Showing posts with label Miscellaneous. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Miscellaneous. Show all posts

Sunday, October 31, 2010

500 posts

Happy Reformation Day.

I'm feeling sick, so I'm going to read for a little bit and then go to sleep in the hope that tomorrow I will be well enough to go to work. I will, regardless, post my 501st blog on this site then, and offer some thoughts about what I've learned in the last month, what I plan for the future, etc.

Sleep well, and God bless.

Friday, October 29, 2010

One of those nights

Jaimie's car died today.

I walked in circles for half an hour tonight.

No one reads my poems. (I think perhaps no one reads poems anymore, period. Or maybe mine are just bad.)

My job is frustrating.

At times, I feel very lonely.

I'm not sure what this post is about.

God is still good.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Blogs and Journals are Different. Next?

After church today, I finished editing a friend's church history paper, played Halo, went on a walk with my wife, and played some more Halo with one of my best friends. All of it—including the paper-editing, strangely enough—was incredibly relaxing. That's a good thing; I've needed to sit back and relax a bit. Courtesy of our busy schedule, opportunities to sit back and relax for any lengthy periods of time have been few and far between. Even when we are not doing something work-like, we have often been engaged socially, and as I noted the other day, I'm an introvert. I need time simply doing something by myself without interruptions.

I suppose that introversion is a significant part of why I enjoy blogging, writing for Pillar, and editing people's papers so much. Each is an activity I can do that ultimately reaches others in some way, but that I can do by myself, in the solitude of my own mind. Aside from the occasional (enjoyable) interruption by Jaimie, nothing really comes between me and the keys I type; I am alone with my thoughts and able to really process whatever is going on in life. THe same always held true for journaling, back when I journaled more frequently.

Journaling and blogging are less similar than they might at first appear. The one is private and the other public, of course, and that radically impacts the way that one writes. The things I put down in a journal, I was confident no one but me would ever read—or at least, no one but me and the people I choose to share those pages with. Thus, I could be completely and utterly open, dealing in very great detail with pains, struggles, frustrations, etc. I could name names when people hurt or angered me; I could rant to my heart's content; I could ramble on without fear of an audience growing bored. The sole point was expressing (and thereby expiating) emotion for which I had no other outlet.

Blogging, by contrast, is inherently social and searchable. If I were to write, "PJ King is a jerk" in a moment of annoyance at him, it would show up in his reader the next day, and be recorded across the internet in perpetuity—possibly remaining even if I took it down, thanks to the way that some internet archives work. In any case, word would get back to him; our friendship would be damaged, and things would require patching up that would never even have occurred were I to put my frustration to pen and paper rather than keyboard and screen. (Not to worry: I have never been tempted to write anything of the sort about him; he's a very excellent fellow.)

The other significant way in which blogging differs from journaling is the medium. Tapping away at keys and watching text scroll across a screen as you write is a very different experience from ink scratching across a page as you drag your hand along to form the letters' shape. The medium informs the words chosen, the mood set, the feel of it all. It is strange, almost inexpressible, but true. (I suspect this is a significant part of why, despite my best efforts, any electronic journaling attempt I ever made failed within days: it's simply not the same thing. Transpose the medium, and you have changed the message embedded therein. That's a truth we would do well to remember better, as our lives are constantly bombarded with new forms of media and new ways of processing information. Not all ways of processing data are equal—in fact, none are. Each has tradeoffs and balances that must be considered.

Over the course of this week, I may just try to write one journal entry—a real journal entry. We'll see. At the least, I will continue to make time to enjoy some solitude, lest I let myself be overwhelmed by socialization. I will write a book review for Pillar, put up my daily posts here, do some web design work, and do my daily tasks—but hopefully, I will do them well, and I will remember to enjoy the Sabbath along the way. (That's a post for a future day, though the thought underlies much of what I have written here.)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Another Day in the Life

I had a fantastic idea when walking out of the gym this afternoon. I planned to call myself with is—now that my Google Voice number has snazzily been set up—so I would remember it. The major problem with that plan is that I not only forgot to call myself; I forgot that there was any reason to call myself by the time I got to the car. The fact that there had been an idea for a post didn't even flicker back into my mental space until I was in the shower much later. This, combined with yesterday's frustrating work issues, combined with today's different but equally frustrating work issues, combined with the headache that simply would not go away today, leaves me only one response: the heavy sigh.

