Friday, March 2, 2012

Cosmetic Procedure

I had Zeltiq Coolsculpting a week ago in the attempt to flatten my tummy a bit in time for the summer, it was my first time having a cosmetic procedure done and I am a bit chagrinned at admitting this, but what good are blogs for if not to provide a forum in which to publicly humiliate yourself?  (and a little bit of self-deprecating humor never hurt anyone!)  Anyway, I’ve wanted to give Zeltiq a try for quite a while now.  I was initially interested by reading some “How to Make Yourself Skinnier by Doing Nothing!” article in one of those magazines that make their money by brainwashing women into thinking they are chronically too fat/ugly/old to be seen in public.  After reading it I thought, “Finally, I have found a quick route to get that stamp of approval from the magazine Gods – a flat tummy!”  This technique obviously appealed to the efficiently-lazy part of my personality so when I found a 56% discount coupon for it on Groupon I jumped on the deal, and by ‘jump’ I mean I clicked a button on my laptop while sitting on my living room sofa (someone really needs to create an app that blocks people from buying things on Groupon past midnight). 

When the appointment time came I traveled to the Upper East Side and entered an office equipped with all the kinds of pamphlets that would encourage a person to get a cosmetic procedure done, the regular pamphlets with headlines like “Have you noticed more wrinkles in the mirror lately?” and “With just 8 treatments of XYZ product, you can stay young forever” and big shiny photos of perfect appearing people smiling as though they lead the kind of lives you wish you had, instead of being the struggling actors they actually are.  On the up side, there was almost no wait time, on the down side there was not much of a consultation either… as in there was no consultation.  It was apparent that their office had spent some time perfecting how to create that “get ‘em in and get ‘em out” allure.  I was efficiently dumped onto a hospital type-ish chair, brusquely instructed to remove my pants, pull up my shirt, lathered in jelly and stuck with a constantly-whining pale sucking device that left huge red welts on my body and then was left alone in a stale room shuddering with alternating pangs of regret and self-pity. This procedure felt eerily familiar to me for some reason. 

When the nurse initially placed the smaller suction cup on to my lower-ab area, it felt like my entire mid-section was being dipped in liquid nitrogen.  Surprisingly, my autonomic nervous system went into shock.  I broke out in a cold sweat, became nauseated, and had to recline in the chair while taking deep yogi breaths to avoid passing out.  My best guess for this reaction is that human bodies just aren't very happy with being cryogenically frozen.  For the first 10 minutes, I was in tremendous pain.  For point of reference, I've had my nose, ankle and foot broken (three completely separate and completely idiotic occasions) and lived through the surgical removal of four impacted wisdom teeth (while I was awake {I can't tolerate full anesthesia}) but I have never experienced such devastatingly odd pain as this.  The pain did not completely dissipate after the first ten minutes, when the area went numb, like the assistant had promised me it would.  It continued to be rather uncomfortable as the edges of my skin around the freezing apparatus never froze completely so were stuck in a kind of purgatory of pain (If only Zeltiq had been around during the Spanish Inquisition, how the priests would have relished in it's torturous power). However, I was able to read some and whimper to my boyfriend a little on the phone to distract myself from the agony for the rest of the hour.

