Tuesday, December 12, 2006

One Man Band

One Man Band
Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

I know it's been forever since I blogged ANYTHING, so here's something. I was inspired to try photoshop cloning and the technique turned out to be fairly simple. It was the composition and planning that turned out to be the hard part. There are mistakes in the picture, but I still like how it turned out. Maybe my next one will be a bit more elaborate. I mean, even if I was triplets I wouldn't wear the same clothes. Would you?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Great lengths for a Halloween costume

The mustache!
Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

This year I decided to go all out for Halloween. My costume was the Brother Ignacio version of Nacho Libre. I couldn't find a wig suitable, but eh. And I didn't really want to wear tights and no shirt! But the best part was growing a beard so that I could shave it down to a mustache. As you can clearly see, it is Halloween creepy. I can't believe guys still grow mustaches. Weird.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Franconia Notch State Park

Dan & Lisa at the Flume
Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

Yesterday I posted some pictures from a trip that Lisa and I took to Franconia Notch State Park in New Hampshire. It's where the Old Man of the Mountain used to be - apparrently his face finally slid off the mountain. I had planned on taking lots of pics that included the fall colors but we were about one weekend too late, and we actually drove through a brief snow storm on the way up there. The highlights for me were the Flume Gorge and Kinsman Falls. Lots of good pictures in this set, so be sure to click!

Monday, October 02, 2006

David Andrew

Today is a sad day for alot of folks who knew David Andrew. I'm sorry if my little blog is the way that you learn this news, as I hope this will be chance to remember him for who he was.

In short, from my limited knowledge of the facts: For that last 2 years or so, David suffered from a troubling cardio-vascular condition that left doctors puzzled. Recently they determined that he had some kind of enlarged artery in his brain that required surgery. He and his wife Shanin flew out to Ohio for the operation. It was a tricky procedure that involved cooling his heart and brain to give them ample time to operate. The operation seemed to go successfully, but David suffered a massive stroke shortly after, and the doctors were unable to find any brain activity thereafter. He and Shanin had opted to volunteer him as an organ donor, so the doctors waited as long as they could as they kept his body alive via life support. Last night about midnight, with his family around him in prayer, they finally released him from the machines and said goodbye.

While I wasn't a close friend of David, I did spend some considerable time with him. He and Ty Bottler and myself were golfing partners at times, and David was always up for any kind of sport or competition there was. A true sportsman, he was always competitive but never mean-spirited. He was always friendly and kind to people, and it always struck me how he would ask me questions about myself or my opinion while coming across sincerely. He was an outgoing and humorous guy, who wasn't afraid of the spotlight, but never let it go to his head. I think he was always more concerned that other people were having a good time and wasn't doing things to boost his ego. I can still hear his laugh and loved to see him joke around with people.

David was also a devout Christian and a man of uncommon faith. For many years he was deathly allergic to chicken, to the point where he would have to ask resturants and such not to prepare any of his food that had been prepared in the same area as a chicken dish. I recall that one day he bravely told us in a meeting that He had felt that God had given him the faith to heal him from the allergy. He soon after started eating chicken again with no ill effects at all. He was always involved in our young adults college-age group, and was one of the pioneers of our Main St. "church" in downtown Portland. He was someone that could make faith and devotion seem cool and fun.

It is always sad to see a friend go, especially one so young. I will miss him. But I take encouragement from the hope that we will be reunited with him someday. The proverbial silver lining is that He is with our Saviour now and is free from the pain he suffered.

Good bye, David! See you soon!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Separated at birth?

Separated at birth
Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

One of those crazy Interweb fads going around right now is the face recognition software at MyHeritage.com. After seeing lots of results on flickr I can't help but think it matches the pose/angle of the picture more than it is able to actually identify facial features. Case in point: The celebrity I most resemble in this picture is Ruben Studdard!

Monday, July 31, 2006

The Whole Day at Fenway

Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

As part of Josh's visit and our trip to D.C. we took in a game at Fenway. Actually, the game is what sparked the idea for the trip in the first place. I had tickets to the Red Sox/Yankees game on that Tuesday and invited him to fly all the way from out West to join me. I knew we would need a better exc- er, reason to get him out here so we fabricated an entire weekend of a roadtrip for something "educational" so Lisa would let him get away for that long. But really it was all part of the plan to get to spend an entire day doing nothing but drinking beer and watching baseball!

