Monday, December 30, 2013

To Quote Popeye,....

To quote Popeye, “I yam what I yam.” And what I am, what I always have been, and what I shall always be, is gay.

I became aware I was “different” at about the age of five, though it wasn’t until considerably later that I found this “difference” had a word: “homosexual.” It’s generally accepted that one’s sexual orientation is only one part of who one is. But for me, I cannot think of a single area of my life that is not colored by my being gay.

It has been a life-long divisive issue between me and the rest of the world, and it is rightly or wrongly the primary reason I am who I am. The world into which I was born is not the world of today.

Childhood is difficult for anyone. Every human must struggle to find his/her way through a maze of what is expected of him/her, what is acceptable and what is not. All children are impressionable, and a gay child soon learns not only that what is normal for him or her is not normal for most other people, but that who he/she is violates many of the rules he is expected to follow.

I was raised being made acutely aware that I did not belong; that as far as society was concerned I was something to be despised and avoided. (And, I must confess, I still occasionally have to struggle not to show the same contempt for heterosexuality that was shown for me while I was growing up.) My experiences with religion, limited as they were, made it clear that even God thought I was an “abomination,” to which I responded by becoming an agnostic. If God didn’t believe in me, how could I believe in him?

And the worst thing for a gay child is to assume he is totally alone in his feelings. There is nothing worse for any child than being rejected. But gay children have no one to look to—he can’t even let those who love him know for fear they will reject him. (And why wouldn’t they? Even today, homophobia is rampant.) Now, however, there are role models for even the youngest of children; they are no longer made to automatically feel that their feelings are abominations.

I remember my dad telling a story once of how, as a teenager, he and some of his friends had gone around beating up “queers.” And I overheard my mother once saying how at one time she had been in a car with several people, one of whom was a “queer,” and she was repulsed when he accidentally touched her neck. These were my parents: the two people I loved more than anyone else in the world. 

They of course had no absolutely no idea of the message they were sending when they told these stories. I was too young for it to occur to them that I already knew who I was. When, many, many years later, I openly confirmed what they had long before realized…that I was gay…they couldn’t have been more supportive and loving. But this was long after the damage had been done.

Being gay is both what I am and who I am. I have the luxury, after all these years, of simply dismissing or ignoring those who find my lifestyle objectionable. 

I’ve frequently said that having realized who and what I was so early in life, unlike so very many gays and lesbians of my generation and several that came after, I have never, for one moment of my life, been ashamed of who I was, or had the slightest doubt that I had and have every right to be who I am. I am happy, for current and future generations, to realize that the world is finally coming around to agreeing.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Things to Say

With another year rapidly approaching, I was thinking back over the 900 blogs I’ve posted over the years. You'd think I'd run out of things to say, but it hasn't happened yet and isn't likely to happen any time soon. At least I hope not. I do admit, however, to there being times when coming up with something new is a little difficult, like trying to select one grain of sand out of a sandbox for the purpose of talking about it.

I've written enough blogs to fill a good-sized book—and have, indeed published an e-book and audiobook of them (Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs), but realize there is a considerable difference between quantity and quality. Most of my blogs start out as top-of-the-head thoughts, and don't get too terribly much more organized from that point on.  

I’m sure you’ve seen the delightful went-viral-a-couple-of-years-ago video of a baby girl, probably a little over a year old, in a car seat in the back of her parents' car. She is babbling on at an amazing pace, and at considerable length, with great of passion and sincerity as though she was speaking fluently in a foreign language. The very look on her face gave assurance that she was indeed discoursing on very profound matters, and fully expected her listeners to understand her every word.

I feel like that often. I babble on with passion and sincerity and become so entranced with the sound of my own voice (as it were) that I am convinced I'm actually saying something worth listening to. 

Oddly, however, when I'm in a group of people, even among my friends, I don't have all that much to say...aloud. But my mind never stops churning, running from one thing to the next, which is probably one of the problems. It's rather like looking up a word in the dictionary. I'll start looking for it, and my eye will be caught by one of the words around it, or within the definition of that word will be a word I wonder about, and so I'll go there, and that definition may also have a word in or around it that I wonder about, and so on. Putting down a dictionary once I've opened it takes a lot of willpower—of which I have very little to begin with.

One of the problems I have is almost never not having anything to write about, but trying to snatch  one snowflake of thought out of the blizzard of thoughts constantly swirling around me, or trying to catch a greased pig at the county fair. I currently have at least a dozen blogs I've begun, gotten one or two sentences or paragraphs into before been distracted by another thought. And of course there are times when I think I have something to say about a certain subject and then find out that no, I don't, really.

