Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Noontime today I went down to campus to the Zoology research building. Same hallways, same staircase.... the place looks pretty much the same... (As a side note, I wonder if in 40 years I went back, the same memories would flood back... I hope so... I hope so for every location I spent lots of time in) Anyhow, I was taking Jeff out to lunch. We went to Nam's noodles. The chicken curry I had was not that hot. We talked about science a bit, and then focused in more on my career plans, and personal plans for the future. The short version of the verdict is I need to get really good scores on my GRE. (Given my SAT/ACT experience, I think that is certainly a viable possibility)

Also talked about relationships. It was very nice to hear Jeff just openly state the importance of having a sense of God's calling and purpose for one's life. And not just for me alone, but also for those that I'm in relationship with. That in particular was an angle to which, although it was on the edge of my consciousness, I had not devoted much thought. Then of course I have to second guess myself, because honestly most of the time I feel so clueless as to what specifically I want to do, I would welcome any and all suggestions, commands or missives from God no matter what form they come in. I have to wonder, despite such a "open" mood, when I end up making a decision on what I do, am I really relying on God at all to indicate what he would have me do, or am I merely doing that which I most want to do and disguising that desire with supposed indifference to the choices that face me. (Now would be a good time to check out one of Carl's recent blogs on the nature of desire -- click on the "special kid" link to your right) Seriously though, I think my interests are varied and extensive enough that I could enjoy a wide variety of work... as long as it involves reading, and a relatively relaxed work environment... gah! I should be able to have the deepest insights into the nature of myself (since I actually am myself as opposed to just observing myself) yet I still second guess myself.

I think too much.

(In that vein, I wonder how that might be related to spiritual gifts? How might that be a gift that God has given me to be used... shrewdly.)

Turning now to an entirely different subject (although somewhat related to the fact that I'm thinking all the time), I haven't brought you a link of the day in a while, so I thought I'd rectify that, but first the story of finding this link. My parents get some little magazine published by Focus on the Family on a monthly? basis. Anyhow, the little glossy usually ends up sitting in the bathroom on the top of the toilet tank, ripe for any bathroom user to pluck up as reading material. If I fail to have the foresight to bring my own reading material with me, I'll pick up this publication and leaf through it. Now... like all human endevors, FotF has bad points as well as good points. As a general rule they seem to be interested in preserving and mending family relationships... good things...

The magazine itself seems to be mostly a collection of short bits that are either sections of complete books, or "teasers" that relate to the subject matter of some book or A/V collection that the group offers. (This would seem rather self-serving were it not for the fact that you can request any of their resources for free... they only have a 'suggested' donation) Anyhow... I came to one bit that was about a conference series that was moving about the country that was devoted to informing people that they didn't have to be homosexual. The article seemed composed mainly of a short bio of the fellows who started it along with some quotes from former attendees and some rather vague hints about the types of insights one would be exposed to at the conference itself. Well... this simply did not satisfy me... certainly I believe God can miraculously act in a person's life to change the very nature of their sexuality, but it seemed rather bold to suggest that any Christian can be bound by homosexual attraction one day, and possessed by heterosexual attraction, married, and having sex with their spouse the next day. (I'm a Christian and a heterosexual. and yet I don't think tomorrow I'm going to be married and having sex... it would seem rather unfair to me if homosexuals got that advantage. More seriously though, I'm a Christian and a heterosexual who has has to battle a "natural" inclination to want to fantasize about impregnating most females I see today... I don't think that tomorrow I'm going to wake up with a mind as chaste as a buddhist monk.)

Anyhow, I wanted more specifics on what this conference actually was saying about the nature of homosexuality and sexuality in general. While I don't buy everything that comes out of the gay community on the nature of homosexuality, I wanted some notion of what this chrisitan conference was saying about the issue before I made any conclusions. Putting the conference name (Love Won Out) into google gave me a bunch of press from both sides... each side conveniently leaving out information that was damaging to itself. Blech.

So, I tried a more general search of "christianity homosexuality". The first site to come up had "info for ordering books or audiotapes" as part of the little google abstract... that was a negative. The second one is now the link of the day.

I was particularly intrigued by the essay "A Conservative Christian Case for Civil Same-Sex Marriage". I don't agree with all of the conclusions this gal makes, but it certainly was thought provoking. Also check out the intro section "I Did Not Choose to Be This Way".

Overall though, while our opinions definitely differ in some political matters, this gal's spiritual standpoint on issues seemed solid. It was nice to see someone else thinking about such issues in a similar though not identical manner to myself. I don't have time to go over all my thoughts in detail, but I'd love to discuss the stuff with anyone... just drop me a line. (Let's see if she checks her referrer logs and then drops by here and drops me a line :))

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Went out to a Madison Mallards baseball game tonight. A bunch of people from church were there as well. It was an evening filled with food, flabby folks, and fabulous prizes.

