Thursday, December 2, 2010

Viewing

Yesterday there was a viewing for my friend who died. My mom went to the viewing and told me about it.

Apparently the family appreciated the post that I made about my friend was appreciated by the family. That's very good to know.

I wasn't sure if it was too soon to post something, but I'm glad that what I did post was helpful and comforting.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's Christmas Time in Norman!

I love Christmas.
I love Christmas lights.
I love Christmas trees.


This Christmas tree served at the Air Force Academy for some time, fulfilling its important duty to bring Holiday cheer to one Brian Thorn. It was decorated with Air Force colors back then.

I put up the lights with tape and paper clips. It looks good, and it hasn't fallen down yet. I will say, however, that the air unit pushes the ornaments against the branches and causes noise at night. That's annoying, because I'm the lightest sleeper in the world.
But anything for Christmas. A little less sleep, a little more Christmas-time.

This is the obligatory Myspace-photo where I take a picture of myself taking a picture.

Remind me to take a picture of the lights from across Lindsey Street. My room is super-awesome because it faces the stadium, the Honors College, Gaylord--everything. You can see it from the telephone booth outside of Dale Hall.

Here's a photo looking north toward Lindsey. The telephone booth is circled in red.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Top Five Pixar Movies

Hopefully all of you remember my controversial note on The Best and Worst Pixar Movies.
Some of you might remember the sketchy ending to my note, where I neglected to say which Pixar movies were my favorites. That was to leave you hankerin’ for more!
I originally set out to identify the top two and bottom two Pixar movies, but I'm expanding my top list to FIVE. Some of you will welcome this. Some of you will hate it, because your favorite still won’t make the top five. For this, I am most cry.
I have four disclaimers about this discussion:
a) After I publish this note, I may mentally rearrange which Toy Story movie I think is the best. But there is a method for my madness in arranging them the way that I did.
2) There are no right and wrong answers to “which Toy Story movie is the best?” Like post-modern people say, “It’s all relevant.”
d) The Incredibles will never breach my top five, even if I watch it again and decide that it doesn’t belong at the bottom of the Pixar pile.
5) Did you like how I arbitrarily started italicizing the movie titles halfway through the last note?
The Top Five Pixar Movies
Toy Story 2 The opening scene with Buzz Lightyear and Zurg was fantastic. What?! Buzz doesn’t die! Buzz does, however, breath like Darth Vader. The use of Star Wars sound effects, and other Star Wars nods in the movie, was great. Zurg is Buzz’s father? That makes total sense. After all, Zurg has a battle station with the destructive power to annihilate an entire planet.
Other quotables:
“But I don’t want to use my head!” (Rex, right before using his head as a battering ram.)
“Well, we tried.” (Rex, at seeing the traffic blocking them from Al’s Toy Barn.)
“Father…” (Buzz, after watching Zurg fly down the elevator shaft.)
I used to play the Toy Story 2 Gameboy Color game all the time. Too much fun. I can still hear that glorious music, in Gameboy Color surround sound, complemented with an HD screen showing cutting-edge graphics…
…although it may have been awhile.
Toy Story 3
Many of you will be angry at me that I put Toy Story 2 before Toy Story 3, because you believe that Toy Story 2 belongs at the bottom of the pile. Not so.
Toy Story 3, however, was a stunning finale (?) to the Toy Story series. Spanish-mode Buzz, Tortilla-Mr. Potatohead, and enough stirring character scenes to make a 22 year-old man cry made THIS Toy Story movie one of the three most memorable Pixar movies of all time. In fact, it ranks along with Toy Story 2 and another movie in the top three best Pixar movies of all time. What’s that other movie? Well…
Toy Story
Toy Story may surpass all other Pixar movies, just because it was the first, and because it was so hilarious and visually stunning. It introduced us to Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Rex, Mr. Potatohead, and the rest of the gang. And who can ever forget the toy-soldiers-reconnaissance mission? Pure gold.
Monster’s Inc “Mike Wazowski!” “She’s out of our haaaaaair!”
Why articulate an argument for this movie when I can just quote it? I still have all of the toys.
A Bug’s Life
“Oh! Look at the beautiful colors of the…blood.”
“We drew a picture of one of you dying to make it more dramatic.”
“Don’t look at the light!” “I can’t help it, it’s so beautiful…AAAAAH!”
Now, I may be slightly biased about A Bug’s Life, because it’s been around for so long and I’ve watched it so many times. It’s possible that Up might be better, but I’d have to watch it again.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I miss my friend.

Last night I found out that one of my childhood friends passed away.

It was completely unexpected. I’m trying to understand what it means that he’s gone. I’ve known him for around ten years.

We went to different universities, and we both have busy schedules, so it’s been awhile since I’ve seen him. I think the last time I saw him was Christmas of 2008 or summer of 2009. I can’t remember.

I wish I could remember the last things we said to each other. It was probably “Goodbye” or “God bless,” and it was definitely after a good time.

My friend loved to play Risk, he loved bowling, he loved the Dallas Cowboys, he loved the NewsBoys, he loved the United States of America, and he loved Jesus Christ.

I can’t remember when I first met my friend and his family, but it was probably connected to homeschooling. As a homeschooler in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, you get to know everyone. If there’s someone you don’t know, you know someone who knows them.

We became good friends. We went to each other’s birthday parties. We went to AWANAs together at McKinney Memorial Bible Church.

He lent me his NewsBoys CDs one time.

We loved to talk about the Dallas Cowboys. We got excited when the Cowboys won.

We talked about Jesus and the Bible.

He introduced me to corn dogs, and we would go to his house to play chess, play Risk, and eat corn dogs and brownies and chips and salsa and drink sodas.

He let me play his guitar when I went to his house.

He liked Star Wars. And he liked LEGOs too, way back when. And he liked the Lord of the Rings.

He had a wonderful Texan accent. He was a friendly, compassionate, humorous young man.

He taught me that “Cake is good, too much cake is not good.” When he said, “Cake is good,” he would rub his tummy. "Mmm, good." When he said, “too much cake is not good,” he would shake his head. No, too much cake is NOT good.

He was my friend.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Best and Worst Pixar Movies

The release of the new Cars sequel gives me an opportunity to write on a subject that has consumed the passions of everyone in my dorm:

-=What are the Two Best and the Two Worst Pixar Movies of all time?

If you haven't heard about Cars 2, or you haven't seen the trailer, let me point you in the right direction: Cars 2 Trailer I have two disclaimers about this discussion: a) I arbitrarily chose "Top 2" and "Bottom 2" Pixar movies when I introduced this topic of discussion last night. I may expand that number to 3. Or maybe not. I'll figure that out soon enough. 2) There are right and wrong answers to this question. Get emotional. d) All of the Pixar movies are good. Therefore, when I say "worst," I'm referring to "the worst of the best." But feel free to use my words against me and accuse me of hating The Incredibles*, because it's definitely the worst Pixar movie ever. *Writing this at the start of my note is called an "inflammatory tactic": it's to get you to read more. Is it working? Before I list the best and worst Pixar movies, I will provide a comprehensive Pixar movie list for your convenience. (This list is from wikipedia, which we know to be divinely inspired.)

1995-Toy Story You are a sad, strange little man. I bid you farewell.

1998-A Bug's Life I saw the trailer for Star Wars Episode I when I watched this movie in theaters. Adrenaline rush.

1999-Toy Story 2 I am your father.

2001-Monster's Inc She's out of our haaaair!

2003-Finding Nemo Duuuuuude!

2004-The Incredibles The trailer promised so much. The movie failed to deliver. Incredibles fans, are you incensed?

2006-Cars Came out during the '06 World Cup. Brian and my dad absolutely love this movie. Road trippin' time.

2007-Ratatouille Took me forever to spell this title right. I was emotionally compromised when I saw this movie, and I only saw it once. But there's a reason I only saw it once.

2008-WALL-E I wish I had been on a date when I watched this. Apparently it was the best date movie ever.

2009-Up The opening sequence to this movie is perhaps the most perfect piece of cinematic history ever.)

2010-Toy Story 3 My generation grew up with Andy, we went to college with Andy, so we all cried a lot. And we laughed, thanks to Spanish Mode Buzz.
They planned this movie for over 6 years, because I remember hearing about it at DisneyWorld in 2004. And by the way--Are you classically trained? -=What are the Best and Worst Pixar Movies? This is a difficult question, not only because so many of you will be angry at me for what I am about to say, but because it's easier to identify the worst than to identify the best. So I will identify the worst first: The number one worst Pixar movie of all time:

The Incredibles I have mathematical reasons for disliking The Incredibles. These mathematics consist of numbers. Numbers and math are science, therefore I have scientific reasons for disliking The Incredibles.

Scientific reason #1: The affair/adultery theme in the movie. I was not prepared for such a heavy theme in a Pixar movie. I know that the superhero-father-guy never actually did anything with the skinny-blond-lady, but the potential was always there, and that potential affair was a plot device. You can blame me for "not-being-prepared," but I am part of the audience, and content creators are supposed to know the audience. For example, I know that many people in my audience like The Incredibles, so I should be eliciting a response. Know your audience.

Scientific Reason #2: What is up with the flaming demon baby? The flaming demon baby was disturbing AND the movie was already over! The fight scene was done! The world was saved! We don't need a last minute kidnap/opportunity for an exorcism. Say no to the flaming demon baby.

Scientific Reason #3: A lot of people, heros and minions, died in The Incredibles. Again with the know-your-audience issue--I was not expecting Star Wars-level action in a Pixar movie.
Scientific reason why The Incredibles is not an unredeemable movie: Frozone. Frozone uses ice and stuff, and ice is studied in chemistry.

Other scientific reason why The Incredibles is not an unredeemable movie: Edna. 'Nuff said. The Incredibles needed more Edna, more Frozone, less affair, and less flaming demon babies.

The number two worst Pixar movie of all time:

Ratatouille

Ratatouille just simply did not impress me. There were two great parts to this movie:

1) The opening short with the alien spaceship, Lifted.

Hilarious short film that gets major geek points for having the Wilhelm Scream in it. If you don't know what the Wilhelm Scream is, look it up and fall to sleep tonight with the smug knowledge that you are geekier than when you woke up.

2) The scene with the food critic remembering his own childhood, when he ate ratatouille.

The rest of the movie was forgettable. That's why I can't remember why I don't like it.

-=Moving On

Now, I already told you about my "inflammatory tactics." I'm about to introduce three more tactics:

a) The cop-out (in which I will surreptitiously end the note without telling you what I think are the two best Pixar movies are.)

2) The teaser, where I hint that I might reveals those top two in another note.

Conclusion
It is easier for a camel to enter the kingdom of heaven than for The Incredibles to borrow a needle from a rich man.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Arranged Marriage

This post is dedicated to Cameron, because he asked me to explain my views on arranged marriage.
Disclaimer: this post may or may not reflect the author’s deepest convictions about love and marriage. It may reflect the author’s intent for you to perform a double-take and have a headache thinking about this issue.
I’m a huge fan of arranged marriage for a number of reasons, but I must first explain my definition of arranged marriage.
Steven’s definition of arranged marriage: letting your parents choose your spouse for you.
That concept is horrifying to a lot of you. I find that concept appealing for a number of reasons:
1) The current dating setup is far too stressful. You have to guess whether or not someone likes you before you ask them out (unless you’re willing to be rejected).
You have this awkward dating period before you have the DTR (Define The Relationship) talk.
There’s too much room for self-deceit, and too much room for emotions to cloud your judgment.
2) Arranged marriage puts the responsibility of choosing a spouse into the hands of my parents. My parents are older than me, smarter than me, and wiser than me. They can see past my feelings of infatuation, and my mom would really prefer to choose my wife anyway, because only she really knows who’s good enough for her little boy. (The true answer is that no girl is good enough for her little boy, but eventually the desire to have grandkids will win out, and then she will want to choose my wife for me.)
3) I trust my parents’ judgment.
Some of you may not trust your parents’ judgment, in which case you’re not in favor of arranged marriage at all. That’s understandable.
Some of you trust your parents’ judgment but don’t like arranged marriage for other reasons:
1) You don’t think arranged marriage leaves room for love. I think this argument comes from a flawed understanding of what love is. People who subscribe to this argument think that, while love may come after marriage, marrying someone you’re not in love with is so not romantic. What they fail to understand is that you lose your twitterpated feelings after marriage and have to learn to live with someone. Arranged marriage is just like that—except without the twitterpated feelings to deceive you. Which sets up my conclusion…that I can’t share yet, because it’s my conclusion.
2) You think I don’t want to man up and ask a girl out. Fair point, but wrong. I’m afraid of many things, but rejection by a girl is not one of them. I get knocked down, but I can get up again…and again…and again…
3) You’ve seen Fiddler on the Roof.
Conclusion I could go into more depth on this subject, but my attention span is wearing out.
Final two thoughts:
1) My thoughts about arranged marriage are irrelevant for me because my parents refuse to arrange my marriage
2) If I manage to get married, I could always arrange my kids’ marriages.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Thank You, October 29th, 2010

This past Friday, October 29th, I turned 20 years old. I'm no longer a teenager. I talked to my mom over the phone on Friday, and she said, "I guess you're a man now."

Weird. 18 and 19 couldn't do it--but I didn't have to wait until 21. I'm a man now at 20.
20 is like the neutral zone between Federation Space and the Romulans (or the Klingons). It's not this or that--it's just there. But it DOES mean that I'm not a teenager anymore. That's good.

I was going to go trick-or-treating on Friday night, but my friends who were going to accompany me all had parties to attend. Epic disappoint.

And yet I was not to be dismayed. I entertained myself in the morning by playing the guitar and writing music. In the afternoon, I went into work (on video editing, which I love). I also dressed up as Harry Potter all day (lots of fun). My plan was to get things done, have fun, and hang out.

The guys on my hall made the day far more special than I had planned. In the morning, we went to Couch Cafeteria for Caf Breakfast Birthday (we go every week for Caf Breakfast Tuesday, so this week we double-dipped). That was fun.

What was even more unexpected than that was the birthday present some of my friends got me. After having a long phone conversation with my Grampa, two of my hallmates came into my room telling me they had a surprise for me.

They presented me with a Star Wars Clone Wars gift bag! HUZZAH! I love the Clone Wars. But GUESS WHAT? There was even something INSIDE the bag!

They bought me a guitar tuner, which I really needed. Too legitimate to quit. They also got me a card of a singing, dancing, cowboy hamster.

Then my friends took me out to dinner at Hideaway Pizza. We talked about the virtues of arranged marriage (some in my party disagreed with the idea, but they have time to change their views).

After dinner, we went to a haunted house put on by some of our friends. It was really fun, and a little bit scary. The girls who hosted the event did a wonderful job.

