Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Bible Belt and Religious Hipocrisy

We visited Charlotte, North Carolina twice this summer - once for only a few days in July and then while Bill flew out to Vegas I stayed there for two weeks in early August. We actually stayed right over the state line in Fort Mill, South Carolina at a campground located on the grounds of the old Heritage USA theme park which was owned by the PTL Club of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker fame. Parts of the theme park are still visible in the area including the Jerusalem Amphitheater or King's Arena which you see pictured here on the right. It is located right next to the campground and has been partially demolished.

The old hotel tower is also still standing but is not currently being used. There were 165,000 people who gave $1000 a piece to the PTL Club in return for yearly 4 day vacations at the park that included a stay in the tower. Heritage USA filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to the dual blows of the PTL Club losing favor due to Jim Bakker's sex and accounting scandals as well as the fact that the park netted the PTL Club $126 million one year while enjoying tax exempt status, something the IRS promptly revoked. At the end of the legal proceedings each of the $1000 investors netted $6.54.

After visiting Georgia, North and South Carolina and other states in the Southeast I really must agree that it is very aptly named the Bible Belt. In Wisconsin religion is more of an afterthought sometimes rather than a focus.  Down here Church and religion appear in everyday life much more frequently such as laws that prohibit selling alcohol on Sunday or even **gasp!** serving it - how would the Packers EVER win without loyal fans tailgating and drinking beer? It is also an inexplicable feeling that I personally get down here. It is not easy to explain what I mean but there is just a sense that religion permeates people's lives more.  Do I believe that is a bad thing? Absolutely not! If it makes a person's life better and gives them meaning and purpose, more power to them. However, I do not believe anyone's belief system should be forced on others. There are way too many people, politcians for one,  who talk the talk but don't walk the walk. They talk about God and religion and put on a good show about being Christians but then do not want to help their fellow man. To me, this should definitely be a case of "What would Jesus Do?" and I am quite positive that He would not condone allowing children to go hungry or people to live without adequate housing and medical care. I would much rather not be aligned with any formal religion but instead live my life "paying it forward" and "doing unto others" without worrying about someone else's "rules" when they don't live by them themselves. My skepticism and cynicism about the Right Wing Fundamentalists is only reinforced by incidents such as the PTL Club/Jim Bakker scandal. These hypocrits and holier than thous try to coerce everyone else to follow God's word and then the truth comes out that they are no better but, in fact, are much worse sinners than you and I could ever be!



Thursday, September 15, 2011

Where Have We Been and Are Humans Affected By the Weather?

The answer is a most emphatic YES. At least THIS human most defnitely is. Everywhere we have been this summer has been inordinately hot, or so say the locals. It has been hot in Atlanta, hot in St. Louis, hot in North Carolina and now hot in Lousiana. I have been in pain, lacking ambition, and constantly tired all the while asking myself WHY? I had the same symptoms in the summer and extreme heat that I have lived with for practically all my life during the winter and extreme cold.

I remember wondering how in the world anyone who lives in the South could possibly have Seasonal Affective Disorder. Why would anyone who lived below the Mason-Dixon Line even complain about the weather when they could go outside twelve months of the year and there would not be any ice nor snow nor below zero wind chill that blows right into that little spot on your throat just above your collar bone that your coat never seems to cover adequately and of course, who wants to wear a scarf just to run to the car? The people down here do not know about the special noise that wood makes when you step on it in below zero weather. You know that craaaackk that reverberates from your foot all down along the deck making you think it is going to split in two. The same people who almost can't believe that you can stand on a lake that is frozen two feet thick much less drive your truck on it. The same people who think it would be "fun" to have snow around all the time. The same people that feel that living with snow is like a postcard from Vail....everything white and sunny and no one has to get to work on time in the morning.

