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Weird and Wonderful Summer Cocktails -Friday Fun

I was in Dallas a few weeks ago, and stayed at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown (beautiful old grand hotel, by the way). After dinner that night, I stopped by the bar with my sobs, and ordered a Cucumber Cranberry Mojito.

I know. Sounds weird, but it turned out to be refreshing and flavorful. And I’m the one known at my local sushi bar to “hold the cukes on everything.” pretty, no? Kitty wondered if they could fit anything else in the glass!



Good for Nothing

We all have our “catch phrases”.  Obama is going to “never rest” until a problem is done, which means he’s probably going to be awfully tired.  Santa says, “ho ho ho” instead of “ha ha ha” when he’s laughing.  When I was very young, my friends and I would say “Dy-no-mite!” for no particular reason other than we heard it on TV.

There is one “catch phrase” I am known for.  “Atheists are good for nothing”. It just slipped out one day during a good old forum chat argument.  “Since atheists don’t believe in God, why behave in a moral fashion?” was the question.  My answer was simply “Atheists are good for nothing”.  Ever since, that phrase has been associated with me.

Sadly, even though atheists are for the most part critical thinkers, many people do not take the time to understand what I mean. I had to take the phrase out of my signature line on the JREF forum to keep some atheists from private messaging me about how I was “insulting” them.

Perhaps it is because I am known as not being an atheist that people suspect me when I say “Atheists are good for nothing”.  I have two atheist children, 90% of my friends are atheists, I belong to several groups that support atheists (because I feel there is great intolerance for atheists and everyone need to be supportive in getting rid of this prejudice), and even James Randi himself says it’s OK for me to hang with the JREF crowd. I enjoy being the “token” believer, and there is even a small group of non-atheists skeptics that have “infiltrated “ TAM and other skeptic events. The thing most atheist skeptics don’t know is that most “believer” skeptics think comments from Hitchens and Dawkins are small potatoes compared to how we have been treated by our fellow “believers”.  I’ve been informed I am NOT going to heaven more than a few times since among other things God is so angry at me about that whole accepting homosexuality as simply part of the interesting variety of life. The special corner of hell occupied by Charles Darwin has a chair for me since I believe in evolution.  I have been told I’m going to be damned because I dye my hair and wear pants a lot. The list of what I do “wrong” to a fundamentalist believer is much longer than the list of what I “think wrong” to the average skeptic. People asked me at TAM if I was upset by what Richard Dawkins and other atheists were saying.  I felt like saying “Look as long as he’s OK with me wearing pants, he’s got nothing on my fundie neighbor!”

What does hurt me though is when people I care about do not understand what I really mean by “Atheists are good for nothing”.  So here is the history.  I have a storybook that my grandmother gave me, called the “Giant Story Book” which she found it in the attic of the old house she lived in. The book is dated 1890.  I loved reading the stories as a child, and there was one little poem we both especially liked.  It is by Mary Wyatt.

Good for Nothing

“Just look at these pennies,” said roguish Dan

To his sturdy companion Roy;

“My mother gives me a penny a day

Whenever I’ve been a good boy”

“I wouldn’t be paid just for being good,”

Said Roy, with a toss of his head;

“I’d just as soon, and a little rather,

Be good for nothing,” he said

I was never paid for “good grades”.  A lot of my friends got so much for a B, more money for an A.  They got paid if they got enough gold stars on a chart, or if they walked the dog every day.  The joke was that I had to be “good for nothing”. I never paid my own children for doing well at school.  I wanted them to know they were doing well for their own welfare, not mine.  I just wanted to pass on to my children that being “good for nothing” was really just being good because it’s the right thing to do.  It really means in the end  being “good for yourself”.  You will be happier and more successful if you decide it is worth being good simply because you know it’s the right thing to do.  If you are only good for gain, you stand to lose everything.

When I say “Atheists are good for nothing”, I mean it as my highest compliment.  It’s how I was raised and how I raised my children.  It’s something I admire in almost every atheist I know.


From the time we left London, it was grey skies and drizzling rain. After a lunch of Mussels in Camembert sauce, fries, and a bottle of cider, we drove up winding coastal roads, through villages that saw American troops fighting hand to hand against the Germans: Longues sur Mer, Bessin, Courselles sur Mer. The rain halted briefly as we arrived at the American Cemetery, which had a new visitors center since my last visit, full of emotional displays and film clips.

I also pulled into a road cider “degustation” to try the local Calvados, which turned out to be the same cave I’d stopped at with my sons three years ago.

We then drove into the center of Bayeux and pulled into the first non/chain hotel I saw, which was the Hotel d’Argouges, built in 1732, Michelin rated, and beautiful, with gardens and paths. We walked through town and found the museum of the Bayeux Tapestry, which I had read about 40 years ago .

A short walk brought us near the town’s cathedral with its common story of being founded in 600 CE, burned, and rebuilt. The current version is dark and seriously need of cleaning, the beautiful architecture being masked by centuries of filth.

Arriving in London

Janet and Eric at a small sandwich shop near Parliament. We’ve only been here a few hours and are trying to get our bearings

An Amazing Breakfast

One morning this week, during our cruise through the Mexican Riviera, my friends Kitty, Susan (wife of Robert Lancaster aka and I were enjoying breakfast when Randi wandered by, claiming to be on the hunt for rich widows. None of us qualified, but he decided that, in a pinch, we would do, and joined us. As is usual with Randi, he held court, and shared stories of his adventures. However, the breakfast was amazing in that we actually got a word in edgewise! Most of the meal was spent making fun of the truly awful stage magician we had seen on the ship earlier in the week. Randi sat on the front row, unnoticed by “LaRaf”, and surrounded by his entourage. Many of our group are either amateur magicians or have seen enough of Randi’s demonstrations to know what to look for during a show, and even I was able to see the set-ups. As we exited the theater for dinner, we decided that being appalled really works up an appetite.

Mexican Riviera

A beautiful place. One of our group, Jesus (not that one) is originally from the Meixican interior, and has been very helpful in negotiating with taxi drivers. Several us hired one for the day, and we're making our way into the hills of the city. I would love to come here and rent a villa for week, sit on a patio, drink cold frosty things, and let bougainvilla petals fall on my head.

New friends

So my friend Kitty and I arrived in Los Angeles this evening, tired out from a long day of traveling across the continent, and went out for a quick bite with our friend Cleon. When we returned, the hotel parking lot was full of lavish dresses, all satin and tiaras.

We’re so glad they’re not going on the cruise. We did not pack enough clothes. Kitty is the one in the jean skirt, by the way.