Back in the race

So its early Friday morning already. Rewind.

Monday's dinner went well, then we went home and went through our annual family prayer requests. Each year we all sit down and share what our requests were for last year and what God has done with them in the past 365. Then we share our goals/PRs for the coming year. Its something we all really look forward to.

Tuesday the rent's took off for their day with their friends, shopping and eating and whatnot. We stayed and cleaned and prepared. I took off for a bit to pick up some belated X-mas gifts (wines) and get some of my all-time favorite hot dog goodness.

The evening was nice, families and fellowship and fun. Then it was Wednesday and I flew all day and really didn't feel like writing much of anything. Then it was today, and I worked, then met up with the kids from Texas. Times Square, Burger Joint, Columbus Circle, Central Park, UWS, back to the 'boken where we closed down Maxwell's, and that brings us to the now.

Thursday's past but here's the links anyhow:

I feel kind of bad mocking them, but hey - it ain't exactly the Gospel approach. Move to South Carolina and secede!

For someone who's attempted a few drawings in ballpoint pen, I am sufficiently impressed by this.

Rest easy - Congress has (finally) concluded hearings on just who exactly did, in fact, let the dogs out.

You may have heard about the recent sale on ebay of the grilled cheese sandwich bearing the likeness of Jesus. I guess anything is possible when it comes to spiritual visage revelations in cheesy snack concoctions.

If you've seen the tsunami footage, and your brain works anything like mine, you may have thought of the last scene in Deep Impact, where the asteroid causes a massive tsunami to hit the Eastern seaboard. You see the water rush out to sea to help form the oncoming wave, much like we saw in reality after the earthquake recently. Then I read this. Not exactly comforting.

And, speaking of hot dogs, how about a shout out to some good ol Grover boys, keeping it real in the 'burgh. Can't wait to get back and be a patron.



So where am I? I've made it to Monday night. I'm taking the family to dinner at one of our fave restaurants in a little while, and tomorrow is helping sis with the prep for the big party. Both my parents and some good friends of theirs will both celebrate their 30th anniversary tomorrow, so the kids/grandkids (none grand on our side) are apparently sending them off for the day while we prepare some big event for tomorrow evening. I'm not entirely sure. But it should be great. I hope.

Then Wednesday is a day all up in the air, literally. Clean the joint Wednesday, work Thursday, welcome the Texas delegation that evening, commence wild weekend. I'm not really sure what they've planned at this point. But it should be great. I hope.

Friday night my plane got in with 17 minutes before my next was due to take off. Not a problem at most airports, but I was in Dallas. At quite the far end of the double horse shoe from where I needed to be. Hustled to the train to find that the station I was at was closed. I was at the head of the pack of charging Christmas eve commuters, so I had a fighting chance. You feel like a running back with an endless supply of line-backers and free safeties in front of you. And you have a back-pack on. Good times. Made the flight, somehow.

Saturday was the Christmas regular, that night lil bro and I stayed at grandma and grandpa's place in the mountains, and on Sunday morning I had my second favorite day of the year. Rode Volkl's new Armada, a pretty light ski (even lighter than my enduring fave, Salomon's 1080) that could still hold the slope, even at high speeds (60-65 mph). I have a feeling I would have liked it a lot better (and let it ride a little faster) at 170cm, maybe even 175cm, due to its light construction, but all they had was the 165cm, so I had to deal. They had a wide-angle C-rail that I couldn't seem to get the hang of, but not for lack of trying. Some pretty significant sore spots to show for that, but nothing that I won't be over in a week.

Shot back to the city in time for evening service, keeping the rent's pacified, as usual. Little bro is having some of the same problems with them that I did at that age, so he had a good long day of venting on the lifts, which I think he needed. He's definitely handling it better than I ever did.

And I've been sleeping, which I think is my body's general response to not sleeping very much in a long while. Last night I cleaned up on leftovers and was out cold in front of a movie before 10. I'm not getting nearly as much reading/writing done as I had hoped, but I'm ok with that. I'm happy to eat and sleep and little else, at least for another 24 or so.

You may have read the comment attached to my Christmas morning post (In Hoc Anno Domini) and thought "???"...I was doing a little blog surfing on Friday and leaving comments hither and yon, and found this post by Julie. Go ahead, read it, I'll wait right here.

Says Julie:
...what I take the teachings of Jesus to be are: LOVE, TOLERANCE, FORGIVENESS, COMPASSION...

Respondeth I:

I have to disagree just a tiny bit with "what (you) take the teachings of Jesus to be..."

Tolerance doesn't belong in that list. Jesus wasn't tolerant. He didn't tolerate the young rich man who wouldn't forsake his riches and follow him. He didn't tolerate Peter when he mouthed off about Christ's coming death ("Get thee behind me, Satan"). He certainly didn't tolerate the moneychangers in the temple. Many times in the gospels, the Greek words describing Jesus' anger were incredibly strong ("bellows," "snorting," etc.). He saw the wrong things for what they were, and He wasn't happy about them.

But thankfully, God is a just *and* forgiving God, not a tolerant one. He didn't tolerate the sins of humanity, instead, he came to die for them. Toleration wouldn't need to come and die for our sins, it could just sit back and tolerate.

You see, forgiveness requires more than that - it requires that you take on the burden that someone else would have been required to carry. If my brother wronged me, he has that burden. I can choose to let him carry it, or forgive him, and I accept the burden of his wrong.

That's what Jesus did for us on the cross. He didn't look at our sin and say "that's ok, no sweat, we're cool." He looked at us and said "I love you so much that I would die to make right the burden of your wrongs."

If that's not love and compassion, I don't know what is.

Hopefully that gives you some insight on her seemingly randomly placed comment. I'm not really sure how I conveyed that "Jesus and God [are] about damnation and judgement (SIC)," but there you have it. I'm not really sure why she wouldn't have responded in the comments section of her own blog, as most people would have, but then again, maybe I am. Regardless, I now have a blog quandary that I haven't had before - comments I don't like.

If everyone's going to be saved, why did Jesus have to come and die in the first place? Or why is there even a Hell?

Hope to check in again by Wednesday and get back to regular blogging by then. Working on some good stuff, check back soon.


In Hoc Anno Domini

When Saul of Tarsus set out on his journey to Damascus the whole of the known world lay in . There was one state, and it was Rome. There was one master for it all, and he was Tiberius Caesar.

Everywhere there was civil order, for the arm of the Roman law was long. Everywhere there was stability, in government and in society, for the centurions saw that it was so.

But everywhere there was something else, too. There was oppression--for those who were not the friends of Tiberius Caesar. There was the tax gatherer to take the grain from the fields and the flax from the spindle to feed the legions or to fill the hungry treasury from which divine Caesar gave largess to the people. There was the impressor to find recruits for the circuses. There were ers to quiet those whom the Emperor proscribed. What was a man but to serve Caesar?

There was the persecution of men who dared think differently, who heard strange voices or read strange manuscripts. There was enslavement of men whose tribes came not from Rome, disdain for those who did not have the familiar visage. And most of all, there was everywhere a contempt for human life. What, to the strong, was one man more or less in a crowded world?

Then, of a sudden, there was a light in the world, and a man from Galilee saying, Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.

And the voice from Galilee, which would defy Caesar, offered a new Kingdom in which each man could walk upright and bow to none but his God. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. And he sent this gospel of the Kingdom of Man into the uttermost ends of the earth.

So the light came into the world and the men who lived in darkness were afraid, and they tried to lower a curtain so that man would still believe salvation lay with the leaders.

But it came to pass for a while in divers places that the truth did set man free, although the men of darkness were offended and they tried to put out the light. The voice said, Haste ye. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness come upon you, for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.

Along the road to Damascus the light shone brightly. But afterward Paul of Tarsus, too, was sore afraid. He feared that other Caesars, other prophets, might one day persuade men that man was nothing save a servant unto them, that men might yield up their birthright from God for pottage and walk no more in freedom.

Then might it come to pass that darkness would settle again over the lands and there would be a burning of books and men would think only of what they should eat and what they should wear, and would give heed only to new Caesars and to false prophets. Then might it come to pass that men would not look upward to see even a winter's star in the East, and once more, there would be no light at all in the darkness.

And so Paul, the apostle of the Son of Man, spoke to his brethren, the Galations, the words he would have us remember afterward in each of the years of his Lord:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty where-with Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of .

Vermont Royster, 1949


Bonus link

Forgot to add this last night. Charl has completed his solo circumnavigate. Some interesting reading, even now that its over. This is something I hope to do before I die, if I can. I'm looking to find a new adventure to follow, so if anyone knows of one, please point me towards it.

Leaving for the airport (flight delayed, should be a fun night), and don't expect to post tonight as I won't be home til well after a midnight clear, and I'll probably be busy eating. So a very merry Christmas to you and yours - may your celebration of the birth of our Savior be joyful, and as you receive earthly gifts, may you be focused on the eternal gift.

In the meantime

I'm not much for gifts but I've received some cool stuff that I really dig this year. I'm blessed to have good friends with good taste. Warm, joyful feelings for me.

Odd day. Slammed at work for a few hours, then left with everyone for our boss' Christmas party - tapas in Tribeca. Good food/drink, and then we all took off. Walked south through the lower end of Tribeca - still feels weird down there. Home by 4ish, surfed/read/SOF'd for a few hours. The flights are all full tomorrow thanks to weather today pushing a lot of people back. So it looks like I have to settle for the evening flight, which will put me in LATE tomorrow night. So there's no real urgency to pack tonight. So I'll do it in an hour tomorrow morning. Que sera sera.

Its Thursday. We link.

More than you ever wanted to know about the 12 days of Christmas. You may have heard some of the history/legend/whatever you decide to call it behind this song, but I'll bet you can't accurately name half of them before looking.

Ever wondered what the computer thinks before it beats you down in chess? Wonder no more.

Burn an hour perusing Sam's collection of cool video clips. And for those of you stuck in the city for the holiday, maybe check out what's going on at the park, or help a hungry person, or take a tour (click on the tour schedule link for more).

And speaking of volunteering, the rapidly growing youth group I work with is in need of more leaders to help, well, lead kids. Go here, and come check us out sometime. Working with the youth group is my reason for still being in NYC today, its meant that much to me.

I've been dabbling with RSS feeds lately, one online one in particular being Bloglines. The nice thing about an online one is that you can log onto it from any connected puter. But the thing I don't like about RSS in general is that it takes away from the experience of a given page in the first place. And I like to experience the pages that I go to on a regular basis. I suspect I'll end up using RSS to just review sites that I like to keep up from time to time but am not a regular reader of.

Thanks to some crafty maneuvering and some considerate friends, I now officially have gmail invites coming out of my ears. If you're still using hotmail, or yahoo, or whatever, you don't know what you're missing. Email me (via my profile) if you'd like one.

And finally, NYPress had a good feature last week that pointed out the gross shortcomings of the conservative right when it comes to environmental protection. I've always been a bit of a greeny on this issue, so I found the article interesting. I believe the church, in large part, rarely esteems its calling to be good stewards of this earth as fully as it should. It is curiously understandable - the Christian's natural focus is on the completed work and the hope secure of a new heaven and new earth, but nowhere in our wonderful promised gifts lies an excuse to shirk our temporal, God-given duties. We should be respecting and caring for this world in the light of what it truly is: His creation, not ours.


Death itself

Someone outside Washington has been shooting men and women without concern for race or age. The attacks have been both methodical and random...

We are always looking to make some sort of sense out of murder in order to keep it safely at bay: I don’t fit that description; I don’t live in that town; I would never have gone to that place, known that person. But what happens when we can’t say that—when there is no description, no place, nobody? Where do we go to get our peace of mind?....

The fact is, staving off our own death is one of our favorite national pastimes. Whether it is exercise, checking cholesterol, or having a mammogram—we are always trying to find out what the profile is—and then make sure we do not fit it. But a sniper taking a single clean shot, not into a crowd but through the sight, reminds us horribly of death itself. Despite our best intentions, it is still, for the most part, random. And it is absolutely coming. – Ann Patchett, New York Times Magazine, October 20, 2002



4:58 AM. Sit up, wide awake. What to do? I could go to the office again, like Monday. Got a good head start on things, so I'll look good in today's meeting regardless...so why bother? Well then, what to do? Could read. Could write. Could blog. No. Run? Too cold. Well, you're not going to get back to sleep, so you better decide on something.

This is the basic conversation I've been having in my head every morning for the past couple weeks, right around 5 AM. Not sure why I keep waking up then, but I'm going to have to learn how to fall asleep a little earlier if this trend is going to continue.


I was on a roll there for at least a few days of getting a single solid post done at the relative end of each day. Yesterday got a little nuts here in the office. Had a chance to rendezvous with the older sister I never had for some catching up, which was cool. Thanks, yo. Then back to the 'boken to meet up with George and a few others, and all of a sudden it was 11PM and the only thing I had put in my body the whole day was a small flock of Grey Geese. Which meant one thing: straight home, straight to bed. Can't remember the last time I went down in the PM, so that was pleasant.

I'm going to try to avoid any more rabid Geese attacks in the near future - I'm usually pretty good about that - so I should be able to maintain my new goal, of sorts, to write once a day. I'd really love to kill my post titles and times and go on a little more calendar format, but those are all things that will probably have to wait until I finally get around to building my own site from the ground up (tentatively slated for early spring, when football ends). I've got some decent design ideas worked up for it, so that's something to look forward to.

The holidays look like this:

Today - Playing Santa with George for some Angel Tree kids, then doing a few personal Santa visits around Hoboken (I found the perfect time to shop in NY - the week before Christmas, at 7am. All the stores are open, and no one's there. Its positively painless.)

Tomorrow - Work in the morning, then the office party @ Flor de Sol or something of that nature. Possible Geese attacks, but I'll be on guard, as I need to get home and pack for the journey home.

Friday - Try and catch a morning flight on standby. This either means I'll be home mid-day on Friday and have an afternoon/evening to chill, or I'll spend the day reading in EWR, and get home at the stroke of midnight. There are a very few select days in the year that I desperately wish I had an iBook. Friday will be one of these days. Either way.

Saturday - Normal Xmas routine.

Sunday - Northstar with Jonny. Try not to get hurt, have to stay healthy for Whistler. Evening church.

Monday - Possible return to Tahoe. Up in the air.

Tuesday - Party for Mom and Dad's (and their good friend's) 30th anniversaries. All the kids/grandkids from both families are putting it on at our place, then sending them off for the rest of the evening. Then I pack.

Wednesday - Return to the right coast. Possibly work.

