Monday, December 07, 2009

Special message for Fred with the aol address

You win the award today for the most intolerant, stupid bag of skin that ever walked the earth. These designs were made especially to piss people like you off. Enjoy!

Sacred Bunny Church photocard
Sacred Bunny Church by godless_heathen
photo cards created online at

Are you having fun yet? Good. I'll make some more designs especially for you. Make sure you leave me some nice email again, but keep in mind if you threaten me or any elected official, then the fun times are over and the authorities get to read your badly spelled and insane diatribes. Right now I'm just using them for inspiration much as you use pics of Sarah Palin to inspire yourself...uh, you.

So many stupid people, so few asteroids

Today has been a veritable bonanza of the lesser human species. Those who read this blog or subscribe to it see only a small portion of the hate that god's less intelligent bastard children like to direct my way. I delete them almost immediately so as not to give them the attention they so desperately crave.

Once in a while I'll actually respond publicly, mostly because my way of fighting is no violence allowed, but I am allowed to use mocking and humiliation to expose how ridiculous some of these wingnut losers are, so ridiculous are they in fact, that I can't possibly take them or their idiotic ideas seriously.

For people like that, all you need to fight them is a good dose of ridicule. They have nothing to fight with but slogans handed to them by others and so they get stumped if they have to think outside the words they were given. Eventually their tiny little minds get confused at having to come up with a thought, so they slink away beaten and bewildered with a mob of other people laughing at them all the way home.

Anything loses its power and mystique when it becomes a joke. And there's nothing as funny as someone who fails to realize they're that stupid and that manipulated until the asteroid lands on their dumb asses.

But you don't get to see the real crazies. They always save the best of their RANTS typed all in caps and filled with the most juvenile of badly spelled words for my private email. I suspect because deep down inside their cheesy little souls even they are embarrassed being them and they don't want too many others knowing how lacking they are in just about everything.

So you didn't get to see the gems that arrived today and had that baked in musty scent of having recently left a Palin teabagging party where they all sucked each others...ideas...until there was nothing left but a dank cesspool left behind by their now drained communally shared brain.

These are the ones who desperately want to believe they are part of some movement that's bigger than the parking lot outside the convenience store, or the church hall they got a discount on because no one got the stench of intolerance out of the walls enough for anyone to pay money for it, or the Palin rallies where a huge crowd is defined as having to take your shoes off to count the rest of the people.

You see, they really do know that they're irrelevent. They suspect the Goposaurs used them to get other Goposaurs elected but weren't really on their side when it came to passing the draconian social restrictions they wanted to inflict on the rest of the planet. They got nothing from their darling little W except used and it must sting like, well...hell.

And they're being used again by their teabagging masters who see they're too dumb to not make the same mistake twice, and so they manipulate them once more to get the new version of Goposaur elected, the real crazies that will be even easier to manipulate than that pathetic fool, Bush. The idiots see Sarah Palin as their savior, and their masters see her as an easily manipulated tool motivated by greed. It's almost too easy.

But what makes it really easy is religion. These people who write me are so fucking stupid that all someone has to do is claim Jeezus and they'll let you abuse them and use them and manipulate them until there's nothing left but an empty sack of used up shit.

It's not that difficult to see how some whacked out christian nut job like Huckabee heard only that the piece of shit wanting a release had found Jeezus, and so let him go without further thought so he could murder four cops in Washington state. To believe the fundamentalist whacko shit Huckabee believes in, you almost have to suspend independent and critical thought. And the moment you do that, you open yourself up to manipulation by others who use their brains for something other than a hat rack.

The kind of people who write me these letters are no better than the goosestepping morons who believed that god wanted them to kill Jews for him. In religious wars, no matter how big or small, all it takes is one fool manipulated for his intolerant ideas wrapped up in religion to convince him to kill. And they don't even have to look for others because he will find them for his masters as long as they feed him the bullshit he craves. Yes, they tell him, this time you will win. This time we will make everyone follow your religion, your hatred, your bigotry, your intolerant world view.

And he believes it because if he had half a brain he wouldn't believe the crazy crap he thinks is religion but is really hate wrapped in a godly body bag. He's the kind of person that allows himself to be used and used and used until he's just another old diseased and burned out whore for the rich and powerful.

He's the one carrying the signs at the health care reform rallies begging the insurance companies to fuck him one more time for Jeezus. He's the one pasting pictures of holocaust dead on a piece of cardboard so he can demonstrate his undying faith in the sanctity of human life--as long as that life is not dead Jews. He's the one drooling over Sarah Palin as President while his own wife still has a black eye from his fist and is only allowed the Bible as reading material. He's the one who bellows against the Taliban for demanding everyone follow their religion and give up all their rights, and yet fails to see how he's demanding the same thing and is therefore no better than the Taliban he condemns.

You know I could go on and probably will in the days to come because I'm finally fed up with these pathetic excuses for human beings. But for now I'm going to make myself a cup of tea, put some music on, and allow myself a nice break from having to deal with anything more today.

I've said my piece and I will say it again because I can't work for peace, I can't be an activist for the planet earth if I don't expose the dangers that threaten us. There is nothing more dangerous than ignorance because those who are ignorant are the tools of anyone and anything who sees a temporary use for them. I've said it over and over again and I'll say it again--those who hate are easily manipulated and owned by any master who comes along, while those who love are the ones who are truly free.

I prefer to love, but woe to him or her who mistakenly perceives that as a weakness. Unlike you, I don't succumb to phony color-coded terror threats, monsters under the bed, or hate filled preachers spewing intolerance from the pulpit. I am my own woman and that makes me far far stronger than any of you weak and intolerant haters will ever be. And love is MY higher power.


Sunday, December 06, 2009

Godless Damned Degenerate for Peace

I'm the first to admit that my inner beast is a stubborn one. It grabs hold of something and doesn't let go until there's some kind of ending, some resolution that doesn't stink of enforced compromise, or that hasn't been steeped until tasteless through the filter of consensus.

Yeah, that's me. But I'm also someone who doesn't waste my time with lost causes. I have no use for people who have given up on themselves, who have turned their brains and hearts over to some master pulling strings they don't even know they have.

It's why religion annoys me. There's nothing democratic about religion. There's some power-hungry asshat behind a pulpit preaching his biases to a crowd of people who are so afraid of their inner selves, they turn themselves over body and brain.

I hate unfair fights and there's nothing more unfair than a power whore abusing those weaker and more desperate than him or herself. The average preacher claims to be a servant or emissary of god, often using the same language as other historical mass indoctrinators of human consciousness  used those words to raise armies in the service of their own special friends.

My main objection to religions is that every one of them has its blood all over wars using some mythical deity as an excuse for the pillaging and slaughter.  One of the many reasons I don't believe in god is that if one existed then he/she/it would have smacked the holy shit out of these morons starting wars and killing people using him/her/it as an excuse. And if I am wrong, then what kind of human being would I  be if I allowed myself to get sucked into these mass murder cults that demand blood and hate as some sort of twisted homage? I couldn't live with myself if I gave up my humanity that easily and for so little. What kind of evil monster would demand such horrid obedience from me that I would literally turn over all that is loving and kind about myself to him/her/it so they could kill and destroy even more?

But every day I see people who do this, people who are so insecure, so afraid of the perceived demons inside themselves that they march sheeplike to the cadence of their masters. This is what war truly is, the strong manipulating the weak and frightened so the powerful may grow richer and more powerful. The only god they're fighting for is money and power. And they use religion to keep people from noticing their hands picking the pockets of the people as they make others die for their own personal enrichment.

