Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Choice Gleanings

Okay, I've been gone for a while, so here's my third post in so many hours.

First off, I put some Lakeview pictures up.

Here are some cool things I've found online lately.

  • An interview with Richard Feynman, a guy who had a lot of fun with Physics and in general understanding how stuff works.
  • The ultimate programmer's anthem: Code Monkey. It's by a guy named Jonathan Coulton. You can check out some of his other songs. "Mandelbrot Set", "Ikea", "Chiron Beta Prime", "Re Your Brains", "Skullcrusher Mountain", "I Feel Fantastic", and "Podsafe Christmas Song" are good ones to start with. He also has an interesting rendition of "Baby Got Back".
Okay, now everyone else needs to update their blogs.

Beautiful British Columbia

My dad and I drove up the Sunshine Coast to see my grandparents last Thursday and Friday. It was a short trip, but a good one. Here are some shots.
Vancouver from the hotel on Wednesday night. ... and Thursday morning. Ferries Here we all are thanks to my little bendy-leg tripod. A bit of coastline in Powell River Powell River is so close to the north pole that the ocean is sloped. Dad catching some Z's

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Rumors of my demise have been slightly exaggerated.

For the record, I did not drop off the face of the earth. On the other hand, I may perhaps have been ingested by a large aquatic mammal.

Lately I haven't been keeping up to date with the blogging scene. There were a lot of contributing factors; things that came up and occupied my attention: some more and some less worthy of my time and energy.

I think really I just got out of the habit. No one else had been updating their blog for a while, at least not with anything terribly thought-provoking, and so I dropped behind when they did post, thus raising the threshold of effort required to properly catch up. I wasn't in a very pensive mood, either. In fact, I wasn't thinking very much at all. When it comes down to it, I was in miserable shape: I wasn't reading any books; I wasn't having any interesting in-depth late-night conversations about deeply meaningful and relevant topics; I wasn't reading my Bible outside of "church" except to cram a week's worth of BSF into 45 minutes; I couldn't play volleyball because my skier's thumb hadn't quite healed properly; it was too cold, wet and dark to go running; I wasn't hanging out or speaking much with any of my friends or even RFH; and I was in a stay-up-late sleep-in cycle.

So what was I doing in all of those late nights and in the time afforded me by virtue of not doing all those things? Well, I watched all of Deep Space Nine, three seasons of Voyager, and four of Babylon 5. I installed Gentoo on two computers (one of them a dual-boot with Win2K) and re-installed Athena's OS (seamlessly, from the ground up) on a different hard drive with a better paritioning scheme.

Yeah, a lot of that time was wasted, or at least could have been spent on those things in better moderation. I'm not that good at moderation I've noticed, at least when it comes to time management. Once I get on a roll doing something I don't want to stop until I'm properly finished. Perhaps that's why some of my posts are so long.

So anyway, I crawled into my shell and didn't want to talk about it or admit it to the world or myself, and there wasn't much going on that I did want to talk about so I just kept quiet, hoping that no one would notice, or that someone would notice.

As luck would have it, no one noticed. I was coasting along, miserably, when responsibility reared its ugly head and bit me in the butt. Don't worry: I specifically engineered it on purpose. I had agreed to give the opening Sunday talk in Tacoma, and that day was rapidly approaching. When I agreed to the talk, I was aware that I was at the time in no spiritual condition to be teaching others: painfully aware. That was part of the reason I agreed: deep down I knew I was in miserable shape and I hated it. I wanted it to stop, and I knew that, if I asked, God would give me what I needed to give this talk. Not just enough to fake it either: God is all about the real thing. I had of course hoped to get it together a lot sooner, but I'm stubborn and reality takes time to change. On the Monday before I jotted down some ideas: things that had stood out to me in scripture lately, things of a spiritual nature that had been on my mind over the past weeks or months. I also started praying. Really praying. I didn't want to merely discharge my obligation to speak: I wanted to present something that would make people sit up and think, and perhaps change their view of Christ for the better.

2006/04/19 You'll have to forgive the discontinuity of this post. Please note the date. It's been two weeks since I saved the above as a draft, so you'll have to forgive me for not having a poetic, elegant conclusion.

Anyway, I gave the talk, and as it turned out it was far more intelligible and relevant than I can take credit for. The Lord steered me away from a topic that I was tempted to get on the soap box about (in a very non-Romans 14 way) and gave me something encouraging and useful to say. Afterwards several people came up to me and told me that they had enjoyed what I had to say. It wasn't the generic "nice talk" thing either, they had specific things that the Lord had been telling them that were further illuminated by what the Lord had for me to say.

Oh, and the whale thing. Again, forgive the discontinuity. Two weeks ago this fit together a lot better in my head. I guess you had to be there.

There were a few parallels with what I've been going through lately and the book of Jonah. Jonah wasted a lot of time doing anything but what God had commanded him to do. In fact, he booked passage on a ship heading in exactly the opposite direction that he needed to go. Jonah was a pretty stubborn guy. It takes him three days in the belly of a whale to finally break his will and get him to acknowlege his own inadequacy and total dependence on God. Finally, he yields, and God is able (and willing!) to use him again.

The other parallel with Jonah was the gourd. After Jonah had warned the City of Ninevah about God's coming judgement, he finds a spot with a nice view, nukes a bag of popcorn, and waits for the fire and brimstone show to start. (This isn't the part with the parallel by the way, that's coming up next:) While Jonah is sitting there, a gourd had grown up and was providing shade for his head from the hot desert sun. Jonah likes the gourd quite a bit: he's so flattered that it grew up just for his own benefit, that he doesn't even think to thank God, he just takes it for granted, sits on his butt, and waits for Ninevah to go poof. It so happens, that God provides a worm that eats up the gourd. When Jonah sees his precious gourd withered away, he gets angry at God (funny how quickly he saw God's hand in his circumstances the minute he started not liking them).

So anyway, my gourd on this occasion was a job opening. It was on Maui, on the top of the mountain at 10,000 feet, developing embedded software for telescopes and (one can assume) secret spy satellite systems and stuff. Anyway, the job requirements fit me to a T. A coworker of mine pointed out the listing to me, and it was a perfect match. All I had to do was update my resume with all of the stuff I've been doing in the last year and a half, and add some highlights from my minor in physics and I would be sure to float to the top of the list of applicants.

I liked the idea of this job. It felt warm and fuzzy inside, and maybe my family would visit me more often there (hint hint) and I could get my tan back. So I mulled it over for a bit, and thought about the pros and cons, but by the time I got around to updating my resume and I went to apply, the application window had passed. I was pretty upset. You know that sickening feeling you get when your reality has just been knocked off its foundation? I remember feeling a similar vulnerability when my car had been broken into and there was nothing I could do about it, except file a useless poliece report. I didn't want the world to be a place where my car was vulnerable. I didn't want this job offer to slip through my fingers. The way I wanted it to be had nothing to do with reality, and I didn't want to accept that. It isn't a very rational feeling, and I knew it. I had to accept that I, like Jonah with the goard, had done nothing to make it grow. "It came up overnight, and it perished overnight" and I did not "do well" do be angry.

All this would be extremely depressing, were it not for the fact that I know God didn't do this to me just to see me squirm. "God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." God saw that I needed a wake-up call. I needed to see something good almost be mine and then fall through my fingers so that I would realize that the opportunities that He wants to bless me with need to be persued. They will not fall onto my lap: I need to go after them, and claim them. Then and only then will they be mine.

Perhaps God could have blessed me in Hawaii. He still can, if that is His plan, but I think He couldn't do so nearly as well had I never learned this lesson. He's certainly gotten my attention, now I just have to keep a look out for the better thing that he's been wanting to give me, but he couldn't while I wasn't ready. It's not like God to waste the best potential blessing He's got in order to teach someone a lesson, and then finally give him the left-over second-best blessing. This ought to be good.