Wagers And Trust...

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posted on Nov, 18 2013 @ 01:22 AM
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Chapter Four-Wagers and Trust

Step up to the table and lay your bets, gentlemen! How much to wager on the first game? This is our usual interpretation of what it means to wager. I am not much of a gambler, and those who are like to be able to trust the game, and to trust their own self control, so that they do not wager and then lose too much. This chapter is about wagers and trust in life and also is concerned with the figure of the Devil. The prince of darkness is a gentleman, or so it has been said. After a brief introduction, I will be mainly concentrating on the figure of Satan in the Old Testament, such as in the book of Job, and on the Faust legend. There will also be a short section on philosophy.
Life itself is somewhat of a wager. We are born into the world, and after the initial euphoria of childhood, soon see that there is something expected of us. We agree to play life’s game, and the rewards can be vast. The hardships can also be vast if we lose along the way. Everyone who plays this game must be able to trust in someone or something, whether that is in God, in one’s friends and family, or in themselves. Not everyone wins every hand drawn in life, and it is a game best learned by playing and by being aware of the rules.
So, what are the rules of life? First, there are the general ground rules to consider. Life has a beginning and an end, and there are many ups and downs both in the health of the body and financially. Life is a game of choices as well, and the results of the choices we make can contribute to the events, both good and bad, in our lives and to our sense of life. Sense of life is the general sense each of us has as to our total well being, and our comfort with our own self-image and enjoyment of all the things life has to offer. We choose whether or not to play by the general rules put forth by society, of course, and those who choose to gamble on a life of crime often find that the penalties for losing this wager are many and can involve the loss of freedom or even of life itself. Some have chosen to go this route and won, though this is open to debate. Some may win this wager against the rules and find it costs them in terms having more to do with sense of life than with money or longevity.
We must be able to trust that the rules given to us by society or by life on earth in general are fair for the individual and for all those he deals with. Trust is quite important to me. I have certainly not lived up to the ideal of total honesty, but feel I should be able to put faith in those around me to mean and do what they say. As all my readers will most probably agree, this ideal is not always followed in reality. Many people are not honest because they feel there is more of a material or emotional gain to be had from dishonesty. We have in human society a rather tough task. We must be true to our own ideals and also trust others to be true to us. Many of life’s problems, such as hunger and disease, are out of our hands completely. Some, such as financial decisions and material concerns, are an ongoing game learned in the playing. Spirituality or religious concerns are also best left to the individual, or the family of the individual may guide with this, but this is not always the case. Families often press their own values onto their children in varying degrees, and this is not always a bad thing. Individuals can choose at various points during life a new faith or new intellectual values. There are always temptations to either “fall from grace” or to learn about new ways of looking at the world. Outside influences are always waiting in the shadows.
Anyone who likes animals knows about trust. Each of the pet rats I have owned has gone from a scared little creature at first to a totally trusting and loving pet. Cats, dogs, and horses are much the same way. I just gave Angus a bath tonight, because he has been shut up in a cage more at my parent’s house (I am here through the holidays) and he was beginning to stink. Remember in Chapter One when I talked about giving him a bath and he ran away and hid for hours? This does not happen anymore, and though there is no way for him to run far anyway, even though he may have little idea of the bath’s purpose he has come to trust me more and not to struggle so much when the bath is given.
The relationship of dogs to man is well documented, and everyone knows the “man’s best friend” proverb. We also say that dogs often look like their owners. To get back briefly to wagers, dogs can be a bad fit sometimes as well so not all animal relationships work out for the best. I have seen some that do and a few that do not. I remember one dog from my college years who belonged to my parents, and his name was Huck Finn. My mom has a flair for animal names, and though they are not usually so literary, I can’t disagree with that one. There was however the Cocker Spaniel Pandora who killed my first mouse. Huck Finn was a Welsh Corgi, and he did not trust me at all. I usually get along with my family’s dogs and dogs in general, even those others consider mean. I don’t mess with the really mean ones. I’m not stupid! Huck (Mom called him Huckle) was unsure of me, and I’m not really sure why. He got along with the rest of the family. I recall that he would usually bark once or twice when someone sneezed, but he barked every time I came into the room and my sneezes brought forth a cacophony of barking that aroused the cats and made them go running and practically ruptured everyone’s eardrums.
Huck would avoid me whenever possible, and the way I finally got him to trust me more was to have him sleep with me in my bed at night. I began this ritual I think in the wintertime, and the low temperature made him more willing to undergo it rather than fleeing. I would have to hold him a bit at first, but in the morning when I got up he would always still be there under the covers at the foot of the bed. After a couple of weeks of this, we were on good terms though sneezes still brought forth a bark. Animals act like humans sometimes when you treat them right, though not everyone is willing to share their bed even to cure a bad relationship. The reader may safely assume a rat in my bed does not bother me at all, though it is hard to turn them off for the night so that I can get to sleep.
What are the roles of higher or supernatural powers in the game of life? The usual human impression of God is that he decrees from on high. Really, I think the opposite is true. Anthony Burgess, in A Clockwork Orange has the prison priest ask Alex the question: “does God want the good or the choice of good?” God, or the ideal of goodness in general, wants us to want to be good and to help ourselves to make ourselves and others better. Let us consider evil, the idea of Satan or of pure negation. The human impression of Satan or of evil is that he allows everything. Satan’s original disagreement with God according to some sources however was that he wanted to be God, to be the creator. Evil prefers to decree yet confuses and lies. By having too many choices open to us, or by feeling that we do, we often fall into Satan’s trap. We undergo moral confusion and betray true human nature, which is a duality: we should both serve and be free to choose our path.