I’m occasionally bothered by the fact that I tend to dwell more on negative subjects than positive, but it's on the same principle as to why bad news always makes the headlines: we are, to our credit, programmed to accept the good as the norm. Day-to-day, garden variety good news seldom makes the headlines, and yet it is as much a wonder as earthquakes and scandals and other bad things which seem to overwhelm us. We do not understand why people behave so badly, and therefore we talk more about it than the good things we take for granted. Babies and puppies and kittens are delightful, but they're like many sweet things; they're best written about in small doses—say a paragraph or two. An entire blog about goodness can be a like a bit eating too much divinity fudge.

I do tend to have certain themes I keep returning to perhaps more than I should: my various frustrations, a few fingernails-on-the-blackboard irritations—internet spam, people who take physical, financial, or emotional advantage of others; the incredible gullibility of far, far too many people; bigotry, intolerance, insensitivity, anyone presuming to tell others how to think (especially those loathsome non-humans who feel they have the right to speak for God), blatant stupidity, egregious illogic, those who refuse to listen to or even consider anyone's opinion but their own; proselytizers, bottom-liners, bottom-feeders—all negatives, I’m sorry to say.

But I really do like kittens and puppies and babies of all species, and of random acts of kindness and civility. I just don't talk about them nearly as much as I should. Maybe next year?

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (

Monday, December 23, 2013

Once Upon a Co-Op

When I moved from Los Angeles to Pence, Wisconsin in 1983 to open a bed and breakfast, I soon found that unless one has an independent income, a bed and breakfast is not a good idea…especially in an area so dependent on seasonal business. So when I saw an ad for manager of the local food co-op, I applied.

Food co-ops seem to thrive in small, rural communities where, if you don’t know everyone personally, you’ve at least seen them frequently. The total population within 20 miles of Pence couldn’t have been much above 15,000, so working in a co-op gave me exposure to a wide range of people, most of whom I really liked. It was a very small co-op and I was its only full-time employee.

Thinking back on all the people who came through the store, I chose the first three who came randomly to mind. 

Martha was really a very nice, intelligent, friendly woman with an equally nice husband and two young daughters. Her daughters, and I think she herself, suffered an amazing range of allergies, to the point where their home had no carpets, because allergens lurked in carpets. But the thing I remember about Martha was not the family allergies, but the fact that she insisted on breast-feeding her five year old daughter. Odd how things stand out in one’s mind.

And then there was JoAnn. No matter how bright the day, a dark, oppressive cloud always preceded her into the store—and, I’m sure, everywhere else. No one who knew her ever dared ask “How are you?” because they knew better. JoAnn was the poster child for the Perennial Victim set. No one liked her—one of her most often repeated refrains; no one understood her. No one cared whether she lived or died. Life was one long, hard road of total misery. No silver lining to any cloud. She would cast her net of sorrow and persecution over anyone who entered the store. Were I less diplomatic I might have tried to interrupt her endless litany of woes long enough to point out that she never asked a question of anyone or showed the slightest interest in anyone else’s lives. Ever. To do so would detract from the time she wished to devote to her detailed account of her own living hell.

Carol had had a pretty wild life. She’d left the area several years before and had two mixed-race children—beautiful and very nice boys, who were about seven and nine when she returned home. She’d developed some physical issues, too, and was on crutches. She had also adopted some extreme if nondenominational religious views. One time around Christmas she came in with her boys, who were wearing bright stocking-type caps. “You look like elves,” I said, which obviously pleased them, but Carol immediately launched into a tirade which, I gathered, had something to do with the evils of paganism. There were no such thing as elves. No such thing as Santa Claus. She refused to buy a brand of spaghetti sauce because the label featured a replica of the Santa Maria flying a flag with a red cross, and that was apparently a pure Satanic image.

The final straw, for me, was while she was in the store one day, she sneezed and I automatically said “God Bless you.” Wrong, wrong, wrong. How dare I inflict my heathen beliefs on her? I couldn’t resist saying “You know, Carol, when people are merely trying to be friendly, you really shouldn’t attack them for it.” It fell, I fear, on deaf ears. I’ve occasionally wondered, in the intervening years what happened to her kids. I did not envy them.

