Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Lent, The Year of Our Lord 2007

In an attempt to draw closer to Christ I have quit caffeine and alchohol, cold turkey, until Easter. I was up to the equivalent of 4 or 5 cups of coffee every day, and between one and two beers or glasses of wine every night. Though I've given up caffeine for lent the last 2 years, I have never given up alchohol as well. I already feel very sober, and very different from what I feel is the normal me. But I feel great, and mid-afternoon naps have never been partaken with such pleasure.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

In Houston, Where Everything Is Warehouse Size

I'm in Houston working on a documentary for TLC. The doc follows around a woman who today is over 800 pounds. We were with her in the O.R. as she recieved gastric bypass surgery. She is in recovery right now. It has been a 15 hour work day so far, beginning at 4:30am this morning. I'm exhausted but I'm getting to work, so I really can't complain.

Houston is the future of America, and the future is super-sized. This is the biggest city in the United States and I am not talking about the people. I mean that geographically this city covers the most ground of any city in this country. They chop down the big pine forests here like they are weeds and they erect massive six lane highways. Needless to say traffic is a headache, and concrete is an eyesore. It almost makes me miss Dallas.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Our Contribution to Evolution


I may not agree with the means behind the work, but I mean, this is brilliant. (click on the pic to go to Banksy's site.)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Please Watch This

Air keyboard could quite possibly be the key to unlocking world peace and stopping racism.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Free to Blog!

I feel so liberated. I took some time today to surf the web looking for ways to make my blog better and after only a few hours I feel like I've finally unlocked the potential of this medium.

For example, I finally figured out how to make a picture a link. It was so easy and it required no html because in Firefox, you can edit your posts in an actual preview mode, whereas in Safari you can only edit the html itself. Check it out, here is a link to Kottke.org, just click on the picture below:


I'm not a master of blogger by any means, I mean, just look at my humble little blog here. But things are about to change.

*If you are interested in video blogging check out my Film and Video blog High Resolution Revolution.

Monday, February 12, 2007

That's Just Me Sweety

I've been thinking a lot lately about growing up. Right now, thinking back to the years of my adolesence, I am trying to remember what I was looking forward to in life. What did I think life was going to be like at twenty-three? When I think about it I don't think that I really gave much thought to this age. I thought about what it would be like to be married and to have kids and for my life to look like my parents lives but I never really thought about the stage of my life after finishing school but before really settling down. Being here now, on my own, day after day I realize that the ideas I had about community were all wrong. I have no way of knowing of course what it was like in societies of the past and I have no way of knowing whether it was better or worse, but I do know that there were still wars, and imperialism and colonialism and slavery. People have never really been truly happy, because we all have to look forward to death at the end of our lives. Think about it, I mean really think about the fact that you are going to die. It's the harsh reality of life, and when faced with that reality we have two options, one is to be hedonistic, to get all of our pleasure in while we are young, right now, before it's too late, the other is to look for greater purpose; that might be God, or it might be adhereing to religious laws to attain righteousness, or it might be social activism, but we all make that choice.

I write ironically when I write biographically about my life. I guess that I could just say that I'm a Christian, that I believe that we are killing the earth and that if you are not taking major steps in your life to fight environmental pollution then you're part of the problem, that killing is wrong no matter what, and that our only hope is to fully rely on the one and only savior in all of history, a man who was called Jesus, who was God in the body of a man, the creator of the entire universe, who has always existed, and who has never not existed. We sin against God by believing that we can be self-reliant, and that we are not in need of God, but God in Jesus gave up His life, to cleanse us of our sin. He offered himself who was pure, as the perfect sacrifice, very similar to the way that many cultures take their prized livestock and rather than eating it or selling it, they kill it and burn it, to show that they will trust God to provide for them rather than them using their own means to provide for themselves. Christ did that with Himself, to show us that we can trust in Him. It's such a deeply philosophical story, but the beauty of the story is that you don't have to cognitively understand the story to feel Christ moving in your soul. It's the weirdest thing imaginable, but it's beautiful and true.

