Thursday, July 31, 2008

Time to buy shampoo, toothpaste, mouthwash, bandaids...

Here's a $5 off your $20 purchase at Walgreen's, good for today only. This is 25% off, boys and girls, so buy some shampoo, even if you don't need it right now.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

16. Literally.

Number of times Obama used the phrase "This is the Moment" in his speech in Germany.

Latest Frightening Quote from the Possible Future Leader of the Free World

"We could save all the oil that they're talking about getting off drilling if everybody was just inflating their tires and getting regular tune-ups. You could save just as much."
Oh Lordy Lord Lord. Oh I'm ascared.

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Guess! Guess how much the Federal government spent in providing lunches to public school kids in 2007. $5 million? $10 million? $50 million? $100 million. $500 million? A billion? Nope. You're not even close.

$8.7 billion.

Yup. The National School Lunch Program cost $8.7 billion in 2007. Let me repeat that for the cheap seats in the back.

$8,700,000,000.

Why? Why do my tax dollars need to buy lunch for my neighbors' kids?

And by the way, despite the massive spending of your tax dollars on this program over the years, many children continue to suffer from inadequate nutrition and, increasingly, from childhood obesity. If the goal of this government program is to improve nutrition in our nation's kids, it has failed. How about cutting out the program and spending a little money on educating and encouraging parents to feed their kids balanced nutritional meals, and making sure their kids get exercise every single day?

$8.7 billion dollars on lunch. Why?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mister Sand Face

I took the day off yesterday and took some nieces and nephs to the beach. What a fabulous day! Here was my contribution to the sand art...say hello to Mr. Sand Face:


I know, you are all astounded at my talent.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Call me crazy

I honestly believe that at this stage of the game, Obama has proven himself so utterly unqualified to be Leader of the Free World, that I think it will be a landslide for McCain in the general election. I know, I'm sure I will have egg on my face in November, and I'm being a little narcissistic here, but I just can't imagine how this man will win the Presidency. I can't. And I can't imagine people really thinking that Obama is actually capable of doing the job. Not after the last few weeks...c'mon.

I know, I'm going to get some nasty emails now. Here we go.

Rejection on Facebook...the trauma

I have my blogger Facebook profile, which is anonymous, and my actual, personal Facebook account, with my real name, real picture, etc..

I find it fascinating how upset some people get when you don't want to be their Facebook Friend.

One of my brothers went on FB with a fake name and no real posted profile. He said he didn't want his Yeshivish friends to know he was on Facebook. Okay. How many things are wrong with that sentence? He also didn't want to post any personal information because he considers it private. Which, I think is basically the point of Facebook, the exchange of personal information, yes?

Then he tried to Friend me. I hit "Ignore" instead of "Confirm." Why?

1. I don't need my brother (who, I'm sure, periodically reports back to my Mom) to know my stuff. I don't need for him to know who I'm playing Scrabble with, which groups I join, who pokes me, who sends me Free Gifts or throws sheep at me. I just don't need that. I don't need him looking at my photos, which sometimes are goofy, and I definitely don't need him to read my status updates. I can just imagine posting this:

Web Girl is: hating her job and wishing her boss would get off her case.

It would immediately prompt a phone call or email from him: why do you hate your job? Whatever you do, don't quit. Do you want me to help you find another job? Etc. etc.

or

Web Girl is: wishing she were married so she'd have someone to kill the spider that is staring at her from across the room.

He would inevitably bring it up at the Shabbos table or something that I wished I were married so I'd have a man to kill bugs for me and my sister-in-law would look at me with total pity and think about how pathetic I was.

I just don't need him to know my stuff. If he were my FB friend, I'd have to censor everything. And that just sucks the joy right out of Facebook.

2. If he is going on FB with a fake name and is posting no information on his own, why bother going on FB at all? So he can check up on me? So he can yenta around and see what other people are doing? Facebook is not a one way street. Anyone who goes on Facebook with a fake name and no real profile or anything personal posted either is there to spy on someone else or else doesn't get Facebook. You are there to share with your friends. If you don't put your own stuff on there, it's just you getting their personal stuff and then saying that your stuff is too private to reciprocate. No, I don't think so.

