Tuesday, September 21, 2010


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


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.


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


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.

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.


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.