The end of the procedure involved the abrupt removal of the suction device, and the shocking exposure to my frozen margarita skin of room temperature air may have been the worst part.  It was at this point that the nurse’s nurturing nature really shone through.  While I curled into a little trembling, fetal ball she questioned my ability to ‘deal with the pain’ as though dealing with pain were a class everyone had taken in under-grad but one that I had obviously failed.  Quite oppositely, I thought my lack of sobbing hysterically and cursing at the top of my voice showed that I was coping quite well with the pain.  As soon as the nurse wiped my tummy of frozen goop, I took off to the restroom as my abdomen unclenched itself and I experienced a case of acute diarrhea (sorry to be so graphic here, but I want to share the experience as accurately as possible, and misery loves company).  It has been 4 days and I am still experiencing numbness, itchiness, cramps and some shooting pains.  I've checked out some forum posts and apparently this shooting nerve pain is normal for the first couple of weeks.  I am not letting my hypochrondria get the best of me, so with every painful jolt, I whisper a small "No Pain, No Gain" and keep moving.  Although, moving may not be the right word, it is more like a hunched over hobbling, but you get the picture.  Unfortunately, my one place of solice, Sleep, has become a long forgotton oasis from pain.  I finally broke down and called the office.  The nerve blocker I would need to block the pain, Neurontin, is something the dermatologist apparently does not feel comfortable prescribing to someone she sold a Groupon to.  Fantastic.  But there is an upside to this, as the bf pointed out last night, it is a great way to prep for labor pains (not that I'll be experiencing those any time soon) woman on the realself forum even compared the pain to her recovery from a maybe the bf has a point. Anyway, if it is anything like this, then labor & delivery is going to a mess of pain, I hope Eve enjoyed that apple.
Initially, the skin was very sensitive and felt rather like a terrible sunburn for the first two days.  That, thankfully, has subsided.  The initial bruising from the procedure has faded away also.  Hopefully, I only have another week or so to go before the abdominal cramps and shooting pains subsist.  It takes 3-4 months to see results, as it takes about this long for all the fat cells that underwent apoptosis to be naturally dispelled from my body via the lymphatic system.  I have my hopes set on this experience having fantastic results!  Regardless of whether or not I come out of this with glowing 6-pack abs, I’m glad I did it.  I don’t want to live my life with “If only I had’s” or “I wonder what if’s” I want to do it, whatever it may be, as long as it takes me further along this beautiful journey of life!  Every chance to overcome my fears, I’m going to take, because, after all, you only live once (OK, maybe not every chance, but definitely all the ones that offer the promise of making me more attractive).  If by chance you come across me huddled over my abdomen in the next week or two, ask me how I’m doing.  When I lie to you and say, “I’m just experiencing a little PMS” I encourage you to call me on my lie. I’ll laugh and lovingly shake my head and know that you are going to be a life-long friend of mine….because you read my blog and so know enough incriminating info on me to motivate me to stay on your good side for a good long while ;) 

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Today, my co-worker asked me when my boyfriend was going to propose to me.  He asks me this question at every opportunity, which is at least twice a week.  It wouldn’t be so strange if he were 60 years old, a woman, and my mother… but he’s not.  He is a 22 year old man who grew up in a bubble community on the West Coast.  I haven’t ever given him any indication that a proposal was on the horizon, the question just popped out of his mouth one day, right after he invited me to go to his church’s social meeting that evening. 

Hi there, I’d like to sign up my co-worker for your services…
Nope, she doesn’t know anything about it yet, it’s a surprise!

When he isn’t after me about marriage, he pushes his fundy ideas on me; specifically, his belief that the Mayan calendar is right in line with the prophesized biblical rapture and that the End of Days is upon us.  Whenever he brings it up, I try to skate around it but sometimes my better judgement gets the best of me and I say something.  Once, I said, “You know, all that proverbial rapture and doomsday stuff has been foretold for hundreds of years and has never actually amounted to anything.”  When that didn’t seem to have any impact, I said, in my calmest most reasonable tone, that many different people and books and groups have predicted the apocalypse, in their own unique way… it is sort of a right of passage for any group that is set on manipulating people by striking fear in their hearts.  It’s just a control tactic.  Believe it or not, fear is a good motivator. 

(Don’t forget to liquidate your assets and donate the $$ to our cause!)

I told him to try not to worry about it, the rapture isn’t coming any time soon.  His exact wide-eyed response was, “You never know.”  I hope he doesn’t let this stuff keep him up at night.  Every time I walk past his cubicle I notice some article prophesizing the doom of humanity on his monitor.  That’s your typical government worker for you, researching ways to repent before the apocalypse kills us all instead of getting work done.  I’m not checking up on him or anything, I’m just a little worried about the guy.  He seems to be overly pre-occupied with other people’s marital statuses and their impending doom. 

He also does not seem to be dissuaded by my increasingly overt social cues to let him know that the topic of marriage proposals is not exactly an appropriate conversation starter.  At first I laughed off his questions, which usually were along the lines of “So do you think he will ask you at Christmas?” and his presumptive statements such as, “You would be so happy if he asked you to marry him in front of all of his family and all of your family, that would be the best!”  I laughed a lot when he said that one.  Apparently he took this reaction to mean that marriage is the only thing that I think about and Gee wouldn’t it be great if my boyfriend proposed to me everyday, over a loudspeaker, while throwing diamond rings at my feet. 