So I explained this to him and he got really upset with me. He doesn't get it. I probably didn't do a good job of explaining it. Man, I have SOOOO many issues with my siblings.

And then there are the complete strangers who Friend me. Now strangers Friending me on my blogger account is fine...I actually encourage that. But on my personal account? I had one woman write and say, hey fellow David Bowie fan here, wanna be Friends? Uh, no, I don't. Why would I? Why would I want her to know my stuff? Isn't it enough that we are in the same FB group? I mean, that's where common interests are expressed, yes?

Or of course, the guys that troll Facebook, who just randomly poke and Friend strangers. Why would they think that I would want that? What on earth is that all about? Facebook is good clean fun. Why does every social networking site on the internet have to turn into a sleezy singles bar? And man, you should see the hurt messages I get from these dudes when I remove their pokes, or don't Friend back. Does everyone need to Friend everyone else? Why?

Friday, July 25, 2008

My head just exploded.



Oh man. I am having a MAJOR case of cognitive dissonance.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Follow up to my health insurance crisis

This post is intended as a follow-up to this one, where I asked if anyone could point me to some leads on group health insurance.

So closing in on the last part of July, for the first time in ten years, I am uninsured. It's only a temporary lapse, and once August 1st rolls around, I will be insured again. I just have to hope and pray that nothing happens until then. You think I'm kidding? Watch my appendix burst on July 31.

Recently, my job status changed from permanent employee to consultant. My job essentially remained the same, but the company for whom I work, for their own reasons, forced me to change my status. Since I was no longer an employee, I lost all my health benefits, but a very significant raise in salary was supposed to cover my paying for private insurance, and then some. The money was good enough incentive for me to remain in the job. Because the company has less than 20 full-time employees, I was not eligible for COBRA, so I really did have to go out there and get my own health coverage, which prompted me to put out feelers on this blog and elsewhere for leads on health insurance. Since I'm sure there are going to be others out there who are freelancing, consulting, sole-proprietors, etc. I'll share my information with you. Here were the options that emerged:

1. A fellow blogger sent me info on The Workmen's Circle. Interesting health plan, but it's not really Major Medical health insurance, which is what I was looking for. I think this sort of thing is ideal for people with families, where everyone is basically healthy, and just needs coverage for well-visits.

2. Freelancer's Union is a fascinating concept. Someone got the idea that if a bunch of freelancers came together under one umbrella, they could form a group that would be eligible for group health insurance rates. This is actually very innovative as they also do advocacy and seek retail discounts, etc. The membership is specific to certain industries, and they have strict eligibility requirements. Because I had just started freelancing, I didn't meet the income requirements to obtain health insurance under their plan. But now that a month has passed, I can meet their requirements. I need to decide whether to switch to their plan or stay on the EPO that I just bought (see below). Freelancer's Union offers Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and for an individual, it's very reasonable...less than $400/month for a POS. I seriously might switch over to this plan. I like the idea of the advocacy that they offer as well, since consultants are vulnerable in so many areas of employment.

3. EhealthInsurance.com. This is what I actually ended up going with, since I met their requirements almost immediately and the rate was very reasonable. I am getting Oxford Metro Liberty Plan for the self-employed. It's an EPO (which is basically a much small PPO) and it's a little over $400/month.

By the way, if I would not have been able to get on a group, individual insurance would have cost me around $1,200/month, roughly three times as much as a group rate, even though I am working and filing taxes as a legitimate sole-proprietorship, and all my income is 1099. New York State does not consider companies with one employee as a real business entity (except when it comes to, say, social security self-employment tax, of course. Bastards.).

4. I hesitate to put down this option, as it was sort of legally shaky. A friend of mine offered to put me on his payroll for six months so that we could both qualify for group insurance. He is actually doing this already with another friend. The deal is, he would pay me New York State minimum wage for the minimum number of hours for me to qualify as an employee, along with all the regular payroll requirements, such as social security, disability, unemployment, etc. I would reimburse him under the table, since I wasn't really working for him. Since my salary was on the books though, I would have to pay federal and state income tax on it. All this to prove to an insurance company that we were a group so that we could qualify for a group rate for health insurance. This option, including the income tax on money I wasn't actually earning, would have cost me about $600/month, but it was Aetna, which is excellent insurance, and included dental and vision. It also would have cost me sleep. I'm told this is done quite often, but honestly, I'm not cut out to do things that are illegal (even if they are not really immoral, and I don't think this is).

