Saturday, December 30, 2006

Sadam Hussein Just Died

Before there is any confusion, Sadam Hussein died not for September 11th 2001, Sadam was hung today for crimes against humanity that took place in 1982, for killing 148 Shiites in Dujail.

The Iraq war and the tragic events of September 11th had nothing to do with each other, except that after September 11th, Americans were more accepting of the prospect of going into a war. Also, the war in Afganistan and the war in Iraq have nothing to do with each other. Get that shit straight.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Pride


We use it like a weapon and we don't even know it.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Christmas Day

My family opened presents and celebrated Christmas last Friday, so Christmas has felt like it's been over for 3 days. It's been a good year, friends have gotten married, friends have passed away and life has barreled on. Regis and Kelly are hosting a parade on TV. I absolutely love the pagentry of these things. Merry Christmas! I hope you are spending it with your family and friends.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Writer's Workshop #1


My good friend Kyle and I have started a two man writer's club. We are sharpening each other, by pushing each other to write. We're not being heavily critical of each other's work, but we are encouraging each other to keep working, and that's probably the majority of the battle. Here is one of my first pieces, followed by one of his first.

*Note the similarity of our stories. We in no way discussed the topic of our writing beforehand...

Just One More Story Before You Go To Sleep - By Anton

It was almost eleven. The fire crackled and popped in syncopated rhythms. Jody sat Indian-style with his elbows on his knees, his chin in his hands looking up at the old man sitting in front of him. His grandfather’s boots were clean and polished, but beneath their black matted sheen there were deep creases and carved out marks that showed that these boots had been loved. On top of them sat dark blue-jeans, pressed and starched with a thick flannel button-down tucked in, the buttons running in a straight line to his grandpa’s weathered but gentle face. “Tell me another one grampa,” said Jody eagerly. His grandpa smiled gingerly. “Alright, but just one more story before you go to sleep,” he told Jody, who repositioned his elbows with excitement. His Grandpa’s eyes shifted focus and he breathed in deeply, recalling the memory. As his deep voice rumbled, Jody was carried off in a red Ford convertible, speeding away down a country road. Soon he was lying with his cheek against the plush rug, the warmth of the dying fire on his back. A soft flannel blanket fell gently over his shoulders and Jody drifted off to sleep.

Regents Park - By Kyle

The taste was one part bitter, one part sweet as he sat on the green, chewing on a long, thin blade of grass. Well into his seventies and accustomed to the hectic city-life, he was now thoroughly enjoying the peaceful time alone, resting against an Oak tree in the middle of Regents Park.
His pants rolled up to his knees and his Velcro shoes slipped off, he was reminded of a time nearly fifty years before, when he sat in this exact spot, with the same bittersweet taste in his mouth.
Memory was changing the landscape in front of him; grass was sprouting up and filling the gravel pathways. A smile crept up his face as he watched the time roll back. A children’s courtyard dissolved into the meadow just as a voice came from behind the tree, breaking his concentration.
“Papa, Papa”
He leaned to peer around the side of the Oak tree. There, appearing from the lingering haze of his memory was his granddaughter. She approached as fast as her little legs would take her, flowers in hand and arms spread wide open.
“Papa, look at the flowers!” she shouted. “Aren’t they beautiful?”
“Ah yes darling, they certainly are,” his gruff American accent was a stark contrast to her youthful British twang. “Come here and let me take a look.”
He picked up her handmade bouquet, roots and all, and began to tidy it up.
“Papa, there are so many colors,” she expressed excitedly.
“Yes dear there are,” he said as he pulled one out and handed it back to her. “And this one is for you. Do you know what it’s called?”
She stood still, her eyebrow furrowed with confusion.
“Well,” he began. “This one is named after the most beautiful little girl in the world. It’s a –.”
“A Lilly?!” she interjected, eyes alight.
Laughing at her excitement he nodded and handed the flower to her. Lilly’s eyes followed his hand as he placed the flower above her right ear.
“Now take a seat dear, here next to me and I will tell you a story.”
“About what, Papa?”
“About why you are who you are, and about why I am who I am.”
“What does that mean?” she asked her grandfather, but his eyes had already drifted, and his mind already wandered back to that same day fifty years ago, when he last tasted that bittersweet feeling in the park.


* * *

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas in Lagos, Nigeria

I just heard the most wonderful story while listening to the BBC World Service on NPR, while I was driving back from Fort Worth to Dallas at 2:30am. A Nigerian pastor was explaining why the Pentecostal denomination of Christianity was so popular in Africa, and also explaining the meaning of Christmas for the people of his country and his congregation. He had such joy in his words as he spoke of their celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Here is something he said:

"Christmas to me is about my salvation, because if Christ had never been born--no salvation for me."


It was beautiful. And he said it with a sweet Nigerian accent. And then he went on to explain the party that is involved in their Christmas celebration. And with that story my faith has been reaffirmed, because Christianity is not about the Bible-belt. The Bible-belt is an important part, but the Bible-belt is in no way an authority on the church. And that's just beautiful. It was a really good story and I will see if I can find it and post a link to it for you.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

50,000 For Your Belief

Dear Christians, how would you like $50,000?

Here is what this dude had to say:

"PS Since this challenge is open to any American, anyone who reads this should feel free to bring it to the attention to any smart Christian they know. Any math whiz, any professor, etc. But I need to warn you that they will almost certainly turn you down. And the reason will NOT usually be because they think they will fail the math test. University professors will probably not fear this college dropout. But given they are expert mathmeticians, their real fear, though they won't tell you, is that you will find out how badly they fail the polygraph."

What an interesting idea! I would probably fail this polygraph. How would you fair?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Deliberately Happy


I've been asking myself for a long time whether or not happiness can be a choice. There are certain things in life that we cannot control, that is a fact, and those things can definitely subtract from our ability to maintain a positive state of mine, but I don't know, in my experience happy people don't seem to have any better circumstances than anyone else, they're just simply positive.

Why do people have short tempers, and why to people get angry? Why not just be happy? Sometimes it just seems that simple.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Addendum To a Note on Racism

As I've been thinking in depth about race over the past few days, I got to thinking about race distrirubtion across the globe. When we fill out paperwork asking for us to classify our race, it used to be that there were only a few options; white/caucasian, black/african, Asian, Native American, Hispanic, or Pacific Islander. However, recently I have been seeing options for mixed race as well. If I was mixed race, or of a race that didn't fit into one of these categories, like arab, or northern African I'd be pretty offended at not being given an option to classify myself.

So how did all these different races come into existence? Is race distribution similar to breed in say dogs? Because an Irish wolf hound and a dauchaund are quite different. Are people indigenous to Northern Siberia as different from people indigenous to the Southern Amazon as one breed of dog is to another? As a Christian, I am forced by my belief in the Bible to also believe in the adaptation of species, especially in the case of humans. The seeds of humanity, Adam and Eve- If they did indeed give birth to the entire span of human existence, then I am forced to believe that humans are in fact a product of adaptation over a span of time, because nowhere in the Bible does it say that on the 8th day God created Asians.

These distinctions are only to make the point that even though we may look different from one another, we are all really of the same seed. Racial distinctions need to stop, because all they really do is divide us.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Note on Racism

Meaning to click on this link, which would have taken me to a blog-entry by Malcolm Gladwell, the author of the book "Blink," I accidentally clicked on this link, a read-worthy blog-entry by someone, accusing Wes Anderson of being something called a "Hipster Racist," as well as accusing his movie "The Life Aquatic" of being a failure. I read both of them and they got me thinking deeply about racism all day.

In both cases I was struck by how well-written and logically minded each entry was, and I generally enjoyed reading each piece, however, past that I was pretty disappointed by both authors.

In the entry subtitled "Wes Anderson and the Problem with Hipsters, Or What Happens When a Generation Refuses to Grow Up," I was disappointed by the author's generalizations about race and class by referring broadly to various ethnicities and by using stereotypes of individuals as her key examples.

In Gladwell's piece titled "Defining a Racist," he sets off to do just that, offering 3 criteria by which such a definition is to be derived; content, intention and conviction. This is a good system based in the practice of logical reasoning. To skip to the point, Gladwell's conclusion is this: "There is a distinction between being a racist and simply saying something dumb."

Here is the real problem of racism:

When it comes to belief about race, people believe in a system that has only existed because of the ancient historical confines of geological boundaries, great spans of time, and generations of breeding. People in Scandinavia sort of look the way they generally do because they adapted over thousands of years to look that way. People in the Himalayas sort of generally look the way they do because they adapted over thousands of years to look that way. The Kung San people of the Khala Hari desert sort of generally don't look like the people in northern modern-day Ethiopia because they both adapted slightly differently over thousands of years of general breeding patterns, being separated by thousands of miles and many great geological boundaries.

