Sunday, January 25, 2009

Plans are finalized

I know we're not spending enough time in New Zealand but I'm married to a workaholic and this is the best we could do.

We're leaving Houston on Saturday 14 February to arrive at 0530 16 February in Auckland. We'll spend the day in Auckland and Devonport then fly out early the next morning via Salt Air to Kerikeri for a helicopter tour of the Bay of Islands. After spending a few days in that area we fly to Blenheim for a few days among the sounds and wineries. At 1730 on 24 February we'll fly from Nelson to Auckland to arrive in LA at 1400 the same day (imagine that!). From there it'll be an uneventful flight back to Houston.

My husband is still wanting to move as soon as possible. Seems he's pretty upset with the condition Bush left this country in and has serious doubts that President Obama can fix it in our lifetimes.

Wish us luck.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Traveling to New Zealand

As I’m writing this we are making plans to visit New Zealand next month. My husband, the engineer, wants to check out the country with hopes of immigrating there in the near future. You see, he’s sure the US is going to hell in a hand basket very soon and he doesn’t want to be here when it happens.

I have a problem with this. I love living in Houston. I’ve been here for over 30 years and have acquired a lot of close and deep friendships. My life here is fun, exciting, comfortable, nice and wonderful. I don’t want to change something that I’ve worked hard to achieve.

On the other hand New Zealand is a wonderful place to live. My research has shown that the quality of life is high and that the people there are happy. I’ve looked into residential real estate in the Auckland area and the area around Russell and the prices seem high but reasonable for what one gets.

We’ll be leaving in mid-February and staying for a little over a week. My engineer husband seems to think that’s enough time to figure if we want to live there or not. I’m not so optimistic.

I welcome any comments about New Zealand anyone has for me. Thanks!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Book thoughts

On the second Saturday of every month a group of atheist ladies meet at a local health food restaurant for fellowship and brainstorming. We call ourselves the HoustonHumanistsChicks (and we can be found on Yahoo! Groups.)

Last Saturday, after an hour of chit-chat, we each talked about any resolutions we made or anything of importance going on in our lives. When the discussion got to me I revealed that I hadn’t made any resolutions but I have been reading “50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God” by Guy P. Harrison. Several people stated immediately that they had read the book and enjoyed it. Well, I’m enjoying it too but it’s not what I thought it would be and I don’t think a Christian like my mother would understand the book and its message.

I had listened to several podcasts in which Mr. Harrison had been interviewed about his book and he stated that he wrote the book with theists in mind, to gently point out the absurdities of their points of view. I’m only halfway through the book and my feeling is that fundamental theists would not like what they are reading. In fact I pointed out to my friends that my mother most likely would’ve thrown the book across the room from the very beginning. I’d like to think my less conservative friends/family would agree with some and disregard the rest yet still not be challenged to think any differently.

After some discussion about this book one of the ladies suggested reading “The Denial of Death” by Ernest Becker for better understanding of why people have faith in a god. Surprisingly I have that book in my library and may have read it several years ago when going through my own growing pains out of belief. I’ll be reading it again when I finish Guy Harrison’s book.

I am reading these books because I do want to understand why people continue to hold to the belief in a god with no credible evidence. I get how people can be brainwashed and indoctrinated. For example: the concept of Santa Clause as a real person. An immature person, a child, loves the mystery of the man who lives at the North Pole who rewards the good ones with gifts. The story of Jesus can be mysterious and full of wonder if one wants to hold to the belief of good triumphing over evil and the righteous get to spend eternity in heaven. To me and to many other nonbelievers this concept seems as childish as believing in St. Nick. Opening my mind to how religions are formed and how the Bible was constructed helped me to understand reality. I finally saw that there is no force watching out for me and, like a child, let go of the fantasy and embraced reality in all it’s beauty, randomness and ugliness.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Poor

I’ve been meaning to write more often in 2009 but the real world has been interrupting that goal. My ambition is to write at least 3 times a week with the intention of writing more.

Today I’m writing about poverty and what to do about it when it forces its way into your life.

A few days ago I was filling my car with gas at an Exxon station off the main freeway. It’s a busy place not only because of its location but it is also the location of a fast food burger joint. It was particularly busy that day and I was watchful of my self and of my purse in the front seat. A young woman who looked battered and poor approached me, getting too close to me for comfort. She proceeded to tell me her story, about how her husband had just beaten her and she was stranded there at the gas station in her car and two small children.

I was torn. Do I believe her and help her or what? I’ve been taken before in parking lot scams, not for a lot of money, but one doesn’t like to be taken advantage of. So that’s in the back of my mind. If her story is true what responsibility do I have as a fellow human being in helping her? How far do I go?

The two small children were in the car looking out at the scene. They were cute, clean, and looked to be in no danger. While I was trying to decide what to do this woman got even closer to me making me very, very uncomfortable. She was getting between me and my purse in the front seat. I had to act quickly.

Beggars used to be quite common in our city. It seems the trend is gaining ground lately so I keep a few one dollar bills in my ashtray to quickly hand out at stop lights. I took the opportunity to get in front of this woman to open my car door and get a few dollars for her. I grabbed three, handed them to her, and stated that that amount should help her get where she needed to be.

I know I’m a target. The bright red Porsche doesn’t help. Many of my friends are in similar situations so I’ve been asking what they would do if confronted with a poor, battered woman at a gas station. I was surprised at some of the answers. Many of my middle class friends would ignore the woman and hope that she walks away! Some would say they had nothing to give and hope that she walks away. I just couldn’t do that. With the little that I did do I felt guilty that I didn’t try harder to do more.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Two more movies...

I recently saw "Seven Pounds" with Will Smith and "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button" with Brad Pitt. Both were tear-jerkers and both I would recommend.

Friday, January 2, 2009

How can I still be full?

I'm guessing a whole month of over indulgence has finally crept up on me. Ugghh! The diet started today.

I played 2 hours of doubles this morning then went out with some friends to see "Slum Dog Millionaire." What a nice surprise this movie turned out to be. Well made with a very interesting plot. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Happy New Year!

I didn't do anything special for Xmas dinner so I decided to do New Year's Day up right. Honey baked ham, mashed potatoes with gravy, mashed yam (for me), green bean casserole, broccoli and rice casserole, and lemon meringue pie for dessert. The SO was happy!

Here's wishing all my Internet friends the best for 2009!