Life is whizzing by…. when did we stop noticing?

Mr. Atheist:

I like this. Very. Much.

Originally posted on Hidden Obviousness:

whizzing by

Let me start by admitting that I am a product of this society.  I’m not always proud of it.  I live in Los Angeles, but this mild diatribe can be said for any metropolitan city-born person– or anywhere else for that matter.   I am at least aware of the societal forces at play, which have molded me (to some degree) into who I am.

The “awareness” part is important, though.  It means that I recognize it.  Do I try to change?  Sure.  Am I successful?  Not always.  What scares me is the fact that so many people I see everyday are not aware.

I’m a business executive, you can say.  A sales guy, really.  I regularly find myself at a Starbucks paying rent for my office/temporary laptop station by buying a coffee and one of those oh-so-addicting pastries.  There I go… cranking away at the keyboard trying to make magic…

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The Loss

There is wanting to know.  There is needing to know.  There even exists having to know.

Then, when it is all said and done, you know.  And in knowing you cannot un-know.

I cannot unknow that Sam died last week.  I cannot unknow that his depression ran deep and had carved deep canyons that, once discovered became impossible to fill, let alone climb out of.

I am a better person because of Sam.  I am a better student because of Sam.  I feel fortunate having known him and I have no regrets because I told him that he made me a better student.  The friendly, and at times fierce competition, drew out the best in us.

I don’t know how to deal with this loss.  If i feel helpless and confused, what was Sam feeling?  I know I said i needed to know so that I can put a handle on this and being the grieving process, but now I prefered the haze and the fog.  Now, it is all too real.

It hurts to think about.  It hurts to know that a fellow human being was in such pain, so much so that the choices were limited or limiting.  It is one thing to cease existing due to an accident or an illness, but to commit to something that cannot be undone…and, possibly, feel that there were no other choices, is difficult to grapple with.

I am rambling.  Nothing makes sense today.

Nothing makes sense.  I am a little hypersensitive and realize I am.

The irony is that I am taking a Death and Dying course (one of those electives that seemed “cool” at the time).  One of the issues we dealt with, a couple of weeks ago was suicide.  I wished we had spent a little more time on that topic.  Since it gave the professor the heevy-jeevies we spent very little time on it.  Ugh.

Not that it would have helped.  I don’t know what would or could help.  Maybe I just keep rambling.  Maybe that’s what I need to do.


I think started this blog right after dad was diagnosed with cancer.  He passed away in 2012.

Where is up?

I just want to sit.  I want to laugh.  I want to cry.

I want to ride my bike and I want to ride my bike in the rain.  It’s a desert.  No rain here. Tires are flat.

I miss ya, Sam.

Remembering Sam

Greetings and salutations from the State University.

I intended on getting back here sooner and sharing some great ideas and stories and other happenings, but a full academic schedule does not lend itself well to blogging as a hobby.

In the course of the last few months I have made friends and acquaintances some come with the obvious limitations of the semester and the commonality of the subject; while others would transcend the banalities of true/false exam questions and the short answer response.

Sam would inhabit the latter.  We met, as most students in class.  We are both obviously nerds.  We sat up front. Check.  We introduced ourselves to each other and shook hands like “old academics” would. Check.

The semester started with talk of our beards.  His red beard aged him.  It gave an air of discernment and of intelligence that the glasses alone could not.  He would tease that I needed to stop eating powdered donuts (an age joke).  Ha. Ha.

We seemed to be the only two who understood the professor’s strange and at time questionable excuse at humor.  We would tally each other’s class participation and we would call each other “teacher’s pet”.

Then, one day Sam would walk in without a beard.  I advised this “new guy” that he couldn’t sit at Sam’s regular desk and that she shouldn’t attempt it.

“You’ll know it when he walks in.  His red beard will give his strength and virility away and you will run for ‘them-thar-hills.”

Sam smiled.

We would trade jabs and talk political science and history and geography or women. We would have most of these conversations in person.  He would have a muffin of some kind.  He likes the chocolate muffins from the student snack store.  I would tease him because he would always forget to buy a drink and would inevitably mimic a puppy that’s just been given a spoonful of peanut butter.

He’d muster the words while trying not to laugh… “Shud’up.”

We had dinner last Tuesday evening.  I had a couple of slices of pizza and he devoured a bowl of pasta that took 30 minutes to cook.