So that was about it for options. I'll breath a little easier once August 1st rolls around and I re-join the ranks of the insured.

A few other things to keep in mind if you are in this situation: while paying $5,000/year+ for health insurance is somewhat painful, your health insurance premiums are 100% tax deductible, if you are earning 1099 income. They are not considered part of health expenditures (which have to add up to a sizable chunk of your income before they become deductible). This makes total sense, since company employees always pay premiums out of their paychecks from pre-tax money....why shouldn't consultants have the same privilege?

Also, if you are thinking about going commando and not having health insurance because it is just too expensive, consider this: one accident, one incident, one surgery, one diagnosis, and you could be utterly wiped out financially. And not having health insurance limits your health choices tremendously. You will always get medical care in America, but free clinic care is not the same as insured medical care. When I graduated from college and started making my way in the world, my parents taught me this: no matter what, first thing you pay is the mortgage/rent, second thing you pay is your health insurance, and then you worry about putting food on the table.

I do think it's abominable that I have to jump through so many hoops to get a group rate on health insurance. I mean, why? Why is it cheaper to insure someone who is part of a "group" than it is to insure an individual? How can it be that an individual pays three times as much for coverage? I wonder if it's only New York State that has these difficult laws, and if insurance is just as costly in other places.

I do like the idea of individuals getting together under one umbrella to form a group, though I wonder what it takes to form one? Why can't I just get together with a few friends, appoint someone as the adminstrator and form a group? What would be wrong with that? I think that should be legal. I mean, some of these group requirements seem really arbitrary. Why not say, okay, get together five people who are in the same geographic region, in a similar age group, have similar salaries, and they can be a group and get group rates. Why not? Any presidential candidates listening?

Well, I'm grateful I found some workable options. I was getting panicky there for a while. Thanks to those of you who wrote in.

Some random free stuff

  • Free Fiber One Cereal sample here.
  • Free Tide sample here.
  • 10% off online Target purchases with AAA membership. Shop through AAA.com/Target.
  • Free Ipod with account opening at Keybank (this is real...I did this two years ago and received a Nano)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Surreal and cute.

Very Dali-esque. New PES short film here. I liked the PostIt notes instead of the butter.

Starting off the Three Weeks

Tonight starts the Three Weeks. No music, live or recorded, no movies, no "pleasure-shopping." Once the Nine Days starts, no tv, no laundry, no beach, only one quick, lukewarm shower a day. That will suck. But that's national mourning.

Considering what happened last week, when the impotent government of the state of Israel (a state I fully support and love), put the final punctuation mark on their colossal, unbelievable ineptitude by returning a live murderer and terrorist for the bodies of two boys who should have never died, certainly not the brutal way that they did, well, national mourning is appropriate. We are kicking off our season of sadness, danger, and God's anger towards us with a bang. Bang.

My $.02? The government should have traded Olmert for the boys' bodies. Yeah, I'm angry. Really, really angry.

But not as eloquently angry as Naomi Ragen is. Read it. It's good.

So with my usual time-wasting activities cut out, I probably will be blogging more these next few weeks. Woohoo.

I love summer. It is without question, my favorite season. I love the beach, the warm weather, and the long days. I usually take one vacation in the summer, but because I'll be out of a job in January and have work now, I decided to postpone it and save the money instead. I do have some Fridays off, so I've been taking long weekends.

I have some guests coming in the next few days. There are sort of "obligation" guests. One is a quasi-friend from Out-of-Town who needs to drop her kid off here for camp. Another is a relative who needs to do the same, and is turning it into a mini-vacation. Both are sort of the very needy guest type, and though I am rising to the occasion, the selfish part of me wants them to leave me alone and stop disrupting my schedule. On the other hand, I have done so much traveling and stayed in so many homes over the course of my adult life, and have often relied on other people's kindnesses, so I do feel the need to be a good hostess and give back.

