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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The dreaded Single-Gender Singles Retreat

I just got a notice from my old church singles group, the one I stopped going to because I felt it lacked a level of maturity necessary to addressing the problems of real life singles.  This time there was a notice celebrating the Single-Gender Singles Retreat.

Seriously folks!  What straight singles really need is time with their same gender.  This is the ultimate solution that singles ministries can come up with?  If anything, what singles who want to marry need are skills for dealing with the opposite sex.

Oh, and forget about the gays.  They most certainly won't feel included in this kind of retreat, though, I can assure that there are many single gay people attending church and seeking a place in God's kingdom.  I really wonder what the church is thinking this will accomplish.  I can, however, imagine some gay and lesbian couples quietly getting together. I can also imagine that if the retreat is conducted simultaneously, that there will be more than a few who want to be around the opposite sex and jump the fence to the other side or text each other constantly.

I'm out. The last retreat I found seriously annoying for its attempt to create community and force us all into sharing more than we felt comfortable sharing with people who weren't really our friends and weren't going to be our friends.  I left the retreat halfway through it.

I finally unsubscribed to the newsletter.  I don't even know why I hadn't done it before.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Women's health is more than just contraception

As it has been for many years, people absorb themselves in arguments about whether or not they should provide contraception as part of their company health plans, and whether or not they can get a religious exemption if they aren't a religious organization, but are Christians.  Such health matters are difficult to regulate.  But the real issue is that women's health means more than that.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What the church doesn't tell you about fertility and having children

You've been waiting for the perfect guy.  And now you think you have finally found him.  It's not that you put your career first.  It's just that you have to have a career nowadays if you aren't marrying right out of high school.  You have to think about how you will support yourself and be a wise steward of your time and resources.  You get busy and start saving, like a smart woman should.  You pray and hope, but you don't sit there and read Bride's or name your future children.  You see friends having babies.  You wait.

And like all Christian girls, you pray to meet the right man.  I mean, forget Mr. Right or Mr. Perfect.  You were even realistic looking for Mr. Right Kind of Man.  You said no to the Mr. Wrongs.  And then you finally did meet him.  And you got married at 35, or even older...  Is it wrong to hope that God will still bless you with children?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

U2's Bono, reflections on the difference between karma and grace

I'm reblogging this because I thought it was a wonderful excerpt from Bono's book.  Yes, he's sellig something.  I'm amazed at how much he reflects on Christ.  Maybe, like the rest of us, he's a fallen human being who didn't rest perfectly in grace.  I think many of us desire karma for the bad people and grace for the mostly good people.  Grace doesn't work like that.

“It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma…
 
You see, at the centre of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you; an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics – in physical laws – every action is met by an equal or opposite one.  Its clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe.  I’m absolutely sure of it.

And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “As you reap, so will you sow” stuff.  Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep shit. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled….its not our own good works that get through the gates of heaven…
If only we could be a bit more like Him, the world would be transformed.  All I do is get up on the Cross of the Ego; the bad hangover, the bad review. When I look at the Cross of Christ, what I see up there is all my shit and everybody else’s. So I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked: Who is this man?  And was He who He said He was, or was he just a religious nut?  And there it is, and that’s the question.  And no one can talk you into it or out of it.”

All text taken from Chapter 11 of Bono on Bono: conversations with Michka Assayas, 2005 (Hodder).  Buy the book.

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Swagbucks savvy - beware the traps and find the good stuff

Ah, the internet!  That place where scams abound.  You can rest assured that Swagbucks is not a scam.  You will actually be able to cash in your "bucks" for a payout.  The way that it works is that advertisers pay to post on the Swagbucks site and Swagbucks pays part of that out to you in exchange for being advertised to.  It's better than being advertised to for free.  Swagbucks does the same thing that Bing, Ebates and other online rewards programs offer with a few enhancements.   And note my links are in pink-including the titles!

