This is day ten of The Dog Days of Summer, a Blogdramedy writing challenge. If you came here looking for quality content you are decidedly barking up the wrong tree. -Ed.
Steal Team Nicked
Tom B. Taker
Digger sniffed and proceeded forward. Cautiously! His ears were up and pointy as shuriken.
One paw after another. The progress was slow.
“Damn!” He muttered as his toenail snagged the shiny floor.
He froze but he heard nothing. His cover wasn’t blown.
The terrain familiar, he’d been here before, he peered carefully around a blind corner. The enemy’s tactics were the stuff of legend.
Relieved, he paused, but only for a moment. He could now see his target and he’d tarried behind enemy lines far too long.
Sprinting forward, he grabbed Tim’s potato chips in his maw and darted out just as the automatic doors slid closed behind him.
Blogdramedy’s The Dog Days of Summer writing challenge commands
victims participants to author ten stories, ten days in a row, consisting of exactly 110 words each. All stores are themed based on dogs that she has pre-selected. For more information about the challenge and to view the work of other participants, please click the link. But only if you want stories that have real teeth.
It was snowing in the city by the North Pole. A hard snow. The kind of snow that jingled bells or even made a jolly fat man obsessed with giving toys and candy to other people’s children seem sort of not so bad. If you get my drift.
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Today brought a bit of good news to the world. My favorite two-faced person, Karen Handel, resigned from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure charity. In other news the sun continued to shine, puppies remained cute and the cats knocked my iPod Touch to the floor.
Yes, Virginia, there can be good days. But don’t you dare ever tell anyone I said that.
In Handel’s resignation letter she proudly had on display the style, grace and dignity that has served her so well during all of her years of hating Planned Parenthood.
Of Komen’s decision to “change its granting strategy” which led to the decision to pull funding from Planned Parenthood, she says, “I openly acknowledge my role in the matter and continue to believe our decision was the best one for Komen’s future and the women we serve.”
Komen then went on to make the arguments that “I wasn’t the only one (neener neener)” and pointed a crony accusing finger at Planned Parenthood, saying their reaction was a “gross mischaracterization of strategy.”
Apparently Handel is not one to go quietly into that good night. Whatever. Just as long as she says goodbye.
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Trey Parker and Matt Stone have a new Broadway musical coming out. It’s called The Book of Mormon.
To put this in context you need to know who these guys are. They are, among other things, the creators of the South Park cartoon on Comedy Central.
Something tells me that true Mormons are not going to be too thrilled with the Parker and Stone take on Mormonism.
I’m an avowed atheist, something I mention here on the blog from time to time when I feel like it is pertinent or I just feel like drawing attention to myself. (There is decidedly an element of narcissism amongst some of us who blog.)
But it was not always so. I have fond memories of growing up in the Episcopal church. There were good people in our local church and I loved them. Our priest was a young man with a wife and kids and I looked up to him. Heck, not once did he even make a move on me, not even when I was an altar boy.
Growing up in a small town, though, I had a lot of friends who were Mormons. Aside from a few odd rules, like no soda and caffeine, they were a lot like me. And we spent a lot of time at the local Mormon temple. It was probably one of the nicest buildings in town but, more importantly, it also had, by far, the nicest indoor basketball court. We shot a lot of hoops there. I don’t know why, but I never stopped to wonder why our church didn’t have cool stuff like basketball courts.
By the time I was in my early teens I was aware of quite a bit about Mormons. I knew the story about Joseph Smith and the golden plates, I knew that Jesus had visited America, and that it was common for Mormons to go on missions. Hanging out at the temple so much, we got to know a lot of the missionaries who came to our town.
My exposure to Mormonism and knowing that hands down all of the Mormons I had ever met were the nicest people I’d ever known, it seemed only natural to convert, so I began the lessons myself. All went well, including my meeting to confess certain “serious past transgressions.” I was earnest in wanting to join, so I was fully honest. They had to have a meeting about those transgressions, but apparently I passed the test. I was given the green light!
Since I was younger than 18, all I need to complete the process was my mom’s signature on some forms. That’s where a little monkey wrench was thrown into the works. She refused to sign. I cried and I was angry but there was nothing I could do. Then my mom arranged to have her boss pick me up one day and go for a ride in his bitchin’ hot rod. He even let me drive and that was one sweet car! What a clever plan tempting a young man with a hot rod.