Since then, when he asks me when my boyfriend is going to propose, he says it with a wink and a titter, as if we are sharing an inside joke.  Sometimes, he even hints at the fact that I shouldn’t wait too long to get married or else I might turn into an old maid.  I must say, maintaining my composure at these times is tough.  He is the epitome of the hetero-normative-paradigm-toting person, who happily assumes that everyone in the world subscribes to the exact same beliefs that he does, without bothering to ask them first.  He seems to be completely ignorant to the fact that his questions to me are spawned from his indoctrinated view of the female “I just want to get married and have babies!” stereotype. 

Today, I had finally had enough.  It isn’t my job to teach others how not to be close-minded sheep people, but sometimes a situation falls in my lap like a rancid apple pie that has sat on the windowsill for weeks and is now too fetid to ignore.  This was one of those times.  After he gave me the typical knowing smile and told me that it was “about time I was engaged” I explained to him in my “I know this may be hard for you to take in all at once, in fact your head might explode” voice that I was not a big fan of the institution of marriage, I wasn’t Christian, and didn’t need to have my relationship validated in the face, or any other body part, of a God.  And (you might want to sit down for this one) many people, in fact over 34 million people just in the U.S., aren’t big subscribers of organized religion either.  I explained that, “For a long time, marriage looked something like a subservient woman getting traded to a domineering man in exchange for goods to her family.  That’s right, women were considered chattel and religious institutions helped to develop and spread this oppressive practice for a long, long time. Actually, this practice still goes on in some places around the world, have you ever heard of child brides?”

“So, to answer your question, I feel no deep hungering compulsion to get engaged anytime soon… in fact I may never marry my boyfriend; we may just live together and love each other and raise children together, and maybe the children will even take my last name.  But if my boyfriend ever does propose, don’t worry, YOU will be the FIRST person to find out.”  I kind of liked the way his eyes bugged out of his head.  It made me feel like I am doing my part to rid humanity of its chronic ‘sincere ignorance’ infection.  I think tomorrow we'll tackle global warming.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The "A" Word

A friend of mine wrote this to me after reading my blog post about the Out Campaign, where I came out as an Atheist.  It was all very cathartic with photos and interesting examples, I hope you get a chance to check it out.  This blog post is not that, it is a (rather long-winded) exploration of the previous post and the questions it raised.  My good friend sent me a comment about it, I want to thank him for his thoughtful response and say that he made some valid points, perhaps points many people can relate to, so I wanted to publicly respond to him. This is what he wrote:

I recognize and accommodate the right for those who do not believe to not believe, surely, but this...

"On this note, I ask you, reader, to consider honestly your theological beliefs this season. Do you believe in all the tenets of the religion you subscribe to (including the bit about the World being just a little over 2 thousand years old)" a bit why this post is so one-sided. I'm very religious but don't subscribe to Biblical literalism (or, in the case of the 2,000 year thing, non-Biblical inventiveness). The complaints that I hear from non-believers tend to flock to that generalization of Christians, yet I'm a staunch member of the Episcopal faith that even invites atheists to speak at their churches -- not for ridicule but for acceptance.

And that is what I think should be pursued, a harmony in spite of divergent beliefs. If I believe in God, that does not negate that I believe homosexuals perish in hell, that those who don't believe in literal Creationism perish in hell, or even that there is a hell. So a belief in God is not an immediate forfeiture of reasonable philosophy -- lest we categorize atheism as a belief in nothing, as opposed to a lack of belief. That belief in something (whether in God or in Nothing) causes a finite x, y, & z set of variables of thinking would surely put belief in no God on the same par as Christian, Taoist, Maoist, Thisist, Thatist. Some people choose to believe certain things and God and are exclusive. Others believe in God and other things and are inclusive. Still others believe in no God at all and are exclusive or, on the flip, are inclusive. I've encountered all of the above.

I don't think that I am the exception, either.