This has always been the story of war. It has nothing to do with honor, with glory, with democracy or saving souls. It has everything to do with powermongers who sell weapons to everyone, no matter what their politics or religion. It has everything to do with politicians who are so willing to use the lives of others to score points in some demented game of human chess, they don't even consider the casualities worthy of being referred to as human beings. It has everything to do with land grabs, with historical grievances, with family feuds among the rich and powerful. And religion is the noose they drape around the neck of the sheep so they will die willingly and ask no questions.

But it all doesn't happen so easily. To convince the sheep to enter the slaughterhouse, they use their evil minions, the purveyors of hate and propaganda. They use the lowest of the common denominators to instill hatred and rage because that way they can control the masses. Those who love are beyond the control of evil masters, but those who hate already have one hand on the leash and are ready to hand the other end of it to the first hater who stirs up the venom in their hearts.

As human beings who have the responsibility of passing on a whole and healthy planet to the next generation, we have to understand that love is the only thing that will save us and preserve something worth passing on. Love is the only way we can move forward in a time where hate is a prison waiting to enslave us all. We need to speak up. We need to make some noise. We need to understand if we don't use our own power to create a peaceful world, then it will be taken from us and turned into a weapon of hate that will be used against us. We need to reject hate. We need to reject the cultish behavior that leads to mental imprisonment. We need to stand up and very clearly state: there's a better way of going through life and we are that way.

Ursine Logic's Peace Store



Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Embracing Your Inner Lunatic

I had an interesting conversation this evening with someone I don't know very well but whose intelligence always intrigues me. He has a way of phrasing his thoughts so that others can take part in the process of their formation. Tonight he lead me down the path of creating peace by equating the direction toward it as an inward focus spreading outward.

This is not to be confused with the simplicity of saying peace begins from within. That misses the whole point of it being a participatory process that involves the idea, the desire, the sharing, and the action. For example, I can say I want peace, but what does that really mean? Does it mean I have to sit cross-legged and dream inward and hope something leaks out and basically infects others? Or does it mean that I am an activist who seeks to promote peace as a part of my activism?

That is the path my friend took me down tonight and after a few hours of reading, of thinking, of talking about other things to other people, I think I can give him somewhat of an answer. But it won't be a short answer because it's not so easily explained. I can only give examples from myself and hope it makes enough sense to others so they will join me on the same path wearing their own shoes or no shoes or maybe just dragging along behind me. The possibility even exists they could be leading me somehow.

First of all, it does begin within. But the question one has to ask is what is the within? To me it includes the ability to laugh, to mock the absurd, to challenge the mean, to disabuse the intolerant, to speak up against the ingrained.

I have the perfect venue for doing all of that. I design t-shirts and other things with my world view on them. I make fun of and challenge racists. I promote tolerance while attacking intolerance. I point out the evils of war, organized religion, hate, and just plain old fashioned stupidity that is the real cause of much of the earth's many problems.

In all this I try and be myself, to be true to what I believe and am. That's always the hard part because we are social animals, no matter how much we try and claim we are not. I am no different that way. I prefer being liked instead of disliked. I love being loved. I want to be appreciated. I want to be accepted. I want to be part of the whole I dream about and try to create.

But at the same time I can't let myself be led by those wants and desires. I lose my integrity if I apologize for the parts of me that are controversial. How can I effectively argue for a secular world that doesn't bludgeon and kill people over religion if I am not upfront and unapologetic about my Atheism?

How can I speak up for civil liberties if I don't practice them myself by advocating for people's rights to control their own bodies? If I want to have abortions, smoke pot, marry someone gay, drink vodka for breakfast, and vote for politicians who respect those rights, it is my body and my business. But I have to be all those things sincerely or I will be just a well-meaning hypocrite.

If I want a better world with resources that will last so future generations can share in them as I have shared in them, then it becomes a social and spiritual obligation to speak up against things that damage the planet whether they are small acts of refusing to use things that will end up in a landfill, all the way to pointing out that treating your vagina like a clown car is not a matter of whether you can afford to breed like Duggars but instead is a matter of selfishly using up resources that belong to future generations.

It is the same with war. I can object to Iraq and Afghanistan the same way I objected to Vietnam but unless I do more than object, there will always be war because its existence does not depend on me. It depends on those who profit from it--the arms merchants, the pentagon procurers, the politicians who pretend it's about honor and not about campaign contributions from the war profiteers. In my teens I marched in the streets, I camped out at Federal Buildings, I helped my friends write the kind of essays that would allow them to file as Conscientious Objectors, to convince draft boards they were not fit to kill another human being. Now I write those words on t-shirts and spread the message all over the world.

But does it make any difference, does it change anything? Of course, because if  I've learned one thing in my years on this planet it's that we need company to effect great change. Yes we can talk about single people who have made a difference but that is denying that we are not moles living in a pile of dirt waiting to be hosed out of our warm den. I am who I am because of others in my life, because of the examples I looked up to and also those I looked down on. You never know who's going to influence you until you get old enough to look backwards in time.

So yes, it all begins from within and spreads outward, but what varies is the all. That's how the path defines itself, by the all that we are. Once I realized this on more than an intellectual level, everything else just fell into place. I understand that we are all more than the messenger, more than the doer, more than the believer. We are the whole that moves as one with all our integrity and honor intact toward a goal that benefits everyone. In fact, the best goals are those that leave us out of the equation completely and allows us to do for others without the need for a reward, or a thank you, or anything but the knowledge that even a small step forward is progress if we do it sincerely.

And in all this I am reminded of one of the most interesting people I met in my life that of course I didn't fully appreciate until years after his death. He was my uncle's friend and died shortly after playing at his memorial service when he was in his 80's and blind. I don't know why he popped back up in my memory after all these years, but I suspect it's because I saw him then and I see him now as a man who truly lived his life as the man he was. Reading about him has been an entertaining process because everyone has a story, an opinion, a memory of the man as they perceived him, so I will share the googleness that exists around his name: and let you choose what you will to entertain and inspire you.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Letter home from the Culture Wars

Dear Friends, Family, Advertisers, and Whacked out Religious Morons:

After a couple years of wallowing in the stinking mud of your propaganda-fueled culture wars, I'm writing to let you know how sick and tired I am of this stupid war. Setting aside the absurdity of the strongest and most well armed sides (Christians) and their pimps and whores in the media claiming victimhood, I want to point out the obvious that has escaped most of your puny little pea-brains--there are other people in this world besides you selfish fucks.

There are Jews who do not go around claiming a war on Hannukah even though many of them have died throughout the centuries as a result of you claiming you had God on your side as you slaughtered them in your Crusades and in your death camps. There are no Hannukah displays in public buildings, in shopping malls, in schools, and on the media. There are no days off to "celebrate" their holidays the way there are multiple ones to celebrate yours. In fact, many Jews throughout the years have kindly offered to work on your holidays so you can spend time with your families. How many Christians have returned the favor by working on Jewish holidays so they can spend time with their families?

How many of you self-righteous smug assholes have even considered that other groups celebrate something other than your holidays? How many of you know anything about Kwanzaa, much less make room for it in your public displays of forced belief? Do you even care that it is about families spending time together as you define which days off others will be forced to accept so you can spend time with your own families? Do you even care that sanctioned and heavily advertised shopping days have overshadowed the reverence of this holiday for African-Americans because you are so selfish you can't see beyond your own religious beliefs and practices?

In the most stunning and horrible example from behind the lines of the culture wars, let me remind you of how you've lumped all of Islam into one convenient terror group you can persecute and punish for the crimes of the few. Do you even know or care that the Muslim New Year occurs in the month of December this year? Would you even allow a reminder or display of this holiday in the crowded mess that you call your own celebration, or are you so brainwashed by your media masters that you don't feel they have a right to what you claim is everyone's right to celebrate their spiritual, religious and cultural beliefs. My guess is that you'd probably raise holy hell if Muslims dared to put their display next to yours.

