Too Much Faith Will Make You Crazy: “God Will Protect Us” edition.

On occasion my mother has recited a story about a deeply religious family member who refused to leave his armchair when his house caught fire due to his utter conviction that God would protect him. He died in that fire because God had other things to do at that moment. That bit of family lore came to mind when I read the following news item:

Cops: Mom crashed car to prove to kids God is real

Bahari Shaquille Warren, 25, faces two counts child cruelty in Wednesday’s crash, according to Gwinnett County jail records.

Authorities said the mother was traveling northbound on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard when she crossed into the southbound lanes and drove head on into a pole, Channel 2 Action News reported. Her children, ages 5 and 7, were in the backseat.

According to the kids, Warren decided she needed to impress upon them that God was real and that he would protect them. The best way should come up with to demonstrate this was to drive into a pole with the kids strapped into the backseat:

“…Her eyes (were) closed and she was saying, ‘blah, blah, blah, I love God,’” the girl said. “She didn’t want us to just have a car accident. She wanted us to know that God is real.”

Police said Warren told her children to buckle up their seat belts before she rammed into the pole, Channel 2 reported. Warren later admitted to cops she intentionally crashed the car to prove to her children God is real.

One has to question her confidence in God considering she told the kids to buckle up just before ramming the pole. It’s not clear what she expected to happen, whether she thought God would prevent the car from hitting the pole or just keep them from being seriously hurt, but I’d argue the seatbelts and the design of modern day vehicles did more than God in terms of protecting them. Maybe she thought God would swap her out with a mother than wasn’t crazy.

The end result is the kids are OK and in the custody of their grandparents and mom went to jail with a $22,000 bond. God couldn’t be reached for comment.

A conversation with my wife from this morning.

Anne: Your breakfast is on the counter. A boiled egg cut in half with some bacon and half a banana. Put it in the microwave for 20 seconds. Take the banana off the plate before you put it in the microwave.
 
Me: You don’t think I should microwave the banana?
 
Anne: If you want a hot banana then go ahead.
 
Me: I already HAVE a hot banana.
 
Anne: *sighs* I knooooowwwwww.
 
I live for moments like this.

My encounter with a Ghost Cat.

The other night as I was headed upstairs to go to bed in the dark I happened to glance out the kitchen window where I saw a fluffy grey cat sitting bolt upright in the corner of my garage door staring back at me through the window. I was so surprised to see a cat just sitting there that I stopped and stared at it. We spent a few moments staring at each other as I was trying to determine if the cat was looking for help because it was below freezing outside and it seemed to be trying to shelter from the wind. I finally decided to go out there and see if it was in distress.

As I stepped out the side door of the house, the very next thought that popped into my head was: “And that’s how he was murdered by a ghost cat. All his wife found the next day was his slippers in front of the garage door and he was never seen again.” Which is, of course, nonsense, but I’ve seen enough horror movies in my time for my brain to jump right to that scenario. So it was a little startling when I rounded the corner of the house and there was no sign of a cat. At all.

I took a couple steps to look down the side of the garage and out of the corner of my eye I saw a cat shaped blur run down the neighbor’s driveway. So, he/she was fine. When I got back inside, Cuddles came out from behind the blinds of the doorwall. Turns out they had been having a cat-off and I interrupted them. My bad.

A quick update.

Apologies for being away for so long — I just realized I didn’t get a single post up in February — but I am still alive and kicking. My recovery from the pinched nerve issue has been slow, but steady with my pain levels being mostly background noise these days. I had my second steroid injection into my spine on February 19th and it has helped considerably. I doubt I will need a third one.

Sitting in most chairs and on the toilet isn’t much of an issue anymore and I can bend over to pick up stuff from the floor without too much issue as long as I’m careful in how I do it. Putting my sock and shoe on my left foot is still a struggle, but I can do it on my own most days. I still have weakness in my left leg/foot/toes with numbness in the calf, big toe, and pinkies of my hands, but pain-wise I’m close to being back to normal. I can also sleep more than three or four hours at a time.

Now, of course, my hospital bills are rolling in and I’ve definitely hit the $4,000 deductible on my health insurance for the year. I fact, I somehow owe almost $4,500 to the hospital and various others involved in my treatment in spite of my deductible being $4K. I’m going to have to call Anthem and ask them how the fuck that’s possible. Thus stress over being in pain constantly has given way to stress over how to pay my hospital bill. Not sure how I’m going to do it, but I’ve been in spots like this before and have made it through.