To my friend: Firstly, thank you, I am lucky to have such an insightful and open-minded friend.  Secondly, you made some very good points and I will try to address them all.
1. My intention was not to disparage organized religions or those who have a belief in an organized religion... it may not apply to you, but some religious institutions DO teach that the world is only a few thousand years old.  Yes, you are correct in your assessment - this blog post is biased, it was not my intention to write a perfectly objective piece (nor would I be able to if I tried, no piece of writing can be truly objective); however, this does not mean that what I have written is untrue.
2. I agree that Atheists and Theists should pursue  harmony in spite of divergent beliefs and it is my sincerest hope to help create a bridge of communication between these two groups.  (ps. I noticed that you did not capitalize Atheist, a great way to develop mutual respect would be to do this, it is a proper noun after all.)
3. I also agree with you that the mere belief in a God does not automatically sign one up to be a bible-thumping homophobe.  However, you are a part of a very open-minded sect of Christianity that leaves room for different interpretations of Biblical truths.  Sadly, this is rather rare.  Many organized religions are not so liberal about how their followers interpret their religious doctrine.  My goal in asking people to consider whether or not they believe the tenets on which their religion stands on is because sometimes it stands for the persecution others.  For example, the Mormon Church uses doctrine to justify their support of conversion camps where gay individuals are taught to hate themselves. I am sure many Mormons are like you, and they don't believe gay individuals should be discriminated against, but they identify with an organized religion that sponsers this!  (By the way, the term ‘homosexual’ is offensive, it was originally developed by psychiatrists and it was a label given to someone who was diagnosed with a sexuality disorder, in the future, perhaps replace it with ‘gay’ or ‘LGBT community.’)
4.  I am curious to know where you stand on a belief in Hell.  From my understanding, Christian views on Hell vary, but in general traditionally agree that hell is a place or a state in which the souls of the unsaved suffer the consequences of sin.  I would assume the ‘unsaved’ means anyone who is not Christian.  I would equate stating that you are Christian, but throwing out the idea of Hell to stating that you are Vegetarian, except you think it’s OK to eat lamb.  Honestly, what irks me about people who claim to be strongly affiliated with an organized religion is how they pick which doctrine to believe and uphold and which doctrine to ignore.  In my opinion, if you don’t believe in the tenets of your religion, then you fall on the Free-Thinker spectrum that I outlined in the previous blog post.  One of the reasons I left Christianity (when I was 15) was because  I had begun taking high school science classes and could no longer accept the intelligent design hooey after learning about evolution.  However, instead of saying, ‘well I’m still a Christian, I’ll just ignore that bit about intelligent design,’ I said to myself, ‘if I don’t believe in the tenets of the religion, then I am not a Christian.’  I thought, ‘who am I to choose which of Gods teachings are correct and which are incorrect?’  Well, if I truly believed in the Christian God, then I couldn’t simply ignore his teachings; I could only ignore his teachings if I didn’t believe in the Christian God.  It wasn’t a hard choice for me because I realized, that, well, I don’t believe in a God and lived happily ever after :)
5. Where I diverge from agreement with you is in your following statement: “That belief in something (whether in God or in Nothing) causes a finite x, y, & z set of variables of thinking would surely put belief in no God on the same par as Christian etc...” I disagree because there is something called the burden of proof, and this burden of proof falls on the believer.  It means that the one making the claims is burdened with the job to prove the claims he is making.  For example, if someone said to me that unicorns exist, I would ask him to prove to me that they do.  If he could not prove it to me using empirical evidence based on scientific research, then no one would think me arrogant to continue believing that unicorns do not exist. Let me put it to you another way…. you don’t believe in Shiva, the Hindu Destroyer God, do you?  Why do you think it is alright to have no belief in the Hindu God Shiva, but it isn’t OK for Atheists to have no belief in the Christian God?  We are ALL Atheists, I just believe in one less God than you.
6. This does NOT mean that I believe in nothing.  In fact, I believe in a whole lot of things.   I believe that people have innate value and that women deserve an education as much as men do and that people have their own moral compasses, and that the universe is an awe-inspiring place full of galaxies and black holes and super novas!  I am just full of belief, and faith.  Yes, I have faith, faith in science, in reason and in democracy.   