How typically Christian of you to ignore your history of religious violence because it conveniently interferes with your need to hate. How many Muslims did you kill in your Crusades? How many Jews did you kill in your need to forcefully spread your Christian faith to those who already had a religion but unfortunately it wasn't the one you practiced? How many of your white, Christian killers have you pretended didn't exist because it interfered with your twisted biblical bigotry? How many Timothy McVeighs are hiding in your closets just waiting to bomb another Federal Building to kill more innocent people for Jesus? How many Gays and Lesbians have you persecuted in your need to spread your sick version of Christian love and bigotry all across the globe?

Do you even care in your rampant bulldozing of other's beliefs that there are many Hindus, many Buddhists, many Pantheists, many Pagans, many others whose spiritual beliefs are just as valid as your own and worthy of the same respect you demand? How many of their holidays are you even aware exist? How many of you  are willing to allow them to put their displays next to yours during the month of December?

And finally, how many of you so-called tolerant asshats are willing to allow a large portion of the world to not believe in any deity? How many Atheist displays would you be willing to allow alongside your mangers and Jesus trees? How many Festivus poles do you think belong on the same public property your private religious symbols increasingly occupy now?

Until other religious and non-religious beliefs have equal status in public buildings, paid days off, and other religion-centric celebrations, you need to shut the fuck up about this stupid and non-existent war on Christmas. The only war is the war against ignorance and so far your side is heavily represented on the ignorance front so acting like victims who are in danger of losing something only makes you look even more like the hypocrites you truly are in the eyes of the world. But if History is any example, you'll just go on a killing spree in the hope of wiping out everyone who doesn't interpret a bunch of words in a book through your own hateful filters. That's just so fucking godlike, isn't it? Jesus would be so proud.

War On Xmas Veteran shirt
War On Xmas Veteran by godless_heathen
Shop for a tshirt on Zazzle


Sunday, November 22, 2009

On this moronic topic of hate

So Cafepress decided to take down the assassination gear after all. I suppose I should be happy they came to their senses but instead I'm left with this gnawing suspicion that they crunched numbers, talked to lawyers, measured the cost of indignation, were appalled (and not totally understanding) why they were singled out for shame on TV and Zazzle was not, and then went with the bottom line that favored them, which is the way they make all their decisions. It would fit their "profile" as they've refined it over the last year. It would solidify their standing as just another corporate crap shop that cares only about money. Yeah, thanks guys, but you already revealed who you are and doing the decent thing came too late. As they used to tell us slutty girls who actually enjoyed sex as much as the boys back then, you can't get your reputation back.

I really wish that they and others would have immediately recognized it as the hate-fueled crap it was and taken it down immediately, or at least been the leader and kept it down once they made the decision like Zazzle did. But that would imply a decency and intelligence they, and a lot of people do not possess. There's times when we seem to have become a nation of poorly educated morons goosestepping to either the almighty dollar or some barely disguised hate group.

I don't know at what point a human being can say I've had enough of this crap and I'm going to start fighting back, but that pretty much sums up where I'm at right now. I've always tried to have a live and let live approach to life. But damn it, when crazyass hating jerks who use the Bible or whatever book they choose to wave in my face to justify hate, then I'm done letting live.

I'm not a violent person and I will never, unlike these hate groups, advocate violence, but I do have ways to make my voice heard. I use my art, my words, my helping others to fight back. Those are more effective and lasting ways to effect change. If you kill someone or piss them off then you haven't really done something that will create positive change. All you've done is create more enemies, more hate, more victims.

Yesterday two of those pure little Mormon converters made the mistake of knocking on my door. All I could see were representatives of a church who used money and power to deny citizens of another state the right to marry. I still remember when African-Americans were not allowed to hold positions of power in that church. And now I see that same bigotry directed toward gays and lesbians. How dare they come to my door and push that crap on me? How would they like it if I went to their doors and lectured them on Atheism?

I sent them on their way without too much verbal damage because it's not their fault they're ignorant of what their church really is, but with enough warning that coming back would not be a pleasant experience for them. It did leave me feeling as if religion is its own worst enemy,  that politicized churches have created more Atheists than believers in the last few years.

Maybe there's a downward spiral they've sucked themselves into that has to happen, and right now the pool is just starting to whirl. Maybe some day history will look back on this time the same way they looked back on the fall of the Roman Empire, the end of Hitler, the disgrace of Nazism and Facism, the cruelty of tyrannical dictators.They will be able to point to certain people who were the propagandists who stirred up the ignorant with hatred and created enemies/scapegoats for these uneducated and mostly stupid rabble to rail against. There is no easier person to control than one who hates. They are truly the tool of any master who feeds them hateful crap.

This may seem like the most idealist nonsense you've ever read but I really do believe love and tolerance can defeat all that. As I said, you can control a hater with no problem, but a person who loves is fairly hard to turn into a missile of evil. Love is a power that only works for good and immediately recognizes when not good is threatening them.

I'm not talking about the kind of love that happens in relationships. That's a whole different kind of love, a sort of willful blindness that only hurts those who choose badly. I'm talking about the kind of love that most religions conveniently forgot were the basis of those precious books they're so fond of waving around. Maybe if people were required to actually read their bibles, their religous books, and not go on just the word of some unholy intermediary with an agenda to push, we might create that better world that religion promises so deceptively to its followers.

But in the meantime, it's up to us as individuals, as artists, as human beings to take over the message of hate and replace it with love. It's up to us to take the negative crap and replace it with positive goals. It's up to us to stand up to the haters, to call them on their hate and make as much noise over love as they do over hate. It's up to us to realize we do have the power to fight back against mean, against cruel, against hateful, against bigoted and intolerant.

We all have the means inside our hearts and it's time to start digging or the haters will win.

Hate is an STD bag
Hate is an STD by orsobear
Make a custom bags at zazzle

Peace Love Tolerance shirt
Peace Love Tolerance by orsobear
t-shirts made by


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cafepress Approves Assassination Gear

For those of you who have been following the not so thinly veiled threat from Religious Reichists to hide behind the bible while advocating Obama's assassination, please be informed that Cafepress has reversed its decision to not carry these products. Today they informed the writer of this diary on the Daily Kos that they will continue to carry merchandise advocating the assassination of President Obama.

There is only one sane response to their putting short term profits over long term decency and that is to quit supporting them. Do not buy their products. Many of us who have sold our designs through them have moved most of our businesses to their competitors such as Zazzle, Printfection, Skreened and many others due to the shabby way they treat their designers. These are not nice people and this latest move proves it. And it shows a profound ignorance and lack of caring that there are options out there for people who shop from ethical merchants. If you happen upon their site and see a design you like, be aware it will most likely be available at one of the three links listed above as many of us have moved our designs there. You have a choice these days on where to spend your money for the same products.

Many people have contacted the FBI, Secret Service, and the ISP's hosting the assassination sites. Others have contacted companies who have shops on Cafepress and asked them to reconsider offering their merchandise for sale there when there are more ethical options. And others have vowed to boycott Cafepress and anyone who does business with them.

