Overheard at the 70th Anniversary of D-Day…

Obama: Well, Vlad, you haven’t said a word.

Putin: I am still thinking of response.

O: Ya gotta admit it was pretty clever.

P: But still, it was your own military.

O: What would you do if the cadets at your army training academy dissed you?

P: I would not hesitate to send every one of them to hard labour in Siberia, required to hear boring lectures by one woman I would not argue with, your former Secretary of State…very smart of you, assigning women to be secretaries. If they cannot cook in kitchen, make them secretaries. Ha ha.

O: Yes, one step forward with me as president, two steps back returning women to secretary roles. But seriously, I thought what I did was pretty cool.

P: Rescuing deserter of your own military is like giving middle finger to your generals. Rescuing deserter who had converted to religion of your country’s enemy and also of your father is dangerous, even for me. Tells your countrymen “Fuck you!” a little loud, don’t you think, even for you?

O: Not at all. Not at all. I thought it was a perfect example of presidential-level sarcasm. Besides, there’s not a single thing anyone can do about my private joke at the expense of the American peasants. This power trip is pretty addictive. I can see why you stay in control.

P: You are right. And Russian women who love men in power good for more than secretarial position. I make them secret agents, tell them I personally train them for missionary position.

O: That, Vlad, is clever! You da man.

P: Da. You man, too. What your personal adversary say? “Power to the King of the sheeple!”

O: She’ll always have a view of your country from her backyard, that’s certain.

P: Beware the rest of your political career, comrade. Sarcasm is lost on ordinary citizens. More so when you personally make fun of your soldiers for revenge.

O: Well, you can bet those cadets will give me full honours next time. Lol

Mourning has broken

As sheep graze the green grass of Ireland in the month of March, not more than a week away from Saint Patrick’s Day, here on this third planet in orbit around the local star we call our Sun, a collection of cells looks at itself and smiles.

Now, what is a smile?

Smile, n.: A subset of collection of cells sharing signals to coordinate an activity that similar cell collections recognise automatically.

Could the definition be more generic?


What is a smile but a symbol and what is a symbol but a clash of simple meanings?

Today, for the first time, I held my smiling great-nephew in my hands and flew him through the air like Superman.

It takes one to know one.

In that moment, I realised that I am who I am, wealthy enough to retire on the interest of a modest trust fund of my own making, happy to be the slightly rude and crude fellow who occasionally acts like a gentleman in front of women who want to be treated like ladies but who otherwise is not a core member of the type of folks who would be associated with the “church lady“.

I have finished another round of recovering from the loss of my father, which includes releasing the constraints upon myself that I had learned to keep subdued in order not to feed and incur the wrath of Dad when he was alive.

I am not a weekly churchgoing kind of guy but I am willing to support those who are, having, with my wife, pledged to donate half a million dollars to the summer church camp where she and I met as 12 year-old “rising seventh graders,” neither one of us being daily Bible readers or church attendees but friends with those who are.

To those who are, I am grateful for their influence upon my youth.  I know that many of them would love for me to join them in service to the community to promote religious teachings in action.

But that is not who I am.  I am a child of a universe of which our cultural/religious teachings are limited to a single solar system.

I will allow the teachings to continue to be a part of my set of states of energy but I believe it is a subset of which the set includes stuff unassociated with our species and its methods of survival on and around Earth.

I am healing from unintentional cuts in the thought patterns I was following that the cuts interrupted — cuts known as psychological damage in one respect and unique personality traits in another.

I am who I am because of who I was when I didn’t know who I was or who I wanted to be, exactly.

I am a collection of cells influenced by a lot of subcultures.

But again, that is from the viewpoint of a single planet.

From the viewpoint of the known universe, our species is invisible.

I practice telling myself this over and over because I choose to equal the influence upon me from others (“others” being any stimuli outside the immediate circle of influence that constitutes my set of states of energy (this collection of cells) that moves around the planet) by repeating to myself what I believe.

I have healed from these wounds, these cuts, these interruptions that redirected the forward momentum of multiple personalities in conflict that comprise the entity known as me.

I have reevaluated my risk aversion levels woven together as characters/masks/personalities/compartmentalised responses to external stimuli.

In the midst of healing that started when my brother in-law died in 2006, continued through my midlife retirement, caring for my mother in-law as she aged, got lonely, left her hometown, moved to our town and died, then rapidly followed by my father’s declining health and death, I resurfaced the core personality traits I had suppressed for the sake of others.