Swagbucks pays you to shop online.  If you shop by clicking through Swagbucks, you can get a kickback.  Swagbucks might be offering 3 Swagbucks on the dollar for shopping at some website.  They say it's "better" than 3% cash back, but it's actually exactly like 3% cash back, which is 3 pennies on the dollar.  Spend $100 bucks and you get 300 Swagbucks, which we know is $3.  In fact Savvy shoppers know they ought to shop around for cash back because you can often get a better offer through Ebates, or Big Crumbs.

Swagbucks pays to sign up for services you might otherwise order.  Hulu, Netflix, Freecreditscore.com, Equifax, and others give you a kickback.

Swagbucks pays extra on store coupons Every coupon you clip and actually use pays an additional 10 Swagbucks, or 10 cents extra on every coupon you use.  That's an extra dime just for using theirs instead of another coupon resource like Coupon Cabin, etc. These are THE SAME COUPONS as you see in the paper and online.  That's an option I recently explored and it actually worked on things I actually buy.

Swagbucks pays you to watch videos.  You can pick from a channel you are interested in.  Choose from health, fashion, entertainment, pets, travel, whatever strikes your fancy.  My favorite are the movie trailers.  I also just watched a few interviews with Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift on their music channel.

Swagbucks has a toolbar. In fact they pay you one Swagbuck a day for downloading it and using it.  That's $3.65 per year essentially for free.  The toolbar even has extra videos you will get paid to watch.

Swagbucks pays you to search - something you already do for free.  You can get paid a few pennies for your time watching videos you might otherwise be watching through their toolbar which you can also download for free.  Searching for links and stuff just for this post, I earned 11 Swagbucks.

Swagbucks has paid surveys.  There are companies out there who will pay for your opinions.  It's not really enough, but it is a great time waster if you have some time to waste and want to share your opinions about dog food you buy and the like.  There are worse things you could be doing with your time.  Just remember, a Swagbuck is worth a penny.  Penny for your thoughts?

Swagbucks has game downloads.  Yep, for those addicted to the online games, Swagbucks has a selection that included Bejeweled Blitz, Scrabble Cubes, and Wheel of Fortune.  You can use Swagbucks to buy a level and stuff like that.

Swagbucks has a credit card which pays 1.25 Swagbucks for every dollar spent.  Yes, that works out to 1.25%.  As far as rewards cards go, that's not too bad.  And you can earn even more if you use your Swagbucks card to shop online.  You get 1000 Swagbucks as a bonus just to start using it. Remember, that's just $10.  Other credit cards give bigger bonuses.  Where they really make the money on this is where all credit cards make their money, monthly fees and interest for those who run a balance.  If you pay it off every month, you will get 1.25% back.

Swagbucks pays for you to answer a daily poll 1 swagbuck a day.  It's not much, but they are usually fun topics.  What they really want is for you to be on the site and using it.

Swagbucks has FREE mobile apps.  In a jetset age, you can take Swagbucks with you whereever you go and earn more stuff.  These downloads will be a great timewaster while you are standing in line, or waiting for your date to get back from the bathroom.  Beware the data charges you might incur if you watch too much Swagbucks TV.  Enjoy Swagsearch and Swagbucks.

Swagbucks has a heart. You can donate all of your Swagbucks to charity if you want.  Swagbucks has partnered with Unicef, the Red Cross, Charity:Water, Humane Society, Typhoon Haiyan relief, Treecycler, Interpid Fallen Heroes, Gavi Alliance, and even allows you to pick someone through Charity Choice.  If these are among some of your elect causes, this does about the same thing as Goodsearch.  In fact, Swagbucks got its start trying to raise money for charity.

Swagcodes bring in more Swagbucks via social media.  You can find Swagcodes on Swagbucks twitter and Swagbucks Facebook pages.  Miss them and they don't work.  You can also end up wasting some time looking for them, just like you and I so often waste time on the internet doing things we ought not be doing.