However you choose to respond to this atrocity is up to you, but keep in mind a very simple truth: if throughout history people had the courage to speak up and say this is wrong and we won't support it, how many bad things would have not happened that did? Advocating the assassination of a President is not acceptable, no matter how much money can be made from it. In the end, it will cost them more than they gained and that will be the fair response.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Let's Kill The President For Jesus

People ask me all the time what made me decide to become an Atheist and more and more lately I point to stories like this that call for the assassination of Obama, as proof of what religion does to the human brain. It is hatred and bigotry shrouded in biblical language. It is the new face of the Republican party, encouraged and abetted by their unholy mouthpieces on hate radio and propaganda disguised as news. It is what happens when you suspend rational thought and let those with an agenda based on murder, intolerance, hatred, and bigotry take over your brain. And it points out the sheer hypocrisy of those who fear putting the 9/11 terrorists on trial in the US will expose the American people to danger because what these tools of the right wing extremists demonstrate, it's people like them who are the true terrorists. Without the easily manipulated, hateful, and completely stupid rabble, no dictator, no terrorist regime ever has a chance of getting their agenda off the ground. It takes teabaggers, birthers, evangelical crazies, and fundamentalist whackos to get that done for them. Congratulations, Republicans. You've officially become the new face of terrorism.

One People shirt
One People by orsobear
Store For Atheists The Godless Heathen


Sunday, October 25, 2009

No, I will NOT tone down my Atheism

 You can always tell who the rational people are; they're the ones politely and silently letting others froth at the mouth over whose imaginary friend reigns supreme. They're quietly fuming and shaking their tolerant little heads as the frothers gear up for their annual whine fest over the stupidly  perceived War On Christmas. This whine fest is not rooted in anything real or reasonable, but because not every television channel is wall to wall Christian crap, and not every mall is playing Christmas music in July, and there are still a whole lot of people in the world who believe something different, or (gasp!) don't believe anything at all. And they won't stop whining until they take over the minds, bodies, schools, media, and countries of those who dare to think for themselves.

Check out how the early warm-up for the holiday whinefest begins in some parts of the country:

"Church leaders deem Good News for Modern Man, the Evidence Bible, the New International Version Bible, the Green Bible and the Message Bible, as well as at least seven other versions of the Bible as "Satan's Bibles," according to the website. Attendees will also set fire to "Satan's popular books" such as the work of "heretics" including the Pope, Mother Teresa, Billy Graham and Rick Warren."  read more

It's because of them that I refuse to be polite anymore. I'm not ashamed of my Atheism and therefore I refuse to keep silent about it. I will also actively continue to point out the dangers of uni-beliefs and the demand of religious cultists to follow their absurd ideology as the expense of our civil liberties.

I will continue to speak out against Religious Extremism because it tramples on the equal rights of others. If marriage was truly something that took place only in a church, then I'd say fine, work it out among your members. But we all know that marriage becomes legal when you sign that piece of government paper and hand over your check. At that point all marriages become civil unions. By denying one group rights afforded to another, the government discriminates against its own citizens.  And by allowing churches to enforce their specific religoius views on others, it promotes discrimination against its own citizens.

Churches are the primary funders against same-sex marriage. read more 

I will continue to speak out against the violent warmakers hiding behind religion. I've been an active, non-violent Pacifist since the first time I took to the streets in my teens to protest against the Vietnam war. I have studied war as one studies the opposition and what I have found over the years are the bloody hands of churches either funding or manipulating warmaking.

"Many wars that are not religious wars often still include elements of religion, such as priests blessing battleships. Differences in religion can further inflame a war being fought for other reasons. Historically, temples have been destroyed to weaken the morale of the opponent, even when the war itself is not being waged over religious ideals." read more 
 I am proud of my Atheism. It is proof that I can reason, that I can think independently and that my mind is not owned by anyone except myself. And I will adamantly defend my right to not believe as strongly as others defend their right to believe. If we truly are no different, then why should one of us be shamed into silence? Is it because we are afraid there's not enough of us? If so, then more thought should be given into exactly what FREETHINKER really means because I don't need anyone else to reinforce what I think if it truly comes from me. Atheism is not a belief system, it is not a church, it is not a cult. You can't refuse to believe in something that does not exist. Therefore, it is not that I don't believe in your god. It's that I see nothing there to either believe in or against. 

However, I make the distinction between belief and religion. Religions are cults as they meet all the definitions associated with cults. There's a list of things you must believe or suffer in some way for not believing. There is social and eternal damnation for stepping outside the belief structure. And there is an isolation from forced belief with nothing to challenge or vary that belief that turns religious cults into dangerous entities that threaten not only their own members, but anyone who dares to challenge their authority.

"Parents' involvement in cults can literally destroy a family. Individuals in cults do things willingly under the influence of mind control which they previously may have detested, for the sake of the group's "higher purposes." Reports of members of diverse cults committing illegal and reprehensible activities are widespread. Child abuse in cults is common, and children are often cults' most devastating casualties." read more 

If we learned anything from 9/11 it's that religious extremism is a very bad thing. And yet we failed to notice that we live among religious extremists. We neglected to admit this to ourselves, to educate others about their presence, and to go after our own Christian Talibanists the way we go after anyone who even looks like an Arab. After all, it was a white, racist, Christian extremist who parked a fertilizer truck bomb and blew up the  Alfred P. Murrah Building

"FACTNet has a duty to educate on the dangers of cults in general, mind control and religious fundamentalism wherever there is potential for harm. History has repeatedly and conclusively proven that nowhere is there greater potential for harm then when destructive cultic behavior and religious fundamentalism become part of government behavior. The information and links below are not intended to single out any particular government or political party, but are provided so you may formulate your own opinions about the real and potential dangers being discussed." read more 

It is for these reasons and more that I will continue to be very vocal, very annoying, and continue to turn out designs that promote Science and rational thought.

 But as much as I feel I have the right to think freely and according to my own set of ethics and education, I will not succumb to the error most religious loonies resort to--the loss of my sense of humor. Yes, I will continue to make designs that mock religious crazies, that educate others to the fact that Atheists are not evil satanists, and that can find humor in just about anything. I will not become dour and I will have enjoy life at the expense of silly beliefs. But I will continue to fight against the ones who threaten others because they believe differently. Those I do not find funny at all.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

To a remarkable woman

A couple times a week I receive emails about a blog entry or two. But a couple years or so ago I received an email from a woman who was just diagnosed with breast cancer. She didn't know me and I didn't know her.

I still don't know why she selected me to write to. I'm not exactly approachable. I am a very private person in real life and I protect that privacy very carefully. Most of the people I know don't even know I have a blog and if they do it doesn't interest them enough to read it, therefore I feel safe using a neutral version of my name and writing whatever I want. There's a strange sort of anonymity in being out front with yourself. My words rarely make people want to bond with me other than on an intellectual level.

But in real life things are different. I am not my words. I am a fairly ordinary person who lives quietly and simply. I don't have a whole lot of friends because I don't have the kind of social skills that allow me to blatantly lie and pretend I'm someone I'm not to people who don't really care about me as a person anyway. I also have an innate sense that allows me to detect scammers, insincere people, and the terminally stupid. I don't even try with them. I just disappear from their lives and ignore them when they try to enter mine. It's no great loss on either side.

Nothing went off when I read her email except that I was moved by her situation and felt compelled to reply. There was a raw honesty to it that I appreciated, especially in a world where little white lies take the place of honest interaction. Of course, my first question was why me? Didn't she have friends or family?

Her response disturbed me until I did some research and discovered that it was fairly common for those facing death to isolate themselves from their loved ones. She was in the process of doing this but she didn't want to die alone and without, as she said, being heard about things she couldn't explain to others. She knew that no matter how hard she fought, her days were numbered and she wanted to clear some things up in herself before she died. She liked what I wrote and felt I wasn't subject to other people's opinions, that I didn't allow others to beat me down into a version of me that was socially acceptable to them. I liked that she saw all this and didn't run away or exclude me or banish me or trash me as a result, so I agreed to be her pen pal. I realized I needed her too.

