Doing Your Job Is NOT Persecution

For a good part of my life, I identified as a Christian and at one point I was even pursuing the ministry as my Bible Mixvocation. Today, I identify as Agnostic at best (leaning toward Atheist). How did I make such an astonishing transition? The biggest change was I began to empathize rather than feel victimized. What propagated the change? I admitted who I was not only to myself, but publicly – I am a gay man. It took me YEARS to accept myself and eventually learned not to feel shame about being who I am. Recent “religious freedom” laws are only good for reinforcing the “IDEA” that Christians are losing freedoms or are being persecuted – which is irrational and asinine (using it now I wish it were spelled ASSinine).

The most frequent excuse I would get when inviting someone to church back in the day was – there are Tattoo Sintoo many hypocrites. I was brainwashed by my years in the church and could easily counter that excuse by explaining all the good the church and Christians do. Once my perspective changed, I was amazed I was so blind. I tried reading and studying the Bible more and that just convinced me more the excuses I had heard were valid. The  hypocrites had their justification because the Bible can support most any prejudice. There are few things “Christians” hate more than when someone can use the Bible against what they are doing and saying. I have written before that more “Christians” should be called “Biblicans” because the hatred and intolerance they feel can be  justified using the Bible and there is NOTHING Christ like in their behavior – based on HIS teachings. The saddest thing to me is how they are blind to their hypocrisy.

The "thing" is... Atheists don't need proof of nothing! lol

The “thing” is… Atheists don’t need proof there is nothing! lol

I want to understand WHY Christians in the United States feel they need these religious freedom laws? As I see it… the freedom they want is to force others (the general public including gays) to be bound by their religious beliefs. Why would others (especially gays) having equality be a threat they need freedom from? What right have they lost or need protection from? Oh, the right to discriminate against gays; to make sex and contraception subjected to their views. Hobby Lobby is who I blame for all this shit! Providing contraception to employees should not be based on religious beliefs of the company. If the employees were forced to receive contraception, then it would be different!

Paranoid Much?

Paranoid Much?

The paranoid idea that religious freedoms are under attack is fueled by the likes of Fox News constantly having “news” (or rant) pieces about things like “The War on Christmas” that help bolster their ratings! Have they not been inside a WalMart in September? Christmas is in full bloom in the US for at least four months! Saying a non-offensive greeting like Happy Holidays is a threat? They need to go overseas to understand war on Christians. There are persecuted Christians in other countries. Like the boy that cried wolf… I have grown numb to their ideas of persecution.

It could also be fear of having to do their job for someone they USE religion as an excuse to justify their prejudice, Gay Cakediscrimination, or even hatred. All this bullshit about bakeries being FORCED to make cakes for gay weddings is RIDICULOUS! Christ taught “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.” ~Matthew 5:41 A blog by Jessica Kantrowitz (http://tenthousandplaces.org/2015/04/01/bake-for-them-two/) explains this better and in a more pleasant tone than I can. Memories Pizza in Indiana received more than $850,000 from sympathetic “religious” folks for closing 8 days after standing up to a hypothetical situation that gays would force them to cater and serve pizza at a wedding. They felt persecuted for publicly stating they would discriminate against gays.

Gay pizza party... maybe. Gay wedding.... NO!  lol

Gay pizza party… maybe. Gay wedding…. NO! lol

While I respect Memories Pizza’s rights to believe what they want, it is that they made a fortune given by others that are also paranoid, scared, and frightened by unrealistic hypothetical situations that would not happen. #1 – it would be very unlikely that Gays would ever serve pizza at a wedding. #2 – anyone getting married (gay or straight) asks not forces people to make cakes, take photos, or even plan their wedding. Who wants hate cake, an unhappy photographer or an unenthusiastic wedding planner?

A GOOD reason for a gofund me! http://www.gofundme.com/pizza4equality

A GOOD reason for a gofund me! http://www.gofundme.com/pizza4equality

Bill Maher has asked why moderate Muslims have not been as vocal against the likes of ISIS. I ask why aren’t moderate Christians more vocal? I know there are moderates and extremist in any and all religions and beliefs. But the problem I have is when the extremist are ALLOWED to be the LOUDEST voices, the moderate and reasonable are complacent with what happens in the name of their religion or beliefs! I only wish I could be louder for gays, reasonable people and the nonreligious; but when others join in… we will be louder than a gofundme for hypothetical and unreasonable prejudices!

