Sunday, March 29, 2009

My favorite place on the internet!

Here is my favorite place on the internet right now.
I know I'm a bit partial, as it's my family, and I can't be with them right now, but I thought that maybe some of you would get a kick out of seeing the people that matter the most to me. It's our family blog. I started it shortly after this blog, but my wife does a much better job of keeping it going. She's very good at getting pictures up and a short story right after any kind of trip or outing.

The subtitle of the blog says "An atheist's family's adventure in the bible belt." If you read the blog, you'll realize that the blog has nothing to do with atheism beyond that. It's just a blog about a normal everyday family. That's really the point actually. There isn't anything different from any other family. We love being around each other. We love playing and running around and tickling. We love splashing in water and learning how everything works. If I put my apostrophes in the right spots then what that sentence actually means is that I'm an atheist, and I have a family, and they/we have adventures. It doesn't mean my children are atheists (as that would be silly), just that I am. Hope you enjoy it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

How sad

A few weeks ago our unit (Texas National Guard) celebrated Texas' independence day with a BBQ her in Afghanistan. All of the functions held in our unit always have a prayer by the chaplain (more on the chaplain later) at one point or another. I just stand there and try not to laugh. I look around at everybody, and see their serious "I'm talking to god" face, and occasionally I see other non-religious people looking around. After the prayer and a few words said and a toast, we all got food and sat down. I was sitting at a picnic table with some friends, and a few other acquaintances, when one of my buddies started talking about trying to find me during the prayer. He said that he was looking for me to see what I was doing. He knows I'm an atheist and was curious how I was handling the prayer. One of our supply sergeants asked why he was looking for me. I told her that I was an atheist and the first thing that came out of her mouth was, "oh how sad!".

It really is sad how ignorant people are. I'm a very happy person. I really enjoy life, because it's probably the only one I'll have. I was really quite shocked and didn't even say anything in response. I doubt that anything I could have said would have mattered, but I still wish I had said something at least.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Captain Phantasmic AKA the BEARD!

Here is a picture of my buddy Eric standing at my door being a goon. We try not to take things too seriously here, as sanity is always lurking around the corner. Although, by looking at him, you may think that sanity is much closer than just around the corner. And yes, that is a bubble pipe, quite sophisticated.

Friday, March 13, 2009


This beat poem is my favorite right now. It really feels as if the poem is talking about me. The only thing that doesn't fit is that I'd rather have a 7&7 or a jack and coke than wine. This is my favorite part...
"Twice as long to live this live of mine, twice as long to love this wife of mine" and I would have to add in twice as long to love these kids of mine. I hope that you like it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Two big milestones in one week

So I can no longer be nominated for best new blog. Last week was my first year anniversary of my first blog post. It doesn't seem like it's been a year, but it has. I also passed a thousand hits sometime last week as well. It's not entirely accurate because I did have a different hit counter for a couple of months that stopped working, and I also didn't even put one on my page for awhile, but I have now definitely had at least a thousand. I didn't really know how to celebrate such a monumental occasion, but I think I've figured it out.

Here are two pictures that should hopefully get a laugh out of a few. The first one is a shot of the toilets we use here. Notice anything strange about the toilet? First, the toilet is backwards compared to most toilets, and second there is only water right in the hole, and no where else. It's the perfect reason why you should challenge your ideas every once in awhile. The guy who designed this toilet thought that he had a grand idea. He thought his toilet was better than every other toilet out there. He thought his toilet was so good that he convinced enough people to actually make them, and they convinced enough people to actually sell a ton of them (at least all the toilets on base, whether they were the only ones we could buy, or the cheapest I don't know). All it would have taken, somewhere in the process, was for someone to take a shit on one. Had they done that it would have been very evident that this was not a good idea. Without being too graphic, lets just say two things. There isn't much distance between the top of the bowl and the bottom of your arse. There is also a problem when it comes to flushing and friction. Let's just say that I only got a clean picture of the toilet because they had just cleaned it. One of my fellow soldiers described it as "taking a shit on a plate". Oops, so much for the graphic part. Sorry ladies.

The second one is of the stalls that we get to use for our bathroom business. They went to all the trouble of making these stalls out of sheet metal. They don't look prefabricated, so it actually took a little bit of extra effort to do. The walls are just barely too close, which would make sense to maximize space, but what you can't see is that on the end of the stalls there is plenty of extra space to spread these out a little. Then the toilet paper is awkwardly behind you. See the white thing in the front on the left? That's the shower curtain door. There is one great thing about these though. They do flush (mostly) and they are cleaned daily by a very diligent cleaning crew. I've also never seen one out of toilet paper, which is a real plus when you consider that we are a couple hundred yards away from our B huts.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Vegetarian for (almost) a week

This post is one that I started writing, and for whatever reason never got around to posting it. It's rather old, but since I haven't been posting lately I figured I should post it.

One of the great things about being an atheist and not believing in absolutes, is that I can explore other peoples morals, as long as they don't hurt anyone. This past summer I was TDY to Austin for a few weeks. I decided that I would try to be a vegetarian. I eat meat on a daily basis and think nothing of it. To some people in the world, it's considered evil to kill animals to eat. It's also evil because it takes a lot of grain to make a steak. You could feed many more people if you ate the grain instead of feeding it to cows.