This is some of what I learned from her in the time we communicated. Like me, she grew up poor. And like me this poverty was the result of circumstances inflicted on the family by one or both parents. Her mother drank and when she was drunk she would lose whatever job she had or she would drink her paycheck. My father gambled everything away the moment he got it. It was an illness with him, and when you combined it with an intense hatred of women, well..let's just say we had a lot of similar childhood traumas.

We wrote a lot to each other about the hurts we suffered growing up. I was fortunate to have good teeth most of my life but she wasn't. I remember an heartbreaking email she wrote me about the chemo destroying her teeth and how she couldn't afford to go to a dentist so she never went out anymore except to the doctor. This was on top of memories where she was teased in school because her teeth were crooked. All her friends, as did mine, wore braces as teens. They were out of reach for us financially as were new clothes, the latest fashion trend, even a pair of shoes that didn't draw smirks and taunts from our classmates.

I thought I didn't suffer over it as she did but I learned a lot about how things like being teased for crooked teeth shape your concept of self. I learned that maybe I did suffer because I wasn't pretty enough, that some didn't accept me because I didn't look like them, or made fun of me behind my back because my family spoke with accents, or we were homeless some of the time. You really don't get over that stuff easily. I was just never able to admit it to anyone but her.

We both shared a passion for peace, often to the point where we alienated those who were wrapped up in some sorry excuse for patriotism, or they simply got tired of our one note song. It didn't matter to us any more than it mattered when others excluded us from their cliques because we weren't like them. Peace was something worth fighting for, writing about, preaching about. If not us, then who? We knew silence on issues like unjust wars just created an environment that allowed unjust wars to continue. We could not remain silent and yes, we suffered over this, but some pain is worth feeling. Both of us could not have lived with ourselves if we ignored our own voices.

But we knew there were selfish people in the world, the spoiled and pampered pooches who exaggerated their own minor sufferings just to get some attention. We knew that issues such as peace and equality and trying to make a better world were threats against their own needs for attention. We exchanged stories about the most outlandishly selfish people we knew.

I shared with her the time a few years ago when Jeff was diagnosed with a brain tumor and one of our neighbors who let her livestock run around unattended and disturb the peace of everyone around her as she played hippie farmer, ignored his need for the sleep, peace and quiet he needed to heal. We begged her to do something to take care of the problem but her response was that it didn't bother her so she didn't feel any need to do anything, and then a few days later when Jeff was facing a second surgery, she went whining at the top of her lungs to her neighbor across the street about her friend having brain cancer. It was one of those WTF moments I never understood, even years later until my pen pal explained it to me. "She has an awesome need for attention, it sounds like and she'll get it wherever she can. It's why I isolated myself. People love to flock around the dying so they can get sympathy for themselves."

Of course she was right. I saw it then as I saw a lot of what she pointed out to me. She helped me through the pruning of people like that from my life. "They just drain you, Kate, with their need for attention. Dump them before they eat you alive because they don't care about you at all." She told me this was the wisdom of the dying, to see the excess and reduce life down to what is essential for day to day survival.

I owe her for this. I will always owe her for this as I am much happier with the friends I kept. I don't feel as beat up or used anymore. She gave me that wholeness and it has helped me heal a lot of crap in my life.

She also helped me become less of a victim to others, because as she pointed out, those of us who are excluded and ridiculed in school, in the workplace, on mailing lists, on social networks, soon develop a victim complex. "Once you give in to this, then it's like sharks smelling blood in the water," she wrote. "They'll use you to pay back anyone who ever did anything to them. They got left out of a clique in high school, they'll make sure they exclude you from their clique in adulthood."

Yes, that happened to me I admitted, reluctantly because I felt a sense of shame over not being liked, as if it was my fault somehow. She taught me it was not my fault, that it was something defective in others when they felt a need to judge, to exclude, to treat others as personal doormats for things done to them by others. "One person is as good as another to them. Get out of their way and let them move on to someone else. We're all interchangeable to people like that."

We wrote a lot about love, about what it means to accept someone flaws and all. We agreed there are no perfect people, but that doesn't mean we had to let ourselves be abused by those who were both imperfect and mean.

About six months after we had been writing to each other she got involved in an abusive relationship. It went bad after a month and it left her terrified and drained. She asked me for help. We lived too far away from each other for me to gather up some big old dudes and go pay her boyfriend a vist, so I got some virtual help. At the time I was on a discussion list and I asked the women on there for donations to help her get out of the abusive situation she was in. They came through as only women can and the money they donated helped her get away and spend her final days without worrying about being beat up for crying.

I remember the day she emailed me from her one room studio apartment that let her feel safe for the first time in many years. I cried and cried for her that day, for all women who find the courage and the means to leave. My mother never did and we all suffered for it. My pen pal became a symbol of hope for all women the day she walked out that door. I wanted so much to hug her but had to satisfy myself with sending her a bouquet of flowers I couldn't really afford but needed to send anyway.

In the last month she wrote less and I could tell she was having a difficult time. Social services provided a caretaker for her so she wouldn't die alone on the floor trying to reach the phone, which was her greatest fear. "I want to be alone but I don't want to die alone and helpless," she wrote me in one of her final emails.

I didn't hear from her all last week and I knew then she was gone. This morning there was a bulk email from one of her relatives who didn't identify his relationship to her. It said simply that she died yesterday and her mail account would be closed in a few days. There would be no services.

And with that, it was over. I knew she had suffered a lot in the last couple months, that even the pain medicine didn't help. I knew she was ready for it to be over and in my heart I have to find a way to let her go peacefully. But today I miss her. Today I have all kinds of unfinished words to say to her, but I will leave it at two: thank you.


Friday, October 09, 2009

Crazy Old Lady Of Peace: Tattered Peace Flag: Store

Tattered Peace Flag shirt
Tattered Peace Flag by orsobear
Buy a t-shirt online from Zazzle


Obama and the Peace prize

True to their reputation as moronic and poorly educated juveniles, the GOP and their goose-stepping mouthpieces are attacking Obama's winning the Peace prize. They truly don't understand how they are the tools of the weapon manufacturers and corporate warmongering Fascism admirers.

I shouldn't be surprised considering their behavior over the last few months-- things like the Teabaggers fighting for the right of insurance companies to screw them out of affordable health care, the spewing of hateful racist rhetoric that belongs under a KKK hooded sheet, the blatant sexism that attacks Speaker Pelosi with 1950's era little woman terminology, and the outright advocacy of violence against anyone who disagrees with them.

These are the actions of petty tyrants and their easily manipulated minions. It is why Obama was awarded the Peace prize. The Nobel committee understood the biggest fight Obama faces is not the Taliban, not terrorism, not two wars dumped on him by the perpetual failures of George Bush, but from the violence-fueled ignorance within his own country.

It is time to call these attacks what they are: treason. They are advocating the violent overthrow of a sitting President. There are people currently serving jail and prison terms for daring to make anti-Bush comments during his administration. Those dark age inspired eight years of Goposaur rule consisted of rhetoric associating anyone who disagreed with Bush, with the war, with corporate greed with terrorism.

And it is time to call these attacks on President Obama what they truly are: racism in all its ugliness. If the Birthers are so sure their obsession with Obama's birth certificate has any validity, then let them demand with equal fervor that of John McCain, or for that matter, produce their own.

Let the talking heads who spew their hatred back up their claims that Obama is a Socialist-Communist-Nazi by actually reading History and discovering what those words really mean and the number of people who died under those regimes.

Let the paid shills on the news prove they are not getting money from corporate funds to shove lies down the American people's throats.

And let the media prove they are not bedded down with the worst tyrants, the most ignorant and hateful band of thugs to ever try and usurp the will of the people.