Why are Christians so BLESSED?

Why are Christians so BLESSED?

Jesus even taught,“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” (Matt 5:10). If the LGBT community HAD equal rights, there would be no need for gays or objecting Christians to stand up for their rights… we would be equal and Christians in the US would no longer feel so hypothetically persecuted!

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Freedom to BE

I have NO sympathy for Memories Pizza in Indiana. Quite frankly, I resent that they have received over $800,000 (as of this time) in donations! I know there is little way to convince people that sympathize with them that their “Religious Freedoms” do NOT outweigh the LGBT community and supporters’ rights to simple FREEDOM! I ask anyone who reads this that feels they want to support the LGBT community and our “Freedom to BE” to make a donation to their local food bank. Let the food bank know that it is a “gift” from someone that supports LGBT equality. Let’s see if our very generous community can out donate, but we donate to truly needy people! Any food bank that does not accept “Freedom to BE” donations can just lose out. Since there is no way to track a dollar amount from this kind of effort… our community can revel in a silent but beneficial protest that actually helps others. Actually…. donate to any charity as long as they accept it knowing the donation is to honor the cause of LGBT Freedoms. Repost, Share, Like, Comment… let’s just do SOMETHING!!!

Blogging is not free!  Please help cover the costs!

Once the $150 a year cost is covered – 50% of EVERY donation will be given to a charity (the charity will not be ME)!  :-D

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2014 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,200 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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The Weight On My Shoulders…. AND Elsewhere – Delayed

Like many of my efforts, the goal to lose some weight is on delay. After getting a pretty decent start, a family emergency side-tracked me. My uncle broke his neck and I tried helping my cousin as much as I could. Followed almost immediately with Thanksgiving (a “Southern” Thanksgiving no less lol) with Christmas an my birthday less than a month after… I am only human. So I have put the whole 17 Day Diet idea on hold until after the new year. Not as a resolution… but simply an effort to get back on track.  I am not giving up… just postponing the success!

 

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Once the $150 a year cost is covered – 50% of EVERY donation will be given to a charity (the charity will not be ME)!  :-D

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The Weight On My Shoulders… And Elsewhere 2

Week 1 Update: Week 1 came to an end as a success! I lost 7.2 pounds! The biggest challenges I am finding is with this diet (The 17 Day Diet) is food prep and exercise. With most any healthy way of eating, stuff out of the can will not result in “healthy” eating. Canned veggies may be somewhat healthier than other options but preparing fresh seems to be the path that nets me the best results. This also adds time cooking and what I dread most about cooking…cleaning up after (lol)! That extra effort may be what helps burn an extra calorie or two. Any extra calories burned is a benefit because the weather is not cooperating with exercising. We run the air conditioner during the day and the heat at night. Even though neither the heat or the cold is extreme, the fluctuation is a challenge for my Multiple Sclerosis (MS). This has kept me from fully making a great effort with exercise because the frequent changes in temperature is a trigger for my relapsing. I proceed with caution. But seeing results is encouraging and is still motivating me to continue. The results are not “evident” yet, so no photo this week but if you did not see the starting post, here is the link: http://wp.me/pKLa8-RF

 

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Once the $150 a year cost is covered – 50% of EVERY donation will be given to a charity (the charity will not be ME)!  :-D

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Meet the ASS in TomASS

Only In Vegas

YES, that is a photo of my legal license plate when I lived in Las Vegas. And YES, I that is my nickname. AND YES again, I am proud to put the ass in TomASS. Now… just so you understand, the ass part of my nickname does not refer to any anatomic feature of my body, my Gluteus Maximus is actually quite MINImus! My nickname was given because I am rather honest and direct and this is often confused for being an ass. Add that to the fact my real name is Thomas – we get Tomass.

DivergentA couple years ago, I read “Divergent”, now also a movie. It is set in a dystopian future that has society divided into 5 factions dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue. One of the factions is Candor and their virtue is “truth” and they value honesty above all else. They understand that the truth can sometime be sharp and there is a need for transparency, so their “Choosing Ceremony” item is glass. My sister read the book also and said as she read about the Candor faction, she visualized me, even though I feel I am more Divergent (lol).