posted on Nov, 18 2013 @ 01:25 AM
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As mentioned earlier, much of this chapter will deal with the role of Satan in the Bible, and on his wager with God as to Job’s faithfulness. Trust in God (or in Satan) also comes into play. First, however, what is the nature of God’s wager with humanity? Those who do not accept the name God as a representation for the eternal may substitute their own highest expressions of sense of life or any other deity they choose, of course. In my view, God’s wager is one involving trust at its very core. We trust that He knows what he’s doing! Job never lost that trust even when Satan “smote Job with sore boils” and worse. The wager involves the nature of human life itself. We come to earth naked, and with no knowledge or memory of the eternal. We must come to know God or higher values through experience and by the direct results, for good or for evil, of the choices we make. Life for the individual is like the story of the Garden of Eden. At first we are innocent, then eat of the tree of life. We are made then aware of the many possibilities available to us in life and of our own responsibilities in choosing the right path (or to consciously choose a darker path). In life, we are not always thrown out of the garden, but eating of life’s sometimes bitter fruit is the end of childlike innocence. As adults, we must play by God’s or life’s rules.
Why does God give the tempter Satan so much free rein in the Genesis story and in the book of Job to tempt and often mislead man? In the Old Testament at least Satan is not the evil antithesis of God but a “son of God” with a very specific purpose. His name means “accuser” or “opposer” and temptation is his very business. It is quite possible that God wants it just that way for very good reasons. Never in the Old Testament or even in the New Testament is Satan often given the power to tempt just anyone all the time. Adam and Eve, Job, Jesus-these are the exceptions to the rule. God needs someone to do this job, and I can’t imagine that the Angels exactly line up to help with Satan’s work! I guess he has his own pool to choose from, anyway. There was an original sin on Satan’s part that got him his difficult job in the first place: “and there was war in heaven…” Satan’s sin was the sin of pride, to want to be God, and so he got to be the one tempting man to the same fall! We have free rein within our own earthly lives as well, to a certain extent. There must always be the temptation of evil and of self-pride or we wouldn’t have any kind of yardstick by which to measure the goodness of God.
To know God, or to have an idea of the eternal, or even to play evil’s game requires trust as well. Indeed, most of us who are still living (outside of the Bible and other religious texts) have never seen either in the flesh. We must trust that they exist, first of all. Also, we must have faith that the game isn’t rigged. It would be hard for me if I were Adam or Job to do this. Adam at least had the excuse of being able to blame his expulsion from the garden on his wife, so I guess this wouldn’t be so bad. The ground rules were fairly simple in Eden. Do what you want, even run around naked, just don’t eat off that one tree! (The tree is a symbol, not literal.) Job’s wife was always saying “just curse God and die” and I suppose they patched things up but boy, was the game rigged in that casino! To God’s credit he gave Job a big payout in the end and maybe there was a reason for the long toying with the poor man and the constant push and pull between God and the devil over him and his goods and family. Yes, I chose the story of Job to discuss in this chapter because it is the perfect biblical book to discuss in a chapter called “Wagers and Trust.” It involves both ideas equally.
Before going into the story of Job in greater depth, I would like to begin with Satan’s first appearance in the Old Testament, the story of the serpent in the Garden of Eden. The name Satan does not appear in the actual account of the fall of man, but the general consensus is that the serpent is the personification of Satan, whose purpose is to tempt Eve to eat of the tree of knowledge. God curses the serpent and his later progeny, however, to always be despised by mankind and to go forevermore on their bellies in the dust; so the serpent may be an actual animal in the passage who is used by Satan for his own purposes.
At the beginning of the serpent and fall of man story, God has already created the world and made man his crowning achievement among the animals. Adam gets lonely so God takes an extra rib Adam doesn’t need while he is asleep under anesthesia and makes Eve. Adam has been warned not to touch the tree of knowledge, and either God or Adam must have made her aware of this rule as well. Enter the tempter with his proposal:

