Monday, October 6, 2008

My Experience With the Sublime

One experience that stands out for me is the night I went out to see the Mars Volta in London. I do not think anything has moved me like this show. The Mars Volta is a rock/latin/prog band from California and I have been following them since 2002 and even before that when they were known as At The Drive-In. I can remember this show like it was yesterday, it was at the Roundhouse in Camden Town. It was an indoor venue and I got a spot in the balcony.
I couldn't wait for the band to come out. I was sitting in anticipation for nearly an hour and when they came out, I simply lost it. I can remember dancing to their music in a way that I have never danced before. It was simply amazing. After the show my adrenalin didn't stop pumping for nearly an hour. I felt something very special that night.

Another time I have experienced the sublime is when I first heard Lupe Fiasco. Lupe is a rapper from Chicago and his debut album Food and Liquor is one that I can listen to the whole way through again and again.

I loved reading the Goosebumps books by R.L. Stien back when I was just a little chap. I was very young back then, but I felt sense of rapture every time I read one of those books. Once I started one, I couldn't put it down until it was finished.

Another time I felt completely moved by an artistic medium is when I played Half Life 2. This game was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I remember beating it within a week because I simply could not put the game down. I was engrossed by the Bladerunner/1984 esque story line. The combat was frantic and every battle I went in to made me feel like I could never pull through.

And now the list of other notables
Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir"
Saving Private Ryan
Good Will Hunting
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six
Nintendo 64
Gran Tourismo 3
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Final Fantasy X
Madden Football
Metal Gear Solid
San Francisco
Flying for the first time
No Country For Old Men
Film Making
2008 Election

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Clearing Out Crap

I just watched a really interesting video of one of Merlin Mann's talks at a Google conference in July 2007. The gist of this talk is uncluttering one's e-mail inbox to bring about a sound process to their life. For google employees, their inbox can look like a battleground. Emails reside in this jungle vying for the top position in the owner's priority list.

Merlin's idea is the Zero Inbox. What this means is that a person's inbox should have literally zero emails just wasting away in this electronic prison. I have seen people with inboxes that contain fifty to a hundred emails and I wonder how they can even keep track of all that stuff. I don't claim to be very good at all when it comes to organization, but I actually keep a system that works remarkably well for me.

When I receive an email, I always ask myself what this email means to me. If the contents of that email are fairly important, I will put it into one of several areas. I have 2 areas where I keep important dates and documents. My source for holding deadlines and meetings is actually a blog just like this one. I don't operate it like a normal blog because that would be detrimental to me staying organized. It was a bit of a process, but through experimentation I worked it out. When I first started it, I would put in an entry every single day; however, the entries would become too numerous and I found myself sifting through lines and lines of stuff that didn't indicate whether the tasks were done or not. I reduced the blog to one single post. I update this post whenever a new task comes about. I color code the tasks in a way that makes sense to me. Tasks that need to be done are in a black font, completed tasks are red, meetings are blue and ongoing tasks are coded green.

Next, for documents I keep a very rudementary system within my computer. I keep documents in a document stack that contains several folders. Each folder has a subject and documents go to their respective subject folder. For example, I have a classes folder within the stack, within that folder I have my current semester folder. Within that folder I have folders that go along with my classes that I am taking. My other folder contains all my old classes and every document I have collected during my college career.

This system is far from perfect and I am constantly trying to figure out ways to make it better. I guess that's the fun thing about life, you always find ways to make things better.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Internet and Other Things

Today was a bit like waking up on Christmas morning and finding presents underneath the Christmas tree. My alarm woke me up at about 10 o'clock and as I was waking up I realized that I did not need to. I decided that I could fit in an hour of extra sleep so I did. Within 10 minutes I could faintly hear someone knocking on the door upstairs. At first I did not want to bother with it, then I figured that it could quite possibly be the cable guy.

I begrudgingly rose from my comfortable position and found a pair of pants to slip on. I forced myself up the stairs from the basement and looked outside. I was blinded by the morning light but I could see a figured walking across my porch. I opened the door and called to the man and instantly I knew it was him. He turned towards me with a cable reader in hand and utility belt around his waist. He was like a personal Santa Clause with sweet loot and gifts.

