Happy Thanksgiving!

And it’s Thanksgiving here in the old US of A (and just two years to go before the rotting plague kills us all). Thanksgiving is an odd holiday to the rest of the world, it’s a time to celebrate what, in your life, you’re thankful for.

In all sincerity, I have a lot of things to be thankful for. A partial list:

This world is a giant bowl of hurt, and has been for thousands of years. I am thankful I live free of murderous criminals, bandits, and guerrilla fighters. I am grateful I live in a country where — even now — we settle political differences by voting and not shooting. We don’t lock up and torture people just for opposing the ruling party, and I am deeply grateful for that. My country isn’t occupied by a foreign country, we aren’t ruled by a fanatical clique of brutal and murderous megalomaniacs, and we aren’t dominated by a close neighbor who seeks to rule us to satisfy their own pride.

There are literally billions of people for whom these things aren’t true, and I read news stories every week about it. Had I the power, I’d try and make them safe. I don’t, so I just appreciate my safety.

I have available simple inventions, complex devices, and personal conveniences that earlier generations could not have imagined: antibiotics and other medical innovations, indoor plumbing, agricultural breakthroughs that allow for unprecedented amounts of healthy food, the Internet, tablets and smartphones, my personal computer, clean water, hot and cold running water. And that just scratches the surface.

Most humans, for most of human history, lived under a death sentence from simple scratches, broken limbs, and a myriad of untreatable and mysterious diseases. Famine — where large parts of the population simply died from starvation — was common everywhere. Part of learning about history, for me, is comparing my life to theirs and realizing how fortunate I am to be born in the 20th century.

Those who have known me for long, online or in person, know I’ve been struggling with a long-term illness (which still plagues me, even today). I am grateful my condition is no longer as dire as it was just a couple of years ago, and I look forward with hope that someday I’ll be able to return to full health.

I am grateful for my family, who have loved me and supported me throughout this process. I am also grateful that, even in the midst of this sickness, I’ve been able to get to know my family better (especially my younger siblings, who were just children when I left for college). Jimmy, Carla, Caryn, Cathryn, Wesley, Laura, Lynda, Bryan, Jennifer, Michelle, and Mary Kay. I love you all and value your help and support more than you can ever know.

I am also thankful for my friends, who have been supportive and patient with me, who have read my stuff and given me feedback (and who are honest enough to tell me “that’s crap!”), and who have helped me out when I needed it (especially Bryan, who went above and beyond the call of friendship last moving day). In chronological order: Jake, Ron, Amber, John, Thomas, Bryan, and Jennifer.

I am grateful for the online friends I’ve developed through the cold, cold computer screen, many of whom followed me to this silly little blog with the promise of new Torg stuff. (Uh, any day now, guys.) Winstoninabox, Glen Taylor, Kazeffu, Dustin Reindl, and anyone else I’ve forgotten because I’m a big old jerky jerk, thank you.

I was born with natural gifts, gifts I didn’t earn, as was everyone else. I am grateful for the talents I have, that let me see things in a different way, that let me create things I can marvel at, and that let me communicate in ways that move and entertain people. I’m glad I can use these gifts to give other people some small moments of delight.

I am also grateful I live in a society where my future, my role in life, and how I use my gifts aren’t dictated to me by religion, tradition, or a ruling clique. Simple freedom is easy to overlook, but it is the most important gift a human can be given.

Gratitude requires humility, and it’s humbling to contemplate the things I’ve been given. My life isn’t perfect, but many others have suffered far worse than I, have lived in conditions far more appalling, and have suffered indignities and offenses nightmarish to contemplate. I cannot help them, I can only hope their lives improve and give thanks for that which I have been blessed with.

That’s what I’m thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving, people, and may we all be grateful for that which we receive and enjoy.

(Also, I’m grateful for the Macalope.)

Happy 4th of July!

Independence Day, when we beat the British.

Sort of. But not really.

See, back then we were British, one group of Englishmen asserting our rights under English law, rights the King was trampling. (“We might have been a free and great people together.”) So we rebelled (rebellion, not revolution) and earned our freedom through 9 years of brutal warfare.

(Plus, we only declared our Independence on July 4. We didn’t get it until the War was over.)

And, even after the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 (when we again fought the British, who burned down the yet-uncompleted White House), we became allies of Britain, a great and noble country.

I, for one, am glad we separated from the Commonwealth, but glad we could remain allies. I am also glad that self-determination and freedom from tyranny could spread to so much of humanity, and much of that spread can be traced to a rag-tag band of refugees and craftsmen who valued their freedoms enough to forsake Crown and Country for something more.

Happy 4th of July!

In Memoriam

Today is Memorial Day, a time when those of us in America go on vacation and, oh yeah, honor the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who’ve sacrificed all in the service of their country.

Doodle 4 Google winner Sabrina Brady (from Sparta High School in Wisconsin) drew the following piece, perfect for Memorial Day:

la-et-cm-google-doodle-my-best-day-ever-201305-001

For your service, which we cannot ever repay, we give thanks.