I've been playing a game called Evil Genius on and off for the past couple of years (mostly off). It's a humorous game where you are an evil genius, making a secret island and wreaking havoc while spies like 007 try to infiltrate and sabotage everything you do. Through everything you do there is a notoriety meter with each act of villainy you perform adding "heat" and making you more notorious. Right now I believe I'm vomitous.
In the real world it appears that my own heat level has recently picked up a bit. I don't know which posts are really doing it, but lately my own heat level has apparently spiked. This doesn't end up being such a good thing in the real world like it is in the virtual one.
As with anything that's written down, it can easily be misunderstood or taken out of context. This can lead to questions arising due to the integrity of the writer.
It is an interesting revelation that an individual's integrity is always up for re-evaluation, no matter how long you have known that person. There will be times at church where I may wonder about someone's motives even after I've known them for 4 years or more. Even friendships and family can fall into this trap. I wonder if we really can ever be trusted completely. I sure hope not everyone is looking to question the integrity of everyone else; it's a hard life not trusting others.
In Evil Genius if you want to lower your heat level you stop doing things that will get noticed.
Recently I've begun to follow this plan of action. The questions weigh too importantly on my life to let them continue. It's too hard to write for multiple audiences and assume it will not be misinterpreted. Even with an editor, I know how misunderstandings have occurred.
Here's my question to you all. Do you really appreciate what's been written in this blog? Would you like to read more, or would your life be unchanged if I stopped writing?
I ask for feedback other times but I would really, really appreciate you feedback this time.
The Beauty of the Internet
Days like this really make me really appreciate the power of the Internet. I had some late night printouts to make at work after putting my daughter to bed. Once I finished up the work I was able to print directly to our printers in the office. As I drove on in the printers were spitting everything out for my meeting. After a bit of photocopying I was all set.
10 years ago this would have actually meant I had to drive into the office to do the work and get the printouts.
Sometimes it amazes me to recognize that the Internet has a lot of power far above and beyond simply shopping and research.
I wonder what else is out there in the world that can be used for some other purpose than it was designed.
Today began decently and ended up quite crappy. It's kind of amazing how one conversation and change the day.
So it only made sense that tonight should be a night of comfort food. Something to just curl up with and relax. I hadn't realized it until tonight (it's been a long time since I've really had a crappy day) but apparently my comfort food is an almond steamer (steamed milk with an almond shot). It'll warm you from head to toe on a cold night and loosen up a tight heart.
How about you? What do you indulge in on those days that just fall to pieces?
The Importance of Foreign Language
It has taken me 31 years to finally understand why learning a foreign language in school is important. Yes, my 10 years of Spanish should have made it so I can talk intelligently to my Spanish speaking neighbors, but unfortunately, that's not the case. Today Erin showed me the true importance of learning a language.
She has been looking for help using Crystal Reports as it integrates with Microsoft Visual Studio. Every time she would go to the help it would have an error that the page was not found.
What's her solution (something I would never have thought of)? Try the French version which she learned in school. Sure enough, it worked (thankfully the code snippets are in English)!
The next time someone asks me why the heck they need to take Spanish/French/German/Japanese/Russian etc. I now have an answer. Study that language long and hard, you never know when the help you need is only available in your second language.
Virginia Theological Seminary Visit
Today I went on a tour of Virginia Theological Seminary. I tell you, this school has it together. The program is so centered around the student, community and a close-knit with faculty that it’s almost impossible to fail. I think a lot about community and ho incredibly important it is in spiritual formation and acceptance. While I am so committed to community I also think it’s hard to find a way to couple a “fun community” with a deep relationship and solid learning. Moving from simply joining in to actually taking part and giving back. VTS seems to really have that together.
Even the day visit was really well planned and executed. We each had one tour guide (I ended up with two actually). The morning prayer, class selections, small group organization and lunch (yes, even lunch) was all executed superbly. I have never been on a better college visit and, if I could go right now, I'd be a VTS student.
As a side note. At lunch I met a priest from Liverpool England who was doing a 4 week tour of different places to help support the Episcopal church and to see how others are accomplishing mission. Colin was a really great and interesting person. I am so blessed to have been able to share lunch with him, to the point where I was late to my next session. It was entirely worth it and I do hope God calls Colin to become the arch-deacon in Wales and really gets to fulfill his dream of leading people in life-changing missions. He's certainly in my prayers.
Focusing on Failure
Last week we had a mid-term in my Old Testament class which I was positive I got 4 questions wrong and possibly as many as 7. On a 50 question test that's a pretty big deal. What's interesting is that over the week since that test all I can think about are those questions I know I missed. I sure will never forget what the Decalogue is (10 commandments).
While I've been focusing on these questions I got wrong (the last third of the Old Testament is called the Writings btw) I've pretty much ignored and forgotten the questions I answered correctly. Who was Adam again? He really had a wife named Eve? Okay, not that badly.
Recognizing this last night in class made me realize that I, and many people, are driven and expected to constantly improve. It's not enough to do well at something since you can always be doing better.
I've always considered improvement being the recognition and correction of failings. For example, every time I jump off the roof of our house I fall straight down and hurt myself. To improve I need to recognize this failing and better learn how to fly (or recognize that I can't fly on my own and should seek mental help - too bad I'm not Peter Petrelli from Heroes).