I figured that if I was going to make this work, that Austin would have the easy access to vegetarian foods that would make it possible for a vegetarian ignoramus like myself. On the first day there I went to Whole Foods Market to fill my fridge with wholesome healthy vegetarian food. There was a very helpful lady at a small bar/restaurant inside the store. She explained to me that there are all kinds of vegetarians. Ones that eat eggs and milk, ones that eat shellfish, and vegans that eat only things that grow from plants. There are even people that don't believe in cooking food! I had no idea. I decided that since I wasn't really doing this because of my morals, but instead only to gain some perspective that I would try out different types of vegetarianism at some meals, and that I wouldn't eat meat (chicken, beef, cow, goat, fish, crustaceans, etc) for the entire week. Products from animals that didn't involve any killing would be okay, like dairy products and eggs.

It was about lunch time, so I asked the lady if she could recommend a good vegetarian meal for lunch. I got a taco salad that was entirely vegan. Nothing was cooked, not even the shell, which was made of pressed flax seed. There were a ton of fresh vegetables, salsa, avocados, rice, beans, and some kind of substitute sour cream that tasted just like the real thing. I was very impressed and really enjoyed it. The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the flax seed shell, and only because some parts of it were a little too hard. So, first meal down, and I actually enjoyed it. I stuffed myself and didn't feel bad at all because I still ate significantly less calories than a Big Mac and I was much more full.

The lady at the counter (I wish I could remember her name) suggested that I get lots of fruit, try out the meat substitutes, and to get healthy dips to make eating vegetables more enjoyable. She also pointed out that a lot of carbs that I usually eat only have eggs in them, so if I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian then many of the foods I love would still be on the menu. Unfortunately it also meant that most of the unhealthy desserts I love, as well as sodas, would be on the menu. Looks like being a vegetarian isn't healthy by default. So I got a little bit of everything, and decided that sodas and ice cream could be my rewards for eating better, but only sometimes.

For my first night we all went out to eat at The Armadillo and guess what? The special for the night was vegetarian lasagna! How appropriate, I could eat veg, and I could save money. Again, it was delicious. I wasn't even aware that I was eating vegetarian except for my coworkers giving me shit about it. Apparently it's unmanly and un-Texas like for me to not eat meat. I was nice and full, and didn't feel bad about it.

Breakfasts were no different then normal, just cereal. Snacks were much healthier, I was eating fruit or these really good Cascadian Farm granola bars. I really like them a lot, and still eat them now that I'm back to being an omnivore. Lunch was were I started to have problems. We were too far away form our hotel to come back at lunch, and we didn't have a fridge to keep things cool at work. We ended up eating out almost every lunch while we were there. I quickly found out that most restaurants don't cater to vegetarians, even in Austin. The most they would do is have a veggie burger. Also, if they happened to have a veggie meal, they would only have one veggie meal. If you were in the mood for it great, but otherwise you had no other choices. Fast food was essentially off the list. I made it four days eating many veggie burgers, many salads, and many PB&J's. A personal favorite, but not something I want to eat all the time.

On the fourth night, I was taste testing a whole bunch of easy to make meals that were vegetarian. There were some boxed meals that you just add water kind of like hamburger helper without the hamburger. I also had a few random meat substitutes, and a few frozen meals. I'm not sure if I just don't know how to pick vegetarian meals, or if maybe vegetarian food doesn't fit the microwave/pre-made meals category well. I could tolerate some of the things if I had to, but wouldn't want to eat any of them. After maybe my fifth or sixth thing I tried and didn't like I figured I had tried being a vegetarian long enough, and went across the street for a nice big Whataburger.

The most important thing I learned is that unless you are used to it, you will definitely miss eating meat. There just isn't anything like it. If I were going to be a vegetarian full time I would just have to forget about eating meat, the substitutes were horrible. I also learned that not nearly as much of my meals that I eat consist of meat, and that many of the meals that do have meat don't necessarily have too. I also realized that I like good fruit, especially strawberries, significantly more than a candy bar. The reason I don't eat as much fruit as I should is mostly because I hate for it to spoil if I'm not in the mood for it, and that I dislike mediocre fruit significantly more than a candy bar.

So, how's the weather?

I got an email from my cousin Lew asking me how the weather was here. I realized that I hadn't been posting, and that other people would probably be interested too. I was intending to post, but before I got a chance to I messed up my partition table on my laptop and ended up having to reinstall windows. Note to self: if I decide to install linux, don't overwrite the EISA protected file. It took me awhile to get everything configured and installed the way I like since I have been real busy with work, and also trying to get a little bit of sleep.

When we first got here, it was a lot colder than it is now, but it was still bearable. We got a lot of snow two different times. Generally during the day it would get warmer than freezing, and then at night it would get below freezing. I don't really now how cold, but I was okay outside for wearing a jacket and gloves. Right now it's actually pretty nice. During the day it's maybe 70 degrees, getting a little colder at night, but not that bad. During the summer it's supposed to get pretty hot, but hasn't gotten hot yet.These are the little buildings we live in. They are called "B" huts, not sure why. There are 8 rooms in each building. That was one days worth of snow. It got a little thicker than that.

Someones bike covered in snow.

Someone made a snow couple. I think they painted it, but it might be some kind of powdered drink poured on the snow. They were around for about a week, looking more pitiful every day.