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
(Genesis Chapter 3, verses 1-5)

Here is, in the first chapter of the first book of the Old Testament, the essence of Satan’s temptation: to tempt mankind to his own sin, that of wanting to be “as Gods.” Eve eats the fruit, or falls for the temptation of seeking too much knowledge for her own good. God finds out and expels Adam and Eve from the garden, but not before cursing the serpent (Satan, or the snake as an animal because it was used by Satan?) with the following:

And the Lord God said unto the serpent, because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly thou shalt go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
(Genesis Chapter 3, verses 14-15)

The wager in the story of Job is more involved than that of Genesis Chapter 3, which is more about trust and the breaking of trust between God and the first humans anyway. I will discuss it at length, but rely mainly on my own interpretations rather than quoting from scholarly sources. The wager idea is quite pronounced here, as Satan simply trots on up to heaven to lay his cards on the table and make a bet with the almighty. Job, as we are told in Chapter 1, was “perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” He prays continually, even when the feast days are over, because his sons “may have sinned.”
The sons of God present themselves before the Lord, and the Lord and Satan exchange pleasantries. Then the Lord brags:

Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?



posted on Nov, 18 2013 @ 01:31 AM
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(Job Chapter 1, verse 8)

Satan answers God with a challenge, saying that Job is only upright because of his material wealth. Satan asks God to let him take away Job’s goods, and God gives Job’s wealth into Satan’s hands. This Satan achieves with the aid of those pesky Sabeans and Chaldeans, the Jews’ eternal curse, foreign tribes. Job deals with his losses in the following often quoted and beautiful passage:

Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
(Job Chapter 1, verse 21)

Job does not sin or “charge God foolishly,” and so God has won the first hand.
Satan is persistent and is ready to play another hand, however, so he ups the ante. He has been going to and fro in the earth again, you see, and has been disappointed by his loss of the first bet. He tries another argument:

And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.
(Job Chapter 2, verses 4-5)