I am blossoming late in life, changing my personality feedback loops to pay attention to when I’m reacting for the sake of others and cutting off those reactions, replacing them with self-affirming actions instead, rather than living in the past working hard[er] to suppress myself when it surfaced unexpectedly.

I am no longer living for others and letting others live for themselves, choosing neither to lead or follow others.

I am responsible to myself.

All while giving leave of the self for other goals that may or may not include me (especially after I’m dead and gone).

I have reached the point where achieving these goals means leaving people and ideas behind that I was trying to please for no other reason than I didn’t know what else to do because I waited for permission to tell them goodbye, permission I was never going to receive from anyone else but me.

I felt like an interstellar spaceship being held in place by the roots of an extinct dead grass patch.

I gave myself permission to once again be my natural self, weird in some circumstances and accepting of comparable weirdness from others.

Releasing the fear of being seen and judged by the imaginary thought patterns of others in the subcultural religious teachings of my youth.

The release was a relief and a lifting of carrying a burden that was not mine to own.

I stopped worrying about pleasing people with whom I don’t hang out regularly anymore but have friended in social media circles.

In other words, I want to joke about butt plugs shaped like the bust of Vladimir Putin but not when I’m getting blasted with “God is so good to me and my family” messages all the time.

So, all I can do is say goodbye to the people/family in the subcultural religious teachings of my youth and let them be happy in their subcultural circles of which I no longer actively participate.

No better way to be me than to use someone else singing “I Gotta Be Me.”

Going crazy again

In my life, I have lost my sanity a few times:

  • at age five, when I realised I was alone in the universe and had to create my own version of something to make sense of the cluelessness around me
  • at age ten, when my best friend/girlfriend died, leaving me more alone than ever
  • twice in high school, when my girlfriend broke up with me and, more significantly, after I suffered a head concussion in a car wreck
  • at age 23, when I, against all the teachings of my youth (especially the one about coveting a married woman), made love to a married woman
  • at age 27, when I cracked under the pressure of having to appear on television to promote a community project I created, sensing a number of contradictions within my personality that was perceptible on live TV and out of my control once it was broadcast to whomever was watching
  • at age 44, when my brother in-law died

I return to a familiar place on this path through life — a crossroads that branches off to unknown destinations.

I feel like I am being ripped apart, with tendrils/roots from my past pulling on me to give people I’ve known the affirmation that the lives we shared contained and shall continue to create happy times.

I’m always looking for an easy escape route from every moment I spend with other people, knowing that eventually the internal insanity that has defined me since I can remember will show itself — the disjointed, at-odds-with-itself set of thoughts that have kept me alive and in touch with people who, God help them (I’ll get back to that last phrase in a moment), are probably just as fucked up as I am but I sure as hell don’t want to know, allowing myself the illusion that other people have it together.

One girlfriend said knowing me was like peeling back layers of an onion and she was never sure what she’d find next, as protective I was in controlling people’s access to the “real” Rick.

Do I always know what I’m doing?  Rarely.  But I know where I want to be and have plans to get there.

Otherwise, the “real” me is an illusion, changing moment by moment to passively accommodate people’s perceptions of me so I can reach my goal while giving them whatever makes them happy.

What if giving them whatever makes them happy contradicts certain parts of me that are partially set in stone?

I know I am insane to think I am alone in this universe which, God help me (okay, time to address that last phrase — if I alone in the universe, then, by extension, there is no deity other than myself for myself, leaving others to find the deity belief sets in them that satisfy their needs for self affirmation?), leaves me with zero friends because if friends are merely sets of states of energy to bounce against like pinballs to get us moving again, well…

I am caught between seeing that I am a nice-enough looking guy who makes many people feel comfortable in my presence and thus able to believe I will help them affirm their beliefs, and seeing that what I want may not make many people happy.

One girlfriend, when I finally was able to share with her the dystopian visions that haunt me and chase me constantly, wondered why I was such a joyful guy on the outside but such a hard-nosed, scared-to-death conservative type on the inside.  We discussed the whole fight-vs-flight concept and, despite my best (worst?) efforts to want to control the conversation, I let the girlfriend dissect my view against my deepest desires not to hear what she saw in me.  She finally agreed that I was more fucked up than she was, taking strange theories, mixing them up in a cosmic comic worldview and applying them to my own fears and aspirations without concern that they made no sense in the real world.