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Out Campaign

As part of the Out Campaign initiative sponsored by American Atheists I’ve decided to formally come out (at least as formal as a blog post can be!) as an Atheist.  

I was raised in a conservative Christian family and I came to the (post-Jesus) light as a teenager after questioning the highly illogical teachings I was spoon fed at home & at Jesus Camp.  Since then, I have been joyfully embracing the beauty of living for this life, not some notion of an afterlife.  

I am happy and proud to say that I recently celebrated eleven years as a Free Thinker.  It wasn’t until this year that I stumbled across the secular community of Humanists and have since identified as one.  This does not conflict with my identification as Atheist as the two are not mutually exclusive. A lot of people wonder what the difference between Humanist or Atheist or Agnostic is.  To explain this, I did a little research and did my best to put together some simplistic definitions.  

Etymological Meaning
Agnostic comes from the Greek word Gnosis, which means knowledge, the ‘a’ in front changes it to mean without knowledge.
Atheistic also has its roots in the Greek language. Theism is equated to belief, the ‘a’ in front changes it to mean without belief.

However, there are also common usages of these words which many people identify with.  Where do you fall on this Free Thinker spectrum?  You may surprise yourself!

Free Thinker Spectrum
Spiritual (I identify as a member of an organized religion, but the God I worship does not have the same rules as the traditional God of that religion, ie: I’m a Christian, but I think people in the LGBT community should be able to marry/ I’m Jewish, but I eat pork/I’m Muslim, but I don’t think women should have to cover up) or (I don’t identify with any organized religion, but I believe in a god/higher power). 

Agnostic (I don’t know, but I believe in something) or (No one can know, so why bother about it?)

Agnostic Atheist (I don’t believe in a god but I can’t rule out the possibility that there is one just because I do not have knowledge that it exists.  Basically, I admit that my belief that there is no god is just as baseless as your belief that there is a god)

Atheist (I don’t believe in a god or gods and I don’t need knowledge or proof that there is no god or gods because it is on the believer to prove the existence of a god not on the nonbeliever)

Humanist (I believe that people can be good without a belief in god and am skeptical of  untested claims).  It is also inclusive of all the above categories. 

“…show me what there is, ethically, in any religion that can’t be duplicated by Humanism" -Christopher Hitchens

My recent identification with Humanism has reinvigorated my love for Humanity, albeit we are a rowdy bunch!  This love is what encourages me to speak out about some of the things I believe organized religion got wrong (but continues to do) listed below:

Science Denial
This has led to the stifling of education and research in the sciences.  We depend on the growth and development in our life sciences as a species.  We don’t have claws or fangs, we only have our minds to help us survive.  Science denial, such as refusing to teach evolution in classes or banning stem-cell research, stamps out the growth and development of the life-saving field of the applied sciences.

Faith Healing 
This is the practice that allows parents to let their children die from curable diseases, like tumor growths in their necks that slowly close their windpipes...these innocent children die horrible, and avoidable, deaths because their parents leave it up to God to cure them.  Think Faith Healing doesn’t exist?  Think again.  It is a legally sanctioned practice; in fact, thirty-one states have child-abuse religious exemptions.

               (Do you need any more reason for a separation of church and state?)

Abstinence Only 
Under President George W. Bush, a crusade to eradicate safe sex was waged.  Unfortunately, this led to the dramatic rise of teenage pregnancy and STD incidence rates during Bush’s presidency.  If you are thinking that this just isn’t a good enough reason to teach teens about safe sex, think about the effects of this policy in other parts of the world.  This evangelical “no-condom = ready for sex!” attitude is reiterated by the Pope and various Western proselytizers who have influence in many AIDS ravaged African Nations.  What’s worse than a peak in teenage pregnancy?  Thousands upon thousands of babies born HIV positive.

           Fear and Hate Mongering 
While many of the organized religions that dominate the Western World (Judeo-Christian and Islam) purport to teach to love thy neighbor, these large religious institutions are mutually exclusive.  Put bluntly, this means that, by their own doctrine, these religious followers condemn everyone outside of their religion to Hell when they die (and if they don't condemn everyone else then they fall on the Free Thinker Spectrum).  Like burning forever in a pit of fire, HELL!  How’s that for teaching love?