Other than that, I’ve been working and sleeping a lot. I missed seeing the latest Star Wars movie in theaters and I’m more than a little bummed about that and I still haven’t seen Black Panther, but I hope to rectify that this coming weekend. Thanks to some help from my sister-in-law and her husband and my buddy Greg, we got the last of our boxes out of my mother-in-law’s basement. Now our basement is back to looking like this:

It really is amazing how much stuff we’ve accumulated over the years.

I’ve started digging through the boxes and a lot of them are full of books. So much so that I may need to buy a couple more bookcases if we decide to keep them all. We have to dig through all of this soon as we’re going to need the room to hold a going away party for my daughter, Courtney, who is packing up and moving to Phoenix, Arizona to take on a new job at her company that will be a big step up for her career.

Needless to say, plans to sit down and blog, vlog, and/or stream have not been working out for me lately. Not because I don’t have the time, but I’ve been lacking the motivation/inspiration. You hear all the time about how chronic pain is exhausting, but it’s another thing to actually experience it. Fortunately, I appear to be getting better and I’ve started actually exercising a bit (25 mins or so of walking a few times a week) in yet another attempt to improve my health and alleviate some of the issues I’m having. I’m hoping to buy a bicycle soon, but with the hospital bills coming in I’m not sure I can justify the cost.

So, I’m still here and I have every intention of getting back to posting more often. I can’t guarantee that I will, but, much like trying to get back into exercising, I’m going to try.

From Facebook friend to blocked in 3 days!

Click to embiggen.

Well, that was quick. Had someone who asked me to friend them two or three days ago unfriend and block me within the past 12 hours. I only agreed to accept the friend request because we had a mutual friend, but apparently she didn’t look first to see if she’d appreciate my point of view on things spiritual before sending out the invite.

It all started when she posted this Atheism meme on the right here to her wall. It was exactly the sort of thing I find hard to let slide by without comment. So I pointed out that Atheism has nothing to do with the Big Bang Theory or the Theory of Evolution. That atheism says nothing about a person’s beliefs beyond the fact that they lack belief in god(s). Above and beyond that, it misrepresents the science of both theories.

Click to embiggen.

Things went downhill quickly from there. Someone else asked what it was the meme was trying to say and I pointed out that it was a poor attempt to clapback at a similar meme on Christianity (also to the right). The difference between them being that the Christianity meme hits on actual tenets of Christian faith — everlasting life through belief in a resurrected god, the taint of sin, Eve and forbidden fruit, etc. — that sound ludicrous when you think about it whereas the atheism one doesn’t because atheism isn’t a religion that requires adherence to doctrine.

Then a fourth person made a comment about “a-theism” meaning they must be “a-gainst God” to which I responded with the fact that it’s hard to be against something that doesn’t exist. You may as well say you’re against Unicorns for all the sense that would make. That the word “atheism” has been around since before the 5th century and is derived from the ancient Greek ἄθεος (atheos), meaning “without god(s)”. When I next returned to this thread because someone had liked my comment I was surprised to see it had been deleted.

My new friend then started asking me if I didn’t understand “allegory”, but rather than take up the argument, I pointed out that a previous comment had been deleted. I said I was happy to have this discussion with them if it wasn’t going to upset them, but if my comments were just going to be deleted then I was certain I could find better ways to spend my time.

It was at this point that she took it upon herself to explain to me that her concept of god was less old-white-bearded-guy-in-the-sky than it was “Consciousness” with a capital C. She went on to tell me that there are no atheists in fox holes and that the reason I didn’t believe in whatever it is she considered to be God was because I lacked the curiosity and desire to truly know the truth.

One of the things that always irritates me is when someone who barely knows anything about me attempts to explain to me what I do and don’t know or how much effort I’ve put into understanding or learning about something. So I pointed out to her how arrogant it was to presume that I must not have been sufficiently curious enough or wanted to know the truth bad enough just because I don’t believe the same things she does. I said it was that kind of you-must-not-have-believed-enough “victim blaming” was, frankly, offensive. I pointed out that dismissing my viewpoint being a result of my apathetic curiosity was a lazy way to avoid having to provide support for her beliefs.

Of course, I was much more eloquent in my phrasing, but I’m trying to recall all of this from memory because it appears I’ve been unfriended and blocked as there’s no sign of the comments she had left on posts on my wall and I no longer see her in my friends list.

Not that I am at all bothered by this. Clearly she was happy to be my friend so long as we expressed similar viewpoints. Which, politically at least, we did. However, the moment I disagreed with her on her spiritual beliefs she couldn’t unfriend me fast enough. The thing about it is, I worked very hard not to suggest she was an idiot and even when I got irritated, I tried to keep it civil. I also attempted to drop the matter with a I’ll agree to disagree and move on, but she had to go and try and tell me how I had failed to be curious enough.

