December 29, 2008

Christmas in the Guadalupes

Some picture of our hiking trip to Guadalupe Mountains National Park on the day after Christmas.


























December 23, 2008

Great Interpretation

So the best interpretation of my card so far has been from my next door neighbor.

(Opening up the flap to reveal the angel)
So this is Satan, who is reading the Scriptures right before the Incarnation with the slow understanding on what is about to occur:
Satan:”No, No, ….”

(Opening the next flap to reveal the multitude)
Satan screaming,”NO, F*** NO!!” (repeatedly)
With the Joe Satriani angels behind him blaring their trumpets in his ears.

I though it was pretty good (and it gave me ideas for next year).

December 22, 2008

Good News

I hope everybody received their Christmas card alright. I understand that it isn’t as straightforward as most cards people give and as such I would like to hear everyone’s interpretation whether they are funny, critical, or simply simple. I have already got a couple of really hilarious readings of it so far and will post them soon. (if you haven't got it yet, it should be coming shortly, I think I sent it to everyone I know who reads my blog)

December 12, 2008

Viewing My Life Through a Camera on the Top of a Car

So in Google’s new ploy in which to take over the world, it has developed the “street view” feature on its mapping application. The Basic idea is a fleet of cars with cameras mounted on them takes pictures as they travel, which are then converted into panoramic scenes. It is really a very ambitious undertaking considering the vast amount of land coverage with every few feet containing a whole lot of information.

Google has understandably run into privacy issues from a whole host of people and organizations and even entire towns. The most interesting of these are from people doing things they didn’t want to be seen doing (people entering and exiting adult bookstores, theft attempts, etc.). On the other hand it can be really useful when trying to find directions somewhere and when you can zoom around the streets of Rome, is undeniably cool.


So I went and found all the place I remember living in my life and, with the help of a screen capture program, I reproduce them here (I was very surprised to have found out that Google actually drove through Comstock):


Our first house in Comstock was a trailer that has long since been moved away but there is still the great mulberry tree in the yard where we had an awesome treehouse and the round concrete planter that we used as a sandbox.



This is our second house in Comstock. On a side note: it is weird that the one day they decide to drive through this small west Texas town it was overcast.


Our house outside of Odessa.




My dorm my first year of college.



My first apartment. Good times battling the Mormons with my atheist roomates.



The sad little rent house Roger and I moved into after the apartment.


The apartment complex I moved into with Nathan. Brian spent the night here one night that the airconditioner broke and it was in the upper 90s inside the bedroom.


The apartments Nathan and I moved into with Adam.

My current apartments in which my wife and I have made our first home.

December 8, 2008

Update on the Storybook House

A little over a month ago I won a competition to build a storybook house at the Dallas Arboretum. I have been busy refining my design and trying to get it to a place in which it can be built. I am almost there. I met with a contractor who is going to help me build it this last Thursday, and the meeting ended up being was a huge encouragement and help. The head contractor was very excited to get to help out with the project and I received a lot of good feedback.

I have also had some friends express interest in helping me build it. I will need the most help on Saturday Jan 31st and Saturday Feb 7th. We will be putting it together out at the Arboretum on those weekeends. If you can't make it don't worry too much; it will be up at the Arboretum from mid March untill Dec. And if you can't wait that long to see it, here are some of the latest renderings from my sketchup model:

It will be located right smack in the middle of a large bamboo grove.



Here are construction steps for building it (I got some lego men to help demonstrate how easy it is going to be):




November 28, 2008

Upcoming Movies (Winter 08)

Last year around this time I listed some movies coming out in the winter season that I though were going to be interesting. As it turned out, I only saw two out of the six and only liked one of those (No Country For Old Men). So we will see this year if my forecast turns out better. So here is a list of movies that will be on my radar in the next few months:
(if you want more info on any of the movies listed below, just click the title of the movie and it will take you to the rotten tomatoes site)

Nov 12th
Slumdog Millionaire
Laura and I missed a free screening of this movie by about 10 minutes but I still would like to go and see it. One of the most interesting premises I have come across in a while and apparently it was well executed as it is getting great reviews.


Dec 19th
The Tale of Despereaux
It didn’t immediately stand out as a movie I needed to see but Laura thinks it has a lot of promise and on second glance I agree. Looks like a fun adventure story and looks to have a good premise and good visuals.

Dec 25th
The Spirit
Though I wasn’t overly impressed with 300, I think that Frank Millar has carved himself out a nice niche in the movie world, especially for a comic book writer. His latest offering looks promising, aided by the fact that it is based off of the work of comic’s legend Will Eisner.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
An interesting premise and the often under rated Brad Pitt should combine into a great movie.