God is willing to proceed with the game and gives Satan power once again. I am not sure what exactly is meant by “sore boils,” but they sound pretty bad. I would hate to be covered with them from head to toe and have to scrape myself with a potsherd. The interjection at this point by Job’s wife is interesting-she tells Job to “curse God and die.” Sometimes the Old Testament seems to have it in for women, and this reminds me of how certain analysts throughout the ages have blamed Eve for the fall of man. Job doesn’t scold her too harshly, but merely calls her foolish and commiserates with his male friends.
This is enough, however, to make Job curse the day he was born, and he does it with a high degree of hyperbole. This seems to be the end of Satan’s chances to challenge God over Job. Twice is enough-Job, covered with those boils and speaking with his friends about the wisdom and justice of God while being reproached by certain of them, such as Zophar, as he was by his wife, goes on in his meditations for quite some time. We are left to assume that after Satan’s exit he simply goes to and fro in the earth once more to find new potential victims to challenge God over. I told you it was a hard job! When Bildad speaks of the justice of God, Job answers:

I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God? If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand. He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength…(etc.)
(Job Chapter 9, verses 2-4)

Satan’s wager with God is over, and Job’s trust is still intact. We may trust that it is intact even though those boils are still there. This strange but seminal book of the Bible continues with Job “reproving” both his own life and his friend’s reproofs until the next passage that I would like to quote, which shows an almost childlike trust of God. It is, quite simply, beautiful:

Man that is born of a woman is of but a few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. And dost thou open thine eyes upon such a one, and bringest me into judgment with thee? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.
(Job Chapter 14, verses 1-4)

In Chapter 31, Job finally requests God’s presence:

Oh, that one would hear me! Behold, my desire is, that the almighty would answer me, and that mine adversary had written a book.
(Job, Chapter 31, verse 35)

God answers the prayer in person this time later on in Chapter 38, “out of the whirlwind.”

Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? Or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner stone thereof;

(God likes to measure things and is always willing to talk about His creation.)

When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?
(Job Chapter 38, verses 4-8)

God is willing to spend a lot of time with Job, while Satan had tired of God’s presence quickly. For all God’s seeming chiding in testing Job’s faith and wisdom, the wager is complete at the end of the book when God gives back to Job “more than his beginning.”
God is a stern taskmaster but his tasks have a purpose. So do Satan’s, but it is significant that though Satan causes the actual losses to Job’s property and well-being, he is in and out of the story quickly. The long middle of the book of Job is poetic and revealing, and God appears to Job only in the end after much discussion among Job and his friends about the hardships caused by “the adversary.” God needs to establish trust, and it is only because Job was so upright to begin with that his hardships are so many. The reward to both God and Job at the end is so much greater because of this.
For a much later version of the same encounter between Satan and God in heaven, I now turn to the Prologue in Heaven from Goethe’s Faust. I am using the translation by Philip Wayne. Faust is a character much different than Job in his intellectual questing and moral overreaching, but as a representative of the human condition he is similar. The Prologue in Heaven is a masterpiece of poetry, as is the entire play. Mephistopheles is clearly indicated in several lines throughout the play as the devil himself, though in Christopher Marlowe’s beautiful The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Dr. Faustus he is a mere underling to Lucifer. Listen to Goethe’s Job-recalling lines as, after the three archangels’ introduction, Mephistopheles appears:

Since You, O Lord, are with us here once more,
To ask how we are going on at large,
And since you viewed me kindly heretofore,
I thought I’d make one, too, in the menage.
Your pardon, if my idiom is lowly,
My eloquence up here would meet with scorn,
Pathos from me would cause you laughter solely,
If laughter weren’t a thing you have forsworn.
Your suns and worlds are not within my ken,
I merely watch the plaguey state of men. (etc.)

The direct and simple Satan of the book of Job has almost been reversed with God in that he is the one, despite his protestation that his “idiom is lowly,” who is using the most eloquence. The Lord’s answers are more direct:

Have you no more to say to me?
Is plaint your one necessity?
Will nothing please you upon earth?



posted on Nov, 18 2013 @ 01:35 AM
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The Lord seems pleased with Faust for the most part, though he “serves me in bewildered ways.” As in Job, the wager is set. Faust represents the early dawn of the Romantic age, one in which the Devil was beginning to obtain some sympathy from artists. Mephistopheles manages to be a humorous character and gains our sympathy as well with his closing, flippant remark at the end of the heavenly prologue:

I like to see the governor now and then,
And take good care to keep relations civil.
It’s decent in the first of gentlemen
To speak so friendly, even to the devil.