The half hour he took setting up the cable seemed unbearable. I could see that freedom was within my grasp. I no longer had to drive to the local truck stop to access the internet and I was eternally grateful. After he was done doing his work I promptly cracked open my Macbook and began enjoying the wonders of the internet once again. Never before have I felt so appreciative of having something. I finally know what can happen when you take something for granted.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Thoughts on Prayer

So a couple nights ago, I had an interesting little spat/discussion with my friend Darin based on the value of prayer. The situation went as thus, we were driving to his place so I could drop him off when we started talking about what work we would do after college. Next, he asked me a question that really struck me. He told me to pray that he finds a job after college. I did not know how to react to this so I did what I felt like doing, I made a joke out of it. What happened next caught me off guard. During my jovial response, Darin changed his tone of voice and told me that he was serious about this. People have told me to pray for them at which I gave a half-hearted "okay" but nothing more than that. I've told people that I'll keep them in my thoughts, but I've never mentioned my prayers. When my parents tell me that they are praying for me, I get no sense of gratification out of it.

I consider myself a Christian, but not Catholic. I was born into a Roman Catholic home, town and school and I hated every minute of it. Despite that resentment, I still felt as though I have a connection with a so called God but I'm at a stage right now where I am not sure that this all loving God is even the God I think he is. Hell, he might be a she for all I know. And who is to say that Catholicism is the be all end all just because a crazy prophet dude said that I am the way, the truth and the light. I don't know if people know this, but Jesus was a Jew and as such, the king of the Jews. So who's to say that the Jewish faith is not the true faith?

These are all merely questions, and while I'm skeptical of God, I'm not full blown denying Him (As you can tell by me capitalizing God, Him and He :D) Ok, enough of this, I'll go back to my thoughts on prayer. As we were arguing about why I would not seriously pray for him, I told him that prayer is essentially useless in my opinion. Who's to say that if I were to pray for my friend, that God is going to hear this meek little murmer from one of six billion people and think "Well, this guy really wants a job so I guess I'll grant him his wish." To me, prayer is nothing but a lottery and if your prayer is answered then you've basically won. If you lose, well then, "It's just what God wanted." To me, prayer is such a BS concept, when there are hungry, suffering people all over the world. Why do those people continue to suffer if all they need to do is pray? Do they not pray? Yes, they do, in fact they pray more vehemently in a day than most Catholics will do in a month.

To me, someone who prays with the intent that it helps them succeed is such a selfish act. And asking for someone to pray for them is something I would take as an offense. It almost sounded to me that he had no confidence in the fact that I do think about him every day and I do wish the best for him, but do I pray that he or anyone else ends up living a successful and fulfilling life? No, because that is simply me asking God to go out of His way to make my friends life turn out great while others will fall behind. The argument culminated in him finally getting me to admit that I believe that prayer is useless. When I said that, I felt strange. I didn't know if I felt liberated or if I felt that I had somehow turned my back on God. I don't know, but all I know is at that instant, I felt a feeling of something leaving me. Perhaps it was a piece of God breaking away from me, or if it was simply a weight that was lifted.

Throughout my life, I have come to the conclusion that things happen at random. There is not plan for us, because we have free will and the ability to map out our own lives. Good things happen and bad things happen and it all depends on how you react to these situations.

I don't claim to be a master on the meaning of life but I believe that a higher being could be one of many things. I haven't ruled out that I'm simply a guys' avatar in an extremely complex MMORPG.

Alright, enough of this tomfoolery.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sports Stars and Computer Games

So I figured I'd expand a little bit on my previous blog post and talk about the dilemma of not having wireless internet at my current place of residence. This is day six or so of me going to the Classic Corner truck stop in Madison because it is open 24 hours and it has wireless internet. I've never spent more than maybe three hours a day here because I usually do the things I need to get done and that is about it. My roommate has contacted our cable provider a bunch of times but they keep telling him that they'll get a guy over to our place as soon as they find an opening. It's been about a week or so of that so I'm starting to wonder if they're simply ignoring us or if everyone in the Sioux Falls region is just now setting up their cable/internet. On the plus side, it's about 50 dollars for basic cable and internet which is a killer price.

