Don't know why, but it's kind of universal.
    In a sucky way.
  13. She uses the word "bloated".
  14. Her emotions seem to run from laughing out loud to crying in a matter of minutes.
  15. You are walking on egg shells and you have no idea why.