Living Outside The Box Born-Again Techo-Geek Renaissance Man

24Oct/170

Free Speech As We Know It Is Dead

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

In the recent fallout after Gab.ai was banned from both the Apple App Store *and* Google's Play Store, things have gotten interesting, and dangerous. At the same time, a well-known, notoriously antisemitic Neo-Nazi website was effectively erased from the internet without due process. During this whole debacle it was revealed that the entirety of the internet is controlled by only a few companies who can essentially censor the internet with impunity. And no one can stop them. (I'll probably post more on this soon.)

Fast forward a few weeks: the "internet refugee" who was essentially erased from posting anything on the internet ends up on Gab.ai, which bills itself as a "Free Speech" platform. But when you look closer, you discover that the Gab.ai Terms of Service exclude posting content that is illegal, as subject to different jurisdictions. "But muh Freeze Peach!" you can hear the trolls crying. Sorry, but if you post something straight-up illegal, Gab.ai cannot protect you. And of course, everybody who could think more than a few steps ahead knew this was going to be tested (and proven) at some point. We're not that surprised.

Now, this recent incident with the Neo-Nazis and Gab (and an unnamed Sci-Fi author) has sparked flames of indignation with the trolls: "How dare we get sued for posting whatever we want about anybody we want! Isn't this a Free Speech site?" To which the answer is, There is no such thing as completely 100% free speech without consequences.

It means Free Speech, as they *thought* it was defined, does not exist. And the interesting part is, it really never did.

So what does that mean for people like me and you, who don't necessarily espouse the ideals of radicals on either side, but still want the freedom to speak our mind?

31Aug/170

Intermittent Fasting

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Not too long ago, I was struggling to get back down to my ideal weight. You've probably been there: not starving yourself, but still working out, and can't seem to lose any more fat. And much like we talked about recently, I was already doing portion control to keep my calories within reason.

I wasn't too sure about it at first. I was already eating pretty healthily, and I felt like if I cut back my calories more, I wouldn't be getting enough nutrition. I wasn't working out as much as I'd have liked, but I couldn't change that, either... so I was looking for something, some way to change my diet to lose weight and stay healthy.Then I stumbled across a phenomenon called Intermittent Fasting. I first heard about it from Danger and Play, but something about it intrigued me. What if you could lose weight just by something simple... by just by changing when you eat??

What is intermittent fasting?

Basically, it's changing your eating schedule to optimize how your body burns food. This is not a diet, in that it's not changing what you eat, or how much. (I'm assuming you're already eating fairly healthy food.) But most people never take into account that our bodies were designed to process food in different ways, based on what our needs are.

29Aug/170

Becoming The Character: Sun Wukong

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Over the last few months, I've been sucked into the show RWBYproduced by Rooster Teeth, the same guys who made Red Vs. Blue and Lazer TeamIn essence, the show takes place in another world where monstrous Grimm roam the countryside, and evil threatens to rip the world apart.

Besides it being animated, the fight scenes are extremely well done. Most of the fighting was choreographed based on actual martial arts skills, which gives the show a wonderful real-world quality. Several of the martial arts scenes were actually motion-captures of the show's creator, Monty Oum. There are several excellent heroes and villains in the show, but when I was thinking of candidates for whom to emulate, the first one that came to mind wasn't one of the main characters, but a supporting character: Sun Wukong.

Sun is a laid-back kind of guy (a large part of why I like him) and is also a faunus, which are part-animal humanoids. He's a bit of a scoundrel, but we also see him being very devoted to his friends. He fights with at least two distinct martial arts disciplines, and executes several slick parkour and gymnastic moves as well. Plus, it doesn't hurt that he's got killer abs and nice hair. He's mischievous, but not rude or mean. He's confident, smart, and loyal. The area he hails from isn't big on dressing up, and he's not overly concerned with impressing people. He's comfortable with who and what he is. In short, he's the kind of guy I would want to be. (Some would say we have a lot in common: sadly, abs and nice hair aren't among those things).

7Aug/170

Monday Isn’t My Favorite Day

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

I've been encouraged in the last few days, only to feel defeated again this morning. I am going to have to throw myself back into the pursuit of God if I'm going to manage to keep my head on straight.

I don't know why this is messing with my head so much. It's not like I'm trying to be perfect. But something about this is just rubbing me the wrong way- there's something there I can't put my finger on. I guess I still have strongholds of the mind, but finding them is hard. And tearing them down is even harder.

It would be nice if I could just go back to not caring about anything again, but I know that's not what God has in store for me. Sometimes I wonder if I ever really wanted to become something great. Maybe I'd be okay just as a regular guy, with nothing else special about me. But when I think about where God has brought me, and what He's given me, I am encouraged. There's a driving purpose to what He's doing all around us, and I'm trying to look past my own shortcomings to see what's really important.

What am I doing today? I'm going to try to find a job. I'm going to try to figure out what to do about my small business (that isn't really a business, because I'm not making any money at it). I'm going to try to write some more on my novel, in hopes that just maybe someone will like it and I can get a publishing contract. Or something. Plus I'm working on learning music and preparing for our church's new campus launch in 5 weeks.

I've got a lot on my mind, but I'm in a place where I can't do much about it. So I have to figure out what I can do, and go in that direction.

I never could get the hang of Mondays.

Filed under: Signs Of Life No Comments
20Jul/170

Building a (Big) Cosplay Prop

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

My oldest daughter is really (I mean really) into Cosplay. Usually this takes the form of dressing up as a favorite character from an animated show or video game. We're both fans of the show RWBY from Rooster Teeth, because it has great music, a great story, and some really fantastic visuals and fight scenes. I even did an article on "Becoming The Character" for one of their characters, Sun Wukong. (I'll be re-publishing that soon!)

One of the best parts about the fight scenes in RWBY is that they all have weapons that are both melee and powered ranged weapons, i.e. every weapon "is also a gun." Somewhere along the line, we decided to build an actual weapon prop. I've been wanting to test my chops building one, anyway. After watching guys like Volpin Props and Punished Props make some amazing stuff, I wanted to see if I could pull off something even halfway impressive.

Prop scale reference

The first order of business was deciding which character's weapon to build. Doing Ruby Rose's (the main character) scythe/rifle would have been doable, but it would have taken a LOT of work, and my daughter didn't want to cosplay as Ruby (just yet). Plus it would have cost a lot to build! And it's HUGE. If you make it even somewhat realistic looking, it will weigh fifty pounds and nearly be impossible to realistically carry.

 

There were plenty of characters that use simple gun/blade combinations, like Blake or Ren. But those could be recreated with what are essentially just modded Nerf guns. She and I finally settled on building Magnhild (a play on the mythical Norse god Thor's hammer) while she would dress as the character Nora. This would be both a challenge to build physically, and a challenge to use simple and/or inexpensive materials.

First, I had to figure out what scale this thing was going to be. According to this render from the show, and adjusting the scale for my daughter's height (she's taller than the character in the show), we figured out the hammer would end up being right at six feet tall if we built it to scale for it to look right.

I started scrounging the internet for still shots of Magnhild in action, and thankfully, the RWBY Wiki had them in spades. With a little bit of magic and some manipulation in GIMP (a free graphics program), I was able to take some shots of the hammer at different angles and scale them to where I could measure them.

12Jul/170

Near-Life Experience

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

"We just had a near-life experience, fellas!"

Today has been 6 years since I got hit by a car. I can't believe how far I've come since then, and how good God has been to me and my family.

I've learned so much since then! And I can honestly say I've heard God's voice on these times in ways I never could have imagined beforehand. God has a way of getting your attention like that.

I'm not going to make a huge deal of it, because- you know- life goes on. But just wanted to say that every year my hip hurts less and less, and this year it's almost completely normal. I've been doing a lot of cycling (more at the beginning of the year, but I'm getting back into it) and I thought it would protest, but amazingly, it's been quite uneventful, which is good when you're talking about potential problem areas.

Along these lines, I'm looking at starting up a bicycle-themed men's small Bible study group. There's tons of life applications we can learn together from it, and I'm looking forward to that possibility. All of this will happen at our new church home, of course- I'll post more about that transition when I can put my thoughts together on it. Lots to say there, but I want to say it in a way that doesn't come across as critical, because it wasn't under bad terms at all.

Filed under: Signs Of Life No Comments
18Jun/170

Social Media Fast

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

After some extended time of prayer yesterday, I realized that I hadn't been spending enough time reading Scripture or praying.

Since I started a new job a few weeks ago, I've been pretty busy. I'm still trying to do the same amount of things I did before, but with 9 less hours a day to get it done. At least I don't have to work weekends!! Thank God for that- but I have to focus more to get the same amount of stuff done.

God brought to my mind the fact that in September, we're going to be helping launch a new church campus here. And He (ever so gently) reminded me that I need to focus on preparing for that, to which I replied "God, what can I do to more fully focus on this new church plant?" to which He replied "you don't really need to be on social media, now do you?"

*Gulp.*

"God, do You mean Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Gab.ai, and internet forums? Those social media sites?"

Yeah, those.

So, I'm going to be taking a (mostly) sabbatical from social media in order to focus on the task God has laid before me.

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:1-3

I won't completely isolate myself from social media (and I'm not even sure that's possible in this day and age) but I'm severely scaling back my time spent there. I don't need to have news stories, drama, stupidity, and whatnot distracting me from my purpose. Yeah, there's plenty of encouraging things I see there too, but I have almost no way to filter that, thanks to Big Social's inability to discern what's good and what isn't.

In the meanwhile, I'll be able to work on music, prayer, and writing. This is probably for the best all around. I'll post updates here as things go, so stay tuned!

5Jun/170

Done with Adobe (and Google)

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

One of my most popular articles, "How To Install Adobe Air on Ubuntu 12.04" was hit by another bulk DMCA takedown. To say I'm unhappy is an understatement.

You can read more about it here.

Please, I urge you, don't waste your time and money with Adobe products. There are plenty of free and/or affordable alternatives out there.

14Apr/170

Struggling With The Spirit

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

When we believers struggle with the Holy Spirit in our lives, it doesn't mean we're fighting against God- not just against Him, anyway- it also means we're fighting against our own nature. Our war is a spiritual war, according to Ephesians 6:12

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but but against rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places."

Our nature as sinful people can't be trusted. On our own, we're weak. Our minds lie to ourselves, telling us we don't need God, we don't need redemption, and we don't need help.

But we do need help. And that help comes in the form of the Holy Spirit.

Over the last 20 years, I've learned a lot about God and Scripture. I learned a lot about Jesus Christ, and the early church in the book of Acts. But one thing I was hardly taught was The Holy Spirit. And the sad part is, i don't think it was intentional.

I think churches today fall into two main camps: those who completely ignore the Spirit's work in believers' lives, and those who overemphasize it to the point where even other believers think they're crazy. There seems to be no middle ground, no in-between. No common sense approach seems to have taken hold.

I'm just now, after 20 years in the faith, realizing that I knew next to nothing about the Holy Spirit. And that shouldn't be the case- certainly not in America.

What then, do we know about the Spirit? What does the Scripture say about Him? What is His role in my life?

17Feb/171

Thoughts on Wisdom and Intelligence

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

I was reading in the Bible the other day, and I ran across this passage:

"6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" - 1 Corinthians 2:6-8

This rings true, even today. The "wisdom" of the World is at odds with God's wisdom. And I'm not talking about science- I'm talking about worldly "wisdom" that says the only purpose of man is to acquire wealth and power. That there is no absolute truth. That Self is all that matters.

Sometimes I wonder why more people don't understand that their actions are leading them to destruction, but again, the Disciple Paul knows why:

"14 But a natural (worldly) man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ." - 1 Corinthians 2:14-16

Wisdom isn't the same thing as intelligence. I keep telling my kids they're smart, but inexperienced- and wisdom is the application of experience. You can't make wise decisions unless you either 1. learn from personal experience, or 2. learn from someone else's experience. The Bible is full of wisdom, if one were so inclined to read it. But be warned! It might not make sense if you're not trying to follow God's ways.

On that note: Intelligence is a fact, a statistical number, not something to be egotistical about. I'm no more proud of it than I am proud that I have blue eyes... I had no influence in the matter. But like any other tool, it must be honed to a fine edge in order to get the most effective use out of it. If you possessed a powerful weapon, but never trained with it or sharpened it, how effective would it be in an emergency? Not very effective at all, I'd imagine.

Ego says "I deserve to be treated better because I'm smart. My life should be easy."

Reality says "you don't have to tell people you're smart." Simply do what you need to do. Those who are also smart will recognize it in your actions, not your words. Plenty of people say they're smart. Precious few act like it.

The Dark World doesn't care if you're smart. In fact, much pain and suffering were meted out to me because of those who were jealous of my academic standing. I would have been better off playing along and learning advanced math on my own. I eventually figured it out, but those harsh lessons stay with me even to this day.

If you're smart AND wise, then you'll recognize the truth in what I'm saying.

If you're not sure, then you might want to listen to someone who's learned from experience...

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