Thursday - Work, then welcome the Texas crew for a couple nights' stay.

Friday - Times Square. Under much duress from the Texas crew.

Saturday - Football at J-lo's. Laugh at AP and Russ during the UT/Mich game.

Sunday - Church and re-charge for the onslaught that will be January.

I don't plan to give the blog any serious down-time, but who knows how it'll go? I've got a number of posts I'm working on as drafts, and will have to draw up a few more if I'm going to hit the daily goal. Hope to alternate between well-thought-out issues posts, and your standard run-of-the-mill updates, spiced as normal with pictures and the occasional linkery.


A stitch in time

As previously mentioned, I've already started another blog to list my pet peeves with Blogger's interface.

Today I noticed a new quirk that deserves notation here, however. The clock on my blog posts is always wrong. I used to think that it generally just pulled up whatever time it was when I started writing the post, and unless I updated it at the end (you can select the time and date that you want the post to say), it just posted the time that I originally started the post. Makes sense - you're typing on a remote page and when you publish it to your blog, it takes the time you left in the field. Theoretically it should update to the time of publish, but I guess they didn't think of that.

Anyway, I did not write yesterday's post on snow and my evening constitutional and whatnot at 12:45pm - which actually would have been well before most of what I described in that post even occurred. I actually wrote it late in the evening, though I don't think nearly so late as 12:45am, so I don't believe it was an am/pm issue. My theory is more intricate: Blogger's timing thing is just plain screwy.

I've since "corrected" (for lack of a better term) the time/date on said post to an 12:45 AM (on the 20th, today), seeing as I'm not sure exactly when I wrote it.

In the past I've paid little or no attention to the time on my posts, frankly I wish I could make it go away (another thing to peeve about), as I don't really believe in time in the first place. Going forward, however, I'll have to make more of an effort to ensure it is at least relatively accurate, so as not to confuse the reader. I believe I've done a respectable job of making sure the dates were right, and looking back a few posts, it looks like posting times are fairly accurate, to the best of my recollection, but I digress...

Perceptive readers will note updates to the sidebar, and the really perceptive ones will note I now have a Gmail address instead of the old yahoo one. I also have 4 Gmail invites for the first 4 really perceptive readers to email me at the new address. I hope to work on categorizing my links under clickable, expandable headers over my Christmas break, if there be any time for it.

If I published this post as it currently stands, it would say I wrote it at 5:29pm today. Foolish Blogger.


First snow

Today was church in the morning, then the youth group's Christmas party. I accompanied the carols with my harmonica, it may have been half decent. A gift exchange was completed with much yelling and shouting. Then I took a couple of the guys up to see Jean Luc - the kid who dislocated his knee a few weeks ago at Young Life camp - he's still laid up and looks like he'll have surgery next week. Lots of getting my butt kicked by teenagers at Halo 2. I played respectably, thanks to my regular practice with Soldier of Fortune 2, I have the basics of watching your radar and playing corners smart, not forgetting to utilize my grenades, etc.. X-box controls are so vastly different from a keyboard and mouse, though, that I didn't stand a chance in my rookie performance.

I went underground at 72nd and came up inside of Port Authority, and when the bus doors finally opened in Hoboken, there was white stuff on the ground.

This is, hands down, my favorite day of the year. Always is, every year. Most years (in the past 5) it happens while I'm at work, so I was particularly joyful and thankful that it happened today, allowing me time to enjoy it. My second favorite day is, of course, the first day I hear my heel click into the binding, but this is far and away the first.

Its a bittersweet day, in its own way, as most truly wonderful things are. Your inner spirit, full of such joy - your cup running over, whispers in the background that your excess should be shared with others. A great painting, or piece of music, a perfect glass of wine, or a day spent sailing - all wonderful things in their own right, but most fully experienced in communion. I haven't met many people in my life who understand my exuberance in this occurrence, which seems so commonplace to most folk, I suppose.

A long walk to the point tonight to just survey the city and feel the cold. Wind, ice, and a white dusting for the world. What's better than snow? God thought the concept up before time even began, just to make me happy. Even the numbness in my face gives me hope of things to come. A little more than 6 days from now, I will, Lord willing, experience my second favorite day of the year, home in Tahoe, with my brother.

This has been a good year and God has, by grace, done a lot in and for me, and I am thankful for all of it, and not thankful enough. I've quoted Steinbeck before, but it still rings true:

Do you realize that I am twenty-six now? I don't. I don't feel twenty-six and I don't look that old, and I have done nothing to justify my years. Yet I don't regret the years. I have enjoyed them after a fashion. My sufferings have not been great nor have my pleasures been violent.

I have no complaints tonight, nor should I ever. I am at peace in a good, pleasing, and perfect plan.

All good things lie in the vision of God as all rivers come from and are in the ocean. Why are your emotions and minds unsatisfied by all the things you see here? Just as you bring a great ship into a narrow channel and she cannot sail, but runs aground, yet if you give her a sea room and depth she runs like the wind—so here! All that delights you on earth, all the comforts we have here are like droplets, inflaming and not satisfying the appetites of the soul. But the lamb will lead you to fountains of living water. – John Flavel


So far so good

Saturday hasn't killed me yet. I may just survive.

By 3am this morning it was pretty clear that I was right all along about today. I decided total avoidance was the best bet - no office, no social engagements, just avoidance. Went for a ridiculously long run up towards the GW, walking tomorrow should be fairly painful. This afternoon was laundry and waving my terrible towel as the Steelers became the first team to win 12 straight games this season. The last two teams that won 12 straight games in a season were the Patriots (last year) and the Broncos (1998). Both teams went on to win the Super Bowl.

Right now I'm avoiding writing up my lesson for tomorrow. Its not going to be a long one, that's for sure.

Got the blues, real bad. Ain't been this bad since Oakdale, one of you might remember that. Heck, I can draw again. And play harmonica. If my fingers were healthy, I'd be playing guitar like Hendrix, no doubt. Yes, I know, Hendrix didn't play the blues, exactly.

I think maybe I didn't communicate what a great thing the blues can be when I last wrote about them. They're not all ice cream and puppy dogs, mind you, they are the blues. But they bring so much with them. I've only ever been at my most creative when I've been blue. Its the only time I've ever been able to draw anything worth nodding at, and my ability to do anything musical increases tenfold.

My sister wants me to start sculpting again, even has a venue she wants to place some of my pieces in. Sometimes I wish I could get everything I did together in one room, just to get some pictures, remember some of the inspirations. Who knows, maybe I will.

The one thing that the blues obviously are not positively affecting are my abilities to write. I haven't been reading nearly enough in the past few years to be writing at a decent level right now - if there's one thing I've determined about some of the best writers - its that they all seem to be very well read. Makes sense. I've been working too damn much. Thanks to my new perspective on that, combined with my hand problems (and the associated inability to go to the gym), I've been finding a lot more evening time to read. I just wish I could remember more of what I do read.


Lust (and Santa Claus)

You have heard that it was said to those of old, "You shall not commit adultery." But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

In the entire sermon on the mount, that's about all Jesus had to say about lust. The verses that follow give some tough guidance on how to respond to your lustful human nature, but this is the core of it.

Matthew 5:27-30 was the subject of last Sunday's high school lesson. I touched on how, as if it weren't already hard enough to remain chaste, Jesus walks in and announces that anyone who even thinks lustfully has sinned. And we, being sexual creatures, find it nigh on impossible to get through a single day without a lustful thought of some nature. But the heart of this teaching isn't actually about lust. Its about love.

Christ is showing us here that our tendency to lust after others actually is proof positive of our complete misunderstanding of love. Society's general understanding of love is one that simply turns other people into objects for us to desire, which, at the end of the day, is actually lust.

And the focus of lust is the self.

Lust is an interesting (deceptive) sin in that the focus of lust isn't what you would be first led to notice. We generally think of the object of the lust - that's the problem after all...Why if it hadn't come along, I never would have thought to lust for it. But lust is, in fact, a sin of complete selfishness. It really has very little to do with anyone else but you, because it objectifies another person and thereby eliminates their person-hood - makes you the only person in the picture. It looks to see how the self can benefit from or exploit them as the object of desire. Gratification of the self is the end goal. The object of the lust is simply a vehicle.

Love, in truth, is the opposite of this - it lays down its life, puts its own desires to death, realizes that we are not here for ourselves, and sees others as children of God.

Christ is implicitly teaching us in this verse - not just setting up a rule or law that we should avoid breaking - but setting a standard that we should seek to go above and beyond. We are challenged to totally change the way we think about others, from the ground up.

Right. And this has, what, exactly, to do with Santa Claus? Find out here.


Things to click on

Some Thursday evenin' linkery...

First off, if you haven't heard, cell phone numbers are now game for telemarketing. Register yours here to avoid them.

Need to get married? Fast? Blaire has about 15 days left at this point.

This job predictor is dead on accurate, as far as I can tell.

I think I've linked to this before, because I think I wrote about what my amendments to the rules would include, however the rules of shotgun are pretty dead on, notwithstanding.

General Tso, a "man before his dish." I no longer feel ignorant. I can now order with an air of erudition.

Urban Dictionary. Cool.

At least one tip to diztopia, a new (to me) blog I've been reading with a large grain of salt.

Its already Thursday. Tomorrow is a LONG day filled with way too many appointments for a Friday, but I'm still a bit behind in the new market. Which, I found out today, may, or may not, include dogs. Yes, there was a dog in one of the showrooms. It did not have a bikini on.

Saturday is going to be a bad day, I don't know why yet. About two weeks ago I started dreading this Saturday, in particular. I've cancelled on most of the things that came up: helping some friends move, a brunch, a movie invite, an invite to go duck hunting in Arkansas (really), my plans to complete my photo essay, delivering Angel Tree toys here in Hoboken, and my hopes of going to see Unsilent Night, to name a few. I may do some of them (not the hunting), but no commitments. For starters, I may have mentioned that Friday is planned to be long, so I'm going to need at least some time on Saturday to prepare Sunday's lesson. And some time for the normal clean up of the mess I've made during the week. And this is all assuming I don't feel compelled to head into the office for the 3rd or 4th Saturday in a row, I'm not sure which. I'm just not looking forward to it. At least the Cooke's Christmas Spectacular is Saturday night. I have that to look forward to.

Sunday is church, high school group, then we join the junior high group for the Christmas party, in the church offices. And then we write.

Tonight is drawing. Then a pizza.

(is it not just sheer irony that Blogger's spell checker doesn't know what the word "blog" is? that and other rants on my Blogger's complaints blog, I'm trying to start, here)



of the sculptures on display that I've made a first effort to photo-document. I've only got the first few at this point, I hope to get the rest and then present a decent album. Who knows when.



So I've realized that I don't take any pride in my work, whatsoever. This is both good and bad.

I've been learning about pride for many years. Lewis called it the complete anti-God state of mind, spiritual cancer (in his chapter entitled "The Great Sin").

The real black, diabolical Pride comes when you look down on others so much that you do not care what they think of you. Of course, it is very right, and often our duty, not to care what people think of us, if we do so for the right reason; namely, because we care so incomparably more what God thinks.

I think perhaps that one of the truly horrible things about pride is that the more you are aware of it, the more conscious you become of its ultimately destructive work, the more likely you are to be prone to it, if only for the fact that you know what they don't. "To whom much is given..."

The Bible certainly doesn't have anything positive to say about pride. Don't take my word for it, to quote the host of Reading Rainbow.

But at the same time I feel I should have some sense of dignified satisfaction at the end of the day. Not that I should walk out with my head higher than some guy selling newspapers on the street - but rather that I should have the same attitude as if I were him, or anyone else.

If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, "Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well." - MLK, Jr.

If I've come in, and worked hard, and have done a good job, I should feel that, right?

I don't feel it. I don't know that I ever have. There've been a few times when I knew I really kicked some ass, but there've been innumerably more times I kicked something else (the wall, the desk, the file cabinet, etc). I just don't have it. I need to find something that gives me that.

And I don't think that's pride, at the end of the day. I think that's fulfillment. That's what I want to hold my head up. Satisfaction. Not arrogance.

Those who imagine they can attain to holiness by any wisdom or strength of their own will find themselves after many labours, and struggles, and weary efforts, only the farther from possessing it, and this in proportion to their certainty that they of themselves have gained it. – John of Avila

(good weekend. fast, but good. i think i spoke to at least saturday at this point, sunday was church, high school group, youth leaders meeting/fellowship, saw Ocean's 12 with J-lo, Kat, and AP, then back to the 'boken for a few or more beers with old SNF crew. MNF is currently in progress and although i am in the running to win my pool this week, i'm being good and staying home and writing.)


First time for everything

I'm blogging from the counter of a bead and fabric store on 6th Ave between 37th and 38th. They have computers here set to the homepage for the store, so you can search the shelves around you right from the computer. So I figured while I wait, I'd write.

I'm holding a roll of fabric that cost Brec $521. Crazy. Its a piece of cloth. Anyway, apparently half a grand's worth isn't enough, so she's shopping for more with Grace and Anna. They came up to the city to shop for her wedding dress stuff, and we're going to get lunch at one of my favorite burger joints in the city. Then, if it looks like there will be enough light, I'm going to conduct the first phase of my photo-essayical journey to


Unfortunately that's the point at which the store clerk realized I wasn't browsing for beads on their website. No worries, the girls were about done shopping. Walked uptown for lunch. I hit the first 20 blocks or so of Otterness' sculptures display, along Broadway on the UWS. Got some decent pictures, enough to start working with, at least.

Back to Hoboken, work on the lesson, head over to Jeremy and Joel's Christmas Bash. Good times, nice to see everyone. I haven't been getting to the Hoboken service as often as I used to lately, due in part to my lengthened schedule with church in the city.

We're starting our series on Moral Boundaries in the high school group (we've finished Authentic Faith and Spiritual Disciplines, most recently) - which should raise plenty of interesting talk, the most interesting being tomorrow's. So I need to spend a bit more time getting comfortable on that tonight.

Giving these talks has been interesting. Its hard to present the subject manner in a really personal way, sometimes, because, well, hey, I'm not the perfect person. You get a real feeling for why the NT writers called leaders to a higher standard. Spiritual disciplines was a great example - I had some great material to give on prayer, but mine's been the last prayer life to point to as an example. Yeah, I've had some growth this year, but only because up was the only direction it could go.

I've been feeling something today that I can't remember feeling in months - actual sleepiness. Not just tired - I feel that a lot, but droopy-eyelid tired. What a great feeling. Hopefully it won't last too long, I've been getting a good amount of stuff done lately in my spare hours.



I have more than a couple posts I haven't published...they're just sitting out there. Some of my recent posts probably shouldn't have been published in the first place, but hey...there they are. Still need to put an update on the attitude post. Guess I'll have to postpone that til the morning, I'm in no state now.

Poker was earlier this evening. Boy I needed that. Thought about it all day, just waiting for pizza and beers and football in the background while cards were dealt. Thanks to Joel and Darrin I laughed harder this evening than I have in months. Suffice to say I left with more money than I came with. I played one hand wrong. One hand. Didn't get a lot of good hands, but I played well. Pretty good night.

I'm getting more and more affirmation on my writing, which is making me both encouraged and skeptical at the same time...I think instead I just need a job with a gun.



I've been a bad blogger lately. Haven't really made the time to work on decent blog posts, so I've been cheating with quotes and whatnot. When I have tried, I haven't gotten out exactly what I meant, and my recent post on attitude is proof positive of that. I'm going to put some update on to that post when I'm done with this one, time permitting.

Funny the ways we talk about time. Most times we don't have nearly enough, and often you'll be out of time, but sometimes we have plenty. Sometimes we have to make it, and often we feel like we've lost it. You can borrow other peoples' time but you can't really keep it for yourself.

Anyway, yeah I've been busy with things, and I can hear the waambulance coming in the distance. Whatever. The norm. I haven't had nearly as much time on my hands (ah, there we go again) as I did a few months ago when I had things down pat in my old area. I'm convinced I will never again have such time, as long as I'm in this area, because things are basically a total disaster no-longer-waiting-to-happen here. I've got that nervous-escapism feeling pulling at me...

So...where are things? Over the past couple weeks since Turkey time, I...got ridiculously behind here at work...made a big presentation to my SVP that actually went half-decent, did a focus group on VOIP, got invited to go duck hunting in Arkansas by one of my vendors (had to decline, but maybe bow hunting for deer in NJ?)...

Did an Angel Tree day (buying/prepping presents for kids who's parents are incarcerated) with the youth group kids last Saturday, that being sandwiched in between time at the office, then helped big C get the Christmas tree - its a big one. Sunday was church, youth group, meeting with Jenny and Greg, then home to work on my blues. That evening was a going away party for a couple and their new son who are moving south to find a real place to raise a child. This week has been just about as crazy as last, although I'm being demeaned slightly less here at work as I've chosen to simply not communicate with certain individuals. Monday night was MCM, last night was HFG, and presto, here we are.

Cool stuff I've seen lately (because hey, I just sit around looking for this stuff, after all):

- A good article about a totally awesome idea.

- Snow cam from Whistler, I'm not going until March but I already find myself checking it on occasion.

- I've linked it before, but Tom's exhibition is still up on Broadway, although I read it was supposed to go down in November. I hope to see it this Sat.

- NY/NJ apparently don't get the idea of a good, ol' fashion ski swap, but at least they have a giant freakin sale - George and I hope to go and salivate Saturday morn. Also, I sent this to Charlie at MUG and he actually used it. And he tipped Kari Jo Cates from church this week. Not entirely a bad fellow.

- Sponsor a soldier. Cool idea.

- Neat spot to help you find your not too obscure quotation.

- Jeremy and Joel's (and now you can effectively add Sara, Andrew, Jenn, Matt, Marcy, and Becky to the list) X-mas party invite, which is also a game. Currently I am atop the leader's board, although I expect significant challenges before the party actually commences and awards are handed out.


George Herbert

The shepherds sing; and shall I silent be?
My God, no hymn for Thee?
My soul’s a shepherd too; a flock it feeds
Of thoughts, and words, and deeds.
The pasture is Thy word: the streams, Thy grace
Enriching all the place.
Shepherd and flock shall sing, and all my powers
Outsing the daylight hours.
Then will we chide the sun for letting night
Take up his place and right:
We sing one common Lord; wherefore he should
Himself the candle hold.
I will go searching, till I find a sun
Shall stay, till we have done;
A willing shiner, that shall shine as gladly,
As frost-nipped suns look sadly.
Then will we sing, and shine all our own day,
And one another pay:
His beams shall cheer my breast, and both so twine,
Till ev’n His beams sing, and my music shine.
– Christmas (II)



The SVP for my division at work has been toting a quote with us lately, trying to use it as inspiration. I'm going way, way out on a limb here to comment on it, but its Sunday night, I'm on my own time, and, well, shoot, it needs to be said.

Its a Chuck (Charles) Swindoll quote, and she always prefaces it with something to the effect that "she thinks he's a motivational speaker..." etc.. She keeps it on her desk and had it printed up for all of us. I didn't put it on my desk. Funny thing is that I'm probably the only one of the 100+ people working for her who actually knows who Swindoll is. Here's the quote:

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company ... a church ... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude ... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you ... we are in charge of our Attitudes.

I may be relying a little to heavily on my far-too-faulty memory, but I'm pretty sure her quote was edited to not include "...a church ... a home." Makes sense, using it in a business sense, but it kind of betrays a bit of who Chuck is and what the quote is really aimed at.

But Chuck's aim, if I may be so bold, was a bit off in the first place. At the end of the day, its just another one of those warm fuzzies that really doesn't do you a lot of good because, while on the surface it may seem to make sense, if you drill it down, you realize its ludicrous.

In reality, we as humans are much more a product of what happens to us, what is done to us, what we experience, than we are of our own choices. To suppose otherwise is a rather recent, western, individualistic, and poignantly prideful point of view. In fact, we are much more the product of the relationships we have had and the models we have seen - the things that people have done to us, the ways we have been treated. We were not created to be solitary beings, we were created relational. There's no way to get around that.

An anxious heart weighs a man down,
but a kind word cheers him up.
-- Proverbs 12:25

An easy verse to trivialize. Often all we need is love. We need the touch of kindness.

What we don't need is some stoic resolve that shrugs off the world and determines to maintain a level attitude regardless of how we are treated. That's not just brash, its practically inhuman. It can't be done.

There is nothing wrong with reacting to the ways in which life treats you, but your reaction is not 90% of the picture. To so over-value attitude leads quickly to a gross misunderstanding. Let the reader understand that I in no way am trying to make excuse for inappropriate reaction to poor treatment, or shrug off the responsibilities of grace and mercy that we bear. Yet, in exercising these duties, we must not always expect that our attitude will remain completely within our control.

Even in laughter the heart is sad,
and the end of joy is grief.
-- Proverbs 14:13

"Since humans die, joy inevitably ends in grief. The party always ends, all relationships of love die and cease. Some member of a family will see every other one around the dining room table die."

Everything we want in this life will eventually be taken away from us in death. And I'm supposed to rely on my attitude to get me past that?

Our inner spirit is so much more complex than the "attitude" position allows for. The various world views will tell us that our problems are physical, or emotional, or relational, or existential, or moral...but these all reduce the complexity to one simple facet. We can't do that. As Hamlet said to Horatio, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Each heart knows its own bitterness,
and no one else can share its joy.
--Proverbs 14:10

We are alone. No one will ever fully understand us. We can't even ever hope to fully understand our own selves. Because our most fundamental relationship has been damaged, we cannot, in this life, experience a complete joy. We know that something is missing.

Attitude isn't the answer.



OK a couple random things.

Yesterday I did a focus group for VOIP (if you don't know what it is, look it up), which was cool. They basically surveyed how I would normally respond to the product, purchasing and installing it. I ripped Best Buy's customer service a few new holes...they had it coming.

I am one of the few that subscribe to the notion that basically everything in our lives should be computerized (call me Borg, if you must). When I wake up in the morning, it shouldn't be my alarm clock, it should be my computer waking me up, in a soothing, motherly, "its time to get up" voice. The water should be turned on in the shower to my optimal temperature, and when I get out of the shower, the bathroom fan should switch off, and I should hear the sound of NPR in the background as I begin to shave. My bedroom fan should switch off after I've finished sitting on the bed to put my shoes on, and as I'm leaving the house, the radio shuts down, the alarm arms itself, and the computer wishes me a nice day. When I get home at night, the alarm de-arms, the computer tells the phone to stop forwarding home calls to my cell phone, and the heat/ac re-acclimates the house to my preferred conditions. The computer asks me how my day was, reminds me of the 2 bills I need to pay and the memo I phoned home to remind myself to blog about later, and then asks me if I'd like to have dinner ordered out.

Point is, there are a ton of ancillary technological devices in my home that should either be a) eliminated or b) synched with my computer to become one with the home experience. So I welcome VOIP with open arms (and I seek to put Best Buy at the bottom of a river at the same time - see HC's comments on the recent WSJ article that outlined their seemingly ridiculous new consumer strategy, here).

Met a gal from Venezuela on the commute back to the 'boken from the focus group. Her contract with EOC (the gas company) comes up on the 15th of this month, and she doesn't really know what she's going to do for work. She seemed incredibly articulate, albeit having a (very) slight lack of fluidity with the English language. Said she had an undergrad and an MBA from her studies back home. Mentioned how much foreign countries don't really give those due credit in the job interviewing process.

I couldn't help feeling bad for this girl. Not only was she really looking for someone just interested in talking with her (I had originally asked her when the train came, we ended up talking about our siblings by the time we were on the train), but she was noticeably brilliant, and held back by the fact that she was foreign. When she found out that I worked for Macy's, she told me she was thinking about applying for a sales job on a store floor. Just from our brief conversation I could tell that she could easily manage a planning division in our company.


I think this is fairly conclusive proof that we're rapidly approaching the Terminator scenario.



There's a feeling I can get when I'm skiing that I've never felt anywhere else in my life, ever. Its been roughly 255 days since I last felt it, and at this point I'm practically getting the shakes to feel it again. I need snow, and I need air.