I feel quite urgently the need for some rest, some "video game" time tonight. Whether I will actually play a video game or simply read a book after I write this post is still up in the air, but do something relaxing I certainly will. Alas, it is late—but that is one of the prices you pay for community; as tired as I was, Jaimie and I still went to our community group tonight, and it was good that we did so. Unfortunately, I got home and still had an hour of work to do to prepare tomorrow's Pillar article—the cost of writing it quickly and, frankly, rather poorly on Tuesday. It needed the hard edit that PJ gave it, and in fact it needed a bit more in some places, which I gave it. Add in the time to edit a small picture to go with it—we've not had nearly enough pictures/illustrations recently—and the time adds up quickly. So here I am writing at 9:40, tired, but resolved. This project/plan/purportedly purposeful production of ponderings will not fail or falter simply because of tiredness. It is too important to me.

(I remembered the blog post idea. Or at least: I remembered a blog post idea. [time gap while I jot the note down, remember another idea and jot that one down as well—and by jot, here I mean write on a sticky note... write electronically via typing on a virtual stickynote in Dashboard on my Mac]

I have been reading Tim Challies off and on for the last several years. The amount of stamina he has to simply keep blogging day after day after day—he hasn't missed a day in something like five years, maybe more, what with having guest authors post when he's on vacation—boggles my mind. Just doing this day after day can atke a toll at times, particularly when I just want to realx in front of Halo: Reach and not "work" anymore, especially when we've been going nonstop for the last couple weeks. Since the Tuesday before last, we've had one night (this Monday) where we didn't have something going on. Now, I have enjoyed almost every one of those activities, but it certainly makes life busier and more tiring. Nor does the adventure stop. I think—I hope—that we'll have a normal night off on Sunday night. Tomorrow night is date night (which is awesome, but still a "doing" night), and Saturday night we're having a friend over.

Most people don't realize it, but I have fairly strong introverted tendencies. When I was younger, I was painfully shy—refusing to go talk to the neighbor kids until my mom shoved me out the door shy. Even now, sometimes a quiet night away from anyone and anything sounds like the most relaxing thing I can imagine. Gladly, I have gotten past the shyness, at least in general, though I still occasionally lock up a little if I am in a strange group of people where I know no one. I suspect, in our extroversion-idolizing culture, there are probably many more people like me—sociable, outgoing, talkative, and nonetheless introverted—than it might at the surface appear.

Hopefully tomorrow's post will be better. For tonight, I am simply happy to have written at all.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Shooting for 500

I have been blogging for almost exactly 5 years now. My first posts (slightly horrifying and definitely hilarious in retrospect) went up on Xanga in mid-September, 2005. I launched a parallel blog here on Blogger a little under a year later, in July, 2006, because I had quickly found that Xanga was, well... a pain in the neck, and not very tweakable. (There's a reason that Xanga is completely off the radar at this point.) I maintained the two in parallel for a few years, and then finally switched to this blog entirely in November 2008—almost 2 years ago, now.

Since I launched this blog, it has gone through several design iterations, changed names, even changed address (though never without being the same blog as far as the backend is concerned). It has been a slate for expression through the frustrations of singleness and rejection, seasons of folly and pride, times of deep repentance, moments of elation, the joys of dating and engagement and marriage. It has always been somewhat aimless, and intentionally so. This isn't a blog aimed at a particular point in the world; it is a blog aimed wherever my heart and mind are twitching at a given moment. (If you've read for a while, you know that can be quite a wide and strange variety of directions.)

My posting frequency has always fluctuated significantly. That's unsurprising; blogging takes a lot of time, and—if you're going to do it well—a lot of thought. Given I also run an online magazine, publish a new poem weekly as part of an ongoing art project, do occasional web design work on the side, read a lot of books, and have an awesome wife, it's obvious why my posting frequency might vary.

For the remainder of the month, however, I am going to try an experiment: to see whether I can write, and write meaningfully, every day. My posts will (of necessity) be shorter, at least in general: probably around the 500-600 word mark (this one, for example, sits comfortably right in that range). Knowing my own verbosity, that will probably be superseded significantly a few times, but I am not concerned with writing less; I am concerned with writing more. I think it will be good for me as a writer and a thinker, and it will also challenge me to steward my time a little more faithfully.

Finally, because this is my 475th post here on this blog, I should hit post 500 on October 30th; perhaps on the 31st I'll do something special to celebrate. Or maybe I'll just write another Reformation Day post and call it good. In any case, the next 26 days ought to be interesting. Here's hoping I can actually pull this off!

Given that, I have a request of my readers: help me out with topics! What kinds of things do you most enjoy my writing about? What bores you? What makes you want to tear your hair out, and what makes you want to frolic around your room like a unicorn on a candy high because it fills you with such absurd amounts of giddiness? Theology, families, cooking techniques, writing, music, politics, culture, art, movies, humor? (Okay, let's be realistic: humor is probably not going to make the list of strong points for this blog, and the cooking techniques option isn't really an option..)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Musings from the Month

I have blogged a good deal less this month than the previous few. The transition into fall is always interesting. I have on the one hand been working on another web design project (which, to my annoyance, has stagnated through creative blocks, but hopefully will continue to come along soon), and on the other spending a great deal of time enjoying Halo: Reach. Most of my remaining writing-oriented time has been taken up with Pillar, whether actually writing or editing others' articles.

