Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fair Warning!

In case it's not blatantly obvious, I haven't been maintaining this blog. It is my plan to pick it back up again in the future, albeit with less egocentrism. For now, please enjoy looking at the old stones, and excuse the dust.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Brief Summary of Christianity and Other World Religions, Told in Simple Allegory

Right after school started at 8:00, everyone was given the following letter:

Hi everyone!
It’s me, your Dad. I love you all! I enjoyed our time together before you went to school this morning. I’ll be there in a little while to pick you up; in the meantime, I’ve given Jacob a list of simple rules and chores.
Jacob, you will be responsible for helping to keep things in order until mid-morning when the Teacher gets there. Everyone else, listen to Jacob, because he’s in charge – not yourselves or the others in the neighborhood!
About mid-morning, the Teacher will teach for a little while, and Jacob will (begrudgingly, I’m sure) relinquish his responsibility. After that, why don’t you all just enjoy one another’s company and wait for me to get back? Stay at the playground and make sure to be fair to each other. I am pleased with the Teacher, so follow His example. Remember, don’t talk to strangers! I will be there sometime before 12:00; be ready.

Love always, Your Father.

P.S. We’re gonna have a lot of fun when we get home!
P.P.S. Those of you who cause trouble or who aren’t ready are going to miss out; be ready! And those of you who disobey are going into time-out – you know better!


Here’s how everyone responded:

• Jacob, in his excitement, and the Jews stopped reading after the second paragraph. This created a rift with everyone else, especially the Teacher.
• One of Father’s casual acquaintances interrupted the Muslims after the first paragraph; they didn’t read the rest of the letter. Anyone who had followed Jacob, past or present, got on their bad side, and they chose the stranger for their teacher.
• The Catholics systemized everything on the playground, and pushed many of the others away, especially by deciding some were more favored by Father than others were.
• The Anglicans and Episcopalians split off from the Catholics, but ended up doing things pretty much the same stuff.
• The Baptists and Methodists argued with one another the whole time about whether or not Father was using military time, but otherwise just hung out and avoided the Catholics.
• The Amish, Mennonites, Quakers, and a few others, didn’t want to enjoy the others’ company and sometimes were beaten up. They mimicked the Teacher, but sometimes forgot the letter itself.
• The Calvinists and Presbyterians were bored and napped until 11:59.
• The Seventh-Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses are pretty sure it’s 12:00 right now.
• The Latter-Day Saints found another letter that seemed to be from Father, and started doing things a little differently, especially since one of them seemed to have Father on the phone.
• The agnostics decided there was no way to know that the letter was from Father.
• The atheists decided that the letter wasn’t real and that school would simply stop after 12:00, with nothing after it.
• The evangelists ran around with the letter, picking it apart and yelling about 12:00. They meant well.
• The New Age-ers thought they’d gotten this letter before.
• The 3rd World tribes and other isolated folk had to be taught how to read the letter; then they’d often go join one of the other groups.
• The Satanists and Wiccans decided that everyone was in charge. They broke lots of rules.
• The Scientologists got so imaginative they convinced themselves Father was an alien.
• The Hindi, Buddhists, Taoists, and many others went off and played with strangers.
• The littlest children played well, learned a lot from the Teacher, and had innocent fun until Father came to get them.

[Exposition: From “the beginning” until 6:00am, God created everything but man. From 6:00 to 8:00 He creates and spends time with man before the Fall. The letter represents the Bible. The first paragraph is the Torah. The second paragraph completes the Old Testament. The third paragraph is the New Testament; the Teacher is Jesus Christ. “12:00” represents the Second Coming. The post scripts are the Book of Revelations. The bullet-point analyses are simplified analogies of how various groups interpret “the letter”; many are tongue-in-cheek and meant to be somewhat humorous. The final bullet point is the only group that followed the Letter exactly (Matthew 18:3).]

Sunday, May 1, 2011

You make me sick?

I'm going to now write about something that I've only shared with a handful of people in my life. Chances are you'll think I'm full of crap. Or simply not understand. Or think I'm vying for attention. Or, most likely, you'll not even read it, so it won't matter anyway. Regardless, I want to talk about it, so there!
For as long as I can remember, at least as far back as elementary school, I have struggled sometimes with being around too many people. And by struggled, I mean that it can cause me anything from a massive headache, to anxiety attacks, to even physically becoming sick and throwing up. I remember even at my birthday parties in elementary school, some of which had 30-ish kids running around, suddenly getting nauseous and running outside to puke. In high school band, we'd occasionally have field trips to huge competitions with tons of people, or visits to big theme parks like Six Flags or Disney; at some point I'd get a terrible headache and/or sick to my stomach. The local fair has always been one of the worst experiences with it; I have refused to go since middle school. Big shopping days, like the day after Thanksgiving, do it to me; I remember once or twice at a teen going shopping with the family and eventually ending up incapacities; most of the time, I'd buy a book or some drawing paper and go wait in the van. Much of the visiting Wal-Mart does it to me regardless of whether there's a special shopping day involved; I usually just wait until late at night if I have to go there. I remember it happening at the few parties I attended, school dances, or clubs. Even at family get-togethers, like Christmas or Thanksgiving, I've had it - I'll just be visiting, then the headache will hit; I'll try to withdraw until, at some point, I finally have to go puke my guts out and lay down. Obviously, in all of these cases, it makes feel guilty and makes the others involved feel awkward or downright offended. When I go to events with more than just a few people anymore, I simply sit and attempt to control myself - I'll pray, or focus on the TV, read, or even meditate. That way I can make the social appearance and hopefully not get sick.
I've researched it a lot. The most obvious prognosis is that the problem is somewhat psychosomatic. For instance, let's say that, in general, I have a problem with confidence, or perhaps a problem with social environments; so, as a defense mechanism, my body creates these physical issues to give me reason to excuse myself from the situation. The problem with that is that, with friends and family, I don't believe that I -have- a social personality disorder or confidence. At parties, band trips, and family get-togethers I truly -want- to participate! Of course, one could argue that my wanting to be there is a conscious social device, but that subconsciously I would rather not be there, so the psychosomatic idea remains validated.
Another prognosis could simply be anxiety in general; within the last year, I've been diagnosed with anxiety issues potentially stemming back into my youth. There's certainly no question that it manifest itself occasionally the eight years I was general manager for Papa John's. Anxiety attacks are known to cause headaches and nausea, among other things. Once again, it seems that it would have to be some subconscious issue, though, because in -most- of the above circumstances, I -want- to be there! My anxiety episodes which I have consciously recognized have often been related to organization problems, being late, feeling inadequate, etc. But never around my friends and family! So again, it's possible that that's the issue, but it still doesn't sit right with me. I can't recall, as a musician who's played countless weddings and luncheons, numerous solo performances and rock band performances, school band solos (not to mention that I was the only synth player in the school band, making me stick out pretty easily), and piano recitals, ever having had the anxiety, headaches, or nausea; if anything, I'd have the typical butterflies and sweaty palms that everyone experiences at some point. Heck, I even commandeered (more like my friend Gary commandeered for me) the piano bar one night on a Caribbean cruise ship, playing for over an hour for the dinner crowd, packing the entire room, and taking requests!
So, when viewing the previous couple of potential prognoses, it doesn't really add up.
Then, there's the "new age" concept that I read about once that might truly explain it; I'll save that for tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Home PC Maintenance for the OCD

Do you ever feel like you organize your way into disorganization? That’s how I’ve been all my life. I spend so much time planning, decluttering, organizing, re-organizing, etc., that what I really end up with is a big mess.

“It’s my mess, and I like it'” – From an old poster I had on the wall when I was a kid.

Well, my digital life is the same way. My music has to be properly sorted into folders by artist, then album; MP3 tags must be correct. My photos and pictures must be sorted – if it’s art, it’s sorted by artist; if it’s a personal photograph, it’s sorted by person or subject-matter. Funny stuff, icons, wallpapers, astronomy pics and art, video game screenshots – they all get their own folders and sub-folders.

My documents are all specifically sorted – stuff for my books, stuff for school, stuff for music writing, IT stuff – again, all with folders & subfolders.

As a technology enthusiast, I accumulate a lot of software; I like trying freeware for various needs, and have quite a collection of portable software that I use for troubleshooting others’ PCs. These, too, are all sorted by use. To make matters worse, I can’t stand having out-of-date software or hardware drivers, so once a month I go through all of it and update it where necessary. There are a handful of useful programs out there to help with the endeavor, such as SUMo, but many of the more obscure programs I have simply require manually checking. Sigh.

Luckily, there are –some- methods out there to help me keep my digital life organized. I’ll be going into some detail with those in upcoming posts.

Speaking of keeping things working…. Do you have a Wii? Or, for that matter, do you have kids? If so, doubtless you’ve run into situations where you wish your TV didn’t seem quite so likely to be ruined by a throw Wii-mote. Enter TvScreenProtector! For the price, these vinyl screen protectors may not be worth it for your 15-year-old 19” clunky box television. BUT if you’ve forked out some serious cash for a nice HD flat-screen or the like, the TvScreenProtector could add some serious peace-of-mind to those moms (and dads!) out there when the kids are playing near your TV. Check ‘em out!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tired All Day

What the heck? It’s like I haven’t been able to wake up today. Full moon? I don’t know.

Unfortunately, that also means I don’t really have much to say. Enjoy the babble-fest.

In tech news, one of my brand new sticks of RAM kicked the bucket yesterday. Just came home, and it had stopped working. Hopefully I’ll b able to return it for a new one tomorrow; we’ll see. I’m also considering trying to sell my motherboard for a higher-end one….

Tomorrow morning I begin my life as an hourly (un-salaried) employee, a fact for which I’m incredibly excited. I’m still working five-day week, at my suggestion, but at nearly half the hours I’ve worked the past eight years. Bethany and I are going to try to accelerate our moving plans because electricity is about 1/5 the cost in the city versus what we’re paying in the county here. $400 electric bills? Financial rape – not to be rude, but seriously!

We’ll probably be getting the new van tomorrow, unless negotiations fall through, or the loan we’re offered doesn’t make sense. I hope we do, because it’s the best we’ve found in two months.

I have lots of stuff to go through at home and digitally to collect all the PJ’s stuff in my possession to gift to the new GM. Maybe I’ll get to it Monday or Tuesday; I was going to try to do that today, but, as I said, I have no energy! More than likely I’ll go read some of The Dragon Reborn for a little while and then go to bed early. I finished the Book of Hebrews last night, so I think I’m going to go back to an Old Testament book… maybe Numbers. Leviticus ended up being less tough to read than I’d imagined; may the Holy Spirit be with me so that Numbers reads as easily.

This is going to sound incredibly materialistic, but I’d really like a Windows Phone. I have a low-end Blackberry, which is just nice enough to lure me into the convenience factors of smart phones. But I use Windows for everything, particularly MS Office, that having a phone that synced well with the PC would be rockin’. But we currently use a pre-paid plan through Boost, and a contract phone is truly out of the question right now; unfortunately, Windows Phones seem to be exclusive to contracts. Boo.

I’m looking forward to delivering tomorrow. I’ve always enjoyed that; I think everyone in the country should have either mandatory military service, EMS service, or pizza delivery service for at least six months before being given the right to vote. Delivery drivers are the most qualified sociologists I’ve ever known. I think I argued this point a few years back on my MySpace blog (yeah, back when people used MySpace); perhaps I’ll resurrect it just to post on the blog here.

I figured out how to do some very amateur recording on the PC today. Recorded a new song idea that came to me, which was a cool way to get the idea down. Most of the time it involves napkins. Or recording Voice Notes on my Blackberry. Trust me, it’s not good enough to post online, but it’s a step in that direction; I’ve promised for a few years now that I’d eventually put some music on the ‘Net – I like to think that it will be very soon now that I’ll just be able to record myself singing and playing live, and then upload the video wherever for sharing.

Now what to do with my hair?

Only 150 words to go! Does it count if part of writing my daily words is wasted writing about writing my words? I’m counting it, so there.

I talked with my friend Kim for a little while yesterday, which was nice because we’ve not had a chance to talk in a long time. She’s kind of my spiritual twin, if you will, so it did me good to catch up with her. Texted with Jeremy a little early today about Lent and it’s history. I’ll not go into the details, because people can be touchier about the particulars of faith than they are about whether to have faith at all!

I really want to watch Stargate: SG1 from the beginning again; I never even watched the last couple of seasons. And Star Trek: TNG also. Man, I loved those shows. But yet, look at what we get to keep instead: American Idol & Survivor. Whoop-di-doo.

See? Aren’t you glad you read this? :P

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Choice

Okay, so this will probably come across as more cynical than anything I’ve talked about in awhile, but, hey, it’s my blog.

[as an unrelated preamble, by the way, today officially ended my life of general manager-ship, and began my “new” life of renewed focus. Yay!]

I have an expositor’s Bible of which I’m very fond. A recurring theme in the Bible, which is pointed out frequently by the expositor, it’s God’s degree of respect for our free will. I mean, it’s pretty much the theme of faith and the Cross – choose to believe, or don’t. Either way, He won’t force you.

Actually, though, I’m not writing right now to really talk about religion in that sense, except to say that, other than life itself, and Jesus Christ, the gift of free will is perhaps our greatest gift from God. And, in my experience, it is one of the most wasted.

Think about it; the public’s inability to make informed decisions is a multi-trillion-bajillion dollar industry; it’s the basis for advertising. People just don’t have the time/money/brain-power to do the research for choosing what they want to buy, so they expect retailers to tell them. I run into this all of the time at the store – rather than be given the choice, for instance, of toppings on a pizza, many folks will simply say “just put something good on there.” Now wait a minute! Isn’t that subjective? What if my concept of “good” were spinach alfredo, anchovies, jalapeƱos, pineapple, & parmesan cheese? Or how about the ones who ask you to name every freaking topping, only to sigh (because they hate making decisions – choice!) and say, “pepperoni, I guess.” You mean I listed 20-plus topping from memory so you could order a pepperoni pizza? Wow. But you know what? Our most popular specials over the years have been the ones in which we tell the customers exactly what to order. How about a large with the Works for $xx.xx? Or the current promo, a large of our new (this makes them think it’s their idea) Hearty Italian Meats pizza for only $11? Hey, they’re good pizzas – that’s not my point; the point is that those strategies are successful because people prefer these to having to choose what they want!

Consider voting. Leaving the politics and names out, let’s just use some rational thought here. Does it truly make sense to elect someone whose name you only know through movies or television? Governors and a President have been elected this way. Does it make sense to elect someone with almost no experience in public office, nor military, to the highest ranking position in our country? The point is, people vote for who they’re told to vote for. Granted, the “advertisers” are at odds, so folks think they are choosing simply because there may be more than one party or candidate being advertised, but it’s all mindless drivel in the end.

Music? This one has frustrated me long before I cared about economics or politics (not that I really care for them much even now; they’re mostly just infuriating – I digress…). Look, and listen, to who is making the most money in the music business! Repeated samples, washed out chord progressions, etc. etc. etc.! Where’s the talent?

But if asked someone, “hey, would like to hear some ripped off electronic recycled noise for the next four minutes fronted by someone with no talent, who may or may not be attractive?” The answer would probably be an expletive-laden “no.” But any musician will tell you that the bulk of the money in the music industry is going to those very no-talent individuals. So if we value our choice not to listen to “fake music” so much, then who’s listening? Who’s buying?

But if you were to ask these same folks if they wanted their choice taken away, or tell them that the world makes their choices for them, they would argue, and tell you that they are the exceptions.

I could probably extend this rant to include other avenues of stupidity that pervade our “modern” society without stretching, but I went into this with a theme, so I’ll end on it. When you buy something, when you listen to music, support a cause, or spend time in a Flash game on the Web, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Because it’s there, in front of you, in a commercial, endorsed by rich/famous person, on the the nightly news, on the radio, one click away?

And then ask yourself if you’re ignoring God’s greatest gift, or choosing to ignore it.