Kathy’s Conviction

I went to Subway for lunch today with Kathy, one of my work mates. After waiting in the line for our turn to order, Kathy was up.

“Ummm.. I’ll have a Veggie sub on Italian bread”.

I quickly seized the opportunity to make fun of her for it. “Kathy, that’s not a sandwich; that’s a salad on bread.” When it was my turn, I ordered an Italian BMT, the meatier the better. I have no reservations against eating meat. In fact, if I can swing it, I’ll have it breakfast, lunch, dinner, in-between meals, inside my Powerbar, puréed into my water (just kidding). But you get the picture, I like meat.

Well, there is nothing peculiar with Kathy’s abstention from meat. Albeit, it suddenly dawned on me while sitting at the booth mauling my BMT that Kathy’s newfound vegetarianism is just that, “newly” founded. I could of swore that a few months prior, she had participated with me in seeing how disgusting Subway’s “Barbequed Pork” sandwich really was. In fact, I remember being confused cause she actually liked the darn thing. Anyway, this brought up a rather interesting and lengthy conversation I had with her on her newfound vegetarianism.

I attempted to get some answers, “So, are you doing this for health reasons, or do you just have moral reservations against harming animals for consumption?” She answers, “neither… it’s actually a long story”. The plot thickens. “Okay, so you just don’t like the taste of meat?”. “No, it’s not that”. Now she had me completely confused. “Well, there has to be some reason..”. “It’s a little complicated” she retorted. She wasn’t making this easy.

“Okay Kathy, there has to be some way you can sum this up in one sentence”. She tries. “I don’t think humans are meant to eat meat.”

Kathy’s conviction: human’s are just not supposed to eat meat– we are physiologically engineered as herbivores. She further backs up this claim by a study she read that had produced results supporting the notion that a diet with meat in it, leads to a higher risk of developing various ailments: cancer, heart disease, etc. A strictly vegetarian diet is allegedly healthier and in a way, is it’s own preventive measure against illness later-on in life. Also, our long intestines are typical of herbivores, since the complex nutritional elements in plant-life take longer to break down. And the opposite is true with carnivores; They have smaller intestines in order to process meat quicker, purging it from the system before it becomes deleterious.

Our conversation was overheard by a woman sitting behind us, who, before leaving the restaurant, put her five-cents into the discussion. “I don’t mean to interrupt, or eavesdrop into your conversation, but how does this explain canines”. We were taken aback by this stranger accosting our conversation, so my immediate reaction was to smile and say “good point”.

But, it’s an interesting question. Are we really supposed to eat meat, as a species? We’re also the only carnivores who go through the trouble of preparing our meats– cooking them. Maybe there is some merit to Kathy’s argument. Who knows? I just thought it was an interesting point-of-view. One I’ve never heard before.

A Sparkling New Hoop

God I love spring.

I finally replaced the old rusty basketball hoop in my yard with a new one. The old one served me well for over 10 years and I have so many fond memories of that hoop. I remember the whole process of putting it together. My cousin was living at our house at the time, and as just a callow little boy, I didn’t play a huge part in the assembly process. The breaking of the existing blacktop, the 2 feet deep hole we dug up to bury a portion of the pole , the 2 days-which felt like weeks- of waiting for the cement to harden, I was just an impatient observer of its construction. But when it was finally put together, I spent so much time in my yard shooting hoops, meeting new friends in my neighborhood–who all seemed to gravitate to my new hoop; so many great memories.

But time doesn’t discriminate–even for basketball hoops. After a decade of attrition, piece-by-piece of my hoop started to come apart. First the mechanism that raised and lowered the hoop, started to malfunction, and then broke off. Then the rim started to bend so that it was no longer parallel to the ground. And then, the rim broke off completely :'(. Now it was just a backboard. A sad sight.

Then came the Winter of Despair. This last winter, during a night of a frightfully powerful storm, the wind came and tore down the backboard of my hoop. Now it was just a pole–a rusty, despondent, semi-black pole.

But last weekend, I replaced the whole thing. This time I did most of the assembly, although my cousin (a different cousin) helped a bit.

The first shot I took on my new hoop: a brick! The ball bounced off the rim and landed back into my hands, as though the hoop completely rejected my attempt.

