Please Don’t Buy Me Flowers

I saw 16 men in line at Safeway today, each one held nothing but a bouquet of flowers. Clearly a frantic solution to the Valentines problem as they made their way home from work. Closer scrutiny revealed a few carried heart shaped cakes; a red aluminum pan with plastic teddy bear or heart decal pressed into industrial icing. These men were hedging their bets, covering all perceived bases just to be sure their partners wouldn’t sulk for the rest of the night.

It isn’t my intention to make anyone feel bad or judge parameters of other peoples relationships; all I can do is speak for myself when I say “please don’t buy me flowers”. I don’t want anything for Valentine’s Day. I would feel dreadful if my husband were one of those men in the Safeway line. In fact, it would leave me feeling hollow if “love” ever disintegrated to the point of obligation on one pre-determined day every year.

I’m not being cynical or critical – simply admitting my astonishment at a marketing bonanza. Forgive my lack of enthusiasm for this prescribed day of love. I can’t help being who I am, I can’t shake this feeling of sympathy for those men scrambling to fulfill perceived obligations.

My husband will come home from work on a random Tuesday with flowers – no reason at all. Not because we bickered the night before, not because it’s my birthday or our anniversary – simply because. After almost 32 years of marriage it still blows me away. Unexpected, heartfelt; flowers that mean something rather than flowers society pressured him to buy on February 14. Those flowers say “I love you” – Valentine’s flowers say “I had to – hope you’re happy”.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

You don't have to be a gourmet chef to put together a delicious Valentine's Day dinner.

Fermi Paradox

In 1950 physicist Enrico Fermi posed a question pointing to the contradiction of probability for extra-terrestrial civilizations and the lack of contact with such civilizations. His pondering is known as the “Fermi Paradox”. In 1961, Frank Drake tried to come up with the statistical answer using a mathematic equation. Drake assigned values for rate of star formation in the galaxy, fraction of those stars with planets, fraction of those that would develop life, of those – the fraction with intelligent life, fraction of intelligent life willing and able to communicate, and expected lifetime of intelligent civilizations.

It doesn’t take a physicist to figure out flaws in Drake’s formula; how can anyone determine the lifetime of any given civilization or possibly understand definitions of cosmic life. We’ve only glimpsed at our solar system, haven’t set foot on the moon in decades, Voyager 1 has taken 36 years to travel 19 billion Km. give or take a few million – and is still about 11 billion Kms. from our sun. There are billions upon billions of stars in the universe; almost incomprehensible, despite attempts such as “picture all the grains of sand in the world – remove one – that’s our sun”.

Science, religion and philosophy toss the paradox around – all searching for a definitive “solution”. Science equates likelihood of an “encounter” to a fly travelling from one end of a football field to the other – a person reaching up and grasping at the air – there’s a chance they could grab the fly. Religion, steadfast and unwavering that no proof of extra-terrestrial life “proves”  God put us here. (Apparently a lot of Christians missed a memo from the Vatican that extra-terrestrial life is possible as there is no limit to God’s power)

I’ll close by pondering how lovely it would be if we could simply focus on discovery and knowledge. Imagine understanding dark matter, black holes or the fourth dimension. Debating Fermi’s Paradox is a worthy diversion; an entertaining way to stretch your mind. Buckling down to the business of pure science will change lives – forget “ancient aliens”, I want parallel dimensions.

The “Church Team”

I’ve been sitting on this ponder for a while; can’t explain why it popped into my head tonight, I haven’t given it a moments thought for weeks. Still unsure how I actually feel about it I started writing – certain my opinion will form as I proceed.

Between 2005 and 2011, Colin Jones and Ben Crawford ran an organization of fundamentalist Christian “card counters”. Based in Seattle, their “ring” of 30 or so pastors, youth pastors and church planters crossed the country cheating at black jack. In their minds it was “God at work” – nothing more than a group who cared about Jesus taking money away from evil casinos.

Often in disguise, their band of “holy rollers”  reportedly took casinos for 3 – 5 million dollars. The Church Team saw it as God at work – this is where the bile starts to fill my mouth. They didn’t use the money to help the under privileged or build schools in Africa; these good Christian pastors supported themselves. Convinced their only “mission” was to “take” from casinos in the name of God.

It wasn’t a requirement for members to be Christians, they did however prefer Christians for their “honesty”.Recruits were given instruction in card counting and tested repeatedly. All earnings were to be kept in locked metal boxes, and “payouts” took place at team dinners every time they took in $100,000 dollars.

The Church Team disbanded in 2011 after a losing streak of almost $500,000, scrutiny from the IRS and casino security wise to their ways.

The scary thing about card counting Christians is the lack of anything remotely Christian. Pondering the Church Team lands me at the doorstep of all that’s wrong with fundamentalists. The way action in the name of God is warped into ” God’s work”. I have news for you “Christians” – you’re headed straight to hell.

“Babies Who Cry” – Shirtless Putin

I can’t decide if I’m being petty, stating the obvious or caught somewhere between disgust and holy crap. Regardless of my motivation; I’m powerless to leave this ponder alone. If this image doesn’t make you wonder, I don’t know what will.


You’ve just checked into your outrageously expensive hotel room in Sochi – hotels built to accommodate international travellers to the Olympics – what’s this? Not landscapes or abstract paintings on the wall; still life photo reproductions of a shirtless Putin – if you’re lucky, photo shopped riding wild animals. Putin straddles a bear above your bed.

Estimated cost of in your face Putin – 2 million dollars. His chest reported to adorn virtually every room in Sochi. In response to numerous complaints from visitors “grossed out” by his bare chest; Putin dismissed outrage, referring to them as “babies who cry”.

Holy crap Putin – what gives? If you want to join the Village People that’s one thing – we totally understand.  If you want to be taken seriously as the leader of a world power – put your damn shirt on.