October 19, 2014
“Wealth, like happiness, is never attained when sought after directly. It comes as a by-product of providing a useful service.”
Today I experienced something that was both refreshing and infuriating. A few days ago the dreaded check engine light lit up on my run-ragged Malibu. The auto parts store did a computer check and told me it was an emissions leak and to take it to a mechanic. So I did.
The man that greeted me at the auto shop could have just taken my car, did whatever it is that mechanics do to cars on their last leg, and charged me $106.43. But he recommended an easy test that I could do myself to save me the money, and then said just above a whisper, “I didn’t say anything.”
Thank you, honest mechanic. I didn’t know that you existed. If you owned your own place you’d personally get quite a bit of my money. The douchebags sitting behind a desk somewhere putting the whisper-inducing fear into honest working people everywhere can eat a nice steamy bowl of cat poop.
October 7, 2014
What a terrible term. On this, some of my dear friends would agree with me. However, sadly, for unseemly reasons. Defining the term is where we differ:
During a split-screen video game, usually a first person shooter, it is the act of cheating by peeking at an opponent’s portion of the screen in an attempt to determine their location, weapon status, health, etc.
During a split-screen video game, usually a first-person shooter, it is the act of using all given information to one’s advantage.
I disagree with Definition A. It is a false description of what is actually happening. When I look at a display screen, I see all of the screen. Depending on the size of the screen and how close I am to it, the amount of the screen in my peripheral vision changes somewhat. However, the difference is minute. Unless my face is less than a foot away from the screen, it is impossible for me to not see the full display. Even then, I would still have an unavoidable awareness of my opponents’ actions due to audio.
Ideally, when pitted against opponents in such forms of entertainment, each individual has their own screen. Getting up and peeking at someone else’s screen as a tactic in this situation would be cheating. An individual doing this is violating the “magic circle” by stepping outside the natural social construct of the game environment and its expectations. It would be like trying to sneak a look at another player’s hand in a game of poker. All involved players would be shocked at such blatant disregard for not only the rules of poker, but disrespect towards those desiring to enjoy a fair game.
But consider this: It is agreed upon by all players that everyone shall play with all of their cards revealed. Sure, it takes a lot of fun out of poker if you take out the skill and leave only the luck, but perhaps there is a beginner player. Perhaps you’re all just messing around… you know, for the fun of it. In this situation no one will be shocked or offended that you’ve looked at their cards. It would be nonsensical. Even if you tried not to look at other players’ cards, you’re going to see them peripherally, and you’re going to be aware that despite whatever they say, everyone else can see your cards too, either directly or peripherally. You might as well all agree that everyone’s information is available and not worry about it. If you grow weary of this particular social construct, and most people would, you should all go back to playing with cards hidden.
This should translate well into the split-screen first person shooter experience. However, something interesting happens. Some players, wishing too strongly for the ideal construct of each player having their own private screen, will attempt to impose the rules of said construct within the confines of a system that cannot truthfully contain it: They claim that some players are cheating by looking at portions of the screen controlled by others. They may even become upset or say condescending comments. I find this sad. Such individuals are being disingenuous. Everyone who plays a first-person shooter game against a friend on the same display “screen-poaches.” You can’t help it. It is part of the game. If you claim that you do not, you are either lying or your peripheral vision is terrible. Either way I feel sorry for you.
This entry is filed under Ludology: the study of game design, players, and their role in society and culture. Here is an outstanding podcast of the same name, Ludology.
April 30, 2014
Tower – by TLJ, 2014
Well you’ve heard about the pair of wolves that live in every man’s heart
One can bring you love and the other one can tear you apart
Which one you gonna feed?
Which one you gonna feed?
I stand at the top of a tower but I can’t see far
In my hand I hold a flower but it’s falling apart
I should be scared of the wind
But I could fly to the end…
If you could see to the end of the stars
Then maybe you could see the truth
In my heart
April 26, 2014
The lyrics below attempt to poeticize what I’ve expressed in the first paragraph of a previous entry. “God created one thing that I find more beautiful than any person: Relationships. They are the pinnacle of art, expression, and despite our efforts to categorize them, they are infinitely mysterious as is their creator. All things that I find beautiful are only so because of their connections to a relationship.”
And I don’t just mean romantic ones. Everyone a person knows is a relationship. Even if your life crosses paths with another for just a moment, it is eternally significant. I love to roll my eyes every time I hear someone use the phrase “business relationship.” It feels good to roll my eyes at the devil.
Anyway, the lyrics:
Mirror – by TLJ, 2014
When I stand alone, even the sunset is dull.
When I stand alone, even the planets are small.
I cannot see the majesty of the galaxy
without you standing near.
Here I stand empty.
Won’t you fill me?
Won’t you fill me, dear?
If your heart is cold, you should stand a bit nearer
Take your face of stone, and turn it into a mirror
I want to see the churning of an endless sea
behind your smiling eyes
Here I stand burning.
Can you feel me?
Can you feel me, tonight?
March 27, 2014
*Disclaimer: Does not include the future. The following is a snapshot— a quick look back at the music I’ve enjoyed in the last decade or so. Due to my my distaste for wallowing in nostalgia, I fully intend for these entries to be removed from their seats of royalty. But alas, such affairs take time. May they enjoy their reign while it lasts.
#5 – Yellow Card – Ocean Avenue
The Oldest Album on the List. …but I cannot deny its lasting influence. They are mostly a simple band, but the addition of violin makes a world of difference. Lyrically, the songs are hard for me to relate to these days because they express a relatively limited understanding of life,love, and the world. That being said, it is easy to put myself back into that mindset if only to remind myself how far I’ve come. Ocean Avenue receives bonus points for including the most emotionally powerful song I’ve known up to this point: Only One. It’s one of a few songs I rarely listen to for fear of decreasing its resonance.
#4 – Jupiter Sunrise – Under a Killer Blue Sky
The Most Singable Album on the List. I have no idea how this band slipped under the radar. If it wasn’t for a t-shirt I found in my late brother’s closet I would have never discovered them. Several of the songs paint beautiful pictures in my head of the past experiences associated with them. One in particular, Steal Me, really should paint an incredibly sad scene, but the song refuses to live outside of its moment and still conjures up excitement and hope.
#3 – Sanctus Real – We Need Each Other
The Most Relevant Album on the List. This album takes me back to searching for truth and regaining my faith after a long period of pain and doubt. And yet, my favorite song has nothing to do with that. Half Our Lives is the childhood version of Steal Me, but applies to all stages of life. What’s the point of being grown up if you can’t be childish sometimes?
#2 – John Mayer – Continuum
The Most Impressive Album on the List. I have mixed feelings about John Mayer. He loses a lot of points for being a lost and foolish pop icon, and I only find a few of his songs immediately relatable. But a simple truth is apparent: John Mayer is a freaking BEAST when it comes to guitar chops and songwriting. He’s like Stevie Ray Vaughan making music that is deep and honest instead of just slamming you with pure energy (which is good too, sometimes). Gravity is the best-known song from this album and makes my point for me.
#1 – The Reign of Kindo – This is What Happens + This is Also What Happens
The Coolest Album on the List. Ahhh… here we are. Often times I find myself just skipping through the all-song shuffle on my phone until I reach a Reign of Kindo song. As if the marriage of rock and jazz, a flurry of instruments, and incredible songwriting weren’t enough: an 8-bit Nintendo-style remix of the album was released in its wake.
February 16, 2014
The claim is “some people are born gay, some people are born straight.” I both agree and disagree, depending on specifics added to the statement.
I do not believe that anyone is genetically predisposed to be homosexual, but rather that some people are situationally predisposed. This is just the same as all mankind is situationally predisposed to have a sinful nature, and are redeemable only by the grace of God. This is our situation.
The hatred of the gay community in our society is ridiculous, and counterintuitive to our calling. There are the worst offenders (Westboro Baptist Church), but there are also those who are not typically recognized as radicals but are certainly not helping. These are the Christians who treat homosexuality like it’s a special brand of sin, and that it somehow needs specific negative attention. I understand that the fear is that the acceptance of homosexuality is destroying the traditional family structure. All I have to say to that is: Get over it. This is a fallen world. If you think that there was heaven on earth before some new development of our society cropped up, you’re dead wrong. This world is a battlefield being fought on by countless opposing armies, and I believe we as Christians are called not to be soldiers, but medics, for any army or individual willing to accept the love we bring, that of Christ.
For one thing, a believer should never hold a non-believer to a Christian standard. They have not claimed it. It’s like criticizing a european for not reciting our pledge of allegiance or a vegetarian calling others stupid for not joining them in abstaining from meat. The proper course of action would be to work towards having a country anyone would be proud to pledge allegiance to, or to positively display the health benefits of vegetarianism to the point that it makes carnivores question their eating habits. Unfortunately most Christians today seem to invite resistance, as if Christ had told us to “Go ye out into the world and make snooty Country-Clubs in my name.”
I am a Christian. I am saved by grace, and I will die someday. On that day, I will still be a sinful man. Hopefully I will be wiser and have spent my life bringing glory to God, but the fact is I will always fall short of his glory, and sin in a myriad of little ways unknown to me. The keyword here is unknown. Someone may tell me of my sin, but as perceptive as I like to think I am, I know that if it is told to me in an unloving way, I will not see love. I will not see God. I will never see God outside of that which is his real voice. Nor will anyone else.
December 30, 2013
Song Link: The Blood of Cuchulainn.
God created one thing that I find more beautiful than any person: Relationships. They are the pinnacle of art, expression, and despite our efforts to categorize them, they are infinitely mysterious as is their creator. All things that I find beautiful are only so because of their connections to a relationship. Music is one of these things.
I cannot remember a time before Benji, my brother. I was (am) the introvert, the artist. He was the extravert, the loudmouth, the life of the party. He was the great “other.” I looked at him and saw someone that had been through everything I had, thought the same thoughts, but in a different color or pattern. We’d have conversations in the dark about how something was different about us. We were so sure that we were set apart, that somehow we would rise up and do something magnificent someday, and be famous together. He’s been gone eight years.
If I set out to write a story, I know I’m going to quit before I really get started if all I have are “interesting” character profiles, and perhaps a good plot. What I need are the fictional conversations that play in my head when I lay down at night (and often during the day when the outer world expects me to focus on reality). The conversations are the essence of relationships, the colors, the notes, the rhythms interacting with each other to create something completely unique and wonderful.
What is man but just a big pile of his relationships? If God created but one person, and never spoke to him, even if he was self-aware, would he be any better than dust floating through the void of space?
The Blood of Cuchulainn. This song is one of a handful that drowns me in the colors of God’s great painting “Thomas and Benji.” Curiously, the images I see are not actual memories but of my brother and I as two princes of a great “Lord of the Rings-ish” type Kingdom, standing on a mountain, destined for magnificence. The song’s real power: the whistling chorus crashing into me like a wave full of hope and longing.
October 27, 2013
This is the first in hopefully several entries on filtering aspects of life through an eternal perspective. I intend to cover religious and political issues, and perhaps more. The purpose is to make my worldview clearer to my own eyes.
I have avoided this type of chiseling out my thoughts, because it is hard. However, I’ve found myself lost and afraid as of late. I wish to remedy that.
I’m also going to state here that I will resist the temptation to go back and edit posts when and if I come up with better ways to illustrate my thoughts, or if I should change my mind about something. I’ll just make a new post instead.
April 29, 2012
April 29, 2012
A man wearing a long black coat in July rode into Falcon Bluff.
He needed a drink. He leapt off as the stolen horse dropped dead of exhaustion. Without a backward glance, he began to trek towards the hazy image of the saloon at the end of the road. She’ll die slower than her horse, he promised himself.
It was a skittish town where most of the people were afraid of anyone. He walked the half mile between a dozen buildings alone. He stepped up onto the porch under a large sign that read Ritchey’s Place.
“I ain’t scared of you,” said a boy in a rocking chair.
The man stopped and turned towards him. He said nothing.
The boy looked at him with a determination that said I am scared of you, but my determination to look tough is stronger than my fear. The stranger removed his hat and bandana. He expected the boy’s stone face to melt at the site of his burned face.
The boy’s face flooded with horror and—concern?
“Uncle Ritchey! What happened?” he jumped and ran toward the man.
Click. His gun in the boy’s face. The boy nearly ran into it.
The bartender sauntered out onto the porch, rolled his eyes, leaned on a post, pulled a gun of his own. The man in black did not turn to face him.
“Barry—,” he said with a sigh, “who is this man?”
“I—,” Barry stammered, his eyes darting back and forth, “I thought he was you!”
Now the two men turned their faces to one another. There was a pregnant pause, and death was due. Neither man knew it, but the real man in black was looming with his scythe. While the twins stood paralyzed in wordless revelations about their childhood, an unseen bony hand sprung a delicate trap.