Until then they should shut the fuck up and understand that those of us who voted for Obama voted against them and their hateful propaganda.

Sane people want peace and those who attack Obama for trying to bring the world together just reveal the sickness deep in their own souls.

They also need to accept that Obama was awarded the Peace prize because of them and if they want to whine about it, then maybe they should take a good look at themselves and see how they were responsible for him winning it.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

The craziness of life

To those seeking the meaning of life: I'm more convinced than ever that people make it up as they go along.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

With a lot of help from my friends...

This has been an interesting month, if one considers "interesting" to be a sort of catch-all understatement describing a sudden upheaval and reorganization of everything mundane and routine about life. It has also been a month of learning and re-learning to let go of cherished and often useful handicaps that belong to the past.

Part of letting go was learning to believe it was possible for me to actualize desires and see dreams as possibilities instead of wistful fantasies, and being reminded that part of achieving dreams, a big part of it, was the support and love of my friends. I'd still be dreaming instead of getting ready to move into the first phase of a multi-part dream that begins with me leaving Bellingham at last, if it wasn't for the cherished handful of true friends I've managed to gather together.

They remind me all this began when I became disillusioned with the larger community of people I'd known and lived with for many years. I grew up in tourist towns--Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Palm Springs--places that were regularily cleansed of stagnation and festering wounds by the influx of new blood and ideas. While it's true many of those agents of change were not residents and were only there for a day, a week, maybe a few weeks a year, when you multiplied them by the thousands, you had a constant infusion of novelty, of creative and entertaining amusement.

Life in a small town like Bellingham and within an even smaller community inside it was a cultural shock for me. Although I previously lived inside a smaller community in the ultimate tourist town--Las Vegas, there was always an infusion of new energy, new immigrants, new people to integrate into our already existing community. Any gathering was certain to include people of color and different cultures, many who worked in various parts of the tourist industry. Musicians were all different from each other. Chefs in the strip hotels came from all over the world. The levels of education varied and we were as likely to dine with PhD's as we were with high school drop-outs. Everyone had their story and it was our entertainment, education, and delight to hear them all.

Of course, gossip was part of it. We all talked about the new people in the community, who they were, what they did, where they came from, who helped them immigrate, what brought them to America and especially to Las Vegas. We learned about the world and each other and it kept us from becoming too isolated, too insulated, too inbred to consider any reality but our own. We knew too many realities to obsess on just one or two.

That is why it was such a cultural shock to move to Bellingham. I was used to everything being open 24 hours instead of closing up and shutting down by 10pm. I was used to going out for dinner, a show, a drink or a hike. No one in Bellingham ever seemed to leave their homes. It was as if they were afraid to venture beyond the safety of their isolated little domains. The idea of going out for a beer or a play was so foreign to most of them I might as well have suggested a drunken brawl at the local pool hall.

And they were all so white. I have never in my life seen such a collection of white people with so little to balance out their whiteness.  Once a year at their homage to diversity they turn out in pale hordes with a couple black folks, the same black folks every year now, that help them prove how diverse they are. Or they'll talk about their college student trips to central and south America and show off a native they brought back as some sort of demented souvenir.

It was worse in the smaller community that became my cultural prison for the last couple decades. Not only was everyone white, but they were white and upper middle class with trust funds and the idea of work as something that was either good work or bad work, depending on whether you worked at a place like Squall-Mart (BAD!) or as an underpaid intern at an environmentally hip store or business (GOOD!)  I learned that those who judged you the most for your choice of employment had a steady stream of dead and dying relatives who insured they'd never ever have to work to merely survive. It's no wonder many of them were god-awful bags of meat who leeched off of and used everyone they could to avoid actually working for a living. They're the kind of people who took off to some peasant village with Grandpa's money and stuck you with their share of the massive phone bill they ran up that forced you to live on beans for the next month. They loved to talk about the whole global village concept while they were oblivious that the working class among them were the ones stuck paying the rent on that village.

It took me a few years but I finally realized no matter how much they read or traveled, they were small selfish minds in a small selfish town. They never talked about anything but each other. And those conversations were a sight to behold. Like the old improv game of Telephone, each telling of the rumor or story became infused with personal biases, unresolved issues, mean-spirited nastiness, and by the time it was let loose as fact in a community of bored and useless people, it had so little resemblance to truth that it might as well have been the well-thumbed pages of a trashy tabloid. But they swallowed it all hungrily because there was nothing else to entertain them.

I tried to escape and bought a house out in the larger pool of the city and left the small pond dwellers to feed on each other and play who's the scapegoat this week. They were too dumb to see that once you start eating each other, there's nothing left but scraps to form the pathetic dream of community. I suspect they go hungry a lot. Their only hope is the new crop of students that come in every year and they use them up and then the cycle begins again. It's sad to watch from a distance and lethal to watch from within the pit of the communal trough.

I had some very deep wounds inflicted by people who didn't realize how much their idiot games hurt others, but the final cut for me was how they interfered in and destroyed the marriages of more than one friend. They never understood my disgust at them for interfering in other people's lives to satisfy their own boredom, or their hunger to create some terrible story out of nothing just because they had so little else to amuse them. They slept with each other with as much consciousness as a dog scratching its ass. There was no love, no desire, just a simple and superficial need to escape the tedium of their lives.

People who had no business in my friends's marriages made it their business by finding nasty things to say about mostly the men, the kinds of things people divorcing say about each other and no one who is adult enough to understand ever takes seriously. But they did. It was fodder for their own issues and they didn't care who it hurt or what it destroyed. It was selfish, mean and so totally predictable when you considered the mess of their own lives. Anything that happened was turned around until it was all about them, all about their own need for constant attention.

My friends became every man who hurt them just because they were men. And the women became victims whose strength was stripped so the community vultures could have them yet another opportunity to make it all about them and not the people actually divorcing each other. They cared nothing about the people involved other than as yet another way to make it all about them. Facts, as was usual with this group, were inconvenient messes to step gingerly around and forget as was anything that didn't fit their personal world view of things. They were oh so special and everyone else didn't matter except as a means to give them what they wanted, which always seemed like a bottomless pit others were expected to fill.

So I withdrew even more and healed and pruned my friendships down to a handful of people who grew up working for a living and whose relatives left them nothing but debts. I knew I could trust them not to stab me in the back because they were too busy earning a living to engage in such games. In spite of all my years trying to find an honest person who grew up in a privileged lifestyle, I've yet to find anyone but the children of the working class who truly understood friendship. Maybe it's because we grew up with so little that friendship came to mean everything to us. To the other kind of person it's just another commodity to use and abuse to get what they want. Money and things come first and for someone like me, that was just unacceptable and wrong. I'd have to cut out my heart to live that way.

After the divorce fiascos, I began to look for a way to cut all ties to the meanest of the mean. I was also tired of Bellingham, tired of all the white people, all the predictable battles between the two religious dogmatists in town: the fundie whackos and the politically correct. I was tired of hippies whose outfits to look appropriately counterculture cost more than my rent. I was tired of meth heads who circled my house every time I went to the store or on some other errand. I was tired of the same mean people on the street, shoving their way through the grocery stores, calling into the radio shows and writing the same letters to the editor over and over again. Bellingham became an old-fashioned vinyl record that was stuck in the same groove and couldn't get out.

I began to look for another tourist town and found Birch Bay. Yes, it's small and inbred. Yes, it probably thrives on gossip and their version of the telephone games. Yes, it's a lot of retired folk and people like me who earn most of our income from the internet and don't have to go to a job and so can live just about anywhere. But it has tourists and as my friend Sally says, that's like a great big flush that washes away the stagnant shit. Those tourists introduce novelty, a new energy, color and accents to what would otherwise be just another white person's gated and isolated compound. I wanted to live there the moment I smelled the saltwater.

But the month I chose to do this, August, was my leanest month as far as pay. It was the month where I was  genuninely poor and the recession didn't help matters any nor did Cafepress's mass screwing of its shopkeepers. It has always been  the month I had to stretch a little money to go an impossibly long way. People don't buy t-shirts in August unless they get them from a street vendor in the vacation spots they're camped out in for most of the month. People don't buy presents because there's no major holidays in August that require gifts.

But dreams don't come true at convenient times. I found the house I wanted three blocks from the beach in a residential area with big trees. I couldn't afford it. I couldn't afford the deposits, the money to transfer all the utilities, the place to live until the house I wanted became open on September first. So I asked for help from my friends, the ones I kept, the ones who knew what it was like to want and not be able to afford it without help. Yes, next month I could have moved easier and the month after that easily. But the house would have been gone, the dream would have been postponed, and I'd still be living in Bellingham wishing I lived somewhere else.

And I needed to prove something to myself, the oldest child who sucks at receiving but would give away everything she owned if someone really needed it: poor people are the biggest givers. We give the largest percentage of our incomes to charity. We give our pocket change to the homeless. We feed the hungry. Without us there'd be mostly people taking from each other to satisfy their myths of entitlement. I was not disappointed. My friends came through for me in ways that far too many of the privileged class would ever understand. It's their loss to not know this side of human beings. More people like this would make a much nicer and better world.

And now it's almost time to move in. I've been packed and ready for a month. I know I'll need my friends' help in moving because I have no way to do it without them. But they will help me again because they are my friends and I'd do the same for them. We know this about each other which is why I can ask them for help. They know and I know that I will spend the next year paying them back. It will be easy to do because I'll be living in a place where paying someone back is as simple as inviting them to dinner, as simple as taking them for a walk on the beach, as simple as taking them out for a drink, as simple as giving instead of taking,and as necessary as breathing because without that return, that reciprocity, the dreams and the friendships become meaningless. I've already had enough years of those kind of friends It's time to enjoy the real human beings in my life. We've earned each other.

Design available on button and other products at Crazy Old Lady Of Peace's Shop.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Creating Homeless in Bellingham, Washington

If you're a homeowner trying to rent out your home and have a property management company acting as your potential tenant screener, you need to read this--especially if your property is still sitting empty after several months. But first a little history based on my experience of living in this town for 30 years.

When I first moved here to attend Graduate school at Western Washington University, I found a place to rent with no problem. I handed them first month's rent, had the utilities changed over to my name, and we had a comfortable relationship of tenant/landlord for the next year. It was the way you rented a place to live. And I happened to hit town in a year where there were a lot of empty rentals and a bunch of anxious landlords.

Things started to change shortly after that. Bellingham is one of those boom and bust towns. If you read up on its history you will see that the speculators come in, buy up the cheap housing, sell it at a profit, leave and wait for the next bust cycle before rinsing and repeating. The ones who get screwed are the ones who bought on the way up and are left holding a drastically devalued property when the housing market starts to bottom out again. Or the ones who need a reasonably priced place to rent.

During the boom years housing is at a premium. Because most of the properties are owned by out of town speculators, or even in town speculators, the property management companies provide the services required to collect the rent, maintain the property, deal with repairs, etc. For this they tack on fees that are either picked up by the renter or the homeowner. Until recently this was a good arrangement as it allowed those who bought homes as an investment to go on with their lives and not have to deal with being a landlord. But this has all changed with the collapse of the housing market and real estate agents and brokers needing to make up lost income.

Enter the new and improved property management companies. They look just like the old ones but they are staffed with desperate real estate "professionals" who are grabbing every dime they can just to survive. In order to even look at a house you have to pay upfront fees that range from 50-75 dollars per couple just for the background check. Then there's the credit check, the processing fees, the application fees, the fees upon fees. By the time you write a check, you're over a hundred dollars and pushing two hundred dollars.

Now here's the fun part. You pay those fees and there's no guarantee you'll get the place. And on top of that, the fees are non-refundable if you're turned down. In an economy where the bankruptcy rate has increased 58 percent (read more), the odds of most people looking for a place getting turned down because of bad credit is nearly 100 percent. I'm not talking about criminals here. I'm talking about good, decent people with boring ordinary lives who have never been arrested for anything and until the last year, had perfect credit ratings. Many are downsizing and trying to start over but as they're learning, it won't happen in Whatcom county unless they want to live on the street.

Now let's look at it from the property management company's perspective. They can collect fees from 10, 15, 20 people before they find someone who fits all the criteria of no arrests and perfect credit. In a town like Bellingham, that can take a long time, months even. In the meantime, the homeowner is told it's the economy, no one is renting, maybe next month, we're only looking out for you, etc etc etc as they charge them huge advertising costs for posting free ads on Craig's List and keep pocketing those big application fees.

So the houses eventually go into foreclosure because the owners can't find a renter to help with the mortgage payments. When I was looking I talked to a woman who was trying to rent her very nice place. It was beyond my price range but not at all unreasonable for how nice her house was. She was there changing the curtains in the window because the property management company told her the reason her house wasn't renting was because the curtains made it look cheap. Seriously. That's what they told her. She's been trying to rent it for over six months. She pays the property company every month. They collect fees from dozens of applicants. You do the math.

Then there's the growing problem that results from this kind of desperate greed. In the last few months since the economy really started to tank in Bellingham, there's more property companies in charge of renting out what used to be the lower cost housing, the cheap apartments in bad neighborhoods. Face it guys, no one who moves to one of these places has the kind of credit record demanded of them. They barely have the ink dry on their release from their latest arrest. And yet, even decent people who have had a run of bad luck can't qualify for these dumps! But the property management companies still collect fees from them, and then tell them no.

Check out the parking lots of places like K-mart, Wal-mart, the abandoned big box store parking lots that went broke. Mixed in with the alcholics and drug addicts in their beater cars and campers, you'll see a new breed of "tenant," older senior citizens who lost everything, middle-class working people who are forced to live in their cars, young people who haven't established enough credit to qualify for housing on their own.

Yes, both landlords and property management companies can cite numerous examples of being ripped off by bad tenants, but many decent people can also cite numerous examples of being ripped off by these property management companies. People who work hard, deserve more than being treated like the scum of the earth just because they had to declare bankruptcy or were late on their bills or don't make enough to pass the required "rent can't be more than 40 percent of your income" rule the companies demand. How many of you reading this can pass that one, no matter what your credit is? How many of you reading this can qualify to rent a place to live in Whatcom County? Probably very few of you and of those, you can bet the companies will collect on a whole lot of people before they say yes to you.

In the meantime, homeowners who have had their houses on the rental market now need to sit down and have a serious talk with their property management companies. Make them give you the applications of everyone who applied. Send friends in to apply so you know they are being honest with you. One of my friends who spent  8 months trying to find a tenant finally fired the property management company and put a for rent sign on her lawn. She got swarms of people trying to rent her place and settled on a grateful young family who have faithfully paid the rent on time for the last five months and keep her house immaculate. She's delighted with them and they with her. And they were turned down by every property management company in town because their business went bankrupt and so they were considered not worthy of a home.

And another note for those trying to rent their home or apartment. Check out the ads on Craig's List. When you see your home listed there, keep in mind that it's free to list it. If you're being charged advertising costs, there's a good chance the places it's being advertised don't cost the company anything. But I'll bet you're paying a premium for the listing.