Beware Trap # 1 - Swagstakes.  One of the ways that they keep their money is by promising that you will get more.  You can give some of your Swagbucks back to them by entering "Swagstakes" or Swagbucks lotto. Yes, you could win.  But the way gambling works is that more people lose.  Advantage Swagbucks.

Beware Trap #2 - Swagbucks accelerator Superusers can increase their earnings by 33% for an extra fee, of course.  It only pays if you really use it.  Pay $4.99 and they will give you and extra 700 Swagbucks.  (You pay 5 to get 7, or just $2 extra.)  You can sign up for the Accelerator Plus which costs $9.99 and will give you up to 1500 Swagbucks.  (Pay 10 and get 15, or just $5 extra per month.)  But that's the limit of what they will match.  If you don't use Swagbucks for an extended period of time, or don't maximize your use, not only do they not double very much, you have signed up as a subscriber for a real service that charges you while giving you nothing.  Advantage Swagbucks.

Beware Trap #3 - Swagbucks Visa card.  A credit card can be a beautiful thing and the rewards plentiful.  But you absolutely must pay it off on a monthly basis.  Carry a balance and you will be paying high interest.  Pay late and you will knock out the value of your rewards with late fees.  Since most people carry a balance or pay late, advantage Swagbucks. 

But, you may also spin your wheels for a small payout.  They call them "Swagbucks" but it doesn't take a genius to see that each of these "bucks" is only worth about a penny.  The only one really making the Swagbucks here is owner/co-founder/co-CEO Scott Dudelson who bought a mansion in Malibu, and his co-founder.

Swagbucks has a referral program.  If you must sign up, please sign up through my link as a thanks for being honest with you about the real scoop on Swagbucks.  I will get 1000 Swagbucks for that.  And, doing the math, that's $10.  I won't be getting rich here.  I wish I had a link customized to this blog, but it will go to my alter-ego Keep Musicking.  swagbucks.com/refer/KeepMusicking


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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tauriel is just the kind of kickass The Hobbitt needed, plus a dash of starcrossed love

Seriously, love Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel.
Let's be honest.  We already know that this one just isn't for the Tolkien purists.  The Hobbitt went off the rails in the first installment.  And there's no going back now.  They brought Legolas back into the action.  The first film seemed bloated with action and lacked character development.  I've decided to embrace the chaos. 

And in this installment, instead of Kili and Fili helping Bilbo to find the door to the mountain, instead of camping in the Mirkwood forest for a month with dwarves establishing their characters through sharing their lore and singing their songs to each other, we got Tauriel played by Evangeline Lilly.   Really, it seems like a fair trade.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Federal Health Care Fiasco aka Obamacare

I signed up for a health care account on the federal website one night. Through I grew up in Los Angeles, I spent a brief stint at “the other USC” for a Master of Music in Opera Theater, and felt obligated to check it out. It took less than 5 minutes at 11pm Pacific time. I can’t figure out what all the fuss is about this “failed” website. Since I don’t live in SC anymore and already have health care, I had to stop with creating an account.

There wasn’t a single glitch with creating an account. Yet I hear people complaining all the time. What do a few glitches matter anyway? Email and other websites go down for maintenance on a regular basis, and some of their new features crash. Firefox crashes constantly. Security software eats up far too much RAM. Software updates to Firefox, Silverlight, Java, and Adobe cause constant crashes and complaints. Instead of blaming any of these possibilities, everyone blames Healthcare.gov.

In my opinion, this is one of those things we can chalk up partly to the outright hatred President Obama has experienced for being a foreign-born African illegal alien Muslim when he is actually a US citizen born in Hawaii and professes Christian beliefs. And even if he weren’t born in Hawaii, it still wouldn’t matter because his mother was a US citizen. The Obama are the most affectionate family I have seen in the White House. Malia and Sasha still hold hands with their parents in public. The First Lady has been very active in her role, always impeccably dressed. And yet this daughter of two relatively affluent lawyers is constantly called “ghetto.” It's ridiculous.  The President of the last two terms and his family are Black, it’s time to get over it.

