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The Parable of the Roller Coaster

A couple weeks ago I went to Six Flags with a friend.  It was not a busy day.  Most of the lines were very short.  We literally walked right onto one ride, without having to wait at all.  The last ride we went on, we waited for roughly an hour.  While I was in line, I thought of something.  A parable.

Waiting for an hour is a sacrifice.  Most people view waiting as a negative thing--and I agree with that.  I don't like waiting.  The times I wait are when I am forced to (such as in a traffic jam) or when I know there will be something valuable that comes from the waiting (such as a roller coaster).  I made a sacrifice in order to obtain something I wanted--namely a fun time riding the coaster.

While I was waiting in line, I drew a parallel with religion.  Many religious people will teach that rewards in the next life are worth the sacrifices they require in this life.  That is, they are telling us that (religiously speaking) it is worth waiting in line for an hour in order to enjo…

Grief is good

It's ok to not be ok.  It's okay to be sad, upset, angry, depressed, and other emotions that are often considered negative.  It is not possible for us to be happy and smiling all the time.  That isn't how we are meant to be as biological beings.  Sad things happen to us.

A very sad thing happened to me a week ago.  A person that I loved passed away.  Death is not new to me.  I have lost many loved ones.  Three of my four grandparents have passed away, the first one when I was a young teenager.  It hurts.  It doesn't get easier and it's not necessarily supposed to.  We may develop more healthy coping mechanisms as we get older but that doesn't mean the pain isn't there.  It hurts.

Ed made me smile, and he's no longer here to do that.  We shared so many pleasant memories together and there won't be any more of those.  I'll have to make more memories with other people or relive the memories that I have from the time he and I spent together.

Some of…

Unreasonableness

To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.  -Thomas Paine So one thing that has really frustrated me about Trump supporters and about Trump himself is the level to which they are disconnected from reality.  I mean at first I was actually surprised--stunned--that so many people could believe something so different from what is actually the case.  But as time has gone on and I've thought about it more, I should actually be surprised if they were grounded in reality.  And this is because their most fundamental beliefs are not grounded in reality at all.

Consider the statistics on how religious people voted.  A majority of Christians voted for Trump.  An overwhelming majority of Mormons did.  Clinton did get a majority of Jews and other religious people.  I believe the best explanation for this is tho…

Revenge of the jock

Attending a math conference, surrounded by thousands of mathematicians, during last week has brought this to the forefront of my mind. Surprisingly, a large number of mathematicians are slender or fit. Surely many of them exercise regularly. Perhaps some have a high metabolism despite being elderly. And I assume many of them are just very health-conscious in their dietary habits. At any rate, there are very few I have seen at this conference who appear to be athletic. Most are either skinny or fat. There are only a few who have obviously defined, noticeable muscles.

Whatever the reason for this phenomenon, I wish to give my own personal perspective on the matter. I grew up believing that “jock” and “nerd” were anti-types. That someone could be one or the other but not both. Society teaches this in many ways. There are countless depictions in our media (movies, tv shows, etc) of nerds being skinny, having glasses, and not having time for physical activity (or possibly that…

Gymtimidation

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Like many of my posts, this one has been floating around in my mind for a couple months.  I know many people avoid the gym because it is intimidating, so I'd like to share my thoughts about this phenomenon.  First of all, obviously going to the gym isn't the only intimidating thing in life, and many of these thoughts are things that easily translate to any other of these intimidating things.

So I'd like to share some of my personal experiences with gyms.  The first time I recall ever going into a weight room to use it was my first year of college.  I had PE classes all through K-12, but I don't remember ever using the weight room--just group sports, etc.  I recall being intimidated by all the machines.  Some of them I could figure out on my own, but many of them I just stared at and couldn't possibly conceive how it was meant to be used.  Fortunately, I occasionally went with friends and one friend was very familiar with all the equipment so he could help.  So, kn…

The Divided States of America

I didn't get much sleep last night.  I woke with a knot in my stomach.  I am still in shock.  Disbelief.  I don't understand how this happened.

To me, this race wasn't about Trump vs Hillary.  It was about basic human decency vs saying whatever you want to say.  So many of my friends said "both candidates are bad" or some similar phrase.  No.  Emphatically no.  That is not true.  One candidate literally said on live television "You can tell them to go fuck themselves" and was applauded for it.  The other candidate said "When they go low, we go high.  We're stronger together." and she was almost elected, but not quite.

Hillary got about 200,000 more votes than Donald did, which I take as a small consolation prize.  But each candidate got just over 59 million votes.  That means there are 59 million people in this country who believe that Trump was the best person for the job.  Those 59 million people either intentionally or implicitly appr…

Cancel the gym

After I went to the gym this morning, I pulled in to the McDonald's drive through.  While waiting for my food, I played out in my mind a possible conversation I might have with someone concerning just this.  In fact, I have had many real conversations of similar nature.
"How was your morning?"
"It was good.  I went to the gym.  Then I grabbed a late breakfast at McDonald's on my way to work."
"Won't that cancel out?"
"Cancel what?"
"Going to McDonald's after the gym.  Won't that undo all the work you just did?"

I understand the humor.  I laugh about it.  It's funny.  And I think humor is an important thing, and that we should all laugh a little bit more and be offended a little bit less.  And so I write this not up-in-arms, but in the attempts of perhaps reaching some of those who literally believe this line of reasoning.

To the person who asserts that eating "cancels out" going to the gym, I ask just this…