Friday, March 30, 2007

same old nba defense

Random observation from last night: Golden State 77, Phoenix 63, at halftime. A lot of NBA teams are lucky to score 77 points in a game these days. Almost as surprising is that the Suns were the team with the lower score. They have the capability to run up the score almost at will on any opponent and yet the Warriors were beating them at their own game. Wild. It totally sucks that I don't have any fantasy players on either team.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

julian the apostate

Been reading a great Tim Keller book, Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road, for small group the past couple of months. Every study has been good so far, but something from last night's really jumped out at me. I'd heard of this guy before, and our fearless leader Walt had mentioned him in previous meetings, but he got a little more coverage in this week's chapter and discussion. And lessons learned from his actions would be hugely relevant in our country today, if only we'd learn them. Enter Julian the Apostate.

Julian had a Christian upbringing and was tutored by some of the great Christian scholars of his time, but turned to paganism at a young age -- hence the name by which he is commonly referred to. Early in the fourth century Christianity had flourished in the Roman empire during the reign of Constantine, and when Julian became emperor in A.D. 360 [1] it was a significant force throughout the empire. Due to Constantine's influence, most institutions of the empire were dominated by Christians by that time. This didn't sit well with Julian's pagan beliefs, and early on he set out to quell the spreading Christian faith and reestablish paganism as the empire's dominant religion. However, he quickly grew frustrated at how the old religions were giving way to the younger but rapidly expanding Christianity.

Being no fool and a student of history, Julian pursued his goal methodically. He studied how Christianity had spread since its intrusion into the Roman empire and observed that many previous efforts to contain it had failed. People were tortured and they encouraged others around them to live out their faith even more powerfully. People were martyred and other believers gathered around them and rejoiced. People were taken away from their families and those left only prayed and sought God more. In light of such evidence, Julian easily concluded that the whole persecution thing didn't work. In fact, it seemed to have an effect opposite its purpose. So open violence against Christians was not a viable option. [2]

So he then looked at what had made Christianity successful even in spite of such troubles. One of his observations is striking even today. He saw that Christians not only took care of their own poor but those outside the church as well. This caused people to hold the church in high esteem and turn to it, and not the state, for aid. Keller quotes Julian himself: "It is disgraceful that . . . while the impious Galileans [Christians] support their own poor and ours as well, all men see that our people lack aid from us!"

What, then, was Julian's response? He realized that he needed to undermine the faith by creating a social structure to rival this Christian practice. And that's exactly what he did. The result was the first large-scale social welfare system in history. [3] As with other programs Julian put in place to counter the faith, he modeled his system and its goals after the successful practices he saw in church-based systems. His hope was that this would not only make citizens, even Christians, turn to the state (i.e., him and his government) for aid but would also take the power and motivation for serving society in this way out of the hands of Christians.

And he was very successful. He wasn't able to stamp out Christianity like he had hoped, but the system he put in place in his short three-year reign led to a marked decrease in Christian involvement in caring for the poor. And, for the first time since the young movement took flight and became widespread in the empire, the influence and impact of the faith ceased to grow and even started to decline. Although Theodosius would make Christianity the official religion some 20 years later, Julian certainly did succeed in throwing a big obstacle in the path of its theretofore consistent growth. It's safe to say that Julian was onto something in not holding back but trying to supercede the actions of Christians. One can only wonder what would have happened, or continued to happen, had he not been killed in a skirmish so early in his tenure.

So Julian's government actually succeeded in stemming the tide of Christianity by playing its own game and trying to take its place in society. Hmmmnnnn...a government system that is a cause, or at least a major contributing factor, of Christianity ceasing to be an active and integral part of its society...sound vaguely familiar? It ought to. We're living under such a system today in this country. Rather than get out there and meet needs that need to be met -- and can ultimately only be met by moral and spiritual means -- it seems that Christians are content to live out their faith to the unchurched by "evangelizing" whenever convenient (i.e., rarely if at all) and giving money once they've taken care of their own whims, and letting others take care of the "dirty work" that the early church took upon itself.

And, well, look at the resulting church we have today. Look at its impact in today's culture. Look at its presence in communities. Where do the downtrodden turn first for help? Need I say more? Not to make this too political, but it seems that a lot of people on the left are following in Julian's footsteps, whether they intend to or not. I think we who oppose them have a lot to learn from past examples too.

So, about that government intervention thing. It sounds cute and all, and it's nice to think of a benevolent behemoth doling out alms to those who need them. But the question is, how well does it actually work? I bet if you could ask Julian, he'd say he was quite pleased with the results he saw, if only for a short time. Big government served his purposes. Will it serve ours?

Links, sources, etc.:
Julian the Apostate (scholar-friendly)
Julian the Apostate (Wikipedia)
Rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire
Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road

[1] With the support of his soldiers, Julian proclaimed himself co-emperor with Constantius in A.D. 360, a move the then-current emperor didn't appreciate much. But they were both apparently emperors in some sense for a little while, and one of Constantius' last official acts before he died in 361 was to declare Julian his rightful successor. So Julian didn't actually become the official emperor until then. Thus some sources say he reigned for three years and others say two, but they're both right. It all depends on when you assume his start date to be.

[2] Julian was also generally nonviolent when it came to dealing with internal issues and tended to be more intellectual and philosophical than most leaders of the time, so he surely wasn't inclined toward violence or open oppression in the first place. But he did undertake campaigns against the empire's enemies and he was killed in battle.

[3] I've heard that it was the first but I can't find anything right now to substantiate such a claim. But in any case it was at least one of the first and by far the most widespread and all-encompassing, both due to its scope and because of the sheer size of the Roman empire.

Monday, March 26, 2007

final four

This is by far the most power-packed Final Four I can remember being alive for. There is really no underdog; those are all legitimate top-5 teams. The Bruins were ranked #1 and had a one-seed locked up until they lost in the first round of the Pac-1o tourney, and Georgetown finished the season ranked higher than North Carolina and probably should have been the one-seed in the East. Florida and Ohio State have looked rather weak so far, but hopefully they'll be back in form once someone reminds them they're in the Final Four. Whoever takes it all will have to win two very tough games. Should be a great weekend of basketball coming up!

As for the office pool, there was a lot of movement in the ranks this weekend but I'm still in it. I slipped a spot or two overall, but because our scoring system puts an unusually high emphasis on the Final Four picks there are six of us with a shot at the championship. Ohio State has to beat Florida for me to win; anything else is a wash. In other words, I have a 1-in-8 shot. And the teams are all good so who knows how the last three games will actually play out. But hey, I've made it this far. And I'm the highest-ranked engineer in the pool so I can dish it out all I want and not have to take any back.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


This is incredible...

A floorless dive about combining three awesome things into one. Griffon could very easily be the best coaster on the planet -- come to think of it, I don't see how it couldn't be. And it's within three hours of my house. Yeah, the chances of my owning a Busch Gardens season pass this year just went way, way up. I can't remember being this eager to go on a coaster trip and ride a new coaster since Millennium Force and Son of Beast opened back in the day. (I think SoB opened in 2000, I'm sure MF did.)

This is a real coaster too. Unlike Cedar Fair, which slipped a bit from previous rides and let us all down tremendously with Cedar Point's one-trick-pony Top Thrill Dragster, or Paramount, which seems to like straight-down coasters that don't do anything else except destroy your skull, Busch lived up to its reputation of putting in only high-quality coasters. Griffon is a B&M jewel with multiple elements, so it's a complete ride and not just a climb and drop. It will even have that excellent Busch Gardens theme work, too. To me this undoubtedly puts them on top of the heap when it comes to the best park owners for building coasters. These guys don't mess around and don't mind spending gigantic loads of money on good rides. (Griffon cost $15.6M, exceptionally cheap for such a high-powered B&M coaster.)

For those of you who aren't dial-up dinosaurs, check out the virtual ride. And even you dial-up folks should at least watch long enough to see how it hangs at the top of the drop for a few seconds before falling...priceless. It's safe to say that puts Griffon in the elite as far as scary coasters. And the stadium seating should mean all three rows get a nice view of the ground 205+ feet below. The video is also realistic enough to include a nice view of Alpie from the top of the lift hill -- very nice.

Looking ahead, depending on how work goes, I could have a convenient three days off during the first week of April. That's also the first week BGW will be open during the week for the 2007 season. Enough blogging, I need to go look for campgrounds...

UPDATE: Check that. According to BGW's own Griffon page, the monster "will debut at Busch Gardens May 25." Bullbleep!!! That sucks worse than anything has sucked for a long time. By then I'll be back to doing the regular schedule thing at work. And that could prevent me from hitting BGW for at least the first few weeks Griffon is running. So I guess it'll be that much harder every weekday this summer to not quit on the spot.

tillman wasn't the only one

Here's a story about another former NFL player who left pro football to join the military and will soon go to war. Just think, back in the early '40's this sort of thing was routine. Read through some NFL draft statistics from back in the day and see how many players -- and how many top picks -- either never played or waited several years to play because they chose war above sports. Quite amazing and humbling. But alas, times have changed. It's good to know there are still a few these days who realize some things are more worthy of fighting for than football.

But then, I'm (almost) 28 myself and I'm not in any hurry to enlist, so I suppose I should shut up now and quit being a hypocrite. Oh win some decisions and you lose some I guess.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

march madness standings

Currently in third place out of 24 entrants. Not bad at all. I'd be surprised if I stay there, though, as my Texas and Nevada losses really hurt. I just hope the Wisconsin and Washington State ones put other brackets in similar pain. But I should pick up at least half the possible points in the next round, three-quarters if things go well.

What's better, the picks among the contending entries are diverse enough that if OSU wins it all then I should take the championship. If OSU beats Florida then that's all but guaranteed. But, of course, if OSU doesn't win it then somebody else will surely have chosen the team that did. Should be an exciting finish...

Monday, March 19, 2007

march madness second round

I thought I was doing well much for that. My bracket isn't totally destroyed but is probably crapped up enough to prevent me from being in the winner's circle of my pool. I only went 12-4 this week, and Texas and Nevada losing will hurt in future rounds. Worst of all, my champ Ohio State is playing like they're trying to lose early.

I can't complain much about Nevada, as they were a gutsy cinderella pick on my part. I hoped they'd go far enough to give me a huge leg up on the competition but I can't say I'm too disappointed that they didn't. Hey, I gambled and lost. I can deal with that. And my Washington State and Wisconsin losses should take care of themselves in the next round. (Why the heck did I pick a Pac-10 team over an SEC team? Even if it was Vanderbilt...speaking of Vandy, what's up with them thinking they're a top seed? Georgetown should be very scared.)

But Texas...I'm hugely disappointed in their complete lack of effort in their games. You have one of the best players in the nation and enough talent to put you in the early-season top 10, and when it counts you barely hold off New Mexico State and then get blown off the floor by a Pac-10 team? Ye bunch of losers. I don't know if that's due to lack of coaching or lack of caring on the part of the team, but there's no excuse for that. I had you slouches in the Final Four...#&$%!!! See if I make that mistake again in my life.

And so far, Georgetown and Ohio State are looking surprisingly weak. At least Florida and UCLA still look like solid picks. And I did have some nice picks that worked out, like Butler and Tennessee. But bracket is on life support at best. My dark horse picks that could have given me big points over my rivals haven't panned out, and the teams I have left are likely too popular to net me any advantages in later rounds. Oh well...there's always next year. And as I like to remind myself, my winnings from a tourney pool at my previous job are still financing my suckiness these days so I haven't actually started going under yet as far as brackets.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

march madness day 2

After a rough 11-5 second day, I'm at 24-8 overall. That's pretty crappy. In past years I've gotten high-twenties wins in the first round, so my bracket is in some hurt. I guess the good thing is, all of my Sweet 16 picks are still alive. And I still like them all except maybe Nevada, which looked very shaky against Creighton and now must play Memphis.

Interesting BCS conference records that may only interest me: ACC 4-2, Big 12 3-1, Big East 3-3, Big Ten 5-1, Pac-10 4-2, SEC 4-1 (go Hogs). Pretty even so far, except that the almighty Big East has sucked it up. Wasn't that supposed to the best conference in college basketball this year? Apparently not. Speaking of, I just realized the Big East has 16 (!) teams. Why have I not noticed this before? No freakin' wonder they seem to have a disproportionate number of good teams every year. They have a disproportionate number of teams, period. Cheaters!

This weekend's games should be good. With so few upsets in the first round, there will be a lot of marquee matchups. And my bracket could come out of this looking okay. Five of those eight teams that ruined my first round will have to play a 1 or 2 seed this weekend, so those errors shouldn't have lasting effects. Two of the other three will play 4-5 games so those could easily both go my way. The third is Nevada against Memphis. Ouch, but if I have to pick the underdog in a 2-7 game then that would be it.

So, overall, I'm in dire straits now but could still win every game this weekend. Not bad.

Friday, March 16, 2007


Okay, this post is probably written for my own benefit more than anyone else's, to get me thinking and pounding out some thoughts. Actually, I guess that's true of anything I post. Anyway, been finding new and creative ways to spend lots of money lately. (Speaking of which, my next post needs to be one about decadence and lack of concern for the world in light of Philippians 4:18. But that'll be another day.) As it is, I figure between the guitar I'd like to buy very soon and the kayak I hope to buy sometime this spring, I'll be out a sizeable four-digit sum of money before I even start calculating up the vacation dollars. Somehow I'm not convinced that's a good thing, and so it may not happen quite like that, but we'll see. I do know that I'm in bad need of both.

So...been doing the kayak comparison shopping thing lately. Unfortunately it seems that used kayaks are few and far between, and used models of the (apparently) relatively new recreational kayaks I'm interested in are rarely if ever for sale. So it looks like I'll have to drop some serious change on a new one without having every seriously taken up kayaking as a hobby before and without knowing anyone who kayaks regularly. (Pretty hard to kayak much if you don't know any partners and you're not stupid enough to go out alone.) A slight risk, but at least I'd likely have whatever I bought for a long time so I'd eventually get my money's worth out of it.

There are some okay ones out there that might be passable for around $300 and up. The price is right, but the style isn't -- they're clearly not made as well as the next tier of boats and I'm not interested in spending good money on cheap junk I'd just want to upgrade out of in short order. For what I'm looking for I'm aiming at around $500 minimum and probably a bit more, not including gear. If I could get a good boat and gear for $800 or so then I'd come out happy. But methinks the chances of getting out of this having parted with so little dollars aren't good.

There are lots of boats out there from lots of manufacturers, and I bet plenty of them are decent and would probably serve the purpose of getting me out on the water so I could start learning and having fun. But most seem either basic and scaled down or not really as versatile as I'd like. I figure if I'm going to spend the money, I'll spend enough within reason to get a boat that's enjoyable and can handle a wide enough range of waters for me to have ample opportunities to take it out.

From what I can tell, the tops on the market is Necky's Manitou Sport. The intermediate 11' length is nice, not too short for bay stuff and not too long for rivers with currents, and its 44 lbs compares very well with similar boats and is a lot better than the 50+ of slightly bigger ones. It has plenty of deck rigging, which would help not only with stowing stuff on overnight trips (such as one coming up this July) but also for grabbing onto in the guaranteed event that I find myself in the water having to chase down my boat. I think the strap-down hatch cover is inferior to the locking ones I've seen on other kayaks, but it's still watertight so I can live with that. The molded skeg would help a lot with tracking, and I'll need all the help I can get to not zig-zag wildly from side to side like I do in a canoe. Best of all, Necky is a big-name outfitter I'd even heard of before I started seriously looking, and the Manitou Sport gets outstanding reviews and seems to be popular among folks who've been in a lot of different ones.

The only bad side? It's a hefty $679, a bit higher than some other boats on the market but still on the lower end when it comes to rec kayaks. So after a life vest, skirt, paddle, and car-top carrier, that's probably $900-1,000. Ouch! Not good, especially in a year that I'm probably already spending outside of my means for trips and outdoor stuff. So, I'm almost thinking this whole kayak thing may have to be postponed for yet another year.

So, yeah, if any of y'all see one of these on the side of the road then grab it. Or if you see any deals then let me know. I keep reading reviews of people getting them for less than MSRP and that may be my only hope of scoring a kayak this year.

the joy of working nights

This outage schedule is something weird. I had intended to go to sleep during the daylight hours and stay up at night throughout the week, even when I wasn't working. So far that hasn't worked too well due to commitments on my off-days and somewhat unexpected surgery. But despite those, my off-day schedule each week has been wacked out. It's as if I can't figure out when or find a convenient time to sleep, so I just kinda stay up for a while, sleep for a few hours, stay up, sleep, and eventually end up about where I need to be come Saturday evening (that is, having slept most of the day Saturday). For example, it's just after 2 am now and I'm wide awake, and I have a doctor's appointment in 7.5 hrs that will force me to once again get a few spot hours of sleep and then go as long as I can before crashing again at some random time later today. I guess, rather than a 24-hour sleep schedule, I'm on a random weekly sleep schedule in which I fill in hours with sleep whenever I happen to get tired.

I figure this is what life in a place like Alaska must feel like, with no consistent day-night pattern to help one keep a regular sleep schedule. As a result, one quickly loses any concept of day/night or time without glancing outside every now and then to see how dark or light it is. A bit weird, but I can't say I mind it all that much. Heck, it beats having to get up early five days a week.

march madness day 1

Virginia Commonwealth 79, Duke 77. Today is a very good day. And according to the Sports Guy, the refs were in on the take big time from Duke so much that VCU completely dominated the Blue Devils on both ends of the floor and yet the game was still a nail-biter. But the end result is the same: no more Duke! My bracket could totally go to crap from here on and I'd be happy with just my Duke upset pick to be proud of.

So far I'd say I'm faring pretty well. Of course, most of the favorites won, so a lot of people are probably saying that. I went 13-3 overall on the first day of action, and I'm only kicking and mutilating myself over one stupid pick -- BYU over Xavier. (I was actually on the fence on this one and I'm really hoping my work bracket says Xavier because I'm not totally sure I went with BYU.) I should know better than to pick an overhyped mid-major team over an underseeded team that's been in the thick of things all year. But then I did the same thing with Winthrop tomorrow so hopefully I won't get bit by the same mistake twice. Anyway, I didn't suffer any crushing defeats and so all of my late-round teams are still in the mix. Hopefully I'll still be able to say that in three days, after the Sweet 16 is set.

One thing is worth a mention of its own. How about Louisville's total beatdown of a very much inferior Stanford team? For most of the first half that game was a total rout on a scale rarely seen in college basketball much less the tournament (I really thought the Cardinal would be in single digits at the half), Stanford poured on a late run to make it 46-20 at halftime, and then they even managed to make it look almost non-laughable at the end, 78-58, with Pitino's subs surely in for most of the second half. And people were saying that had big upset potential...idiots. Since when has a Pac-10 team not named UCLA or Arizona actually played up to its tourney seed? I don't remember such a thing. Stanford always sucks, USC always sucks, Washington has always sucked, Washington State will likely suck on Saturday, and I'm afraid Oregon will also suck and make me deeply regret picking them to lose to Florida in the Elite Eight. What was I thinking? Oh well, nice to see some talking heads eat some crow for picking one of my favorite teams to hate to do some damage.

Overall, a good day. What would cap the first round nicely tomorrow night is Arkansas exploding and crushing USC in a statement game.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

march madness has arrived

Ahh...March Madness is finally here. This is indisputably the best extended weekend of the year for any sports fan. So I know you've probably been thinking, "Jesse hasn't posted about March Madness yet, so he must be dead." Well, not quite. Been busy doing other, well, nothing, and occasionally something useful like planning a Peru trip that could be on the fritz at this point. That and I haven't been as eager to blog since I've had to tolerate this crappy Firefox as I might be were I using my trusty Microsoft browser (man that hurts to say), but I'll give it a try anyway.

First off, my bracket...which I stupidly left at the office and thus can't remember some details for. Speaking of which, some guys at the office have a really good idea for an office pool going. It's a very low $5 per entry, with one entry per household (none of this crap of family members nobody knows entering and taking office money). Best of all, instead of a winner-take-all system, the champ gets to choose what charity to donate the pool money to. Not only is this a good cause, but it makes our office pool legal because we're not gambling but donating. That makes it the first legal tourney pool I've ever participated in. Alas, all streaks must come to an end.

Anyway, pressing Final Four is Florida (a good team in an otherwise criminally weak bracket), UCLA (for the second straight year they have been bestowed with killer home-court advantage in that they don't have to play a game outside of their home state until the Final Four; if you ask me that's messed up), Ohio State (a risky pick with their best players being freshmen, but I think they're the best team in the field nonetheless), and Texas (a really risky pick, but they have the best player in the country in Durant and he could carry them through the strongest bracket of the four). I really like the Gators and Bruins; the 'Horns and Buckeyes I'm not so confident in because those brackets are toss-ups and the East is so freakin' loaded -- I count six legitimate Final Four contenders over there (UNC, Georgetown, Washington State, Texas, Boston College, Michigan State). But despite the risk, I have OSU beating Florida in the final. A bold pick, yes, but I do think they're the best team of the 65. And they have two superstars, so they have that rare ability to weather a poor game by a gamebreaker and still survive. North Carolina has the deepest team, but they lack a solid go-to guy and they're young. Florida is good but they sure have been streaky lately. The Bruins would make a nice sleeper pick, but I just can't see them getting past Florida in the semifinal round.

As for upsets, Virginia Commonwealth over pathetic Duke was an easy one. The Blue Devils are as overseeded as they've ever been, and that's saying a lot. I don't remember too many others. I think I had Texas Tech over Boston College (real gutsy pick but Knight hasn't let me down in previous tourneys), Albany over Virginia (the Cavs have played the most lopsidedly weak in-conference schedule of any BCS team -- the ACC idiots need to prevent that from ever happening again), Winthrop over Notre Dame (two red-hot teams but I have to pick against the Irish) and Gonzaga over Indiana. The Big Ten was weak this year and Gonzaga looks awfully underseeded for a team that was in and out of the top 10 early in the year.

Oh, and of course I picked the Hogs over Southern Cal. If you ignore the naysayers and look at Arkansas' record, you'll see that they played a lot of close games this year against very good teams. I think they can play with just about anybody if they're clicking. Hopefully they will be after hearing everybody talk about them and Illinois as the undeserving BCS teams that got in via conference affiliation only. (I must admit that I think they were a lucky entry into the field, but now that it's tourney time all that doesn't matter.) And I really don't like USC as a 5-seed; I think they're overseeded by at least one, maybe two seeds. They got blasted by overseeded (3) Oregon in the Pac-10 final and didn't even close out the year in the top 25. So call me a homer if you want, but I smell an upset brewing there. Unfortunately, though, the Hogs will have no answer for Texas' Durant.

I know I picked North Texas over Memphis as my annual huge upset special this year. Memphis has been playing lousy teams for the past two months straight, which means they'll either show up ill-prepared for the big time and playing sloppy or they'll show up pissed off and wanting to make a statement to those giving them heck for their high seed based on an inflated record. Hopefully it'll be the former. And I hate everything about John Calipari so it's easy to pick him to lose.

For this year's Cinderella, I like Nevada. They dropped from a likely 3-4 to a 7 seed only for losing early in their conference tourney, so they ought to be fired up. And they're a heck of a lot better than that 7-seed shows. The only teams between them and the Sweet 16 are Creighton, Memphis, and North Texas. I think they'll handle Creighton and then scorch a North Texas team that'll be tired from their brutal battle with Memphis. But Texas A&M will end their run there.

Nuff said. Bring on the basketball, baby!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

mozilla: the rematch

Due to our wireless router crapping out (actually it's probably turned off but I haven't tried to turn it back on and have no desire to become infuriated by doing battle with a geek object), I'm forced to use my housemate's computer. That's not so bad, except that he uses that blasted Firefox for web browsing. So I find myself forced to tolerate it's glaring inferiority to a Microshaft product...OUCH! The thing loads slower than molasses and often doesn't even load at all. It currently has so screwed up the freaking page is unreadable. And when I click a link it just takes me to some sort of directory-looking screen with a bulleted list of links. That's great.

Ahhh...I love Firefox.

UPDATE: Firefox just went 0-for-4 for loading pages from links. And as I was typing the previous sentence I did something it disliked so much it freaked out and went to "View Source" mode with no warning. Unbelievable...what a POS program. Did I mention how much Firefox sucks? Oh well, I guess that's one answer to my spending too much time on the internet.

quotes to live by

A co-worker has these posted in his cube. (The guy is an avid distance runner, having run in the Boston Marathon among several others, so it's not surprising he'd have such quotes displayed prominently.) Since I first read them I've been meaning to write them down and post them here, but I'm not in his area very often. Well, what better to do late at night than wander around and copy stuff down?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a well-preserved body. Rather, you should skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, proclaiming loudly, "Wow, what a ride!". -- An unknown runner

It's not the one that collects the most money or toys in life that wins. It's the one that collects the most adventures while at the same time minimizing his collection of "could of, should of, would of's". -- Paraphrased from a quote by Bill Allen
Both are good rules of thumb to live by when it comes to lifestyle and taking risks and such, but I especially like the second one. I'd say that sums up my mentality and approach to things these days as well as anything I've ever read, including even the Bible. As a friend once put it, I'm basically in "regret avoidance" mode. Having not done much cool stuff earlier in life, I seem to have swung to the opposite end of the spectrum, wanting to do every cool thing I can and willing to blow off saving money and take some rather big chances to that end. I'm convinced beyond any doubt that regrets hurt far more than anything else in life and so I'm willing to do anything and everything necessary to avoid them.

Overall, I guess that's a big reason I grew tired of being out here after a short time and why that frustration has been with me since. Spending one's younger years working a so-so job in a remote area that doesn't even pay enough to open enough adventure doors much less compensate for the astronomical local cost of living isn't quite what I had in mind way back when. I'm here to do and see as much stuff as I can.* To paraphrase a recent country album title, I'm in it for the adventure. Even unique bad experiences (like, say, kidney stone surgery) are rough but at least have experience value that will surely be useful later in life. But monotony is the worst of all worlds. So, given my severe lack of patience and distaste for monotony and boredom, is it any surprise that it didn't take long for me to start hating my current life situation?

At this point I feel like anything -- good, bad, crazy, dangerous, whatever -- would be better than just being stuck in the same old routine with the doom of sinking into the average middle-class American lifestyle hanging over my head all the time. Such a life only leads to misery as far as I can tell.

* A co-worker recently said while we were hanging out on a training trip that I'm a "Christian existentialist." I disagreed with him at the time because Christianity and existentialism are based on opposing worldviews and thus aren't compatible, but I see what he's getting at. He's probably right to some degree.