For those of you who have been jacked around by these companies, it's time to sit down, write your story and send it off to your congressional rep and ask them to support legislation that would create some rules to prevent these property management companies from their money grabs. Yes, the real estate market is down for everyone guys, but when you see a property management company pop up overnight that is made up of nothing but unemployed and desperate real estate agents, the odds of finding a place to live go way down while their collection of money for nothing goes way up.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Unbearable Existence of Optimism

I woke up this year with the overwhelming urge to do something different with my life, to move forward from what had become a comfortable and secure rut. I didn't know what manifestation this desire would take, but my experience is that important changes happen without too much thinking because our brain is a brake on the kind of things we need to do but don't. So I haven't thought about the important things in my life too much. I've just done them and saved the nitpicking and endless analysis for the intellectual mindfucks of my existence.

But I've been noticing this leaves many of my friends feeling unsettled as if my foundation was holding up their houses. It never was; I'm just really good at letting people use some of the blocks until they can get by on their own. It's only natural they would assume, after a long period of time living on my blocks, that they were somehow THEIR blocks.

So it's understandable that they come over to my house and see boxes piled to the ceiling, but not that many boxes considering how much stuff we had and how much we gave way, recycled, donated. It's about half of what we least. Part of the change is getting rid of a whole lot of stuff. I was horrified to find we'd been hauling stuff around for twenty years that wasn't even ours. I shredded a whole folder of someone's term papers for a Psychology class. I don't remember them. I'm not even sure I knew them or how I came to have a box of their decades old discarded and forgotten crap.

But I digress over the horrors of packing and pruning. Back to my friends. The conversation goes this way: "Are you guys moving?"   Yes.  "Where?"  Don't know yet.

It disturbs them because neither of us seem overly concerned about this uncertainty. Of course we have days when we wonder what we're doing and yeah I feel stressed out and wanting a place to land, but it's more of method rather than reason. What others don't see is the process of dealing with yourself that goes on in both mine and Jeff's lives. We get comfortable too easily so we have to sneak up on ourselves and say boo! Time to do something different. How about moving?

So, we move. It's how we ended up in Bellingham. I wanted out of Las Vegas. I hate hot weather and I was living in a place where summer meant 115 degree days of lung-searing heat for the summer months. I wanted seaons. I wanted to not sneeze and miss Spring. I wanted wildflowers that didn't die within hours of birth from the arid and harsh environment. I wanted gentleness of wind and sky and the smell of saltwater.

The easiest way was to graduate from college, send out some apps to grad school and see who bit. I was okay with any bite and didn't care which one got dragged up on the shore and into my cookpot of change.

It turned out they all bit so I got a map and picked the one farthest away from Las Vegas. I'd fallen in love with the Pacific Northwest on a month-long camping trip to Canada and Jeff was born in Seattle. I remember him coming home from class and showing him the letter of acceptance and the teaching assistantship. It was a guaranteed job for a year and it was motivation enough to move. His response was he didn't have anything else going on in his life so sure, he'd go check out his birthplace for a while.

So we moved. And moved again. And then again. And then yet again. And finally again to the present. We never left town, but we did live in every part of it. Total immersion is the only way to truly know where and what you are sometimes.

One day we found ourselves owning a house together and the restlessness started to build. I'd spent a lifetime being anti-thing, anti-ownership, anti-materialism. I wanted simplicity in living and in those I lived with and around. I'm too complex to want that complexity all around me. I prefer to keep it chained for my own amusement.

So the restlessness won. We sold the house. We decided it was time to explore the outer environs of where we live. We're still trying to decide. We've looked at a lot of places. Some days we think we want saltwater. Other days we think we want to wake up smelling the trees. We will decide this week. We have to as we know how we are and how easy it is to become comfortable, so we set a deadline of August first as the day we'd be ready to hand over the house. If we didn't, we'd still be packing and trying to decide where to live. Dates are our cattle prods.

We will leave Bellingham the same way we arrived, on impulse but with just the barest amount of money to live on and a whole lot of hope that the universe will provide more. But since we're both the oldest child with several siblings from poor working class families,  we know nothing is given to us and so we're prepared to work as hard as we do now to help the universe in its providing. Sure, we fantasize about waking up one day and finding out we have some rich uncle who leaves us something instead of crazed relations who go out leaving us nothing but a pile of debts, but the reality is the only wealth we have is this never-ending source of optimism that life will turn out just fine, even if you have to struggle to get there. Struggling has never been a problem for us, but complacency has been a killer and now we recognize it when it tries to sneak up on us. This time we're going to be a step ahead of it.

Click on shirt to purchase of visit the Crazy Old Lady of Peace's shop.  for many other designs like this.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

My Name Is James Tillich

The world is overflowing with serious people. Most of them have reason to be serious. I even have occasional reason to be serious. But nothing singular should ever be selected as a lifestyle choice as there are options available for a reason. We were meant to take them, to use them, to make them a personal and wonderful manifestation of ourselves. We were meant to grab a moment of fun here and there to complete us as whole, functioning human beings. Without fun we are missing something vital to our being. It's like living without blood in your veins or reading only poetry that stops just before the last stanza.

Then there's the internet, this web of serious commentary mixed with blogs written by people's pets, the absurd mixed with the poignant, the propaganda dressed up as truth and raising hell at the virtual neighborhood bar every chance it gets. Never before has the potential for so much mixed with the reality that there's a whole lot of people in the world with too much time on their hands.

I'm not one of those with too much time. Most of the time I fall asleep exhausted  and even dream of sleeping. The older I get the more I need some kind of help to get me through the next phase of running my business and trying to survive in a severely depressed economy. I frequently have an overwhelming desire to just blow it all off and live like I did in my 20's--in the company of my best traveling buddy and a furry companion helping me search for the most beautiful piece of nature to pitch my tent.

But that's for next year. For right now I get by with a little help from fun. I realized a long time ago that one aspect of the internet was its potential for fun. It is, when you think about it in a particular way, the world's largest ant farm. It provides a venue for just about anything one wants to do or say. It is entertainment that you let in voluntarily, content you collect for its ability to make you feel something other than the tedium of the ordinary. It is a huge collection of amusement waiting to happen.

That is why when I first heard about James Tillich, I was immediately intrigued by his potential for fun. This is from his MySpace page:

"James Tillich was born in a college philosophy class in December of 2006. A student suggested the name "James Tillich" as an incorrect option on part of a hypothetical test question. Upon hearing the name "James Tillich" the instructor burst out laughing and said, "There never has been a James Tillich." He immediately went over to the computer and Googled an exact word search for "James Tillich". Both instructor and class were amazed when "No results found" popped up. Later that night one student searched both English and German databases. Results? Zip. Nada. Nechevo. Nothing. There was no trace of such a person ever having existed. The instructor decided, "Well if he never existed, then I'll create him." read more

This to me represents the true spirit of what is one internet running alongside another one. It is the web that is woven with laughter, with fun, with the sense of play that never goes away, no matter how old we get. In fact, it is this very sense of play, this ability to turn something as mundane in its functionality as the internet into your own personal ant farm, an ant farm where all the ants wear funny party hats and dance in conga lines to Jimmy Buffet as they drink margarita after margarita, that keep you alive in a form worth living.

And in that spirit of fun I invite you, your friends, your acquaintances, even people you really don't care much for, to come play with James Tillich. I have made him a blog. Do drop by and leave him a message, a note encouraging him in his non-existence, his splendid sense of nothingness he has perfected to a precise, invisible art. James Tillich's blog

Follow him on Twitter.   @jamestillich  

Start your own Tillich Blog. Visit his store

Buy a t-shirt:


But most of all, use him for fun. No one will ever know as he doesn't exist. So that gives you lots and lots of room to play.

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