All in all, October 29th, and the month of October as a whole, was FANTASTIC.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Right Here, Right Now

This past Saturday, I went to see Air Force play TCU. I wanted Air Force to win, because my brother just graduated from the Academy this past May. Air Force played well in the first half, holding the score at 10-7 for a long time before TCU scored another touchdown to end the half.
It's always great to go to Air Force games and see the flyovers, hear the Air Force band, and shout "First down!" with all the Air Force fans.
The game also had a particularly stirring rendition of the national anthem. It was very traditional, and very good. TCU (like OU) also gave a special welcome to Air Force.
"The nation's number one defense welcomes the world's number one defense."

Very patriotic. I got teary-eyed twice.

It was a great night with my parents. I love my mom and my dad, and I didn't want to be with anybody else, or be anywhere else. I gave my dad high-fives whenever Air Force made big plays (which predominantly came in the first half) and I held my mom's hand when there was a lull in the action.

Sometimes I would just look at my parents and take their faces in. I wanted to be there, with them, and nowhere else. School was not important, the future was not important, Sunday was not important: Saturday night football with my parents was all that mattered.

This world moves too fast to live. "Stop and smell the roses" never had so much significance. Entertainment and communication move too quickly. We're communicating with people we aren't with while we ignore the ones we ARE with. We're planning events and checking news from elsewhere and thinking about the future and wishing we were still in the past. No good.

You have to be WHERE you are, in body and spirit with the people PRESENT. Don't worry about tomorrow, don't try to be somewhere else.

Everything ends, so you should enjoy the present, and the present people, while you can.

When I went to a Muse concert a few weeks ago, a thousand camcorders and cell phones lit up the Ford Center throughout the concert. People were recording the moment.

But did they miss it?

I didn't bring a camera at all. I have no photographic or video evidence that I went. I cannot relive my Muse experience. But I don't want to, because I lived it while I was there.

People go to the Grand Canyon and they want to take pictures of it. They get frustrated because you can't possibly capture the majesty of the Grand Canyon on film. What you need to do is soak it in. Live it, love it, be astounded by it.

Live. You'll be dead eventually. Memory is only a one-way street.

Tell the people you're with that "I wouldn't rather be anywhere else, or with anybody else, than with you--right here, right now."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Creativity

I'm a creative person. Someone once said that imitation is one of the first signs of creativity. Ever since I was a wee little lad, I tried to imitate people's voices, animal noises, historic NFL plays, and my mom's attempts to eat cookies when my dad wasn't looking.
That someone was probably just talking about imitating people's voices, but anyway...

For most of high school and freshman year in college, I don't think I did a good job presenting myself as a creative person. Maybe I lost some of my creativity and it just didn't shine. Maybe I'm a poor judge of my own behavior. Either way, sometimes I wanted to pull something out of the hat--be it a poem or a drawing--that was out o' the blue.
Music has been associated with much of my creativity for the past few years. I used to draw war scenes from the Medieval era down to the present age, but killing and violence are not very attractive to me now. At this stage in my life, I draw boring things and talk about my feelings, the human condition, or just nature. It's really lame. (I also hug trees, by the way. It's true.)

Sometimes creative people do creative things because they have something inside that they need to get outside. Maybe they have too many thoughts. Right now, I have too many thoughts.
Therefore, it's time to showcase art.


I did this one on the inside cover of a notebook. I took the edge of a pencil and drew all over it. Then I used my eraser to create designs. Then I wrote words. The designs are words or symbols. The words are words. They are also the names of songs from albums. The albums represented are Blink-182 by blink-182 (which has some naughty songs on it, so I can't recommend it), We Don't Need to Whisper by Angels & Airwaves (which has...one naughty song on it?), Mmhmm by Relient K, and Oh! Gravity by Switchfoot.

I'm not a post-mod. I just thought it would be cool and creative to do that. And yes, I did that while I was a teenager. I still am, if only for 17 more days.


I went to Chili's with some of my friends and embarrassed them by asking the waitress for crayons and coloring tools. It was great. This drawing (or crayoning?) represents the ideal of true love, two people becoming one, and the reality (or pessimism) of life, which is a single character in a vast darkness surrounding himself with electronics to dull the pain.
It's very disillusioned, but apparently, that's what "realism" is. Realism, I reject you. I did that in the fall of 2009.


This character is also surrounded by the vast darkness of space. He has a shadow. He thinks, therefore he is. In the first panel, he has no hands and is powerless. In the second panel (or the stem of the chili), he celebrates life with the stars (that were conspicuously absent in the first panel). Everyone hold hands.


This crayoning is my take on "Wake Up" by Arcade Fire. The protagonist has glowing light bolts, the reaper is coming for him, and the people better look out below. "Wake Up" has inspired a lot of creativity in me. It's from Arcade Fire's album "Funeral," which I didn't like as a whole
I do, however, like "Wake Up," "Rebellion (Lies)," and one or two other songs on the album.

Thanks for reading. I'm not a naturalist, I'm not a post-mod, and I'm not a relativist. I have three existential crises under my belt and I believe in Jesus.

I'll be funny another day.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Red River Shootout 2009

Last year on Saturday, October 17th, I went to the Red River Shootout. A generous upperclassman friend gave me a discount on a ticket. (My brother helped supplement the cost because he's awesome and because he thought it would be an awesome experience. And it was.) After growing up an Oklahoma Sooners fan, I was finally able to go to the big game at the Cotton Bowl. I moved to Fort Worth in 1999, and I've gone to the Texas State Fair many times, but going to the State Fair on GameDay--and going to the game--was awesome.

People at OU have told me that "you need to go to the game at least once while you're here." I didn't expect to go as a freshman, but when the opportunity to see my man Sam Bradford vs. Colt McCoy arose, I jumped the chance. My dad came with me to the Cotton Bowl, hoping that he would be able to buy a ticket outside the gates.

We talked the game to death (and then some) in the weeks leading up to it because Sam Bradford had been injured the first week against BYU and OU had lost to Miami a few weeks after that. The week before OU-Texas, Bradford led OU to an unconvincing victory against Baylor. Needless to say, there was a lot of apprehension among OU fans about the OU-Texas game. Even though Texas wasn't invincible, they were undefeated, and they had a healthy Colt McCoy under center.


The trip to the Cotton Bowl was long. Kickoff was around 11:30am, we left the house around 7:00am, and we didn't make it to the stadium until the second quarter. (We're less than a two hour drive away from the stadium on a good day).


The transportation problems were well-documented by the media--some people who paid over $1,000 for tickets didn't make it to the game until halftime. Naturally, the highway was a veritable parking lot, but the trains were almost worse. My dad and I took the trains, one of which broke down while we were a few miles away from the State Fair.

We--both OU and Texas fans--found ways to keep ourselves entertained, like singing at each other, shouting "OU sucks!" or "Texas sucks!" and then jointly booing any Florida fans who dared to show their faces at this closed party. Florida fans, sorry, you have no business here--it's a family feud.

Most of the fans from both sides were amiable. There were some Texas fans who cheered when word came through that Bradford had been injured (we were stuck in the train when he got injured), but that was a minority. Most of the fans were legit.

When we got to the stadium, my dad went to get a ticket and I went into the stadium. I found my seat (way, way, way up in the Sooner section) and my breath was completely taken away by the sights (and it wasn't just the elevation). You have to be there to fully appreciate what it's like to have a stadium divided in crimson and burnt orange down the 50 yard-line.


Both bands are on either end of the field, drowning each other out with their fight songs. One woman remarked after the game, "I've never heard so many people shout 'sucks!' in my life," because Texas chants "OU sucks!" and OU chants "Texas sucks!"



I had sunscreen smeared stupidly all over my face by this point, because I had hastily applied it while making my way into the stadium, which probably accounts for all the amused looks that I got.


I didn't know about the suncreen and didn't care--I was just worried about the game because Bradford was hurt AGAIN and his college career was probably over and we were about to lose the game and the Big XII and there was no chance of us making it to the National Championship and can Landry win the game and where is my seat and I hope I don't get sunburned and now that I'm settled where's dad and is he going to find a ticket?

OU made it to half time in the lead. In the lead?! We might win this game. We had a chance. It was an ugly game--agonizing even--full of mistakes, but we had a chance to win and as long as we won nothing else mattered.

The halftime show was great--I tried to find all of my friends who were in the band (to no avail, of course, but it was awesome seeing the Pride of Oklahoma anyway).
I won't recount much more of the game, because the game had a sucky ending in an agonizing way. If we had won, Texas would have said the same thing, because it was close and both teams were trying to lose and neither could win or deserved to win until OU finally said "NO, TEXAS! WIN THIS GAME AND GO TO THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP! and Texas said, "KTHNXBAI!"

So after we lost, and all of my hopes and dreams were destroyed and I became disillusioned and disenchanted with life, love, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, Texas sang us out of the stadium.


"Go OU! Go OU! Go OU!" (Not in the sense of "Try hard and do well, OU" but "Go back across the Red River, you losers!")


They chanted "OU sucks!" and they sang their fight song and we heard it in the long, slow crawl out of the stadium (it took almost two hours to get out).
On the drive back up to OU, we passed by a ranch with a huge sign that said "Go Texas!" with lots of longhorn emblems and "OU Sucks" stuff. (They had even more people and signs this year.)

Someday, I will go to the Red River Shootout, and we will win, and we will sing Texas out of the stadium and yell "Texas sucks!" and sing our fight song...and all of their little hopes and dreams will be crushed and they'll drive back down to Austin sobbing and they'll never love again. Ha. Haha.

I wait for that day. But today is not that day, because I'll watch OU beat Texas from home.
Boomer Sooner. Beat Texas.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

asdfjkl;

I learned QWERTY because my dad made me learn QWERTY. When I was a kid, I hated typing because it was hard. I typed with my index finders.

O n e l e t t e r a t a t i m e.

When I wrote my first e-mail (which was to my dad), mom commented that "it took the boys one million years to write their e-mails because they wouldn't type the way they're supposed to."

My dad taught me to type through a basketball game on the computer. If you typed the words quickly, you scored points. If you didn't type fast enough, you lost the game. I learned to type quickly.

I learned QWERTY.
I learned the home keys: asdfjkl;




When someone puts a keyboard in front of me now, my fingers automatically go to asdfjkl;. I know the home keys. Through discipline, I learned how to type. My dad told me that typing would be worth it, and I learned how to type.

Now I can consistently type 100 words per minute. Every now and then a big word like "cytoplasmic" will slow down my average, but I can normally type about 100 words per minute.

Typing is hard if you don't know how to do it. I didn't know how to do it until my dad taught me. He forced me to learn. I learned through a computer game. Now I type well.

I don't play the piano well. Why not?

My mom has played the piano since she was a kid. Didn't she teach me how to play the piano? She tried.

The piano didn't catch my attention like the basketball typing game on the computer. My mom thought it was important for me to learn how to play the piano, just like my dad thought it was important for me to learn how to type.

However, when it came to piano, I just didn't "get it." Maybe it was the boring music that I practiced. Whatever it was, there wasn't enough about the piano to keep my attention.

There wasn't anything about playing the piano that motivated me to practice through the hard parts. Chords and scales couldn't keep my attention. I didn't know why I had to learn them and I couldn't understand my mother's patient explanations. I started playing piano when I was five or six, but I never got good at it.

I liked seeing the computer basketball players score points, even if I had to type a boring word. No computer basketball players scored points when I played a boring scale on the piano.

I started playing the guitar at age fifteen. I still play the guitar. I practice regularly. I listen to and play enough guitar music that I know that it's worth working through the hard parts. No computer basketball players score points when I play "Wake Me Up When September Ends" by Green Day, but I enjoy playing just the same.

I practice the repetitive things that aren't fun so I can play the songs that are fun. I can see the end goal in sight.

In the New Testament, Paul told Christians to look to Heaven as the end goal. He told them to look at Jesus as their example, because Jesus "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." (Hebrews 12:2)

Christians are supposed to think of Heaven when life gets really tough. Heaven, not computer basketball players scoring points, is the incentive to keep going.

Sometimes you don't see the end goal, but you're entertained enough to stick at something and get good at it. Sometimes you're not entertained, but you're mature enough to have discipline. You discipline yourself for the purpose of something. You believe the authority figures who are telling you that "it will be worth it in the end."

When you've gotten good at something--when you've disciplined yourself--it becomes a habit. It's natural.

Someone puts a keyboard in front of you, and your fingers automatically go to asdfjkl;.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Moderation as the Key to Happiness

Notes:

a) Cake is nomlicious
2) nomlicious: adjective. Something delicious, as in "The cake is nomlicious."
d) This cheesecake has a flavor
3) "has a flavor": see "nomlicious"
IV) nom nom nom

Back in the day, my friend Josh and I had a saying.

"Cake is good. Too much cake is not good."

That is one of the more valuable lessons that we as human beings can learn.

Cake is good. Too much cake is not good. "Moderation" is a word for that.

Homer believed that moderation was hugely important. Achilles acted immoderately in the Trojan War by mutilating Hector's body and parading it around the walls of Troy.

After the Greeks destroyed Troy, they acted immoderately by raping and murdering the inhabitants. As punishment, many of the Greeks never made it home. Some of them, like Odysseus, wandered for many tears before making it home. Agamemnon made it home safely, but he was murdered by his wife and her lover. Agamemnon committed acts of immoderation during the Trojan War, but his wife specifically murdered him because Agamemnon sacrificed their daughter to the gods to purchase safe passage to Troy.

Flying forward in time to the modern era, moderation is still important.

I think that moderation is the key to happiness; specifically, the key to being happy with the good things that you have. King Solomon, in Ecclesiastes, for all of his wisdom, had little understanding of the concept of moderation. He fed all of his appetites excessively.

Food, laughter, drink, work, and love are all great things, but they need to be enjoyed in their place. Solomon eventually figured out that everything has a time and a place, and I suppose if I had the resources that he had, I might have made the same mistakes before reaching the same conclusion.
Either way, Solomon eventually came around. I came around at an earlier age when I realized that eating all of the Skittles that I could fit in my mouth was NOT all that great. Eating three big bowls of Blue Bell ice cream will NOT make me happy. Watching the NFL all day won't make me happy either...unless the Broncos and the Cowboys both win and I'm eating cake at the same time.

In moderation, all of those things can make me very happy. If I have some cake, a glass of milk, and a football game to watch with my dad, I will be very happy.

Money, as a side note here, can also make you very happy when used in moderation. The love of money is the root of all evil, but money in moderation can be great.

You can use money to buy the ingredients to make cake, to buy milk, and to pay for the satellite TV on which to watch the football game with your dad.

I was actually inspired to write this entry today at the cafeteria, while I was eating some strawberry cheesecake. The serving sizes at Couch Cafeteria are good, but I realized some time ago that I don't actually have to eat the entire slice of cake. I can eat just enough to enjoy the flavor and the texture--I don't have to get full on cheesecake

The same thing applies to pizza and root beer. I can enjoy them without filling myself up and clogging my arteries and killing my kidneys more than I already have.


Some of you know that I'm a big McDonald's fan (in spite of the fact that I'm also concerned with eating well...and was known for eating heroic* salads last year). I enjoy McDonald's French Fries. I realized not long ago that when I eat a LOT of French Fries, they don't taste very good. French Fries are only good in moderation. But when I was a kid, I always wanted MORE.

I mean, "MOAR."


MOAR fries. MOAR cake. MOAR cookies.

When you live life that way, it won't satisfy, and it won't make you happy.

But when you're thankful for what you have, and you enjoy things in moderation instead of in excess, then things can make you happy. Music, money, cake, cookies, the NFL, friends, family, laughter--can all make you happy when enjoyed in moderation.

*If you have to ask why my salads were heroic, then you never saw one of my salads.

Conclusion

Solomon would have been less depressed if he would have eaten cake in moderation...but then we wouldn't have the book of Ecclesiastes.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Prayer and Paul the Octopus

Notes:

a) I believe in prayer.*
2) Some people believe in affirmations.
d) Some people believe in hallucinations.
3) Tom DeLonge believes in Hallucinations, any dream or its revelation
IV) Muse has an album called Black Holes and Revelations

*Specifically prayer to God, in the name of Jesus.

I can think of many instances where I've prayed for something major, like the healing of someone on the brink of death, and they've gotten well. That process of recovery has usually taken a long time, but they've gotten well.
Recently, I've been thinking about smaller, immediate answers to prayer. Before I address those though, and throw out some thoughts for you to chew or choke out, I need to specify WHO I'm praying to.
I'm praying to God, the God of the Bible, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Not to generic God, but to the Christian God who made heaven, Earth, and Texas.

[NOT ENTIRELY RELATED TANGET]
When I was a little kid, I had no idea why we said, "In Jesus' name, Amen." I just knew that we always said it, and I eventually figured that it was like an address. We pray in Jesus' name so God would be sure to get it. If we prayed in Buddha's name or Reagan's name, the prayer would never get to God. It would just float up somewhere...in the sky.
Something like that.
I eventually realized that the true reason for praying in Jesus' name has nothing to do with that, and I'll go on a brief tangent (in my tangent) to talk about the reason.
The reason that Christians pray in Jesus' name is because we're (supposed to be) praying according to His Will--according to what He wants. We're not ADDRESSING the letter, to use my metaphor, we're SIGNING the letter with Jesus' name.
That's a basic explanation, if I go any deeper I'll go completely off topic and get more theological than I want to get right now.
Let's pursue another brief rabbit trail. When I was a kid I thought that the national anthem was about a guy named "Jose" and I thought that one Christmas song was about a herald angel named "Hark."


Anyway. Back to my original point: prayer.

In the Bible, Paul tells Christians to pray without ceasing and to cast all of our cares upon God.
When I lose something, I pray that God will help me find it. I started doing this about two years ago. And almost the instant after I pray to locate something, I find it. I always know that I'll find it after I pray.
Lost my pen--lost my phone---please help me find it--THERE IT IS.

Weird? Positive thinking? Coincidence? Or answer to prayer?

I had an interesting answer to prayer this week. I was supposed to get a check from OU around the first day of school. Three weeks later, I had yet to receive this check. I was moderately concerned. I kept forgetting to e-mail the OU folks about it to ask them if they had the check ready. This past Tuesday night, I was praying (possibly for you, I pray for a lot of people), when I remembered that I still hadn't e-mailed OU about the check.
I immediately wanted to get up from prayer, turn on my computer, and send off an e-mail. But I figured that if I did that, I would get distracted and wouldn't get back to praying. I needed to pray. So I just asked God to have THEM send ME an e-mail about the check. Then I expected the e-mail the next day.
I didn't check my e-mail until after Professional Writing class. During Professional Writing, I thought about the check (forgetting my prayer) and then I thought, "OH! I need to send them an e-mail."
Then I realized, "OH! Right, they were going to send ME an e-mail, because I asked God about that."

I got back to my dorm, opened up my inbox, and saw the e-mail saying that the checks were ready to be picked up. I wasn't surprised at all, but I was happy to see it.

Quick summary in case you got lost: I prayed to God that someone would send me an e-mail about a check, and I told absolutely no one, and then the next day that person sent me an e-mail about a check.

Weird? Positive thinking? Coincidence? Answer to prayer? Or does the Bursar have cameras in everyone's room which are constantly monitored by people who read students' lips while they pray?


Some people will say that's a small example of an answer to prayer, other people will say that "weird things happen." For example, Paul the Octopus had a 100% success rate of predicting results in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Even better than his 100% success rate is the fact that Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad totally hit the "dislike" button on Paul the Octopus.

Conclusion

It is easier for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven riding on a camel than for an octopus to sew with a needle.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Not old enough to be an adult.

The other day*, I told my mom that I was going somewhere. Even though I was 18, she asked me, "Are there going to be any adults there?"

*As I've gathered from my friends, "the other day" can have a very loose interpretation. It can mean anytime from yesterday to seventeen years ago. In this case, it's about two years ago.