I should have a warning label that reads, “Don’t ask me ANY questions without being prepared for Honestyan honest answer.” Most that know me know the dangers of even simple questions like, “How do you like my new hairstyle?” or “How do I look in these jeans?” I do see value in honesty. Do not think it is a one-way street, I expect people to be honest with me as well. If my breath is bad, tell me so I can do something about it. If and outfit looks bad, tell me so I don’t priss out wearing it again thinking I am so cute (lol)! 

Now we also need to establish that just as I will call someone out on their political, religious or social views; I do not mind being called out on mine. I grew up in a small town where the VAST majority all think the same: Jesus, conservatives, and conformist are all good traits; while being nonreligious, progressive thinking, and Sophiarebellious are bad traits. I never knew any different until I moved and people began to challenge me on my views and I not only learned, I grew as a person. I feel I am better member society because the opinions I have now were formed by experiencing a variety of life experiences and people that were honest enough with me to take the time to talk and share – even when we did not agree.

Many feel agreement is how a conversation or debate should end. That is FAR from what I seek when having conversations, discussions, or even debates. For many, a debate is seen as argument. But here is where I venture a little from a simple ass to being an asshole – if you can not defend and support your opinions… don’t expect to be taken seriously. If you have opinions and are frightened of those with different opinions, face the fear of learning Karenand ask questions, challenge others and one day you could be like me an opinionated ass that is proud to share and learn.

A LOT of people like or even love the characters Sophia on “The Golden Girls” and Karen on “Will & Grace” because they were so bluntly honest. It is kind of how I hope others see me, although I have learned some are not brave enough for a friendship with the likes of me (Sophia or Karen), their opinions and views may be too weak or undeveloped to be challenged. But it is one more reason for me to love the friends I do have because even if they are a different faction and do not value the truth above all else, they have decided I am not a lost cause. After all this I have shared, I hope others see the ass in Tomass simple means I am a human in training like all of us should be! I would much rather be an ass man than a yes man! 

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Once the $150 a year cost is covered – 50% of EVERY donation will be given to a charity (the charity will not be ME)!  :-D

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The Weight on My Shoulders… and Elsewhere :-/

Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival

There is something about San Francisco that gets my attention regarding my weight. Six years ago, I was in a friend’s wedding in San Francisco and almost had Grrra breakdown when I saw the photos. I was horrified at how I looked. In the six years since, 4 -5 of those years I had actually gotten down to my ideal weight and was happy with my weight. This last year has been a struggle not only as my Multiple Thomas_in_BogotaSclerosis (MS) continues to progress, hampering my ability to exercise, but realizing I had returned to the same weight I had been in the wedding photos that shook me up so is depressing. Well…. I am shaking again after visiting my friends in San Francisco and seeing myself in photos that again horrify me! 

After the wedding, I moved to Colombia, South America. There, a lifestyle with no car, that necessitated the simple act of walking more; access to healthier food at a much lower cost; with the additional benefit of a climate that was more beneficial for my MS and I found being healthier… easier. My MS combined with a tight budget has landed me back to a life in The States and my weight reflects my frustrations with adapting. 

In an effort to create some accountability, I plan to “blog” about my journey back to my ideal weight or my attempt to make this happen. I plan to post about once a week about what I am doing, how I am doing it and the results. My goal is to keep it simple… diet (eating healthy) and exercise (walking). I will be following the guidelines of “The 17 Day Diet” (http://www.drmikediet.com/). Here is my “CliffsNotes” of the 17 Day Diet: avoid white foods as much as possible, no starches like rice, potatoes, or bread; eat plenty 20140914_174304of protein and fresh veggies; 2 servings of dairy and 2 servings of fruit daily; drink green tea; and spend at least 17 minutes making a concerted effort at exercise. During the 17 days, I keep a list of foods that I crave during the 17 days and in-between the 17 days cycles, I allow reasonable “treats” from that list and I call these my “cheat days”. So… there will be no more Ghirardelli Chocolate and Wine Festivals.😦  And yes, that is chocolate on my shirt and I am having a big ice cream AFTER being at a chocolate 20140830_145822festival. Gone are those days!

This is the photo that shook me up this time and that I use as my “before” picture. True, the angle may exaggerate my size a bit… but does not lie… I am that big! I will still post about consumer, social, political and religious issues but also look for updates about my progress. My 17 days began, Monday, October 13, and I weighed in at 227.7 pounds (103.28 kgs). 

Blogging is not free!  Please help cover the costs!

Once the $150 a year cost is covered – 50% of EVERY donation will be given to a charity (the charity will not be ME)!  :-D

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Best Buy Bye

Best Buy Bye

 

In this day and time, MANY businesses are still in dire need of Customer Service 101 lessons. Who gives businesses these lessons, usually for free – the customers. The biggest problem is businesses no longer listen to customers. I know I have offered my share of suggestions to many businesses myself and know I am not alone. Best Buy is a repeat offender with simply pissing me off!

Best Buy was once topped my list of favorite retailers but after an incident a couple of years ago (http://wp.me/pKLa8-Be), it lost its standing and lost much of BBmy business because I was soured with them. Amazon has yet to let me down with costumer service. As I understand things, Best Buy is not adequately competing with  the likes of Amazon and Best Buy fells to see SERVICE is a key reason.

Any desire to do business with Best Buy is GONE. I hate when I am ignored or dismissed. While trying to order a coffee maker, I wanted to use a Best Reward certificate, a couple Visa gift cards and then the balance on my Best Buy MasterCard. Why did I not just get this in a store? The item I was interested in is only available online, there are no stores close to where I live (at least 60 miles away) and I am disabled and shopping online is the best way for me to shop. I found that online, I could not use multiple forms of payment.

I thought surely if I called, the associate that answered would have no problem with this request. I explained why I called, we rebuilt my order and after all of this he informed me he was not able to use multiple forms of payment either. He told me my only solution was to go in a store where they had that capability. AGAIN I explained the item is only available online, the nearest store was 60 miles away and I have Multiple Sclerosis and jumping in the car and driving 60 miles for a coffee maker was an option I WISH I was up to doing or able to do!

Online ordering did not work, calling in did not work, so surely if I sent an e-mail I would get help finding a solution! I was wrong! BB PaymentsAfter explaining the events in an e-mail I wrote at 10:45PM, I was surprised to receive a reply in less than an hour. It was patronizing and very dismissive; with a link to “Supported Payment Methods” (see screenshot). If you are like me, you read Visa on the list and I was under the impression a Visa gift card could be used anywhere Visa is accepted – except for Best Buy! This angered me! Since Best Buy was so fast to be dismissive to me, I have been fast to post this testimony. Whereas it is good to respond to a customer’s e-mail quickly, if VERY LITTLE EFFORT is used to find a solution it would be best to take a little more time. In fact… the e-mail reply from Best Buy only offered me to call Best Buy Reward Specialists to get help using my Best Buy Reward certificate – THAT HAD NOT BEEN A PROBLEM TO USE… it was the Visa Gift cards! AGAIN, the concern was not even addressed. I am guessing disabled online shoppers are such a small part of Best Buy’s business that they do not care and I got that point.

One benefit I had in this situation was my Best Buy MasterCard had a $0.00 balance. I found a fast solution to reducing the temptation to do business online with Best Buy again – I closed my account! CitiBank issued the Best Buy MasterCard to me and even though CitiBank had not been the problem, the account was closed. Actually, the person I spoke with at CitiBank was VERY friendly and after closing that account, I applied for another card at CitiBank. Both Visa gift cards I had were issued by CitiBank… so I think it is sad their business partners using their MasterCard Rewards credit cards can’t also use their Visa gift cards.

Now I have Tell 3000vented to Best Buy, CitiBank and now you, I will remind Best Buy of something Mr.Pete Blackshaw  says and I quoted the last time I had issue with one of their manager’s – “Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000”. I highly suggest Best Buy reads this book because I am still averaging around 3,000 views a month on my little blog here, so in my case… I hit well over a total of 3,000, my total is over 53,000 actually! Bye Best Buy!

 

 

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Once the $150 a year cost is covered – 50% of EVERY donation will be given to a charity (the charity will not be ME)!  :-D

 

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Losing Favor Over a Promotional Sweepstakes

When I am asked what I write about in my blog, I have usually listed politics, religion, social issues, travel, and whatever is on my mind. Now I have had over 50,000 Let's Let Al Unser, Sr. Answer Thatpeople view my posts here, I see the posts that are about businesses or services that I have written about are just as popular. So now I add consumer advocacy to my list of topics. This post describes how a product/business that I liked A LOT has lost favor with me over a sweepstakes. There was a time that entering my sweepstakes was an easy and pleasant way to pass my time whether I am down because of my Multiple Sclerosis or just passing some time with the hopes I could win something. Winning “The Fastest Seat In Sports” sweepstakes from http://www.shophonda.com last year was a highlight that has kept me motivated to keep entering sweeps. But now I know that little thought is put into how some sweepstakes are set up and designed. It makes me wonder, have sweepstakes designers ever consulted with a “sweeper” (a name I call people like me that enter lots of sweepstakes) about the sweeps they are designing?

