Golden Unicorn Award Winner

Our celebrity judges and I spent hours deliberating and making a decision was difficult, but make a decision we did.

The Winner

The winner of this week’s Crotchety’s Golden Unicorn Award is…

caption this golden unicorn award

evilsquirrel13

for
Why does the cat keep saying “Two legs good, four legs bad!”?

Evil Squirrel, somehow you knew that “Animal Farm” is one of my favorite novels. You stole my heart.

 

Our two honorable mentions are:
K@countingpenniesandsheep for “I sure hope she doesn’t look behind the cat!”

and

Josh Wrenn for “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”

 

Thank you all for playing! “Caption This” will be back next Wednesday.Evil Squirrel

Mister President – Throwback

A Reminder

Just a quick reminder that all entries in the “Caption This” contest must be in my midnight tonight. Here’s a link to yesterday’s post for all the info you need. Caption This.

Mister President

 

This Throwback Was Originally Posted in June 2008

 

President George Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington DC 20500

Dear President Bush,

Yesterday I was was surfing the net and I stumbled upon a very interesting Associated Press article which reports that in order to help medical students learn the symptoms of bipolar disorder that a “Mania Day” is held at the Univeristy of Vermont. On this day, people who do not have bipolar disorder are trained for several hours to learn how to “fake it.” There are other students who have been trained to have other ailments so the doctors-in-training learn how to make a correct prognosis. What an excellent program. I’m happy to see that future health care providers are learning to properly diagnose bipolar disorder as well as other ailments.

One interesting point of the article, however, concerns me. These students were paid $20 per hour to pretend they are bipolar. I am a professional, Sir ,and I am sure you would agree that at the very least I should receive compensation equal to these amateurs. However, I currently receive a $1200 per month disability payment and I am bipolar 24 hours per day. This amounts to only $1.66 per hour. Knowing you are a fair man, I am certain this is an oversight and will be adjusted accordingly.

For your benefit and the benefit of the Federal Accounting Office, here is a simplified breakdown of my bill:

  • $20 per hour to have bipolar disorder 24 hours daily = $480 per day
  • 30 days at $480 per day = $14,400 per month
  • 6 months since diagnosed with bipolar disorder = $86,400
  • In fairness I subtracted the amount I have received = $7200

Total amount of bill: $79,200

I have attached a detailed invoice and expect prompt payment of this bill.

Sincerely,

Bradley

Caption this Wednesday

It’s Wednesday and that means it’s time for another “Caption This” contest. Here is this weeks photo:

Caption This Wednesday

Here are the rules:

  • Put in the comments section what you think this weeks caption should be. If you post more than one caption, it is considered cheating, and that is okay with me. This is dog eat dog.
  • All entries must be in by midnight on Thursday, Pacific Time.
  • On Friday I will announce the winner based on humor, creativity, uniqueness, or just because I damn well please. Bribes are graciously accepted and nepotism is standard practice.

This weeks celebrity guest judges are 16 Elvis impersonators from Las Vegas. They will join me in selecting a winner who will receive the beautiful Crotchety’s Golden Unicorn Award.

Good Luck!

caption this golden unicorn award

You’re Worth It

You're Worth It

At my church we’re between ministers. Our previous minister moved back east last month, and our new one won’t arrive until August. To fill in the gaps, some of our congregants have been standing in. Below is a sermon I conducted on Sunday, July 24th, 2016. It was a twenty minute sermon, so it’s longer than my usual posts. I hope you think it’s worth your time. These were the notes I used, so please ignore that grammar and punctuation went out the window.

I’m a Unitarian Universalist, which means we don’t share one common belief. One of our principles states “A free and responsible search for truth and meaning.” This means that during a service, I may be sitting next to a Christian, who’s next to an atheist, who is next to a Jew, who is next to a pagan, and so on. If that’s confusing to you, here’s a link to a post I did about my religion:
Unitarian Universalism.