Mephistopheles has been given the permission of God to tempt Faust, who is next found in his study practicing black magic, and speaking with his student Wagner.
Faust is in a sense the representation of the new Romantic era man, who is constantly striving but has lost his way to God, a way found only through trust. Here, we see the duality of his restless spirit:

Two souls, alas, live within my breast,
And each will wrestle for the mastery there.
The one has passion’s craving crude for love,
And hugs a world where sweet the senses rage;
The other longs for pastures fair above,
Leaving the murk for lofty heritage.

When Mephistopheles finally appears to Faust and is challenged as to just who he is, the simple answer is: “I am the spirit that negates.” Satan, whether he works alongside or strictly against God, is the ultimate spirit of negation. Every experiment, including God’s human experiment, needs a master tester. Man must not become lazy or complacent. Faust will be doomed only when he ceases to strive:

If to the fleeting hour I say,
Remain, so fair thou art, remain!
Then bind me with your fatal chain,
For I will perish in that day.
‘Tis I for whom the bell shall toll,
Then you are free, your service done.
For me the clock shall fail, to ruin run,
And timeless night descend upon my soul.

Mephistopheles’ brief answer “This shall be held in memory, beware!” seals the deal.
I do not have time or space for an analysis of the entire play. This has been done many times before, and really the play needs no analysis. It is simple and approachable yet achieves a sublime profundity. Part Two of the play (hardly performable in the theatre due to its length and erudition) has a lovely final scene in which Faust, for all his sins, is saved. This is important. Job was saved and even made richer, but he never doubted God. Faust only comes to God in the end, but it is his love of a woman (or the eternal-feminine) which saves him. Again, God is testing the mettle of his creations, seeing who has the strength of character to stand with him in the end.
I would like to briefly mention two more wagers from literature before closing the chapter. One is the famous wager of Blaise Pascal and the other is the more agnostic wager found in Voltaire’s Candide. Pascal’s Wager from Pensees (Thoughts) is an attempt to apply game theory to belief in God. To me, belief in God is too important to wager about despite the title of this chapter. The idea is however interesting. Pascal (1623-1662) describes it this way:

If there is a God, he is infinitely incomprehensible, since, having neither parts nor limits, He has no affinity to us. We are then incapable of knowing either what He is or if He is… God is, or He is not. Yes, but you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked. Which will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see what interests you least. You have two things to lose, the true and the good; and two things to stake, your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun, error and misery…(etc.)

In other words, Pascal is asserting that it is better to bet on the existence of God since it is a better bet to do so. What do you have to lose? The outcomes of belief versus unbelief then might be seen this Way:

God exists God doesn’t exist
Belief in god (+) (N)
Not believing in god (-) (N)

If we live as if God exists, and he does, we receive an infinite reward, since God rewards belief. If He does not exist, we have still lived happily. The outcome is neutral. By living without belief in God, it is assumed, the outcome is negative since God would not reward disbelief.
Pascal does not really go into the option of not believing in God, and the wager seems to me a little incomplete and sketchy coming as it does from this consummate mathematician and early proponent of game theory. It seemed really silly to me back when I still thought of myself as an atheist. I think that one should at least make the attempt to decide using reason, which method Pascal gets around simply by saying that God is beyond human comprehension. Could he not at least have said the reason was that God’s existence cannot be proven by mathematical means? This at least is true. Can we not at least try to have trust in some kind of eternal truth beyond the purely physical even if that is simply the brotherhood of man and love of our neighbor?
Voltaire wrote Candide in 1758 and it was partly meant to ridicule the philosophical system of Leibniz called Optimism. Leibniz asserts that humanity must live in the best of all possible worlds because God, a benevolent deity, made it to be so. Three years earlier, there had been a terrible earthquake in Lisbon which killed between 60,000 and 100,000 people. It was the first documented earthquake of this scale in Europe. Also, the seven years war had been fought between 1756 and 1753. Voltaire did not like the idea of the best of all possible worlds-a just God would want it to be better than it is, at least. Candide’s adventures combine the tragic with the humorous in his adventures through the world as the stereotypical German stoically bears hardships and finds that “all turns out for the best in this best of all possible worlds.” The New World city of El Dorado is a rational utopia. Candide’s tutor Pangloss is a student of Leibniz’s optimism and the philosophy’s reduction to absurdity is seen here in the translation or Tobias Smollett:

