Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ha Ha in the Hereafter

I like to think of myself as a good Christian.  And by that I mean I make it an effort to go to church every other month or so.  Last year on one such Sunday I saw something that I had never seen before.  A near death experience.

You would think near death experiences would be more common in church since most of the people in attendance are so old there is a good chance some of them knew Jesus personally.  I'm sure when I'm older I'll attend church more.  It's like an all night study session before a big final. 

The near death experience I witnessed was not a major scare.  A man had a heart attack in the middle of a church service.  Fortunately it was a minor one and the man was alright.  Paramedics came and took him away while most of us secretly mumbled our jealousy of how he got to leave early. 

Although the man didn't die it did occur to me that if you have to die, church isn't a bad place to do it.  For starters you are already in the place where your funeral will be held, and you are dressed in your Sunday best.  Slap a little blush on the face and you're ready for your open casket.

Secondly, I'm not sure how the point system of heaven works, but I'm guessing dieing while in church has got to count as a bonus.

"Were you a good Christian?" asks Saint Peter.

"Was I?  Let me tell you where I just came from!"

I wonder about the afterlife sometimes.  In movies they always show dead people walking around stuck in whatever outfit they were wearing when they die.  That's great if you get hit by a car on the weekend while wearing cargo shorts and a t-shirt.  But what if you get hit by a car on Halloween?  Now you have to walk around for all eternity dressed as a sexy kitty?  What's worse, you're a guy!  Sure it seemed like a funny idea on your way to the party, but by your third century in the afterlife the joke has to start getting old.

The other way they show heaven in the movies is with everyone dressed in white.  White suits, white dresses and white robes.  Not bad if have a dark skin tone or hair color, but think of all the poor red heads.  For a ginger with freckles, having to wear white forever is it's own type of hell.  Or at least hell for everyone who has to look at you (insert gay cliche snap).

My biggest concern with the heaven/hell concept is it so often is portrayed as an all or nothing scenario.  Either you get to spend eternity in bliss, or are cast into a foreverness of suffering.  I always wonder about those who fall just short.  Can you imagine if you are just about to get into heaven, but are denied access because a week before you died you ate the last girl scout cookie without offering to share it with your wife?  Now you have to wait out the end of days getting poked by a pitch fork because you can't resist Somoas.

Will I get into heaven?  I guess it depends on if God has a sense of humor.  I'm hoping he does, otherwise heaven would be a pretty boring place.  I don't like the idea of taking the hereafter too seriously.  It seems like it would take too much fun from the here and now.

As a child the concept of death used to be my biggest fear, but at some point I just stopped worrying about it.  I realize there is a good chance that neither heaven nor hell exist, but it seems to me the chance of an empty nothingness is even more unlikely.  It's a law of science that matter and energy can be neither created nor destroyed, so it seems to me the same is likely true for a soul or consciousness.  In some form or another my life energy, whatever you wish to call it, will go on.  The only question is where.

If, however, my assumption is false and my death brings only oblivion.  I take solace in the knowledge that I will never know I am wrong.  Therefore my theory on the hereafter can only be proven true and if it's not then it doesn't matter. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Chicken and the Egg Solution

       Here's a fun thing to do the next time a Philosophy major tries to impress you at a party by asking a bunch of theoretical questions such as "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?"  Look them right in the eye and say "the egg".  Then when they will undoubtedly ask "What did the egg come from?"  You can respond with a simple "Something else." 

       At this point you can do one of two things.  Either walk away and leave them confused or continue to stare at them until they ask you to explain.  If the latter happens roll your eyes like you are talking to an idiot (philosophy majors love it when people openly mock their intelligence) and then give them the following explaination.

The Chicken and the Egg Solution:

      The underlying argument about the chicken and the egg mystery is that the cycle of chicken to egg and back to chicken appears to be a loop and where as a circle has no beginning or end the mystery seems unsolvable. 

     This argument is faulty because we know there was a time when neither chickens nor eggs existed and therefore the loop had to start somewhere.  Genetic studies show that modern chickens were domesticated from multiple wild bird species between 5,400 and 8,000 years ago.  Thus at some point in that time frame the chicken and the egg made their first appearance.  The trick to identifying when is knowing what counts as a chicken.

     To define a chicken you must have some definition that separates it from its similar bird ancestors.  It doesn't really matter what this definition is (height, weight, temperament, beak size, etc) as long as you realize that one does exist and can be scientifically identified. 

     Thus you can imagine that as the wild birds were slowly evolved into what we consider the modern day chicken there was a wild bird that was very similar to modern chickens, but fell just short of what could be defined as a chicken.  It then had an offspring (egg) that was just different enough from it's parent that when it hatched and grew up it qualified for the definition of the modern day chicken. 

     And on that day the first chicken was born from an egg that was produced by something similar, but ultimately different from a chicken.  Hence the egg came first!

Monday, May 6, 2013

To Puke or Poop: Stomach Flu's Ultimate Purge

It's a scary moment that I prayed I would never have to face.  When a bout of stomach flu causes diarrhea and vomiting to hit at the same time and you have to make a split second decision about what end of your body goes into the toilet bowl.

Like having to choose which of your children you would save first in a fire it's a question that you think you know the answer too, but will only really discover when faced with the decision. For myself it came down to which mess did I think would be easier to clean up? 

As a parent to a small child I am not unfamiliar to handling dirty diapers, but it's another thing when the mess is in your own pants.  For this reason I decided vomit was the lesser of two evils and chose to remain seated while my doomsday scenario played out. 

Many people might ask why not use a garbage can?  I'm sure you have one in your bathroom near the toilet?  Yes I do, but instead of a can I have a wicker basket and as the garbage is mostly used to hold toilet paper tubes it does not have a plastic liner.  Thus using it to catch the contents of my stomach would be nigh impossible to clean and would likely smell so bad I would be forced to buy a new one. 

Instead I was left with option two, which was my bathtub.  Not a bad decision, especially since I had vomited so much by the time this the only thing left in my stomach was Pepto-Bismol.  The problem was that while the tub was next to the toilet it wasn't so close that it could be easily reached. 

Thus I found myself in the bathroom one terrible day, stretched in an awkward pose between my bathtub and toilet while my body purged from both ends.  As terrible as I felt at the time I wanted to laugh at the absurdity of it all, and probably would have if not for the dry heaving. 

When the stomach flu hit it caused about 8 hours of gastrointestinal distress.  I lost so much fluid I dropped 10 lbs in a single day.  Had I needed it I would have scheduled a colonoscopy the next day as I'm sure my system was thoroughly flushed. 

It was hands down the worst stomach flu I've ever had, and set a new personal record for vomiting (7 times in six hours).  But like any good comic at least I have the sense to realize the humor in it and that means more material for stage.  My apologies to the squeamish in the audience.