We got little wrist bands that entitled us to unlimited food and drink until the end of the 5th inning. The food was... adequate. When my dad had described the deal to me before hand, I had pictured Chile's or Applebee's style fare -- baby back ribs, chicken sandwiches, monster burgers, onion rings. As it turned out the food was much simpler: typical boyscout troop fund-raising vendor chow. Nevertheless, they had soda in cans as opposed to horrendously flat keg style, and they had hot peppers for me to add to my brat, so I was satisfied.

As for flabby folks, sometime around the 7th inning stretch I noticed a gentlemen and his lady friend standing some distance to my left. They seemed to be enjoying each others' company quite a lot... quite a lot. The fellow had a semi mullet looking bit of hair coming off the back of his head, several large tattoos on his arms, and some massive chest hair struggling to leap out of the neck of his t-shirt, along with a healthy paunch. Speaking of his t-shirt... when I glanced over, before being overcome with embarressment at seeing two adults play doctor in the middle of the stands, I noticed that this gentlemen's outerwear was a purple t-shirt with modified sleeves and an enlarged neck... the shirt seemed devoid of adornment besides some simple white lettering on the front...

White lettering... purple shirt??

No... no way...

*glance back*

Hmm... his back is too me... oh wait... he's turning...


Oh my!

It was indeed a heavily tweaked shirt bearing the name of my proud alma mater...
I just hope that the fellow picked it up for fifty cents at the local thrift store as opposed to $10 when he was a School of Speech junior in 1974. Of course it's always dangerous to judge by appearences, but... well, this guy simply didn't look like quite the material one would expect to have graduated from e-town's finest educational establishment.

Oh yes... and the fabulous prizes. First, around the second inning, my mom won a pair of lifetime season tickets to the Mallards' games. (Of course, given the average lifetime of Madison minor league teams, that might only be a year or two of free tickets) Then, a couple innings later, my dad and my sister both won prizes... my dad won eight tickets to the playoff games at the end of this season, and my sister won a Mallard bobble-head doll. Oh yeah, and my dad got a t-shirt thrown to him at some point too... After the game we stopped at a gas station and my dad bought a lottery ticket... and my sister got a scratch of ticket... which paid for itself through a $2 prize. Quite a night full of loot.

Oh yes, and I found out one other interesting piece of information... a certain friend of mine from high school is now engaged... oh man... I dunno if Dolson knows this yet or not, but I do recall a conversation we had at church a while back, and it turns out that his prediction may be correct... heh... oh well... thankfully my life is not American Pie so I don't have to feel in too much of a hurry.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Ok, I was thinking of what to write today... alot of random crap... some criticism... of myself and other people... just not a lot of nice stuff was coming up... so I decided to simply write about answered prayer instead.

Among other things I did today, I went to Sauk City with my family for dinner... A sort of familial version of senior least that's my way of understanding my parents perspective. Anyhow, as we were driving home God answered a very simple prayer in a very real and immediate way. Now... I don't know whether I was the only one in the car praying or whether other people were doing so as well... since there were four of us in the car, all four of us might have been praying for the same thing... however if we were, we did it silently. Anyhow... it was rather nice. I thanked God for it afterwards... it got me thinking about the nature of prayer.

I wonder if God bothers to answer prayers if there won't be people around to appreciate the fact that he has done something. In other words, if you pray something either so big, or so far away, or so vague or whatever, that you won't be able to see or discern any answer to that prayer, is it likely that any answer will be forthcoming. I don't know the answer to this question, but it makes me wonder about my prayers for various geo-politcal events and people in other countries... not that I'll stop praying for them but... I mean if I pray for some general thing to happen in some other country, I may not even be interested enough to follow the story in the news, so that even if God does something, I might not know about it....

On the other hand.... the operation in Iraq did go pretty smoothly... hmmm....

Oh yes... on the music front... the song You Don't Miss Me by Starflyer 59 has perhaps the most beautiful and perfect refrain in all of music. I can't describe it exactly, so you have to go and listen to it (contact me for help on finding the album), but I'm certain that it's better than drugs, and it's probably almost as good as sex.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

We went to the opera tonight.

I'll wait a moment or two to let that one sink in...

No, seriously, we went to the opera tonight... the we being myself and my parents, and the opera being... well, the opera.

Well... not exactly... you see, it was "Opera in the Park". In other words we were outside... and it wasn't an actual complete opera... it was selections from a number of different operas. Yeah... not quite as impressed now are you. Neither was I. However, I don't want to bad mouth the whole affair too badly, since I had a pretty good time. The acoustics were remarkably good, considering they had to amplify the whole orchestra and the singers to get the sound across the whole park. The crowd was definitely a bit more serious looking than the crowd in the park for the fire works on fourth of July, but on the whole it was a rather proletarian gathering. I do now know however why people enjoy the opera... I would go again... but... hopefully sometime in the future...

After getting home, I watched one of the "Thin Man" movies that happened to be on PBS. It was one that I don't own... it was quite enjoyable... I loved the usage of the term "fresh"! You just don't get that anymore... you get a sexual harrassment lawsuit.


Thursday, July 17, 2003

I had the most amazing dream this morning before I woke up. It was better than any Hollywood summer blockbuster... not only more action but more plot and character development as well. Unfortunately I can't recall everything that happened... I do know this however... it was definitely in the "sci-fi thriller" genre. I remember being onboard a space craft, and I know that we were being stalked by something or other. I was cast with a bunch of people I didn't know... so don't worry, I wasn't dreaming about any of you... actually... that's kind of interesting I guess... do any of you dream about completely made up people? Anyhow, I also vividly recall the take off from the spaceport. Evidently they used some sort of mass driver propulsion to get the ships underway, and I could feel the rather violent acceleration. We were definitely on a war ship and not a pleasure cruiser.

Well, that's enough about my entertainment for the day. Today I worked on more cleaning and organizing... and more painting. The converted British lancers are looking good... real good... I hope the Egyptians I making from the left overs look as good.... I'm not sure how I'm going to cut the hats to make good looking... fezes? fezi? Just what is the plural of fez? hmmm....

Oh yes... and I got the application for my apartement in the mail today... and faxed it back... now I just have to get my 'rents to cut a check for the first month's rent and deposit... of course... they're getting most of that money back from my tax return... really... they are!

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Sweet. I just got an email from my boss. Seems that not only is my salary towards the higher end of the range he quoted me, but I also got bumped up from an RA I to and RA II. Very cool... now I will have more money to repay my student loans! Debt free by 25! Just in time to take on car payments...

Other than that exciting news it's been rather quiet around here. Cleaning the basement little by little... painting figures, reading books... neglecting to eat regularly... I need to get my schedule in line.

Oh yeah, if you want to know what I'm making ask me... It's not huge, but it should be enough...

One more think, it looks like I'm going to be filling out the paper work to get an apartment about 8 blocks away from my work place. 450 sq. ft. Not huge, but enough space for me. If you're going to be in the Nashville area after August 1st of this year, you'll have to let me know.

Also, the offer to purchase me an mp3 player is still out there... anyone can volunteer to do that.

Friday, July 11, 2003

I am back in Chicago... After three days in Nashville...

So, take home lesson number one is: God's creation is beautiful...

But I can't just tell you that -- rather, let me describe to you the past couple days.

Tuesday I woke up after what may have been the worst night of sleep in my life. I'm actually uncertain as to whether I slept at all the whole night! I think it must have been nerves, cause I slept beautifully the rest of the week. Anyhow, Carl and Cliff had been kind enough to put me up for the night, and Cliff woke me up at 4:30. I got ready to leave, and was out the door by 5:10. Got to the Dempster El stop and got on the 5:33 express to the loop. Jumped on to an orange line train and was on my way to Midway. Man those security lines were long!! I was somewhat worried that I would miss my flight cause of security, but I got through with a little bit of time to spare.

The flight down was fine. I was amazed by how many people seemed to have above ground pools in their backyards as we took off. Seriously, being at altitude and looking down at the ground is so much fun... I could do it all day. I noticed that in Illinois all the farmland was marked off by regular square intervals of roadway... county highways cutting the land into regular sized townships. When we started descending over Tennessee however the story was different. There was no order whatsoever... few roads... trees running in random curved patterns, no doubt along some minor tributary. I was kind of surprised how large the Cumberland River still looked from the air.

When I got out into the terminal, I searched around for Di, but strangely her mom found me first. Di arrived soon afterwards. We took off and drove to the first living possibility on the list... the basement of a house that a woman was renting out as a two bedroom. It was an ok place but it provoked a strange sense of deja vu. It seemed like the basement of my aunt's cabin in Northern Wisconsin.

There was some more deja vu as we drove away. We came to a highway interchange and I swore that I had seen it before, and stayed at some nearby hotel on a family vacation some years ago... weird.

Anyhow, Tuesday afternoon I went in to lab and met Larry and the rest of the lab. Couldn't find him for a while, and ended up conferring with several lab people before actually finding him. In fact, Patricia the lab tech actually read my message on Larry's whiteboard and came to find me... she was kind enough to introduce me and show me around the lab.

Overall I am quite impressed with the place. The facility is only a year old, and they're moving into some new rooms as well that are totally renovated as of this year. The lab has good funding... it seems to have good press too... the people seem amiable... although there was another moment of deja vu... I felt convinced that I had seen the lab manager, Jason, before... and not just in the lab photograph.

Wednesday was another hot day of apartment hunting. Oh... yeah the hotel was nice... I slept very well that night in a huge bed. It was a fun day overall... lab meeting in the afternoon was interesting... and I got to be there for the announcement of a rather major leap forward in technique.

In the evening, the Yaos were kind enough to take me to dinner. We went to a Chinese restaurant which was acceptable... it was not quite up to Chicago standards... butit was still good. Mr. Yao interrogated me on my career plans for the next two decades... I think I held my own fairly well. I became convinced though that I need to learn more Chinese.

Thursday Di and I went to more apartments... and then we got to the airport way too early because I thought my departure time from Nashville was actually my landing time at Midway... On this flight the real spectacular feature was the clouds. They were amazing... I wanted to climb them... to lay around in them... the sun setting in the west provided brilliant illumination to them.

So... overall then my week consisted of beautiful scenery during two flights, and even more beautiful scenery in between...

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Once again I'm at NU. The drive down was ok, except that I missed the I-894 exit west of Milwaukee. That was ok... the drive downtown was somewhat scenic.. all that urban blight. The other problem was that I think I was verging on unconscioussness part of the drive there... more accurately I got lost in some imaginations, and then came back to reality, suddenly thinking that I had not really been conscious of the last mile I drove. Oh well, God kept me safe on the drive.

Ok, this is only a brief update, there's some more thoughtful stuff I want to post later, but I'm going to dinner soon.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Yesterday was the 4th of July. I was privlidged to be able to celebrate with friends and family. As for family, we grilled out hot dogs and brats for lunch. As for friends, for dinner I went over to Karthik's place and ate with he and his family. I must say, it was a rather spectacular meal. Grilled marinated shrimp, 24 ounce steaks, corn on the cob and mashed potatoes. I was very full at the end.

One interesting bit of general chemistry we saw demonstrated during dinner: We put a couple Corona's in the freezer to cool them down quickly. When we took them out, they had a nice looking frostiness on the outside, but they were obviously still liquid on the inside. We took lime wedges and stuck them in the mouths of the bottles. When we pushed the lime wedges into the liquid, the contents of the bottle instantly froze solid. Now, explain this phenomenon in 200 words.

After dinner we headed over to the park to watch the fireworks. We weren' even at the main park, but rather some other park with a decent view off of Chapel Hill. The place was still packed. It was smokey... it was humid... there were bugs... it was summer! On a side note, I truly feel sorry for anyone who can't enjoy fireworks without the help of some sort of psychotropic substance... :(
Well, yesterday is likely the last time I will see Karthik for some time, since he's leaving for his job on the west coast come tuesday. At least we had a good time.

Today was just painting and helping my dad clean church. I am excited about painting again. Amazing what graduating will do for you...

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

It's weird, but I don't think I like watching television shows where people get embarrassed. Maybe that's why I don't like that much television.

On the other hand, this weeks email is the epitome of great entertainment. Seriously folks... it's the best.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

I am pleased to tell you that I have been authorized by Esther Chou to bring you the following very important announcement.

*Cue the fanfare*


*Cue drumroll*


And the moment you've all been waiting for....

It is the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Thank you for your time.
Wow... I feel very special this evening... my voice... is recognized. It's good to know.

So, it seems that neither of my portable cd players are working anymore. Not that I'm surprised. One is older than heck... actually come to think of it they're both rather old... but the younger one was also a cheap-o thing. That plus, I think I may have dropped both of them at some point. Seriously, I need to stop trying to juggle so many things at once.

Anyhow, what I've decided to do, thanks to the timely arrival of another 30 gb of hard drive space courtesy of Miss Chou at the Milwaukee... um... Journal... Sentinel?? Yeah.. so thanks to this infusion of fresh storage space into my system, I've decided to transfer my entire CD collection to my computer. This has been a great idea. I've realized that I'm usually "lazy" in my music selection... there is a set of a dozen or two albums that I usually end up listening to. As I've been ripping stuff to my hard drive and listening to winamp on "random" I've discovered how much good music I actually have. It's amazing! All I need now is an mp3 player! Any readers who want to send me one, or even send me ideas on where to find a good deal on one are welcome to do so.

Oh yes... one other thing...

Congratulations you two... you know who you are.