Friday, October 10, 2008


I remember a speaker last year say that there are something like a dozen emotions that humans experience, and the one least experienced is awe. Awe. I don't quite know where I'm going with this post because it's hard to describe, but I think 'Awe' sums it up. This past week, I've been overwhelmed by a sense of awe, mainly through my classes as we study nature.

Unlike previous semesters where we just took notes and regurgitated formulas, we're delving into topics that don't have known solutions; they still fluster scientists and engineers. I look back in history at how scientists encountered and solved problems that today seem trivial, yet here we are with a plethora of our own questions, the answers somehow all linked together beautifully to describe the universe. I am in awe at how amazingly intricate, complex, and yet simple nature is. I am in awe by the depth of nature.

By my senior year, we've practically run out of variables to use. We've called upon the English and Greek alphabet, using capital and lower case letters, subscripts and superscripts, and still we joke in class that we'll need to switch to the Hebrew alphabet soon. This is especially true in my Flight Dynamics class. Every day he introduces new variables, new quantities that detail a requirement that must be met for flight. I paused yesterday after class and realized what a miracle it is that an airplane can even fly. Moreover, nature goes about its course - birds fly, gravity keeps us planted, we breath in and out - without ever knowing all the details.

Naturally, more questions come to mind. How trustworthy are our instincts? Is the pursuit of knowledge the only way to understand truth? I'll leave the philosophy open to discussion :-P

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Rafting footage (and carnage?)

For all you crazy outdoor fans out there, or for those who'd rather just watch from their seat... here's a youtube video of one of my favorite rapids, Seidel's Suckhole, that we "successfully" navigated this past May during raft training. By "we" I mean the trainees first run without instructors, and by "successfully" I mean four of the five runs either flipped or ejected half the crew. (Unfortunately, the video isn't of us, but it was taken two days after we were there, at the same water level/volume)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Blog vs. Facebook

Just a quick request to throw out there. Since my blog is also fed to Facebook, I tend to get comments on there rather than here, which is great, but some people don't have access to Facebook :( If you could, try and post your comment, big or small, on the BLOG, so that we can keep the conversation in one central location and available for everyone to read!

If you've already posted a comment on Facebook, feel free to copy/paste it to the blog. Thanks!!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Oh, the places we [can] go...

I'm sitting in Algebra, a tea house in Little Italy just down the road from my apartment, sipping Fijian Tea and browsing through the seemingly endless possibilities of internships, grad schools, NGOs, and volunteer work there is on the world wide web. I suppose it doesn't help that my search is literally a "world wide" search as I'm open to traveling and looking for work in a developing country. Not that I'm overwhelmed, it's actually kinda fun, but throughout this perusing my mind's had a chance to wander a bit and think...

I think there's almost something... not good? ... about having too many choices and moreover, having the opportunity/freedom to choose anything, or sometimes everything, we want. I'm thankful that I'm blessed and I'm grateful for the freedoms that most of the world will never know. But is this the end goal of freedom? Is freedom giving us whatever we want, with endless possibilities?

I remember reading a book last year called The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber, and by his account, historically, Christians didn't ask what God's will was for their vocation until Martin Luther introduced it during the Reformation. Today that's one of the biggest questions for Christian's my age... everyone's searching to find what God wants them to do for the rest of their life, or at least for the next step. But what about back in the day when subsistence "restricted" people's freedoms. Raising cattle, farming, carrying on the family trade were all standard. The majority of history has lived with very little other opportunity.

So while I believe that with greater freedom comes much greater responsibility, and with new opportunities comes new facets for God's will to be lived out, I guess I also believe that we can really overthink our lives. As my ole youth pastor said, God's will is more about who we are than what we do. Or as a monk once wrote (don't ask...) about the mountain of decision: "If you'll take my advice, you'll drop the questions and go right up the mountain." It's actually comforting; it takes faith and it takes guts.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Go East Young Man, Go East

On Saturday I was driving home from Cleveland and saw something I normally don't see: the sunset... in my review mirror.

I've always dreamt of just going, following the sun as it sets. I started this summer as a rafting guide on the intrepid white water of Colorado. With a backpack, duffel bag, bike, and greyhound ticket in hand, I headed West to new terrain and new adventures. But for some reasons that were clear, and for others that I have yet to understand, I found myself going East, going home.

Home. Family. Friends. Rolling green hills with an early morning mist that fills the valley, hovers above the water, and, when the golden sun shines through, looks like a painting of heaven's gates. There is a season for everything; sometimes it is boundless exploration. Sometimes plans change. Sometimes, it is home.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

When Bathroom Stalls and Churches Collide

I've always found the toilet to be an inspirational place, and I know I'm not alone in saying that. So not too long ago I was in Avon, CO sitting on the hot seat in the public bathroom of a Wal-Mart, admiring the surroundings: the graffiti, the writing, the drawings that I'm sure we're all (at least the guys) familiar seeing on stall walls. Maybe admiring isn't the right word. My first impression is, "ugh, how stupid," but after my disgust wears off, I start thinking about how prevalent these thoughts, images, stereotypes, and mindsets are in our culture, and it's really sad. I think it reveals a lot of insight into the disrespect, depravity, and neediness of humanity. The graffiti is evidence of a disregard, or at least an ignorance, of true Eros, Phila, and Agape love as well as real community. The historic and natural response of the church has been to shun these stall-graffitiers (metaphorically speaking) in reaction to that initial disgust. But instead of turning our heads in disgust, I think the church needs to take a good look at those stalls and soak it in until the disgust wears off and we can respond with compassion.

I'm imagining what it would look like for a church to be made up of those stall graffitiers. Don't get me wrong here, I am not saying that current church goers are even close to perfection; I bet churchies (church goers) even graffiti on stalls. What I'm getting at is not so much about behavior but more about the current attitude that outsiders have toward the church as well as the disposition of the church toward outsiders. Much of the world stereotypes churchies as goody-two-shoes, placing an unfit and weighty expectation for churchies to be perfect. This stereotype does two things: it sets up the church for failure, resulting in reproaches of hypocrisy, and it distances outsiders from the church. Furthermore, to an extent, I think the church has taken on this burden, and in expecting itself to be perfect, fronts a mask of "having it all together" in fear that otherwise, they would be considered a fraud. Ironically, this furthers separation between the world and the church and undermines community. In other words, right now, those graffitiers don't feel welcomed into the church, and if they were, the world would scream hypocrisy.

But what if it was the other way around?

What if it was normal for the vulgar, the imperfect, the rich, the poor, the perverts, the successful, the drop-outs to attend a church in which, because of a real interdependent vulnerable community, they realize that they don't need to have it all together, and that this is the very reason for grace!? What if the world saw the church as a place to meet their needs for love and community instead of how their sins fail to compare to the piety of today's masquerading church goers? What if church was a place of unconditional love: for people of every race, class, background, and clique, worshiping an amazing God who calls us into a relationship with Him and with each other?

Envision this. Is it biblical? What would it look like? How do we do it? I don't have all the answers to these three questions, so I wanna hear thoughts! I know there may be some objections. I understand that the church should be an example... a pure bride to Christ, working to reflect the beauty of the kingdom of God. So, the church should not accept sin, but at the same time should not be unapproachable and unwelcoming. I realize Paul talks about removing someone who is sinning from the community (1 Corinthians 5:5) and not to associate with purposeful sinners who claim to be Christians (1 Corinthians 5:11), but what’s the context and can these verses be reconciled with the type of church described here? I look forward to your thoughts!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Good Ole Country Music!!!

My good friend Catie Smith spent some time in good ole Missouri, and didn't have much of a choice but to listen to some good ole country music (which she abhors). So Catie wrote the lyrics to a song that makes fun of country music, and when she shared them with me, I figured I should put the song to some music... some country music. So to the right, under "The Sweet Spot" section, check out those good ole "nose congested vocals" with three repeating chords of guitar and harmonica!

p.s. Thanks to Audacity, a free download that's like having an awesome home recording studio!

Monday, June 23, 2008

I was cleaning my room when...

Last week I was going through my closet, cleaning out random junk and rearranging the good stuff so that it's now somewhat organized. If you're anything like me, when you go through your old piles, you find all sorts of things that were formally lost or forgotten, like the matching pants to my pajama-like suit I bought in Nigeria, or old high school science experiments, pictures, or notes to/from that crush you had way back when (No, I'm not sharing one of those). Well, in one of my folders I found a piece of paper with some words of advice I'd heard from a couple friends at camp a few years back... you know, those good inspiring phrases that you figured you should probably write down and then stash somewhere in vain hopes of finding it again. Well, I found it, and I've been thinking about these three things over the last couple days and thought I'd share them:
  1. Training vs. Trying: In a lot of areas of life we go about just trying to obtain something. We can put forth a ton of effort trying to reach a goal, make a relationship work, connect with God, or get good grades. These aren't bad things, but I think we often have the wrong attitude or an ineffective perspective. Instead of trying, I'm training, I'm growing and learning, and I know I'll make mistakes along the way. It's a broader look at things. So the question I asked myself today was, "What am I training for?"Instead of trying to get good grades, I'm training to be the best engineer I can be; instead of trying to reach God, I'm training to become more like Him. I'm training to be a husband - in wisdom, purity, and leadership. I'm training for after college - understanding my career interests, my passions, and my goals. What are you training for?
  2. Preparing vs. Planning: In our fast paced, instant American culture, we want everything planned ahead perfectly, whether it's figuring out every detail of our life, our business, or the next event that we're organizing. And sometimes it's like I'm living one big to-do list life. Having short and long term goals, to-do lists, or direction in life can be great and necessary things, and I don't think this advice means to be any less driven or motivated to aim high and work toward goals. However, I think there's a certain element of mystery and faith in our plans that's healthy, that keeps us flexible, not set in our ways, thinking outside the box, adventurous. Furthermore, I think we could afford to shift our focus more from planning out our life to preparing for life (developing our attitude, character, skills, etc), with the understanding that things may not always go as expected. The two are not mutually exclusive; you can plan and prepare, it's just that sometimes I need to step back from all the details, trust that things will work out, and live each moment as a way of being thankful for the present and preparing for the future. Check out the song "Faith My Eyes" by Caedmon's Call and Proverbs 16:9.
  3. Living Offensively vs. Defensively: To live defensively is to live with an attitude of "what if." It's dominated by the circumstances and by what other's do and think. To live offensively is to be motivated by love rather than fear (1 John). It's not held back by "what ifs," but decides through wisdom and trust in God.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ughh... politics.

Well, the big election is coming up pretty fast so I figured I should do some research on the top two: McCain and Obama. It's kinda surprising that this is my first real post because I really don't like politics. When I think of politics I'm reminded of a quote that my dad has in his office at work: "A committee takes hours to put into minutes what can be done in seconds." Especially after working with NASA last year I experienced first hand the craziness of bureaucracies and some of the politics involved.

Anyhow, I've posted my excel list comparing McCain and Obama side by side on the right side of this page under "The Sweet Spot" section. Just click on "Compare the Candidates." At the bottom of the spreadsheet I included my references, and anything in blue is my own comment. I only included the issues that were of real interest to me. They are not in any particular order, although there's definitely certain issues that I'm more concerned about than others on the list. Particularly, the environment and renewables (including reduction of foreign dependence) is high on my list. Also, our foreign policy: how we treat other countries and the global issues that we choose to address (like poverty and the Millennium Development Goals). Not only will this help diplomatic relations, but it fights terrorism peacefully, protects our country, and I believe it's just the right, sensible, and inexcusable thing to do. And yeah, I kinda left out health care cuz it's so confusing to me. If anyone can ever find an easy way to explain what's going on with that, let me know! haha.

The only other thing to note right now is that it was interesting going through the candidate's websites. A common complaint about Obama is that he is too vague about how to address the problems. But so far, I've found it to be the opposite; McCain's website describes a lot of promises and hopes, but lacks specifics, whereas Obama's website outlines his plans as well as his goals quite clearly.

Again, I'd love to hear feedback. Please fill in any blanks I'm missing on the spreadsheet or correct anything wrong or unclear. And comment what you think is important. I hope it all makes sense... I wrote it in note form, initially thinking I'd be the only one reading it. So if you're not sure what something means, ask me or google it!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The beginning!!!

Hey Everyone! Thanks for checking out my new blog! I'm excited! I've been meaning to set up something like this for awhile now with the intent of sharing ideas, questions, insights, or just randomness and having other people reply with their thoughts. The point is not to be a journal, where I write and you read, but more of an thoughtful conversation, where we build on ideas and include various perspectives.

This means sharing your ideas is soo important! A lot of my posts may be about the Christian faith or at least come from a Christian perspective because it's what I believe and it affects how I approach matters. If you have a different religious background, still post your thoughts, please! Approaching a matter from different angles will give us a well rounded and thorough look at it. We'd probably learn less if everyone had the same view. Although, I will say that the point is to respectfully discuss thoughts, including different perspectives, not to get sidetracked by unnecessary/unrelated arguments about the perspectives themselves.

Oh, and if there are ways I can make the blog better over time (content or technical stuff, i.e. font size, color...) just let me know! Cool, and thanks!