I could say all of that, but then nobody would listen. So instead I write metaphorically and ironically in the hopes that my friends will see the deeper meaning behind my stories. But instead they beautifully and kindly offer me encouragment in my faith because they see in my pessism that I am struggling to seek Christ for my fullfillment. And I am encouraged by them. I find it beautiful that Christ calls his believers into community with one another despite all the walls that we as humans put up around ourselves.

I will not give up on a pessimistic view of the world, because the world is falling away. The last three generations have succesively lost touch with our appointment as stewards of the earth, our current generation of burgeoning adults is the worst in history in terms of having a grasp on our pedestrian nature, and our children will push our earthly home over the edge of a slippery slope into natural resourse explotation. This gives me hope, because with the reality of Christ's promise written on my heart I'm left with nothing worldly on which to place my hope. So, I remain pessimistic in regards to every reality I know, with the one exception of the reality that I do not know and yet feel so deeply within my soul. You can choose to be happy, you can choose to be be wide-eyed, you can choose to be melancholy, just don't choose to be satisfied.

-On another note, this is just my personality and I am attempting to make peace with it. If you are a person who is positive, or who feels pretty satisfied with their life, then that's the person who you are and I think that is just fine. I love you whether you smile or frown.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Positivity Experiment Ends, A Weekend in Review

I ended the work week at 10:30pm on Friday night. At 11:30pm Matt and I took off in my car and drove three and a half hours South West from Dallas to his ranch in the central Texas hill country. We arrived at 3am and went to sleep. In the morning we woke up and went running on the trails. Matt did three miles, which was pretty impressive and I continued on for three more. In the afternoon we drove around in the dune-buggy, affectionately nick-named the "Dune-Boozer," and I took a turn operating it (one of the first successful attempts at driving a manual transmission in my life).

( This is a picture I took of the dune-boozer at 3-Trees Ranch in 2005)Within minutes I hit a 4 foot wide puddle of mud and sent a 10 foot high wall of brown, stagnant water over the top of us. Then we went down to the river to skip stones and took turns dropping a 70 pound boulder onto a 2 foot wide sand-stone until it cracked into four pieces. Then we tore down a tree trunk that had been struck by lighting and stacked a pile of large rocks on top of a giant boulder. Later in the evening, after dinner we drove to Austin to sleep over at our friend Jordan's so that we could wake up early and play golf in the morning. I had Matt drive my car on the way to Austin and he got it up to 100 miles per hour. We were only going 79 miles an hour when we got pulled over. Matt got a ticket, but stayed relatively calm in light of the fact that if we had been caught while going 100, Matt could have been arrested. After arriving at Jordan's we all took a 15 minute drive into downtown Austin to go to 6th Street for a drink at 10:45pm and when we got there I realized that I had forgot my wallet. Because they ID everyone on 6th Street to get into bars and because I look like I'm 18, we had to turn around and drive back to Jordan's to retrieve my wallet. It was nearly 11:30pm by the time we got into the bar. I had 3 drinks while the 3 of us stood in a circle and pretended to have a conversation over the blaring music. A few of Matt's friends showed up at 12:15am, but we had to leave soon after so that we could get some sleep before we played golf in the morning.

