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Preview: an exercise in narcissism

an exercise in narcissism



mental meanderings of a random guy in the san francisco bay area



Updated: 2018-03-02T09:11:36.760-08:00

 



Review of Reasons My Kid is Crying

2014-05-15T15:32:25.247-07:00

Reviewing a coffee table book is a little weird, but here I am. You may, like me, have come across this website where there are pictures of crying children, along with a short explanation of why the kid is crying. Apparently that website hit big and became a bit of a cultural phenomenon that I missed out on. It became a big enough deal that the website's author, Greg Pembroke, published a book version of his site.

Describing what it's like to be a parent can be a real challenge. This book comes close to providing a clear picture into just how insane and hilarious children can be. As parents turn the page they will find themselves comforted by the fact that their child isn't the only one who cries when they take off their sandals and can't put them back on...their child isn't the only one who can ask for a popsicle, get it, and freak out because it's cold.

I've already had a lot of fun sharing this book with my friends, both with and without kids. I'm not sure how someone who's never around kids would respond to the book but everybody who has kids or is around them laughs with recognition at many of the pictures. These pictures capture some of the  most bafflingly infuriating moments of parenting. Sometimes you're so amused at their fit you're able to laugh in the face of it...other times you're at the end of your rope and their fit drives you crazy.  This book will allow you to laugh no matter what. There's not much to read, but it's a good book to thumb through and laugh at your crazy kids.


I was provided a copy of this book for review.



Review of Desiring God DVD Curriculum

2014-02-27T16:53:56.491-08:00

John Piper's Desiring God is such a ubiquitous classic that there is almost nothing new I could hope to say about it. Yet here I am, and here you are.

The Desiring God DVD Set is a 10-part series for personal or group study. Between the two DVDs there are ten segments of video of John Piper teaching through the content of his book in a workshop/seminar format. He is still preaching with all the conviction and passion of John Piper in the pulpit, so don't expect it to be your typical dry seminar.

The grand theme of Desiring God is the concept of "Christian Hedonism." This is Piper's philosophy that the supreme purpose of life is to "glorify God and enjoy Him forever." Far from living a dry, joyless, prim and proper life, the Christian is called to pursue God...and in that pursuit we find greater pleasure and enjoyment than we could ever find in a life pursuing worldly pleasures. That is to say: God is greater than the greatest drug, than a night of getting wasted with your friends, than the pursuit of self-satisfaction through self-service. It is only through the pursuit of God and His intention for our life that we can experience true joy and pleasure like we were intended. And Piper wants to encourage Christians to unashamedly pursue that joy and satisfaction. Christian Hedonism.

Throughout the DVD set Piper introduces and explains this concept, then discusses its implications in areas such as worship, love, prayer, money, marriage, missions, suffering, and more. The intention is that a group of people would watch the DVDs together to discuss them in a small group setting. I'd say you can also easily use it with your family for family devotional time, with a group of friends informally, and so on. There are tons of ways to digest the content and discuss it.

Piper's ministry is popular for a reason. He is a compelling speaker and there is no subject more dear to his heart than this. There is much to be gained from going through this classic content with others and letting it influence your walk with God.



I’m shutting down this blog and moving to a new one.

2011-04-01T21:17:20.676-07:00

After several years I’ve decided to shut this blog down for good.  It’s had its time in the sun.  I started it back in 2002 and there’s a lot of stuff here I’m proud of, some I’m not so proud of, and much I would delete if I were willing to put in the time.  Still, it is what it is and I’ll leave it here for posterity, but this blog is officially dead.

Those of you interested in reading what I do write in the future should check out the new blog I’m starting to take this one’s place.  It will serve much the same function this one did when I posted regularly – a place for me to share my thoughts on a number of topics that matter to me.  I am such a different man than the one that started this blog nine years ago and I believe it’s time to leave this blog in the past.

So go check it out, subscribe to its feed, bookmark it, or whatever else you do to read the stuff you want to read.

Goodnight, sweet exercise in narcissism. 




Dave Ramsey at Catalyst West 2011

2011-03-13T06:50:34.417-07:00

(image) My brother is a bit of a Dave Ramsey fanboy so I took great pleasure in gloating to him via text that I was close to his hero.  Ramsey has built a very successful organization meant to help people be smart with their money and avoid debt at all costs.  There’s probably a pun in there somewhere.