However, in the last few hundred years, due greatly to technological advances in transportation, but also due to wars, disease, famine and the promise of a better life somewhere else, those naturally occurring boundaries have been crossed and recrossed giving birth to people in every corner of the globe who defy any system of racial profiling, save one based on a lengthy genealogy and an analysis of the passing on of dominant and recessive genes in that individual.

And still, a person born in Mexico City, greatly of Mayan ancestry, a dark skinned person whose ancestry has been living in what is now modern-day Sri Lanka, and a person whose ancestry comes from what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo; still, ALL 3 PEOPLE can be lumped into one racial term - BLACK; it isn't just wrong and illogical, it is the result of an ignorance that will continue, because the only way for people to see past racial generalities, is for them to either be educated in sociology, the biology of adaptation and cultural anthropology, or for them to grow up in a way that they are exposed to such an intermixing of different historical strands of races, ethnicities and family-cultural backgrounds that they can no longer categorize people based on biological stereotypes of assumed visual racial stereotypes.

If any reasoned racial discussion is actually going to take place it must be grounded firmly in these sciences. If it is not, then we are not talking about race, we are talking about current trends and assumptions based on belief about the individual, which is further based on that individual's outward appearance, way of speaking, and upon falsely assumed ideas of racial heritage.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

You Knew This Day Would Come

And now, for some celebrity gossip:

This is the headline on CNN.com - Actress, 16, played Virgin Mary, now pregnant

I love Keisha Castle Hughs, and I've written about her before here. I do think that 16 is a little young to be having a baby, but the fact that she's a movie star and is open about the information, and that she is keeping the baby, are good things.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Give Thanks Dear Sinners


Today is my favorite day of the year, Thanksgiving in the United States. As I type this I am sitting at my brother-in-law's parents house. It's my first time ever being here. They live in one of those housing developments that pop up in the American suburbs increasing urban sprawl unsustainably. But you know what, it's a nice house. It's not huge, but the space is used very efficiently. They have a nice little gazeebo in the back and we took some family pictures. In years past we eat, usually at some odd time in the middle of the afternoon, then we all find a safe hideaway to pass out, and then late in the afternoon only minutes after waking up we take a family picture. It may be my favorite day of the year, but it's probably the day I look the worst. Not this year though, we knocked it out right away. We're a good looking crew.

I like Thanksgiving, because it's only purpose is for us to recognize, despite the perhaps unhappy circumstances of our lives, to be thankful to God for giving us a chance. Because we at least have that. And for me today, I'm thankful that I get to indulge, because I ate a lot and drank a lot and spent a lot of time with my family and I feel pretty good.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

If Only I Were 25 Million

"So far, Archer has found remains of carnivorous kangaroos, marsupial lions, giant snakes, tree-climbing crocodiles, miniature tyrannosaurs, prehistoric lungfish, and the largest-ever bird, a 10-foot-tall 1,000-pounder that he likes to call the "demon duck of doom."

Another great one from this site (via Kottke.org):

25 Greatest Science Books of All-Time


The fact that we are still garnering scientific insight from a book written in 1543, just goes to show how much scientific discovery has actually slowed since the Enlightenment. "But what about Anti-biotics, and brain-surgery, and space-flight," they say. "Yeah, well what about the continued use of the gasoline combustion engine?" I say.

I'm buying the Voyage of the Beagle this afternoon. Darwin gets me all excited.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Secret to Happiness

The truth about happiness may surprise you (via/cnn.com)

According to a Pew Research Center survey, the happiest age group is men 65 and older; the least happy: men 18 to 29.

The survey also found:

*Married people are happier than singles.
*•College grads are happier than those without a college degree.
*•People who were religious are happier than those who aren't.
*Sunbelt residents are happier than other U.S. residents.
*•Republicans are happier than Democrats -- but both are happier than independents.

It's in life's simple pleasures, traveling and good relationships. Is this really such a surprise? The article seems to come to the conclusion that money doesn't buy happiness, which isn't exactly ground-breaking, but it's also talking about money you have to work really hard for, and continuously work to keep. What about the filthy-rich, silver-spoon types? I'm talking about the people who grow up with billions in their bank accounts. They are still subject to disease and tragedy just like the rest of us, but I'd be interested to see some stats on their general happiness levels and outlook on life.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Nothing More Scary Than a Land Mine

There are areas all over the world, where conflicts once existed, that are covered with land mines. Every once in a while a little girl or boy will be walking around one of these areas, exploring as kids do, when suddenly they will have their limbs blown off by a ten year-old land mine. I think about this a lot. I love to travel the world and when I do, I like to explore by walking around. The prospect of being blown up by one of these left over death machines terrifies me. I know that they have robots and even trained rats to help detect these mines, but I had an idea today that may be even more effective at clearing these areas. And mind you, I am a vegetarian; but why doesn't the U.N. just buy herds of cattle and then set them loose in these areas? Maybe even stir them up so that they run around a bit. Then, when one of them steps on a mine, the mine will blow up the cow, instead of a little girl, and then what's left of the cow can be donated to the poor, to eat. This won't work in India where cows are sacred, but in the rest of the world, a little girls life is worth much more than that of a cow.

I will be taking this idea to the U.N. by the way.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Birds of Prey

During prolonged absences such as these I am forced to write journalistically. So, here's an update on what's going on lately in my life.

1. I signed a 6-month lease yesterday and I begin moving into a new apartment in Dallas today. (It's also important to note that I've moved at least every six months in the last 6 years.)
2. I'm currently working at a post-house through December, as an editor again, which I didn't foresee happening, but it's getting colder outside so I can't say I mind all that much, not being on set all day.

Now you are up to speed. In other news, I was driving home from church this morning when a pair of wings caught my eye. I was driving at about 75 miles an hour on the highway and it shocked me so much to see a pair of large wings spread out from a short pole in the expansive grassy section between the two sides of the highway that I turned 100 degrees in my seat to examine the type of bird sitting on there. It was a large hawk. The reasons that seeing this bird was so shocking to me are many. One, is that it is always a strange experience to view wildlife in a city setting, and two, is that a bird of prey should be nowhere near a highway in the middle of Dallas. That's all to say that these "vacant lots" that are actually the remnants of great forests within our expanding cities need to be preserved and protected so that these beautiful animals aren't driven out. There is no way for us to know how important these animals are to our own well-being, but it is obvious that they are.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Stretching My Legs

Harold walked out of his front door and into the rain. It was one of those rains where the drops of water were so small that they felt like they were merely floating in the air. Harold imagined for a moment that time had suddenly stood still around him. He smiled and lifted his chin as he walked through the curtain of fine mist hanging in the air. He snapped his fingers and picked up his pace, the world coming back to life around him. He heard the swoosh of cars as they passed beside him, their tires softly spitting a thin layer of water away from themselves. He was wearing his rain jacket and his shoes were dry and solid. He enjoyed the gentle splish from heal to toe, that sounded off melodically with each step. "Wisck, wisck, wisck, wisck," this was the kind of weather his body was made for.

If Only I Had a Pulpit

I changed my mind by the way, as I do sometimes. Basically I was just going to say that I have a lot of ideas swimming around in my head that I need to get out in the form of a book. I know that there are people out there fighting these fights, against improper urban sprawl, pollution, and environmental devastation; not to mention human rights. And I'm not doing enough. So, I'm working on a book that will attempt to contribute ideas for real-world, applicable solutions to some of these problems.

This post will be a response to a comment made by one, Miss Cara, to this post. It will be a response because I don't have the time or the cognitive capacity at the moment to write anything of worth. While I understand her reasoning, and I know that she was only joking (maybe), the comment for some reason really got me thinking. Actually, it brought me through a whole range of emotions, beginning with anger, which eventually, after driving various 15-passenger vans, large cargo trucks, and one 30 foot flatbed semi, it brought me to where I am now, which I feel is a good place. I want to describe it, I just can't do it at the moment and perhaps not anytime in the immediate future. So this post is just a place holder for now. Tune back in, in a few days and here it will be.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Bees, And the Product of Poor Urban Planning

This is exactly what I'm talking about! Do you eat food? If you do, then this effects you. What are you going to do to regain the natural balance that has been stolen from us? What are you, as an individual going to do? Do you even care?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

That's Showbusiness


While most people probably won't find this entire interview with Jenny Lewis (click on the "Jenny Lewis Interview" link) of Rilo Kiley fame all that entertaining, there is one section that I find very interesting indeed. She speaks of the relevance of her songs in her life at the time she performs them, how one song may not be all that relevant one night and the next it will bring forth all kinds of emotions as she performs it. The power of certain songs, to carry us into emotional states at certain times is something that I find amazing and mysterious. It is also why I love long takes of musicians performing rather than fast-cutty music video style recordings. I haven't had a chance to spend any time with Jenny Lewis' new album but I imagine it's very good. You can also listen to a live recording of some of the songs via the above link.

Urban Sprawl, An Epidemic and a Sickness

We as American citizens need to take efforts to live closer to work and to the institutions where we frequent. This includes the grocery store, our schools, our churches, our banks and our recreational activities. I fear that my generation will fail in reestablishing a proper transportation, health, and economic infrastructure around our communities. The generation of baby boomers, it is a fact, have failed miserably and embarrassingly at the planning and development of such an infrastructure to surround the sprawling front of suburban housing and business that they are so proud of. This splatter-painting of highways, suburbs, mini business districts and EZ-up shopping strips have already begun to hinder the flow of economic traffic and at it's projected rate will further run the American economy, and not to mention American sanity into the ground. This lack of developmental foresight is already leading to an almost indistinguishable homogenization of the American suburban landscape, and further speaks of a lack of education and appreciation of the application of architectural aesthetic value and it's direct link to the collective psyche of a community. And as these seeping blotches of grayish cement leak across our landscape the natural order of thousands of years of geographical separation that humans have happily been subject too is overridden and overdrawn, thus weakening cultural differentiation between people-groups and leading to bland homogenization, as opposed to merely uniting humanity on one correct cultural front. A few examples of the immediate negative ramifications of myopic urban sprawl are these: Elevated ground temperatures in areas of dense urban development (i.e. sprawling parking lots) where excessive concrete layouts absorb and retain heat, lengthened commutes due to roads and highways never planned to handle traffic loads from suburban commuters, elevated air pollution and smog levels surrounding urban areas due to commuter traffic, elevated stress levels as a result of the concentration required to drive in traffic...etc.

We, as a generation of people born in the 70's, 80's and 90's need to educate ourselves on city planning, the history of environmental devastation (take Easter Island as one small example), and the importance of aesthetics in architectural design. We need to ride bikes more, make our cities more pedestrian friendly, build our offices closer to our communities, take efforts to preserve our wild spaces, make boundaries for our cities and protect the wildlife that surrounds them, and we need to make sacrifices to make these things happen. Because if we don't, our children are going to bear the weight of our greed and resent us for it, and whether you believe you do or not, when you sit at a stand-still in the traffic of a highway which was never intended to support extreme loads of daily suburban commuter traffic, you are resenting that lack of foresight in the generation who planned that route, from community to highway to business district and back again. So, let's take steps to reverse this mistake in logic that has been sold as the free flow of commerce. We are enslaved to a poor system that is breaking down, which, is in direct opposition to the liberty we herald.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Coming Up: Extreme Commuting, The Epidemic, The Implications, and Some Solutions

Please listen to this short story from NPR: U.S. Becoming a Nation of Extreme Commuters



The implications of extreme commuting go well beyond gas shortages, global warming, and the frustration of traffic; they speak further of a general breakdown in social interaction and of a generational gap in the understanding and planning of city infrustructure.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Beginning Work Again

Something very strange has been happening to me lately. I'll be driving around town and all of a sudden I won't recognize anything around me, it seems I could be on a drive through any city in America, which is strange because I've lived here all my life and there are very few places within a hundred mile radius that I haven't at least driven through many times. Perhaps it's because I just returned from a whirlwind tour across Europe while driving, where the landscape of the suburban towns often looked nearly as homogeneous as the metroplex where I currently reside.

Another thing has been happening. When I go out to restaurants for lunch or dinner, as I'm waiting to be seated or waiting to order, I begin to feel an overwhelming guilt at the prospect of how comfortable I am, and how delicious the large portion of food that I am about to eat will be. This is unexplainable, especially considering that I've been dining in Europe and not visiting the third world. But I can't shake the knowledge that what I am about to do is unimaginable for so many people in the rest of the world, in what's called "the developing world" by companies like Exxon. So I pray before I eat and give thanks to God, usually will my head slightly bowed, eyes open, starring intensely at my food, often while stirring it. And then I eat, and lately I've been cleaning my plate.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Humor of Our Creator

God invented comedy, just wrap your mind around that.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Pollock

A place to live, a car to drive, a job to do. A list of movies to see, a list of books to read, a catalog of things to buy.

One day I'm going to get a big block of stone, a hammer and a chisel, and I'm going to start chipping away at it to make a statue of a man hurling a discus. It's going to take me a very long time. It's amazing, the list of what can be acomplished when our end result is persued with patience and with diligence.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Upheaval

My life feels completely out of my control right now. Depending on your beliefs you might laugh at this statement. It might even sound a resounding "duuuuh" from your lips. But only 2 months ago I had a place to live, a full time job, complete health insurance and a car. Today I have none of those things. I try not to make this a personal blog, but in times like these I get extremely reflective, because after a slew of spontaneous decisions like I have made in the last 2 months I'm left completely confused about how I got to this point, and why I thought it was a good idea to put myself here. I'm an idealist dammit, and I just do things when I feel like I should do them, and I'm guided by my conscience, so I'm not complaining. This is just a warning, the next post is going to be a big one. In it I will lay out everything that is going on and a general timeline of my plans for the rest of the year. I don't know that I will ever come to a place of comfort in my life, and maybe I just need to make peace with that. One day I'll have enough money to not have to worry about money, and one day I'll be in a serious relationship or married and I won't have to worry about making room for that to happen, and one day I'll have children and one day I'll have a home. But do those things make a person comfortable? I'll just go ahead and answer that: No those things will not make me comfortable or bring me any peace because those things are also ultimately out of my control. Not that Hunter S. Thompson was necessarily right, but a key to peace in a person like me is to not live in fear. Not in fear of health, not in fear of money, and not in fear of the cultural hegemony. Now, having said that I'm open to suggestions for right living, that's called accountability or community or one of those words that gets abused. I've just gotta get more organized, my stuff is a mess.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Is anything really possible?

(Now mind you, we are not speaking of metaphysics, we are speaking merely in the physical...)

I heard someone say the other day that they had an epiphany (only I don't think she used the word epiphany), that she realized that anything was possible. I believe she was speaking strictly in terms of spontanaity in career and travel, but her statement implied various attainments of stature, wealth and romance as well. This got me thinking. I've heard stories of people overcoming all kinds of circumstances and persevering in the face of the impossible, but is anything really possible?

I don't have an answer...I'm just pondering aloud.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Back in the States, For the Time Being

I arrived in Dallas this morning at 5am. It is now only 8:57am but my body is telling me that it is 1500 GMT, London Time. My mind is racing a thousand miles an hour. All I can think about is how much I want to be back in London, back on the road. This trip was the adventure of a life-time. I don't know what I'll do now. There's that looming year long procedure that I've been putting off since highschool, films that will station me in one place for a long time with a steady income, and then there is more adventure....

Is Dallas the right place to be? Should I move to LA? I now know for sure that in order to continue on in this lifestyle that I've chosen, I will not be able to adhere to the American Christian ideal of community and commitment. And that might be a dangerous thing, because I've witnessed first-hand, people who have been wrecked by that failure to commit. But I figure, I've got Christ on my side and if I continue to let my conscience guide me and trust that God is leading my life, then I'll never be allowed to go too far astray. I just really want to be out on the road again, as soon as possible.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

London's Calling

Pretty good album...anyways...

I'm in London, 3 years later. I realize that I love England, and not for the first time, that when you live someplace, you tend to take it forgranted. I'm thinking of staying a few extra days. I might fly to Amsterdam, or I might travel to some obscure English towns. Let me know if you know someone around here that would like to hang out.

We're on the home stretch, what a wild ride it's been.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Learning How to Be Different and Still Get Along

As I write this I don't even know where I am. I know that I'm in Germany, somewhere near Rammstein Airforce base, but geographically I have no idea where that is. The weather and the landscape outside is my favorite kind. It's the kind of season and part of the world where moss grows on everything, there is a bite in the air in both the morning and at night. The air tastes clean and clear and the dew never burns off the grass. Germany is the kind of country that the whole world longs to be. It's not perfect by any means but there is plenty of evidence to show that in the recent past it's leaders and leading minds sought to make a sort of utopia out of the land. If I ate meat I would eat sausage every day here. And if I didn't make a bad decision and drank too much and too late into the night the night before, I would have had a delicious hefewiezen at dinner tonight.

After some of the dumps we have stayed in, the 3 star that we are in tonight feels like paradise. The restaurant here is very nice and everything is made out of tile in the sense that it actually feels semi-permanent in the way the prefabricated bathrooms of the sort you find in cheap hotels these days just feel disposable.