Eventually we pulled over on the side of the road and had a discussion about his religious beliefs. It turned out that he was a born again Christian. The more we talked, the more I agreed with him, and then, through my tears while bawling like a baby, I also was born again.
Don’t worry. It didn’t stick. A year later the same thing would happen to me at my Korean girlfriend’s church. The preacher seemed to single me out and I ended up at the front of the church, kneeling while he talked only to me. Before I knew it I was bawling like a baby again. Apparently back then I really wanted some damn answers. But at least I was sincere.
None of it mattered, though. As I grew older, I was less and less interested in God until I realized one day I had become an atheist. And that’s how it has been ever since. But I still have my Book of Mormon on my shelf next to my parallel Bible, though.
And, that’s also my personal experience with Mormonism and how I came very, very close to being one myself. I now know that, nice people or not, my mom did me a favor that day.
For one thing, during the lessons and baptismal interview, the missionaries and church personnel I spoke with played things pretty close to the vest. They certainly weren’t dishing out any of the more controversial beliefs of the Mormon church. Things like the planet Kolob and stuff. I never heard anything about Kolob when receiving my lessons.
So yeah, the Mormons aren’t too happy about the new musical. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints issued this response:
The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.
Of course, the musical isn’t Parker and Stone’s first volley at Mormonism. Via the show South Park the pair has skewed all sorts of religious beliefs, including the Mormons. In an episode called “All About the Mormons” they humorously poke holes in the Joseph Smith and gold plate mythology. (If interested, you can watch the full episode on SouthParkStudios.com.)
They’ve also gone after Tom Cruise and Scientology and the “dark lord Xenu” in the episode “Trapped in the Closet.”
The episodes “Go, God. Go! Part II” and “Go God Go XII” tell the story of an atheism war. The episode “The Fantastic Easter Special” goes after the President of the Catholic League.
And yes, they take on Islam, too, in the episodes “Cartoon Wars, Part 1 & Part 2” which takes on the issue of any depiction of the prophet Muhammad as a cartoon on a television show.
Other South Park episodes on religion include:
- The Passion of the Jew
- Red Hot Catholic Love
- Super Best Friends
- Do the Handicapped Go to Hell? / Probably
- Are You There God, It’s Me Jesus
The point here is that Mormons shouldn’t feel especially picked on. The South Park creators clearly enjoy going after all sorts of sacred cows.
I know one thing. The Mormons played a huge role in California in regards to the passage of Proposition 8. Religions increasingly see themselves playing a greater role in public discussion, policies and law making. Personally I’m against that.
Let us consider the words of one of the leaders of the LDS church. Elder Quentin L. Cook is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. According to Wikipedia, Elder Cook is the “thirteenth most senior apostle in the ranks of the Church.”
In a posting entitled “Let there be light!” on LDS.org in Nov. 2010, Elder Cook wrote:
As Church leaders, we have met with leaders of other faiths and have found that there is a common moral foundation that transcends theological differences and unites us in our aspirations for a better society.
In our increasingly unrighteous world, it is essential that values based on religious belief be part of the public discourse. Moral positions informed by a religious conscience must be accorded equal access to the public square. Under the constitutions of most countries, a religious conscience may not be given preference, but neither should it be disregarded.
I don’t know about you, but to me this sounds a lot like religious leaders saying they want a seat at the table of lawmaking and public policy. And this from a church that recently used its tax-exempt status to greatly influence the outcome of an American political election. Isn’t that one of the things our founding fathers feared the most?
When our nation’s religious leaders step up and overtly state that it is their intention to influence the political landscape, methinks we just might have a rather serious problem on our hands.
Boss: “Look at that! We sold two of the XJ-21’s today!”
And they say interpersonal relationships don’t mean much any more. Ha!
You ever met anyone like this? Someone who wants you to hang on every word they say, especially about the excruciating minutia of their day, while they simultaneously take a verbal dump on you every time you speak?
Boss: “Tom, what do you think about adding the XJ-21’s to our web site?”
Me: “Actually, I’ve been working on a template that will…”
Boss: “Cause I think we could sell a few, if only they were up there. Know what I mean?”
Me: “Uh, yeah. Whatever.”
Perhaps the funniest aspect of all of this is how the boss never seems to notice when I’ve checked out of the conversation. I just shut my fuckin’ trap, stare off into space, turn my back on him and return to my computer. Whatever. Whatever!!!