One thing that stuck with me from Ramsey’s talk was a story he shared about a company picnic.  He employs around 300 people and holds a big family picnic every year with inflatable jump houses, barbecue, and whatever else he can do to show his appreciation for the employees.  As he arrived at the picnic he looked at this field full of kids running everywhere playing and he asked his teenage son what he saw. 

“Lots of kids,” was his son’s predictable reply.  Ramsey saw more than that, of course.  If he didn’t it would be a pretty dumb story.

Ramsey said that if he, as the leader of his organization and the employer of the parents of these children, makes a really stupid decision – it would affect all of them.  With all the blessings he enjoys as the leader of a successful organization, he also has the great responsibility of knowing that his actions impact a lot of people in significant ways.  I thought this was a novel way to communicate the principle anybody in leadership has heard a million times: leadership is service.

Through his talk Ramsey shared five principles that guide him as he leads his organization.  They were pretty standard – People Matter, Incredible Team and Culture Matter, Slow and Steady Matters, Financial Principles Matter, and A Higher Calling Matters.  He had good things to say about all of those principles.  A few notes I took that stuck with me most:

“When you get on fire about taking care of the needs of others, courage comes over you.”

“A great team gives you courage.”

"The tortoise wins every time; you don’t finish if you don’t do the little things right.”

“Practice excellence in the ordinary.”  These last two in particular got me thinking about the day-in-day-out practice in my classroom.  I want every day, every lesson plan to be excellent, not just so-so. 

“When you have a pile of money and no debt, you have more courage.”  Ramsey is rabidly opposed to debt, even to the point of discouraging student loans.  While I’m not quite on the same page with him there, I do think this statement is true and helps demonstrate that the way you manage your money is more than just a money thing.  When you’re stressed out about whether or not you can pay the bills, you are less likely to take some risks that you might otherwise take.  When you have some savings and you don’t have some debt, some things you just assume you couldn’t do become possible. 




Catalyst West: Andy Stanley

2011-03-10T06:45:06.298-08:00

The first speaker at Catalyst West Coast this year was Andy Stanley.  The theme of the conference was “Take Courage,” and he admitted resisting the temptation to preach a sermon encouraging us to be brave like David or Gideon or Noah.  While sermons along those lines have truth in them, it can be a challenge to relate to them when the chances of you having an army you need to whittle down to the faithful few are pretty small.  There’s also the fact that if you’ve been around church long at all, you’ve heard plenty of sermons like that.  Andy took a different route, and I’m glad he did.Before he got into his message, though, I could tell he was bugged by the inability of this room full of alleged adults to control themselves with the little poppy things we’d been given.  You remember those little boxes from when you were a kid – they were full of little bags of powder or something that would *bang* when you threw them at the ground?  Somebody thought it would be a good idea to put one of those boxes under each seat.  So many people couldn’t help themselves and kept messing with them long beyond the time they should’ve been.  I found Stanley’s lack of amusement with them amusing.  And he was right on.  Anyway.Here are a few of the highlights I got from his message:The person engaging in an act of courage usually has no idea what the ramifications or impact of that decision will be.  We’re not living in movies, and the orchestra doesn’t tense up when we’re about to make a climactic choice.  We go through life and make the choices we’re presented with.  Some have big impact and others little – but we don’t know which is which.  While our stories aren’t likely to be on the front page of the newspaper, we’ll face moments/opportunities/challenges that will require us to exercise the extraordinary courage we so often shrink from.He then went on to describe three (he said four but ran out of time) faces of courage – times when courage may be required for us to move forward into God’s best plan for our life.One of those situations was having the courage to ask for help when it would be easier to pretend that everything’s okay.  The secrets you have influence the way you lead.  You compensate for your secrets in ways you don’t notice but the others around you do.  He called those who needed help but didn’t get it chickens.  We don’t ask for help because we’re afraid of what others might find out about us, or what we might discover about ourselves.  But the real thing we need to fear, according to Stanley, is waking up one day and realizing we are outside of God’s will for our lives.  If we are to lead, we need confidence that God is with us.  If I’m not confident I’m where God wants me to be, how am I going to lead with confidence?Do I fear being out of God’s will more than poverty?  Irrelevance?  The opinions of others?I think what stuck with me most from his talk was something he said toward the end: One day, everything I’m going through right now will just be a story.  All the stresses, pressure, hopes, worries, doubts, fears, responsibilities – all of it will be a story.  When this chapter of my life is over, what story do I want to tell about it?“It would’ve been easier to X, so I did.”“I was afraid of Y, so I didn’t.”For some reason that really resonated with me.  I can think back to so many situations and times in my life where I was consumed with one thing or another, worrying about this decision or that decision – and now they’re stories.  I wonder how many stories I missed out on because I wussed out?  I do not want to wuss out.  I want my greatest fear to be that I’m out of God’s will for my life.  I’m not sure it is.  But I want it to be, and I will be praying for God to make[...]