Blind Faith
And perhaps worst of all, religion teaches people to be satisfied with the nonexplanation of things.  It is only because people fostered a healthy sense of skepticism that humanity has managed to accomplish so many things, including the development of a vaccine for polio,  the civil rights and women’s liberation movements, outlawing slavery and walking on the moon.  It is my deepest wish that people never succumb to a faith that denies them the right to ask why,  instead, let them foster a love for knowledge and when they are told not to question, to always respond by asking “why not?”

On this note, I ask you, reader, to consider honestly your theological beliefs this season.  Do you believe in all the tenets of the religion you subscribe to (including the bit about the World being just a little over 6 thousand years old) or do you pick and choose which parts to believe in?  It is my hope that Free Thinkers of all kinds will come forward, come out to your friends and families and start living an authentic life.  You have one life to live and I urge you not to be satisfied on your spiritual journey until you find things out for your self.

PS. Many Atheists celebrate some version of Christmas (which was originally a Pagan holiday to celebrate the solstice!).  There is nothing wrong with gifts, trees, singing and (most of all) family togetherness.  None of this requires the pretense of a belief in a God.  I believe the holiday season should include honesty -- with oneself and loved ones.

 I wish you an abundance of peace this holiday season and in the new year. 

John Lennon's "Happy X-Mas (War is Over)"

Friday, December 23, 2011


Have you ever wanted to fly?  I remember dreaming of flying like a bird night after night as a kid.  I remember thinking to myself that when I grew up, I wanted to fly.  The closest I have come to fulfilling this childhood dream is AntiGravity Yoga…it gives you wings (and not the Red Bull kind).

Doesn’t sound familiar?  If you just shook your head and thought “what is AntiGravity Yoga all about?”  Then you can count yourself as being a part of the majority of people who have yet to experience AGY.  It is an art form that is in its infancy.  It is so new, in fact, that it doesn’t even have its own Wikipedia page yet (!)  Not only is AGY a new art form, but its development has created a new genre of exercise, known as “suspension fitness” and involves the use of Hammocks which are securely suspended from the ceiling and function to allow people to hold challenging poses longer, build cardiovascular and muscular strength, and decompress the vertebrae of the spine without strain. 

I am fortunate enough to intern at OMFactory, one of the very few yoga studios in NYC that offers AntiGravity classes.  If you are lucky enough to take an AGY class there with AGY certified instructor, Josie Say, she will probably give you a brief history of the practice.   Last Thursday, she informed our class that AGY was dreamed up only about 20 years ago by Christopher Harrison, the founder of AntiGravity, Inc, an acrobatic entertainment group based in New York City.  She explained that AntiGravity Yoga is a hybrid practice combining traditional yoga poses with aerial arts, Pilates, and dance.  I can attest that elements from all of these arts were a part of the 75 minute class. 

The class moved at a steady pace, with enough time in each pose to really feel the muscles activating.  If you are familiar with yoga, you will recognize that AGY classes move through the familiar poses, but the extra element of swinging in a hammock adds an entirely new dimension to the yoga practice.  Everyone began in a seated position in which the soft silkiness of the AGY Hammock envelopes your body.  This is called, “Womb” and is considered a levitating meditation or, in Sanskrit, Badda Konasana.  That was followed up with a zero compression inversion.  Josie very carefully guided us in and out through a series of simple progressions, while rhythmic music hummed softly in the background.  My second favorite pose was “Monkey” (my first being the “Screaming Cannonball” … it’s nicer than it sounds).  “Monkey” is one of the simpler inversions in which our legs carry the weight of our body as our bodies swing weightlessly upside down. 

The remainder of the class was dedicated to hydrating joints through mobility exercises, elongating and strengthening the muscles, decompressing the spine and fine-tuning proprioceptors for better agility through swinging exercises. At times, people needed a little extra-boost of confidence to make it into a pose & Josie seemed to have a sixth sense at these times and was able to say exactly what we needed to hear to move us forward in our AGY journey.  She and her assistant did a tremendous job of providing moral support to each of us, even giving hands on assistance when needed.  Believe or not, everyone was successful every time.  We finished with a “Floating Savasana” meditation where one seals in the positive effects of their practice.