A few things I've been chewing on recently:

  • The necessity of the Holy Spirit in Bible study. I was reading Psalm 119 on Sunday (I'm working through it with a younger guy I'm meeting with) and a number of features caught my attention. Foremost, however, was that the author of the psalm repeatedly asks God for understanding and to be taught. This plea for instruction is the most topic with which the psalmist most frequently addresses God, at least so far in the psalm!

    So, here in a psalm which is filled with references to the author's delight in and love for God's commands, law, word, and way, are constant pleas for help in understand those very things. Striking, and convicting. I need to rely more thoroughly on God for wisdom as I approach his word. While I know that to be true, it's a good reminder.

  • The appropriateness of "personal relationship with Jesus" language, especially in the context of evangelism. [This one is still very much in the early phase of thinking about it, and so subject to immense revision.] While Scripture clearly speaks of our interactions with God in relational ways, and even goes so far as to affirm that eternal life consists of knowing Him (John 17:3), I find it interesting that none of the evangelism (or any other discussion, for that matter) in the New Testament comes anywhere close to using this phrase.

    While restored fellowship with God is occasionally in view, the primary ways that the New Testament writers speak of the good news is in reference to the Messiah who has come and given himself in payment for our sins. The call the apostles offered was not, "Come have a personal relationship with Jesus," but rather "Repent and believe; call on the name of the Lord and be saved!" Even in the discussions of sanctification, the relational aspects of the restoration are rarely the focus—whereas faith and the Spirit's active work are.

    I am not suggesting that we drop this language entirely. I think it is biblical in much the same way that the word "Trinity" is: that is, it depicts something that is true in Scripture in an accurate way, despite being external to Scripture itself. However, I am pondering whether it is the most helpful way of describing conversion and all it entails to nonbelievers, and whether it should remain our primary means of characterizing the Christian walk.

    What do you think?

  • One can learn a lot of things from a book that have nothing to do with the point of the book. This has come at me from two very different angles: one, the massive and incredibly important The Resurrection of the Son of God, by N. T. Wright, and Joyce Meyer's The Confident Woman. The two books could not possibly be more different, on any level. The first is a massive, scholarly treatment of its topic, while the second is a brief, popular treatment of its. Wright is (at least in this area) thoroughly orthodox, while Meyer is heterodox throughout.

    What have I learned from each, then? From The Confident Woman, I learned a great deal about communicating the faults of a book and a writer graciously. No doubt I still have much more to learn, but I spent hours wrestling through my review of the book, striving to be gentle, courteous, and kind while being sufficiently firm with her myriad errors. From The Resurrection of the Son of God, I have learned a great deal about exegesis and exposition of Scripture. Wright does a masterful job of situating passages in the context of their author, and authors in the context of their cultures. (I am aware he sometimes argues for positions outside historic Protestant orthodoxy in other books; here he is on so foundational a point that his arguments are profitable to everyone.) In turn I have been able to start doing the same in my own study of Scripture—most notably in my final treatment of alcohol in the series I wrote at Pillar.

    From both, I learned perseverance: from Wright's book because it is simply long; from Meyer's book because it is simply bad.

I have of course also continued to learn a great deal simply from being married to my beautiful wife—not least that I still tend toward arrogance and unteachability. God graciously points out our folly and our sin consistently; where I would be without His sanctifying work I can only imagine.

Grace and peace be with anyone reading! If you are reading, do me a favor and leave a comment to say hello. Sometimes it's nice to know that people are actually reading.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Disliking Facebook's Like

This post is written in weariness. Expect little of it.

A friend shared a link to a news article about a loved one's death on Facebook earlier today. I wanted respond meaningfully. I could not. I could hardly click "Like" with its little thumbs-up. Think about it: how bizarre is it that a website has standardized and minimized our reactions to things to whether we like them or not?

A comment on the shared item would have been only marginally better. There is something missing in a short blurb of text pasted on a white screen. Had this friend held up the article in the paper in person, I would have reached out and squeezed her shoulder, or perhaps offered a hug. The internet has no comparable communication. There are no internet touches—only internet letters, images, symbols. Everything is fleeting, unphysical, almost unreal.

I like the internet. I use it every day, often for several hours. I spend considerable amounts of time creating content for use on the web—whether in writing or in web design. I enjoy the ways it enables us to communicate with others, with people we would not otherwise be able to stay in contact with. I appreciate the ways I can interact with the lives of my friends even when apart, separated by miles or circumstances. It is nice to know that a friend had a baby, a cousin joined ROTC successfully, or a sibling got splattered in paint on the first day of school.