We drove 45 minutes to a town called Horseshoe Bay at 8am. The urban sprawl stretched nearly the entire way along the road from Jordan's apartment in South Austin to the golf course. I nearly threw up thinking about it on the way there. I was surprised as we pulled up to the golf course because the wall surrounding it was made entirely of hand-placed stone. Escondido, the golf course we played at is one of the most exclusive clubs in Texas, and it shows. We pulled up our cars and the staff greeted us by taking our golf clubs to the driving range and cleaning them repeatedly. After they valet-ed our cars, I offered them a tip and they told me that they could not accept them. They asked us if we wanted anything else and Jordan's girlfriend asked for hot cocoa. They drove up to us on the first tee and delivered the freshly made cocoa. At the "comfort station" after the first hole we had our choice of fruit, assorted drinks, trail-mix, and other snacks as well as a full medicine cabinet with sun-screen, bug-spray, assorted pills, floss, tooth-brushes and mouthwash, all free of charge of course. In the bathrooms were rolls of thick cotton wash-clothes to dry our off our hands and a wood fire burned inside. Throughout the round the staff drove out to us and re-filled our hot cocoa and cleaned our golf-clubs. I played terribly, but I enjoyed myself. Jordan shot even par because he is a pro and his girlfriend had a fantastic personality and played well. Matt was wearing a vintage sweater from the seventies and I think he was getting a kick out of possibly looking out of place. After the round the general manager was waiting for us to thank us for playing his course, along with multiple members of the staff. During the round I didn't see a single other group playing the course besides ours. They treated us like royalty, and it was obvious they loved Jordan. The round, the food and the golf carts were all complimentary, and I left only having spent twenty dollars to buy a new golf glove because mine was so tattered. I wish that I could thank Jordan and the staff for their hospitality, but there is just no way.

How on earth do I live this way? How is this fair?

The answer is that it is not fair. For the first few holes all I could think about was that our country is at war. Unlike the courses in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, this course was nowhere near a flight path. I didn't hear a single airplane the entire round. I just couldn't get it out of my head that as I was being catered to and treated to every amenity imaginable that there are young men and women my age in Iraq who are living in daily fear with the sounds of choppers and C-130's flying overhead. However, after the first few holes, as I began to come down off the hot-cocoa driven sugar high, I became too consumed with how terrible I was playing and it became just another frustrating day at the golf course.

-- By the way the Positivity Experiment is over. I remained positive about everything I possibly could, despite my better judgment for about 2 weeks. While forcing myself to continuously stay positive at all times I did indeed change my mental outlook for the better, I just didn't like the person that came out of me when I denied my honest pessimism. So I'm ending it, and I'm bringing back the real me, the activist, the unsatisfied and justified.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Places I'll Go

White Sands, New Mexico
Yellowstone National Park
The Red Woods
Glass Beach, California

What else am I missing in these United States?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

There Should Be More Atheists


On December 27th 1831, a young Englishman named Charles Darwin boarded a small ship called the HMS Beagle and set out for a long journey around the world in which he would document the geology and biology of many diverse landscapes. Darwin would not return home for five years.

In the last century there have been major scientific discoveries that have shown that the earth is very old, that the universe is much much older, and that human beings and all other animals have changed and adapted as the world on which they are bound has changed. A broad conception of ruling gods of this world has become a more and more unlikely story of how science as we know it is governed. Through these revelations the concept of God as ruler and creator of the universe has become more compelling, and the conception of a singular creator-God has become more powerful and more mystifying. Whereas in the past gods were concieved of as imperfect and subject to change, these ideas have become improbable in concordance with scientific discovery. Therefore belief in anything less than a single God who has always existed has become asinine. Belief in anything less than a single God who is in control of all, who is perfect and who is not subject to change has become improbable, that is unless one first asserts that our whole current understanding of biology and geology is completely fictitious.

Friday, February 02, 2007

To Be 18 in Israel

I may have posted this link before, but I just came across it again and I want to share it just in case you missed it last time.

Rachel Papo's photo essay of female Israeli soldiers. (via Kottke of course)

Fully Functioning

I'm still in the middle of this experiment in case you were wondering. I don't really remember what my goals were when I started, but what I am doing is this: everytime I am tempted to have a negative thought, I immediatly counter it with it's equal positive, even if the positive is not something I necessarily believe. This is an experiement in the power of our beliefs over our own personal psycology.

In other news, I think that we have settled on Machu Pichu as our May destination, as well as some other hot-spots in Peru and Bolivia including the Nazca Lines! I am also applying for positions on travel-documentary crews, failing mostly, but a few are sure to hire me eventually, which means free travel, hurrah!