The problem with focusing on failure is that I tend to let that bring me down. I see how I may have messed up one section of a project, and really let that envelop me. I try to do everything I can to fix it immediately and to never let it happen again. I begin thinking I'm not really so great at this and could even feel like I don't belong. In reality it was one mistake that most people didn't even notice, and they have been impressed with all of the work I have done.
Here is one place I really struggle to make a balance. It's easy to let my failings get the better of me. It's also easy for me to focus on how good I am at some things and let pride take over.
In any case I got the mid-term back with a 48 out of 50. Also, that two page report I did two weeks ago. The one I forgot about until the night before and got the books the morning it was due? 30 out of 30! Thank goodness. Maybe I can write.
Credit card debt
Here is why Americans are in debt. I decided to take the plunge and get a Shell MasterCard. Yes, the ads did me in, saving 10 cents minimum per gallon of gas, and with Shell being consistently cheaper than most places near me (including Costco) got me to take the plunge.
Before you go making any comments, yes, I am able to pay it off before we even get the bill.
In any case, I'm waiting for the cards, wondering if I was even approved. Then they show up and those fools have given me a $12,000 limit.
Seriously, anyone who knows me knows that I'm sure not rich. What would possess a company to offer so much money to any individual whose only knowledge of a person is their mortgage, credit rating and annual salary?
I can see so many people get into serious trouble this way. Right now I'm helping others get out of some deep debt, and I was wondering how it was even possible. Now I know.
It doesn't take much to decide that the $100 could be paid off this month, but may as well wait until next month...
I think it's time to call and lower that limit a bit.
In case you haven't heard about it, there is a big writing event going on this November called NaNoWriMo. The whole point is to write a Novel in one month. I keyed Christine and Kate into it, and I think they're actually giving it a try. Unfortunately, I am far to uncreative too write a novel in one month, I don't even know what I'd be about.
BUT. Christine had an away message that said
DON'T TALK TO ME UNLESS YOU HAVE A COOL STORY! :D
Therefore, I decided to put together a GOOD STORY in 10 seconds or less. For fun, here's what I came up with.
Once, when I was younger, I decided that it would be fun to see the world. I first thought, maybe I could fly around the globe. So I went and to my pilot's license. Unfortunately I couldn't afford to keep the license and I couldn't afford the plain, so that plan went astray. Then I considered riding in a space shuttle and seeing everything in and outside the world. So I went to space camp and applied to be a pilot. Nevertheless, I couldn't keep all of the controls in my mind and my eyesight getting worse kept me from that solution. Then I tried to travel. I visited Spain, London and Scotland. But I can't afford to keep that life up and prefer to stay near my family. So now I frequent sushi restaurants, Thai restaurants and other ethnic foods in the hope that I can taste their culture in some small way.
By the way, everything in here is false besides the fact that I want to see the world.
This was fun though, maybe I can write a novel. How about you all, what story can you come up with in 10 minutes or lest (call it the opposite of NaNoWriMo).
I was just reading Teresa's post on Tony's blog on finding out what people are really looking for in a visit to a church. The main thing that struck me (besides that they have a full time paid staff person in charge of getting people involved after Sunday morning) is the visitor's question about where the money and time goes. This question wouldn't come up if someone really understood, even before they walked onto your campus/through your door, what you were all about.
People don't get why they should be investing their time and money in church. They don't understand why they'd invest in your company either. They need to see exactly why your company/church/friendship will make a difference in the world and how their participation will help make that real.
Why should I buy a Robek's smoothie or shop at ColdStone? Why should I go to St. Matthew's over St. David's (besides it being hard to find St. David's Web site)? Why would I be friends with Bill, who seems aimless, when I can be friends with Bob who has a clear vision and plan that I understand and support?
Communicating vision has got to be one of the most important things we do. The organization (or ourselves) needs to identify, understand, communicate and live that vision.
What's my vision? Honestly, I'm still working on it and it changes all the time. Right now my vision is to:
Impact lives by helping people feel accepted, comfortable and loved and to make my family feel as though I spend too much time with and energy on them. I want people to see the benefit of serving God through my own actions.
So, do I really live that vision? Do people hear about that vision even before they meet me? Does it mesh with the church/store/friends that I surround myself with? As a church, do people know that our focus is to get every individual learning and talking about God to their friends and strangers?
I'm really thinking that this whole vision thing is one of the most important items to execute. Once we have that, it's easy to focus on making things happen.
Here's what I've learned from taking my first midterm in 10 years:
1) Listen to the teacher. She said use the CD and I did. 80% - 90% of the test came almost directly from that CD.
2) I am more aware of what I know I got wrong and what I did right.
3) After 10 years I still take tests blazingly fast (I was 10 minutes late and the second to finish). But that never means I was right.
4) I finally figured out how to study key terms. Instead of memorizing the term, memorize the definition and match it to the term. The term takes on it's own life and has it's own hooks to stay relevant in my mind.
5) It's not as stressful when you've had some real conversations with the professor and understand their reason for teaching the class.
6) 1/2 of what I study will not be on the test... Darnit!
7) Theophany - The manifestation of God on earth.
In the end I know I got 4 questions wrong, I think I got 5 or 6 wrong, so I'm expecting to have gotten 7 or 8 wrong. Out of 50 that's not so good, but a solid B isn't bad either.