Yep. Hilarious. It’s friggin’ a barrel of laughs to be minimized as a person and stomped on every fucking time you open your mouth. Let’s put on our thinking caps. Do you think there is any possible way treating people like that will have consequences? Think it will encourage them to be the most enthusiastic member of your team? To proactively go out and do things for you? To care about what you have to say when the shoe is on the other foot? Foster bitterness? Loathing? Spite?
Both of the examples above are typical at my job. At no point does anyone ever come back and say, “Eh? Your wife? In urgent care? What’s up with that?” Nope. In one ear and out the other and never to be thought of again, unless, of course, you’re dumb enough to make a second attempt. But I’m usually so fried there is little chance of that.
So yeah, like I alluded to in a recent post, my #1 overriding goal, my prime directive, my mission in life every single time I haul my sorry ass into work is clear and present and always on my mind as I try to go about my duties:
Don’t speak. Don’t attempt to engage enemies in conversation. Speaking only serves to embolden office combatants and facilitates the exchange of power from those who actually care to those who are fucking assholes.
It’s a very worthy goal. One I prostrate myself to continually all day long. I strive to keep it the foremost thing on my mind as I do my job. Even so, I’m only human, so failure is inevitable.
In some ways, it’s more important how you grapple with that failure than striving to meet the goal in the first place. After all, as something that can’t actually be achieved, a goal is little more than a mechanism to getting to your special place. And, at least for me, lovingly embracing failure with self-flagellation is the key.
At last! Only after sweet failure can you come face to face with the one and only persona that will never interrupt or fail to listen. That is, of course, your inner persona. A persona that will truly embrace your thoughts of failure. It’s a persona that’s always there for you.
“Your hubris is especially delicious when it rots.”
“What made you think they’d take interest in that?”
“Why don’t you just offer up your throat next time?”
“You make me sick.”
“Think those bastards give a shit?”
“Please, try that some more. I’m grabbing some popcorn. This will be good!”
Finally, conversations worth having! Even better they don’t have to involve other people who are nothing more than winking assholes.
In the end, the only one you can count on is yourself.
What’s the “take away” here? You have to dig deep to find the goodness, but it’s there. My old friend yin-yang still can be found if we know where to look. The lesson of duality is that if something is especially reaming me out then there must be something else to be learned, too. Right?
It’s like being eviscerated and having your bowels strewn about on the floor in front of you. In that situation you really have two choices. Bitch about the steam or take the opportunity to learn a little something for the future (albeit one that has only a few seconds left).
Instead of bitching about the steam, why not say, “Hey. Thanks for spilling out my entrails. Now I have the chance to practice the art of divination and, just maybe, I can glean my fortune.” Now that’s turning lemons into lemonade!
I guess the flow of a normal workday happens for a reason. It’s the natural order of things. It’s about the daily journey to the place you need to be. You can’t have one without the other. In that respect, I guess the role played by assholes is important after all.
Early in the morning at 09:26:16 Universal Time (UT) on July 27, 1962, the Mariner 1 spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
293 seconds later the Range Safety Officer issued the command to destroy the vehicle after it had veered off course. It was determined that steering the vehicle was impossible due to a malfunction and a crash was eminent, possibly in shipping lanes or an inhabited area.
The command to destroy the vehicle came only six seconds prior to the point of no return after which separation would take place and destruction would no longer be possible. The radio transponder continued to transmit signals for 64 seconds after the destruct command had been sent.
The mission of the Mariner 1 was the first ever flyby of the planet Venus. Mariner 1, if successful, would have went on to by the first man-made object to fly by another planet and would have performed missions like measure the temperatures of the clouds and surface of Venus as well as fields and particles near the planet and in interplanetary space.
Luckily there was a backup. Mariner 2 was launched just five weeks later and completed the mission and became the world’s first successful interplanetary spacecraft on December 14, 1962, when it passed within 34,833 kilometers from the surface of Venus.
This incident may not ring a bell for most people, but if you are a computer programmer chances are slightly better that you may have heard about it. It turns out that the reason Mariner 1 was a single misplaced character in a computer program!
A hyphen, a hyphen. My kingdom for a hyphen!
According to the NASA web site, “the Mariner 1 Post Flight Review Board determined that the omission of a hyphen in coded computer instructions in the data-editing program allowed transmission of incorrect guidance signals to the spacecraft.”
I feel for that computer programmer. I really do. Been there done that. 🙂
For a variety of reasons the exact cause remains murky to this day although the Post Flight Review Board did issue a finding it was at least in part due to a hyphen.
And I thought my job was high pressure. 🙂