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Shopping savvy - how to get great discounts online and cashback

OK, it may seem too good to be true.  But it's not.  If you make any of your purchases online, you owe it to yourself to sign up for a cashback website.  Some even offer extra coupon codes for discounts.  My new favorite of these discount programs is called Shop at Home. 

I was shopping around for a home elliptical.  I can't work out for very long because of injuries and really wanted to get back in shape without the intimidation of going to the gym.  I found what I was looking for - the Nordic Track ACT elliptical trainer.  Shop At Home had, in addition to 3% cash back, a coupon code for 10% off which totally worked.  So, yes, right now I'm a believer.

If you sign up and begin making purchases at all the online stores you love, you will get a $5 bonus.  Payouts begin at $20.  And, yes, I would get a $5 bonus when you make a purchase within a few weeks.  But wouldn't you like that?  I always compare my cash back programs and I have saved a few hundred dollars on purchases.  It's really cool, and it costs NOTHING to join.  Check it out!

ShopAtHome Banner

Friday, September 27, 2013

New options in low wattage lighting - halogen adapted to light bulbs

I get hits from all over the world, and I'm not sure how other countries are about this.  In the US, there is a move toward lower wattage lighting in the last few years.  But it also meant buying fluorescent lights with mercury in them.  While I'm a big fan of saving on the electric bill, I did not like this move toward even low levels of a poisonous element.

I recently broke an old mercury (quicksilver) thermometer in my bedroom when I was ill.  I did experience some of the effects of mercury poisoning, such as vivid nightmares and itching.  When I was a child, we would play with liquid mercury when a thermometer broke.  I have to say it was fun, but the liquid also changes to gaseous form which enters the body through the respiratory tract.

Many people do not know how to dispose of the mercury fluorescent lights properly, and end up throwing them in the recycling where they will be broken.  That's what they have been doing with their light bulbs.  Some people don't even recycle, they just throw everything in the trash.  I'm happy to report that several companies have adapted halogen lights to light bulbs.  I'm going to use those instead of the florescent.  LED lights are also an option, however they come at twice the price.  I hope you'll join me in a mercury-free lighted world.  As a bonus, the colors are better.

I think it's important to be savvy to the things of this world, and not just the spiritual plane.  But if it makes you feel better, I'll tell you to buy halogen light bulbs because I think Jesus wants you to.  When the Lord said "Let there be light," he certainly didn't mean for it to have mercury in the bulb.  And please take your old mercury bulbs to Home Depot or Lowe's since they offer free recycling.

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Responsible pet ownership

It's starting to be too expensive to own a pet.  Probably 50 years ago people had a more balanced view of a family pet.  But nowadays they are often referred to as fur children.  I've had pets my who life.  I used to dress my cat in baby clothes and he would allow this, purring happily and drooling all the while, because he just wanted to be touched and held.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Ebates for cash back $10 gift card!

From time to time I find out about a great program that gives some good online discounts, but this has to be the best I've seen.

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back
All you do is click over from here and sign up.  As soon as you make a purchase at one of their many stores, you will get cash back to you Paypal account (or by check if you are old-fashioned) and the $10 gift card in the mail.  Many companies are doing this kind of program, however, some have different stores.