Ah, and as my mind goes back to those years, many more people swim to mind, including one of the only two people in my entire life I can honestly say I have known personally and despised. But it’s a long story, so perhaps in another blog, if you might be interested in hearing the story.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (

Thursday, December 19, 2013


I suppose that for someone whose mind operates like a runaway concrete mixer, it is not surprising that when it comes to my daily life, I so seldom actually stop to think before I do something. It has been one of the banes of my existence (and my existence is filled with banes of various shapes and sizes). I never allow myself to contemplate where I might have gotten in life had I not had to spend so much time constantly going back to retrace my steps in attempting to undo mistakes made through lack of thinking ahead.

I take some small comfort in the fact that I cannot claim a patent on this problem, and that--hard as it may be for me to realize--others actually make even more astoundingly stupid act-first-think-later mistakes than I. Today's paper, for example, had an article of a woman who was filling a gas can and, in order to see how much gas was already in the can, used a cigarette lighter to look inside. Hospital emergency rooms...and morgues...are filled with similar examples. The annual Darwin Awards are absolute gems of cases of people who, by not thinking ahead, to quote the awards, "improve the human gene pool by leaving it." I take great comfort in the Darwin Awards.

Assumptions are dangerous whenever they are used, as I so often use them, in lieu of thinking. When I set my keys down, I of course know exactly where I put them. I therefore automatically assume that three minutes later I will still remember where they are. Wrong. I can and do forget them within the time and space required to take three steps in any direction. Then begins the increasingly frenzied search accompanied by mounting self-fury for being so incredibly stupid as to have lost them in the first place. I find myself looking in places I know full well I'd not been near in  days. I look in the cupboards. I look in the refrigerator. I look under every piece of furniture in the apartment. I look in the pockets of pants I've not worn all week. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. They have vanished.

Until they show up. And then I have a "well of course that's where they were" moment and totally forget the incident until the next time it happens. (I've always admired the "Duh!" answer to the classic puzzle, "Why is something you're looking for always in the very last place you look?": "Because when you find it you stop looking." Truly profound.)

Untold fortunes have been made on the safe bet that people will act before they think. I read, not too long ago, that the internet is flooded with some 4 billion spam messages every day--though I think that's a very conservative estimate. Fully 99.9 percent of that number are predicated on the people receiving them not taking a single moment to use one iota of logic in thinking about what the message really says. Do none of them stop to wonder why out of the world's population of over 6 billion people, the General Operations Manager of the Hong Kong Bank of China is writing to [i] them to offer untold millions of dollars in exchange for participation in a scheme so devoid of logic that it would give a cocker spaniel pause? The spammers know full well that greed trumps logic nine times out of ten.

And I think yet again of H.L. Mencken's classic observation that "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." Why? Because intelligence requires thinking.

What I find particularly sad and infinitely infuriating is that at the core, not thinking is linked to the basic decency of each human soul, which makes people want to believe what they're told, and an inherent resistance to believe that someone might be untruthful. There are no words adequate to describe those despicable individuals who willingly relinquish every link to humanity but their DNA, and who make it their life's work to destroy the very concept of trust among those who can least afford to lose it. (I am the perfect example of why handguns should be banned, for I sincerely believe that confronted with a room full of these creatures, I would have absolutely no compunction about shooting as many of them as I could.)

Well, again it goes back to a paraphrase of the old saw: "You can lead a man to logic, but you cannot make him think."

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (

Monday, December 16, 2013

"The Normal Heart"

I awoke at four a.m., thinking about last night’s performance of the current Chicago production of Larry Kramer’s searing The Normal Heart, the story…no, a story…of the emergence of an unnamed killer we finally came to call AIDS.

Like tearing the scab off a wound, I left the theater with the combined feelings of rage and sorrow I’d not experienced in a long time. Sorrow for those countless gay men who died so tragically, and rage over the refusal…both of a government which is supposed to protect all its people, not just heterosexuals, and the gay community itself, which refused to give up the carefree promiscuity they felt they had earned during the “sexual revolution”…to take immediate action to halt the advance of the disease.

Sorrow for Tim. For Ray. For Ed. For Bill. For Matt. For Mike. Not just names: real people. My friends. Sorrow for the 35,000,000 people who have died since the first published report, in July, 1981, of 41 cases of a rare cancer being discovered in gay men in New York City.

Rage and utter contempt for President Ronald Reagan who, as the death toll climbed from hundreds to thousands, refused to even speak the word “AIDS” until three years after it was given a name! Utterly, totally unconscionable and unforgivable. Anger against the gay community itself which, despite the increasing fear, partied on and went to the baths which remained open despite clear evidence that the disease was transmitted by sexual content, and the baths existed for sex. Gay newspapers refused to warn their readers against going to the baths because they would lose advertising revenue from their primary advertisers…the baths.

How did I not contract it? I was as sexually active as I possibly could allow myself to be, though I never really considered myself promiscuous since I never went to the baths and my contacts were somewhat limited by my reluctance to approach people in the bars unless I felt fairly sure the interest was mutual. But Tim, Ed, and Mike, all of whom were quite promiscuous, were “friends with benefits” and I had numerous bedroom encounters with them. I was spared watching Ray, who was, in the fog of selective memory, the love of my life, die only because his alcoholism had driven us apart one more time and he had returned to Los Angeles. I didn’t even know he was ill until I got a call from one of his friends, and when I called the hospital to which the friend said he’d been taken, it was too late: he had just died.

And I am angry at so many gays today, who did not live through what I’ve called “The Dread.” The theater, in which The Normal Heart is playing, seats probably 300, and was sold out. But the audience was almost totally straight, and over 50! There were three gay couples, under 30. Six gays out of 300 at a play about their own history! How can this be? Are they blind?

In the play’s program there is a quote from Larry Kramer which sums up this anger:

“A very strange thing has happened in the post-AIDS generation. I don't know what to call them: it’s not really post-AIDS, but let’s call them the healthier younger ones. They don’t want to know. They don’t want to know the old people; they don’t want to know the history; they don’t want to acknowledge  that the people who died were even part of their history. I talk about this a lot. How can you dare to ignore everything that happened? These people died so that you could live. Those drugs are out there because people died for them. [It’s] shocking what’s going on now in the gay population. I have lost a great deal of pride in being gay.”

It is, yet again, truly to weep.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (

Thursday, December 12, 2013

On Colds

I don't like to brag--no, really; I don't. But there are some things at which I excel, and colds are one of them. I seldom have a cold, but when I do, I believe in going all out. If most colds could be compared to a high school production of "Death of a Salesman," my colds tend to be on the scale of a Metropolitan Opera production of "Aida," complete with elephants.

Night before last I awoke at 2:15 to the sound of my sinuses slamming shut. My mouth is dry enough under the best of circumstances, so I try to avoid breathing through it. However, the fun of taking a full 20 seconds to inhale one breath through my nose wore out quickly. Finally, by lying in one position long enough, I was able to open up enough to breathe through one nostril. But the minute I changed position.... So I didn't get back to sleep much before 3:00.

Yesterday my nose began running without my first having had a drink of water (whenever I drink water, it tends to run out of my nose, thanks to the radiation's having rearranged the inner structure of my head). I really should invest in Kleenex stock. Yesterday afternoon I enjoyed a couple 5 minute long from-the-bottom-of-my-toes sneezefests, each sneeze accompanied by the spraying about a quart of liquid. Then came the coughing.

Before bed, I scoured my medicine chest in hopes of finding some NyQuil. I did. The label indicated it had Expired 11-08. Found another bottle, nearly empty, which apparently is still good ...I saw a "13" there somewhere and assumed it meant 2013. Who knows.

Chug-a-lugged it and went to bed. Awoke approximately every 7-15 minutes, feeling like a wrung-out  dishtowel, to blow my nose, cough, get up for the bathroom, etc.

This morning awoke feeling both exhausted and drugged. That I didn't wake up until 7:15 (the latest I've slept in in living memory) was significant, and I wouldn't have gotten up then except that it was blog day and I had to post it early for east-coast readers.

I must admit that reflecting on my total nobility in suffering (albeit, obviously not in silence) gives me some comfort. I like being brave and stoic, but I like it much more when everyone else knows it, too.

As is the natural progression of my colds and their effect, the above was written yesterday and here it is the third day of my piteous affliction (can I have an "awwwwww" here?) and I'm hoping I am approaching the other side of the hill. Still very little enthusiasm or energy for anything...It's Saturday as I write, and I'm working today. Absolutely no appetite, which isn't saying much since I eat almost nothing even when I'm feeling fine. (I won't wander off in that direction, since I've already squeezed as much sympathy as I possibly could get out of that one.) 

But things could always be a lot worse, and I really can't complain--which doesn't stop me from complaining, of course. My colds always hit me like a freight train, but they tend to pass just as quickly, so I'll just think of this one as the 4:10 to Omaha. Ventured out to the store for a new bottle of generic Ny-Quil yesterday (that "13" I mentioned as being on the old bottle could have easily have referred to 1913...I hate throwing anything away). To bed before 10 and up just before 7:30. Slept very well, actually.

So here I sit, still a bit groggy, hoping the worst is behind me, finishing a blog I wonder, as I re-read it, why I'd ever begun. But as I say, I hate throwing anything away.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (

Monday, December 09, 2013

On Being 80

On November 14, 2013, I became eighty years old. I can say it with a casualness I am totally incapable of feeling. Me? Eighty years old? I find it similar to staring at the Rosetta Stone and knowing it has great significance, without having any idea of what it says. I do not like being eighty years old. Despite what the calendar says, I am not eighty years old. I am, as my heart and mind keep telling me I am, twenty. Twenty-five, tops.

I grieve for my body. It saddens me beyond my power to describe that I am increasingly unable to care for and protect it as I have always been able to count on it to care for and protect me. I cannot help but feel that the natural aging process to which everyone is subject was greatly accelerated by my 2003 bout with tongue cancer. I won the battle, but at a considerable cost. Catching a glimpse of myself in any reflective surface never ceases to be a shock. 

I have recently taken to drooling. Because my head is bent forward as a result of the cancer treatment, liquid—I have no idea what it consists of, since my salivary glands were destroyed by the radiation—gathers at the front of my mouth and leaks out without my knowing it until I glance down at my shirt. I find it humiliating, but I cannot blame my body.

Life is a gift which comes with a price tag, and growing physically old and drooling are merely part of the bill to be paid for the privilege of remaining alive.

I was somewhat surprised to find, after a quick bit of research, that fully fifty-six percent of Americans live to be eighty years old, so my being eighty is not quite the accomplishment I had assumed it to be. And on the “glass half full” principle, it means I have lived longer than forty-four percent of Americans has or will.

While few people enjoy getting older, the vast majority accept it without question. But for those of us who, however old, recognize the Peter Pan within themselves, the reaction can range from sadness to terror. I encompass the entire range. While I do not fear nor have ever feared death—which I see as merely a return to the eternity from which we each somehow emerged—the irrefutable fact is that even if I live to be over one hundred, I still have far more life behind me than ahead. And like the child who does not want to go to bed…who wants to stay up just a little longer…I don’t want to miss out on anything. The entire future, the progress we will make as a society and a race, the places we will go as a species, and the wonders we today cannot even conceive; all this will happen without me, and I feel cheated.

Of course, at eighty I have lived through momentous historical events those younger than I have only read of or seen in old movies or photographs. I was privileged to have been entertained by wonderfully talented people who are now all but forgotten, to have seen amazing live performances by now long gone legends of the entertainment industry. I listened to others on  radio in the days long before television. Though only in grade school, I lived through WWII and rationing and war bonds and Victory Gardens with a nation that responded as one people, not as Republicans or Democrats. I remember the disgraceful Communist witch hunts led by the equally disgraceful Senator Joseph McCarthy, whose hate-filled tactics and tirades provided the playbook for the likes of the loathsome Ted Cruz and his minions of psychopaths.

I am infinitely (an interesting word, considering) grateful for all of the things I have done that those younger than me have missed, the events that I’ve witnessed, the advances and changes I’ve seen. But the little child in me still wants…more. Always and forever, more.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (

Thursday, December 05, 2013


I do not handle frustration well. I do not handle many things well, but that's fuel for a future blog.

One would think that having spent a great portion of one's life being frustrated, one would become used to it. One would be wrong.

I'm sure 20 years or so on an analyst's couch, sorting though the myriads of colorful and sometimes odorous details which make up every minute of my life, would produce the conclusion that my problem rests with my absolute conviction that the universe revolves around me, and that therefore I should have complete control over everything at all times. Well, we can save the 20 years because I know that already.

The problem lies in recognizing something on an intellectual level and acknowledging it on an emotional level. My logic and my emotions are continually in a pitched battle over which will have control. Were I you, I would not place much money on logic.

Logic tells me I am a reasonably intelligent human being, and with that thought comes loud and raucous laughter from my emotions. The simple fact is that I have never, ever been in complete control of my emotions, which as I have often said never really got beyond the "terrible twos" stage of development. When I want something, I want it, and I want it now and can see no reason why I cannot have it. 

That I have never understood life, my place in it, or how I am expected to react to also plays a large role in my own little civil war. I see the world, emotionally, pretty much as a toddler sees it. If it's pretty, I want it. And I do not take "no" for an answer. My logic, which spends a great deal of its time shaking its head sadly and sighing, does its very best to explain what it has learned of the world through reading and observing other people. My emotion totally disregards it. I'm the center of the universe, fer chrissakes! How can things not go the way I want them to?

