Monday, April 30, 2007

Us on Easter Morning

Friday, April 27, 2007

A Prayer to Share

I meet with a couple of guys from my work every Thursday morning for prayer. Last week (4/19), we prayed for a high school principal who has bone cancer of some sort. After a significant amount of attempted treatment, he has been sent home from the hospital to live however many days he has left, because there is nothing more that doctors can do for him at this stage of the disease. He is about the same age as my dad was when he died and has an 8 year old son, as well as a couple of grown children.

In the years between when my dad was diagnosed with lymphoma and when he passed away, I remember him saying how hyper-aware he had become of the little things in his life. Knowing how limited his remaining time was caused him to notice and appreciate everything so much more intensely. I am sure that the man we recently prayed for feels the same way.

So I am praying not only for the man whose life is being cut short, but also for me to purposefully enjoy and to be aware of the little things in life. To pay attention to life's details and not take them for granted. From moments spent with loved ones, to every little breath that I am still allowed to take. If I can truly look at life that way, then I think even difficult circumstances will be more bearable, feeling grateful for the chance to overcome them and looking forward to their hopeful conclusion.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Limited Laughter Lately

Yesterday, while I was waiting for my carpool buddy in front of our work building, I smiled when recalling the moment with Lucas again that I blogged about yesterday. Then I tried to remember before that, when the last time was that I really laughed heartily. When I drew a blank, I realized there are very few moments in my life now that I all-out laugh. Sure, Amanda and the kids illicit plenty of smiles and more than a decent amount of chuckles. But I very rarely laugh uncontrollably anymore.

Have I gotten too serious? Or does the stress in my life usually overcome the joy in it? Or have I just heard so many jokes and experienced enough of this world so that there is very little I see that takes me by surprise? Or do we not get out enough and/or spend time with other people to hear jokes and be surprised? Maybe I need to seek and encounter more comedy in my entertainment (books, movies, etc)? Or maybe I'm just a normal 35 year old? Any thoughts, suggestions or comments are welcomed.

Laughing With Lucas

Sunday afternoon, I was holding my son Lucas while we were going through our normal routine of praying and singing before bed (a nap in this case). Instead of resting his head on my shoulder like he normally does though, he put his face right next to mine and was just smiling really big.

When I turned in his direction, all I could see were his big eyes and smiling face just barely inches from mine. I paused and smiled back at him, then he put his head on my shoulder. A few seconds later I looked to my right and there he was again, smiling and staring at me before we both chuckled and turned away. The next time he did it he kept his head a little bit lower, so that I could only see his big brown eyes when I turned in his direction. It was so darned precious and playful that I couldn't help just cracking up, which made him bury his head into my shoulder and crack up laughing too. It was a really sweet moment.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Musical Misunderstanding

I don't understand people who listen to smooth jazz, elevator music, or R&B while working out. I have a hard enough time getting moving and motivated without having soothing, mellow music lulling me to sleep.

I personally prefer something loud and fast to get me energized. If the music inspires dancing, boosts my energy, or increases my intensity then it seems logical to me that it would translate to more motivation for muscular movement in the gym (or running, etc). Even if they don't like rock, there is still rap, techno, and numerous other faster-paced options to utilize. Wouldn't you think at least one of them would be more enjoyable for exercising?

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Another musical mystery is people who solely listen to classic rock. There are only two causes for this phenomenon that I can conjure. One theory is that listening to the songs of yesteryear brings the individual back to days of their life that they would prefer to still be living in, maybe when they were happier and more content, maybe freer of responsibility or whatever. So they are basically living their lives in the past as best as they can.

The other is that they are mentally too old to "get into" new music. Even if it sounds strikingly similar to the stuff they grew up with, their brain is past the point of absorbing the speed and intensity of it. But since they already learned to appreciate the oldies (their brains were in the right "mode" back then) they can still enjoy it. Does anyone else have a theory or explanation for it?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Car Pooling

When it's my week to drive, my car pool buddy actually takes Dramamine (for motion sickness) before riding with me. No joke.

When it's his week to drive though, I have to listen to music that makes me want to stab sharpened pencils into my ears.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Cake Kick

I have been listening to my mp3 CDs at work, starting with #1 (which is from 2001 or older) and proceeding through them chronologically (I have 24 total). In doing so, I came across a band that I haven't listened to in a while - Cake!

They are a Sacramento-based band that most people haven't heard of, even though they probably would recognize some of their numerous hits if they heard them. Amanda and I even saw them in concert, many years ago in Florida.

I have been singing various tunes of theirs for several days now - while driving Amanda crazy in the process. The current one that has been stuck in my head all day today is Frank Sinatra (link to mp3).

An old man sits collecting stamps,
in a room all filled with Chinese lamps.
He saves what others throw awaaay.
He says that he'll be rich someday.

Friday, April 06, 2007

I Hate Hate Laws!

Hate laws (crimes and speech) are sickening displays of our authorities abusing their power.

They punish people based on what they were saying, thinking, or feeling, instead of basing it on their actions only. Additionally, they are giving preferential treatment to the victim of a crime or the recipient of a verbal statement based on race, gender, sexual preference, etc.

Some annoying examples are below:

That's so gay!

From Florida.

NY too!

Not sure how I feel about this one.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Relegitimized!!

As of Sunday, my car is finally legitimately registered again!

Big deal you say? Well, because I live in California and have a 16 year old vehicle with high (128k+) miles, I have been going through the following process since October of last year:
  1. Smog test the vehicle - fail test
  2. Performing some routine maintenance with the hopes that it would help.
  3. Have vehicle retested - fail test again.
  4. Go to the DMV to ask for an extension - granted until end of March, pay late fees.
  5. Take it to a shop for repairing - they refused to touch it until I replaced some of the aftermarket parts I installed with CARB (California Air Resources Board) certified ones.
  6. Ordering some new CARB approved aftermarket parts to replace the ones I previously installed (at the time that I installed them I had no clue that this would be a problem).
  7. Take it to a different shop for repairing - finally passed the freakin' smog tests!
  8. Call the DMV and have them send me a new sticker.
  9. Receive and install the new registration sticker - 6 months after starting the reregistration effort.
Now that that (those double words always seem wrong to me) wretched process is behind me, I don't have to worry about going through it for another 1.5 years - glorious!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Learning New Tricks, Albeit Slowly

Last Saturday (3/24/07) was my third time snowboarding. Let me start back at the beginning though, in case you care...

My first time on the slopes, I was assured by my co-worker and accomplice that I didn't need lessons and that his pointers would be sufficient to learn how to snowboard. Needless to say, I fell so many times that my butt looked like that of an orangutan (bruised completely purple - no kidding). So halfway through the day, I came to the realization that my friend was either an ignorant fool, or more probably (knowing him) he just didn't want to ski by himself while he waited for me to complete the instruction.

The second time I tried it, I opted for professional instruction. There was actually a class for non-first time beginners, which leads me to believe that there are probably many people in my shoes. People foolish enough to give snowboarding a try without any lessons, then regret it and seek some guidance the next time. I greatly appreciated the many pointers and additional practice time that I received that morning. For the remainder of the day I still had more spills then I would like to admit, but they were significantly less numerous than the first time. And I was definitely able to apply some of the tips that I had learned in the morning's instruction. The experience was still painful, but there was definitely some progress.

Which brings us to the third time - being last Saturday. I still had my share of spills, especially at the beginning of the day (keep in mind it's been a year since my previous effort) and I started off pretty conservatively, but notice I said started off. Towards the end of the day, my knees were hurting and my quads were burning (especially my right trailing leg), but I a lot of improvement.

Too bad this season is just about over. I'm really looking forward to the next time though when I'm gonna shred the slopes with my insane jumps, rail slides, half-pipe maneuvers, etc. Well, maybe eventually someday.

If you are familiar with snowboarding, then you will understand the list of improvements I observed below, otherwise it will be really boring. OK, it's probably boring either way, but here it is anyway:
  • I was finally comfortable getting off of the lifts and coasting away from the disembarking area, able to calmly head in the direction that I needed to go and more importantly, without falling or running into anybody.
  • Faster, faster! I actually allowed myself to pick up speed without worrying as much about needing to slow down. Gaining confidence.
  • I was able to react quicker and easier to other skiers or snowboarders. If someone cut me off, wiped out in front of me, or was headed for a collision course, I was able to react better and actually maneuver quickly, instead of just panicking and ditching myself into the snow for an emergency stop.
  • I felt comfortable both on my heel edge and my toe edge. I was actually casually switching between the two, zig zagging to both sides of the slope as I made my way down.
  • Not only that, but I was also able to slow myself down on both edges while zig zagging. Earlier, I would make my way down a bit, brake on my heel edge - then repeat. They were separate and disjointed maneuvers. Much smoother now.
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