Jan 16th
The Wrestler
Admittedly if I had just seen the trailer to this movie without any idea who the director was, I would have dismissed it. But it just so happens to be directed by Darren Aronofsky, who is one favorite directors (Pi, Requiem for a Dream, and the Fountain). So at the very least I can expect a movie that tells a story in a decidedly non Hollywood fashion. Though I am expecting something closer to extraordinary.

Mar 6th
Watchmen
As a fan of the comic of the same name by Alan Moore, I am definitely anticipating the film version come March. It looks to be extremely faithful to the comic (especially considering that Moore has distanced himself from any film adaptations of his work).

November 24, 2008

Praying for Augustine’s Conversion

If Augustine was right in suggesting that God created and is thus outside of time; can I pray for his conversion to Christianity in the same light as I pray for the conversion of Richard Dawkins? Meaning can I intercede for “past” events?



I asked this question to the group eating brunch at our house after church on Sunday. From that discussion (of which there were a variety of opinions) I came up with a range of consistent options that differ in how they view prayer* but keep the original proposition that the past and future the same:

A-If we view prayer as having no influence on God’s Will then we shouldn’t pray to change things in either the future or the past, but rather to see and be apart of God’s will no matter what happens or has happened.

B-If we view prayer as voicing our desires to God (the way in which we would like things to be, knowing that they might not correspond to God’s will due to our limited perspective); then we could voice desires for both the past and the future (no matter what the actual outcome of the past actually is).

C-If we view prayer as having the ability to change the outcome of things; then we pray for both past and future outcomes, but when praying for the past we pray for the way things actually happened (believing that we shaped the past just as we shaped the future).

I actually find a well rounded view of prayer through a combination of the above. “A” keeps us in perspective with God’s will, “B” deepens our relationship with God by strengthening our honesty with Him, and “C” lets us embrace our limited perspective and lets us pray with power and conviction concerning events (accordingly I think past prayers for C don’t work as well unless you slip into 4th dimensional thinking often).

Any thoughts or Scripture references that would support or correct the above train of thought?


*Note that I am just talking about the supplication part of prayer. Thanksgiving, adoration, and repentance are other important aspects of prayer not discussed here.

November 18, 2008

Christian Rights

Demand vs. Petition

I get uneasy anytime the church (individually or corporately) demands her rights, as if she had authority to demand anything for herself. However, I don’t see any problem in asking for them, pursuing them through appropriate channels, or being very grateful when they are given.

November 7, 2008

TMNT

As I mentioned in my Halloween post, one of the reasons I enjoy the holiday is that we don’t get off work for it. Meaning that work that day is very relaxed, everyone is in a lighter mood, and I get to work with the ninja turtles. I snapped this picture from my desk last Friday:

Here is a better picture of them:

November 6, 2008

Art and Theology

Over at Theology forum they are having a week long discussion on the artist Edward Knippers. I personally am really digging both his art and his theology of art.


More of Kippers art here: http://www.edknippers.com/

November 4, 2008

Halloween

I enjoy the holiday of Halloween (or Reformation day or Fall Celebration Day or whatever you what to call it). I enjoy the laid back atmosphere at work, the festivities, the candy, the slightly morbid atmosphere; but most of all I enjoy the creative traditions of making costumes and carving jack o’ lanterns. So first to the carved pumpkins:

Silhouetted Raven carved by Laura

Crazy Old Face carved by myself

Now my costume this year was a cardboard robot superhero type guy. It started with the claw and sort of snowballed from there. The final product included a working claw, a twin rubber band gun, and a helmet/breastplate. It definitely got some looks. Laura did the quick but beautiful medieval maiden.










October 30, 2008

Holiday Card Contest Update

It looks like I am having a good week. Today I found out that I won the holiday card contest for my firm. (It was the snowflake design, sorry mom.) Hopefully I get a free airline ticket out of it but in the meantime I was presented with a goblet’o M&Ms:

October 28, 2008

Anyone know any Japanese Carpenters?


Good news, I won the storybook competition! Now I just have to figure out how to build it.
Also (and more importantly), my brother is back home from Afganistan. He called me today sounding tired but good.