Some people are under the impression that 18 year-olds are adults.
Not my mom.

"There's going to be a former Marine (and current statetrooper), an Air Force Academy cadet (and current second lieutenant in the Air Force), a fireman, a 19 year-old in nursing school, and a few other 18 year-olds," I responded.


"But are there going to be any adults?" she repeated.

Some people are under the impression that people over 20 with military experience, and people with emergency medical training are adults, are adults, but apparently not my mom--?
She must be joking.

"Mom, those are all adults," I said, but I knew it was useless. We were clearly working under different definitions.

What does to take to be an adult under her definition? And is she the only adult (or is she an adult?) who thinks that way?


Adults. Maybe you have to drink out of a hoof to be one.

Maybe you're not an adult if you have to ask. Or maybe you're an adult if you're married and you have two kids. Having one kid is probably not enough, but if you have two kids, that probably proves that you have guts and you're an adult. Two of them can team up and tie you up--so if you're tough enough to keep 'em both licked, then you're probably an adult. As an adult, you must be capable of striking fear into the little hearts of your offspring.

But seriously, when are you an adult? When are you finally old enough for adults to stop telling you that you're too young to get married? What's the magical age or rite of passage? Do you need to be financially independent? Do you have to watch the Weather Channel or take naps?

Some people say that you're an adult when you're 18, but my mom and I don't agree.
Maybe you're an adult when you stop getting your opinions from your mom.

I wouldn't know.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Will of God (?)

The Will of God (?)
by Steven Thorn

Disclaimer: With the exception of the reprobate "Howard," this note is not directed toward anyone in particular.


It's a common thing for mortals to want to know the will of God, or the will of the gods. Throughout history, some people have consulted oracles, some have consulted bones, and some have consulted the entrails of animals. Others have looked for signs in the stars or the weather.
21st century Christians, as a general rule, don't stargaze or seek out the Oracle of Delphi, but they do have some interesting ways of determining the will of God. Most of the time, you'll hear phrases like, "I just feel the Lord is leading me this way." or "I have a peace about it." or "I've asked the Lord to shut the door if [this action] is not His Will, and He's keeping the door open." Some signs, encouraging or discouraging events, can also contribute to the "discernment" of the Lord's Will.


A few weeks ago, I told my friend Howard* that I felt the Lord was leading him to give me $100 dollars. I said that I had prayed about it for a long time, and God had given me a real peace about it. Furthermore, the Lord hadn't taken the desire away. Aside from a sign in the stars**, this was all the confirmation of God's Will that I needed.
Howard, unfortunately, has decided to live in sin and ignore God's Will. He kept his $100 dollars, and I've since prayed for judgment. He'll get what's coming to him.
At any rate, I clearly didn't get my $100, which leaves me to examine where I went wrong. James, the author of the book of James (in the Bible), might have told me that I didn't get my $100 because I was going to spend it on my own pleasures. But what he didn't know is that I was going to give it to charity. Pwned***, baby.
You might think that I was absurd to ask Howard for $100, and the more I think about the whole situation, the more I realize that I might have been in the wrong. Where did I go wrong?
Well, duh, I should have waited for a sign. Not necessarily in the stars - just a sign.
Many years ago, before most of you were born, I was on my way back home from my tour of Europe (it was customary in that time for young Romans to travel the world after graduating from university) when I came upon a field of hyacinth.
I was so shocked that I let go of the reins and my camel bucked me off its hump and ran away.****


This narrative is quickly getting away from me--suffice to say, the field of hyacinth was surprising because hyacinth begins with "h" and I had been morosely meditating on my lost love: Hannah. This, clearly, was a sign from God, because Hannah begins with "h" and so does hyacinth. I rushed back to Carthage to retrieve my unrequited love - but I was too late, as my beloved Hannah had changed her identity and released a single called "Party in the U.S.A." I was crushed--and perhaps too late, because the will of God was clearly at work somewhere in there.
At that point, the itteh bitteh ninjas committeh arrived to save the day, because it is definitely too late to save this entry.


As a parting shot, I will say that I believe that God has a specific will for all of us. However, I can't always tell the difference between "the Spirit's prompting" and indigestion. For the time being, I'll just stick with the Lord's revealed will in the Bible, which focuses on obeying His commandments. Thanks for watching, kids. Stay in school, don't do drugs, and floss your teeth.

*I changed his name from Brendan to Howard because I didn't want to use his actual name. Wait...oops.

**There's a scene in some book where some character who did something bad is walking around at night, and in the stars he sees something that he thinks is a confirmation of his judgment. The author comments that the someone (who saw the something in the book) was megalomaniacal to think that the heavens themselves would be orchestrated to reveal his fate. This comment might be more helpful if I told you what book it was, but I forgot.

***If you don't know what "pwned" means, I can't help you. By the time I've explained its significance, the original comment will have lost its impact.

****I may have forgotten a few of the details because it was a long time ago, but there was a camel somewhere. He kept trying to poke me in the eye with a needle that he got from a rich man who was trying to get into heaven.