It was a thing unavoidable, a necessary ingredient in the best of worlds; for if Columbus had not caught in an island in America this disease, which contaminates the source of generation, and frequently impedes propagation itself, and is evidently opposed to the great end of nature, we should have had neither chocolate nor cochineal.

In the end, Voltaire asserts that though the world may not be perfect, it is nonetheless better to “tend your own garden.”
So how does Voltaire’s criticism of Leibniz’s philosophy of optimism tie into the idea of a wager? Leibniz is wagering on a benevolent God’s love for humanity in the face of terrible tragedies such as the Lisbon earthquake, and trusts that all will go according to His plan. Humanity will survive-or at least the survivors will! This must have seemed too much like blind trust to Voltaire. The “agnostic” wager set forth in Candide rejects Leibniz’s optimism, yet avoids negativity by allowing for the individual to be able to find his or her own happiness within an imperfect world.



posted on Nov, 18 2013 @ 01:38 AM
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Voltaire’s wager, then, might be construed as a refusal to wager on God’s goodness at all, or perhaps as a hedging of his bet. Maybe he would have agreed with Pascal’s assertion that God is “infinitely incomprehensible,” but unlike Pascal, Voltaire’s philosophy tends more towards the neutral. There will always be earthquakes, and wars, but it is up to the individual to make his own way in life. Grow your own garden, and try to avoid the thorns.
I have always considered gardens very lovely, but I have a black thumb and any plant that wagers on entrusting itself to my care is taking a big risk. I have just been outside smoking another pipe of Virginia-grown, Kentucky-cured Bulls Eye tobacco in my car out by my mom’s herb and vegetable garden. It is December 2, 2007 and the weather has been quite cold. The tomatoes and green peppers are still alive, though mockingbirds are pecking at them and English Sparrows are swarming around in droves. My mother has planted basil, parsley, rosemary and sage and the herbs smell fragrant in the cool and still air of midmorning. The tomatoes and peppers will not survive the first hard freeze and my dad has suggested I make a big pot of soup from them and add some leftover chicken with some herbs and beans. The rest of the tomatoes will have to be cleaned up by the rabbits. I don’t like tending gardens (except for philosophical ones), but love to cook; so this sounds like a good project for tomorrow. I will have to get some buillion and also pick some herbs.
It has gotten overcast, and looking out the office window I can see that there is a slight breeze. It will probably rain today, and I can see my dad outside getting clothes off the line. He was doing some raking and general yard work yesterday, so I guess he knew it was coming. I didn’t do much yesterday. I cleaned up the guest room and bathroom, and tried to get the smell out of the mouse cage once again by putting the mice in an empty trash can while I hosed the cage off outside. I was not entirely successful, but some Pine Sol helps to mask the odor. I wanted to get it smelling as inoffensive as possible for the children even though we still haven’t found any takers. I may try to find a coffeehouse today, or even go to Williamsburg or Richmond, but I don’t have any real inclination to travel so far. I do need more tobacco, though, and that Bulls Eye is the best I’ve found lately. There are no tobacconists in these small towns.
I might even take Angus for a walk if he is up for it. One can make a loop of string or twine for a rat’s neck and walk him like a dog, and he would probably trust me enough to do this at this point. Mom just saw a snow goose but dad doesn’t want to find the camera. He is playing with Sasha, our energetic boxer, who is always following me around with her toy, trying to get me to throw it for her. I can hear my dad’s mandolin teaching tape in the background and if I can just finish this chapter maybe he would like me to play with him. The TV blares in the kitchen and I wonder what my mom is planning to make for lunch. Perhaps I will call Tyler; we have been leaving messages trying to get in touch with each other for a couple of days.
Just came out of the kitchen. Drank a bottle of non-alcoholic beer to try to settle my stomach after this morning’s fast food biscuits. Angus lay on my lap and Sasha wouldn’t leave us alone. She is non-aggressive but I still don’t trust her not to hurt the rat without meaning to. She seems fascinated by him, and once even put her nose right on his snout as if they were kissing. I’ll have to see where that goes. I would mainly be afraid she might grab him like one of her toys in her mouth and go running through the house, and that would make for a very bad day for the rat. Sasha could hurt him badly without meaning to. I have put Angus back in his cage for now to make sure something like that doesn’t happen, but every time I get up the dog looks at me expectantly to see if I have him with me. She misses her new friend.
Just ordered some more pipe tobacco off the internet and had another fill outside. I really need to call my brother and ask him once again to send me the words to his song. It is called “Sabrina Fair” and is in waltz time, making a piano version easy to do. I will enjoy just talking to him as well: he’s been away too long.



