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3:16 am EST 22°F (-6°C) in Memphis, TN
Calendar of Updates
I must start this update with mentions of two acquaintances named Mike. One of them is a friend of mine from Pennsylvania who just celebrated his 25th birthday yesterday; I called him on the phone yesterday evening with birthday greetings, but anyway, happy birthday Mike. I will be joining him among the ranks of 25-year-olds exactly a week from today.
The other Mike was a full-time campus bus driver I knew from my days at the University of Michigan. I hadn't seen him in four years and change (basically since I left the 'U'), but I learned from a friend that he died Wednesday evening. The details I have are pretty sketchy, but I heard that some kind of lymphatic cancer (perhaps Hodgkin's disease) was the cause; and if I recall correctly, he would only have been in his late 30s. I was never a particularly close friend of his, since he usually worked mornings and I usually did afternoons, but on the few occasions when I did manage to chat with him, I came to know him as one of the nicest persons I had ever met. He was also a talented musician on the side, and since I was still screwing around with the guitar at the time, that gave us something to talk about at times. It's a shame that a person as nice as he was is no longer with us, but I suppose the good Lord must have had other plans for Mike. If by chance his wife should read this, I offer my condolences.
A couple updates ago, I promised to mention more about things I read in The Da Vinci Code. Some of the most interesting things that book referred to were the pagan symbols found all throughout early Christianity; I had never looked at some things that way before. In particular, many pagan faiths held a strong belief in a masculine-feminine balance of divinity; that is to say, they found their concept of a god in the proper balance between male and female qualities. Feminine symbology is everywhere in many old European cathedrals, and even in older church buildings here in the New World. For example, many such churches' main entry-ways feature a series of progressively smaller stone arches leading into the door, and at the top of the outermost arch, some kind of decorative stone is placed in such a way that it protrudes outward. This is a representation of the female external genitalia, with the upper stone representing the clitoris, the arches representing the labia, and the door itself representing the vaginal opening — the opening to more sacred places found inside. Many cathedrals feature an area known as the nave immediately inside the main doors; naves are usually long, dark passageways that lead to the altar — the most holy place, the place from which "new life" springs forth, metaphorically speaking. It should be quite obvious that the nave symbolizes the vagina, a long, dark passageway, and the altar at its end is a symbol of the womb (the most sacred part of a woman's body, the part from which new life in the form of a baby springs forth).
Essentially, modern Christianity as we know it today was heavily influenced by the fourth-century Roman emperor Constantine, at whose orders any Gospels that emphasized Jesus' humanity over His divinity were banned. (Today, we call these works the "apocryphal Gospels.") Constantine did this in collaboration with the Vatican; both sought to increase their own power by establishing Jesus as a "divine-only" being. Any traces of His humanity, such as the idea that Mary Magdalene was His wife and carried His child (i.e., showing that He was a sexual being just like the rest of us) were systematically removed from the books that did make it into Constantine's new Bible. Since Constantine and the Vatican leaders were all men, and therefore sought to make men powerful at the expense of women, they had to find ways to glorify masculinity and demonize femininity. This is shown quite clearly in the "original sin" story in Genesis, in which "divine" Adam is tricked by "evil" Eve into eating fruit from the tree of knowledge (or so Constantine's re-writing would have us believe). In the same way, Mary Magdalene was cast as a prostitute to show the "evil" nature of women, and the "temptation" they represented to the all-masculine idea of God.
Enough on that. It never did get as cold as I had feared in northern Wisconsin; when I arrived to deliver that load Friday night, the temperature was a mere -9°F (-23°C), almost 20 degrees higher than I had heard it was going to be. It's still cold here by Tennessee standards, but to me, this is nothing compared to what I experienced in Wisconsin.
In my last update, I also said that I was going to mention some stuff about my plans for the near and mid-range future. As I have said here before, the purchase of a car comes first; I think I will do that as soon as I get my federal tax refund check. (Preliminary calculations suggest I may have as much as $2,000 coming back, to add to the roughly $5,000 I have already saved.) I could quit driving at that point and seek a "stationary" job, though given the state of this Dubya Bush economy, I don't know if I can find much that will pay decently. I am thinking that it might be wise to stay in trucking for another year or so and try to save another $5,000 or so to provide a kind of "safety net" for my second attempt at college. (I intend to work at least part-time while in school, but not 30-35 hours per week like in 1999 and 2000, and I also plan to seek federal student loans, but I want to have a semi-substantial chunk of money on the side in case something goes disastrously wrong. Call me paranoid, but the story of my life in the past several years has been one of monumental disasters and catastrophes, a fair number of which were beyond my control.)
My friend Joe and I were having a conversation about a week ago, and we discussed some stuff relating to my future. Despite my mathematical prowess in high school and up to about the "calculus 2" level in college, I learned the hard way that engineering is not for me. (Once I got into "calculus 3" and differential equations, it was all way over my head.) Honestly, most "hard science" subjects bore me to death, even though I may know a lot about them. As you can probably tell from reading this site, philosophy and writing are two things I do quite well; however, without some serendipitous stroke of luck, good career opportunities are scarce in those fields. In what I now believe to be a moment of genius (even more so than his usual high intelligence), Joe came up with the idea of some kind of a business-related degree. He pointed out some reasons why it would be a good fit for me, and I already knew that opportunities are plentiful for accountants, auditors, finance people, and MBAs. I don't feel the need to have a $800,000 estate-style home, a Rolls-Royce, and caviar dinners to be happy in life; so long as I can make, say, $45,000 or $50,000 per year, and rent a decent apartment, have halfway-decent furniture and appliances, own a halfway-decent car, save for retirement, and generally have at least a modest level of financial comfort and security, I'll be happy.
I am waiting to get my trailer unloaded, but I'm starting to get rather sleepy as well. I have a few more ideas in the pipeline for future updates in this section; I plan to go back and delve into some issues from the past. Those will have to wait, though.