This has been an amazing trip, I mean don't get me wrong it's gone terribly most of the time, but I can't pretend that I'm not getting paid to shoot a TV show as I travel across Europe by car. I miss a lot of people, especially my family, but also my friends, Christians (which I didn't think I'd be saying any time soon), and well, that's about it. They tell me that I'll be going home on the first (of September) now, so that's what I'm going on. It's kind of weird that I don't have a place to live or a job when I get home, but it's also going to be nice to just chill at my parents house and watch TV while I nap off my jet-lag.

In 3 days we will drive 6 hours back to Paris, drop off the cars, hop on the Chunnel train and take it to London, where we will shoot the final episode. I've had fun but I'm absolutely ready to go home. I can see how people get addicted to this lifestyle. I have a lot of decisions to make when I get home.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

On This Sunny Parisian Afternoon

Today is my last day off. I'm in Paris. The trip has been extended 3 or 4 days and we are going back into Germany. This French keyboard is very hard to use. I'm making the most of everything.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Welcome to the World on an Honest Level

These people have nothing to prove. If they don't want to share their bread with you, then get your hands out of their damn bread-basket. There's no false-Christian generosity or humility in the way they act. It's strictly survival of the fittest. The laws are different when you are international and if they want to cut your throat and steal your bank pin then they will. They may be your crew but they are better than you and more entitled than you, they have more stipulations in their deal-memo, they make more per hour than you and they want you to know it. And I love it, because it is real. They are negative and moody and their rotten attitude is infectious. They drink too much and they eat too little and sleep too little and everyone else is dirty and selfish but they are faultless. And I find it funny, because these are the people that make TV happen. Sure, on a bigger network things would be run more tightly, but this is the reality of the way most shows are filmed. I suppose I'm no better, but I've definitely got something different going on. Nonetheless, I'm having a blast. I'm in Europe, I'm shooting a TV show, I've got more control than I know what to do with, and I am being paid quite well to be here.

Tomorrow I will be at Oktoberfest shooting all day. And when I say all day I'm talking about 14 to 16 hours of very hard work and I love it. The only thing I'm not looking forward to is the bad attitudes, the fighting, the back-stabbing and the bickering. But at the same time I'm living a dream.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Europe By Car: Plenty of Equipment, With Very Little Clothes

First L.A. for 5 days. Shooting every day.

3 flights to arrive in Valencia, Spain. Start shooting at the airport, shoot during the day, La Tomatina Festival.

Travel to Barcelona and shoot for 3 days. Run for a few miles along side 4 Segway scooters. Don't eat, don't drink any water.

Travel to Cannes in the south of France, your lymth nodes swell like marbles in your chest and under your arms, in your face and on the back of your head, you feel like you have no strength and your joints begin to throb. Ask to either sleep indefinitely or be taken to the hospital. After 8 hours eat an apple and an orange. Sleep for another 8 hours. Wake up still hurting but feeling ok. Go to a French pharmacia and explain that you are sick. Drink their French powder for 3 days. Pray a lot.

Drive to Verona, Italy. It's amazing how good you are feeling. Stay in good hotels outside of the city. Start hitting your stride as far as shooting the show is concerned.

Shoot a fun date in Milan, Italy.

Shoot scenery for a day in Verona, Italy.

Travel to Venice, Italy and shoot a day with the girls. Ride on a Gondola and shoot.

Travel to Opatija, Croatia. Travel to Zagreb, Croatia and hang out with a Hardcore, metal-band who doesn't eat meat or drink alchohol.

Have the day off in Opatija and check your email for the first time in over a week.

***things left out---Hanging out with a pastry chef in the south of France, a hot air balloon ride over Barcelona, rocking out with 12 Dolls, Super OK, Lorena C, and Dead By Mistake, Valencia, Barcelona, Cannes, Menton (what a secret!), Verona, Venice, our crew, A LOT of driving, quite a bit of drama, Opatija, Zagreb, and all the politics of producing a TV show.

See you soon!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Tales From a Traveling Reality Show

Right now I'm in a very nice hotel room in Cannes, France. I don't even remember how many days we spent in Spain, I think I was in L.A. for 5. I've shot about 20 hours of footage so far. I'm in love with two of the girls, they are great. The other one and I are about to mix words. But who knows, I will practice patience and maybe she'll come around. Things aren't looking pretty so far, as far as that's concerned. I'm having a good time, but I'm feeling run down from time to time. I'm trying to get rest but every once in a while the day turns into 15 hours. I've ended up shooting way more and having way more responsibility than I ever thought I would. When this show comes out, I will have filmed over half of it, and that's just nuts. Sometimes things don't go right, for example, I was flying in a hot air balloon over Barcelona with the girls yesterday and I didn't realize that my audio died for 15 minutes, that was a terrible thing to happen, but it happened and it's out of my control now. I'm really excited and nervous to see a rough cut of the first two episodes.

Sorry it's taken me so long to update the blog, this is my first time to be on the internet since I landed in Europe. More news soon...

Monday, August 28, 2006

La Tomatina

Your prayers were heard. I leave for Spain tomorrow. Our first day off is in Eastern Europe. Things are very interesting. Today I ran into a man named Monnie. The circumstances were very weird. Monnie is a man that I interned for 4 years ago, and one that I thought about calling just yesterday, and I ran into him today. How small is this world? 6 billion and counting is nothing, nothing. I think that he's gay, and he slapped my butt, I just thought it was very funny. I'll be doing a lot of laughing in the next month. Check back for more details. See you next time.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Be Gracious to Your Hosts, Be Gracious to Your Hosts

God bless these two for putting up with my crap. Only one more night and then I'm outta here. I almost got fired today and I am walking a very fine line. I somehow thought that going freelance would make me less stressed...what on earth was I smoking? All I ask is that I get to Europe. I shot today for about 8 or 9 hours, mostly footage of the beach, and I forgot to wear any sun-screen. I just applied a family-sized portion of aloe. I really hope I don't peel. I've been very hard on my nose in my life. I'm learning a lot even if it's not in the way I wanted, it's a learning experience. I'm praying that I still get to Europe. I need to get my act together and put on my confident hat...and some SPF 30.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Bachelor's Paradise

Personal Entry-

I've been in L.A. for 48 hours. I flew out at 6am yesterday and I feel like we've been shooting ever since. I was unprepared and I feel like I am letting the director down every time I roll the camera. I'm staying with two of my friends who recently got married; let me just tell you that marriage changes things, I feel like I'm crashing their happy home, like I wallow in a mud pit all day before barging into their home at 10:30pm, right before they go to bed. It was a bad idea on many fronts, not to stay in a hotel. The PT Cruiser is good, and I like the director and I like the girls, and my apartment leased and I saved $2,000, PRAISE THE LORD! So all in all, as long as I don't get fired, which I'm walking a fine line so far, all in all, it's all good.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Strewn About With an Empty Box for a Desk

No matter what I do, no matter what position I take on, I cannot get comfortable. And no, I don't mean in my life in general; I mean right now, as I write this with a stack of empty boxes as my desk. Let's start with a point of reference:

A few weeks ago, a television reality show director came up to me and asked me in passing if I could hypothetically, take a month off work. My reply was, "funny, I just put in my two week resignation." It seems that in past passing conversations as I sought advice on how to shoot my Brazil documentary, and what camera to use and other discussions on filmmaking in general that this director was storing away bits of information regarding my usefulness as a cameraman. A few weeks later, I could hear my name being thrown around upstairs in the office of the television production company. I went to my computer and made a resume for myself which sold me as a cameraman, which I had never done before, and I laid it on the director's desk. A week later I was asked by the executive producer if I would like to go to Europe for a month to film a new show. I said yes before I asked any details. That was a little over a week ago. In 30 hours I leave for the first leg of the trip. In 5 days I will be in Spain.

It turned out that my roommate and I's lease was up, the 8.5x11 piece of paper attached to our door one afternoon told us so. So, Jamie and I found Jamie a place to live and I decided to move my stuff back into my parent's garage until I got back. I rented a Uhaul and helped Jamie carry his stuff over, and I moved my furniture into my parent's house, it was all too easy, it was all too swift, it was all falling into place too perfectly.

Then, this morning I was told by the pretty girl in the leasing office about the 60 day notice that I was contractually obligated to give, and about the $2,300 I still owed the apartments. I started to shake. Today, after posting the place on Craigslist, I showed our apartment to 6 people. They all turned their noses up at it. I leave only 1 day from now and if I don't find someone to sign a lease for this apartment, I will be out of the country and unable to do anything about it (if you are my friend and you pray, say a little prayer for me here). On the sunny side of things, I will be in Europe in a few days and I won't care about this apartment, but that doesn't change the fact that Jamie and I need to rent it out, and it would be selfish of me not to keep fighting to make that happen.

As a final side note, my monitor is below my hands on a TV dinner stand, and my keyboard and mouse are being balance on a rubber storage box stacked on an igloo cooler stacked on a tool box, and I'm sitting on a piano bench, this makes me ask the question, "why have I moved every 6 months for 6 years? And when will I settle down?" I want to buy a house, a small, pretty house near a city, one that I own, and can leave for extended periods of time and not worry about it. Will I ever own that house?

By the way...I finally gave my mom by blog address, "Hi Mom!"

My Character

To follow along with my trip continue reading this blog, or click on the following link:

Project MyWorld

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Uprooted, Just Like He Wanted

Things have changed rather drastically in the last few days, here is a short list:

I quit my job.
I got freelance work on some film sets.
I got an offer to shoot a show in Europe.
I leave on the 28th of August for Spain.
I'll be in Europe for a month.
I might be moving out of my apartment.
I don't know what I'm going to do when I get back.
I might work on a film for 3 to 4 months in Louisiana.

I can't even keep track right now, I really don't have much to say about it other than I'm saddened and excited. I guess I had started to think that things were never going to change, and then they just did, and here I am.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Working Hard at Not Working

We toil and fuss, or settle or tell ourselves that we're happy, which, is really no different than being happy anyway. We stress ourselves out because we think that it will make us more focused or more productive, but in reality a regimented schedule and level-headed dedication is a much more effective way to produce a well-crafted product. A sleep-schedule is the best way to maintain our health and our sanity, maybe they are one in the same. Humans are like animals in that, before there was electricity, and surely before we learned to use fire, we slept when the sun went down, we didn't have much choice. At this latitude, the sun sets at 9:00pm in the summer and rises at 6:00am. That translates to 9 hours of sleep, even during the solstice. In the winter the sun sets at 5:30pm and rises at 7:30am. That translates to 14 hours of sleep that our bodies are naturally programmed to expect during the winter. That averages to 11.5 hours of sleep that you should be getting every night, uninterrupted. Are you getting enough sleep?

Monday, August 07, 2006

This Must Be What We're Fighting For

6:40am - Breakfast at a family diner with Grandpa and 14 year old cousin.
7:30am - Tee Off at Hillcrest Golf Course.
9:30am - Finish 9 holes, head back home.
10:20am - Hop on mountain bikes with my 14 year old cousin, do a 6 mile loop off road, walk into the coldest clearest stream you've ever seen, feel the heavy red sand between my toes.
1:00pm - Go to lunch at my Grandpa's chiropractic office, eat cake and sandwiches for his 70th birthday, get an adjustment from my aunt.
2:00pm - Go visit my Grandmother with my sister.
3:00pm - Go get ice cream with 5 of my cousin's, one of their wives and their two twin baby girls who I meet for the first time.
5:00pm - Go back to the country club to swim, eat something they eat here in Wisconsin that is basically like a short, extremely greasy cheese-stick, become consumed in it's deliciousness.
6:30pm - Meet with my uncle to go flying.
7:00pm - Take off in a Cesna C-170 on the clearest calmest evening you could picture.
7:15pm - Do a fly over of my aunt and uncle's house at 1,500 feet.
7:30pm - Take the controls of an airplane for the first time and fly from Eau Claire to Fall Creek.
8:00pm - Have a smooth landing.
8:30pm - Go with sister and younger cousins to see Talledega Nights because Will Ferrell makes me laugh despite myself.
12:00am - Time for bed.

I am having such a good time. I am so thankful for my family that I'm existentially confused by it. Minnesota and Wisconsin and even Fargo North Dakota in the summer time is a wonderful and beautiful place. Most people don't know that and perhaps that's why it's kept so much of it's charm up here. I would show you pictures of the things I'm doing but I haven't taken a single picture, not even in the airplane, and let me tell you, that was incredible. This week has been such a blessing, I mean seriously I was going crazy a few days ago and I'm not just saying that, I was actually going crazy, but I feel so level now because my petty worries have been put into perspective and I've gotta thank God for that because this was all in his plan for me, isn't that cool?

Friday, August 04, 2006

On Family and Fear

It seems to me, at least in my life, that to be in close proximity to my family for short and intensive periods of time is a general anxiety-anesthetic. I have no answer for why that is. I will say this: Minnesota in the summer time is one of the prettiest things I know.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Failure to Reconnect

What a somber day, my last day at work, out over four hundred dollars, sleep-deprived and after two more days of toil I have set the Amazon project aside. I leave a t 6am tomorrow morning and it is just not worth it at this point to continue to try and piece it back together. I almost cobbled it back into something recognizable, but all of the edges are now frayed, pieces are missing, the timing is off and it's more work than I have left in me to give.

This just beats it into me, how tied-in I am to worldly things, how affected I am by them. I have my health and yet my body feels completely useless under the stress that I have put it through over this stupid mess of binary code. So, I'm going to go out with some friends, get some drinks, go home and sleep in a bed, wake up at 5am tomorrow, hop on a plane and go back home to the north of this country, where I was born. In twenty-two minutes I'm officially unemployed, at which time I will be free. Not free from debt unfortunately but free from my comfort which really is my prison cell.

When I get back in town I'm going to come back to this office and I'm going to finish these projects. I will not be getting paid for it, but I will be working harder than ever. Then I will go to work as a production assistant and I will sweat for my money. Maybe I'll travel some more when I get the itch, maybe I'll write something or direct something, or paint or play more guitar or sit on the couch in my underwear and watch cartoons and do pushups during the commercial breaks, maybe I'll go fly a kite or go to the zoo or bake something out of the Betty Crocker cookbook, or maybe even sleep in until noon on a Tuesday. Right now, I'm going to work real hard for the next sixteen minutes, right before I take my shirt off and drive home barefoot.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

On The Way To Recovery

No, not from my drug habit, from data-loss. For a step by step guide of exactly what happened go here. If you want the short version here it is:

The hardrive which held all of my HD video footage for a project I was editing died today. I still had the most important thing, the Project File, but the footage died with the drive, all 11 hours of it. The drive didn't belong to me and thus I had to buy a new one, $370 I don't have anymore. I could care less about the money though, it's the stress and the heart-brokeness of going from being so excited and proud of a project that I have poured my soul into, to looking at a silver hunk of usless aluminum-encased microchips and a computer screen full of red slashes where video clips used to be. That really gets me down.

But I'm on my way to recovery, sort of. The explanation of what I am doing would bore you to tears so I won't write it here. What I will write is this:

I'm going to Fargo North Dakota on Friday to watch my cousin get married, to give her my blessing by shooting her wedding video (do you see the correlation of frustration?). Tomorrow is my last day of work, and I'm sad about that, but I'm too stressed for it to really sink in. And one last thing, my sister's wedding video was also on the hardrive that died, and I lost it too. I didn't have that backed up though, so it very well could be gone for good. That one's the worst.

That didn't sound good...

After reading the post below this one, click on this link.

The Next Step and Wondering What It Is

It's 2 in the morning and I just got back from the office. I got done with work at 6, came home, fell asleep for an hour and a half under the covers, woke up, talked to Jamie for 5 minutes, went to the gym, worked out, ran 3 or 4 miles, went to whole foods, spent $20 on a small dinner (which included a 6 pack of Carlsberg), went to the office and began editing.

Every night for the past two weeks, when I get done with work, and I just know that I should be editing, and that I've been procrastinating all day; I hope that nobody calls me and that nothing is going on that night so that I can just edit. In reality, if this were the case for more than one day I would become a horrible depressed mess, believing that I had no friends and that no one liked me and that people thought that I was annoying and insincere and that my face wasn't aesthetically pleasing to them. But almost every night there has been something going on, and it's been fun to hang out with friends and to meet new people and I am so grateful for the friends I have. I haven't been editing as diligently as I should have been because I'm a sucker for a good time. But tonight I turned down a friend so that I could get some things done that I needed to do, which was hard, but I needed to do it, and I was productive.

The cut of the Amazon Mission Trip doc is done, praise God! However, the project still needs to be finished (a term that entails a lot of fine-tuning in editing), the DVD needs to be made, the trailerish-Christian-promo-video needs to be cut, and the special features need to be arranged. And this all has to be done by Thursday, my last day at work and the day I have to turn my equipment in, which means I am going to be very, very, busy. Oh and I have to finish my sister's wedding video to bring up north (to my cousin's wedding in North Dakota) so that I can show my grandparents. Aye yi yi yi yi.