It didn’t stop her from wondering what having a child with me would be like, able to compare the two kids she already had against one we could have.  A couple of days after we agreed to stop seeing each other (after all, I was banging her best friend, too (the aforesaid married woman), which made the both of us feel a little guilty (okay, maybe not too much; more like we should do the decent thing and call it off before her best friend found out)), she had sex with a guy she’d just met and ended up pregnant.  Because the guy professed his love for her without question and he was one of the heirs to a bread company fortune, she told me that even if the baby was mine, she was going to call it his; I happily agreed because it was sure going to be an affirmation of my worldview that nature-vs-nurture is a false dichotomous construct about childrearing and I didn’t have to worry about paying child support (I was a broke college student at the time).

As an opportunist looking for escape routes living in my thoughts, I recently plotted out a course of action whereby the possibilities of hitting the eject button on my current marriage might be facilitated by solidifying relationships with a dance partner; thus, I saw the person I liked laughing and dancing with the most, heard her say that her beau was looking for someone to join a fraternal organisation with and told myself, well, if it makes him happy that I join the organisation with him then I might get more time to dance with her and from there, who knows.

Damn it if the fraternal organisation’s requirements, including a main one about hosting a belief in a deity hasn’t put a burr in my side and, in the process, turned me into my father and his more conservative/religious views.

I know that portions of my personality were formed from contact with my father and I have fought tooth-and-nail internally to reject those portions because of the compromises I had to make to protect myself from his passive-aggressive treatment of my mother, sister and me, hearing from his colleagues, friends and family, however much I don’t want to, how kind and considerate but opinionated my father was and how so many people from my past want to welcome me into the fold now that I, as a legacy, have joined my father’s fraternal organisation and cemented my place in that subculture.

I am a mixed-up dude and I know it.

I’ve never been forced by a child of mine in my household to construct a consistent view of the universe in an effort to give that child the best opportunities for success with an easily-repeatable narrative about how/why life is.

I have been able, instead, to successfully slide through life, hopping from one better-paying job to another, accumulating wealth along the way without giving the shirt off my back, to arrive here in this comfortable middle-class hovel in the woods, always having an escape plan at the ready should something I had imagined happen (for the unexpected, I am probably completely unprepared).

I don’t know what my very next step will be, except to take the bathmat out of the clothes washer that the cat had pooped on and hang it up to dry (the bathmat, not the cat (or the poop)).

I still want to get to the Moon and then on to Mars and dance in low-gravity conditions with my literary characters Guin and Bai.

Whether I join reality or whether reality gets in the way, I cannot say.

If I don’t even know if sanity is an illusion, how can I know if reality is real?

Me, myself, and I…sigh…

‘Tis sad to see that my wish — to have some dreadful disease that would end my life — has never been fulfilled.

Instead, my general practitioner tells me I am getting healthier as I get older because I have taken good care of my body.

What the hell?

You mean I won’t die of natural causes any time soon?

I wander the wilderness of this planet that we pretend is tamed with concrete sidewalks, asphalt driveways and paved parkways, never able to do more with the sets of states of energy than what they are, never able to get outside of this universe.

I shake my fist at the sky, shouting that my subculture is just not enough to make me happy — I have killed with my bare hands, I have tasted infinity, there is no love for the comfortable confines of a subculture which never truly contained me.

During the month or so of much-needed/wanted/desired self-reflection upon the threshold of self-actualisation, I assimilate my alliterative allegories and wander aimlessly.

Twixt which tweets, texts or twigs do I twist?

Having held death in my hands, there is little more to call my own.

Having stood on the edge of the abyss, there is little in the normal world that surprises me.

Yet, I want more.

I,I,I wantwantwant moremoremore.

I give the members of my childhood subculture their happy connections to our shared symbol sets, telling them I’ll perpetuate their beliefs for them and make them believe I believe them, too, if that makes them happy.

I have padded about in this comfort zone, lining the nest financially so much that I almost can’t get out of the nest or at least have raised the walls high enough to give me pause.

If only I had the impetus to generate enough income to construct a ladder or a means to helicopter myself out of this nest…

But for what purpose?