I've been thinking about what to do come January, when my current employment ends. Of course there is the dream vacation to think about, but what about after that? Do I want to continue doing what I do for a living? It's a good profession and probably won't be hurt too much by the crappy economy or by (God forbid) President Obama. Question is, am I still excited by this sort of work? Am I having a mid-life crisis or is this a good opportunity to reinvent another aspect of my post-divorce life?

Then of course, there is the personal aspect of what I'm going to do with the rest of my life. I don't want to think about that. But at some point, I need a home. Enough of this renting a house with a roommate and having most of my stuff in boxes sort of thing. If I give up on the marriage/children venture, I need to buy a house somewhere and start putting down roots. But I so don't want to do that. I so don't.

Have an easy and meaningful fast tomorrow. Let's pray and hope for some clarity in our thinking, and for God's mercy on the consequences of our bad choices.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

TomTom Go


Anyone else notice how much the TomTom logo looks like the Priestly Blessing symbol (duchaning)? It does, doesn't it, except for the finger splitting? I wonder what that's all about.

I love my TomTom GPS. It was one of my post-divorce impulse buys that turned out to be a great investment, since I've done a little bit of traveling since then. But it's also amazing for local getting-around. The part of New York that I live in is difficult to navigate unless you are very familiar with the area.

I'm running out to take advantage of what's left of the sunshine today, but will post some more about this when I have time.

Come Running of These Dreams of Who

I've been asked by Come Running of These Dreams of Who to let her readers know that she has been abruptly forced to cease blogging for personal reasons, but that it is hopefully only temporary. If you'd like to contact her, she's at comerunning@gmail.com.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Damn, Damn Damn!

The Police's concert at Madison Square Garden is during the Nine Days. DAMN! !#$%^&*

Adventures in Bike Buying

I got a bike. Finally.

The bike I brought back to NY with me from Out-of-Town was left out in the back yard once too often and some of the cables had rusted. When I brought it in for its annual tuneup, the Local Bike Guy wanted $200 to restore it to working condition. Considering the entire bike had cost me about $300, I declined. It's a 10 year old bike anyway, and I really wanted to get a mountain bike for the summer.

So I shopped around, talked to some bikerholic friends, who recommended I get a name brand bike from a ginormous chain store. So believe it or not, I ordered a Ross mountain bike from WalMart. I ordered it online in order to get all my usual online discounts (Ebates, credit card points, etc.) but to save on delivery, I ordered it "Site-to-store," which meant that they would deliver it to the nearest WalMart store, and I would pick it up, saving delivery charges. They also included free assembly. Though I am extraordinarily technical, I cannot for the life of me assemble things. What would take a normal person a half hour takes me days to do. I once spent a week putting together a Home Decorators china cabinet. It's gorgeous, but the doors still don't close properly. Sorry, feminists, but putting stuff together is man's work. Pass the nail polish.

So WalMart promises me a ten-day delivery, but it takes more like 3 weeks. I actually love biking and do a ton of it in the summertime, so I was getting antsy. Finally, I get the email: my bike has arrived.

I drive the five miles down to WalMart and wait on line forever in the Site-to-Store line. Finally, it's my turn and I hand over my email receipt. It literally takes them a half hour to find my bike. And it's in the carton. Unassembled. Oh no. No no no.

I ask to speak to a manager. Twenty minutes later, semi-literate Manager Rob shows up and says that it's their busy season and they don't assemble bike purchased over the internet. Oh yes you do, says I. Your website says you do, busy season or not. So finally, they agree to put it together and would I please come back in two days to pick it up. I asked to meet the bike assembler who would be putting it together, and made a note of his name, Jamal, so that I could quietly tip him when I picked up the bike.

I come back two days later. Wait a half-hour in the Site-to-Store line. Ask to speak to Jamal. Jamal? Jamal is not in today. Uh oh.

I speak to another manager, Ramulah, who assures me that if I would give him just a minute, he would locate my bike for me.

Ramulah brings out a shiny pink 12-speed bike with a frou-frou basket on the handlebars. Uh, no, that is not my bike. On many, many levels.

Forty-five, yes forty-five long minutes later, they determine that what probably happened was that Jamal assembled my bike, and then forgot to tag it as sold, and they probably moved it to the aisles and sold it. They sold my bike. They sold my freakin bike. I started to get angry. Well, said I, get me another bike that's just like it. They didn't have another bike just like it. This was before July 4th weekend, mind you, and I had planned to spend the entire day Sunday biking with some friends.

Grrrr.

Another manager emerged, John. He apologized profusely, took my number and promised to call me no later than Sunday morning of July 4th weekend, with a bike for me.

He never called, of course. No matter, it was rainy Sunday anyway. But I wanted my !@#$%^ bike.

Yesterday, I called WalMart. Got connected to Manager Michael. Poor Manager Michael. I spewed a lot of angry venom at Manager Michael. He called me back a few minutes later, told me that they had located the same bike I ordered in another WalMart, fifty miles away. I told him that was nice, was Walmart paying for my gas and time to drive out there? He said that they were sending it over to their store, would assemble it and I could pick it up in the morning.

Which I did this morning. It's beautiful. It rides as smooth as single malt whiskey.

And when I picked it up (after a 30-second wait at customer service, instead of Site-to-Store), they was an apology attached to the handlebars, on the cardboard insert of a $50 WalMart gift card.

Now, see, that's customer service.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

It's not.

Interesting thing happened to me yesterday. My Internet connection went kablooey. So I took the day off.

Now, I have been frum for so long (like, my whole life), that you would think that not being able to work on my computer wouldn't be hard for me. I have no problem staying off the computer for 3-day Yom Tovs. When it's Shabbos, I feel no urgent need to log in or check my regular websites or email. I'm just in a different space when it comes to Jewish restrictions.

But when it's just a regular day, well, I'm a little addicted. And over the last few years, I have come to rely on the Internet for everything...financial stuff, work, communications, shopping, and simply looking things up. Without my Internet connection, I feel a little strangled.

So after spending an hour on the phone with the cable geniuses, who couldn't come out to my house to fix the problem until the next day, I decided to get in my car and drive. I ran some errands that I'd been putting off, did a little shopping, changed my oil, etc. I would have loved to have gotten together with friends, but everyone was at work. I had also had a pretty friend-intensive July 4th weekend, so it actually felt okay to be alone.

I did stop in at a Panera's for their free Wifi, to get online and do some damage control on my work and make sure my clients weren't imploding without me. I planned on staying only an hour but four coffees later, I realized that I had been there for more than two. I snapped the laptop lid shut. I said to myself: Self, I am going to the beach. Now.

And to the beach I went. It was a little late in the afternoon at that point, and it was breezy and cool on the boardwalk. Perfect. I bought a sandwich at a nearby kosher deli and sat on a bench, eating it leisurely and watching the ocean, listening to some Aimee Mann songs that I'd recently acquired on my Ipod. Why does food taste better at the beach? Why does music sound so great at the beach?

Aimee Mann seems to be growing on me. I remember liking "Voices Carry" from her Til Tuesday days, but until very recently, hadn't really listened to any of her stuff. (Thank you, Paul S., for turning me on to her music ;). You have impeccable taste.)

Mann has a song called "It's Not" that is starting to take up residence in my head.

I keep going round and round on the same old circuit.
A wire travels underground to a vacant lot.
Where something I can't see interrupts the current,
and shrinks the picture down to a tiny dot,
and from behind the screen it can look so perfect.
But it's
not.
The beach is one of God's perfect, perfect creations. It's warm, it smells amazing, and you sit there, doing very little, on the soft sand watching another of God's perfect creations, the ocean. Is there anything more poignant than the ocean? Is there anything that fills me with poetry, with connection and dveykus, with gentle introspection and a heightened sense of the surreal, more than the ocean?

I put down one of the old blankets I keep in my car on the sand and sat leaning back on my palms watching the waves pitch in. It occurred to me that although I live near the ocean, I really don't come out to the beach as often as I'd like. I'm too wired into that damn computer and work, my investments, my stuff. I'm losing my connection to the simple joy of sitting on a blanket on the beach. It's weird to forget what gives you pleasure.
So here I'm sitting in my car at the same old stoplight.
I keep waiting for a change but I don't know what,
So red turns into green turning into yellow,
But I'm just frozen here on the same old spot,
And all I have to do is to press the pedal.
But I'm
not.
No, I'm
not.
I've often talked on this blog about being frozen. Close to the end of my marriage, my heart started to lose it's heat. It seems like a coil just blew and I'm not sure what to do to get it started up again. I'm moved by so many things, and want so much to be with someone, but I've never been able to defrost on the inside. I guess a few solid years of being married to someone who doesn't love you will do that. I still haven't figured out how to get myself going again, to regain that enthusiasm and joy that will enable me to connect again. I haven't.
People are tricky; you can't afford to show
anything risky, anything they don't know,
The moment you try, you kiss it goodbye.
Of course, feeling old and ugly and fat doesn't help. I feel like the whole world is becoming more beautiful and I'm just shrinking into myself more and more. I think I'm a little bit afraid of people at this stage. "Afraid" isn't the right word. Maybe, disconnected. Tired. Not wanting to put it all out there again. I'm too old, exhausted. And to tell you the truth, I'm pretty sure I couldn't live through another bad marriage.
So baby, kiss me like a drug like a respirator,
And let me fall into the dream of the astronaut,
where I get lost in space that goes on forever,
And you make all the rest just an afterthought.
And I believe it's you who could make it better,
But it's
not.
No, it's
not.
No, it's
not.
I still secretly dream of being rescued, of being kissed like a drug, like a respirator, breathing life back into my freezer-burnt dessicated heart, un-icing me, performing the spiritual cpr that I need want so badly. I know how stupid these dreams are. I know that waiting does me no good. I know that Godot never comes. I know that I need to get moving moving moving, whether I like it or not. I need to.

But I'm
not.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Music to make your dog leave the room.

My new dog has taste. She leaves the room whenever I play Nine Inch Nails. Seriously. She gives me a look, then picks herself up and marches out. She comes back in when I play something else.

Not that I actually like Nine Inch Nails that much, but they had a free mp3 download of their latest album and I couldn't resist. I love free. I figure it's something I'll be in the mood for sometimes.

You know what, my ears hurt. I'm with the dog.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Stimulus, Schmimulus

Guest Post by NJG:

I just yesterday received a letter from the IRS. Guess what? They're going to send me money! Several hundred bucks. Yay! Well, after all, I did send them several thousand a few months ago.

Seriously, though, I'm not sure exactly what this "economic stimulus" check is supposed to accomplish. Don't get me wrong-- I can sure use the money; I'm not going to send the check back. But it seems to me that if the government wanted to stimulate the economy, they have to do a little better than a few hundred bucks. Heck, the amount most people get is about what they're spending in gas every month these days. Most folks aren't going to take their goverment check and go buy an iPod, or whatever. It seems to me that if you really want to stimulate the economy, you have to provide a really big stimulus. Let's look at the economy right now: gas prices are streaking toward the stratosphere, homes are sitting for years-- years!-- on the market, and others are being foreclosed, investment banking firms are going belly up while others are pink-slipping workers all over the street, and prices for food, travel, and God knows just about everything else are climbing steadily upward.

Most middle class people I know are pretty much treading water right now. Giving them a few hundred bucks is like pouring a teaspoon of water on a withered plant-- it's just not going to do anything appreciable.

I don't know what the answer is. Another interest rate cut? A tax holiday? Better and better paid minds than mine are (supposed to be, anyway) working on the issue. Me, I'm going to take my stimulus check (whenever it finally arrives) and pay my home heating oil bill.

Don't believe in a Supreme Being? This is YOUR posting.

Attention all atheists (AE, LNM this means you). Mind if I ask you some questions that I've always wanted to ask an atheist? Answer whichever ones you like. Tag your atheist buds if you like. I am so curious...I would really love to hear what you think. When you comment, please mention how you were originally raised (Catholic, Ortho Jewish, etc.)

1. What do you think happens to you when you die? And as a second part of the question, is there any value to mourning? Update: I am asking if there is value in mourning to the deceased, not to the mourners. If you believe that people just disappear when they die, why mourn at all? Should mourning be standardized, as in Judaism (sitting shiva, covering mirrors, saying Kaddish), or should people just do whatever they feel is important? Any point to a funeral?

2. If someone commits an amoral act and no one ever finds out about it, are there any consequences to that person?

3. What do you do if you are in a questionable moral situation, and there are no completely good (or completely bad) solutions? How do you decide which choice to make?

Some examples:

Your brother needs a kidney. Your brother is an evil, Hitler-like person, but you've always gotten along, and despite who he is, you love him. Do you give him a kidney? How do you decide? What if there is a chance that giving him the kidney might endanger your life?

Your landlord is sort of a jerk. He didn't fix the toilet when he said he would and you had to deal with a broken toilet for a week. You are moving out and it would be possible to skip out on the last month's rent with no consequences and frankly, you need could use the money (but so could he and you owe it to him). Do you not pay the rent money that is owed to him?

You saw Friend A steal from Friend B. No one else saw. Do you rat out Friend A? You don't really like Friend A that much....does that make a difference? OR, you don't really like Friend B that much....does that make a difference?

How do you decide moral questions like this? What's the process? Update: I'm more interested in the process than in answers to the specific situations. How do you decided which road to take? Is it based on how you feel at the time or something else?

4. Do you think there is any chance whatsoever that you may be wrong about the non-existence of a higher power, or a creator? Is there like maybe a 1% or 2% chance that you might be wrong? Or are you absolutely, 100% positive that God doesn't exist?

5. What is thought? Is it just neurons firing? Can anyone (or anything) else access your thoughts except for you?

6. Same question for dreams.

7. Do you believe in extra-normal things like esp?

8. In what way are human beings "above" animals? Why do human beings get to rule over them, use them, eat them, wear them, etc.? What makes a person more important than a dolphin or a dog?

9. What do you think the evolutionary value of music is? In other words, is music important to the evolution of our species?

10. Any chance that any part of evolution theory is wrong or are you 100% certain that it is correct?

11. Do you think the world would be a better place if religion disappeared? Do you think the world would be better off if no one believed in God?

12. Should people honor (not love, but honor) their parents if their parents are unfair to them? If so, why?

13. Do you think marriage should be restricted to only two people? What if three or more people want to marry each other (in one marriage)? Do you think that would be okay?

14. Is suicide ever okay? Should suicide be the right of the individual? Would the age of the person make a difference?

15. Do you believe that late-term or partial-birth abortion should be legal? Do you think it's moral?

16. What does "being spiritual" mean to you? How do nurture the part of yourself that is spiritual without belief in God (or do you)?

17. Any difference between the world's major monotheistic religions? Are Christianity, Judaism and Islam basically all different versions of the same fallacy? Is one of these religions any better than the other two, do you think?

18. Who wrote the Tanach (aka Old Testament)? Was the history recorded in the Tanach (i.e. the Exodus from Egypt) made up?

19. Is the land of Israel any different or more important than any other place, like say, Spain or Chicago?

20. Is capital punishment wrong? Are there ever any circumstances under which it is right to take a human life?

21. Is it ever okay to cheat on your taxes? Is it ever okay to cheat on your taxes if you are certain there will be no consequences to the cheating?

22. Why is voluntary incest wrong? Or is it? By voluntary, I mean, two consenting adults, who happen to be brother and sister, having a loving, consensual sexual relationship. Take children out of the equation....assume they've decided never to have children. Is it wrong? What about a half sister and brother? If it's wrong, why is it wrong? "Because it's icky" is not a good answer, btw.

Thanks. Again, if you have no time or think these are stupid, no worries. Answer whatever you feel comfortable answering. I'm so curious as to how intelligent atheists think and deal with stuff. I just can't get my head around atheism.

-WG