Even the most diehard snowmobilers have to admit that, come January, unless it comes to riding the trails on the weekends, it is time for the cold to GO. By the end of January the snow is dirty, which we all know is nothing like the fluffy white stuff on the postcard from Vail. The snow is piled everywhere which can be a real pain in the ass if you are trying to pass on the right (and sometimes on the left!) even if the snow plows have removed most of it. And believe it or not, trying to defrost the windshield on the car when you are already running ten minutes late for work can be quite a trying experience.

I did not realize to what extent the opposite could also be true. In the South, come September, unless you are lying 24/7 on a beach somewhere, it is time for the heat to GO. By September you forget what the breeze feels like as you have had the A/C on for going on 4 months straight. You have been bitten by fire ants at least once (ok, maybe only dumb Northerners with NO idea what a fire ant mound looks like!) and bitten by mosquitos so much that your ankles have the circumference of a young palm tree with so many scabs from itching that you look like you have the chicken pox. Your home has been invaded by small little ants who, although harmless, feel that Purina Dog Chow is  such delicacy that it requires the presence of the entire colony on a daily basis. You have also been blessed with visitors such as extremely large cockroaches that like to sit on the nectarines in the fruit basket and escape death somehow through the oven (infrequently) and maggots that like to crawl up through the toilet gasket from the sewer hookup so that you need to remember to check before taking a seat in the middle of the night (occasionally). You have lived through one tropical storm that really didn't amount to much besides a real soggy campground site and the locals looking at you like you were crazy when you expressed concern that it might be dangerous to hang out there and not flee to the hills. You have worn yoga pants and t shirts so often that they are faded out from line drying in the sun as you simply can't understand how people wear real clothes in humidity so high it feels like you are walking through a wet sponge every time you are brave enough to run from the house to the car.

So which is better? Winter in the North or summer in the South? For the sleeping aspect, which unfortunately is something that we all need like it or not, the cold is definitely easier to live with than hot. Why? You can always add more socks, more quilts, or more body heat if needed to sleep. You can't take off more clothes once you are naked and you can't pretend that there is a breeze when you are boondocking and can't run the A/C or the fan all night when not a leaf on the palm tree is moving. I won't even get into the theory that we have about parking with the breeze coming in the side windows of the rig and it then turning to blow from the front or back where there are no windows the minute we do! For the all over rest of life aspect, summer in the South wins hands down in our book. It is easier to run from a building to a vehicle and vice versa when you don't have snow or ice in your way.

I did some research to try and convince myself further that this was not all in my head as we had never, ever thought the symptoms would occur on the other end of the weather spectrum. I found the following - please excuse the grammar as I believe the writer was a non native English speaker.

     "hot and cold climate changes, often have a certain impact on people's emotions; sudden changes in     climate can also affect the body's physiological function and changes in physiological function can affect the person's mental state. When autumn, the weather mild, the mental state of people tend to be over optimistic, feeling good; when the cold rain, dry and hot weather, people's mood irritability or depression will become depressed. Spring and autumn, when temperatures 64 ~ 72 F, people not only feel comfortable, mood stability, and study and work efficiency is particularly high.....ambient temperature dropped to below 50 F, the emotion becomes a boring low; less than 39 F, it will seriously affect brain thinking....If the continuous high temperature or cold, or can not meet with it immediately, this is the case, it is not just emotional changes, and even can lead to disease. In addition to temperature changes hot and cold outside, such as rain, humidity, fog, wind and other weather, it can affect people's thinking and attention."

So there you have it....although we seem to forget at times, we are animals and ARE affected by the weather - some of us to more extent than others. I have always been very sensitive to light levels which is why we had to add skylights, a garden window and windows in the front door at the house in Pickerel with plans to add a sun porch at one time. So this summer has been a learning experience for us. This is the farthest south we have been during the summer and with Bill working for Prime it will probably not be the only year this happens. Now we know that we both very much dislike and are affected by extremes in temperature both hot and cold.  I am just more affected than Bill is.

We have definitely decided, however, that when we have a choice, we will be north or in the mountains during the summer months. Until then, here comes cooler temps, saving money by boondocking and an updated blog!