How can everyone else on the planet with 1/10th my intelligence (ego, anyone?) do things with total, effortless ease, get it right the first time and, most insulting of all to my emotions, not think a thing of it. They wouldn't write instruction manuals, or give careful, full-color illustrated "Insert Tab A into Slot B" directions for assembling a cardboard box if anyone else but me could not understand them.

And once something...anything...triggers my frustration response, all bets are off. My mind totally shuts down to the point where I would be hard pressed to tell you my own name. All rational thought ceases. 

I know full well that frustration is a part of life...I'd imagine even you experience it from time to time. But everyone else seems have a built in mental safety switch which I do not have, and which kicks in, allowing them, after perhaps a moment or two of distress, to recover, calm down, and get on with their lives. I can best describe my reaction to frustration by comparing it to pictures of the World Trade Center collapse. Total, utter, instantaneous destruction with no hope for anyone's survival.

I find it ironic that my totally disproportionate emotional reaction to things which trigger my frustration is directly related to my totally disproportionate sense of my own importance. Because I am the center of the universe, how can this be happening to me? How can I be so stupid? My frustration quickly, like the falling towers, dissolves into rage and self loathing so intense it often, and sincerely, frightens me.

It just struck me that this blog may be an attempt by my logical side to subtly convince my emotions not to over-react so strongly. Unfortunately, it's never worked before, and I wouldn't hold my breath on its working this time, either.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (

Monday, December 02, 2013


There are many definitions of the word “logic," but I prefer this one: "the quality of being justifiable by reason." The problem with that one, though, is that the word "reason" has a number of definitions of its own. 

Like all things not scientifically provable--truth, for example--logic tends to be relative. What is logical and reasonable to me may not be logical and reasonable to you.

I've always thought of myself as a logical person. While the world is made up of far more shades of gray than solid whites or blacks, I use a simple rule when it comes to my own logic: if anything raises a question in my mind, I go with the answer that makes the most sense to me.

It's been a great and constant source of frustration for me that while I know that mathematics is based entirely on logic, I have never been able to get beyond the "if Johnny has three apples and gives Billy two" stage. Try as I might, I just don't get it. The only class I ever failed in my four years of college was geometry (or was it algebra? One of those signs-and-symbols things).

Instruction manuals are another form of logic which totally, completely escape me. I try. Really, I do. I'll buy something requiring "some assembly," carefully take out the manual, set it and the 4,792 various pieces out in front me. I get perhaps as far as the period in the second sentence in the manual, and I'm totally lost. Where's my logic when I need it?

I really don't have trouble with those things ruled by the laws of science. I may not understand them, but I accept them, if only because I don't feel competent to question them in depth. I know the conclusions of science are based on empirical evidence proven by those far smarter than me. But when it comes to things dealing with the human mind and human reactions and responses, I step on the banana peel. I am constantly dumbfounded by the ease with which most people simply ignore or walk around bottomless chasms of illogic as though they weren't there.

While I don't want to get into a discussion of religion here, I've never been able to comprehend how normally intelligent people so readily accept on “faith” things totally unsupported by fact or logic. Maybe that's one of the reasons I'm agnostic...I just can't do it. The same people who readily understand that laws of the physical universe prevent pigs from flying totally accept without question the proposition that Jesus ascended bodily into heaven. I'm really sorry, but the word "faith" utterly dismisses logic.

But religion is only one example of how willing people seem to be to accept the most ridiculous premises without the slightest question. For verification of this theory, one need look no further than the self-presumed righteousness of Tea Party Republicans—the embodiment of utter illogic. Perhaps it is because logic requires a certain amount of question-asking, which in turn requires thought. Much easier to simply accept whatever you're told. The foundations of our entire religious and political systems rest to a large degree on this principle. Even the most cursory glance at a newspaper, magazine, or television program demonstrates that when it comes logic, the most basic rules of common sense simply do not apply.  

Just as The Golden Rule is given universal lip service while being universally ignored, so is the totally logical caveat, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." Whether it is naivety or greed or a combination of the two, in almost any conflict involving them on the one side and logic on the other, don't put your money on logic.

While I'd love to take the high ground and claim that my life operates entirely on logic, that very logic tells me I can't do it. A certain amount of illogic seems to just be a part of the human character. I can readily accept that. It’s the overwhelming disproportion of illogic to logic that worries me.

Did that make any sense?

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (