Are online friends weird?

I spend quite a bit of time hanging out at the online message board called “The Rumor Forum“. It is a group of people who are loosely grouped as fans of the group Caedmon’s Call. Many of them have known each other for several years, have attended concerts and other get-togethers as a group, and in general are pretty good friends in real life. I, on the other hand, just started hanging out there about a year ago, haven’t met any of them, etc. And yet somehow I find myself drawn in, wishing for acceptance and looking forward to each day’s interaction. Why?

If I could answer that question, it’d make my wife happier for sure, and might even make me happier… although I’m not that grumpy to begin with. 🙂 I don’t know why it’s addicting. I don’t know why I consider these people friends… and yet I do. Is it weird to have a friend you’ve never met in person? Is it strange to consider interactions carried out entirely through your web browser as “friendships” in the first place? Such are my random thoughts on this Saturday morning.

I’d really like to meet some of these people. One of them might be coming to town on business sometime this spring, so I could get together with him for dinner or something… but many of the others may be people that I never really “know”, whose only face I see is the little avatar they put next to their online posts, whose history I know from reading their blogs… kinda weird, I guess. I’d like to meet some of them for real. Somehow it would validate some of the thoughts I’ve had towards them, which would be nice. And hey, it’s always nice to make more friends… my friend list is rather limited, although I consider that the way God has it for now, rather than a complaint.

Foolish?

“God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools … and He has not been disappointed.”

This insight was voiced by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recently while addressing a Knights of Columbus gathering. Scalia is a staunch Catholic, and while I won’t agree with all of his religious beliefs as part of the Roman Catholic church, he has this one exactly right. Paul wrote about this in First Corinthians chapter 1:

20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

As Christians, we are constantly told by the world today that we are stupid for believing what we do.

Aren’t you smart enough to know that evolution is the way it happened and that creation is a myth? Are you so stupid as to believe that there is a God who is all-powerful? Have you yet to gain the understanding that we are the ultimate arbiters of what is moral? Come on, how stupid can you be?

At times I find it disheartening; at times only frustrating When I gain the correct perspective, then I can finally look past the insults and criticism to realize that I have a knowledge (through no merit of my own) that they don’t have, and regardless of how they ridicule me, it is still my duty to proclaim what I know to be true.

I look at it this way: if I were walking by somebody’s house and saw it burning, they’d want me to come tell them so they could escape. But what if I was walking by and somehow knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that their house was burning, even though they didn’t understand why. Wouldn’t I still have the moral imperative to tell them? If this were the case I would also be trying anything in my control to try to help them to understand how I knew.

In the case of my beliefs, they won’t be able to understand unless the Spirit enables them to respond to the message. However, I still have the moral imperative (and the command from God) to keep speaking the message, even if I am called a fool for saying it.

Here’s where I have to do some self-evaluation. I generally don’t like to be thought a fool. (Who does?) While I’m not willing to go change my beliefs so people won’t think I’m stupid, I too often keep my mouth shut when I really shouldn’t… thus providing the impression that I’m not a fool, when if I told them what I believed, they’d think I was. I think I need to open my mouth more. I’ll have to pray for the boldness to do it.

Scalia again:

“If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.”

Consider yourself challenged. I know I am.

Old music… great memories

So I got an iPod for Christmas… and of course the next task is ripping all of my CDs to mp3s so I can put them on the iPod. That was a task in itself. I’m almost done… (done with all the popular music, about halfway through the classical.) So then I got curious and started wondering about converting all the cassette tapes that I’ve got… (there’s not as many as the CDs, only probably a dozen that I’d care about converting, but still…)

So I researched it a bit online and figured out that by running a cable from the headphone jack of my tape deck into the line in input of my PC, I can record those old tapes. And the free dBPowerAmp software is really slick for recording them; it will automagically sense dead time between songs and split it out into separate mp3 files… too cool. So, now that the geek in me was satisfied with my use of technology, I could get on to recording all of my high school tapes. And that was the scary part.

I was a big Michael W. Smith fan in high school. So of course some of the first tapes to get converted were his albums The Big Picture, Go West Young Man, Change Your World, and The Live Set. (To be fair, a couple of those were done when I was middle-school-aged… and I just picked them up in high school. :-)) And then there were a couple old Amy Grant albums, and Michael English’s two good albums that he released before his confession-of-an-affair-and-returning-all-his-Dove-awards debacle. And an old Steven Curtis Chapman album or two.

If you’re reading this and recognize all these names, then you’ll also recognize that my musical scope was a bit limited in high school; my folks were pretty adamant that Christian music was the only choice (although jazz and classical were also OK), and I was remarkably content with that. The downside is that now as an adult I feel like I missed a few things… but that also makes for neat discoveries. I got the 2-CD set The Essential Bob Dylan this weekend and I’m enjoying it immensely. Probably wouldn’t have appreciated it when I was 17.

What a difference a decade makes.

OK, so I’m not posting often enough…

Or so my sister tells me. Of course, she’s 17, a senior in highschool, and has the time to keep up her blog. But the least I can do is actually give it a shot. Don’t know how interesting it’ll be, but I’ll give it a try. This will probably be more informational than thoughtful, but if info’s what you’re after, then you’re all set.

I watched a couple interesting high-school movies the other night: the recent Napoleon Dynamite, and then Ghost World, which is 4 or 5 years old. Napoleon Dynamite is a hit among some of my friends, and I wasn’t sure what I’d think of it. I laughed at parts, and was generally amused by the whole thing. It’s one of those films thatmy wife just rolls her eyes at (“that’s two hours I’m never getting back”) but I enjoyed the pastique of the high school life. It certainly sums up the experience of being a loser in high school. And I just have to have appreciation for a movie where basically no one is a decent actor in the whole movie, and that’s almost the point; the guys just have blank-faced stares the whole time. Am I rambling here? Have I made any sense? I dunno. Yep, that’s pretty much the movie.

Ghost World was different. It was snappy, incisive, and incredibly profane. But at the same time it painted a good picture of two girls headed different directions in life, and their search for life after high school. While the language/dialog probably prevents me from recommending this to everyone, I really enjoyed it.

I don’t know why the sudden interest in high school movies; I was home schooled and never went to high school. I guess I’m reverting back 10 years for a little while. 🙂

So that’s the interesting news from my life today. Now it’s back to work.

OK, so I’m not posting often enough…

Or so my sister tells me. Of course, she’s 17, a senior in highschool, and has the time to keep up her blog. But the least I can do is actually give it a shot. Don’t know how interesting it’ll be, but I’ll give it a try. This will probably be more informational than thoughtful, but if info’s what you’re after, then you’re all set.

I watched a couple interesting high-school movies the other night: the recent Napoleon Dynamite, and then Ghost World, which is 4 or 5 years old. Napoleon Dynamite is a hit among some of my friends, and I wasn’t sure what I’d think of it. I laughed at parts, and was generally amused by the whole thing. It’s one of those films thatmy wife just rolls her eyes at (“that’s two hours I’m never getting back”) but I enjoyed the pastique of the high school life. It certainly sums up the experience of being a loser in high school. And I just have to have appreciation for a movie where basically no one is a decent actor in the whole movie, and that’s almost the point; the guys just have blank-faced stares the whole time. Am I rambling here? Have I made any sense? I dunno. Yep, that’s pretty much the movie.

Ghost World was different. It was snappy, incisive, and incredibly profane. But at the same time it painted a good picture of two girls headed different directions in life, and their search for life after high school. While the language/dialog probably prevents me from recommending this to everyone, I really enjoyed it.

I don’t know why the sudden interest in high school movies; I was home schooled and never went to high school. I guess I’m reverting back 10 years for a little while. 🙂

So that’s the interesting news from my life today. Now it’s back to work.

OK, so I’m not posting often enough…

Or so my sister tells me. Of course, she’s 17, a senior in highschool, and has the time to keep up her blog. But the least I can do is actually give it a shot. Don’t know how interesting it’ll be, but I’ll give it a try. This will probably be more informational than thoughtful, but if info’s what you’re after, then you’re all set.

I watched a couple interesting high-school movies the other night: the recent Napoleon Dynamite, and then Ghost World, which is 4 or 5 years old. Napoleon Dynamite is a hit among some of my friends, and I wasn’t sure what I’d think of it. I laughed at parts, and was generally amused by the whole thing. It’s one of those films thatmy wife just rolls her eyes at (“that’s two hours I’m never getting back”) but I enjoyed the pastique of the high school life. It certainly sums up the experience of being a loser in high school. And I just have to have appreciation for a movie where basically no one is a decent actor in the whole movie, and that’s almost the point; the guys just have blank-faced stares the whole time. Am I rambling here? Have I made any sense? I dunno. Yep, that’s pretty much the movie.

Ghost World was different. It was snappy, incisive, and incredibly profane. But at the same time it painted a good picture of two girls headed different directions in life, and their search for life after high school. While the language/dialog probably prevents me from recommending this to everyone, I really enjoyed it.

I don’t know why the sudden interest in high school movies; I was home schooled and never went to high school. I guess I’m reverting back 10 years for a little while. 🙂

So that’s the interesting news from my life today. Now it’s back to work.

getting older…

It’s a weird thing to get older; and then in a way it’s the most natural thing we ever do, since we’re all doing it all the time. The latest realization of this was when I ran across my little sister’s blog (see link to the right).

Rebecca is 10 years younger than me; I remember her primarily as the little girl, as a preschooler and elementary-schooler. I left home for college when she was not quite 8, so my memories of her after that are fewer and farther between. She’s now 17. Where has time gone? It’s so strange to read her posts where she does all the normal teenage-girl-type things, agonizing over boys (mostly asking why are they so awful, and why are none of them like her awesome brother (not me, though I wish it were :-))) and quoting lyrics from angsty (is that a word?) songs. Come to think of it, I was a lot that way when I was a teenager…

Part of me feels better when I remember that she’s going through the normal teenage stuff, and that she will get past it, and will have a great life. The other part of me wans to just be protective and make things all work out for her, which I know I can’t. Arrrgh. All I can do is hope and pray that she makes the right decisions (she’s doing a good job so far) and that God works things out. I know He has good plans, but it’s hard to trust.

I haven’t told her yet that I’m reading her blog; I don’t know if she’ll be OK with it or if she’ll be mortified that her older brother is reading the same stuff that her friends are. I’ll promise not to be peeved that when she was writing her eternal post (she had a contest with a friend for the longest post, and she won) she mentioned her other three brothers, but not me… 🙂 Well at some point I guess I’ll tell her. Maybe it’ll help us communicate better. Maybe I can even give her a link to mine….

network downtime…

This morning we are experiencing one of those fun office moments known as “network downtime”. Nobody can get logged in and even if you can (I managed somehow), nothing works; all of the network drives are dead. Fortunately, Internet access still works, so I can post a little blog like this one.

It’s interesting listening to the buzz around here; people are talking where normally there is only silence and people working. I doubt anybody’s gotten anything done all morning, so right now I’m going on 2+ hours of downtime. Take that times 4000 people or so at RC and at the billing rate that engineers cost, and we’re up to almost $1Million in general time while we’re all waiting for the network.

I should really find something more interesting to blog about; I’ve seen some people with long, thoughtful posts; however, I guess I don’t find the time for long, thoughtful writing. I mean, I can when I need to or want to, but I guess I spend so much time of each day just getting work and normal stuff done that I don’t take a lot of time to just sit and think and write. It’s really too bad; I do have actual thoughts about stuff on a semi-regular basis.

another week, another concert…

After thinking things couldn’t get better from last week’s Caedmon’s Call concert, last Friay I took my wife to see Derek Webb at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. The venue was terrific; Wallenberg Hall there at Augustana is small enough that the seats only went back about 10 rows deep; I got a seat on the center aisle in the third row, and was only 6 or 8 feet from the stage (which was only about a foot high). It was awesome. The crowd was warm and receptive, and by the time Derek came out, they were very ready to hear some good tunes. They were not disappointed.

Derek was presenting lots of songs from his new album, I See Things Upside Down. The sound is a departure from his old, Caedmon’s sound (also found on his first album, She Must and Shall Go Free) — none of the acoustic simplicity that was the trademark of the earlier days; this new sound is a much more modern sound, inspired by artists like WILCO and Ryan Adams. It is different, but the excellent songwriting still shines through the wall of sound. They played for nearly 90 minutes, not talking very much in between (a departure of sorts from other Webb concerts). The musical highlight of the night was when things slowed down and Derek performed Nothing Is Ever Enough as a solo with only his electric guitar; an incredible sound on a beautiful song.

Didn’t get to meet Derek afterwards; the band hustled off to somewhere, and we had to head home; the babysitter was waiting. 🙂 Didn’t get home ’til midnight, and had a great time.

an excellent concert…

Went with my brother Ryan to a Caedmon’s Call concert Friday night at Judson College in Elgin, IL. It was my first time seeing Caedmon’s in person; they’ve been a favorite of mine via CD for 5 or so years now. They totally met (if did not exceed) expectations. The band rocked, they played a lot of good songs, they came off as much more real than most performers do. You get the feeling they’re just a group of folks that like to play and sing music, and they’re letting us in on a jam session.

I really only had two wishes unfulfilled at the end of the night; the first was that I didn’t get to meet Andy Osenga, the new lead guitar player (and sometime lead singer) for the band. I think he was visiting with his family after the show, didn’t participate in the meet and greet. The second wish really only developed during the show: I wish I would’ve had a chance to see them when Derek Webb was still a member of the band. His songs are such an integral part of their repertoire, and his voice and presence such a crucial part of their sound… and that’s not a knock on Andy O., that’s just the way it is. Oh well, it was still a great concert. They stay at the top of my favorite groups list.