And then when I get back on Tuesday, I will be unemployed. Jesus where are you leading me?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Jesus in Lebanon

Tyler Hicks/New York Times

Don't forget that there are Christians in Lebanon, don't forget that there are Christians everywhere. Here are the stats on religious preference in Lebanon via the CIA World Factbook:

Muslim 59.7% (Shi'a, Sunni, Druze, Isma'ilite, Alawite or Nusayri), Christian 39% (Maronite Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Melkite Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Chaldean, Assyrian, Copt, Protestant), other 1.3%
note: 17 religious sects recognized

The above photo was taken by a photographer named Tyler Hicks. Here is an NPR story on him, that will be available to listen to after 7:30pm on Sunday, the 30th of July.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Mystery is Gone

Full details coming soon.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

SOC - Typing, thinking, writing

Composing, flirting, drinking, party, fire-up, watch me, get uncomfortable, leave, come back due to duty, ashamed, party, talking, scheming, talking, excited, grouping, listening, shooting, drinking, shots, laughing, drinking, scheming, guilting, turning down, drinking, Merlot, shutting down, done, good bye, faking, laughing, joking, joking, good night, hungry, angry, hypocritical, hello, goodbye, hello, goodnight, introspection, excitment, goodnight, introspection, Vastaros, Saarsgarg, Vastaros, Saarsgarg, Vastaros, Sweden, Kings Kross, Stansted, goodnight.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Enchanted Rock


This weekend, myself and a few other guys will be trekking out to a nature preserve in the Texas hill country called Enchanted Rock. The environment, free of paved roads, telephone poles, and warning signs is so important. I think that we lose something of ourselves when we lose a connection with nature; it sustains us. There is actually a developmental disorder that has been to linked to children who aren't exposed to nature in their adolescence. More about that soon.

Help save our natural places.

That disorder is called "nature-deficit disorder" by the way. The first entry of a Google search on the disorder came up with an NPR story you can listen too, hooray!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Death of the Front Porch

This is a picture of a family, enjoying their front porch in one of the most densly populated areas in the United States, the West Side of Manhattan. It really is posted for no other purpose than it makes me happy. I'm torn between urban living and country living, community and utter time-selfishness. It's a happy idea though.

Here is the story if you are interested in how and why they did it:

Manhattan Family builds a front porch and garden on the roof top of their West Side apartment.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Axing Antonomics

I've decided to axe another blog that I was working on called Antonomics. Originally I had intended to make it a link intensive blog which could direct people to news stories which I thought were important and which weren't getting enough attention. I have decided however that this idea fits too closely with the intention of Deliberate living, and thus I will now incorporate these links into this blog.

Here is a run down of the short lived highlights:

"Bruno is the first wild bear to be sighted in Germany since 1835."

Osama Bin Laden calls for a "truce" in his newest recording:

Robert Mugabe, the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe seems deliberate on destroying his country. Inflation is currently at 1,000% with the promise of hitting 2000% within the year.

Next week the Ugandan government will begin talks with Joseph Cony and the leadership of his homocidal cult "The Lord's Resistance Army."

Conservationists estimated that there were more than 100,000 West African black rhinos in 1960. That figure dropped to an estimated 14,000 by 1980 and the animals may now be extinct.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

My Resignation

I put in my two weeks at work today. I am going to miss this office and my coworkers more than I really want to think about, so instead I'm just going to be excited about what lies ahead.

Need some video work done? Hire me!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Smile Experiment Update

I've been failing miserably at the smile experiment. However, just smiling once in every ten situations is a huge leap from the norm for me. This is what I do while performing The Smile Experiment, and these are my findings:

I've just picked up a 6 pack of Carlsberg, a 40oz bucket of organic vanilla yogurt and a Bellhaven pint glass. As I'm approaching the young girl at the cash register, who is looking in the opposite direction as she hands a grumpy elderly woman her bag of figs and baking flour, I grin like I've just witnessed a cute baby drooling and giggling at the funny face I was previously making. As she turns to me to say, "hi how are you, do you have your preferred car?" I turn on the brights, and by turn on the brights I mean I greet her with a gleaming smile like a loony. I don't even have a particularly nice smile. I mean my teeth are straight, but I have a fairly strange looking face, especially when I'm grinning. Her immediate response however is a return of this strange enthusiastic smile, no matter how depressing of a character she is in her day to day life, no matter what is going on in her mind having to do with her deadbeat abusive boyfriend, she shines me back that wide-eyed grin. This has happened 4 times in the last 2 days. It has never failed me. And as a further concurrence, when I have forgotten or refused to proceed with Smile Experiment Protocol, only to receive a greeting smile from the other end, before I can consciously refuse I find myself grinning right back.

We might have the ingredients to world peace here folks. Let's put 'em in the stew and see if we make dumplings! What do we have to lose?

Consumed

To anyone who enjoys reading this site: I apologize for the lack of posts and the lack of quality in the few posts that I have put out lately. My excuse is that I've been consumed by the edit of my Amazon mission documentary that I have been working on. I have so far cut seven and a half out of eleven hours of tape that I shot while in Brazil and it is likely that the documentary will be about 45 minutes long. On a postitive note, I think the documentary is turning out fairly well. But, I'll let you be the judge of that. I'll put a link to the documentary in it's entirety up as soon as the project is completed. Thanks for being patient with me.

Here is the reward for your patience, a picture of me with the man whom I will name a child after, maybe my own:On the left, burly Norwegian goat-farmer hands, on the right, dainty American blogger hands.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Smile Experiment

This is in no way scientific, but here is a fact, if you walk up to someone smiling, say a bank teller, or an employee of Chipotle, they are going to smile back at you instinctively. What a better way to begin an interaction! For some reason this comes with great difficulty to me, to just walk up to someone and show 'em a toothy grin, but this week I pledge to do it at every opportunity, and the experiement is to see if I get more respect, better service...maybe something free. Try it out, it's fun and fairly painless.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Official Shoe of the Third World

Or, Fighting Hookworm Through Fashion...

When I was in the Amazon a little while ago, working with a medical missions team, we were all surprised to find out that 98% of the people who lived in the villages there reported worms in their stool. Now, it is true that many of the parasites they have to live with come through their drinking water, which they fetch directly out of the Amazon River, and can be fought through education, and teaching on how to purify their water supply; however, I also noticed that the children all run around either barefoot or with thin flipflops sliding off their muddy little feet. When there is no seperation between the village livestock, chickens, dogs, etc. and the ground where these children walk, hookworm infestation will be a continued fact of life.

Which brings me to this shoe:
Now let it be stated that this post has nothing to do with Dooce and her bloody "Clog War," which I don't find the slightest bit funny or amusing. This post is simply to say that if these clogs were being brought as donations to the third world via mission trips, they would be an effective and stylish way of protecting children from the nutritional devistation caused by hookworm. And if you are going to argue that this would make all the villagers look like little clog wearing clones, I'll offer this as my argument:

Cute little multicolored flats.
Let it also be stated that I have no idea what the Crocs™ company's official evironmental policy is, but if they were to make these shoes out of an environmentally sustainable, non-petroleum based foam or faux-rubber, I would kiss their CEO right on the mouth.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Pray


Prayer has changed my life, that is undoubtable. First I prayed to God, then I prayed for God, next I prayed for God to teach me, then I prayed for God to allow me to share His teaching. Now all I can pray is that God will allow me to pray once again.

Here is an amazing radio story recorded by Alix Spiegel for This American Life. It is called "Pray." Whether or not you pray, or believe in God, or have an opinion that is in opposition to organized religion, I promise that you will enjoy this story.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Update: Mid July

Well, plans didn't go according to, well, you know. It seems I need some dental work, so before I go freelance and loose my health insurance indefinitely, I'm going to take care of that. I'm going to a dentist in Highland Park, Dallas, TX, which is one of those ritzy communities where people can afford to pay extra to have marble countertops and a tinkling fountain in the lobby and GQ in the waiting room. I'm a little worried that I will be shocked at the price, ok, I'm a lot worried, ridiculously worried. The truly unfortunate thing is that I have a friend who owns a practice in Highland Park and I am so afraid of dental work that, even though I already have an appointment, I refuse to call him even though he will probably be able to get me in early and even give me a deal.

In other news, the documentary that I shot in Brazil, in the Amazon, that I am currently editing, which has been taking over my mental capacities for the last month, is finally coming along quite nicely. I am debating whether I should post it online or not. It is so far, eight sections of video, each one being between two and six minutes long. The reason I don't want to post them is partly because I will not be able to stand the criticism, a good part of which will be perhaps...well I'm not going to get into it because I can't decide whether it is reasoned or a product of my insecurities. Coming soon, I will write a few more short stories and for the time being I will post a few fun links. Thanks for reading, let me know what you think.