You’re Worth It

Our first principle:
We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

While preparing for this sermon, I looked back to my 40th birthday. I was newly sober and early sobriety is hard – it’s not just because you’re avoiding drinking. It’s the looking back and seeing the relationships ruined, bills unpaid and homes wrecked that make it so difficult. I was lonely that day and had no one to turn to. My old drinking buddies weren’t interested in being around me anymore than I wanted to be around them. I knew I was going to be alone and it was going to be a rough day, so I made a plan to be safe by filling my day with AA meetings. I mapped out in advance how to get from one meeting to another.

I was full of anger, resentment and self-pity. Here it was my birthday and not a single person called. Not one. I was walking to a meeting and was passing a park and I heard people laughing, and having a good time and that was my breaking point. I screamed some obscenities, pulled out my cellphone and threw it into some bushes.

The ridiculous part of this story is that it was one of those pre-paid phone and there were no more minutes left. It was impossible for anyone to reach me. Even more ridiculous is that I knew this and it didn’t matter. Logic was irrelevant. I don’t know how others felt about me, but I had no sense of worth and dignity.

We love our 7 principles. They help explain who we are as Unitarian Universalists. They are so important that each week we print them on the front of the order of service. <> But, have you ever wondered where they came from? Who decided what our principles should be? Let’s look back.
You may be surprised to know that talks of a merger between the Unitarians and Universalists began as early as 1865. However, each time discussions began hopes of a merger would fall apart. This should come as no surprise to those of you who have served on church committees, but it wasn’t until 100 years later for the two churches to iron out the details. It wasn’t until 1959, when the two organizations agreed to a full merger. It wasn’t an easy road. There was much conflict between the generally humanist Unitarians, and the more spiritual Universalists.

After all, how do you bring two organizations, with such different beliefs, together as one? They did it by respecting their differences. The merger did not develop one common belief. Instead they made an agreement of shared principles.

We UU’s love to get into the details, don’t we? Both parties almost walked away as a result of whether a sentence should include the words “OUR heritage” or “THE heritage.” Really. It was almost a deal breaker. But, we know this story has a happy ending. Both organizations worked out their conflicts, the principles were written and the merger occurred in 1961. Though similar, the principles then weren’t written the same as our principles read today. For example, one sounded similar to our current 1st principle:

“To affirm, defend and promote the supreme worth of every human personality, the dignity of man, and the use of the democratic method in human relationships.”

Did something there get under your skin just a little? I’ll repeat:

“To affirm, defend and promote the supreme worth of every human personality, the dignity of MAN, and the use of the democratic method in human relationships.”

There were more words in the original principles that were not inclusive by today’s standards.
One principle referred to the “ideals of brotherhood”

Another “To encourage cooperation with men of good will”

And another referred to:

“the Judeo-Christian heritage as love to God and love to man”

That last one was a double whammy. It not only included sexist language, but narrowed the scope of our religious beliefs.

As the feminist movement grew, many women and men took issue with the principles. UU women’s groups began working towards more inclusive language.

But how does one change our principles? Fortunately, our friends who worked to make the merger a success, were wise to include, in our bylaws, a requirement that the principles be reviewed at least every 15 years.

A rewriting of the principles began in 1981 which cleaned up the sexist language. Among other changes that were made, there was one that became a stickler. There were those who weren’t happy that there was no reference made to our Christian origins. The “Judeo-Christian” references were removed, as well as the word Supreme. After much discussion an agreement was made and the compromise was to replace Supreme with the word “Inherent,” as in “inherent worth and dignity.

I feel confident that most UU’s view the first principle as the cornerstone of our faith. As a gay man, when I heard “to promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person,” I knew I found a place where I belonged.

So, if the word inherent replaced Supreme, does that mean it’s referencing God? The answer is a resounding yes – if that’s what you believe. Others would say, of course not, and that’s okay too. I’ll let you discuss that amongst yourselves.

When people question our first principle, it’s usually the word “inherent” that gets in the way. Its very definition states it is a permanent attribute. I quote from Rev. Sean Parker Dennison:

Inherent worth and dignity is not something we confer upon people when they are good and rescind when they are bad. Inherent worth and dignity is not something that resides in the other, but something that is demanded of us.