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back
This program even has discounts for Travelocity and Expedia on top of the discounts you already get.  And the $10 gift card selection is quite good.  Yes, I would also get a small bonus, so help me out, and help yourself out, as you can also get that bonus.  Every penny can make a difference!  I literally got this in the mail right after posting this.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Your husband is not your soulmate

This blog post titled "My Husband Is Not My Soulmate is almost exactly what I have been trying to tell people.  God doesn't have a perfect plan for your life, and he won't get angry with you if you make a your own choices.  Dad's advice here is key,

Friday, June 21, 2013

French boys aren't all romantic

There is a mythology out there that French boys are so romantic.  Really, it seems more like people get caught up in visiting Paris, and are open to new experiences.  Seeing the lights from the top of the Eiffel Tower is surely impressive, seeing the with someone you're attracted to is certainly romantic - unless you just had a fight about finding the place - then it's just impressive, but not romantic.  In any case, this young French woman living in Paris, studying Japanese has a great deal to say about this.  I think she's cute and funny.  She's also the same girl from the post titled "Be Happy As A Single."  Here, she basically tells us that a jerk is a jerk in any language.  Her faith in people is sweet, naive, and slightly misplaced - which only adds to her charm.  She seems open and friendly - but even if you aren't, jerks are still jerks and some will try with anyone.  I like her.  :)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hoarding is now considered a mental disorder according to DSM 5

Every few years the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual gets a new edition.  This is actually a good thing.  For hoarding, a new classification as a mental disorder elevates the difficulty people have been experiencing.  At one time it would have just been considered that the person hoarding is lazy and dirty.  However, experience with hoarding has taught people more about it.  It does come with negatives. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Let's bring back The Dating Game! (And forget The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.)

The Dating Game.jpg
The Bachelor and The Bachelorette sequester men and women from their friends and families for weeks on end.  The locales are straight from fantasy.  Most people will never go there.  The stakes are high and the course is set for engagement at the end of a short and intense time period.  And it's totally fake.  Instead, I'd like for us to bring back The Dating Game!  Why?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

E. W. Jackson: Give to the rich - even if the Bible says to give to the poor

File:Dr. Hutton's Church on Second Avenue, from Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views crop.jpg
St. George's Episcopal Church
There really is nothing new under the sun, just as Ecclesiastes promises.  But this one takes the cake.  In fact, Jackson would like for you all to eat cake since you have no bread.  The Prosperity Gospel is going thud in the same way the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch made his brands distasteful to anyone with a heart.  Some of the "cool kids with lots of friends" have a heart.  Look at all of the musicians and actors who support charitable causes.  Let's break down what's wrong with Jackson and send him some serious prayer since his "new" concept of "upward giving" sounds just like owing your soul to the company store.  The poor live in company houses so they aren't paid much, are paid only in a scrip that only can be used at the company store with excessively high prices.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bachelorette said no to the "fantasy suite" but it's all fake

The Bachelorette is back - which is always good for some entertainment.  It's quite fake by all accounts.  I'd like to know who actually chooses from 25 guys to whittle it down to The One?  While I applaud Bachelorette Desiree for making it clear that she's "not that kind of girl,"  nothing happenson this show that the producers don't know about and haven't OK'd.  It's possible that if she were "that kind of girl" that she would have gone to the "Fantasy Suite," but let's be serious.  The Nice Girls from The Bachelor are the ones who become The Bachlorette.

Everyone seems so heartbreakingly sincere about their quest for love, but with the pressure on love is elusive.  Very few of the couples who got together on the show have lasted beyond a year.  Perhaps our expectations are too high for this show...that has me thinking...Remember The Dating Game?  I've seen some clips of it and it was often hilarious.  Perhaps the most we should expect of people we meet on television is a date with no expectation of anything after.

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Be happy as a single: You don't need a boyfriend or girlfriend

One of the joys of modern life is that you don't have to be in a relationship.  This girl definitely has the right attitude, however, it also helps her that she's 21.  I know that many of my readers are beyond their 20s and even 30s, so they may have a level of frustration that this girl in her vlog just hasn't been through. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Why is it so hard to leave him? Is it sexual sin? Or something else?

I've written long and often about some of my past loves - those sweet Christian boys who seem to chronically ditch the DTR talk.  (DTR stands for define the relationship.)  There are a bunch of sexual purity and abstinence pushers who are teaching a false gospel that everything boils down to sex leading people into or staying it bad relationships, but that isn't always the case.