I've always found Thom Yorke very mysterious, and yet, I've never made any effort to learn anything about him. Here is an interview that Terry Gross (the world's greatest living cultural interviewer) did today with him. It's the first time I've ever heard him speak. He seems amazingly more down to earth than I ever would have imagined him to be. Isn't that funny how we're all human?

P.S. If you've never listened to Fresh Air with Terry Gross on NPR, you are missing out.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Spend A Little Bit On Your Clothes

It's incredibly hard for me to find pants, I mean, I could buy some pants, it would take a little sorting, but I could buy a pair of Levis, standard fit, or easy fit or whatever they call what most middle American dudes wear. But I like a certain cut, a cut that almost doesn't exist. A 30 inch waist with a 34 inch inseam, possibly 35, slightly low-rise, boot-cut if my shoes aren't slim, straight leg if my shoes are sleek, over-saturated, no holes and no fruff.

It usually takes me about 6 months to find a pair of pants I like. It's been over two years since I've found a pair of khakis. But it's summer, and I've started to go to a church where the congregation prefers to dress up a bit. I like that though, I personally prefer to wear khaki pants on a summer day, especially to church. If guys only knew the power of khaki pants on a man to a woman, they'd dress like all those heavy-duty driving tool-bags, all the time. Nothing reels in a lovely lady quite like some embroidered perch on your canvas belt. Anyways...

All that's to say, that you shouldn't feel bad spending a bit on your clothes. If a pair of pants from Target are going to fall apart, and be stitched together poorly, by developing fingers, and whose deriven wages are going to cause bellies to go to bed hungry, but are going to enable you to wear a cheap pair of pants for a short while; and to buy a pair of designer pants with an aesthetically pleasing cut are going to last you for years and make you feel good, and fill someones pockets with dough, why not spend a little bit on them. Because this is why:

Spend twenty dollars on a bunk cut, spend twenty more in a few months, toss them aside and do it again, keep the third world generating first world dollars, or...spend a hundred dollars, wear a pair of pants until they wear too thin to be cool, and take the three-hundred and eighty dollars you save and donate it somewhere worthwhile. That is to say, only if the company from which they come believes in sustainable manufacturing, which not many do. So buy carefully, and buy with a researched mind. If you buy designer pants that come with ragged holes cut in them though, I don't think you've quite gotten the story.

"She"

I'm a sexist in a sense, I don't think that women can do less than men, but I do think that men and women occupy different roles, at least in most cases, the majority of the time...in the majority of most cases. I guess that makes me a sexist according to modern political correctness, or social standards, or academic thought...or something.

That is only to say that I find it strange when men, or women, refer to a hypothetical person as "she," rather than as "he." The same rule applies to animals. For example, someone might point at a turtle and say, "she sure is magnificent." Or, someone might say, "I need to go to a doctor, I hope she accepts my insurance provider." For some reason, I am inclined to call every hypothetical person or being "he." What is the reason for this? Does this make me a chauvinist?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

End of an Age

Changing the Fate of Man - since July 8th 2006

First, my friend Dawson and I met in North Dallas. The night before I said that whoever's car got better gas mileage could drive to the trail, then Dawson rolled up in the two-door version of my car, and I decided to drive only because I'd been there before. Twenty miles farther north we rode a beautiful trail surrounded by encroaching suburban developments in a state maintained park called Erwin Park in McKinney Texas. A quarter of a tank of gas later we were eating Chipotle and pledging to ride again. At one o'clock and at 95 degrees fahrenheit, I put on my shorts and my CamelBack and I rode my bike 2.7 miles to work. There was a river of sweat running down my back and into my shorts within minutes. I felt, amazingly, fairly cool as long as I was peddling hard. I had a headwind, which made the ride harder, but the breeze was welcomed. I should have worn my helmet and I shouldn't have been listening to my Ipod, but I was careful that no cars were not paying attention to me. Even though it was only a few miles and on a Saturday, I felt like I was making a difference, and I felt like I was making a statement. Bike riding is fun, we forget that.

15 minutes later, I was at work. I was sweaty, but the AC was cold inside. I made some French-press coffee, had a bowl of vanilla yogurt with two large scoops of blueberries and I got to editing my Brazil documentary. Afterwards I wasn't looking forward to the ride home, but I took a route with less traffic and I saw some new neighborhoods, new to me anyway. I will be looking to sell my car as soon as possible. It's the silver Tahoe behind the bike. It has served me well but it needs to go to someone who will use it for it's intended purpose, to tote children and boats and to carry gear.

We've had good times together. Farewell old friend.

Friday, July 07, 2006

In 50 Years Our Hope Is Dismal

Or, If You Love Your Kids Don't Have Them, but that only applies if you are not yet pregnant.

This is my new means of transportation. My car runs fine, but until I can sell it and buy a Honda Civic Hybrid I will ride my bike as much as possible. If you haven't seen An Inconvenient Truth you need to see it. And if you've never seen a film called The Corporation, you need to see it. Global Warming is not a new concept. Al Gore is not breaking ground with this film. Scientists have known conclusively that the earth is warming at an exponential rate for well over two decades. It can be curbed with MINOR changes in our daily life. Here are a few examples.

•Drive a little less.
•Drive a car that gets better gas mileage if you can.
•Bring a ceramic mug to Starbucks.
•Recycle your bottled-water bottles.
•Turns off lights in rooms you are not in.
•Change from fossil fuel and nuclear driven energy to green energy (it's no more expensive).

Be a little concerned. Our children's hope is in peril.

Why I Love Judaism

Here is a post by my friend Lucas who lives in L.A.:

One river crossed... one to go.

Wow! That is a great insight.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Racial Coefficient

I wasn't a racist until college.

I say that partly to get the ball rolling on what I hope to be a confrontational post, and I say it partly because it is true. I wish that I wasn't, I wish that I could just see people as people, but I'm judgemental, and I use image as a first impression. This rule applies to a myriad of observations, if someone looks poor, if they have bad teeth, bad shoes, dark skin, a beard, glasses, if they are pretty, if they are wearing white shoes or an obnoxious necklace, definitely if they have tatoos, if they have a weak gate, or if they look out of shape. It wasn't always this way. When I was growing up I didn't see race. I literally couldn't see a difference between a "black person" or a "white person" until I was in highschool and even then I could never be sure. I thought that maybe the difference came in the way the person talked more so than the way the person looked. In college it was a different story. To be so surrounded by "white" people made me realize that I came from a very diverse community. It wasn't until I spent a summer in England that I began to see class as well. So, looking back, we have three categories, appearance, race and class. Which brings me to my next point, that to specify two races as black and white is to try and simplify the issue so much so that it becomes black and white in itself, which is just silly. Which brings me to my third point, I don't believe race exists. Not anymore anyway. I think the whole idea of it is bullshit. There is ethnic pride, which is pride in itself, which is selfishness, which is the root of all evil (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity). To complicate things further, some of my most racist friends are more comfortable talking about race and are often more racially blind than I am. The reason for this being that they are so ok with the fact that they are racist, that they don't think about race anymore. The mere fact that I am now so facinated by race relations and so passionate about anti-racism makes me overly conscious of race when before I wasn't. This race consciousness then actually manifests itself into racism because I then see race before I see a person. That's all to say that people are just people, no matter how they talk, how they dress, how they act or what they look like; we are all in the same boat.

Anton's passions:

Filmmaking
Urban Redevelopment and City Planning
Cultural Anthropology
The Natural World

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Dear Spiritual Journal

This is my journal entry from July 4th, 2006:

Lord, I won't try to jazz it up, expose my nasties,
that are so easy for me to hide.

Analyze away at that one. The truth is I purposely deprive myself of sleep. In fact, I purposely do a lot of self destructive things so that I'll have something to blame my faults on other than my own prideful nature. It's probably my favorite journal entry though.

Outline of My Admiration: Meryl Streep

Few things in life age like wine, Meryl Streep is the female exception. Altough seething hatred coursed through my body as I watched her break her husband's heart in Kramer vs. Kramer, along with the shock of her character's transformation from passionate writer to hedonistic drug addict in Adaptation, I have grown to adore Meryl Streep as an actress. If you haven't seen her yet in A Prairie Home Companion, do it.

As for me I have yet to see The Devil Wears Prada, but I hear good things.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Because in the Morning I Run


Google "Socrates Moderation":

{?] - The results are unclear. Read Charmides perhaps...

Google "Plato Moderation":

Moderation, which consists in an indifference about little things, and in a prudent and well-proportioned zeal about things of importance, can proceed from nothing but true knowledge, which has its foundation in self-acquaintance.

The man who makes everything that leads to happiness depends upon himself, and not upon other men, has adopted the very best plan for living happily. This is the man of moderation, the man of manly character and of wisdom.


Google "Aristotle Moderation":

The virtue of justice consists in moderation, as regulated by wisdom.

Kurt Vonnegut has this to say about moderation in his novel Hocus Pocus:

Alchohol and marijuanna, if used in moderation, plus loud, usually low-class music, make stress and boredom infinitely more bearable. It was manna from heaven that I came into this world with a gift for moderation in my intake of mood-modifying substances...[In Vietnam] Several of the most gruesome accidents I had to explain to the press during my last year over there were caused by people who had rendered themselves imbecilic or maniacal by ingesting too much of what, if taken in moderation, could be a helpful chemical.

I like that, the idea of moderating such substances. Too bad most of us are naturally hell-bent on destroying ourselves.

Freedom Festival

I had a moment today, wherein I introspected about what I was doing at that moment, where I was, who I was with, and I felt truly blessed. Our culture tells us to not be content, to always be looking to what's next, to improve, and to be promoted. But sitting in the company of the friends I was with today, with their family, with they as mine, being served delicious food, on a beautiful day, in a beautifully furnished home, watching movies and playing games and just enjoying each other's company, I got to thinking that if I were to be stuck doing the job I do now, never exceling until my dying day, that I would be happy where I am. And I felt and I feel blessed, and I feel like I don't deserve it, and I know that I don't.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

i heart you

Once again, awesome night. Truly awesome though, somewhat in the classical sense. I hung out with a bunch of Christians and that's why. I miss Kyle. We went swimming after wishing Martha happy moving. I'm still not happy with Dallas. I like Paste Magazine, Presbyterians, puppies, NPR, Jamie, Ben (who's married) running and bicycles.

I postponed quiting because I need dental work, and I love my company, partly because they wrote a nice email about me, but I really do love them. Check High Resolution Revolution to see what I'm doing there.

I meant to bring my camera today and I forgot. I was too excited because I got a half day and there was too much to do. Here is what happened:

•Got to work late at 9:20am
•Argentina vs. Germany on ESPN2 (Germany won)
•Worked on the Brazil doc
•Worked on Willow Street Reels
•Left work at 1pm, went to the gym, full work out and ran 5 miles

[I like Conors Oberst and Dashboard Confessional, that's a guilty pleasure.]

•Took a shower.
•Was going to go to the DMA but it closed at 5. Went to my favorite cafe, latte, croissant, 2 eggs scrambled, tomatoes
•Back to work, to edit
•Drove to Fort Worth, the greatest city to live in, in the United States
Martha's moving to Dallas party
•Went swimming at the Marquis at Bellaire Ranch. Jenn and Jay are dating, I love it. I Heart You. G'night.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Dallas vs. Dallas

Now that I've been working full-time two summers in a row, I don't even notice how hot it is in Texas during the summer. When I was a kid my parents worked all summer and I spent a grand amount of time outside, burning my feet on the concrete and even going on runs in the heat of the day. On Monday, I brought a fleece-jacket with me to work, because the air conditioning was too cold. Needless to say It's been quite an adjustment.

For the last couple of days I've been clicking F12 and going into my widgets to translate a blog I read from Spanish to English and I've noticed subconsciously that the weather report widget that I have has been forecasting temperatures that I could only dream of. It has looked like this:Even with my AC finally fixed in my car so that I barely notice the temperature from my climate controled apartment, to my climate controlled car, to my climate controlled office and back again; I started to wonder why it would say that. Every time I looked at it I would think perhaps that I had been time-warped to four months ago, or better yet that I had been daydreaming and the last four months hadn't yet happened. It turns out, I've been awake, and no time-warp either. It turns out that there is a Dallas in Pennsylvania, and for some reason it's a higher priority in the lists of Dallas than Dallas, Texas. Here is what it should look like:
If the earth really is heating up, it is going to stink.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Saturday, June 24, 2006

So Embarrassed I Have to Come Clean

There's this website, it's called Dooce.com. It was the first blog I was ever introduced to and I love it. If you want some good reading. Go to the bottom of the site and sort the posts by either Depression or Mormonism, and read from the bottom to the top.The author's name is Heather, and she is hilarious. Now, here's the situation:

Dear Heather,

I have a fairly unique name, which I am very proud of. One big advantage or disadvantage of having such a unique name is that when someone performs a Google search on my name, it comes right up. I am sure that girls do this after meeting me. You can imagine my horror, the day after I drunkenly decided it was time I posted a comment on your website, after doing a Google search on my name, this was the first thing that came up:Egg-pooping? Did I really say that? And did I really make my user name my full eff-ing name!? Heather, I love your website, I read it almost every day, and I don't mind being associated with it, but please, PLEASE remove this comment from your site. Or, you have my permission to change it to something that will show the ladies that I am sensitive. At 12:12AM and after a couple of beers I lose the ability to be clever, I have learned my lesson. Have mercy on me.

Thank you!

Anton

(*names have been blurred to protect the embarrassed*)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Greed In Three Degrees

This morning I was incredibly fired up to write on the topic of greed, as inspired by the previous night's conversation with two of my best friends, however I was too busy today to write with a clean conscience and that passionate inspiration may well be gone forever. First I will give an update, then I will get back to the subject of having, holding and making a lot of money. Here is the update:

With only 3 weeks left at my job and three unfinished projects on a hard drive that doesn't belong to me, I have gotten very busy, working on both my own projects and on setting up multiple systems for the company which will hopefully run seamlessly in my absence. I'm full of nervous excitment at the prospect of what lies ahead, and of the fact that I will no longer be tied to a full-time employer in just a few weeks. I have somewhat succesfully been fighting the fear of starving and of being unwanted, unapreciated and untalented. And with the unreasoned grin of a drunkard I count down the days until that date.

Now back to the subject of our title...

While sitting with two friends for a late-night dinner at the most fantastic little all-night diner in Dallas (Buzz Brews on 75), we began to have a conversation about our current jobs and our future financial stability. Then we started talking about wealth, real wealth; this is where I left the conversation and became an observer. I don't want to name this phenomenon anything, I don't even want to comment on what happened because in doing so I would be saying that my two friends were and are possessed by greed, as if I am not. Let me just say that it is good that I was too busy to write this morning because what I would have written would have been self-righteous and deserving of pity. Instead I will write this:

If my family owned a natural gas well in Fort Worth on the Barnett Shale that was an eye sore, that was causing massive noise pollution, large-scale and largely unregulated air and land pollution, was a safety hazzard to the homes and families near by, was especially dangerous to the men and women who worked the well, who I paid very little, whose profit was allowing me to plant more and more wells, which were then popping up litteraly in the back yards of home owners all around Fort Worth, thus causing their land to be destroyed and property values to be sucked of all their worth...I wouldn't be losing sleep at all. I'd be buying a yacht, and I'd be excited about it, and comfortable. I'd probably donate a little to a charity though, just in case.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Occupation of My Mind

Right now I am working on two projects. The first of which is my sister's wedding video which I am editing, on which I have done nothing. The second is a documentary I supposedly shot of my trip to Brazil last month. I can't edit during the day because the only computer that can handle the HD footage is inaccesable to me at that time, and I can't edit at night because by that point I'm too tired. I am completely consumed mentally in these two projects and I can get nothing done until they are complete.

Follow their progress over here at High Resolution Revolution.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

My Other Favorite Cafe

Yeah, ok, so that last post was terrible...my apologies.

Here are a couple goals I have:

•Win a 5k.
•Find a pair of flat front slacks that fit, 30x34, slightly slim fitting, slightly low rise.
•Buy some black LIN socks with skulls on them.
•Quit my job.
•Live in a house.
•Find a church I like.
•Wake up an hour earlier each day.
•Gain 15 pounds, of muscle.
•Buy a fuel efficient car.
•Go to bed before midnight.
•Finish editing all of my film projects.
•Write my novel.
•Write my screenplay.
•Learn how to bake pastries.

That's my plan for the summer anyway. After that I have some more goals, but we'll just get there when we get there.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Everything Is About To Change

I have a hard time saying no to anything that has the remote possibility of being fun. This is especially true when it comes to artistic ventures. But today I finally said no; I am over-booked.

I hope you enjoyed the last three short stories (or scenes really) as much as I enjoyed writing them. Those three stories really speak volumes about my deepest desires I think.

In closing, I am making some big decisions next week, wish me the best...ok, ok, that sounds too foreboding, they're really not that big, but seriously, wish me the best.