So although the new hoop is brand new and glossy black, I’m still a little rusty. And maybe I am getting a wee-bit maudlin about something as material as a basketball hoop. But it’s sure nice to look out through the window and see a brand new hoop again.

Take It for All in All

Sometimes when I’m bored at church, I start perusing the only book I have available at the time, the Bible. But at these moments of boredom in church, I am not looking for spiritual insight, or a revelation of some kind; I am just looking for a story, something to pass the time. So as can be imagined, I don’t turn to something cryptic like Psalms, or the longwinded soap-opera in Esther, or the oh-so-aphorismic Proverbs, or the tad too sanctimonious Gospels. No, my storybook predilections are satisfied elsewhere. My favorite: Genesis and the Creation Story.

I know in keeping with political correctness, it’s often wise to tip-toe through word-choice when talking about the Bible. Some may take offence by my referring to early Genesis as a ‘Story’—it has a somewhat fictional connation. But words are so limiting. I’m not intimating that the events that occurred during the Creation Story are apocryphal–but they do contain a haze of storybook technique that can make it, how can I say, open to interpretation. Where do we draw the line between allegory and the literal?

The Creation Story is full of symbols, contrasts, poetry … antistrophe. Where some items are taken at face value, others are taken to be more than what they seem. The serpent beguiling Eve is almost always interpreted as more than just a reptile, but a symbol for the Devil. Some say the “days” referred to in the intervals of creation are actually the equivalent of 1000 of our years. The nakedness of man, as the purity of existence–a time without sin.

And If we do contend that the story is an allegory, and that the serpent’s curse of being forced to slither without feet is the Devil’s expatriation to hell, and that this speaks of that, and that speaks of this, couldn’t it also be considered that none of it should be taken literally? Man is not really man, the garden is not really a garden. That the forming of heaven and earth out of the void are all in fact symbols to something else. Are we even allowed to venture forth and explore our own interpretation?

The thing with symbolism and allegory, is that: you may be adamant, but you can never be certain. The Wizard of Oz may fall neatly as an allegory of the Guided Age, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, even if Garland insists–once written–I think it’s beyond the author’s purview to confirm or deny one’s interpretation.

Story for some; history for others–take it for all in all.

Tom Delay, Hallmarks of a Leader

Tom Delay has the makings of the archetypical corrupt politician. Look, he even has all the requisite character traits:

1. Inverted Philanthropist: Siphon large amounts of money back into your own pocket. Delay’s method, hiring wife and daughter as “political consultants”, and paying them a modest 500,000.

2. Opportunist:
Regardless of the frailty of circumstances, leap beyond appointed purview and share officious legal misinterpretations to the judiciary. Be as obstreperous as possible, and shy not away from slandering.

3. Interest Conflicter: With open arms and a bright artificial smile, accept the “donations” of wealthy foreign interests–and hey, you may even get a free trip to S. Korea from it.

4. Republican: (Not fair, I know.)

Unenviable Dostoevsky

Dostoevsky is one of my favorite authors. Not because I’m familiar with much of his work, because I’m not. I’ve only finished one book by him, “Crime and Punishment”–but that was enough. “Crime and Punishment” is such a powerful book and easily one of my favorites. But now I’m in the middle of another one of his novels, considered the seminal piece of his writing career “The Brothers Karamazov”. I still can’t pronounce the title, but so far the book has met, shook hands, and sprinted past all my expectations.

One similarity I’ve noticed between this book and “Crime and Punishment”, is that Dostoevsky uses pathos to draw affection to his protagonists; you are so moved with compassion and pity for the character, that you are eager to see them succeed.

And this may not be a coincidence. They say you can only write about what you know, and Dostoevsky certainly didn’t have the easiest of lives. First his father was murdered when he was a child. Then Dostoevsky was sentenced to death when he was about my age– a sentence that was eventually commuted to imprisonment in Siberia. He was later released, but he suffered other losses, like the loss of his son and wife, (which are alluded to in Karamazov). Then he fell into enormous debt. Not from situations outside his control, but from excessive dissipation, especially gambling. He can’t be revered for the self-decadency of his later lifestyle, but the understanding of the hand he was dealt growing up, conjures up feelings of nothing but pathos, pity; and I think this may be one of the strongest themes he applies to his novels. That “the tides of fortune, no man can tell”, placing oneself in perspective to the misfortunes of another, you may just find a hero or a great man– in the seemingly lowliest of persons.