Catalyst West Conference 2011

2011-03-06T14:24:03.732-08:00

I had the privilege this past week to attend Catalyst West 2011 with a team from South Bay Church.  It was a fantastic experience but, as Matt Chandler said, a bit like trying to drink from a firehose.  There’s a lot to work through.  In an attempt to process some of what I heard and think about it a bit more, I’ve decided to resurrect my blog with a series of posts related to Catalyst.  I need to force myself to write and think.

When Filipe sent out an email informing us that South Bay had tickets for those who wanted to go to Catalyst I assumed I wouldn’t be able to go.  The conference was just a few weeks after Janelle’s due date.  I didn’t dare ask to take an out of town trip and leave my wife with a newborn, a 16 month old, and a four year old.  I’m smarter than that.

Janelle actually brought it up to me and said she felt like I should go.  I did my best to pretend to struggle with saying yes and snagged South Bay’s last ticket.  Fiona was just one month old but Janelle blessed the heck out of me by taking care of our girls while I left her alone from Wednesday-Saturday.  I’ve said it before and I will be saying it until the day I die – one of the greatest evidences of God’s love for me is the amazing woman He gave me to spend my life with.

I had a lot of fun at the conference getting to spend some time with people from South Bay and strengthen some existing friendships as well as make some new ones.  As far as the conference itself, there were some fantastic sessions and some not-so-fantastic ones.  I did my best to get what I could out of everything and open myself up to whatever God had for me.  Over the next few posts I’ll share my thoughts on the conference and some of what I got from it.




0 Comments

2010-07-12T10:27:26.080-07:00

got the facebook page up and running for Perdue Communication, my writing business. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Perdue-Communication/109441235760774






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2010-04-21T16:54:58.359-07:00

My latest post about how to resolve conflict well: http://bettercommunicating.com/interpersonal-communication/how-to-resolve-conflict-well/



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2010-04-20T13:55:09.273-07:00

Why hire a professional writer like me? Here's why. http://ping.fm/zHAzw



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2010-04-14T07:17:15.532-07:00

just put up the 2nd post at my Better Communicating blog here, about assertiveness: http://ping.fm/M4fgd



Perdue Communication and Better Communicating.com

2010-04-12T13:33:05.746-07:00

Yes it’s been a long time.  I appreciate those of you who do check in on my blog, and I haven’t completely abandoned it (despite evidence to the contrary).  I’ve taken up two new things that I wanted to pass along to you who already read some of what I write:

First, www.perduecommunication.com.  I am starting to do some freelance writing and communication consulting on the side, and that’s the site for it.  Any kind of writing you (or someone you know) needs done, I can do.  Website content, marketing materials, business materials, resumes/cover letters…I can also do coaching for public speaking engagements or job interviews.  Check out the site and pass it along.

Second, www.bettercommunicating.com.  This is a new blog I’m starting that will be based on communication.  In it I will talk about anything related to communication.  It will focus on getting better at communication, and discussing communication in various situations/venues.  On the job, in relationships, whatever.  So add that to your RSS feeder or check in on it regularly, and I’d be much obliged.  It might even do something for you too.




“I’ll never sleep!” – Adventures with Belle

2009-12-16T10:12:19.172-08:00

This week Janelle was reading something I’d written about what Belle was saying before her 2nd birthday.  As she read it we realized we’d both forgotten about Belle ever saying those things.  It was a reminder to me that I need to be better about jotting stuff down when she does it, so we don’t forget.  She does so many cute/impressive/wonderful things on a regular basis that it’s easy to have them slip by without writing them down.

Last night it was a serious battle trying to get Belle to go to sleep.  She asked “why do we have to go night night every day?!”  After Janelle and I read her several stories and left her to fall asleep, she started to fuss and cry and get out of bed.  We left the lights on (she has a princess Christmas tree that is really bright in and of itself, and she wanted her lamp on) but that wasn’t enough.She threw all the bedding off her bed and screamed things like:

“I really miss Mommy and Daddy!”

“Daddy!  DADDY! Come here!”

“I don’t want to go night night.”

And my favorite…

“I’ll never sleep!  Never!”

During a lull in her tantrum I came in and started to talk to her.  I don’t know exactly what I did or how I did it but I convinced Belle it would be cool if I put the stuff back on her bed (with her showing me where it all goes).  Then I laid in there and talked to Belle for probably ten minutes before leaving.  This time she let me go and fell asleep peacefully.

We talked about what she would be doing soon, and we talked about what it will be like when I take her to see The Princess and the Frog.  It’s going to be the very first movie she sees in a theater.  She asked if they had blankets and pillows at the theater in case she gets cold.  When I told her they didn’t, she asked if she could bring her own blanket.

I also told her about how you give your ticket to the man or lady and they rip it, then give it back to you.

“I will not say thank you to the lady,” she said.  When I asked why, she replied “because I will be shy.”

I love my little girl.  I went from absolute frustration and exasperation to utter amazement and thankfulness to God in the span of an hour.  Parenthood rules.




Serving God and Volunteering at Church

2009-12-07T08:04:48.111-08:00

The phrase “serve God” is used frequently in religious and spiritual circles.  Through books, sermons, radio shows, conversations, and more we get lots of information on what it means to “serve God.”  In my years of observing, listening to, and often speaking on this topic I believe the concept of serving God is something Christians (both laypeople and clergy) misunderstand. This will not be an exhaustive post on the topic but rather something that has occurred to me more and more over the years.  I worked at a church for several years as a youth pastor and since the beginning of 2008 have been working full-time in public school.  I attend church and volunteer.  I begin with a statement I learned to be quite true when I worked as a pastor: Those who are not in ministry really do not know what it is like to be in ministry.  I think the pastors I know would agree with this wholeheartedly.  Almost as a rule the pastors I know personally are among the most hardworking, dedicated men and women I’ve ever met.  They are doing their best to serve God and view their work not just as work but as a calling and privilege.  I won’t go into too much detail about the kind of work and sacrifice being a vocational minister is but suffice it to say – unless you work (or worked) in ministry you really do not know what it is like. Since I’ve been out  vocational ministry, however, something else has become just as clear to me: Those who are working in ministry really do not know what it is like to not be working in ministry. There are of course degrees and variations on this – but I think it is a sound statement.  A large portion of church activity rests on volunteers, and rightly so.  Pastors are not called to do everything – rather their job is to equip the saints for doing God’s work (Ephesians 4).  Entire books have been written on what the job of a pastor really is, and I’m not going to delve into that here.  But no matter your position on how closely a pastor should resemble a CEO or how available they should be to their congregation, any healthy Biblically-based view of the role of a pastor involves their preparing the laypeople for their ministry and acts of service.  However. I also believe it is not the obligation of every Christian to volunteer to serve at their church on a regular basis.  You can be a completely healthy, devoted, passionate follower of Jesus and a great member of a church while volunteering only occasionally if at all. This is almost anathema to the way I thought when I worked in ministry.  I did not understand what the deal was with people who wouldn’t be willing to give up an hour on a Sunday or Wednesday or whatever to serve God by setting up sound equipment or picking up garbage or watching kids or whatever else.  Jesus died on the cross for you and you’re going to dodge when I ask you to come every other Sunday a couple hours early to help get things ready for the church service where the gospel will be preached?  Come on, man! This is the mindset of one who works in ministry and does not understand what it is like to not work in ministry.  It was my mindset when I was in ministry and I am absolutely not alone.  This is a very common mindset. Sometimes pastors (and then their congregants) subtly conflate “serve God” with “volunteer at church.”  Because the pastors view their job as their calling, because building the church is what they are giving their life to, there is a tendency to assume this is what everybody’s life is to be given to.  If someone is not volunteering at the church in some cap[...]