Chalk one more win up to my sparkling personality.

If Jesus tells you to take your hands off the wheel while driving at high speeds, don’t listen to him.

Jesus is known for being a bit of a practical joker and is always pulling pranks on people. Like the time he pretended to “die” and then showed up three days later just so he could freak out his mom, but this time his prank could’ve gotten someone seriously hurt.

Chad O. England, the latest target of Jesus’ weird sense of humor.

It seems Jesus thought it would be funny to call upon 33 year old Chad O. England of Tennessee while the poor sap was speeding along I-81 and tell him to close his eyes and let go of the wheel so Jesus could take over. You know, as a kind of co-pilot or something. Except Jesus didn’t take the wheel which resulted in Chad’s 2015 Toyota Tacoma truck veering off of the freeway and flipping over five times while bouncing off a rock wall before coming to rest in the emergency and right lanes of the road.

Driver: Jesus advised to ‘let go of the wheel’

“He said that Jesus was calling him and advised him to let go of the wheel, and that’s what he did,” the report states. “He stated that he did not take off running, he was ‘being called and was traveling to bow before someone.’ He also stated he was not driving, but he was behind the wheel.”

Officers searched the wrecked truck and located about six grams of marijuana, a vial of white powder residue, which the driver identified as cocaine, the report states. The officers also said they found a couple partial pipes, rolling papers, a nearly empty bottle of alcohol and “huffing” cans.

Ha ha! What a joker! To be fair, Jesus was looking out for Chad as the man did make it through what is an impressively major crash with no injuries to speak of. However, he is going to need a new truck.

Now some of you might doubt this man’s claims because of the drugs found in his vehicle, but given what we know about Jesus’ fondness for pranks — is there a food item he hasn’t drawn a crude picture of himself and/or his mom onto? — I think it’s wrong to doubt the truth of Mr. Chad’s claim. After all, we know Jesus talks to people all the time.

Hell, he recently told respected Texas Judge Jack Robison that a woman on trial for allegedly trafficking a teen girl for sex was innocent and as such the Judge had no recourse other than to inform the jury that they should find her not guilty.

Judge Jack Robison apologized to jurors for the interruption, but defended his actions by telling them “when God tells me I gotta do something, I gotta do it,” according to the Herald-Zeitung in New Braunfels.

The jury went against the judge’s wishes, finding Gloria Romero-Perez guilty of continuous trafficking of a person and later sentenced her to 25 years in prison. They found her not guilty of a separate charge of sale or purchase of a child.

I bet Jesus is pretty pissed with those jurors right now. At least the Judge can rest easy knowing that he did his duty in passing along the message.

Hopefully Jesus will return to some of his tamer pranks that don’t result in people losing their means of transportation and, for that matter, their freedom. Like when he told several different Republican presidential candidates that he wanted them to be President of the United States only to turn around and put a man wholly unqualified and disinterested into the office instead.

Man, is Jesus a cheeky monkey or what?

Ten letters that were dropped from the English alphabet.

I found this YouTube video by Austin McConnell quite enlightening. I was unaware that there had ever been any letters other than the 26 standard ones that we know today. The funny thing is, I know I’ve seen some of these in old books and texts and wondered what the hell they were supposed to be, but never got around to looking them up. At least one of them, the Ampersand, I was aware of and that’s mainly because of its usage in programming and search filtering.

Check it:

Interestingly enough, quite a few of these are a part of the standard character sets that can be typed on your computer. Some of them have been repurposed for other uses, but they’re still there.

Happy New Year 2018!

Yes, I know I’m a bit late with this, but I have a good excuse. My new year started off poorly with the onset of excruciating pain in my left hip/leg after eating lunch at a local Olive Garden. It got worse on the ride home and attempts at sleeping it off did nothing to help. By 4:30 PM it was so bad that I couldn’t get into the car to go to an urgent care center. After deciding against calling for an ambulance I continued to try and rest, but the only position that didn’t cause immediate pain was laying on my belly, a position I never sleep in, or standing straight up, which is also not conducive to sleep. Still, I managed to doze off a couple of times and by 2:30 AM things had improved just enough for me to fold myself into Anne’s car for a trip to the ER at Saint Joseph’s Mercy hospital in Ann Arbor.

This is me in my hospital gown standing up in my room because it’s too painful to lay down.

