Summer Evenings

30 05 2012

This post was supposed to be an uploaded video I took when I went for a walk around my neighborhood the other night. As you can see, the video did not upload correctly (at all). I’ve noticed that WordPress hasn’t been accepting direct video uploads from my new phone. I’m not sure what the point of having the WordPress app is if it won’t let you do one-touch things like that, but no matter. I’ll just keep going as if I don’t care. Which I do. But, dissimulation, activate:


Warm summer evenings are a double-edged sword. I’m most familiar with them from my junior and senior college years, when I lived off campus in houses that never used air conditioning because they were inhabited by intelligent college students who knew the one rule about using air conditioners: You never, EVER use the air conditioner because it costs a billion dollars.

Well, at least I’m fairly sure that’s a rule. I know that you can’t really standardize that sort of thing, but we certainly all seemed to be in agreement about the fact that we could never, EVER use the air conditioner because we were very cost-conscious. Keep in mind that these were the same college guys who would buy fast food five times a week.


I love walking around a nice neighborhood on a warm summer evening. You can feel the gentle rush of air across your body as your pace quickens, but it never penetrates to actually chill you at all. It’s as if you’re continually being sprayed by a water bottle and a fan, only they’re invisible, and you don’t get wet.


One thing I’ve inherited from my youth is a desire to save money in all sorts of situations. For instance, I won’t buy my favorite cereal unless it’s on sale. It can be on sale for just twenty cents less than it normally costs, and I generally decide that this “qualifies” as saving money. You know what I realized? I make money! I can buy my favorite cereal and spend that extra dollar fifty every two weeks because I’m saving money on a grander scale (which I am) and not being extravagant on a smaller scale (no fast food more than once a week). But I still won’t run the air conditioner.


In the video that didn’t upload, I was walking in the general direction of my alma mater — the surrounding neighborhood is really nice — and I was whistling the theme song to “The Great Escape” with Steven McQueen. I remember watching the movie with my dad and being very disappointed when Steven’s character was apprehended amid barbed wire towards the end of the movie.

Back then, I didn’t really get what was being conveyed with his throwing the baseball in solitary confinement at the end of the film. I only knew that I wanted him to escape, and he did not. I wonder if I was better able to enjoy movies before I learned the nuances of film. The Sound of Music still moves me primarily because of the memories it stirs of watching the two VHS tapes we’d get from the library because the movie was so long that it had to be on two tapes.

I later found out that my Dad doesn’t care for that movie (or was it my aunt? I think they’ve changed their opinion back and forth over the years, but I know it resonates with them in a very different way than with me.)


In the middle of hot, uncomfortable nights when even a sheet seems too suffocating, I am still grateful for warm summer evenings.


10 06 2010

I enjoyed walking home tonight.  It was colder than it had been lately, and I wished I had found an excuse to walk farther from home than I did.

I started to look at my cell phone, checking something or other, and I stopped.  I think it was the intense pleasure the weather and darkening sky held for me, but it felt so terribly stupid to stare at a little screen when I could be relishing such a nice evening of whatever it is the senses have to offer.

I wondered if it was God’s pleasure to create nights like this.  Of course it is.  But I realized that what I really wanted to thank God for was more than just the cool (not cold) air on my skin, or the sweet smell of the pavement and the brisk air.  It wasn’t just the rushing of my blood as I walked faster, or the lingering taste of fruit I’d eaten a little while ago.  It was in one sense the sum of these things, but I suspect I was really experiencing just the faintest shadow of real pleasure, or perhaps just willing myself to imagine it.  I’m sure it would be an insult to think that our dull mortal senses could really detect the Eternal in the temporal things that share this world with us.  But I’m also sure that it would be a great mistake to ignore what they’re hinting at.  Can our souls sense things, per se?  I’m not sure.  Maybe their “senses” grow more acute over time, if we practice with them.  Maybe they’re directly connected to and influenced (as I think they are, in some sense) by our senses and actions. While something eternal, like our souls, can’t really be changed or broken by the passing, it can surely be better framed or obscured by what we choose to do with our mortal existence.

If we use our senses to encompass and push towards what they can’t directly experience, I think it becomes a lot easier to imagine what could be in the actual center of the image itself.

This isn’t meant to be some apologetic for divine realities, as such, but an expression of what I think I’m experiencing.  Perhaps it’s just the delight at experiencing some real bliss this week after all the stress, and I want to make the excitement into something greater than it is…but I’d prefer to think I’ve stumbled onto (and past, unfortunately, as the “sensation” itself is already diminished — though not in an emotional trough and peak sort of way) what we’d be far better served to trip over more often.

Domesticating Animals

14 03 2010


I’ve been reading Lewis’s The Problem of Pain on my lunch break over the past couple of weeks, and I was struck by something when reading the chapter about animal pain that’s entitled “Animal Pain.”  It seems that the ideal life for animals in most humans’ perception is for them to live in a wide, expansive world where their habitat remains pristine.  Most people wouldn’t wish for the complete eradication of predators simply because we’re too attuned to the the “circle of life” necessity in nature.  However, I think most people would agree that an ideal world would be one in which no animals need prey upon others.  Nevertheless, my point here is that the idealized world for animals is for them to live in peace without human interference in their lives.  Lewis, as usual, makes an insightful point — that people are meant to be understood in the context of their relationship to God, and that likewise, animals are meant to be understood in their relationship to people, who were given dominion over them.  What it means, among many, many other things, is that making animals more “human” is a good and wonderful thing.  Teaching them to obey and do good (guide dogs come to mind, among other things)  is one way in which I confidently assert that we are fulfilling our role of ruling the beasts.

(Obviously we’re not doing this in the vast majority of instances, but it’s worth pointing out that humans can and should care for and tame animals.  Something being done wrong in most cases doesn’t mean we should stop trying to do it right when we can.  It’s not a comprehensive argument for invading rainforests, people.)

The main reason I thought about this is because it seems to parallel our sinful nature’s desire to be left alone in our natural habitat of sin.  Many people simply ask the “religious people” to leave them alone.  Live and let live, as it were.  But we can’t.  Leaving people alone in their sinful state, ignorant of God’s grace, is like leaving the junkyard dog alone to chew on a tire and wallow in filth.  The dog might be happier at first because he’s allowed to retain his sense of control over his environment, but we’re all designed to serve our Master.  We’re all made to live for others and the Only One, but our instinctive desire is to cling to our familiar filth and perceived dominion over our lives.  It’s not so much that we don’t want to be tamed — many people even suspect that they would actually be “happier” if they were to abandon themselves unto God, but the primal fear of losing their grip on their situation holds them back again and again.  So many animals are looking for a leader to follow, and it is our sin that has given them so few good masters to serve.  We, however, will always have our Good Master to serve, if only we can abandon our junkyards for His highway.

Hal, Paul and Andre

30 12 2009

Changing chances for romances constantly constrain advances

In their predominant places, peering blankly through the faces

Of the cantankerous laughter that comes still and ever faster.

After all the subsidized betrothals have been loathed, despised

By churlish, obtuse renegades who never say what they’d have made

Of opportunity and chances, yet they importune your glances;

Never can the ill-advised beginnings of motives, disguised

with passion for the passion’s sake, ever hope to soothe or slake

The wounds brought on by coons high gone

Or forgettably true mistakes.

Diddy’s Release

22 10 2009

Bad ideas start the way good ideas end

With intentions great in the interest of friends

So check yourself next time and maybe you’ll find

That once-good idea is now less than sublime

Cut throat (Machine Gun Post)

11 10 2009

I like finding things out about people.  Knowing something about someone without having to ask them makes me feel smart — probably because I figure no one could ever find anything out about me.  Here I am, in a little cranny, hoping someone looks for me but does not find me.  I have recurring dreams about hiding from people or things, and I never feel that I am hidden enough, and am usually discovered or shot.  Once, stabbed.

I like hiding from people.  I was playing a game (wouldn’t you know?) with some people last night in which there is lots of hiding and lots of searching for the dead.  It is called Cutthroat Mafia, and it is capitalized because it is an official game.  I remember playing it once in youth group growing up, and once in college in the dark and soundproof production center in our school’s film department.  The little sound stage had special walls in it that absorbed all the sound, and it was unbearable to sit in there, in the black, for more than a minute or two.  I guess I don’t like hiding that well.  Or maybe it’s that, without ambient noise, I feel completely exposed.

I don’t know why I like the idea of hiding so much.  I like going places people will not expect me to be, and sort of insulating myself from the sphere of those I know for a time.  I somehow ended up telling a couple kids last week about what I liked to do when I was in jr. high.  One thing I told them was that I would ride my bike down to the Baywood Market, buy some Tart ‘N Tiny candy, and go read in a hidden little grove of trees.  I also told them some lies in hopes of making them into better people.  I don’t think it worked.

I sometimes wonder (in the swallows of my narcissism) if there are people out there that want to find out things about me.  I don’t tell a lot about myself to people, and I often let them think things about me that are not true, just because I like having a “true” self that few have ever had access to.  This seems neurotic, childish and weird to me.  I think I just want to feel special.  Most people do, though.  I felt special today when I ripped a shot into the mesh from 20 yards out on a rolling ball.  I also “one-timed” a pass into the net on a two on one earlier in the day.  It was a good day for soccer.

See?  I just told you about some good things I did while playing soccer today, but I think I’m purposely letting you assume that I take a lot of pride in those.  Well, I do, but not because I think they were something that remotely matters, or that such things will enhance my standing among my peers.  Rather, I let readers think I care a lot about pick up soccer because I want to feel as if I am better than people see me, or something.

I think this might be some perverted form of humility.  It’s certainly very ________.  I have started lots of sentences with “I” in this post (MGP rules), but I don’t care about changing it.  I swing back and forth between obsessing about how I look to those I don’t know and resolving not to care about how I look even around those I am close to.  I don’t care about wearing glasses in pictures, I don’t care if my hair looks good, I don’t care what I am wearing at all.  I simply want to have fun, do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.  I am afraid that I’ve yet to track down a single member of this triumvirate, but hold strong, dear readers.  I do not write for you to know about me, but for you to travel with me.  I share with you not so that you can see into the intricate details (yawn) of my life, but so that I do not feel alone.  Maybe I also just like being esoteric for the sake of feeling pompous.  I suppose pomposity has its advantages, after all.  How much do circus ringmasters make again?

It occurs to me, as I started to write about hobbits of all thing, that perhaps I am reticent to “reveal myself” in fear that any disdain or rejection will then reflect upon my actual self, and not just the image of myself that I have, through negligence, perpetuated.

I think I probably just like screwing with people though.

* * * * *


I Could Be Someone

5 10 2009

I like to think of myself more highly than I ought.  I like to think I am more put-together than most, and more worthy of attention than any others.

I like liking myself more than I actually like my self, one might say.

When explaining the word “vanity” a few weeks ago, I was amused to be reminded that vanity is not just an old word for “pride,” but also an actual room furnishing.  I suppose it is appropriate that a mirror on steroids would be so named.

We spend so much time trying to see ourselves as others see us, all so that we can then present that “self” to those “others” without fearing that they might see something we are unaware of, and be judged or perceived in an unfavorable manner.  When I roll down the window in the car, I always check my reflection before getting out of the car to make sure my hair and clothes are just the way I want them.  Part of this is probably my obsessive side, but vanity is surely the impetus of this action.  I want to know how I am seen, so that I can place myself properly in the ladder of esteem that we all find ourselves placed on by some nebulous group of people.  It’s more than popularity or status; it’s something about our insecure natures wrestling with their desire to be individuals but to conform to the accepted pattern of individuality.  Paradoxical as this is, I’m sure I’ve been perverted by this mindset for years now.  I scoff at the people who buy expensive brands because I judge them as wanting to promote some image of affluence or aloofness while I try to pick out my clothes based on what I want other people to think of how I pick out my outfits.  We all had parents that were too smart to let us dress ourselves (except for this guy), but now we find ourselves on the opposite end of the spectrum.  We wear nothing that has not been approved for us by someone else.  I try to project my “I look like I am fashionable by accident because I don’t really care that much about fashion” look because (I think) I am scared that people might think I am either trying too hard to look like people are supposed to look, or that people will think I am trying too hard not to look like people are supposed to. (Rephrase:  I am trying to something in between hipster and preppy.  Please tell me what this category is, since I’m sure there is one.)

Innocence, once lost, is gone.  We can’t pretend people aren’t watching us anymore, because we know they are — because we are watching them too.  We are so used to finding our self worth by comparing ourselves with those around us that the only way we can convince ourselves to forgo this conformity is to try as hard as possible not to act/dress/scuba like most people.  Either way, we are reacting to others instead of doing what we want to do.

We don’t know what we want anymore because we want to be what we are supposed to be by the majority (or enlightened minority).

So, what do you want?

Say Yes

25 07 2009

I don’t really like Zooey Deschanel (I don’t think that’s how you spell her name, but if I look it up, the terrorists win).

I enjoyed watching Yes Man because it was funny.   I think I am often too quick to say “no” to people, but I don’t think saying “yes” to a lot of stuff is always good either.

Actually, I just think the whole dichotomy is pretty stupid.  But I definitely have been trying to be more spontaneous lately.  We could all stand to do that.  At least, most of us.

The Headline Will Make You Laugh

3 06 2009


‘Gay penguins’ rear adopted chick

A Humboldt penguin chick (file)

Humboldt penguin numbers are declining in the wild (file image)

Two “gay” male penguins have hatched a chick and are now rearing it as its adoptive parents, says a German zoo.

The zoo, in Bremerhaven, northern Germany, says the adult males – Z and Vielpunkt – were given an egg which was rejected by its biological parents.

It says the couple are now happily rearing the chick, said to have reached four weeks old.

The zoo made headlines in 2005 over plans to “test” the sexual orientation of penguins with homosexual traits.

Three pairs of male penguins had been seen attempting to mate with each other and trying to hatch offspring from stones.

Since the chick arrived, they have been behaving just as you would expect a heterosexual couple to do
Bremerhaven zoo

The zoo flew in four females in a bid to get the endangered birds to reproduce – but quickly abandoned the scheme after causing outrage among gay rights activists, who accused it of interfering in the animals’ behaviour.

The six “gay” penguins remain at the zoo, among them Z and Vielpunkt who are now rearing the chick together after being given the rejected egg.

“Z and Vielpunkt, both males, gladly accepted their ‘Easter gift’ and got straight down to raising it,” said a zoo statement.

“Since the chick arrived, they have been behaving just as you would expect a heterosexual couple to do. The two happy fathers spend their days attentively protecting, caring for and feeding their adopted offspring.”

Humboldt penguins are normally found in coastal Peru and Chile, but their numbers have been dwindling due to overfishing, reports the AFP news agency.

‘Drive to mate’

There have been previous reports of exclusive male-to-male pairings among penguins, some of which have also included the rearing of chicks.

Homosexual behaviour in is well documented in many different animals, but it is not understood in detail, says Professor Stuart West, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oxford.

Professor West says it has been suggested that homosexual activity could serve various purposes – for instance, it may relate to social bonding and establishment of dominance among bonobo chimps, while in some bird species, females may come together to rear young.

Other animals may simply exhibit a “drive to mate”, while others may, like humans, enjoy non-procreative sexual activity.

“Homosexuality is nothing unusual among animals,” Bremerhaven zoo said on Wednesday.

“Sex and coupling up in our world do not necessarily have anything to do with reproduction.”


15 03 2009

We don’t always get what we want, thankfully.  Imagine if your every impulse was satisfied, or even a few different ones throughout the day.  Our desires often override good judgment, but it’s not in the ignorance of these desires that we find temperance.  It’s in the subduction of them.  I had somehow gotten the idea that our desires are always going to be stronger than our penchant for good;  I hadn’t really tried to eliminate a lot of childish behavior because, quite frankly, I didn’t think it was worth trying.  Passions rule our lives so often that we can often start to believe that they will always be that strong, that we can do nothing to quell that yearning.  In fact, it was in a little bit of spiritual retooling that I began to suspect that the whole “you will not be tempted more than you are able” thing was actually related to our behavior.  We are not always going to be sheltered from the worst that this world has to offer;  there is no “barometer of human capability” that we can’t control.  One has only to look to some of the saints to see examples of those who had significantly quieted the desires of the flesh, and we must not fool ourselves into despairing in the face of temptation.

In one of Leo Tolstoy’s short stories, Father Sergius, an old man faces his fleshly desires head-on, and defeats them at any cost.  Sergius has lived a mostly isolated adulthood until, one day, he is beset by, essentially  a whore.  The story culminates with him shaking, alone in his room, as she coos and begs for him to open the door.  Sergius, ala Joseph, flees from temptation, albeit in a different manner.  The point (since I’m an expert on these things) of the story is, of course, up the to reader to decipher, but I drew a few conclusions of my own.  It is fairly clear that Sergius’s whole time living a disciplined and monastic life is just barely enough to supress his sinful desires when the woman first knocks on his hut door.  As she persists, his resolve wavers, and his overtly Biblical choice sends a stark message to those who would plead helplessness in the face of their own desires.  Sergius, in an act of desperation, grabs his hatchet and lops off his finger.  He then opens the door, and the woman, shocked as she begins to grasp what has just happened, is eventually led from her own sin as well.

Gratuitous Russian story plug aside, I’ve merely realized lately just how weak humans really are.  Considering how much faith we consistently put in our appearance, resources, abilities and reputation, it is little wonder that we have blinded ourselves to this weakness, but we cannot expect to seriously combat sin unless we put our faith in He who knew no sin.  I’m saddened when people pray to be delivered from temptation without making any adjustments to flee from it themselves.  I’ve been trying to seriously fight my own inclinations towards sloth this year, and it’s gotten more and more difficult the more conscious of it I become.  My thoughts begin to suggest that perhaps my bodily exercise is sufficient; my sinful heart tells me that others are largely to blame for not fulfilling promises or for helping me out.  The bottom line, though, is that I haven’t gotten onto my feet and motivated myself to make some things happen more often than not.  It’s all well and good to proclaim that God will carry us, but we cannot sit around and wait for him to do so and expect to be swept into righteousness.  Every Christian who has truly pursued their Savior has discovered that steep climb, that grueling journey;  of some of the greatest examples of this pursuit, we notice a great commonality among them: they all found rest with Christ, but never on Earth.  The world’s philosophers will sit by the fireplace, telling you why things are, will be, and have been the way they are.  As one called to run, flee, march, soar, get up, and follow, I must stop reveling in the idleness of the world and start throwing myself headlong into the grueling pursuit.  As long as I long for the comfort of my temporary home, I will never seek the everlasting comfort of my eternal one.