October 17, 2008

October 13, 2008

Christmas without The Christ

Despite my intentions to not involve myself in a creative endeavor this weekend, I decided to participate in my firm’s annual Christmas card design. The rules were:

-Be creative

-Stay to 5 by 7 proportions

-No religious imagery

They said to think about it as “the holiday seen through the eyes of the architect”. What holiday? We can’t tell you because it would offend people. Anyways, onto the cards:

The first is called “Visions of Sugarplums” and depicts children nestled snug in their beds but instead of dreaming of candy, they are dreaming of the platonic forms.

My second entry titled “Snowflake Architecture” is just a snowflake made out of the shapes of a compass, triangles, and x-acto blades.

Don’t worry, our actual Christmas card that we send out will have plenty of “religious imagery”.

October 10, 2008

Bail Back In

I heard the finest (as well as sardonic) commentary on our country’s current turmoil on the radio yesterday. So I thought I would pass it along (you can also go listen to it read by the author by clicking here).

After the Bailout by Andrei Codrescu

I was sharpening my chain saw when they called me from Washington, D.C., to ask me how to fix the economy.

This request focused my thoughts, or the lack of 'em, to such a fine point, I gave my 14-inch Echo an edge it never had. Good enough for cutting half a cord at least, to keep the wood stove going through October. I love not paying the oil company a nickel. Except for the half-gallon of gas and the chain oil, but I'm fixin' to make the thing run on plum brandy. I've got a plum tree.

Ah, where were we? The economy, yes: $700 billion is more than enough money to buy every able-bodied American a chain saw, a solar-powered generator and a stake in a communal well and windmill. Also, red dirt and plum trees. That would probably only cost about $100 billion, and you can use the other $600 billion to buy everybody their house outright.

Now everybody can own their house and be green and self-sufficient, and can go back to whatever they were doing before the world ended: watching TV. Except for me. I was sharpening my chain saw.

So I go back to it, and I see a line of refugees coming up the road to move in with me. Oh my God, it's the '70s again. All my deadbeat friends — dead and alive — are being chased out of their homes and heaven for not owing any money. They are debt-free in a world that can't exist without interest rates. The dead are especially egregious in this regard; you can't squeeze even an extra penny out of them.

Oh, no, now that they are getting closer, I don't even think it's people from the '70s: It's people ... from the future!

It's worse than I thought: These are people independent from foreign oil, carrying solar-powered chain saws, full of American ingenuity. After the bailout, they owned their own homes, they didn't pay into a corporate energy grid, and they didn't worry about food because they grew it on the roof. They didn't drive, because they didn't have any jobs to drive to, and every garage in America was the site of an invention that was so darn beneficial nobody needed anything from the store.

Without worries about money, without a job, and with extra space in the garage to grow food and invent, these people forgot about the stock market, stopped borrowing money, even forgot how to shop — in short they stopped being American. These un-Americans got their exercise raking the compost instead of circling the mall; they home-schooled their children and were never again embarrassed that their kids knew more than they did. Heck, they were in heaven, the place where the pursuit of happiness leads to when you stop pursuing it.

Such self-sufficiency made the economy grind to a halt, so the government had to do something again: They called in the Army to chase everyone out of their self-contained greenhouses.

And now they are coming up the road to my place because I'm a poet, and I live in a compound defended by polygamist haikus.

"What did you do wrong?" I asked the first of the refugees to get over the palisades.

"Nothing," he said. "We just got out of debt and stopped watching TV! So the urge to buy things on credit disappeared. So they sent in the troops. First thing they did was to put a 40-inch plasma TV in every room and fixed it just so we couldn't turn it off. Just like in Orwell, only with much sharper images. They are calling this the Second Bailout, or the Bail Back In."

"At least the Second Amendment is safe," I said. "Nobody took away your guns, and the Founding Fathers didn't say anything about TV."

And with that, my chief haiku welcomed them thus:

make yourselves at home
you won't be bailed in or out again
you're safe in Second Life

October 9, 2008

Cutting Grass (to 2.5” to be precise)

I think I have exhausted the creative center of my brain. Especially in the construction department. In the past two weeks I have created a cardboard claw (I post a picture soon), built a couple of lamps, designed and built a model for a competition (look down), all while being on a very creative project at work. The guys next door just hear my miter saw go off and they come running to see what I have built next. I think I will take a creative rest this weekend but I can never tell.

Anyway, the most recent project is a submission to a competition the Dallas Arboretum is having. It calls for designs of a storybook house (small simple pavilion like structures inspired by a fairytale). The fairy tale I took my inspiration from is called
The Bamboo Cutter’s Daughter. Hosestly, I chose it because I wanted to design a Japanese pavilion. Here is my model: