I’m On Fire! – The Blog On Fire Award

That’s right – I’m on fire!  Of course, that sounds like something a man who calls himself BeefGriller would say, doesn’t it?  Or, perhaps, a Bruce Springsteen fan would say it.  But, no, in this case I’m saying it because I was nominated by blogger Nicole Michelle for the Blog On Fire Award.  This is the first blog award that I’ve received and accepted.  (I was nominated by another wonderful person, but I’ve yet to accept it formally – I can’t fulfill the requirements just yet.)

Nicole Michelle’s nomination is an honor for me, and very humbling – I’m not the most regular blogger, despite my desire to be.  But, that’s perhaps a story for another time.

While reading her post about the award, I found that she was nominated by Ashleigh of Beauty Still Remains.  Well, this lead to me tracing the award nomination back through the ages.  Why?  I guess because I’m sort of OCD like that.  Do you know what I learned?  Two things:

  1. At some point, the image of the award itself changed from that on the left to that on the right.  Why?  I don’t know – I didn’t find any explanation for that.  For completeness’ sake, I’ve posted both.
  2. Some of the folks made it difficult for me to find their nomination and/or their nominees.  That’s why I stopped after eight generations or so back.

The rules for accepting the Blog On Fire Award are simple:

  1. List eight things about yourself.
  2. Nominate other blogs for the award.

Fairly simple, I think.

Eight Things About Me

Without further adieu, here are my eight things about myself:

  1. I’m kind of OCD about things.  For example, I will spend entirely too much effort trying to trace a blog award back.  But this OCD only seems to manifest for things that I actually care about or enjoy.  I suppose that’s where my geekiness shows.
  2. I was a lifeguard for two summers – 1987 and 1988.  I worked at a community association known as the Levittown Public Recreation Association.  The second summer I was an assistant manager at the Pinewood pool.
  3. Although my current career is in information technology, I received my degree in mechanical engineering.
  4. I am an adoptee.  My adoptive parents got me when I was five days old, so I know nothing about my birth parents.  I’m quite content with this, and have decided against finding or contacting them(for now at least).
  5. love spicy food!  My favorite hot sauce is Tabasco, but I started with Frank’s Red Hot, which is still one of my favorite.  When I go to a restaurant, I will always try their hottest food.  It turns out that, generally speaking, Americans are wimps when it comes to spicy food.
  6. I worked for 4-1/2 years at a school as the IT person.  While there, I also taught some classes.  It is the reason I have so much respect for teachers now.  I miss teaching very, very much, but that chapter of my life is written.
  7. I know many people, and am friendly with them, but I don’t give the title “Friend” lightly.  My friends are family to me, and I cherish them.
  8. I have very strong willpower, but I have to care about something to tap into it.  Does that mean I don’t really have strong willpower?  I don’t think so, but one could argue that.  Regardless, once I decide to do something and stick with it, it’s a done deal.

My Nominations

Here’s where I get to pass on the Blog On Fire Award to whom I think deserve it.  Oh, the power!

There you have it!  Thanks again to Nicole Michelle for the nomination.

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Daughters And Blogging, Take 2

I’ve been privately lamenting my lack of blogging lately –  “privately” in the sense of, “beating myself up.”  There are more than a few reasons for it, but they’re only tangential to this post.

You see, while I’ve been wallowing in self-beratement, my daughters have been blogging furiously.  I’ve mentioned in a previous post how they asked for a blog of their own.  One daughter in particular has been steeping herself in writing lately.  I’m very proud of her – she is writing not only so often, but also so well.  The quality of her writing is ten years beyond what mine was at her age.

So, I’m advertising for her right now.  Her latest post is Five Things, in which she not only shares five things for which she is thankful, but also links to the other blog that gave her the idea.

The previous post, AAH! The Beach!!, describes one her her favorite places – the mountains. 😀  No, actually… it’s the beach.

Anyway, check out their blog.  Comment on it, if you like – they’d really appreciate that.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get out of this funk and write more regularly.

I Celebrate Christmas – A Response

Earlier today, I read Matt Conlon‘s blog post Merry CHRISTMAS Whether You Celebrate it or Not.  Go ahead and read his post; it’s well worth your time.  I’ll wait here until you’re done…

Great!  When you’re done here, I recommend you peruse his site for his other well-written posts and his webcomic Stick I.T.!

To lay all of my cards on the table, I am a practicing Catholic.  I take my faith and its tenets very seriously.  Although I am far from perfect, I do my best to live my faith daily.  There was a time, during high school and college, when I had fallen away from the practice.  During that time, I had investigated other faiths, in an academic way, as opposed to conversion or practice.  So, I do have knowledge and appreciation for other faiths from an intellectual standpoint.  However, I felt Jesus’s call very strongly to return to the faith into which I was born.