What is the core self, if there is one, the core burning desire to achieve something I am not achieving or do not see myself achieving, from this base of operations, this dilapidated modified ranch house with cathedral ceiling propped on a hillside over a crawlspace?

I am an amateur philosopher/maker/poet/writer who has been able to live below his means long enough and live in relative peace with a partner, his fellow 12-year old summer church camp attendee turned penpal turned wife of 27+ years, so that I’m closer to being stuck at home with both of us in our retirement years wondering what we’re going to do with the rest of our lives.

In other words, everything well within the normal range of people belonging to our subculture.

That, my fellow chickadees, is a revelation that hits me again and again about once a year, from when I was five, wondering how many more of the clueless adults around me I had to keep putting up with (and still wondering why!) to when I stood at the front of the church as my bride walked up the aisle to me and knowing that committing to marriage was the worst betrayal of myself that would ever happen (because I do not believe in marriage) and so on.

What I want out of life is to eliminate the self, not MYself, but the concept of the individual as more important than as just another set of states of energy generated by that burning ball of cosmic dust we call the Sun.

Then and only then will we see what the universe is, will we be able to move beyond our Earthcentric thoughts and onto the Next Great Thing that has nothing to do with the popular image of gadgets and gizmos to sell on the open market under protective cover of undercover government agents and privacy-intruding marketing departments.

Yet, how do we move a species to build spaceships for Martian settlement without peddling a lot of stuff on amazon.com and through paypal?

How do we promote the concept of conspicuous consumption in order to siphon off thousandths of a penny per sale for space exploration without overselling the concept of the individual?

Perhaps I shouldn’t care.  Perhaps allowing the religious concept of the soul in society is equivalent to allowing the economic concept of the consumer in society?

What, then, of the rise of the atheist consumer?  How do I address the issue of the atheist in the future where we need pooled resources to seed celestial bodies?

Euphemisms and symbology, that’s how!

Noon on Christmas Day

In this house, where memory markers are stored, sits a lighted Christmas tree under which a modest number of gifts covered in decorative wrapping paper and topped with shiny bows marks a moment in the future, a few hours from now if random interruptions do not distract our family from agreed-upon meeting times here.

Do you faithfully promote the traditions of your ancestors, not questioning the reasons they chose for the habits we have setting aside family time to celebrate holidays?

Are you happy with the rhythms of life recognised by others?

In the past two years I have experienced changes to the patterns to which I’d grown accustomed, a few of the changes themselves repetitious changes to patterns earlier in my life, like familiar concentric waves I once formed bouncing back toward me.

We reap what we sow.

Karma will get you.

Reminders of the fish that got away, the paths not taken, the opportunity costs and risks associated with choices I made.

Because I have more than enough material goods in my life, my wants and needs in that regard are greatly diminished from when I was younger and driven to accumulate as a bizarre twist on the innate nesting, hunting and social climbing drilled into my head by a conspicuous consumption culture.

Share the wealth.

I only had 50 Christmas days with my father to work out the details of a family tradition that changed as our family changed, 50 more days than some.  There were about 18,200 days which had no tradition tied to them that I could have spent with Dad learning about ancestral patterns.

In this house, my wife and my mother prepare food for our family Christmas dinner in a few hours, while my sister and her husband spend time with his family, my nieces and nephews spend time with their families.

On this day, people around the world, hundreds of millions of them, as the world turns, have set aside time with their families to repeat a pattern handed to them by their ancestors, a pattern that gives us a reason to share our wealth with each other.

Billions of us may or may not join in the celebration or don’t celebrate it for the same reason.

A week from now, our traditional calendar shows that a new year will begin on the 1st of January 2014.

I wonder if, on that day, I should move to a Martian calendar, no longer concerning myself with an Earth-centric one.

What about the other traditions handed down to me from my ancestors?

Points to ponder on Christmas Day…

AK-47 or Turing machine — which would you rather have when you’re under attack?

Attack is a word that needs a good adjective — verbal, military, viral, bacterial.

Let’s go in another direction, instead — the debate about Calvinism.

No, let’s go one better — the extended order of human cooperation (aka capitalism).

The toughest yards

For those who write, whether for business or pleasure, is there a congenital condition that drives them (us!) to put chalk to slate, pen to paper or finger to touchscreen?

Writing, in whatever form, with whatever instrument, is meditation to me.

