Archive for the ‘life’ Category

A co-worker at my job passed his CCNA to celebrate, we went out to the Cosmopolitan Hotel and eventually the strange and fun club that is Rose Rabbit Lie.

My evening started with my first video poker experience at the Cosmopolitan Casino bar. For those of you who don’t know what video poker is, it is kind of like an arcade game. For those of who don’t know what an arcade is, google it or watch TRON. The game is simple: you slip in a twenty dollar bill to the arcade game console, and then an intense graphical display worthy of Windows 95 pops up. Cards come up with numbers on them, and then you press buttons. These cards are important because you get more credits, or less credits, based on nothing other than probability. The people I was with were visibly excited about the cards. This was the game I played -not exactly something to go to Blizzcon for. I will never fully understand gambling, but I do understand getting a thirteen dollar drink for the price of money lost to video poker.

After our first round of drinks, we headed down the doors of Rose Rabbit Lie. Naturally, we went there because we had a hook up. Too bad our hook up was not there. Neither did our hook up leave a note. We all looked to the member of our party who was connected to the hook up, but whose promise was beginning to evaporate like the ice droplets off of our glasses. Thankfully, the door man let us in as he made a few calls.  Lesson learned? It might be possible to social hack one’s way into Rose Rabbit Lie on a Thursday night.

Rose Rabbit Lie itself could best summed up as a mash of up Lewis Carrol, Tim Burton, and your musical theater friends from school.  The performances included a Piff the Magic Dragon, a beat boxer, twin tap dancers, a whimsically creepy maid, and a fit acrobat  dancing inside a suspended, transparent sphere. My favorite part involved the Chihuahua and the cartoon cannon. It was Looney Toons came to life.

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Come on, you knew both of them back when you performed “Footloose” for your home town.

The night ended with the dance floor opening up to a rotating (literally) platform of Djs including one dressed as a frog. A couple of the IT guys I was with started dancing. A group of bachlorettes joined the floor. The crowd full of urban professionals moved into the floor, drank a bit, and generally stopped acted their age. For instance, one of the bachlorettes crossed her arms and scowled like a disapproving minister’s wife. Also, the bouncers had to ask people to stop hurling the ping pong balls at each other.

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Not to be confused with “splasher” who taught us all not to swim in canals.

It was about this time, that we realized we’d lost our friend who passed his CCNA.  We found him at the bar, mostly drunk, and loudly extolling the comfort of the chair he sat it.

And a comfy chair it was.

The next morning, we all arrived at work as normal. I drank the least and slept the latest. That means I win.

>This blog begins with the following Maxims: Writing down goals and making them measurable is the best way to get them accomplished. Millionaires read one non-fiction book a month. I like reading a lot. I can’t wait till I’m out of graduate school.

I have several goals. Perhaps to many. However, one of my goals is to read five books this summer. That’s already a lot. However, I know I can do it. I am busy, picking them right now.

What I need are suggestions from other smart people of what books out there are worth reading -especially in the second and third categories.

Here’s the list of books by categories:

1. Theology and Pastoral work. (So that I can be better lay minister).
I will without a doubt read Surprised by Hope. My brother got it for me for Christmas. It will be the last “middle-weight” theological reading I do for a long time. I also really want to read From Wild Man to Wise Man by Father Rohr. I like the whole masculine Christianity stuff. I like it better when it is thoughtful, serious, and not cheesy. This book came with the recommendation of a retired Methodist minister -my cousin-in-law’s father. I am trying to keep my theological reading down to a mininum this summer. I imagine I’ll read both of those, and no more in this category.

2. Creativity and Humor (For my writing talent and future re-imagining of the Uber Bean webcomic.)
I am right-brained, technique oriented writer. I need therefore, to read some stuff that is decidedly left-brained book like Writing Down the Bones. Dr. Kern, from APU, said I should read it. I will. Also, there are other books on writing and story telling like Aristotle’s Poetics for Screenwriters. I don’t know much about this book, but I know I want to learn how to tell better stories.

3. “People Skills” and other things that make you money. (So that I can learn how to be kinder, gentler, leader)
This is probably going to be the most important category. I need to get some of these skills growing again whether I become a teacher, a sales rep, a manager or whatever I do for employment. There is one book called Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion which I am interested in, but I have no idea if it is good or not. There are others that are aimed specifically at large groups (students maybe?) such as Win the Crowd. Finally, there are even sexier books aimed at using the verbal medium only.

Of course, there are books like If Aristotle Ran General Motors that sit on my shelf unfinished.

That’s the end of this strange little blog. I am not sure what to read next.

But five books this summer for sure. That’s nearly two a month.

>De Res Futuras

Posted: 01/02/2010 in life, LMU

>De res futuras mei scribere dercervi. In kalendis pacuis, iter per Academiam philosophiae perfecta erit. Entonces, illa mons -quae intras me atque alia destinanta mei stat- arrosa erit. Viam scolasticorum nollo premere. Enim, illi scolastici, qui cum me legent et relegent, deliciam premerentis ad illud habeant. Ego in re publica vera malo vivere.

In fact, one of the reasons why I want to get out of school so much -and why I emphatically decided not to stay another semester is the idea of funds and career. It seems like applying for a PhD philosophy program is a kind of cognitive dissonance and self deception that only really smart people are capable of. We all know that very, very, few people are getting accepted. We all know that the job market is a scarce, viciously competitive, zero-sum game. We all know that there are plenty of people who get their PhDs and then do nothing that has to do with the subjects and that they could’ve gotten with their BAs and less debt and more fun. I don’t want to be in school anymore. I look foreward to teaching someday, but right now, the only research I care about is more like the arts and outright sophistry than philosophy.

Plato would kick me out of his academy. How could I ever hope to get into a PhD philosophy program? I can imagine writing that on admission essays, “Plato wouldn’t want me. Can you give me funding to study at your lovely school?”

So what do I care about right now?

Over the summer, I look foreward to preparing for NaNoWriMo. Over the summer, I hope to purchase a few books on creative writing at the recommendation of an old instructor. Though it apparently follows some silly new-age stuff, I need to get a copy of Writing Down the Bones and read through it. Hopefully then, I will have some ideas of how to get into my characters heads better.

It is like method acting.

I also realize, that in order successfully complete a novel for NanNoWriMo, I need to spend some time planning ahead and finding ways to stay motivated. This probably means finding ways to spend time with other future NaNoWriMo people. That can be approached another time. I know that there are other people who are thinking the same kinds of things right now anyway.

Of course, I need to put together the actual outline for NaNoWriMo novel. I have to think of the subject matter. The most obvious is to work with the characters from my webcomic. I am thinking about their mutual lives a few years outside of graduation. Or, the novel could be a long brainstorming session of a complete re-imagining of the whole comic. I was even thinking about telling how Ian and Andy meet.

Ahh well. That’s what’s on my mind right now. Leaving LMU and pursuing other interests.

Thanks for reading.

>When Gutenberg invented the printing press, it had an incredibly wonderful effect on Christianity. Whereas for centuries only a few people could a hold a Bible, after the invention the Bible was then manufactured and distributed at an alarmingly fast rate. It was the original information age. It sparked literacy across Europe. Thank God for the movable type!

Now, centuries later, we are in a new information age with not only the internet, but also with email, cell-phones, twitter, podcasts and everything else. Good? Sure, I’m a blogger. I love it. There is however, a bit of abuse; a dark side to this supra-information age. What happens when many Christians start compulsively sending information to other Christians? When does it reach overkill?

Can we stop the Christian spamming?

Yes Christian spamming comes in many ways. It might be a vaguely spiritual email message. They are forwarded again and again. The headline might read “How has God blessed you today?” or “Twelve Reasons why God loves you.” They can also be cause oriented like “Protect Traditional Marriage” or “Pray for Christians in China.” They are often accompanied with stirring images, such as a “Precious Moments” doll, Thomas Kincaide painting, or an image of Korean charismatics in prayer ecstasy.

Other types of Christian spamming might pop up in the cell phones or mobile devices. How about a Christian twitter? 144 characters of a reminder to pray or short devotion delivered throughout the day? Maybe a Bible verse from your pastor, small group leader, or such might be shared through iPhone contact list. Even facebook feeds, which are certain kind of spam, have applications reminding us “What God wants us to know” because no Christian, before facebook, was able to discern that. No sir!

Again, I have to say it: Please stop the Christian spamming!

For those you send the text messages, twitters, and emails, I think I can see where you might be coming from. God, through the Holy Spirit, will send you something that you find warm, enlightening, and otherwise insightful. When we find something insightful -especially when it comes to our faith- it is completely natural to want to share it with everyone that we care about. When it comes to the Christian causes, there is no doubt about the urgency of the issues at hand. Again, it is natural to want to share it with everyone.

But try to see it from the world of the people you are spamming. We all come from our own unique backgrounds. We are all already reading our own devotional material. We probably have a stack of Christian literature on our bookshelves. We even have our own lists of blog feeds, email lists, and news articles that we all subscribe to. Because of all this, what will be insightful, warm and fuzzy, to one Christian (the spammer) may not have the same affect on another Christian (the spammee).

It gets annoying sometimes. It can feel invasive, like someone saying, “this beer is so good! You gotta try it!” and then pouring a pint into my empty glass after I’m already full. Because of this, most Christian spam goes straight to the virtual trash-can.

Now I writing a blog here, so I am as much a fan of technology and sharing and communicating things about God through technology as anyone. Probably more so. My point though, is this: there can be “to much of a good thing.” Good things need to be presented right way at the right time with the right sensitivity from the presenters. That sensitivity means not sending out spiritual insights as if it were mass-marketing junk mail.

Can we please stop the Christian spamming?

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Isn’t there anyone who can tell me what Christmas is all about?! -Charlie Brown

Yesterday was the the third Sunday of Advent and I am yet to comment on Christmas.

I am such a bad Christian.

I had hoped to do a series of worked out, fully fledged, articles for this Advent season, but my school schedule, my quest for summer employment and to some extent even Christmas shopping got the better of me.

In other words, I was sucked into the civic side of Christmas.

It seems, when Christmas comes around, Christians really wind up celebrating two different holidays at the same time. One, is the secular holiday; henceforth “x-mas.” X-mas is marked by the traveling stress of coming home from school during winter break, (or waiting for your kids to come home if you are the parent). It is about the big day of shopping of black Friday. It is about getting presents under the tree. Hanging stockings above the mantle. Getting gifts and receiving them, and shopping while hearing “Jingle bells” or “I’ll be Home for Christmas” or something else vaguely “Good will” orientated. X-mas, is the secular, cultural, holiday that all people of any religious or non-religious persuasion can enjoy.

Do I think any of these things are bad? Not at all (except the shopping). I enjoy giving and receiving gifts. X-mas remains the one time of year when I really look forward to going home. Decorations are still fun. As long as there is not a great deal of stress, I will have a good X-mas this year.

The thing is though, I really want to celebrate Advent and Christmas during December. I want to prepare myself as if Christ was coming on December 24th. I want some time to take emotional, spiritual, and even mental inventory and redirect everything towards God. I want to show Christian charity through acts of Christian charity. I want to sing Christmas songs that reflect the importance of Christ’s birth. I want to be amazed by the incarnation.

I found this Advent, and many others like it to be an unstable balance of X-mas and Christmas. It seems every year, that the aspects of X-mas, because I am so stuck in the culture, eclipse Christmas. Never fully so, obviously, but a little to much in my mind.

This year, though, I did get all my shopping done by November. Next year, I will pay special attention Advent and will hopefully be able to decorate my apartment accordingly.

Thanks for reading.

>If there has been a lot on my mind lately, most notably near future plans.

A year ago, I was dead set on getting out of Los Angeles and moving onto to wherever that may be (which means, wherever I could find the right job) afterwards. This is still mostly the plan, but I think now I am much more willing to consider Los Angeles as one of those possible places.

I think generally plans are important to make but they are also important to change should things change, and my experience around Los Angeles has changed a bit. If I stayed here, there are plenty of things worth staying for. For instance, I am enjoying my church a lot. If I wanted to cultivate my aesthetic side in addition to my Christian life, MOSAIC happens to be a great place to do that. Additionally, my younger brother is coming down to Southern California (very likely) in the fall. As is one of my closest friends from undergraduate. I will also have finished my graduate program, and that means I do not have to worry about education harming my financial situation (as it continually does).

In otherwords, if I do leave, I will be a bit reluctant to do so. I think I am open to the possibility of staying. It remains unlikely, but things could change in between now and May.

In other news, I really, really, need a seasonal job for December.

>What Have We Unlearned?

Posted: 24/09/2009 in life

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I’ll mope around the campus and I’ll feel betrayed, all those guilty summers I stayed. Then I’ll laugh that I feel for the lure of the pain of desire to feel so pure. And I’ll bear all the burdens of my little daily crimes. -Dar Williams “Teen for God”

It goes without saying that as we grow and learn we often find that the values we hold to are not the same values that we were taught when we were young. For most people, this stage of personal growth is either our internal acceptance of our parents’ values, the realization that we have rejected them, or somewhere in between. For quarter –life Christians, I think this process goes beyond what our parents taught us (if indeed, we learned anything from our parents at all) and expands to what our churches, especially our youth pastors, camp counselors and other leaders taught us. This kind of self-examination is especially strong at Christian Colleges, but is by no means limited to those places.

I have reflected on this, on and off, for years. I think it is time to hear what others’ also think on this subject. Many Christians I know tend to recognize the change and shift in their understanding of what Christianity is. For some, it is fairly benign reforming of and understanding of what Christianity is about. For others, it is a radical shift or complete recreation (and perhaps, rejection) of their faith.

In this blog, I am inviting anyone who is reading to share their own stories about this matter. I can frame it with two questions:

First, what is one thing about the Christian life that you learned between 15-20 that you either have either reformed or rejected now?

Secondly, if you could explain an alternative to your younger self (or to another 15-20 Christian), what would that alternative be?

These questions are intentionally open-ended. Here are some more thought-joggers.

-Movies and Entertainment. Some Christian traditions are incredibly extreme about this. I have heard of Christian Colleges in which students must use “code-words” to describe when they are going to see a movie. Likewise, there are often rules and ethics about the music we listen to. Are we supposed to privilege “Christian” music? If so what constitutes “Christian” music?

-Drinking, smoking and other forms of debauchery. Were you taught to not “smoke, drink or chew?” Was it careful advice to never touch liquor, hang out in a bar, or smoke a clove? What was the justification for this and did you find it acceptable or not?

-Sex and relationships. When dating, what kind of parameters were you expected to adhere to? Was dating a non-Christians off limits? Did you feel like you had to ask the “how far is to far” question? What kinds of things did you learn in the gender-specific message times? Do you still hold them today? Issues like homosexuality would definitely be under this heading.

-The Bible and Theological issues Is the Bible inerrant? Where did it come from? What was your perception of the Bible now as compared to when you were younger? What about the various theological issues? Some of us eventually disagree with some of the cornerstone doctrines of churches we were raised in. Opinions about hell/heaven, end-times, the understanding of “Kingdom of God,” and approaches to evangelism are only but a few.

Politics. Evangelicalism has traditionally been aligned with the political right, with only a minority aligning with the democrat party. We often learned about how our founding fathers were outstanding Christian men. Now, not all Christians believe this and some resist it quite strongly. Our faith is never divorced from our politics, but is it same as traditionally taught?

Naturally these are only a few of the things I can limit. You can use your own imagination and experience to expand on this. I hope I can get a lot of comments on this blog, as what is written here will be the substance of future blogs.

Feel free to submit whatever it is you have to say anonymously or sign your name.

Thanks for reading.

>Though not necessarily all at the beach towns, here are some more visual phenomena of the last few weeks of note.

A huge guy and small lady dancing While blues dancing a few weeks ago, I saw the (ironically) one black guy in the room dancing with a petite Chinese woman. He actually had her doing some kind of hand-stand type deal. It was like a swing aerial in slow motion.

Crazy nutball doing Tai-chi one evening on Santa Monica blvd. It was late at night and I watched him with a friend from across the street. Both of us contemplated what it might mean for society to have to deal with a crazy guy like that. What does society owe to those who are… well nuts?

A Homeless Guy Outside of Ralph’s who looked up hopefully at me and asked for change. He said he would work for it by helping me carry my groceries to my car. I was impressed. I let him do so and gave him a little bit of change from my car.

An LMU student wearing a “Republican” shirt. It had the republican logo with a bunch of dollar bills spilling out of its nose. The caption said “Republicans have more money” this is probably true, damn blatant, and funny.

>In hindsight, I think I had a pretty rockin’ labor day weekend.

Friday night was the meet ‘n greet night for the new graduate students. There’s nothing like drinking with your fellow students and your professors. It think this is by far one of the most interesting things about being a graduate student. I do this far more often in grad than I did in undergrad.

I met a few of the new students and re-connected with the other second years like myself. I especially liked meeting Valerie’s boyfriend whose name I can’t remember. He recommended to me some obscure BBC sci-fi series: truly, we are kindred spirits.

Saturday, I actually had nice productive day. I worked on comics, artwork, reading and re-reading. I sadly did not have the money to go bar-hopping with Valerie et al. I am, after all, trying to save cash. I am getting sick of going to places that try to separate me from my money anyway. Saturday evening I had the chance to meet with my roommate’s parents and watch “Tropic Thunder” instead. That movie is awesome.

Sunday, I took one of the new students, Jenn, to Mosaic West LA. It is was an “experience.” We later ate some chiptole and talked about our mutual, and fairly similar, experiences with evangelicalism. It seems that we both went to evangelical Christian colleges and found out that we weren’t evangelicals by the time we left. (This is the price of being philosophers). I struggled to explain my reluctantly Keirkegaardian reasons for being involved at mosaic. I listened to her talk about her gripes about hell and sex. It was good meal.

Monday, labor day, I again worked on my comic all afternoon. About 2:00, Adam came over. We prepped meals for the night by shopping. We watched “Hackers” and reminisced about the 90s. Later, Josiah came over and brought some filler for the Vodka I had. I made some Vodka Collins’ and White Russians with Soy milk from the fridge. Our conversations ranged from politics to religion to relationships in the most amicable and honest manner. It was an evening well spent.

What is the moral of the story? Well honestly, I think it might be this: I don’t need to go out and drink anymore. Having been formally trained and practiced as a bartender, I can actually mix whatever I want. When I see the price of liquor, even good stuff, I realize that the mark-up to order a drink at a bar is obscenely high. Furthermore, I realize that the bar atmosphere is not actually conducive to what I want in a evening, which is good conversation maybe followed with some music if there is more than one musician around. I think from now on, I will arrange parties and shindigs in which I buy some Vodka, Rum, etc and ask others to bring the soda and the filler if we want to drink.

Seems a lot more fun that way.

>If this really is my last year in California, I do not think I could spend it in a better place.

I live just North of Loyola Marymount now. I no longer will be living on Campus, which is really an “about time” type of change for me. I live right on the corner of highway 1 and am but a few blocks from the beaches. I’m twenty minutes from Venice beach, which is a boardwallk with quite a bit of character to it. Here are some of the things I’ve seen in the last few days.

An elderly, unemployed, black man who was holding a sign which read “American Citizen: Hire me first” outside of the Home Depot. He held his head high and proudly on the street corner in the sun. The Mexican day laborer where several paces behind him. It is not uncommon to hear of the Church speak of sympathizing with the most alien in your society. Strangely, I was not sure who was really the alien in this scenario: is it those who leave their country to look for work in a foreign one, or is the man who sees so many foreigners he feels alienated in the country of his birth? This is a question well worth pondering.

Some homeless guy in a conversation with a hot twenty something on the Venice Beach boardwalk. Normally, a homeless dude is not the kind of guy you imagine in conversations with really hot twenty somethings in summer clothes. Yet strangely, that is exactly what was happening. She did not seem put off by his presence as they walked down the boardwalk, and was actually responding to what he was saying. I guess there’s hope for everybody.

A weathered, but energetic, college kid just trying to get home. He wore a military surplus backpack which undoubtedly held all his current possessions. He was standing at the stop sign where the 90 intersects with highway 1. He looked dirty and had probably slept in the streets. I asked him way he was asking for money. He explained that he came down to San Diego for party, where his wallet was stolen. Now, he was just trying to get back to San Francisco for school. I gave him a few dollars and wished him good luck.

That’s about it for now. I’m sure there has been more, but if I have strain my brain to remember, it must not have been that interesting. At this point, the most interesting thing that I could say is paper work telling me I’m hired.