But sometimes, I just want to give a friend a hug when it's needed. The internet can't do that. For all its promise, and all its already actualized potential, it is in the end as insufficient as a letter—save that the letter has on it the advantages of physicality.

I wonder if, in our rush to embrace the internet, we have perhaps forgotten the necessity of touch for reality to make sense?

For me, at least, ebooks will never replace a book, for this very reason. Paper's very texture carries feeling, weight, substance.

Take some time away from your screen. Go give a friend a hug. Share a cup of coffee. Read a book. Take some time away from electronic signals and spend some time talking in person. Enjoy the internet for what it is—but stop trying to make it do things it will never be able to do.

Someday I will make a real essay out of these thoughts. For now, I'm going to sleep.

Monday, August 16, 2010

In the mixer

In the mixer for the week are quite a few things. I just got back from Colorado, and it was a busy if wonderful trip, seeing friends, family, and friends that are like family. For the week ahead, I have just a few things planned:

  • a summary of my oft-used but never written-out description of healthy dating relationships
  • a plea for young women to have high but realistic expectations of the men who seek their hearts and hands in marriage
  • another poem at 52 Verses—it'll be the 10th
  • a treatment of Romans 14:1-23 and 1 Corinthians 1:7-13 for my ongoing treatment of Christians' use of alcohol, to be published sometime next week at Pillar on the Rock
  • lots of good time spent with my wife before she gets absurdly busy by going back to school for her second-to-last semester next Monday
  • work
  • working out
  • brainstorming and plotting for a fascinating short story hook I came up with today
  • reading books, a few of which I'll be reviewing (either here or at Pillar) when I'm done with them

God bless! Hopefully you'll see some of that content before the week is out.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Weddings, Photography, and Writing

I edited—in whole or in part—three articles for Pillar on the Rock tonight. They'll all be going up over the course of this week. If you haven't stopped by in a while, you should; Pillar is slowly shifting in the direction of an online magazine (a format we've been close to for a long time). Among other things, we're increasing the number of authors we have writing for us, and offering some broader perspectives on Christian living as it relates to the church.

Due to helping with Anthony and Megan Plopper's wedding, I had little time to write last week. I anticipate having only a little more this week (on Wednesday evening), as Jaimie and I will be traveling to an in Colorado from Thursday through Monday. We will have some time with my family, and I will get to reconnect with a number of friends from Focus on the Family Institute (now the Focus Leadership Institute) at a reunion being held this Friday through Sunday. I'm looking forward to seeing both friends and family again. It will have been a good week for visiting; Jaimie's whole family came up and visited us today. We really enjoyed spending a few hours with them—especially since it didn't involve driving to Fort Worth.

One of the little ways I helped Anthony and Megan with their wedding was taking engagement pictures for them. I was reminded, in the two or so hours we were at it, how very far I have to go as a photographer. (I also recognized the one significant shortcoming of my current camera body: it won't do spot metering. When you're shooting in high-contrast environments, that can be a serious time-killer!) Below are my favorite two pictures I took that day. You can see the rest of the ones I've put up so far here.

While those two came out well, I definitely still have a long ways to go as a photographer. Unfortunately, I have more hobbies than I can manage to sustain at any given time. I have my often-mentioned web design interest (I just added some more functionality to Pillar last week, focusing on a simple but pretty new animation for the navigation menu and on post snippets on the home page), music, writing, and reading projects!

I mentioned early in the year that I was planning to write a string quartet based on the life of David. I have never been able to get that project off the ground, thanks to a combination of busyness and a general lack of inspiration. Despite spending a great deal of time mulling it over in my head, I could never quite get the ideas to gel. I've recently been contemplating taking the same idea and writing a full-scale symphonic work (probably totaling 30 to 40 minutes of music). Obviously, that's a huge project, and it would take me a while with my current schedule. Nonetheless, I'm thinking hard about attempting it. I know I would enjoy it.

I have a few other projects in the dock as well. In addition to writing the final post in my series on alcohol over at Pillar (a controversial one, as you can imagine), I am brainstorming a post on discipleship, outreach, and the relationship between the two. I am continuing to work on my essay regarding media, pop culture, and relational wisdom; with some writing time set aside on Wednesday evening I may even be able to finish it. 52 Verses continues to plug along nicely; fully 8 poems are live now—each one a bit different from the others.

I've also been reading N. T. Wright's massive treatment of the historical evidence for the resurrection, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God, Vol. 3). It's good, but very thick and very heavy reading. I also have a Joyce Meyer book waiting to be read and reviewed. (Odd as that may sound, I make a point to read and review a wide variety of books, because lots of other people read a wide variety of books, and the most useful content on this blog is in the book reviews, at least in terms of the reasons people come here from search engines.)