Voltaire’s wager, then, might be construed as a refusal to wager on God’s goodness at all, or perhaps as a hedging of his bet. Maybe he would have agreed with Pascal’s assertion that God is “infinitely incomprehensible,” but unlike Pascal, Voltaire’s philosophy tends more towards the neutral. There will always be earthquakes, and wars, but it is up to the individual to make his own way in life. Grow your own garden, and try to avoid the thorns.
I have always considered gardens very lovely, but I have a black thumb and any plant that wagers on entrusting itself to my care is taking a big risk. I have just been outside smoking another pipe of Virginia-grown, Kentucky-cured Bulls Eye tobacco in my car out by my mom’s herb and vegetable garden. It is December 2, 2007 and the weather has been quite cold. The tomatoes and green peppers are still alive, though mockingbirds are pecking at them and English Sparrows are swarming around in droves. My mother has planted basil, parsley, rosemary and sage and the herbs smell fragrant in the cool and still air of midmorning. The tomatoes and peppers will not survive the first hard freeze and my dad has suggested I make a big pot of soup from them and add some leftover chicken with some herbs and beans. The rest of the tomatoes will have to be cleaned up by the rabbits. I don’t like tending gardens (except for philosophical ones), but love to cook; so this sounds like a good project for tomorrow. I will have to get some buillion and also pick some herbs.
It has gotten overcast, and looking out the office window I can see that there is a slight breeze. It will probably rain today, and I can see my dad outside getting clothes off the line. He was doing some raking and general yard work yesterday, so I guess he knew it was coming. I didn’t do much yesterday. I cleaned up the guest room and bathroom, and tried to get the smell out of the mouse cage once again by putting the mice in an empty trash can while I hosed the cage off outside. I was not entirely successful, but some Pine Sol helps to mask the odor. I wanted to get it smelling as inoffensive as possible for the children even though we still haven’t found any takers. I may try to find a coffeehouse today, or even go to Williamsburg or Richmond, but I don’t have any real inclination to travel so far. I do need more tobacco, though, and that Bulls Eye is the best I’ve found lately. There are no tobacconists in these small towns.
I might even take Angus for a walk if he is up for it. One can make a loop of string or twine for a rat’s neck and walk him like a dog, and he would probably trust me enough to do this at this point. Mom just saw a snow goose but dad doesn’t want to find the camera. He is playing with Sasha, our energetic boxer, who is always following me around with her toy, trying to get me to throw it for her. I can hear my dad’s mandolin teaching tape in the background and if I can just finish this chapter maybe he would like me to play with him.



posted on Nov, 19 2013 @ 12:26 AM
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Here's an "essay" of mine from the same "collection" which makes for lighter reading. Will explain my username, and some of my peculiarities. These are scanned images, so I don't know until I hit "post" how easy this will be to read...






































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