One of my favorite songs by my favorite band! These guys were killer at their live show (it's what they're known for). Into Your Veins by Five Iron Frenzy: http://youtu.be/zeyiBKsYQXQ
I'll be honest, I follow quite a few outspoken bloggers and writers in my day-to-day reading. I'm always interested in their takes on culture, current events, and whatnot. And yes, most of them lean towards my thoughts in several areas. I enjoy the challenge of thinking about difficult problems of life and faith.
But so far I've resisted the urge to post my own thoughts on "left" and "right" and right and wrong in the never-ending Culture War. Is this because I don't know what I believe? Is it because I don't want to offend anybody?
No. It's because I don't feel I need to proactively defend what I think, or try to convince others what I think is right or wrong. I know from personal experience that it's very difficult to change someone's mind unless they are willing to consider alternatives. And frankly, in today's internet environment, it's just easier to find a group of people that thinks like you instead of actually trying to defend your beliefs.
Should I be actively throwing my beliefs on social issues out there? Should I be overwhelmingly vocal about things that other people feel passionately about? I guess that depends on my reason for having a blog in the first place. Some things I am vocal about; some I'm not. Some things I just am not interested in discussing, and some things I need to learn more about before I would even consider it. Ultimately, I get to decide what I want to discuss because I feel it's relevant. Is that selfish of me?
Maybe if I were trying to hide what I believe, it would be selfish- some sort of defense mechanism. But the truth is, I just don't have much to contribute to those heated arguments, and I don't really like arguing in the first place. I don't feel the need to constantly prove everybody wrong, or myself right. If I believe something is true, it doesn't really matter if you believe it or not. It doesn't matter if I believe it or not, it will still be true.
I'm reminded that I don't have to comment on everything that's wrong with the world. God knows there's plenty of things I have issues with, and even more things that God has issues with. But it's not my calling to throw down the gauntlet and answer someone else's call to arms. If I make an issue of everything, then I will lose focus on the things that I really care about. One only has to look around to see what a mess our world has gotten itself into.
Therefore, I focus my efforts on things that I think everybody could use to dwell on. Charity, Simplicity, the Arts, Compassion, the meaning of a successful life. These are all things I care deeply about. That's not to say I don't care about anything else, but these are things I struggle with on a daily basis, and I feel qualified to speak on. This is what I'm most passionate about. I'm not condemning people. I like to think I'm encouraging people to think outside themselves, to ponder on things of faith that really matter.
Sure, I'd like it if everybody that read these pages would come to a knowledge of God the same way that I have over the years, but I don't expect everyone to be open to that. (Does that make me Calvinist? Lol.) I wouldn't want to tailor my writings to a very small minority of readers when I have so much more to say.
There will always be guys like Matt Walsh and Vox Day who will unabashedly (and successfully) beat people over the head with logic and facts, and a good bit of theology. I applaud their efforts, and I appreciate their candidness as the Culture War ramps up. They excel at apologetics and exposing logical fallacies, and I see no reason to try to emulate what they already are doing quite well.
I am the type of person who will simply make an observation (lob a truth grenade, as it were) and them calmly walk out of the room, leaving the recipient to sort things out for themselves. I'm not going to argue, I'm not going to plead, I won't fight if you get angry. Once the hot potato is in your lap, you need to figure out what to do with it.
Jesus wasn't Left or Right... when we try to confine God to our puny definitions of "right" and "wrong" we realize that everything we do on our own initiative ends up coming out wrong. The poor and needy don't care if you're Conservative or Liberal. The Kingdom of God isn't separated into Red or Blue.
Get right with God. Do what Jesus called you to do.
Everything else comes second to that, especially political ideology or socio-economics. If you're Liberal and you show love to everyone but Conservatives, you're a hypocrite. If you're Conservative and you don't show compassion and mercy to Liberals, you're also a hypocrite.
What I write here is meant to enlighten and encourage, not to destroy or attack. I will defend my beliefs if I feel it necessary, but under no circumstances am I required to do so. The Culture War will rage on, whether I am an active participant in it or not. I have simply chosen not to fight every battle that comes along.
We know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commands. Whoever says "I know Him" but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys His word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in Him: whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did.
- 1 John 2:3-6
Today makes 3 years since I was waylaid by a Honda Accord that ran a red light. I never imagined how much it would change my life. As I get ready for bed tonight (taking Aleve because my titanium femur aches when I spend all day walking at my job) I can't help but be thankful that I'm physically as well as I am, and mentally adjusted to deal with what my new "normal" is.
The question is, if I knew I was going to end up in the hospital when I started riding my bike, would I still have done it? How much risk is acceptable... especially considering the massively potential benefits? How do we go through life mitigating risk? Should we live in fear, cowering in the dark every day of our lives?
No. Life is meant to be lived. Pain is a part of life, in varying amounts. Joy, love, exhilaration, and happiness are also part of life, also in varying amounts. We can't only expect comfort and pleasant sailing when we're accomplishing difficult things. It makes me even more thankful for the happiness I do have, and the good things that have happened. A lot of people would be bitter. I am thankful. Not thankful for the pain, but thankful that I lived to tell about it, and realize how much I had taken for granted. Thankful that God allowed me to recover, and through it, brought me closer to Him.
Don't live life afraid. Embrace it fully, experience it deeply, and put forth your best, warts and all. Sometimes it will hurt. You just get up, get back on the bike, and keep riding.
This picture is about 2 weeks post-op. I hadn't eaten in a week, and was down to about 155 pounds.
Yes, that's the same bike I'm still riding to this day. A year after the accident, I did a 75-mile charity ride. On the same bike.
I have always struggled with getting enough rest, for as long as I can remember. Through my college years, I would stay awake for days (usually playing ping-pong and video games) and then binge sleep on the weekends (and some Mondays). I never really thought anything of it.
A few years back, I took a job working at a hospital in New Orleans. I had the joy of working the weekend night shift, which meant I worked 7pm to 7am, Saturday and Sunday night, every week. I would get off of work Monday morning when the day crew would come in at 7am. I was alone the whole time. Sometimes late at night I would walk up to the ICU ward and listen to the breathing machines and monitors, just to stay awake. Sometimes I would go up to the NeoNatal unit to watch preemies in incubators. Sometimes I was so tired, I would hallucinate, and fall asleep sitting at my desk, perched on a tall chair. Sometimes between 4am and 5am I would pass out on the floor, with my backpack as a pillow, and sleep for 30 minutes because I couldn't hold my eyes open.
To make things worse, I had to come in for two 8-hour day shifts on Wednesdays and Thursdays, every week. After six months, my body still hadn't adjusted. I was either working, sleeping, or staring into space like a zombie. For six straight months.
Somewhere during that time, I realized that I couldn't function without sleep. That's also when I started drinking coffee to be able to function (and it's been ten years, I still haven't broken that addiction! LOL). Eventually, I quit that job because I couldn't function. Things went back to normal- for a while.
Fast forward a few years. Now I'm working a job I love. I'm eating right, exercising, doing everything right. And yet, I don't get enough sleep. How much is considered enough? How much does a normal person need to function properly? Would you even know what functioning properly would feel like??
The truth is, you can function on limited sleep. I've done it for decades. The problem is, you can't function to your full capacity. Most people will never know what their full mental capacity is capable of because they're crippled from lack of rest. It's been reported that before the invention of the light bulb, people slept an average of 10 hours a night. Today, adults sleep an average of 6.9 hours a night. Our bodies (and brains) weren't made to function through the night. Yet today, it's rare for people to go to bed when the sun goes down.
How do you fix this? It has to be addressed in a structured, logical manner. You need to figure out how much sleep you require (which varies from person to person) and then make a plan to get that much sleep every day. Some people need 8, some people need 9 hours, some people need 6 or less (though I can't imagine your body functioning correctly on less than 6).
How do you figure out how much sleep you need? You need to have a way to track when you're sleeping, record your sleep patterns, and see what the quality of your sleep is. There are numerous ways to do this, many of which are technology based. The Fitbit Flex, Jawbone, and others will let you chart your sleep habits, so you can see exactly what your body is doing. I use a free app called SleepBot that works with your smartphone. It not only records your sleep times, it also records sound and movement using your phone's sensors. You can hear yourself snoring and tossing! Pretty eye-opening stuff (no pun intended).
You'll need to spend a few weeks in your normal routine, recording your sleep habits, before you can come up with a plan. Take this information and apply it! Sleep more, and record how you feel in a journal (SleepBot lets you do this inside the app). You can then improve your quality of life with a simple plan. Get as much rest as you need.
Here's a sampling of the data I get from SleepBot:
Here, you can see I get between 5.5 and 6.5 hours of sleep a night, plus a nap on some days.
The dotted line is where I set my daily goal, at 7 hours. (You can see one day I forgot to log!) But I'm happy to see over a month my sleep patterns are getting slightly better. Over time, I'll have more data, but this is encouraging. My plan is working.
I'll leave you with a few links to read up on the benefits of sleep:
More live looping fun! Major props to Arthur. Without his music, I may never have discovered live looping. Keep doing what you're doing, man.
In a few days, my "day job" (here's a hint: it isn't blogging) will ramp up for a month or so of crazy production. It will involve copious amounts of overtime, probably some extra days, and lots of overtime pay.
Yes I get paid overtime, because I'm an hourly worker, and I refuse to work another salary job. I've been there, I've done that, I will never do it again. I generally have issues with large mega-corporations (even though the one I work for is one of the better ones) and I also don't like corporate politics, stupidity, wastefulness, attitude, and greed. Pretty much all things I'm sworn to destroy.
Ah, but for the lack of a paycheck...
Anyway, if I don't post a lot over the next month or so, that's why. Hopefully I'll get time to breathe.
My guitar pedalboard is finally finished! Got a Molten Voltage MIDI pedal to switch presets on my rack unit and also give me tap-tempo MIDI clock for my delay effects. Check it out.
In my quest to simplify, I've ventured into the territory of Information Automation. Since I discovered the app Tasker, I've challenged myself to find new ways to exploit it to automate tasks that I really shouldn't be wasting time on.
Tasker basically is an automation programming language for your Android device. It allows you to take any number of trigger inputs (GPS position, battery state, apps, network status, emails, RSS feeds, etc.) and then perform any series of tasks you program it to. It has the capability to be a full-fledged programming language, with conditional logic, variables, and so on, which lets you make some incredibly complex "tasks" for it to run.
It also has the capability of using almost anything your device can do as an "action" or output, which means you can automate just about anything your phone/tablet can do. Take pictures, play audio, send texts, run programs, share to social media, control the device's functions, or even speak and listen to voice commands.
So, sometimes I geek out on stuff like flowcharts and such, and programming is the perfect place for it. Flowcharts! Graphs! Logic! Here's how it works.
The folks at the Bike Commuter Cabal were kind enough to let me write up some stuff for you to read about why I decided to start Bike Commuting, and how it changed my life.
Check it out here!
Bike Commuter Cabal Blog