Jaimie is contentedly working her way through the latter parts of The Wheel of Time, and I am enjoying watching her do so. The further she gets, the more we can discuss, and since the series is one of my favorites, that makes for a lot of fun conversations. She also keeps baking me good cookies—which is great, except that it makes it far more difficult to steadily lose weight in my bid to get in shape for a marathon someday in the future. My running speed steadily increases, as does my strength, but it would be much easier if my wife weren't such a good cook. (Even so, I am managing to keep on target. It's hard, but I'm getting there, and enjoying it.)

Speaking of Jaimie: you should go take a look at the most recent posts on her blog. She has a knack for hammering out spiritual truth in compelling ways that pushes me to do better myself in my own writing. Her most recent posts, It Is Finished and Baby, Baby are both exercises in communicating transparently, honestly, and Truthfully about the realities of this life.

With that, I am going to go; I have some reading of my own to do this evening, and I plan to be up at 5am and at work at 6am tomorrow. May God bless you with his peace, whatever your circumstances, and may his grace be your hope and strength in all things.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Long Process

I finished the duet. Or at least, I finished the semi-final rough draft of it. Four and a quarter minutes of music for clarinet and cello, a dance movement, written in about a week and a half. (That's why I am up late right now, and why I have not done much blogging in the same span of time.)

I will post a link to the piece once I get the recording of the actual performance of it (presumably in a few weeks). I have good sound sets... but they are still sound sets.

Yesterday was our one year anniversary. I will try to post some reflective thoughts on that occasion later this week. Tonight we enjoyed some of our cake, which was surprisingly good a year later (it was very well sealed).

I have a stomach ache. The two, gladly I suppose, are not related; I had the stomach ache first.

We will have another friend staying with us for a few weeks soon: the one and only Megan Tevebaugh, who is now counting down the days till her impending marriage to the equally unique Anthony Plopper. They will be living in the same apartment complex as us; it should be a wonderfully fun year (even as the next few weeks promise to be particularly fun as well.)

Sleep calls me now.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wonderfully Tired

I feel wonderfully tired: the kind of deep but pleasant ache that can only come from a good workout. I also feel unpleasantly tired: the kind of deep but annoying fatigue that can only come from a day at work that was thoroughly frustrating. Life is ever full of contradictions.

My beautiful wife sits beside me; she has pumped out around 3500 words of her novel. I have written 30 seconds of a duet for clarinet and cello, and read half of a book on divorce and remarriage that I will be reviewing next week at Pillar. The piece for clarinet and cello is on a tight deadline; I have long since found that I work best and quickest under the pressure of a deadline where music is concerned. Two of the best pieces I have ever written have come together on extremely short time scales. Composition is thus perhaps the only area of my life where I understand the rush that procrastinators feel in accomplishing their goals in the nick of time.

(As a side note, "the nick of time" is a rather odd phrase. Think about it.)

In the last few days, I have started spending some time with GIMP, a free image manipulation program—it may not be Photoshop, but it's also $600 less expensive, and still incredibly powerful.logo for Independent Clauses Among other things, I have created a few buttons for the web, and I'm currently working on a render of a planet orbiting a star. The final product may not, in the end, be terribly impressive... but I am learning and enjoying the opportunity to stretch myself. I have always enjoyed visual art, but unlike Jaimie, I have no talent in sketching or painting. Software, on the other hand, makes sense to me; perhaps with some time I will actually be able to create some art with GIMP.

Our dear friends Chase and Julie Russell are in town tomorrow through Sunday... and, typically enough, we will be out of town Friday through Sunday, at a friend's wedding. The opportunity to see many of our friends excites us, but missing time with the Russells saddens us. We hope to spend some time with them tomorrow evening. While we have followed their adventures in Nicaragua via their blog, nothing compares to spending time face to face, sharing our thoughts and experiences in person.

Posts I hope to have up by the end of this week or early next week: something at Pillar on the Rock (I am still tossing around a few ideas), a poem for 52 Verses (that one is definitely going up; the only question is what the poem will be), and perhaps a post reflecting on the gospel here.

Go do something fun that glorifies God!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Quick update

I am currently working on the final post in a series on divorce and remarriage at Pillar on the Rock. PJ has laid out the doctrinal basis of our views, and I will cover the practical application of views. That post will hopefully go live on Thursday. I hope you'll take a look and leave your thoughts on what he has written so far, as well as on my own post later this week. I believe this is one of the most challenging issues to deal with in the church, and so these are important posts.

I have three posts sitting in the tank for this blog. One of those will probably go up sometime tomorrow, and the others will probably wait for early next week, since I will be in Colorado Springs to celebrate my youngest sister's graduation over the long weekend. I am so proud of her—she has done very well, not only scholastically but personally in high school, and she is very quickly becoming a very admirable woman of God.