Rev. Edmund Robinson, summarized it this way:

…[T]he ethical command persists even when the person with whom we are dealing has acted against society’s moral codes. That is in fact the test of the ethics. It’s easy to recognize someone’s worth and dignity when they are like us, or when they are behaving as we think people ought to behave. But when we say that people by their behavior have “forfeited” the right to recognition of their worth and dignity, then we really didn’t believe that their worth and dignity was inherent.

When I began researching for this sermon, my expectation was that I was going to speak enthusiastically about how great our 1st principle is, and how it defines us as a congregation. Once I started, however, I was shocked at what I found in search after search and church after church. The number of sermons in support of our first principle were eclipsed by sermons that questioned its validity.

Many of you may remember about a decade ago, a controversial article by Reverend William Schulz, in our Unitarian Universalist magazine, UU World. It was titled “What Torture Has Taught Me.” Rev. Schulz served 8 years as the President of the Unitarian Universalist Association, and then 12 years as head of Amnesty International, certainly this is a man who must have strong feelings about our first principle. Well, he has strong beliefs alright. He said:

…our doctrines about human nature, such as the Unitarian Universalist Association’s affirmation of “the inherent worth and dignity of every person,” rest uneasily in a world full of torturers. In what sense can we defend the notion that a torturer is a person of inherent worth and dignity?

He continued,

People who hear of our first principle ask me, “Well, what about Hitler, what about Idi Amin? How about Osama Bin Laden– do they have inherent worth and dignity?” I answer that I believe that they, like every other person, were born with inherent, innate value and that they chose to violate the human covenant so [badly] that I consider them to have negative worth and no remaining dignity.

Wow. That’s powerful.

Believing along similar lines, Rev. Elizabeth A. Lerner, Senior Minister at The UU Church of Silver Spring, MD, says:

In the context of our principles and purposes, I believe that inherent, after all does not mean permanent, does not mean impervious …. It means two things. One is that worth and dignity are birthright, fundamentally present from the start. After that start, events happen in the course of living and they don’t just change our bodies and influence our characters. They offer opportunities to respond, and our responses are choices, and those choices we make can sustain or erode the worth and dignity we were born with.

Looking back on my earlier story when I was all alone on my birthday, I had no dignity. I had no sense of worth. I hated everybody and everything equally – including myself. But someone gave me a spark of light that day that made me see things differently.

During that time, I had started working at Trader Joe’s. We had many regulars who were there every night because of their busy lives. They would stop by the store on their way home to grab something for dinner, rather than keeping their refrigerators stocked.

On my last AA meeting that awful day, I shared the pain I was feeling. I lamented over the fact that I once ran a multi-million-dollar operation and had over 250 employees. All that was gone. This empty shell of a man was running cash registers, bagging groceries and stocking shelves.

At the end of that AA meeting one of our Trader Joe’s regulars pulled me aside and said:

How can you say you’re worthless? I see you every day engaging with people, smiling at them, you make them laugh. It may not seem like much, but you do make a difference in their lives even if only for a few minutes. You are far from worthless.

Those words did more than change my outlook that day. They changed my life. He gave me a new point of view. I had a new understanding that little things in life can make a difference.

I’m not here to convince you that you should or should not believe that worth and dignity are inherent. I’m not so sure myself. Talk about it with your fellow congregants. Stir things up and debate a bit.
But you know what? I don’t think it matters really. I don’t. What I believe matters is that regardless of whether it’s true or not, I plan to live as if it is true.

Remember my earlier quote by Rev. Lerner, that “the choices we make can sustain or erode the worth and dignity we were born with?” How we treat others reflects how we treat ourselves. How are your worth and dignity holding up?

I suggest not worrying about Hitler, Mussolini, or Attila the Hun. It’s not likely you’ll be bumping into any of them at the supermarket. But who will be there? Cashiers, baggers, the person behind the deli counter. Grocery shopping is not fun for a lot of us, so how does that affect you? Do you have blinders on to get out of there as soon as possible, or do you engage these individuals? Do you look them in the eyes? Say hello, and goodbye. Do you refer to them by name? Most people in the service industry wear name tags so it’s not hard to do.

My goal today is to encourage you to embrace yourself as having inherent worth, which requires us to treat others the same. Perhaps you’ll try this week.

I’m going to start you off with something simple. It’s a commitment I made to myself a few years ago. When you take a walk around your neighborhood and another person is walking towards you, do you say hello or do you turn your gaze away to avert making eye contact. How about making a commitment to smile and say “hello,” regardless of whether they’re looking at you or not. Be careful, you may startle them, but it may make a little difference in their day – I can assure you it will make a difference in yours.

And what about coffee houses? Does this look familiar:
<>Act Out Rude Coffee House Customer<>

I’m not going to ask for the guilty parties in the room, but if this looks like you, then you may want to think hard about whether you are treating that barista with worth and dignity, or are they just a means to an end?

Now, you may be thinking, “Brad, you’re just talking about good deeds and being nice to each other? Aren’t there more important things to be addressed – the Death Penalty, Immigration Justice, Transgender Rights or Black Lives Matter?” Absolutely, they’re important, and I’m proud of where most UU’s stand on those issues. I encourage you to join organizations that are working towards justice in those and other matters. But it doesn’t have to be either/or. I believe we’re most effective in the big picture when we ensure we are also taking care of our little spot here on earth. We need a little more being nice to each other.

Adapting to a new way of thinking is hard, that’s why I’m giving simple examples because that’s all it takes to get started. Sure, you can run off and work full time for Habitat for Humanity, or move to Kenya to help people have access to clean water. These are wonderful endeavors if you’re up for it, but I’m not going to pretend I have that much influence. What I am going to ask is you pay attention to the little things you do. And for this exercise, you have to pay attention and be aware that you’re doing it. Eventually it will become second nature.

I’m sure there’s at least one or two people here who has left a note on someone’s car because they parked too close, or my personal pet peeve – they took up two parking spaces. Let me be radical and encourage all of you to do the opposite. Leave a note on someone’s car, but say something positive. Let’s say you see a car with a child’s seat in the back. How about a note thanking them for raising the next generation.

Let me go way out on a limb here and suggest sending a card anonymously to someone. Perhaps even someone you don’t know. Be creative and say something nice.

There’s lots of bumper stickers out there that say to “Practice random acts of kindness.” And that’s all I’m asking of you. It’s all I’m asking of me. I also happen to be talking about the golden rule. You know, “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.”

I challenge you to consciously do something this week that can make a small difference in someone’s day. Just one small thing.

There are millions of ways you can make a difference. There are many books on the subject. Treat everyone you meet as if they have inherent worth and dignity. Do it for them, because you’re really doing it for yourself and if there’s one thing I know – you’re worth it.

Weekly Wrap-Up July 25, 2016

Mood

Really mixed this week. I had my good days and bad days, but they didn’t seem to have much to do with mania or depression. It had more to do with being clear minded or confused. I had a hard time grasping some basic concepts.

Obsession was another big deal. I’ve been spending the past 1 – 2 weeks writing a sermon that I conducted at church yesterday. I’m not a minister, but we are awaiting the arrival of a new minister in August, so we are having some members of the congregation fill in until then.

Weight and Fitness

Weight on July 16 – 258.0
Weight on July 23 – 256.0
Total loss = 2.0 lbs.

July has been a great month. I’ve lost 9.4 lbs. with one more weigh in to go next Saturday. Just like I said last week, I did it through good old fashioned diet and exercise. While I may have splurged here and there, most days I stuck with the Weight Watchers plan. Weight Watchers is more about portion control rather than what you can and cannot eat.

I did my 5 mile walk to the library several days. Two of those I chose to walk another 5 miles back home. Probably overkill, but the days were nice and I had the energy.

Writing

What writing? Well, I did work on the sermon, but the novel took a backseat. Actually worse than the backseat. It was in the trunk. The sermon should have taken two days’ tops to write, but my obsession over it, and my lack of concentration made it a ridiculously long ordeal.

Today, I’m back to the novel and will be meeting with my creative writers group. I am looking forward to being back on track.

Synopsis

Excited about the weight loss, but overall I’d rate the week just OK

Caption This Winners

Our celebrity judges this week were the entire cast of The View. The deliberations were long, and were made longer with Joy Behar’s incessant need to be funny and Whoopie rudely interrupting the rest of the hosts. It was grueling, but we were finally able to determine a winner.

The Winner

The winner of this week’s Crotchety’s Golden Unicorn Award is…

caption this golden unicorn award

Raeyn
for
I don’t think this is how a coke spoon works

 

Our two honorable mentions are:
Janet Coburn for “The Relway sisters still refuse to admit that their parents were cousins”
and
Vlad for “When Marge told her friends she wanted a nose job, this was not what she had in mind.”

Thank you all for playing! “Caption This” will be back next Wednesday.

Missing Mania – Throwback

This weeks Throwback Thursday was first posted August 23, 2014
manic

 

A Reminder

Don’t forget about “Caption This” Wednesday. All entries must be in my midnight tonight. For more info, and to participate, just go to Wednesdays Post.

Missing Mania

For those who aren’t bipolar, being manic sounds like a damn good time. Feeling euphoric, inflated self-esteem, long periods without sleep, increased sex drive, and increased drive to achieve goals. Who the hell wouldn’t want that? Mania may sound great, but all the things that sound wonderful can come with consequences – sometimes very serious consequences. It’s similar to drinking too much – a feeling of euphoria, but none of it real. The life of the party, but really annoying. The Mayo Clinic provides a good list of symptoms of mania, as well as depression.

Following are some of the symptoms of mania and how they affected my life.

Manic Spending

I love to shop. When I was in my twenties I had excellent credit and had multiple credit cards, two of them had $20,000 spending limits. I became a shopping snob. It was only high end retail for me. Being the life of the party I was always more than happy to buy drinks for everyone and always felt great doing so. Everyone was my friend. Wouldn’t you be?

What It Was Really Like:
A person in their early twenties with $40,000 just to play with? What fools came up with that idea? Those two credit cards were the last time I had good credit. I maxed them out in a very short time and after thirty years I’m still paying the price. Here and there I’d clean my credit up enough to get new credit cards with low limits and high interest rates and a couple of cars as well. Every credit card I’ve ever gotten wound up in collections. Twice I’ve had cars repossessed.

What Changed:
I’m still not great with money, but I’m trying, and it’s getting better. I don’t buy the best clothing or have the nicest things. (Thank God for Target and Old Navy) My husband and I live in a small one-bedroom apartment, but it’s home. I’m not going to try and fool anyone – sure, I like bright and shiny things as much as the next person, but I accept and am grateful for the things I have.

Manic Sleep

Talk about productivity. Being awake for days gave me the opportunity to get a lot done. Homework, business reports, cleaning house and more.

What It Was Really Like:
While some hallucinations could be fun, the ones caused by lack of sleep were usually nightmarish. The hallucinations weren’t anything specific, they were more like what I presume an acid trip would be like. Things twisting and melting in a frightening way. It was in a manic, sleepless state that I would decide to walk naked around the neighborhood. Luckily it was always at 2 am and I presume no one saw me.

What Changed:
Like most people in my family, I have a tendency to stay up later than I should. I try to stay up to get things done, such as writing blog posts, but eventually I fall asleep, whether I want to or not. When I do sleep I enjoy a healthy 7 – 8 hours of rest. Not only do I think I can concentrate and be productive – I actually can concentrate and be productive.

Manic sex

In the past, each time I had sex it was exciting. As soon as one partner would leave I’d call another and invite them over. I regularly had multiple partners in one night, much to the envy of friends and roommates.

What It Was Really Like:
The sex may have been exciting, but once a sex partner went out the door I had to call another because I felt empty, hollow, and unsatisfied. I would then find the need to pick up the phone and invite someone else over.

What Changed:
By choice I’m loyal to one individual and plan to stay that way for the rest of my life. Today I don’t just have sex…I make love. Unlike my past exploits, I don’t have an empty feeling after having sex, in fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Manic Knowledge, Ability and Drive

Probably one of the best things about being manic is the extreme “high.” The belief in stronger energy and ability. Feeling on top of the world like nothing could go wrong. Goal driven

What It Was Really Like:

Regardless of how goal driven I was, goals were rarely reached. I was easily distracted, had racing thoughts, and it would be physically painful to try to have a conversation – racing thoughts and easy distractibility made it too difficult.

What Changed:
My goals are smaller and usually achievable. It can still be painful when I listen to a long conversation, but I’m more adept at handling it. I’ve learned to meditate to help with the racing thoughts and I don’t get distracted as much by choosing to live in the here and now.

There are moments that I miss mania. Most of it has to do with what I wanted it to be rather than what it was. It’s a good feeling not being a debt ridden, sleepless, over-sexed, success-driven person. I am certain that seeing my pdoc once a month, taking my prescriptions, and seeing my therapist twice a month are all part of the success I achieve. Oh, I still get manic states that make it difficult to function and I also still get depressive states that make it nearly impossible to do anything. However, I don’t live in those states all the time like I use to. I hope that in my lifetime we’ll find a “cure” for depression and bipolar disorder, but until then, I think I’ll be okay.

What do I miss about being manic? Everything….. and nothing.

Caption this Wednesday

It’s my favorite day of the week, again. It’s “Caption this Wednesday.” Here’s this weeks picture:

Funny Spoons

Here are the rules:

  • Put in the comments section what you think this weeks caption should be. If you post more than one caption, it is considered cheating, and that is okay with me. This is dog eat dog.
  • All entries must be in by midnight on Thursday, Pacific Time.
  • On Friday I will announce the winner based on humor, creativity, uniqueness, or just because I damn well please. Bribes are graciously accepted and nepotism is standard practice.

This weeks celebrity guest judges are all the current hosts of “The View.They will join me in selecting a winner who will receive the beautiful Crotchety’s Golden Unicorn Award.

Good Luck!

caption this golden unicorn award

Weekly Wrap-Up July 18, 2016

Weekly Wrap-up

Mood

I’ve running as such a high lately that I assumed, as we know, it was all going to come crashing down with major depression. I was right and I was wrong. I did hit some depression for a couple of days, but wasn’t so major that I couldn’t function. Pretty much a funk that hung over me more than depression. I did things I needed to do, it was just more difficult.

Because I’ve been feeling so good for an extended period, I made a decision to go to Vocational Rehab to see what kind of opportunities there are for me. I made the mistake of telling Maurice this and he was insistent I should not go. His response was that I am working as a full time writer and, therefore, I am working. I’m pretty sure that both my pdoc and my therapist will agree with him, but I’ll probably ask them anyway.

Weight and Fitness

Weight on July 09 – 260.6
Weight on July 16 – 258.0
Total loss = 2.6 lbs.

Though I expected to lose more last week, I’m still feeling good. My goal is to lose 1.5 lbs. a week and I lost a 1 lb. more than that. Woo Hoo.

The reason for my weight loss is because of good old fashion eating right and exercising. Novel idea, huh?

I said I was going to walk daily to the library for exercise and then stay there for a quiet environment to work in. Well, it worked on both ends. Four days last week I walked there. It’s about a five mile walk. One of those days I decided to walk back home as well. As far as the writing, well it went okay. I’ll talk more about it further down. Physically it was a successful week.

Writing

The library has turned out to be an excellent way to be more productive, however I’m disappointed at how little time I’ve been working on the novel. This blog use to take a large chunk of my time, but I reorganized my writing time periods to reduce that problem.

The other thing is I’m still working on the sermon I’m giving at church next week. I chose a subject that is harder than I expected, so it’s taking far more time to research than it should, and much more time than the prior two sermons I’ve given. I’m excited, but seriously disappointed that I’m spending much less time with the novel.

Synopsis

Not necessarily a bad week, but seriously frustrating.

Easy Livin’ in the South Bay

South Bay

Today I have the privilege of being a guest blogger for Jason, otherwise known as a Opinionated Man. For the month of July he has opened his blog for Project-H, which stands for Project Home. Project-H allows bloggers to open their lives and their homes to readers from around the world.

I had a little fun and shared about my home here in the Los Angeles South Bay. Please follow the link so you can read my masterpiece:

https://aopinionatedman.wordpress.com/2016/07/16/project-h-easy-livin-in-the-south-bay/

Insights from a Bipolar Bear: © 2014