I had just about finished my pizza as he arrived at the table with his pasta.  In typical Sam-ese:

“You know I must have the water and the pasta imported from Italy or I wouldn’t dare eat it.”

That was Sam.

We were supposed to get together a few days ago to work on some homework.  I reached out via text.  Then via email.

No response.

Sunday night I send him another text.

“You ok?”


A few minutes later I received a text message from a strange number.

“This is Sam’s mother. I cannot text you from Sam’s phone. Sam is not ok.”


“Sam passed away Tuesday evening. How did you know him?”


I am at a loss both in words and psychologically.

I am on campus now.  I look around and I swear I see Sam.  I swear he’s about to turn that corner.

Not that guy, he has a beard.

That looks like Sam’s beard.  Sam had shaved.

It’s just a fog.


I dread tomorrow.

I dread walking into our class.  I dread having an empty desk next to mine.  I will miss the tally marks and I will miss the asides.  I will miss the joking and the chocolate mouth.

I will miss, Sam.


I will leave a pencil and a sheet of paper on his desk.  He will be with us, with me, one more day.

Chick-Fil-A: Pay it Forward or Something Stinks Here


I am not breaking news here.  I am just reiterating and giving legs (it seems) to a Chik-A-Fil story that is hot right now.

A generous man in Texas (Texas?!?) dropped $1,000 at the drive-thru window of a Chif-A-Fil.  He left enough money to feed the next 88 customers in line behind him.  He paid cash. He presented the $1,000 in hundred dollar bills.

He fed 88 people.  Simple math produces the $11.36 that each person had at their disposal.  Seems like a coincidence that the “NEW” Premium Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap Packaged Meal costs around… $11.36.

This got me thinking.

Chik-A-Fil is pretty arrogant and brash.  They enjoyed a nice surge a couple of years ago at the expense of the same sex marriage proponents.  You might remember the words from the COO, Dan Cathy:

“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, “We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage”. I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”

What happened?  There sales actually SOARED!  Yes, there a knot was forming in the throats of the Chik-A-Fil accountants during those days, but the Christian-Right showed up in support of Hate and Bigotry.  Yawp.

Sell the controversy.  Actually, it should read, the controversy sells. (This is a jab at the “teach the controversy”… nevermind.)

Do you see what I see?

Back to today.  Scrolling through my news reader (AOL) and tucked in between Melissa River’s first TV appearance since her mother passed away and a story on the unsettling news about man-made sweetners was our story about altruism.

Ah.  How sweet.  Kind really.

What did my gut tell me the moment I began reading the story?

Sham. Fake. BS.

I had a short conversation with myself.  It went a little like this:

Conscience: “Whoa.  Hold on, Mr. Atheist.  Wait one darn second there.”

Mr. Atheist: “Yes, I did.  I thought it.  I thought it right away.  Didn’t you?”

C: Let’s say I did, which I probably did when you consider I am talking to myself…

MA: Then let it go.

C: This is how you break your self-imposed “blog-silence”?

MA: I had to.  It is so obvious and so…

C: Man, you are cynical.

MA: Me?

C: Us.

MA: We are cynical.  How else would you make sense of this?

C: So wait, you are saying that the Chik-A-Fil pay-it-forward (too many hypethens) story is…a fake?

MA: Those words required hyphens, no?

C: Yes, probably.  Seeing them strung like that made it seem like one was missing or there were too many.

MA: Yes, the story is fake.  How many eye balls get their news from the internet?

C: It………

This went on for like 3 more minutes.  I tried to run it by a friend of mine, but he was too busy feeling good about the story to care.

That was all I needed.  That was the confirmation I required.

The average person doesn’t realize that this might be a put-up job.  Worse?  They don’t care to scratch the surface.

I will leave you with this idea.

The cost to produce and run a nationally televised commercial?  Low end?  About a $500,000.  Consider that most people aren’t watching TV and if they do they DVR past the commercials.  The ROI is questionable at best.  Not if you consider this question:

$500,000 or $1,000?

Make sense yet?

You are Chik-A-Fil.  You need to make an ad people will watch and you can’t wait for the super bowl.  You just rolled out a new product line and you want to maximize the ROI.  What do you do?  Do you put a cool new ad together that will cost you a bunch or do you spend , say $20,000, on a web-based campaign and drive traffic through “news”.  The cost?  $1,000.






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