I meditated upon the benefits of organised sports when I covered high school sports for the Huntsville Times newspaper in the mid-90s.

I meditated upon the benefits of technology when I wrote computer code, starting in the 1970s entering opcode for microcontroller systems built in my and my friend’s basement.

I meditated upon symbolic writing when I drew artwork or made stop-action animation in the past few years.

Meditation is still a perplexing activity to me, as strange a label as chemicals listed on a shampoo bottle (“I’m putting what in my hair?”).

Writing and meditation are interlinked and mysterious, as they should be.

I receive emails written by anonymous people, covering topics that are the same to me but in apparent opposition to each other, including ones from a group called the Presidential Prayer Team (“Mobilizing America to Pray”) and ones from a group called the Brights Network (“illuminating and elevating the naturalistic worldview”).

Is meditation simply one way amongst many to learn?

The older I get, the more I realise the less I know.

I want to believe I am personally wise but keep opening myself up to letting the wisdom of strangers and friends/family enlighten me, taking time every day to reflect upon my ignorance.

If meditation is how to handle ignorance, I am happy.

But I don’t want to take time to heal!

Of two types of love — love acted upon and love written/spoken about — which is most important?

This afternoon, as the musical group named Committed sang the song, “Mary did you know?,” the large stage production called the Living Christmas Tree displayed behind them, I silently cried in the dark, tears running down my cheeks, unable to stop myself from remembering, as I go through some important changes in my life, that my father is not here to enjoy them with me, with my mother, with my family, with friends…

I don’t want to miss my father.

I want him to be here and continue the healing process that he and I were going through together as fellow adults, no longer father and young son.

Of course you can see I do not always get what I want.

I get what I need.

I need love.

Love is provided to me by all of you, some of you more personally connected to me than others just as you are more personally connected to other people.

As a node in the net, as a set of states of energy spinning fractally from the Sun, I am here accomplishing many goals.

I accomplish them because I have the woman with whom I’ve shared the major ups and downs in my life, the woman I legally call my wife — my friend, my companion, my partner.

I accomplish them because I have friends, new and old, from Mike to David to Abi to Jenn to Gilley to Richard to Joe to Tony to Cary to Sandy to Tobin to Sherman.

I want to feel independent of hurt and loneliness, not needing my friends and family to lean on.

As I said, I do not always get what I want.

I get what I need.

I need love.

I need to lean upon you guys for love and support right now during this time in my life, as blessed as I am with abundant, clean water to drink, a house to sleep in, a safe neighbourhood to live in, plenty of food to eat, and good roads to travel.

Help me realise it’s okay to say I’m human.

In my subculture, we celebrate the time around winter solstice by saying Merry Christmas.  I wish you well regardless of how you label the time when our planet is at this point in our orbit around the Sun, regardless of your assigning religious significance to such a celestial position or not.

Peace on Earth and good will toward all — that is as good a Christmas present as I can give you this year — may you give and receive the same to others!

No one can break the cycle but me

So, I have been able to hide from myself under the guise of my subculture for most of my life, the true self revealed in quiet, out-of-the-way moments, in foreign lands, under the influence of being under the influence.

It’s easy to sit in a cabin in the woods, free to let my true thoughts wander, find their way here, rather than have to face truth-or-consequences in society at large with my actions.

When I jumped back on Facebook for a day, reading the posts of people from my past — childhood friends, classmates, neighbours, workmates, etc. — I can only guess they are who they say they are.

I was never quite myself with them.  I was the people pleaser, seeking to perpetuate the image I was raised to project — a white, middle-class, monogamous Protestant American man/boy.

In my thoughts, though, that’s not who I am.

“Actions speak louder than words.”

True, I derive some comfort from seeing the subculture in which I was raised is still loved and cared for.

I admit affirmation of my external self is a form of comfort food.

But it only lasts so long until the internal selves are torn by the conflict.

There are only a few reactions between sets of states of energy that I expect to be shared on this planet and then only in the context of my safe, sheltered subculture — equal treatment of members of our species whilst recognising that competition for resources is inherently unequal (for many reasons, geography chief amongst them); that is, life is unfair.

Otherwise, I don’t personally practice any particular religious rituals except when needed to motivate people to accomplish tasks for the sake of populating the inner solar system; I don’t personally work for a military organisation that needs to demonise people in order to build market share but I benefit from those who do; I don’t personally have a stake in political officeholders but I once financially contributed to the campaign of one political party while at the same time was paid to deliver pamphlets for the opponent’s political party.