Before I left the class, Josie and her assistant were nice enough to humor my questions about AGY and were even willing to help me into a few advanced poses.  This is our version of “Double Lotus”. 

You can see that I am enjoying my new relationship to gravity!  I can’t wait to do it all again next week.  As to whether or not you will take the leap and try AGY is totally up to you but I will leave you with a quote from AGY instructors to help you make up your mind: "The class emphasis is to have fun while learning new skills and experiencing a total body workout." -OMFactory


Thursday, November 24, 2011


Holding down two part time jobs (yes, one of them is at a yoga studio! ...the other is not so fun, it involves legislation & policy research) while attending grad school full time has a way of eating up all my time, so I’m staying in NYC to get work done this holiday. I'll be honest, a little part of me is glad to avoid the terror that is Chinatown Bus, but I am truly going to miss spending time with my friends and family. When I graduate summa cum laude, this will all be worth it (at least I keep telling myself it will be).

But there is an upside, I get to check out the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, have a nontraditional sushi t-giving dinner with a good friend in (ironically) the meatpacking district of NYC and don’t have to come up with an excuse for why I won’t eat the turkey.  I’m not a vegetarian, but I have a hard time eating meat that was inhumanely treated when it was alive (that’s right, I’m one of those people).  It isn’t like I get on a pedestal everytime I see someone eating street meat, it’s just that I become physically ill at the prospect of eating chicken that at one time was a little creature living in a tiny metal box with no beak, an oversized breast so large it cannot stand up on its own and eating the remains of its fellow chickens (OK, I’m not sure about that last part, but it helps paint the picture).  Anyway, we have all seen those PETA films (and if you haven’t, you can check them out here although I would suggest waiting until after T-Giving dinner). 
                                         (there's animal cruelty, and then there's animal cruelty)

It was while studying medical ethics in undergrad that I came across a philosophical belief that, quite frankly, astounded me.  It is the idea that because animals have no souls, we can basically do whatever we want to them (the guy who tried to sell this idea was a huge believer in live dissection).  While I try to respect other philosophies, I am having a hard time tolerating this one.  Firstly, I’m a Humanist, (no, we aren’t a religion, just a community of non-believers, but more on this in another blog) and one of the basic tenets of our Humanistic belief is that we are skeptical of untested claims.  Obviously, we can’t test if animals have a soul, gosh we can’t even find the soul in people, so right there this philosophy is debunked.  Also, the assumption that in order to feel pain one must have a soul is just not so. I don’t believe I have a soul, but believe me when I tell you that I felt my ankle snap like a twig when I broke it some years ago.  I definitely feel pain, like all animals do, and think that some considerations for this should be made in the treatment of animals. 

A friend of mine from work told me her philosophy on the subject.  She said that all those animals experience pain, anguish and terror for months, sometimes years, before they are slaughtered.  She said what we are putting in our body, is all that pain and terror, all that bad energy and that there is no way this can be good for us.  Although I may not fully believe in the whole transfer of energy idea, I think she has a point.  Everytime we buy and eat cow or pig or chicken meat from factory farms, we are making a choice.  We are choosing to subsidize the grossly negligent and cruel treatment of animals, and if I can help it, not one cent that I earn is going to pay for the torture of animals.  Until factory farms adopt more humane principles, I’m eating free range and organic.  If we all did this, how long do you think factory farms could stay in business?

Ps. Cracked fun fact of the day: Did you know that the day we celebrate Thanksgiving is determined by the day the retailers decide will make a good Black Friday?  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gov't biz

Some people argue that the government ought to be run like a business.  I implore them to consider the implications of this.  Any programs that did not bring in a profit would be shut down, so this would mean the end of public libraries, national parks and even emergency services, as we all know these services do not bring in a profit.  Next, the government would, like any business, try to maximize their revenue, so this would manifest as the over-taxation of all goods and services.  It would try to decrease costs and what is the easiest way to do that? Outsourcing!... and you thought going to the DMV was bad now.  Oh and who cares whether or not the customers are represented in the business’ management?  Say goodbye to Congress.