Blog posts

Right now, January 2019, I've written 5,837 blog posts, which have gotten 53,847 comments. Wow. I'm amazed by my own wordiness. But I've enjoyed writing all those words. A lot. It's difficult for me to choose a few blog posts to share. Here they are, in no particular order. The dates shown aren't when the post was written, but when I put it on this site.

Mindfulness has become my meditation

Back in my true-believing religious days, when I embraced an Eastern form of mysticism that espoused several hours of daily eyes-closed meditation, I thought that the ultimate aim of life was to experience higher realms of reality beyond the physical. Of course, I had a job to go to, a wife and daughter, worldly activities I enjoyed. But I viewed these as mostly distinct from my spiritual goal of god-realization -- those things were part of my karma; important, yet not what my life's highest pu

My annual Medicare wellness visit had its humorous side

Just to give you young'uns (meaning, anybody under 65) a preview of what you have to look forward to, here's some glimpses of how my annual Medicare Wellness Visit went today. First off, this really isn't a physical exam. My primary care doctor did some perfunctory checking around -- listened to my heart to make sure it was beating, looked in my mouth to see if I had any teeth left, that sort of thing -- but a bigger part of the visit was a nurse asking me a bunch of questions before the docto

"No organized opposition" to $82 million police facility bond levy? Fighting words, Oregon Pioneer.

How do you argue with the "golden man" statue on top of the Capitol building? Through a blog post! I'm sure the Oregon Pioneer reads Salem Political Snark, since he's sitting right on top of a whole lot of fodder for political snarkiness. Of course, I guess it's possible that the regular Musings of the Oregon Pioneer column in the Salem Business Journal isn't written by the statue. Regardless, the column in the December 2016 issue contains some fighting words. Download SBJ piece about new po

Outrage: the true story of Salem's U.S. Bank tree killings

I like the subtitle of my just-released "Outrage: Salem's U.S. Bank tree killings" report. The true story of how City officials and the bank president cut down five large, healthy, beautiful downtown trees for no good reason, and misled citizens about why they did it. The highly readable report is based on new information I got about this debacle after forking out $726.61 for public record requests that reveal for the first time how truly outrageous the tree killings were. Download Outrage

I'm 65. Where's my "Aging Hippie" retirement community?

My wife and I are starting to ponder our options when coping with our non-easy-care house on ten rural acres near Salem, Oregon gets to be too much of a chore for us. Some days, I feel like that day already has arrived. We've got a large early 1970's house; something regularly goes wrong. We've got a large yard in addition to the ten acres; something regularly needs attending to -- leaves, mowing, pruning, whatever. But we're healthy (albeit with a few nagging problems). And maintaining our

I changed a Bollywood actor's life... turning him vegetarian

Until recently I'd never heard of Shahid Kapoor, a Bollywood actor in India. But it turns out that we have a connection: after reading my book, Life is Fair, Kapoor became a vegetarian. Here's the tale, as told in "The Man Who Changed Shahid Kapoor's Life" His father, who follows Radha Soami, had been preaching to him for years about the benefits of eating only what is grown in the farms, had no effect on him; but the book converted him. A decade ago Shahid Kapoor turned vegetarian. He got

My (cynical) ideas for a Salem, Oregon city slogan

Yesterday Michael Rose, a business reporter for the Statesman Journal, asked in a Twitter tweet, "What would be a good city slogan for Salem Ore.?" Oh, great question. My mind is cynically-inclined when it comes to describing Salem's positive qualities, or more accurately, lack thereof. So it didn't take me long to respond to Michael with quite a few suggestions. Waking up this morning, after my brain had unconsciously incubated additional embryonic seeds of cynicism, I came up with some more.

Judge's final decision on Laack subdivision: the meaning for me

A few days ago Judge Nely Johnson finalized her oral opinion in Marion County (Oregon) Circuit Court that overturned a flawed Board of Commissioners' decision to let a 43-lot, 217-acre subdivision move ahead on high value, groundwater limited farmland. Land use junkies and interested neighbors can read all about it here (4.1 MB PDF file): Download Final decision FOMC v. Marion County (Laack) This has been a long journey for our neighborhood and me. It started in 2005, when plans for this Mea

Southern California or Oregon? Take a guess

It's photo quiz time. See how many questions you answer correctly. Any Oregonian who gets less than 100% needs to better appreciate the beauties of southern California, which includes my three year old granddaughter. (Q.1) Was this girl posing provocatively for a photographer on a beach in Lincoln City, Oregon or Malibu, California? Well, duh. Have you ever observed this scene on an Oregon beach -- especially in late March? While in the LA area to visit my daughter and her family last week