An example of a poorly designed sweeps and prize, I highlight the “Take Off With Biscoff” sweepstakes (http://takeoff.votigo.com/takeoff). This is a sweeps that checks off Biscoff Sweepsmany of my bad sweeps pet peeves. Peeve 1 – Making it seem simple, but it is not! It says, “You can WIN A TRIP by Biscoff Photo Rulesuploading a photo. Tell us how Biscoff Cookies – The Airline Cookie – elevates your day! Upload a photo showing how you enjoy Biscoff Cookies, for a chance to win a Trip for two to Europe and more prizes“. This seems simple enough… but check out the photo of the entry requirements for the photo – WAY too many to mention! All of this just to enter. Yes it is best to “study” ALL of the rules so you can enjoy their promotion!  lol

Peeve 2 – “Public  voting”. After someone jumps the hoop to get entered… then you only think Biscoff Determinationyou are at the mercy of the public to vote if your entry even makes the gallery. Then it is only a competition for people who have skills that make their entry more interesting than the others, not something most will, can, or have time to do for ONLY A CHANCE to win a prize. But guess what… even if your entry gets the most “votes” does not mean you win. The public “vote is only 40% of how a winner is determined. The other 60% is from a “Sponsor-selected panel of judges”. I include a photo of how the winner is determined and see if you understand it with a simple reading or do you have to reread and calculate in your head what they are saying!  Study a little more! lol

Peeve 3 – The prize! Yes, I even have issue with the prize. Why would I have issue with the prize? A 3 day/2 night trip to Europe. What do you actually get with this trip? JetlagFirst let’s pretend you are healthy (I have MS and eliminate myself from this scenario), you spend day 1 basically flying to the sponsor determined destination in Europe… that’s right, the sweeps does not even tell you where you are going!  lol Now to me, destination unknown would be fun. But after spending pretty much a day getting there and spending night 1 in bed exhausted and jet-lagged after flying over several time zones, you have day 2 to drag though. So on day 2 of a 3 day trip, you do as much as you can before having to get back to the hotel so you can spend night 2  to get ready for day 3… flying home!  lol Sweepstakes in the US with US destinations that have a 3 day/2 night trips is really silly… so why did anyone think a 3 day/2 night international trip would be a good idea? Sounds penny-pincher to me and we know penny-pincher trips are so much fun!!! So, the only real option for most would be to take the alternate $4,000 gift card – which is what I would HAVE to do.

Now with all the sweeps in enter, why has this one set me off and inspired me to write a post about it? See the vague e-Biscoff Rejectionmail I got after trying to jump their hopes to enter this sweeps! I had posted this photo of clouds out my window flying. DSC00016Even after being rejected and studying the rules again… I do not see any violations of the rules.  I told a sap story of asking for extra Biscoff Cookies from flight attendants so I could share them with my Mom after my flights, Cookies with my Mom elevates my day. There is a very small chance the hashtag  #takeoffwithbiscoff may not have pasted when I copied and pasted it into my comment. But still, and e-mail that does not say what I did wrong does not inspire me to take (waste) the time to try again for a minuscule CHANCE to win a trip that would be challenging at the least for someone with MS. So I chose to take (waste) my time writing this post.

The alternate $4,000 gift card would be life changing for someone in my situation, just as would winning the First Prize of 50,000 Delta SkyMiles would be GREAT. But now, even winning the Second Prize, a years worth of Biscoff Cookies, would only leave a bad taste in my mouth! I see in the gallery of the sweepstakes that many others must have studied the rules better than me and entered successfully and I wish them luck! So if I accomplish anything in a sense of advocacy with this post… it would be that ANY company using sweepstakes consider that you want your sweeps to be simple and FUN and Biscoff Cookies (Lotus Bakeries North America) missed the mark with me on this promotion and caught me in the right mood that rejecting my entry just pissed me off! I think you can also guess that The Biscoff Coffee Corner is off my itinerary during my August trip to San Francisco.

 

Blogging is not free!  Please help cover the costs!

Once the $150 a year cost is covered – 50% of EVERY donation will be given to a charity (the charity will not be ME)!  :-D

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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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