I mentioned about working up courage to load up World of Warcraft at the Classic Corner, but to tell you the truth it really did not take that much. I'm pretty open about the fact that I play WOW because I'm a pretty well-rounded person. WOW can be a little daunting at times, but I know I'll never be the kind of person that makes time for 25 man raids and six hour instances. I am a little worried that I have been picking up on the lingo so eventually I'll be able to toss around sweet acronyms and talk about feign and pull and all those awesome strategies. Actually I have no idea what feign and pull means, I just heard some guys talking about it on a podcast. To tell you the truth though, I actually heard about that from Curt Schilling. Yes, the famous Curt Schilling who pitches for the Boston Red Sox but also sports three level 70s which includes a shaman.

The Instance is probably one of my favorite podcasts. Of the twenty or so that I subscribe to, The Instance is easily top three. Another one is called How I WoW, a sister podcast of the instance. It is hosted by a French man named Patrick and Scott Johnson and their premise of the podcast is to interview different people who play WoW, how they got into it and how they play the game. Episode seven saw Curt Schilling as a guest and it was a really fascinating listen.

When most people think of professional sports players, the last thing that would come to mind is that they are not hardcore computer game players. Curt Schilling is an exception to that. He stated that he was always one of the most technology minded baseball players in the league, carrying around laptops back when they weighed 10 lbs. and using them to play Ultima Online. He said that he has always been into MMORPGs starting with Ultima Online, an MMO from Sony. He mentioned that his gaming habits became public when he and Doug Glanville were interviewed after a game in which Doug hit two homeruns off him when they were no longer team mates (Doug played for the Phillies while Schilling played for the Diamondbacks). Reporters were interviewing Doug after the game because he was the kind of player who never hit home runs. When asked about how he was able to do it, Glanville replied that Schilling had been responsible for many of Glanville's deaths. After hearing this the media was dumb-struck and he quickly added that it was in an online game called Ultima Online. The media then ran to Curt to ask him about him causing Glanville's deaths to which he replied "Let's get a couple things straight. Doug died because Doug sucked."

Sony loved the exposure and designed an NPC that when other players killed it, Sony donated money to Schilling's ALS foundation which works to find a cure for Lou Gherig's disease.

Another point that Schilling made is that even though he has always been a jock, he's never been in the "jock circle." World of Warcraft is simply a hobby for him and many others and in today's world, there's no real stigma to being a gamer. Games have risen to meteoric popularity and the terms Nerd and Geek have become virtually meaningless. So with that I'll be getting back to my Level 36 Human Mage. You can find me on Zuluhed.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Technological Stone-Age

So I'm sitting at the Classic Corner truck stop because my house does not have the internet yet and I am beyond the point of infuriation. I am the only person who comes into this thriving establishment to use it exclusively for the fact that it has free wireless internet and it is open for 24 hours. Happiness comes in the form of a gasoline peddler.

I can't spend too much time here otherwise I feel like an utter loser. I'm actually working up the courage to start up World of Warcraft here, but I don't know if I have it in me.

So I'm working on a podcast right now with some friends. We call it the Cherry Chocolate Podcast. We have some really good ideas but we're terrible radio personalities so we're working on it. Hopefully I'll have a link up to the Cherry Chocolate blog I'm working on.

Well it's a brief post but I figured I'd put this up to prove I'm still alive.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Gorgio Armani Spring/Summer Collection

On June 24, Gorgio Armani displayed his newest collection which featured a variety of extravagant looks and fabrics.  A couple decades ago, Armani displayed a samurai influenced collection and ever since, the fashion world has been clamoring for something like that again.  Armani felt it was the right time to return to the East, and he did so with the most extravagant and vibrant collection in recent memory.  
In this latest collection, Armani wanted to bring out the best that India could give with bold, colorful looks.  Silk reigned supreme at this sho
w as Armani showed not only his daring artistic side, but also his conventional (albeit still very extravagant) side with a gorgeous display of business attire.
Pictures courtesy of