I am a people pleaser and I am an opportunist.  I am neither psychopath nor sociopath but can study their behaviours and act like one if it means we get a permanent Martian colony in return.

There are days when pretending to care about my subculture is a real drag, but I realise the alternatives can be much worse.

I often wonder why I stay married except I fear that if I, an Eagle Boy Scout who once received a U.S. Navy ROTC four-year scholarship to Georgia Tech, don’t believe in marriage, who will and if nobody does, what’s going to happen to the moral/ethical/religious fiber that we have said historically binds our subcultures together?

But then I look at our American society, which is supposedly composed of 46% of the population that is not married, and it’s doing all right.

Of course, it’s not the same as it once was.

Historically, the American Century was a geographical miracle of wars devastating foreign governments, creating global business competition which gave the impression that the American people (“give us your tired, your hungry, your poor”) were extra-special.

Having a monoculture that dominates the mass media (creating/perpetuating mass hypnosis) will give the impression that the monoculture’s unique traits are the ingredients that make people who they are; thus, premises can lead one to conclude that the American people were extra-special because the dominant monoculture was extra-special and the impression many had was the dominant monoculture was related to Judeo-Christian principles (and some would say it was 98% Christian and 2% Jewish (in fact, a few down here in the Deep South would shout it was 100% Christian but let’s not shout too loud just yet without the facts)).

I can only speak from experience and, in my five+ decades of living, I have observed that many who enjoy a relatively troublefree life of conformity to the Judeo-Christian subculture(s) are happy when they fully believe in and want to stay within the boundaries of those belief sets, regardless of small differences that have arisen over the years due to interpretation of the major religious texts and its various translations.

By extension, in larger subcultural subtextual context, we have belief sets associated with musical tastes; e.g., are you are Garth Brooks or Beyonce fan?  Is there any reason you can’t be both?

Can you be both a Christian and an atheist?

Does the way Miley Cyrus or Beyonce shakes her booty on stage teach feminist values better than a lifelong politician like Margaret Thatcher or Hillary Clinton?

In other words, our associative comparisons make us who we are.

By hiding here in the cabin in the woods, I can compare myself to the rest of the world and see I’m happy by comparison because I don’t have to do much to prove myself day after day.

In the 27+ years I have been married, there have only been two women who virtually held a mirror up to my face, asking me if being married to my childhood friend who has stood by me in my best and worst moments is the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with: Brenda and Abi.  In both of them, there was never a request to divorce my wife and marry one of them, instead, so I have been able to safely and happily use their unspoken question about my relationship to my wife as not personally motivated by them.

Their lifestyles not associated with a church, free from many expectations of social conformity, were the mirrors.

Both have been married and are divorced.  One told me she loves women.  The other told me she recently discovered she’s polyamorous.

I, too, love women.  I, too, recently [re]discovered I am polyamorous.

Therefore, it behooves me to ask myself the question, if my marriage bed has grown cold, if monogamy has lost its meaning to me, why, except for perpetuating my subculture and its current/historical ties to society at large, except for the comfortable financial conveniences that marriage still affords, except for the fact that my wife and I have known each other since we’re 12 and are generally compatible, am I still married?

My wife wants me doing something that brings more income into our household.  The last time I was in that situation, I saw how much I could afford to separate myself from her and put my childhood community behind me…permanently.

I admit it scared me at the time, traveling and working internationally, how much I desired to cut [some but not all] ties with a subculture I no longer believed in but was willing to keep up appearances for friends and family of old because it really isn’t all that bad but I might disappoint a few people if I acted upon my beliefs and not theirs.

When I jumped back on Facebook, I realised that with the hundreds of people there, I was accepting of whatever changes they had made from when I lived in the same community with them — married, divorced, childless, grandparents, nonheterosexual, godless, etc.

In other words, what am I worried about?  Why this unfounded fear of one particular change in my life?

I can talk until I’m blue in the face or, as encouraged by a woman who whispered in my ear this week, I can act on the belief it’s time for me to step up and be a man.

Ultimately, all I want is for our species to expand into the universe.  The rest of this is forgotten jibberjabber.

If I spend time worrying about hurt feelings, I’ll never get anywhere fast.