Sunday, April 26, 2015

55 Thoughts and Beliefs at 55

I turned 55 today, and I took some time to write down 55 things I think or believe.  I tried not to plagiarize anyone's words at all, and tried not to be too trite with the thoughts.

1.         I’m not positive I could truly distinguish charcoal grilling from propane in a blind taste test, but I don’t often eat with a blind fold on.

2.         I’ve been fortunate to be living through the greatest beer renaissance in history.     

3.         It’s a tremendous coincidence that almost everyone in the world believes that their religion is the true one, and that they were lucky enough to be born into it.

4.         I wish I had taken more vacations to make memories when the kids were younger.

5.         Crisp and salty, sweet and sticky, soft and buttery – there are plenty of great taste/texture combinations in the world, but these three are at the top of the mountain.

6.         Being good and being nice are usually the same thing, but not always.

7.         If someone’s belief in divine oversight is all that keeps that person from mayhem, I don’t want to challenge that person’s theology, even though I think it’s wrong.

8.         When you’re traveling, fast food is dependable, but the point of travel is not sameness.

9.         There are some people in this world to whom I was a complete jerk.  I don’t expect their forgiveness, but I hope they know I’m trying to do better.

10.       Atheism requires the same ability to pretend that you know things as the most fundamentalist religions.

11.       Nuclear physics is no more understandable to me than medieval theology, but I trust physicists more than priests. 

12.       I am capable of being wrong about things I have thought long and hard about. 

13.       Dave Brubeck’s music is like the soundtrack to my life if I were infinitely more cool.

14.       People who think that both political parties are the same need to pay more attention to the specifics.

15.       I still have the sense of humor I should have grown out of in my teenage years.

16.       When leaders try to convince you that another group of people is a bunch of inhuman monsters, they want you to become the same.

17.       You don’t really save much time by speeding in city traffic.

18.       No church I’ve ever encountered has an accurate or believable theology.

19.       It’s hard to believe that you’re a strictly rational person if a bunch of musical notes played in a certain pattern can change your mood.

20.       Pundits are not paid to be truthful, accurate or insightful.

21.       The best hobbies allow you to concentrate completely on something that doesn’t really matter much.

22.       PGA on the television is great background for a Sunday nap.

23.       Baseball on the radio is a great American sound.

24.       Someday I hope I learn that there’s no real advantage to waiting until the needle is on “E” to fill up the tank on a long road trip.

25.       If you feel you need to buy a gun because you’re afraid of crime, you’ve already surrendered your peace of mind.

26.       A happy dog greeting is a shot of pure joy.

27.       Some great poetry exists without rhyme or traditional structure, but not very much.

28.       Even an average tree is mind-blowing if you look at it.

29.       I tell myself I want to travel more, but I don’t even get up and explore Kansas City as much as I should.

30.       I used to think that going into the “helping professions” was somehow nobler than business, but a successful businessperson can accomplish tremendous things with a well-aimed check.

31.       What kind of sense does it make for me to send a check to a politician who is richer than I am?  If they’re not willing to invest until they are down to my level, why should I?

32.       If you look at a field with horses or cows in it, they are usually gathered near each other rather than spaced out evenly.  Humans are mostly the same. 

33.       Lawns are dumb, and an example of how we let peer pressure make us do dumb things.  I’d rather have an herb garden out front.

34.       Bass players are almost always the coolest people on stage.

35.       When you’re traveling, it’s best not to eat within a mile of an Interstate highway.

36.       I am generally a peaceful, well-mannered person, but bring me to a hockey game, and I turn into a bloodthirsty screamer.  It’s kind of unsettling.

37.       I know everyone probably thinks this, but, really, my group of friends is the most amazing group in the world.

38.       I’m never sure what it means when people say the US is the greatest country in the world.  I’m sure that Belgium, Bolivia and Bhutan think the same thing.

39.       At 55, I think I’ve missed out on my best years for mountain climbing.  Really, that doesn’t bother me at all.

40.       Golf is an amplifier for your inner self, good and bad. 

41.       Racism exists in everyone.  People who deny it are both racist and not struggling to improve.

42.       It makes good sense to invest in high quality items you use all the time.  A dependable car, well-made knives, and good pots and pans pay me a dividend every time I use them.

43.       I understand that the people with confederate (“loser”) flags aren’t racists at all, and are merely proud of their heritage, but I wonder why they choose the most racist and offensive period of time in their ancestry to trumpet.  Why aren’t they displaying WWI flags, or something from the War of 1812?

44.       I wish that people who go to concerts and then talk loudly through the whole thing would just go away. 

45.       It’s really easy to get calcified in your music taste, but it’s worth the effort to enrich your musical horizons by trying new stuff.

46.       If relative peace can be achieved in Northern Ireland, it’s possible elsewhere, too.

47.        It is a rewarding challenge to my chatterbox mind to stand in front of an abstract painting and not understand it, but allow myself to feel it and my reactions to it.

48.       I think the best form of government would be to hand the country over to the editorial board of the New Yorker, and allow them to run things with the same intelligence, wit and intellectual curiosity they bring to the magazine.

49.       Red and yellow delicious apples are a triumph of marketing over virtue.

50.       People probably weren’t meant to live anyplace that palm trees don’t grow. 

51.       If we paid the consequences for all our bad behaviors, we would all be in a terrible state.  A lot of people in terrible circumstances haven’t really behaved worse than us, but they weren’t as lucky.

52.       Insults that don’t have a grain of truth in them are easy to ignore.  Those with a grain of truth, though, hit deep.

53.       Fountain pens are unnecessarily difficult and risky, but I still like the experience of using them.

54.       Men like to think of themselves as independent thinkers beholden to nobody, but they scrape sharp metal over their faces every day so that they look a certain way.

55.       I really don’t understand how pizza wasn’t big in the United States until after World War II.  Baked dough, sauce and cheese – wasn’t that kind of obvious?


  1. Dan, this list is a great read. Nice work. Regarding #10, this comes down to the disputed definition of the word "atheism." Does it mean "disbelief in gods" or "lack of belief in gods?" I favor the second definition because "theism" means "belief in the existence of a god or gods" so atheism means the lack of such belief. And given that definition, I disagree with #10 because not believing something does not require pretending to know things.

    1. Aric, I agree with you completely if your definition is correct. I interpret atheism to mean a belief that there is no god. To me, agnosticism covers those who are less certain about things.

  2. WL - thanks for reading it! If any of these show up on my white board, you'll know I mean them.