Archive for 2008

The Best I Could Do

Posted by on Tuesday, 30 December, 2008

As the year began to draw to a close, I realized that it was time to choose a song, like I do every year. (Or at least, have done in some years.) Except… I didn’t really listen to music this year. Again.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Earlier in the year, I took an interest in some steampunk bands of whom none of you would have heard, but they did not have any new material this year anyhow. I also remember tuning into the modern rock station at some point and hearing this gangsta-reggae song called “Paper Planes” by Sri Lankan-British female artist M.I.A. Is that what the kids are listening to these days? I couldn’t get into it.

Yet, I managed to come up with a winner, and then to make it interesting I thought of a few runners-up. As you may recall, the year got off to a promising start with Matchbox 20 singing about the world burning to the ground. The world, however, did not burn to the ground in 2008. I know, I know… I was right there with you Matchbox 20; I don’t know what happened either. Also, in response to that post, someone suggested I look into The National. They had a pretty good sound, but not best-of-the-year good. I rather enjoy “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis. You might be thinking that an over-produced pop song can’t possibly be any good, and until recently I would have agreed, but there’s something about this one that strikes a chord. I did a little research, and apparently this single has broken all kinds of records, so maybe if you’re the sort of person who, like, actually leaves your house every once in a while you are thinking, “Is he serious with this? I’m sick to death of that friggin’ song!” But I don’t care what they say, I like it.

So, the winner then. I don’t even remember where I heard this song, and it took awhile to track down from the little piece that I had stuck in my head. My pick of the year is “Kids” by MGMT. Mainly because when I heard it, I thought that it sounded a bit like The Purple Robe – if The Purple Robe was actually any good. So, as some of you may know, I blocked YouTube from my computer, but the rest of you can try your luck here: the #1 song of 2008.

5 Words

Posted by on Thursday, 11 December, 2008

Sometimes I look back on life and wonder, “Where did it all go wrong?” Or even, “Where did it all go right?” What were the defining moments of my life? And for the most part, I’m disappointed, because there are really very few instances that I can point to where everything changed. Every day is a decision to make, some are large some are small, and generally the consequences of each choice are not know for a long time. It is not so much a series of defining moments as transitions between phases. That annoys me.

Yet lately, I keep finding myself returning to five words. Here, unlike so many other instances, my life can be clearly divided into before and after. My reaction to those words, and my highly uncharacteristic behavior in the following period set a course that has defined everything about who I am today. I would never have started going to church, which means I would not have met any of the people who have been my closest friends over the past several years, would not have the job I have now, would not have joined the band that I’m in now… and without any of those ties, I would have no particular reason to stay in this area, and I may not have chosen the school that I went to… So when I ask myself, “Where would I be today?” There is no answer, because I truly might be anywhere at all, doing anything. Five words.


So Let Me Get This Straight…

Posted by on Thursday, 27 November, 2008

… Regardless of what you tell people, the REAL reason that you don’t date is because you’re mad at God?
I suppose you could say that.
… And have been so for, what, a year and a half?
At least.
So then what was the reason that you weren’t dating anyone before that?
…?! I hate you so much.

On Weddings

Posted by on Saturday, 15 November, 2008

[This post has been in “draft” status for about a month and a half. It is disorganized and slightly out-of-date (considering I went to another wedding last weekend) but I’m just going to post it anyway.]

Over the past few months I’ve heard a lot of “when you get married”s being throw around. A couple of these were directed toward me, but they more often occurred in a conversation to which I merely happened to be a third party. It’s as if everyone is going to be getting married in the next year or two. Maybe it’s because we’re all turning 30 now and suddenly realizing that we haven’t accomplished as much as we thought by this point. I find it interesting that very few of my peers are even actively dating. Most are either married or not in a relationship at all. (And a good number of the latter have not dated anyone the entire time that I’ve known them.) I would be tempted to say that my generation just isn’t that “in to” marriage, but those conversations suggest otherwise.

I was asked a little while ago if I like going to weddings, to which I did not have a ready response. I don’t really strike myself as the sort of person who would like going to weddings, but actually, I do. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I look forward to weddings. For weddings are all about hope, and who doesn’t like hope? Of course, once there, I find that some weddings are much more enjoyable than others.

I went to a wedding this summer. I was surprised to have even been invited, because I did not known the bride well and had never met the groom at all. Walking in, I wondered who, or even if I would know anyone there. It turned out that I recognized quite a number of people from church, and my first thought was, “Doesn’t she have any real friends?” What… people from church do not count as *real* friends?

I also felt some awkwardness over another matter. It occurred to me afterward, “You do know that it’s only awkward because you choose to make it awkward, right?” Yeah, well, on this particular matter, that seems to be the only choice I have left, and I chose the $#!* out of it! Which works on an emotional level, but sure sounds foolish when I put it into words.

Every time I go to a wedding, I can’t help thinking about how my own wedding will be. (You know, since other people’s weddings are obviously all about ME.) I wonder about who I would choose for a best man, as there is a rather high turn-over rate in the people I spend time with and consider my closest friends. I also wonder about whom to invite since I have family spread all over the country, many of whom I’m not particularly close to and do not care one way or the other if they came or not, but that I think would consider it a colossal snub to not be invited.

Then I think about who definitely won’t be there. I went to a wedding a couple of years ago which started with the two mothers lighting candles or some such. (A lot of weddings have something similar.) It struck me that my mother would not be doing that at my wedding, and my day only went down from there.

So, no mother. No grandparents. And hey, while we’re on the subject, no bride, and no wedding, because obviously, once again, you’ve forgotten the arrangement!


Posted by on Friday, 12 September, 2008

In some cultures, dreams are important. They may be a connection with the spirit world or reveal greater truth than the waking world. In the Bible, Jacob dreamed of ladder to Heaven. His son, Joseph, was the king of dreams. Another Joseph was told in a dream that his wife to be was with child by the Holy Spirit, then later told to flee to Egypt. God spoke to others in dreams: Pilate’s wife, Cornelius, Abimelech, and others.

In our culture, dreams are not so important. Some would say they are little more than the brain entertaining itself. I generally believe that dreams tell you what’s really going on inside yourself, where the lies you tell yourself and others have no hold. I kept a record of my dreams for a period, but like all things, I lost interest after awhile.

A few nights ago I dreamed that I proposed to an eligible young lady. One of those people that you know in the dream, but upon waking you find yourself asking, “Wait… who was that supposed to be?” But though in the dream I knew her, I did not know her well. She was someone from Bible study group, but with whom I had little interaction outside of that. Yet I proposed, in accordance with my previously admitted poorly conceived master plan. There followed a terribly long silence. I had plenty of time to think of how this was the worst idea I’d ever had, and now I’d actually gone and done. Fortunately she is certain to say no, and the whole business will be done with. I eventually became so embarrassed that I could no longer face her and hid behind something like a shopping cart (but not exactly) such that I was only looking at her through a long metal tube. Then her eye appeared at the opposite end. “Okay,” she said. “Let’s give it a shot.” That was not the answer I expected. We are actually going to do this.

Then the dream changed. I was in the front row at some kind of aquatic stunt show with some of my friends. But before the show even began, Penn (of Penn and Teller), dressed as a pirate, came and told me that I could not sit there. While my friends stayed put, I went to the back of the theater, which happened to be where the AV techs were stationed. Somehow I was chosen to be one of about a dozen or so audience participation members and was being taken backstage. We were told that we were required to wear life-jackets, but I somehow was separated from the group while looking for one. I also had some kind of interaction with the prop-master, the details of which I do not remember. Then I remembered that I was engaged to that girl. It had been three days and I had not seen her or called her or anything. What kind of a jerk am I? She has probably told everyone she knows by now and me… I had not told anyone at all, even these guys I was with today. Was it too late to call this whole thing off?

I share that for entertainment. Most of my dreams of late have been of a different sort. Over the past few weeks, I have had half a dozen or more dreams about a certain someone from the past. Things were not left on the best of terms. I dream about pride, and the distance between us. The question is, why now? It’s been years… what would you have me do?

My heart is crippled by the vein that I keep on closing
You cut me open and I
Keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding
–Leona Lewis

Timoth Gets Depressed Sometimes Over Not Being Particularly Good At Anything That He Cares About

Posted by on Wednesday, 20 August, 2008

I fully intended to follow up my last post within a couple of days with some thoughts on graduating from college a whole nine months after I actually finished as well as some points on the nature of family and friendships, perhaps throwing in a little something about my trip to Las Vegas, but I am above all, profoundly lazy. That’s all old news now.

A couple weeks ago I was playing a game on a custom board made by the host of the evenings festivities. The board was very well done and received much praise from all parties. Of course, in my head, it begged comparison with a game I created myself a few years ago, being that they both are maps of real countries and concern actual cities and the routes connecting them. His board, of course, blows mine out of the water. I console myself by emphasizing the fact that I did not have the luxury of working for a company that actually designs mapping software, I had to create that whole thing myself. (Which was complicated given that the United States, as you may or may not know, is far from square.) Further, while he merely took an existing game and substituted a map of France for a map of Germany, I created my game out of nothing in three days. But I doubt that anyone really cares because the sole copy is not in my possession, nor would it be interesting to anyone who was not in 20 Somethings four years ago.

Whatever. These days, I do woodworking. Or at least, I tell people that I do woodworking. Or at least, I used to. I tend to drop a truly ridiculous amount of stuff on the floor when I’m my little shop. There do not happen to be too many things in a woodworking shop that can take a concrete landing with no ill effects. Say, didn’t you used to be a juggler? Like, in a circus and everything? Wow, you must have been HORRIBLE at it. How nice of you to bring that up.

Anyway, my most recent project was a present for a certain child. My initial idea was a toy car, because boys like cars, no? (And not just any car…) But I quickly realized that that was more complicated than I thought it was going to be, and I was on a pretty tight deadline. So I decided instead to go with a sign with our name on it, which was more personal, faster, and just all around better. Of course, I quickly found myself saying, “Man, I sure hope this kid isn’t a perfectionist.” Yeah. Come on, he’s one year old, he’s not even going to know what this is. Which only raises the point that if I did a really sweet job, he could have that thing for his whole life. Or he could toss it out as soon as he is old enough to decorate his own room. Whatever.

Interestingly enough, that means that the only projects that I have totally completed since becoming a “full-time” woodworker have been gifts for other people for specific occasions. Which proves that technically, I actually can get something done if I only have a proper deadline. However, last weekend, I was at a thing at some peoples’ house and THE STUFF IN THAT GUY’S GARAGE THAT HE HAD BUILT HIMSELF MADE ME NEVER WANT TO MENTION MY OWN (lack of) WOODWORKING SKILLS AGAIN.

Now, it seems like whenever I’m being “humble” (or as I prefer to think, “realistic”) about my woodworking there always seems to be someone who wants to point out that I have made guitars before. “Before” being the key word. Back when I was in a school for guitar making, with all the right tools, having my hand held the whole way. And I will admit, they are two of the best looking guitars that you are likely to lay eyes on. But the fact that neither one of them is actually playable is really a source of embarrassment for me so let’s all stop bringing it up, shall we?

In any case, on Tuesday of last week I finally hit “critical mass” of frustration with my current tools and decided to research and calculate out exactly how much it would cost to equip a shop with reasonable tools. In the meantime, a friend of mine had joined a band and started doing some recording, which reminded me, “Say! Wouldn’t this be a good time to actually mix and master that CD that I recorded two years ago?” So I spent some time on that, only to realize that I suu-huck at mixing. Which was not particularly a surprise to me, it is just kind of amusing because that is technically what my “real” job is. (No wonder Orange County is so upset.) It did not help any that my source material was sub-par. I wouldn’t buy this… why the heck should anyone else? Of course, considering that I have purchased a – count them: “a” – song(s) in the past four years, perhaps what I would buy is not an effective measure of quality music. Regardless, I really just wanted to use this project to get the wheels moving musically to allow for some more interesting stuff that I have planned, but no, those drums are freaking killin’ me and I’m really going to have to work something else out. Someday.

But however hard I want
I know deep down inside
I’ll never really get more hope
Or any more time
— The Cure

On Gross Ignorance

Posted by on Saturday, 21 June, 2008

Yesterday, I happened to be privy to a conversation which indicated that Ottawa was the capital of Canada. This caught me by surprise, because I had sort of assumed that the capital of Canada was Quebec or Montreal or someplace like that (i.e. that I had heard of.) Upon returning home, I looked it up and confirmed this to be true. I then faced the realization that I am, in fact, a dumber American than I had realized.

You know, for some reason I was never required to learn the state capitals in elementary school, although that deficiency has never actually come up except perhaps in game show type situations. But, world capitals? Isn’t that at least kind of important? Especially, um, our direct neighbor? Ok buddy, can you name the capital of any country other than the USA:
Uhhhh… Paris? Moscow! Berlin, Johannesburg/Durban/Pretoria*, London. Mexico… City?

Ok, whatever. (TheHagueBeijingLima…) Yeah, great. But how can I not have heard of Ottawa? I don’t know. Maybe they have a sports team or something? Like the Senators. What? That can’t be… oh, it turns out that that is correct. Now how did I possibly know that? And yes, Senators, Capital. I get it now.

*This is not correct, by the way.

Politics and Religion

Posted by on Friday, 30 May, 2008

As I’ve said before, I have not been paying attention to, well, much of anything really of late. For whatever reason, I decided to take my head out of my butt for a little while yesterday and somehow ended up spending most of the day watching YouTube videos of interviews with various combinations of Bill O’Reilly, Stephen Colbert, David Letterman, Madonna, Hannity and Colmes, Richard Dawkins, Michael Moore, Ann Coulter and Al Franken, among others. Needless to say, by the end of the day I felt that I was far better off when not paying any attention to political matters. Of course, I then began to wonder why I should care what any one of those people has to say about anything, especially since, in retrospect, the majority of them talk more about each other than about any specific political issue.

No doubt, more than a few of my readers are wondering, “Is YouTube really the best you could do for political information?” To which I humbly reply, “At the time, yes, it was.” Which brings me to another point. Back in college I sometimes had to read certain things that I might not otherwise have had occasion to read, and I was confused and slightly alarmed by more than one indication that blogs were considered a legitimate source of news. On one occasion there was an implication that self regulation within the blogging community holds blog writers to a higher degree of journalistic integrity than the (obviously liberal biased) mainstream media. Does that sound plausible to anyone else? Because I have a blog, and I say whatever the heck I want. Occasionally I will go to the trouble of checking facts first. On a really good day, I might even proofread before posting. They probably were not talking about me though, because I am not actually a part of the so-called “blogosphere.” Firstly, because I think that word incapacitatingly silly and want nothing to do with it. Secondly, on a more technical note, my blog contains zero links to anyone else’s, and as far as I know, no one links to mine. (I do not have anything against people linking here, I am merely not aware of anyone who does.) Thusly, my blog is a completely independent entity. I also do not know or care who Cory Doctorow is, despite the fact that I see the name rather frequently in my internet travels. Ultimately, I do not take myself or any other blogger seriously as a writer, and do not understand why any one else would, especially an actual published journalist.

Anyway, I would like to comment on some of the videos I watched, however, having already declared that I do not care what they think, it seems hypocritical at this point to assume that anyone would care what I think about them.

To switch gears then, I was on the freeway last week (which is rare for me these days) where I twice saw the bumper sticker “CoeXisT,” Where the “C” is a Muslim crescent, the “X” is a Star of David, and “T” is a cross. U2 made a dramatic spectacle with this during their last tour. It did not bother me so much then but seeing it on these cars (perhaps in combination with other stickers, because in both cases it was only one of many) rubbed me the wrong way. I looked it up this morning to see if the idea originated with U2 or not and found that Bono is the spokesperson for a clothing line that (not unlike “Not Of This World”) either uses t-shirts to spread a message or uses the message to sell t-shirts. I am not really sure which. I started to read an interview with the guys who started the thing, but it made me a little sick and I had to stop. The problem I have with this, and with the idea of “religious tolerance” in general – and let’s throw in “Separation of Church and State” just for fun – is that to me they seem to be really saying that your religion, or at least specific details of your religion, are not that important, so why fight about it?
A parallel example: some people are concerned with protecting the environment while other people want to be able to produce and/or consume goods as inexpensively and efficiently as possible. These are both reasonable goals, can’t these two groups coexist and everybody gets what they want? Well, no. As it turns out, these two goals are, on a practical level, mutually exclusive.

As a side note, I find it ironic that “tolerance” is being presented as the highest virtue of the day when the word actually refers to (in the medical sense) the degree to which you can endure something that is harmful to you. “I have a high tolerance for that poison because it has just as much right to be in my body as my own blood.”

I noticed recently that one of my friends had something unusual under “Political Views” in his Facebook profile. I say “unusual” because back when I was filling out my profile, there was a menu with about five choices in the range from “Very Liberal” to “Very Conservative,” plus “Other,” which I was forced to pick because mine was not listed. I am just as turned off by one side’s arrogance as by the other side’s ignorance. And finding myself both ignorant and arrogant, I am caught in the middle and there is no political label for me. Apparently you can now write in your own answer. Actually, that was probably the best choice for me because, in reality, I try to avoid openly stating my political affiliation. But I suppose I can tell you what I don’t believe.

A few years back there was a proposition on the ballot that would somehow effect the way elections work. All five political parties in California (did you even know there were five political parties in California?) opposed it. So I voted “Yes.” F*** ’em. In college, I gave a speech (some might say a sermon) where I went item by item through the official Republican Party platform and explained how each one went against applicable Biblical principles. My point was to criticize Christians for blindly voting Republican, but I never once even suggested that there were any better options to vote for. (I don’t believe that there were any other Christians in the class anyway.)

So what are my political views? It so happens that I am a registered Republican, but it actually has nothing to do with either my political or my religious beliefs. As you may or may not know, you are required to re-register to vote every time you move. In 2002, a friend and I were leaving the grocery store when we were accosted by a fellow who claimed that whoever he was working for would make a donation to a certain charity for every Republican voter he registered that day. I am really not sure if this was A) true or B) legal, but I had recently returned from Arizona and needed a good re-registering anyway, and my friend was not registered at all, so we both did it. I figured that at the least, I would have the satisfaction of voting against Bush in the 2004 primary. Incidentally, Bush ran unopposed in the primary, so when the day came around, I had to write in a candidate. I really did not know many Republican politicians, but while I was living in Arizona, I had once heard a radio interview with one of their Senators, who had impressed me as a guy who knew what he was talking about. Therefore, I wrote in John McCain. Funny old world isn’t it?

My Subconsciousness Says The Darndest Things

Posted by on Tuesday, 20 May, 2008

I don’t really have an internal monologue. Internal dialog, maybe. Internal berating is more like it.

I was driving to work last week- I admit that it was early and I was not fully awake yet- but I was reflecting on the idea that life is the sum of your experiences and whether or not you would change any of them. It is an idea that has come up more than once recently in conversation and sermons and so forth. And my thought was, “Well, right off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything good that came from my mom killing herself.”
Woah! Hey, WOAH! Your mother died of CANCER, remember?
Oh, right. Well, that sucks too.

I do not know if any of my loyal readers would remember this but I seem to recall that awhile back I changed the name of my blog for like a day, or maybe a week or something. I do not even remember what the new name was. I had just reached a point where the title did not seem true anymore so I came up with a different one, but then when I got those emails about “New Comment On: [whatever that title was],” it made me sad so I changed it back. (I don’t blog to make me sad.) Well, I changed it mostly back. I digress. The point is, I was sitting at work listening to another dude talk about the things they talk about at my work, and I started thinking that perhaps it was time to consider a new name again. Heck, when I get around to writing anything, half the time its about music anyway. And then, completely uninvited, came the thought:
You’re closer to God than you ever have been.
Huh. You know, I don’t really see how that would be true.
Because at least now you’re being honest.
What? Who’s honest? Are we talking about the same me here?

Then there was that cryptic and slightly condescending: You didn’t tell her. Man, I didn’t tell who what? You can “honestly” kiss my…

Malfunctioning and making s[tuff] up, I tell you.

OUR mother.


Posted by on Thursday, 15 May, 2008

I was working at a Women’s conference a couple of weekends ago, when at some point I happened to think that the speaker sure was talking about God an awful lot. Of course, given where I work, how is that unusual? Perhaps she was describing God in a more immediate and intimate way than most speakers. Or maybe I was just paying more attention than usual. Regardless, I immediately began to question how I had the [audacity] to work there when I really do not believe any of this.

Later, as she was giving her story, I could not help but wonder how many of the elders/prominent members of my church sexually abuse their daughters, and that perhaps my issues are not so bad after all. But of course nothing like that could happen at my church… Anyway, the speculative sins of unidentified other people are not my problem. Something else she said caused me to become a bit perturbed. “Oh yeah? Well in my experience, God doesn’t heal people and He doesn’t heal relationships, so what is the point?” And that, on the other hand, is my problem.

That evening, at 8:30, it seemed like things were getting ready to wind down and I was excited about finishing early. But the speaker continued to talk for much longer than most, and then transitioned to a time of prayer and (being a women’s group) crying while the band played. “Oh no, not again!” I thought, for the last time that happened, the band continued to play for a good two and half hours after the main session. It then occurred to me, you honestly do not care about the spiritual well being of a single person in this room, you just want to go home! As i said in the beginning, how dare I have this job.

You really don’t care about anyone but yourself, do you? You know, upon reflection, I am not sure that that is a fair statement. You really don’t care about anyone do you? Perhaps not.