Now, Matt’s post touches on a lot of topics.  So, without further adieu…

Matt writes:

I usually try to stay clear of religion as a subject, because those who are devout have made up their minds, and will never listen to a thing a secular person has to say. Not only have they made up their minds, but they sometimes want to make up your mind as well. Religion aside, my believes / opinions are my own, and I’ll share them if you like, but I’ll never force them on another person, thus I expect the same. I get very irritated when someone tells me their beliefs are fact, and that I’m wrong, so I don’t do it to others. I make sure to say things like “In my opinion” when saying things, or I just don’t say anything.

You know, I am exactly the same way when it comes to discussing religion – I don’t like to talk about it with anyone other than my closest of friends and family.  It’s such a touchy subject, and very personal, which I believe is why people react so strongly when disagreements arise.  However, I have to say that, in my experience, I get more harshly negative, even hostile, responses from those who call themselves non-religious, atheist or agnostic.  They tend to belittle me, my faith, my beliefs, and anything else that has to do with God.  On the other hand, religious folks tend to react with genuine curiosity about my faith and willingness to explain their own.  While disagreements do arise at times, we tend to either steer clear of those subjects, or deal with them respectfully.

However, I think Matt and I are cut from the same cloth here.  I don’t try to force my beliefs onto anyone because I hate when others do that to me.  Now, I have to point out that beliefs in this sense are fact to those who adhere to them, and that includes non-religious as well.  But, if we act respectfully with regards to another’s belief, we can avoid so much conflict.

Matt continues:

Christmas: The birthday celebration of Jesus, as least as far as the Christians are concerned. Originally, it had nothing to do with Jesus or Christianity, but it made for a hell of a marketing gimmick, so they changed it.

Now, before you start rolling your eyes at yet another “Christians stole pagan holidays” post (which I HAVE done in the past), I’m not going to bother here… There’s enough controversy around the fact (note, I didn’t call it an idea though… 😉 ) so believe what you will. The fact remains, there was a year end celebration long before Jesus. Jesus came (allegedly) and now there’s no year end celebration for the pagans… Coincidence??

Matt is correct: Christmas was originally a pagan holiday, which was then absorbed, if you will, into the Christian religious practice.  This only makes sense; when converting a people to your religion, you need not only to change their beliefs, but their customs and practices.  If a culture is used to certain observances of, say, the winter solstice, then they will most likely want to keep that tradition.  So, what would an evangelist do?  If you can’t change the tradition, change its meaning.  This is a common tool not only in Christianity, but other religions as well, both ancient and modern.

By the way, many biblical scholars think that Jesus’s birth actually took place in the spring, closer to Easter than Christmas.  I have no problem with this, either.  Many times I can’t celebrate my daughters’ birthdays on their actual birthdate because they fall during the week.  Just because I celebrate the birthday on a different date doesn’t mean they were born on that date; nor does it mean that I love them any less.  It is simply an observation of their birthday.

I assume Christians’ hostile reaction to the “Christmas was originally a pagan holiday” statement is that nonbelievers try to use it to discredit the faith.  As I said, I don’t find it a threat at all.

ANYWAY. My beef here is that MOST of the world recognizes Christmas at LEAST as a holiday where kids get gifts from a fat guy who spies on us when we’re sleeping. Everyone knows what Christmas is, and every one’s heard of the Christmas spirit, even if they’ve never shared in it. It’s the spirit if giving, good will, blahblahblah.

That’s actually a funny way to phrase it: a fat guy who spies on us, etc..  I love it!

ANYWAY… actually, I agree with Matt here.  The Christmas Season (or, if you insist, Holiday Season) is definitely a secular observation.  Were it not, then only Christians would take off from work, school, and life in general on or around December 25th.  The fact that MOST of the world (actually, I’m not sure of the world, but certainly Western civilization) takes a week or two break at this time is a recognition of its religious origin.

The remainder of Matt’s post is disturbing to me.  To be forbidden from using the word “Christmas” on all cards due to one child’s faith is ridiculous.  Requesting that the students not use the word “Christmas” on cards to that one child is not only well within reason, but also simply courteous.  I vehemently disagree with removing all references to a religion due to one person’s objection.  I support an individual’s right to celebrate (or not) whatever their religion may (or may not) be.

Finally, as a religious person, I am very sensitive to others’ differing viewpoints.  Most often, I will wish someone a “Happy Holiday,” especially if I am unsure if they are Christian.  If I know for certain that they are Christian, I will wish them a “Merry Christmas.”  Likewise, if I am certain they are Jewish, I will wish them a “Happy Hanukkah.”  The point is, I wish everyone good tidings at this time of year.