I was admitted pretty quickly and had an IV stuck into my arm whereupon I was given healthy doses of morphine which helped in making my immediate situation bearable. Over the course of the next day and a I half I had a couple blood labs done, an x-ray session and, ultimately, an MRI. By Wednesday evening they had worked out what my issue was. Despite it being the location of all my pain and misery, my hip and joint were ruled out as having any issues other than some minor arthritis. However, upon looking at my spine they noticed a problem:

L4-L5: Moderate-large size central to left paracentral disc extrusion. Slight caudal migration. This results in compression left anterior/lateral thecal sac with moderate to severe narrowing of the left lateral canal. Encroachment on the expected left L5 nerve root. Mild left foramen stenosis. Right foramen patent.

Which is to say that I have a partial disc herniation that is pressing on the root of one of the major nerves in my leg resulting in, to put it more collequially, “sonofafuckingbitchthatfuckinghurts.”

The first time I was able to lay on my back in over 24 hours and only because I was very doped up on that sweet, sweet morphine. You can tell it’s only slightly dampening the pain in my expression.

Near as I can figure, this is the result of a fall on my stairs that I took nearly three weeks prior just as I started my annual end-of-the-year vacation. Stepping down the two steps from my kitchen to the landing in front of the side door of my house, we had a small rug there to collect debris on shoes as we came in and I slipped on it falling backwards and smacking my ass and right arm into the edge of the step. I thought I had only bruised my ass badly (and, indeed, there was some sign of that in the x-ray), but I thought I’d come closer to breaking my arm than my spine.

After much more waiting around, I finally got word from the neurological surgeon that was consulting on my case that they wanted to try giving me a lumbar epidural steroid injection Thursday morning and then they’d keep me around until Friday evening to see if it had any effect and if it didn’t reduce my pain by at least 50% then I’d be scheduled for spinal surgery on Saturday morning. Considering that I had already missed most of the first week I was supposed to be back at work and that surgery would mean four to six weeks of recovery time, I was seriously hoping that the epidural would work.

Fortunately, it did. This is me sitting up on the edge of the bed eating my breakfast Friday morning.

Mind you, I’m on a healthy dose of percocet in the picture above, but it was still more than I’d been able to do for three days. They kept me around into Saturday, but I was finally let go with a prescription for more percocet and ibuprofen (to reduce inflammation). After a weekend spent sleeping off and on, I went back to work on Monday.

I’m far from fully recovered, but I’m at a point where I’m able to stretch out how often I take my pain pills from the recommended 6 hours for the percocet and 8 hours for the ibuprofen to as much as 10 or 12 hours depending on if I’m sleeping through it. I’m able to sleep on my side again, but I can only manage sleeping (in any position) for at most 4 hours before I have to get up and walk around to get my leg to stop hurting enough to go back to sleep. The pain still manifests in my hip and the calf of my leg, the latter feeling like the muscle is just this side of going into a full charley horse. Additionally it causes numbness in the pinkies of both my hands and along up the edge of my arms. The medication keeps it down to an annoying roar, but I can definitely tell when the pills have worn off. Walking is a bit rough at times as all this also makes my left leg somewhat weak hence why I have my cane handy.

But, I am able for the most part to function. I’m on restrictions with regards to lifting heavy things and bending over too far, which makes putting on socks and shoes fun. I am also scheduled for another injection in February with the possibility of one or two more depending on how much progress I make in the coming weeks. It may be that I’ll end up having to have the surgery in the future anyway, but at least this offers some hope of avoiding that for the time being.

So, yeah, my new year is not off to a great start. I’m hoping this means things can only get better from here on out. I’m not looking forward to the bill for all of this and finding out how much of an additional pain in the ass my insurance company is going to be about this. They’re already refusing to pay for more than one week’s worth of percocet and only once a month at that leaving me to pay it out of pocket, but that’s a rant for another time. Here’s hoping your new year was pretty good or at least not as eventful as mine has been so far.

Merry Christmas 2017!

Just a quick update to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas from all of us here at SEB.

I finally got Uncharted 4 for the PS4 along with Assassin’s Creed Origins, a new Hawaiian shirt, the book Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really AreGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2Deleted Scenes From the Cutting Room Floor, by Caro Emerald, a Doctor Who lanyard, a couple of Rick & Morty decals, Bloom County: The Complete Library, Vol. 1: 1980-1982, and a cool wall clock that plays tunes every hour.

I was going to post a picture of me being jolly, but for some reason WordPress isn’t letting me do that at the moment so it’ll have to wait.

Les looks at stuff from Cards Against Humanity Saves America.

Holy shit! I did another vlog!

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