For now, I am going to get back to writing this Pillar post, enjoy dinner with my beautiful wife, and then spend time in fellowship and Bible study with our community group. May God bless you richly with the knowledge of His son!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Quick status update

I promise to be mostly absent and certainly not as extravagantly poetic this week as last. I have training classes every day from 8:30 to 5:00 this week... which makes for long, tiring days, to say the least. It affords me an excellent opportunity to build up some extra time so I can enjoy a day off with my wife in a week—but it certainly has a cost in the meantime! And of course, thanks to the joys of mono, I still have negative amounts of paid time off, though I'm getting close to being back in the positives.

In other news, there were tornadoes in Norman and Midwest City (and Edmond, and many other places) today. The one in Norman was about three miles away from Jaimie; the one in Midwest City was about half a mile to a mile away from me. Craziness!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Poetry, Failing Memory, and Redesigns!

Strangely enough, writing poetry helps my prose. I imagine the same is true in reverse. A blogger I read recently commented to the same effect, quoting someone famous. Apparently, however, neither writing poetry nor writing prose seems to be helping my memory much, as I cannot remember the blogger in question or the famous writer he referenced.

Interestingly, I have had a great many poetical thoughts driving to work this week. I am not entirely sure why, though I have made a point to shut off the stereo system the last several days. Silence (even of the terribly partial variety one gets well driving on Oklahoma highways) is terribly helpful for thinking. For better or for worse, it is also better for exposing just how weak one's mental constitution is. (For the record: it is better to have that exposed, so that one can work on it, but it feels worse in the moment of realization.)

some current projects: I have just finished the final tweaks (most of them very subtle) here at Thoughts; A Flame. Jaimie's blog, Refining Process, just underwent a significant redesign using Blogger-In-Draft's new Template Editor (the same tool used to redo this blog). Pillar on the Rock will be getting a fresh new look sometime shortly, as well, this one courtesy of my imagination and quite a few hours spent coding... no default templates, however customized, for us!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Observations about Billboards

Since I went back to work a week and a half ago, I have been seeing the strangest billboards on my commute. Three of them are funny enough, odd enough, or thought-worthy enough that I decided to write them up.
  1. [Picture of a cat, ad for humane society] Too bad there's no soup kitchen for her. There are so many things wrong with this. We have soup kitchens because we believe in the inherent dignity and worth of every human being—regardless of poverty, mental illness, or other reason for being homeless. While I'm all for helping take care of animals, I'm just not convinced that animal homelessness is nearly the problem that human homelessness is—nor that the comparison is warranted. By all means, encourage animal adoption... just please don't be silly while you're at it. Also: last time I checked, very few cats die of malnutrition on the streets, seeing as they're natural predators for other non-domesticated animals. The cats don't need soup kitchens.
  2. "There's no such thing as an unwanted, adopted baby. —God I could not agree more deeply with the message being presented here. Abortion is not the answer to "unwanted" children: adoption is an infinitely better alternative when, for whatever reason, a mother is simply unable to carry a child. That said, I have been bothered by this billboard for months, and the reason struck me forcefully last week. It's the attribution: making it a quote from God. (Incidentally, that's why it took me such a long time to put my finger on the source of my unease: I kept looking for problems in the quote itself, but there aren't any!) The message itself is very good... but God never said anything of the sort, even he undoubtedly agrees. I do not think we ought to attribute to God anything outside of Scripture itself as "speech." The word of God is sufficient, as I have argued before, and we ought not add to what God has said. So it is a good poster that would have been better without the "—God" tagged on at the end. The attempt to add moral authority to what ought to be an obvious and compelling statement, in my case at least, ended up being a source of distraction. I may, however, be a unique case...
  3. Let's go out for ice cream after you get us all paralyzed! [Picture of a girl holding a sign in a rearview mirror] —Don't let your friends drive recklessly. This one was just plain funny. It was clever, somewhat sarcastic, and incredibly well-done visually. Given the sad state of the drivers around me, not to mention the frequently dangerous antics of many high school and college students, it is a much needed message, too. Normally, I find advertisements of the "Friends don't let friends do drugs" variety to be executed poorly at best and worthy of mockery and derision at worst. This was a pleasant change.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

"Y'all guys,"—or, thoughts on the English second person plural

The other day at work, I heard someone say "Y'all guys." Further evidence of English's tendency to slide second person plurals into second person singular positions.

Historically, "you" replaced "thou," leaving English with no distinct second person plural. Accordingly, "you all" filled in, quickly contracting into the ubiquitous (southern) "y'all." This in turn has started to bleed over into a singular usage (as in, "How are y'all?" addressed to a single individual, which I've heard with increasing frequency over the past few years). The result, as before, is a gap in the language's ability to convey number when in the second person. As was the case with the transition from "thou" to "you," the result is a set of odd-sounding combinations: "you guys" seems to have lost the competition with "y'all," but is now staging an odd comeback in the form of "y'all guys."

As far as I'm concerned, this is hilarious. The whole trouble might have been avoided by a mild and conscientious prescriptivism, but alas!—such things are far out of favor among our linguists, and grammarians have no place at all in our modern society. In any case, I will maintain my staunch avoidance of the use of "y'all" and continue to pursue a more elegant and refined mode of conversation, insofar as it is possible. The dangerous wiles of Texan or Oklahoman speech shall not claim my soul!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How Mono is like Sin, and other ramblings

It's been a month since I last blogged here. I've had mono, and one of the consequences has been an inability to focus for long periods of time. For obvious reasons, that puts a bit of a damper on my blogging ability. Seeing as I have a pretty solid commitment elsewhere on a regular basis, the result has been my absence from this blog. (I'd have been more worried if I had more regular readers!)

Before anyone asks, I haven't a clue how I got the silly disease. The only woman I've ever kissed, my beautiful and amazing wife Jaimie, has never had mono, and I don't share drinks with people. Mysterious infections are even lamer than unmysterious infections.

it's in times like this that I'm particularly grateful for a job like the one God provided. I'm blessed by being able to actually take the doctor's orders and stay home and rest. Mono is what's often called a nuisance disease: you don't feel terrible, and in fact you're often relatively functional. Bad spells of headaches, dizziness, and extreme fatigue are offset by the relatively regular times in between. The trick is, you won't get better unless you rest... a lot. So, when the doctor prescribed bedrest, I counted myself blessed to have a job with good short-term disability benefits, so that I can stay home and rest.

Being unable to concentrate for long periods of time has been strange. Normally, when I'm at home sick, I do a lot of reading. I've done comparatively little in the last two weeks, though, because I've simply been unable to drive my mind through any substantive books. I've managed a little Star Wars, a little Asimov, and a very little bit of a neat anthology I picked up recently, Leland Ryken's The Christian Imagination. It's a good one, but as is often the case with anthologies, it doesn't have a solid line of thought through; it's organized by theme, so it gets a little repetitive. Not really the best recipe for overcoming mental stamina problems...

As I'm thinking about mono, I realize that in a lot of ways, its day to day effects are an excellent picture of how sin works in the life of a Christian. In some ways, you barely notice its effects, especially once you get used to them. But the effects are always there, dragging you down, preventing you from doing what you truly want to do. I can't play Ultimate, write blog posts easily, read long, difficult books, or even go to work. Similarly, sin keeps me from loving my wife as well as I want, from reaching out to neighbors or peers with the gospel effectively, or serving selflessly in the church. It attacks in subtle ways that, save for the rare flareups, are hardly noticeable. But, like mono, it simply will not go away unless you get serious about dealing with it. I'll paraphrase John Owen: if you're not attacking mono, it's attacking you, and the same thing goes for sin.

Hopefully I'll be back to normal soon, posting here at least once a week and going to work and even, a few weeks later, playing some Ultimate. In the meantime, if you want blog posts from me, head over to Pillar on the Rock, if you want Ultimate somebody's playing it near you, and if you want work, well, there's always some to be done (though I'll definitely pray for you if you're out of work in the current recession).

Come back next time, when I'll get really crazy and compare sin to some sort of carnivorous plant! (No promises.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A man like David

I'm back, and life is at last settling down into something of a normal routine again. I'm posting twice a week for Pillar on the Rock, and trust me when I say that writing two posts a week is a lot more manageable than doing the web design. I was spending 10-20 hours a week working out kinks on the site design back when PJ and I were getting it ready to deploy. The four or five hours a week I spend writing, editing my own and PJ's posts (he edits mine), and posting links to them on Twitter and Facebook seem pretty trivial in comparison. Now the holidays are over, I'm back at work, and our personal lives have settled down a bit, at least for now.

So here I am, in the few minutes I have before heading off for worship practice, tapping away at my computer on my own blog. A shock, I'm sure, to my many (ahem, not-so-many) readers.

It is, as ever, difficult to express just how much change a year brings. Certainly this year brought more than most—transitions out of college and into marriage and the working world being chief among them—but every year has its share of challenges, victories, and changes. I spent less time writing poetry and music this year than in any year since high school, and I missed both. I missed spending long hours late at night tapping away at my blog, too, in some ways. Yet I would not trade my life now for the one I had before in any way. Though I sometimes wish for more hours to read and write and compose instead of programming, I count myself the most blessed of men for the wife God has given me and the life He daily provides. Besides, programming is a good job.

My resolutions this year are few and simple: diligently study the word of God, by His grace kick a couple of troublesome sin habits in the face until they truly yield, and read a lot of good books. My goals are a bit broader: they include studying Greek at least once a week and composing equally often. My desires, from playing guitar to ranking up in Halo online, well... we'll see.

This I know: God will do mighty things this year, even if I can't see them. I'm going to content myself with learning, as best I can, to be a man like David. Early in his life, a man said of him: "[He] is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the LORD is with him" (1 Samuel 16:18). That seems a worthy goal to me.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Surprise: neither sermon notes nor 500 words long!

Life is good right now. Challenging, but good.

Today, I'm going to do two things: work on an Advent composition, and clean the apartment before my lovely wife gets home from visiting her family.

This morning I posted the first book review we've done for Pillar on the Rock, Who Runs the Church?

Christmas is three days away, and that means that I've been chewing on and contemplating a good Christmas post. Look for it on Thursday or Friday.

Speaking of Christmas, this is my first Christmas married, and correspondingly it will be my first Christmas day spent apart from my own immediate family. Jaimie and I are going to spend Christmas together in Norman before we drive out to visit my family. We have the wonderful opportunity to begin to decide how we will celebrate it together now. One of our biggest thinking points is how we're going to really celebrate Christ without being distracted by the material aspects of our culture's celebration of the holiday. When we figure out what we're going to do, I'll probably make a short post to that effect as well.

You can look forward to more regular posting after the new year. Thanks to a good deal of change—from marriage and a new job to car accidents—and the launch of Pillar on the Rock, this simply hasn't been the best semester for this blog. Don't worry... I'm not going anywhere.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lessons learned... and pudding

If, dear reader, you wonder why I have not posted in so very long - 8 days, in fact! - then I have something of a story for you. If you wonder no such thing, then you're simply going to have to content yourself with reading anyway, in the hope that I'll says something informative, edifying, or at least mildly amusing.

10 days ago, my wife and I were in Colorado on a short trip for a wedding. Midway through that trip, I began feeling somewhat less than optimal - by which I mean, I sat around most of that day feeling barely better than miserable. That, luckily, was not our traveling day. On our traveling day, I only had minor dizzy spells and a medium headache. Come Monday, however, all of those symptoms were worsening. I, being a daring master of the fates, not to mention still unused to have personal allowance time at work, toughed it out and trudged through my day. I was miserable.

Being stubborn, I proceeded to do the same again on Tuesday. I've been accused of possessing above average intelligence, but I can find no trace of anything in my behavior to suggest the accusation to be anything but the basest sort of falsehood.

Wednesday, heeding the wise counsel of my wife, I stayed home and promptly spent the day feeling miserable again, but with a good book and nary a glance at the computer screen. It turns out that staring at a screen - especially one at a bad angle and under bad lighting - tends to significantly worsen headaches. Over the course of the remainder of the week, I read several thousand pages of fiction, which was splendid, however unproductive. By early this week, I was feeling much better, and was able to go work without feeling like a walking corpse. Lesson learned: remember the value of personal leave and heed my wife's wise advice!

In the meantime, I managed to suffer yet another catastrophe. This one, I'm thankful to say, was not of my own making. Thursday night, you see, is date night for Jaimie and me. Every week we make a point to do something special that evening - a pleasant dinner out and a movie, or a candlelit meal and long talks and cuddling, or any number of things, but always a date.

This is harder to pull off when you have the flu.

We decided it was to be pizza and a movie - in. Best not to spread the dreadful contagion. A woeful decision. As we returned from picking up the pizza - no paying delivery fees for us that night! - we were struck from behind. Some basic math will help you get the picture: 1984 Chevrolet pickup truck + 2005 Hyundai Elantra = CRUNCH. And the truck won and my neck lost: cursed transfer of momentum resulted in a little thing they call whiplash. My wife's poor car ("La Bomba," in case you were wondering... she names the cars, not me) is once again in the shop, with the back bumper, . (If you don't know the story, it involves scenes from an action movie and sleepless nights. Seriously.) The final result of the whole thing is yet to be seen, but needless to say it made for a far more exciting date night than we anticipated. Lesson learned: all that physics information about transfer of momentum was quite accurate. (The seatbelts work.)

In the midst of all of it, God reminded me that health is a gift, and to thank Him more regularly for it. (Lesson learned: don't forget to thank Him immediately after you get better... like I did today until I wrote that sentence.)

If, dear reader, you are still with me, you are doubtless wondering why I'm addressing you, and most particularly why I'm using the trite, over-the-top, and absurdly overused "dear reader" appellation. I'm afraid you will find no answers here. You're simply going to have to get used to it. (I'll leave you wondering whether I plan to keep up the absurdity. You'll be waiting with unbridled expectation for the next post just to find out, I'm sure.)

Lesson learned: pudding is good. (That was for free.)