Ode to my Wife

2009-11-16T07:41:44.369-08:00

I’m occasionally struck by the notion that I am living through a movie scene.  In my particularly self-pitying days of singlehood I imagined I was living through some insipid romance movie where the nice guy has to wade through years of loneliness to find the right woman.  Thank God that’s over.  It still sometimes occurs to me, however, that a moment in my life could be taken straight from a movie. This has happened more often since we had children.  It’s less that I feel my life in particular is entertaining enough to watch and more that the circumstances seem so ridiculous as to be almost contrived.  Last night was one of those moments. Juliette, our five-week old daughter, wakes up frequently during the night.  Some are better than others of course but last night was not a good one.  Janelle and I went to bed around 9:30 and Juliette woke up every 60-90 minutes.  During one feeding Janelle went into the kitchen to start up the dishwasher to wash the bottles.  Around 1:30 Juliette woke up screaming again and Janelle went out to get the bottles out of the dishwasher and prepare one.  While holding Juliette in the bedroom I heard Janelle say something – I can’t quite remember what it was – but I remember knowing it wasn’t good.  It sounded like she had seen something disgusting, or perhaps she’d hurt herself.  I called out a few times and got no response.  Finally she responded. “Our dishwasher flooded the kitchen.” As it turned out, the detergent Janelle purchased last week, which was labeled “Dish Detergent” and was in the same section as the dishwasher detergent was in fact not meant for use in a dishwasher.  As we took turns cleaning the kitchen (including moving the refrigerator so we could get the water under it) Janelle berated herself and said “I even thought it seemed a little runny but I just figured it was because it was cheap.”  At 1-something in the morning I am more than happy to find fault with others and find a way to blame them for things that inconvenience me.  But try as I might I couldn’t fault Janelle for being foolish with the dish soap – there are hints on the labeling, such as “easy on your hands!” and whatnot but I certainly would have assumed it was detergent for the dishwasher based on its name and its placement in the store – away from all the handwashing dish soap and with the detergent.  In retrospect obviously it was a mistake but it’s completely understandable. So as I wiggled the fridge out of its spot in the kitchen it occurred to me that this could be a scene from a comedy wherein the couple is simply overwhelmed at life with a new baby and a 3 year-old.  Already not sleeping regularly we have the dishwasher flood the kitchen in the middle of the night.  As I thought more about it I realized how fortunate I am, for two reasons. First, I am fortunate that the movie would be a comedy rather than a tragedy.  So many parents are faced with awful difficulties with their children.  Illnesses, complications, diseases rare or common, inability to feed the family or pay the bills – these are all problems we are thankfully and by God’s grace not faced with.  Whatever difficulties we do have, Janelle and I try to remind one another that we really are blessed beyond any measure and far beyond anything we could ever deserve.  Which leads me to the second reason I am so fortunate. I’m fortunate to be able to go through all of this with a woman as awesome as Janelle is.  I use the word “awesome” to describe a lot of things but it is rarely as ap[...]



I have a jorb

2009-09-02T08:08:11.082-07:00

Cobwebs around here.  For those wondering why I haven’t been posting lately, it’s because I got a job.  Something I didn’t expect to happen the way it did, but I’m glad it did.

I worked at Ohlone over the summer as a site supervisor for their kids program.  That job ended on a Thursday.  I had an interview for a teaching position in Mountain View that Friday, and on the following Monday they offered me the job, which I began that Tuesday.  From that point on it’s been a whirlwind.

There is a lot I could say about the job but I will simply focus on one thing right now: it is a huge blessing.  I know people through the word “blessing” around a lot but I seriously mean it.  There were 200 applicants to this job, they interviewed 12, and they hired me.  I was just one person on a big list and figured because of that I would not end up with a job.  But somehow I’ve ended up at an exceptional school with very exceptional people.  Every staff member I’ve run into from the district and at the other schools has been awesome.  The teachers at this school are very supportive and helping me out any way they can.  And lastly – this district pays better than any district I’ve heard of and they offer full benefits for the family.  That is unheard of.  Until now, I guess.

The budget crunch in California means teaching jobs are very difficult to come by.  Janelle did not get a job this year.  Because of that, and the fact that we have lots of student loans coming due, I was in the “I know God will provide but I don’t know what the heck that looks like” camp over the summer.  Here I see – this job is such that we can put Janelle’s loans on forebearance and pay all our other bills.  If I’d gotten a job in any other district I don’t think that would have been possible.  I know God has provided for me in all kinds of ways throughout my life.  But this is one of the times when I’ve felt the most like He is providing.  Freakin’ awesome.




Salting Meat

2009-06-11T11:07:46.410-07:00

(image) One of my aspirations is to become as good a cook with meat as my Dad is.  His tri-tip is just about the best thing I’ve ever eaten.  (Though those Ollalieberries I had yesterday from my neighbor’s yard are up there too.)  I admire those who can just take a steak, throw it on the grill, and end up with something tasty rather than tough.  The people who seem to produce the best meat are those who are able to do very little to it.  Some of my best results with chicken have been when I just put a bit of salt/pepper and oil on it right before baking it. 

Here’s an article on someone who experimented with salting different kinds of meat at different times.  He invited some friends over and did some blind taste tests.  Apparently this guy found it’s best to salt chicken a day before cooking it, and steak/pork does well if you put some salt on right before searing it.  I’d be interested in any grilling/meat cooking tips you have to offer.

Also, here’s a link to a summer grilling guide on the same website.  I haven’t read through it yet but it looks to have some useful info.




A few thoughts on friendship

2009-06-06T07:41:54.021-07:00

(image)

This picture is the only one I had readily available of my groomsmen and I from the wedding.  It is a bad ripoff of a ska cover but it will have to do.

By some strange coincidence both of my parents are moving in the span of a week this month.  This weekend we’re moving most of my Dad’s stuff and next weekend my brother and I are flying out to Vegas to meet my sister and her husband to help out Mom move from Vegas to Sacramento.  In about an hour I’ll be at my Dad’s helping him move, and three of my friends will be there helping.  Of all the family members involved in the move, I am the only one with friends that will be helping (with the possible exception of my niece’s boyfriend when we get to Sacramento).

This could turn into a very long-winded post so I’ll just keep it short.  I’ve seen a lot of people who, as the years go by, have less and less close friends.  Responsibilities increase, free time and the ability to just hang out decreases.  I think this is “natural” given the kinds of lifestyles we live.  I know I don’t spend very much time with my friends during this stage of my life, and unless I am intentional about it that won’t really change.  I don’t want it to be that way. 

Even at the height of a friendship, when you’re able to hang out all the time, I think it is the rare individual who will show up at his friend’s Dad’s place at 9am to help him move.  The fact that I have multiple friends that are willing to do this speaks volumes about the kind of men they are.  While I will not have particular fun during the task of helping my Dad move, I think I will actually enjoy it because I will be spending time with several of the greatest guys I know.  This goes for my friends as well as my brother and my Dad. 

I know the word “blessing” gets thrown around a lot but I really am genuinely blessed to have these guys in my life.  I’m happy I can look at my wedding pictures and see all those men standing next to me, five years later, are still a big part of my life.  They’re still the kind of friends I know I can call for anything, anytime.  The kind of friends that wouldn’t just help me move but would come to help a family member move.  Not everybody has friends like that at this point in their life and I am very grateful to have them, even as our lives change.  I hope I can say the same thing five, ten, twenty years from now.




Tales of Brotherly Cruelty 2: Action Figures

2009-06-01T09:59:33.064-07:00

Cruelty is too strong a word for this story but it wasn’t exactly nice.  Action figures and toy lines generally came with two teams.  Transformers had their Autobots and Decepticons, Go-Bots had Guardians and Renegades, Barnyard Commandos had R.A.M.S. and P.O.R.K.S., MASK had…well…MASK and VENOM…  There were so many awesome toys to be had, but I usually thought one side was better than the other.  Of course Dave and I could not both collect the same team.  So once I decided which team I wanted to collect I made sure Dave collected the other.

(image) I do remember having to sell him on the toys I didn’t want.  With TMNT stuff I had him collect the turtles and secondary characters I didn’t want, but we both had goodguys and badguys.  Dave never really got to choose which toys he would collect.  I made the choices for him.  I would try to convince him that the team I wanted him to collect was good or cool or better.  I don’t know how many time I cajoled him into getting a toy he didn’t really want with his allowance, or to put stuff on his Christmas list that complemented the stuff on my own.

I don’t think he was ever really convinced by my salesmanship, but I think he just decided it would be easier to go along with me so we could just play already.  I made sure I got my way and I would not relent until he gave in and accepted the role I gave him.  If he refused, there was always my favorite punishment/enforcement method: punching him in the shoulder until he gave in.




One Way Ticket to Mars

2009-05-29T11:30:20.145-07:00

Here’s the text of a presentation by physicist Paul Davies about one solution to the cost of a human trip to Mars – make it a one way trip.  I’ve always been a science fiction fan, so the concept of humans colonizing other planets is pretty cool for me.  This guys is basically advocating a small group of astronauts head to Mars with no expectation of returning, but with the expectation that they will eventually be joined by other humans who will establish a permanent human settlement on Mars.

(image) The idea sounds intriguing and possibly promising – but all I keep thinking is that the people on Mars will come to see themselves as Martians rather than Earthers and then we’ll have some sort of rebellion on our hands.  When times get tough Economically here we’ll debate cutting funding to the Martian colony, or perhaps giving them less supplies, and they’ll get resentful.  Then they will engineer some kind of Martian super-virus secretly, create some kind of one-way Mars-to-Earth vessel, and unleash biological armageddon on Earth in preparation for a re-conquest.

Alternatively, they will discover the ruins of an ancient civilization and return as our overlords with vastly superior technology.

(image) Or possibly they will be wiped out by aliens on their way to Earth, but their sacrifice will serve as an early warning for us.  But that really would only work if the aliens weren’t too smart and went for the little colony before Earth.

In one possible scenario, the colony will be overtaken by a psychotic who forms a cult and turns it into his or her own kingdom where they kill the heretics and then demand recognition as a sovereign nation.

Perhaps after the colony is established they will be mutated by the sun’s rays in heretofore unknown ways and become a kind of super-race.

The possibilities are endless.  Spaceward ho!




Tales of Brotherly Cruelty 1 : Video Games

2009-05-20T10:28:47.642-07:00

The other day I randomly remembered something I did to my brother Dave years ago.  It just popped into my mind, and I thought about what a jerk I was.  I’ve often remarked “I’m glad Dave still likes me” because I did some mean things to him when we were younger.  If I were to psychoanalyze things I could probably find a few things to blame for my actions: stress from our parents’ divorce, being a dork and needing to have dominance over someone, personal insecurity, the fact that we were often stuck together for extended periods of time, etc.  Really though, that’s not very entertaining and those are basically excuses.  In case you didn’t know, my brother Dave and I are 17 months apart.  I’m a little older than him, though in school I was two grades ahead because of where our birthdays fall.  We have one sister, who is seven years older than me.  This made the two of us de fact best friends and we played together a lot.  In many ways we played out the archetypal roles of big and little brother. I’m going to do some posts on thing I did to my brother that were pretty messed up.  Some are more messed up than others of course, but hopefully they will entertain you to some degree. First up – Video Games.  Dave and I grew up loving to play video games.  We had an Atari as little kids, a Nintendo a bit later (we got that late), a Super Nintendo, and eventually an N64.  We were never really at the cutting edge of video games growing up because we never really had the money to pay exorbitant prices for games.  Still, our parents often stretched their finances too far to get us those video games we wanted on holidays.  While we were often partners in crime in the video game world, both lobbying our parents for favor and games, I definitely found ways to be a jerk to Dave:   1. I always got Player One.  Dave wanted to be Player One, but I insisted upon being Player One at all times.  I wanted control of the menu, I wanted to set the options, I wanted to hit “continue” at the end, I wanted the left side of the screen.  I demanded the P1 controller and if I didn’t get it, Dave felt the pain.  This rarely came up because I established my place as P1 early and he usually didn’t fight me on it.   1a. I got first pick of characters.  Occasionally we’d play a game,  like TMNT, where you had a choice of more than two characters.  If this were the case, I would always demand first choice.  If I wanted to play as Michaelangelo, Dave could not.  Ever.  I always got first choice.  If he got used to playing a different character and I changed my mind – then he had to get used to playing a different character.  I usually picked my favorites and stuck with them – and I often tried to convince Dave that his guy really was cool so he thought it was his decision and not mine – but if a conflict ever arose I made sure I got to play who I wanted. 2. In co-op games, I had power-up priority.  If there was ever a chance to upgrade your weapon or get a power-up in a co-op game, I had priority.  I wouldn’t hog them all, of course. (It’s important your teammate has upgraded weapons too, after all.)  But in most games there would be some kind of upgrade tree – you could have missiles or spread shots or whatever else – and I always got to choose my tree.  If there were no trees then we would be pretty good[...]



Big English Test

2009-05-07T07:42:46.717-07:00

Things have been fairly busy of late, hence my lack of updating this blog.  I’m currently trying to expend any extra mental energy I have in preparation for the English CSET.  It’s a big several-hours-long test (or rather, collection of 4 tests) I’m taking to prove subject matter competence in English.  With that, I’ll be able to teach both English and Social Science in High School.  This should increase my employability, as I’ll be able to teach a wider variety of classes.