The universe is a paper bag turned inside out

Some forty-two years ago, back in 1968, I had a revelation: The universe is a paper bag turned inside out. Now, at the time I had some reasons to doubt the veracity of this insight into ultimate reality, since it was fueled by mescaline and dissipated the following day. But another guy and I intuited this truth at the exact same moment. Today I've gotten confirmation that, indeed, the universe is a bag turned inside out. Tucson, a regular Church of the Churchless visitor, left a comment on thi

Quality of life in allocating health care resources

Imposing title for a blog post. It may sound kind of boring, but before we die each of us -- more than likely -- is going to face the bioethical question, "What kind of life is worth living, and at what cost?" Back in the 1980s I lived and breathed health policy issues. That was my job. Also, my passion. Recently I got to reminiscing about the days when I worked with Portland psychiatrist Ralph Crawshaw and Senate president John Kitzhaber (who later became Oregon's governor) on a project that

God’s here, but I’ve got to go

If Jesus returned to earth and you were part of the multitudes listening to him preach in person, what would you do if you had to go to the bathroom? This is the sort of deep theological question that we love to consider here at the Church of the Churchless. It also was a deep experiential quandary for me back in December of 1977 when I made my first visit to India. I went to see the guru, Charan Singh, who had initiated me by proxy six and a half years earlier. I had never seen Charan Singh in

Now we've really proven Dr. Laura wrong

For five years Laurel and I have been building up to our ultimate nyah, nyah, you're so wrong! retort to Dr. Laura Schlesinger, the advice guru who is fond of reducing complex and mysterious human relationships to simplistic sound bites. Back in 2004 I warmed up with "14th anniversary -- take that Dr. Laura!" I noted that Laurel and I had known each other for about eight months before we got married, and I proposed within four months. A no-no for Dr. Laura, especially since I'd recently ended

My grandmother taught me the power of "I like it"

It was a pleasure to write my latest Strange Up Salem column for Salem Weekly, The power of "I like it." I told the story of how, when I was thirteen, my grandmother was the only person in a group of adults who responded positively when I read them a poem I'd written about the darkness that lies between the stars. Yeah, the poem was admittedly weird. But so are 13 year old minds. (All minds, actually.) Thankfully, Gram, as I called her, resonated with my early teen weirdness. That meant a lo

Too depressed to do anything else, I'll write about my depression

It's a new experience, being depressed. Now, to be honest I haven't actually gotten a depression diagnosis. But my wife, Laurel, is a retired psychotherapist. And she tells me, "Brian, you aren't just tired. You're depressed." At first I didn't believe her. But Laurel gave me a Psychology Today article, "Depressed Without Knowing It," and that helped to change my mind. I knew that several health problems had made me anxious, sad, worried, nervous about the future. I also was feeling a lack o

Tai Chi has taught me that flowing is way better than forcing

I've been learning Tai Chi for about thirteen years. That makes me a near-beginner in this oh-so-subtle "soft style" martial art. Before taking up Tai Chi I studied "hard style" martial arts for about the same length of time. My previous Tai Chi-related posts are here, on my other blog. For some reason I haven't written about Tai Chi for five years. This hasn't been from a lack of interest. It must be because Tai Chi is something I do and experience much more than I think about it. Well, latel

Here's my 12 favorite churchless blog posts of 2018

Why, this is almost like the Twelve Days of Christmas -- aside from the Days and Christmas part. It's my Twelve Favorite Blog Posts of 2018 here on the Church of the Churchless. (Image below came from here.) I picked one post from each month, because that was easier. And I generally chose posts that I'd written mostly by myself, rather than posts where I quoted a lot from someone else. But since rules are made to be broken, a few posts don't contain mostly my own words. So here they are, the

Why supporters of gay rights should boycott Broadway Commons

Read on to learn why those in Salem who support gay rights and same-sex marriage should join in the boycott of the Broadway Commons and the Broadway Coffee House. I submitted what follows as a guest opinion in the Statesman Journal about three weeks ago. Recently I inquired about the piece and learned that the newspaper wasn't going to publish it. So here it is. The only change I've made to what was sent to the Statesman Journal was adding links to other blog posts I've written about the boyco

Here's all of my Strange Up Salem columns

A couple of days into the New Year, today I felt a strong desire to complete an undone resolution -- get all of my Salem Weekly Strange Up Salem columns uploaded into one freaking long blog post. But it's "just" 4,400 words. The 49 columns total almost 25,000 words, being 500 words each. Each one is perfect bathroom reading! (depending on your toilet habits) For each column below you'll find a title, download link, and an excerpt that gives a feel for what the column is about.

Collected Christmas Letters of Laurel and Brian

[Note: all our Christmas letters, 1995 to 2017, are available below. I update this post annually with the newest creation.] “A man’s soul is revealed through his Christmas letters,” it has been said (by me, just now). So I’ve decided to express my essential self this holiday season not by going downtown and volunteering at a soup kitchen, but by sitting at my laptop and converting my past holiday missives into PDF files that can be admired by the world. Or, at least, the few people who find the
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