English has always been a strong subject for me because I’ve always enjoyed reading.  I also tend to enjoy being pedantic, so you’d think this test would be easy for me.  As it stands I’m not too worried about two of the tests.  They will require a bit of brushing up but for the most part I should be able to write my way through them.  One of the tests is entirely multiple choice and it covers grammar and linguistics.  As far as grammar is concerned I generally know what sounds right but have a hard time explaining what past perfect progressive tense is or what a participle phrase is.  Linguistics are almost completely new to me as an area of study deeper than the occasional pop science article.

So back to studying.

FYI - “past perfect progressive tense” is used when you are trying to indicate an ongoing event that was completed in the past prior to some other event.  For example, “I had been anticipating a Social Science job until I learned they were slightly less in demand than baristas.”

And yes I had to consult my notes to remind me what past perfect progressive tense is.




Stupid Things “Christian” Kids Say

2009-03-26T20:53:06.710-07:00

Today at lunch I was sitting in class listening to the Gay Straight Alliance meeting.  They were a bit upset because the club apparently has some lack of direction so they got to discussing what they see as some of the biggest issues on campus they could try to address.  I paid extra attention to listen to what they brought up and the results were unsurprising but disappointing nonetheless.

The first girl to speak said she was having some trouble with something her best friend said.  She was vague at first about what her friend had said and just remarked that she wished her friend would have worded it differently.  The club president pushed a bit to hear what exactly her friend had said.  The girl started with “Well, she’s very religious, Christian.”  The response was a chorus of understanding “ooohhhhs” and an “enough said.”

When pressed further she revealed that her Christian friend said “why should I care about homosexuals when they’re all going to burn in hell anyway?”

Who the crap is raising their kids to talk this way?  The next thing the girl said about her friend sounded a lot more like something you’d hear out of Jesus’ mouth than what the supposedly Christian kid said:

“It’s okay if she believes something different.  I mean, I don’t like it but I need to accept that about her and be her friend.  That’s what this club is about – acceptance.  So I know I need to accept her.  I just wish she would have used different words.”

I know I butcher the message of Jesus in my daily life plenty to others and I do plenty of harm to the gospel with my actions.  I can sit in judgment of no one.  But I think the first girl is closer to the heart of Jesus than the one who wears the Christian label. 

How sad that a club trying to stand up for a group that often gets made fun of and ostracized has this experience with Christians.  How sad that we followers of Christ are not known for our love but instead for our hatreds.




Sermon / Podcast Recommendation

2009-03-18T13:32:24.295-07:00

(image) This won’t be useful to many of you but some of you should appreciate it.  I’m always on the lookout for good podcasts to listen to while I’m driving or working out.  Many churches are now podcasting their sermons.  I wanted to recommend one particular sermon podcast to those of you who might benefit from such a thing – that of the Village Church in Texas.  Matt Chandler is their lead pastor and the guy who preaches most of the time, but I’ve heard one sermon from another guy and enjoyed what he had to say too.

They’re a Reformed church and I’m not Reformed (that means they believe in Predestination and are Calvinist) but I still greatly enjoy the preaching and think it is some of the best I’ve heard.  The focus on God’s grace, preaching the Gospel, and the lack of moralism is awesome.  It enriches me and if you’re looking for something worthwhile to listen to on your mp3 player give it a try. 

Following this link will take you to the Sermons page where you can download them individually, subscribe to the podcast, and even get study guides related to each of the sermons.  If you do a search in the iTunes store for “The Village Podcast” or “Matt Chandler The Village” you should find the podcast and be able to subscribe to it.




Check out this Birth Control Book

2009-03-11T14:36:11.982-07:00

(image) I was just alerted to the presence of this book on birth control, available at Amazon.  The entire title is: BIRTH CONTROL IS SINFUL IN THE CHRISTIAN MARRIAGES and also ROBBING GOD OF PRIESTHOOD CHILDREN!!  Yes, it is in caps.  Yes, the two exclamation points are part of the title.  And in case you are wondering: yes, this book was inspired by the Holy Spirit.  The author said so.  She uses Bible verses so you know everything she says is legit.  In addition, the book itself is written in all caps.    You need to read it.  You can get it here.