Roadtrip '06 - Washington D.C.

Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

I think I've blogged about it already but I finally have the pictures up for viewing. After seeing the pictures again, the thing that struck me most was the art that demonstrated the values of the founding fathers. They had specific ideals that still ring true to this day. Convictions that charted the course of the nation for hundreds of years to follow. Will we look back on our own history 50 years from now and find that same kind of admiration from today's leaders? Sadly, I doubt it. But I think that's why we honor great leaders like Abraham Lincoln, because we know that people like him come around so rarely. Men who are shaped from adversity and rise to the challenge with a dedication to the ideals and principles upon which this country was founded.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Reports of my demise have been greatly exagerrated

It has come to my attention that certain people seem to think I'm engaged to be married. Well, this is news to me! (No, I'm not engaged.) Between my blog and my flickr account there is enough to go on to get a decent snapshot of my life, so I can't imagine how anyone could come to that conclusion. On the other hand, I do like to keep that part of my personal life very private, and unless you're going to pick up the phone and call me, you're not getting those kinds of details from me here. On the other hand, if I was dating Petra Nemcova (hey, if that depressing whiner James Blunt can do it, so can I) I would be making posts about it every day.

Still, I think it's somewhat humorous, and I'm not offended or embarrassed. I find it amazing what kinds of things people love to talk about without getting their facts straight. At least this one was funny.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Why I hate Joe Buck and Fox Sports

I had been looking foward to the All-Star game for over a week. Recently, Comcast moved NESN-HD to own it's own channel, a channel which is no longer under my current programming package. I'm still angry about the fact that I'm going to have to pay another $30 a month to get the Red Sox again. So when I saw that the All-Star game was going to be on Fox and in HD, I was thrilled! Then I paused, because I remember that the ultimate poser of a sports broadcaster, Joe Buck, would probably be calling the game. That dude is a just a suit and voice with a mastery of the obvious. The things he says sometimes make me want to hurl my beer at the TV. But I figured I would stick it out since this was my only real option to watch a great baseball game.

Then Fox Sports opened the broadcast with one of the most amateurish displays I've ever seen for a professional sports event. The graphics were AWFUL and the concept of people across the US stopping to watch the night sky to watch these Carebear-like stars flying across the screen just made me cringe. They used every stereotype they could about people in different areas - for example, the California fans were all pretty O.C. girls in bikinis soaking in a hot tub, and the guy from Texas was of course a lone grizzled cowboy on horseback, etc. And finally as we get near the stadium the bat boy clumsily drops his bats (what else?) while staring agape in amazement (although to me it looked more like a look of terror) when the stars crash into the field where the players who look like cardboard cutouts appear inside some of the worst looking explosions I've seen since the Nintendo NES.

During the game one of the players (Pujols?) had a rather good hit on a fastball that was really high. Fox producers were prepared ahead of time because they showed a quick video montage of his ability to hit the ball at any height. The problem was that the theme of the montage was "Head and shoulders, knees and toes." Seriously. With crayon graphics highlighting the various positions. They used a freaking children's song to show the prowess of one of today's greatest hitters. And of course, Joe Buck decided to repeat the phrase at least 3 times after the montage as if it were something catchy and cool to say. What the hell was Fox thinking?

And as if it weren't enough that Joe was commentating the game, and handling the ceremonies for the historic achievement award, he was in the commercials as well for a hotel chain! Agh! The only upside to these commericals was that poor Joe had to endure the admiration of his fans while waiting for the elevator or hanging out at the hotel bar. He looked truly uncomfortable. Know you know how I feel every time you open your damn trap, dimplechin!!!

Finally, the only worthy thing Joe managed to say all night was something about "[a player] was going to be a thorn in the side of the Astros". I laughed so hard because all I heard was "thorn in the side of the ass". haha

Update: I just read that Fox Sports has just managed to re-up their contract with the MLB for the next 7 years. I think I'm gonna cry.

ESPN news story

Monday, July 10, 2006

When you care enough to send the very best

A recent IM conversation:

Jason: I was going to tell you sometihing
but I forgot what is was
it was good though, man it was good.

Dan: well, it's the thought that counts

Jason: true

Dan: wait

Friday, July 07, 2006

Faith-O-Meter 9000

I'm pleased to announce my latest invention, the Faith-O-Meter 9000!

"What does this amazing piece of technology do?" I'm so glad you asked. This new device is a special hybrid of science and spirituality that is the result of years of painstaking research by a team of special faith scientists, or as we like to call them "faithitists". With this innovative tool you can instantly determine whether or not you or your loved ones have enough faith to move the hand of God on your behalf. That's right, no more guessing about whether your prayers will be answered, just simply use the Faith-O-Meter 9000 to determine your current faith level and pray away!

Have you ever wanted to pray for sick loved ones? Ask God for that promotion? Need help getting out of a financial jam? Walk on water? Well, now you can! It's all possible with this revolutionary tool that will allow you to change your thinking about faith and how best to convince God to do miracles for you!

Here's how it works. Simply adjust the main dial to the category of prayer you wish to be answered and then point the sensor at yourself or loved one to gauge their current faith level. In what takes just a few microseconds, the display on the Faith-O-Meter 9000 will tell you whether or not that person indeed has enough faith to receive an answer to prayer. It's that simple! What's more, if it indicates that there is insufficient faith for a positive outcome, it will indicate how many hours of prayer and/or fasting will be required to bring up your level of faith to the needed level. (In some cases it may indicate special measures such as meeting with an intercessor team or attending a faith conference.) It also includes a handy chart for converting prayer hours to days of fasting for your convenience! As if that wasn't enough, we also include a database of approved foods and liquids that are not considered "cheating" when fasting.


I used the Faith-O-Meter 9000 to help me find a new job, when I got fired from the last two jobs! Thanks! - Sally

I've already used the FOM9k to help me get a new car, and I'm only a few fast days away from getting that boat! - Joe

When my dog got sick, instead of taking him to the vet I used the FOM9k and after a few weeks he was back to normal and stopped puking all over the floor! Praise God! - Velma

The Faith-O-Meter 9000 can be yours for a charitable donation (to our not-quite-nonprofit organization) of only $199.99!!! Order yours today and watch the miracles come rolling in.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Justin and Kate

Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

And, yea, did the photographer say, "Let there be pictures!" And it was so.

Justin and Kate's wedding pictures are finally up. It was a really fun wedding, even though I spent most of it "working". It's always great to see two good friends fall in love and get married.

We got a little behind schedule on the formal pictures, so the majority of the pictures are actually candids and events. A lot of photographers intentially shoot weddings in a photojournalism style, but this time it was more of a necessity than a conscious decision. In the end, I think I took more pictures of this wedding than any other that I've done before. I think it had more to do with embracing digital rather than just making it about quantity vs. quanitity (although you can't have the latter without the former). Plus, our circle of friends has gained quite the reputation for knowing how to party at a wedding reception, so I didn't dare put my camera down while things were going on.


Saturday, June 03, 2006

Cort & Emily's Wedding Pictures

Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

They're finally here. I spent an evening and an afternoon getting these ready. I blame Cort and his "blemish" for all the extra Photoshop stuff I had to do. Lisa (Josh's wife) took the photos during the ceremony and I am grateful for her help.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Would you say I have a plethora of pictures, Jefe?

Some of you are going to be disappointed, so let me say this up front: I don't have any pictures ready. For those of you still reading, I have a very good excuse for not having them ready. There are just too many! I have about 400+ from Cort's wedding, another 400 or so from Justin and Kate's wedding, as well as another 200 or so from a hiking trip, plus another 500 or so from a whirlwind tour of Washington D.C. I'm guessing I have close to 1,500 pics to go through, and since I insist on shooting RAW, it means going through every single one of them before I can post them. Right now, Cort and Emily's pictures will be up first, followed by Kate and Justin's.

That being said, the last few weeks have been a blast. It was good seeing family again, especially my 3 adorable nieces. I already miss them terribly. The wedding went off rather well, and my only regret was that the wedding was my last night there as I had to say alot of goodbyes on a rather fun night. The following weekend was Justin and Kate's wedding which was also a blast. Anytime our gang gets together to party is a good time, and a wedding just sends us to the stratosphere of enjoyment. My favorite quote of the night: "It's your birthday! I told you I work!" The next morning I picked up Josh at the airport and we immediately started our road trip to D.C.

Our trip was a whirlwind tour of 4 days since we had to spend about 8 hours of driving each way. On Sunday morning we signed up for a bus tour to maximize our time. We're waiting in front of the Hojo and this 80's Dodge Ram van pulls up. The driver asks us if we're there for the tour. I timidly said "yes" hoping he was taking us to the tour bus. After picking up 3 other passengers (Australians on vacation), we realized he WAS the tour, complete with microphone he plugged into the lighter on the dash. As nervous as this made me, it turned out the guy really knew his stuff and took us to every highlight of the city and gave us plenty of time to get out and walk around each monument and attraction. He had it timed rather well, and even got us to Arlington at the exact time they changed the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We started rather early, so I got pics of some monuments like the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam wall without any other tourists to clutter up pictures. He had the tour done by 3, but we weren't done so he left us in the city and told us how to get to the subway back to the hotel. We were so impressed we tipped him $20. We spent the rest of the afternoon in the Air & Space museum. The next day we took a tour of the Capitol building and the Library of Congress. We decided to cut our trip short at that point and head back to Boston so we could relax a bit on Tuesday. We were headed north and when we go to the NJ turnpike the traffic was so clogged we decided to take a slight detour through Philadelphia, which turned out to be a fun distraction compared to driving through boring NJ. We spent the next day at Fenway, starting with lunch at the Beer Works, then taking the tour of Fenway Park. They started batting practice as we were finishing up our view from the Green Monster. We then headed back to the Beer Works for more beer until they opened the park. We then watched the rest of batting practice, and of course the game against the Yankees. (We lost! grrr) There's nothing quite like guys spending the whole day watching baseball and drinking beer.

This last weekend was the weekend the Cali's made their move back to upstate New York. I was sad to see them go, but we did get to celebrate Jeremy finishing law school. I'm still amazed he managed to finish while working a very low paying job and taking care of his family. I spent Sunday and Monday down in RI for BBQ's and such. I would have enjoyed it more, but I think the last few weeks finally caught up with me and I ended up with a cold that's been going around. Tuesday was spent almost entirely in bed. Today I'm feeling better but I'm looking forward to another nap.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Billy Bush spills the beans?

Last night I was watching Access Hollywood during dinner. I don't usually find these kinds of shows interesting, but I saw that they were going to have some pieces on American Idol so I tuned in. They did a thing about Kat's childhood and Taylor's background as well. Nothing on Elliott and I thought that was curious. Then at the end Billy Bush comes on and says something about how sad he was that Elliot was gone. This was shocking because it was only 7:15 and the show hadn't aired yet here on the East Coast. I could understand the slipup had I been on the West Coast. I rewinded it a few times to make sure I understood what he was saying, and I was definitely left with the impression that Elliott had been voted off. OOPS!!!

Which led me to wonder...how secret are those final results that a TV magazine can be prepped and ready to run the story before it's even happened!?

In an amazing turn of events, AI producers decided to show us some numbers this time around, which is something that they usually keep very quiet. I also thought it was pretty amazing that the votes were separated by less than 1%. A lot of people were upset about Chris being voted off, and I think the producers wanted people to see that there was no funny business going on. The voting really is that close this year.

Personally, I still think that Katharine is the better vocalist, but Taylor would also make a great American Idol. I think they'll both probably end up with record deals out of this.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Cort & Emily

Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

Tonight I started looking through all the wedding pictures from Cort & Emily's wedding. I haven't had time to process them all (it's already 1am), and so I picked a personal favorite. I'll add more gradually over the next week or so. Keep checking my flickr pages for updates!

I also included a few pictures I had taken on a hike to Silver Creek Falls. I'll comment more on that later.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Not so geeky post

I received various comments from friends (including one comment here! Hi, Cara!) about my blog post regarding some programming stuff. It's one of the few times that people have told me they were actually reading my blog. Honestly, I had begun to think that no one was reading it at all, so this was more for me than for others. Perhaps I now have a small band of readers, or maybe I just scared them all away. My explanation for writing that was more for the other programmers like me who are stuck on a problem, and can't seem to find a good answer on the Internet, and then just happen to google upon the answer through an obscure little blog like mine. It's happened to me several times now, and so when I find a solution like this, I try to keep up my web-kharma by posting the answer in the hopes that it will keep some other poor programmer from putting his fist through his monitor in frustration. This situation doesn't arise often, thankfully, so I'll try to keep these posts to a minimum, so the rest of you non-geeks can skip right over them without any harm done.

So, I just got back from my vacation to Portland. I spent most of the time with family and a few friends where my schedule allowed. A week always seems too short, and there are always people who get left out of my visit list for various reasons. Do I feel guilty? A little, but I just remember that family is the most important item on the agenda and the rest will just have to deal with it. It's hard enough keeping up relationships with family and close friends, even with modern communications, and with everyone's life changes and moves, some friends get left behind completely. It's sad to know that there are some friends who at one time were very close are God-knows-where and there are plenty of people who are unaware of my life in Boston. It's just another reminder for me that my family members will always be the top priority as they are they people that (I hope) will never be able to grow apart from, even 3000 miles away. The rest are optional and it takes a lot of work to keep up those connections. Without some kind of common bond that transcends the distance, it can be really hard to keep it going. It's also a two-way street in that there are some I'm sure are upset that I haven't kept in touch, but then they've never called or written me either, it can't be completely about me just because I was the one who moved. I'm starting to rant, but I guess I'm just trying to explain my own thoughts and feelings on the difficulties and emotions of people who just aren't there any more, and I'd like to think it isn't entirely "my fault" and that some of it is just life. I'm not too upset about it, and I'd like to think they aren't either (or they'd call me!).

My trip back to Boston was a bit rough. My second flight got delayed by over an hour and I ended up having to take a cab home from the airport to the tune of $60. This was at 2am and the cabby decided that the proper speed on the Mass Pike was only 45 and after being on a plane all day, I just wanted to get home. Even worse, he slowed to 35 when we got on the interstate and I thought for sure I was going to be on the next day's news being pulled from the burnt wreckage of a cab that had been rear-ended by a truck because the cab had been going too slow in the slow lane. I felt pretty ill and got about 3 hours sleep before being woken by a stomach ache. I went to work early to deal with some crisis stuff and felt like a zombie the rest of the day. Next time, I'm scheduling a day off after my trip home. I don't know why I did that to myself.

I am hoping to start working on pictures tonight and I'll post them to my flickr account as I get them done. First up will be pics from Cort & Emily's wedding, followed by some pics from Silver Creek Falls and then miscellaneous family stuff. The brief views I got made me think that I got really good shots of the wedding and the waterfall pics are something I'm really proud of.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Textual Criticism

On the plane ride back to Boston, I read the book "Misquoting Jesus" by Bart D. Ehrman.

Basically, this book points out the fact that we don't have any original manuscripts of the New Testament. The best we have is a bunch of copies of copies of copies, and it takes a really determined scholar to determine what was closest to the original. He discusses how most errors in copies were due to accidents but some were "improvements" made by copyists who thought they were doing the right thing and others were definitely motivated by a spin on their personal doctrine.

The whole concept is completely at odds with the "doctrine" that most Evangelical Christians are familiar with, that the Bible is the "inerrant Word of God", when in reality it is a very human collection of writings. I expected there to be some catastrophic revelation that the Bible was full of terrible mistakes that would undermine my faith. To my surprise, I found myself convinced even more of their validity, but now I am more gaurded against taking some things too literally from the English Bible.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The dreaded SHIFT+SPACE of Datagrids and how to fix it

Anyone familiar with the .NET Datagrid class has probably run across the so-called "feature" where using SHIFT+SPACE selects the entire row. This is especially annoying when typing something like "How do I fix this?" in a text column. The row gets selected and if you manage to keep tying past the "I", you erase everything prior and all you get is "fix this?" Which is something I've been hearing for months from my users.

Today I decided to search once again on the web for a solution and found one on a fellow programmer's blog. He calls it a "dodge", but I think it's an excellent solution.

The Solution

Basically, you're overriding the Datagrid class, and then overriding the ProcessCmdKey method such that you can filter out the SHIFT+SPACE combo. However, I suppose it would be better to actually be able to alter the method that creates this behavior in the first place! Since we can't do that, this is the next best thing.

Just create the class below in your project, and then replace Datagrid objects with DataGridFix objects. You shouldn't need to make any other changes to your project.

using System;
using System.Windows.Forms;
using System.Runtime.InteropServices;

namespace MyProject
/// This class is derived from the DataGrid class so that I can disable the "feature" that selects
/// a row by using SHIFT+SPACE

public class DataGridFix:System.Windows.Forms.DataGrid
// a couple of setup bits
const int WM_KEYDOWN = 256;
public static extern int GetKeyboardState(ref Byte pbKeyState);
public static extern int SetKeyboardState(ref Byte bpKeyState);

// over-ride the 'ProcessCmdKey' method
protected override bool ProcessCmdKey(ref Message msg, Keys keyData)
Keys keyCode = ((Keys)msg.WParam.ToInt32()) & Keys.KeyCode;
if (msg.Msg == WM_KEYDOWN && keyCode == Keys.Space)
if (Control.ModifierKeys == Keys.Shift)
// if the keystate is SHIFT+SPACE, make it just a SPACE
byte[] keystates = new byte[255];
GetKeyboardState(ref keystates[0]);
keystates[16] = 0;
SetKeyboardState(ref keystates[0]);
SendKeys.Send(" ");
return true;
return base.ProcessCmdKey(ref msg, keyData); // let the base method handle everything else as-is

I also need to give credit for the CSS code which make the code above easy to read.

CSS article

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Apology & Vindication

Well, I never would have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself. American Idol opened last night with Ryan proclaiming that tonight would be a show first. Simon was actually going to apologize to one of the contestants for being too harsh. Simon then proceeded to say how sorry he was for being too harsh on Katharine. He said he had watched the tapes after the show and realized that she wasn't that bad. I don't think he actually said it was good, but I think that's the best apology anyone was going to get out of him. Even Randy jumped in there saying they were too harsh and it wasn't that bad.

So, I can't help but wonder if someone, perhaps the show's producers, had a little chat with the judges about their sacred cows, or if the judges had a genuine change of heart. It hardly mattered as far as the votes were concerned, as Katharine was not in the bottom two this week. If she had been, I think it would have been quite the scandal.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

American "Don't sing Whitney" Idol

I've been watching American Idol since the first season. As a musician, there is enough about the show to keep me entertained on a number of levels, including the obvious drama of each week's voteoff. Of course, you gotta take the good with the bad, and there are enough contestants to keep you coming back either for the great performances or the comedy of the delusional.

But for the first time tonight, I actually found myself upset at the judges. After 5 years, I finally have a genuine beef with those idiots who sit behind the table and give their criticism. Yeah, sometimes they say really stupid stuff and you wonder if they were watching the same show. Randy has an ego problem and has no qualms about talking about all the stars he's worked with, and you'd think that would give him some perspective on who's good, but even he gets cranky sometimes and just doesn't like anything. Don't even get me started on Paula Abdul...hell, why not? That no-talent hack was a good dancer but was never a great singer and God knows why or how she landed the role as a singing judge. Yes, we all know she has back pain, but between the drugs and botox she is out of her head and it takes a rare extremely bad performance for her to say anything negative about anyone. Not to mention she is smitten with every good-looking male contestant. And everybody hates Simon. Actually, I find myself agreeing with him more often than not. People say he's rude, and I think he's the only judge who is honest about his appraisals. I would stand up and cheer if just one time he said, "Wow, that sucked." instead of making some terrible comparison to lounge singers and cabarets.

In spite of all that, I can still enjoy the show and for the most part I ignore their comments. But there is one consistent theme this season, and that is that if there is one unforgivable sin a contestant can make, it's to sing a song by Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, or Celine Dion. The judges whine on and on about taking a huge risk in them making a comparison against the original and how the contestant can't possibly measure up to that standard. Well, I call bullshit. This show, by its nature, is one giant karaoke contest, not an original song contest. All of the contestants sing all songs that are unoriginal, and nearly all of these songs have been performed by professionals with great reputations. To single out a song because the original is so lofty is hyprocritical and narrow-minded. It places certain songs on a pedestal such that any contestant foolhardy enough to attempt it is certain to draw the ire of the judges no matter how well they did. Tonight was a prime example of this bad behavior by the judges.

Now before I continue, I will admit to being somewhat biased about what I'm going to say next. I've already gone on record with friends that I predict that Katharine McPhee has the best shot at winning this year, and I'll be really surprised if she doesn't somehow make it to the final 3. I will also admit at being a bit smitten by her great looks, but I think I can say with some objectivity that she has the best voice and the most talent hands-down. So take the rest of this with a grain of salt.

Tonight, Kat gave the performance of a lifetime singing Whitney's "I Have Nothing". Her performance was nearly flawless, full of range and dynamics that truly showed her ability as a singer and a performer. But even during the performance, I could already see the scowls forming on the judges' faces. Randy interrupted the standing ovation because he couldn't wait to tell Kat how much he hated it. He admitted freely, that even before she started that he was "worried" about her doing a Whitney song. Rather than commend her on doing an oustanding job, he told her she could never be as good as Whitney and shouldnt' be singing her song. Positive Paula, the eternal optimist, changed her tune and jumped on the "don't sing Whitney" bandwagon. The only positive thing she could say was that Katherine looked hot. Simon couldn't wait either to make the comparison either, and told her it was a bad choice. They had made up their minds about the performance before the first note was sung. As for the rest of the contestants, they all got some kind of positive feedback, with the exception of Pickler. (She's getting voted off next. Yup, that's my prediction.) The rest ranged from good to great, but had nothing on McPhee's performance, in my opinion. She simply chose to violate the number one rule of American Idol judges, and got ripped a new one on TV because of it.

I hope Americans will see through the obvious contradiction and vote for the best performance and the clear winner from tonight's show. Vote for Katharine McPhee!!!

Maybe we should start calling him Simon "Sacred" Cowell.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Kayaks at night

Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

I took advantage of the clear, warm night after the Red Sox game and got some night photos. Night photography is something that I've been experimenting with ever since I got a digital camera. There's no film to waste, so these tricky exposures are no longer a risk. I just do it until I start to get something I like and learn a lot in the process.

These kayaks are part of rental place in Newton on the Charles river. I've actually been out there before to go boating - it's good times. I was actually hoping for no artificial lighting at all at the pond, but got stuck with the porch light from the house on the docks. The light was actually a good thing as it lit up the colored boats nicely to give this pic some extra zing. Click the picture to see more of them on my flickr account.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Duck Season

I still can't sleep so I've decided to continue my diatribe against Christianese. At least maybe Andrea will get off my back now about not updating my blog. This should at least get her through Friday morning before she emails me again about having seen the entire internet and needing more entertainment from me.

Another Christianese word I've come to loathe is the word "anointing". In Pentecostal circles, this word is used to describe some special spiritual property of a person such that when they are "anointed" they are endowed with God's power beyond normal means. This term is flexible enough to cover many ideas, anything from natural ability to superhuman prowess, but is most often used to describe approval by church leadership. It's that last one that makes me ill. Too often, I have seen the term bandied about to denote someone who has found favor with the pastor or some other church leader. Rather than saying "good job", a lot of hoopla is made about how someone is "anointed" in their "ministry". Even worse, the word is used to promote people who are not the best person for the job, as this is the trump card of spiritual qualifications for ministry. More than likely, they are the only person the pastor could find that was willing to work for a pittance, little gratitude, and with a "I won't rock the boat" attitude. Too often logic and good sense go out the window when this word appears. That's not to say I don't believe in the sovereignty of God or the Holy Spirit in choosing people to do His work. I just think too often it is used as an excuse for a lack of judgment.

One of the problems with this method of church leadership, is that it creates an environment of "haves" and "have nots". If you don't have the anointing, then you don't receive the same affirmation by leadership that the "anointed" receive. The seemingly arbitrary use of the word has led a friend of mine to call it the "duck duck goose" method of church leadership. Everyone sits in a circle trying to be as pious as possible in the hopes that some church leader will tap you on the shoulder and say "Goose!" - er, I mean "anointed!" Some people never get to be geese in these environments, and ultimately it stunts their spiritual growth and hurts the church. It would be better to enable every person to function in the gifts and abilities as God has given them, and thus benefit the whole body of Christ.

All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 1 Cor. 12:11,12

This post brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department

Lately I've been considering things that Christians say that, in my opinion, fall under the category of "Christianese". You know, that stuff that only religious people say and only they know what they are talking about. More and more these kinds of things get on my nerves. It's become so prevalent, that it is expected in Christian circles. Even worse, it seems to add credibility to the speaker when one uses such a turn of words or a phrase. As if using such an arcane dialect somehow makes one more pious or "spiritual" and that certain words grant you an unearthly aura that can only be attained through careful study.

What should be obvious, is that there is a major downside to this kind of speech, and that is that it alienates those who don't speak it! Rather than conveying a clear message of what we are saying, we confuse the listener. At best, the person can guess at your meaning, but at worst, they can be turned off by your rhetoric. Some phrases are worse than others, and I have a few favorites.

The latest one that is bothering me is the term "intercessory prayer". This term has become rather popular lately in Pentecostal circles, spawning new meetings, clubs, and even conferences. It's a freakin' movement. I'm all for prayer, but I wish they'd stop calling it that name. Again, it's a gimmick that seems to add greater meaning or weight by adding the two words together, when in fact, it is no more special than just "prayer". The users of this phrase are trying to create a distinction between intercessory prayer and vanilla prayer, as if the former is somehow more credible or powerful. In my opinion, the phrase is redundant. "Intercession" is the act of pleading with one person on another person's behalf. Isn't that what prayer is? The act of going before God and asking for his favor on someone's behalf? Even if that person is yourself? Somehow, this phrase implies that there are other kinds of prayer. If there are kinds of prayer that don't involve some type of intercession, then what does that look like?

It might seem to you I'm picking at semantics, and I'll admit I am somewhat. This is actually one of the lesser offenders. Perhaps I'll talk more soon about some of the more egregious examples.

Cherry Blossoms

2005_14_04 021
Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

I took this pic while on a walk with Mom through some cherry trees in Vancouver, WA. I've been taking pictures of these trees for several years, and I think I have shots of every season. Some are unscanned film, so I'm not sure if they'll make it up here, but these were definitely worth sharing!

I blame insomnia

I've always been a night owl. Probably since my early teens, I've been the type who stays up later than everyone else. I used to save my homework for late hours, simply to have something to do. During the summers, I would typically stay up until 2 or 3 am and sleep until 10 or 11. I can still do this on the weekends, although it takes me a little longer to recover.

Then there's nights like this one. I was tired all day long, feeling like I hadn't slept enough. I couldn't wait to get home and just take a nap. I slept for about a half hour and woke up still feeling groggy. But now, it's after 2am and I am still wide awake. Around 1 I gave up trying to sleep and decided I might as well do something. I'm currently uploading more pics to my flickr account. I'm finding that I've taken a lot of pictures that are just crap. Some are interesting to me and family because of the people, but the rest are just crap. It's a good thing I don't have to pay for film anymore. I'll make another post when they're done. Hey, good timing! They're done!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Cloisters, NYC

Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

I've updated my flickr pages with photos that I took in NYC last spring at the Cloisters. This is a separate campus, but part of the Met Museum of Art which showcases Medieval art. Most of the rooms, including the walls, tiles, and stonework were taken from buildings in Europe and reassembled here to create the Museum itself. Located in Fort Tryant park, it's a cool place to visit on a spring day!

The Cloisters web site

If March goes out like a lamb, then why is April so fierce?

There's the old saying, "If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb." And vice versa. So what does it mean when March was relatively mild and during the last week we got temps as high as the low 70's, only to have snow the first week of April?

Yes, you heard me right. It was snowing on my way to work this morning. It's not quite cold enough to stick, but it was coming down hard in big fluffy flakes. As I was leaving my house, I heard the sound of bagpipes droning "Amazing Grace". The catholic church across the street was holding yet another funeral. I think there's one there at least once a week. Between the snow, bagpipes, and the churchbell, it made for a rather somber beginning to my day. I certainly hope that's not an omen of how the rest of the day will go.

Update: It's almost noon and the snow doesn't show signs of stopping. I took a picture with my cameraphone looking out the office window.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Rob & Angie, March 11, 2006

Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

I finally got around to processing the pics from Rob & Angie's wedding. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

NYC Part 2

Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

I've added more pictures to my flickr account from my NYC vacation with my parents. In this installment, you'll see a TON of pics of the Statue of Liberty. The first few photos are kind of unusual in that you will see the viewing area devoid of people because we managed to catch the first ferry over to the island that day.

A treasure is found

Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

I was so close to buying a new piano last week. But I happened to make one last check on craigslist for a piano I've been searching for for the last year or so. Lo and behold, there was the object of my quest, in amazing condition, a mere 8 miles from my home. I went to see it in person and could not have been more impressed with its condition. I made arrangements that night to pay the guy as soon as possible (thanks Dad!) and picked it up the next day. You can follow the link in the pic above for more pics.

The Yamaha CP70 is a stage piano that was sold in the late 70's and early 80's. It was used primarily for concerts and tours where a full size piano was too impractical. It would be years before synthesizers could replace these, but they were eventually obsoleted. Finding one without battle scars (like this one) from constant touring is a rare thing indeed. The reason why it is considered "portable" is because the piano disassembles into two halves. The bottom half holds the keys and hammers, and the top half holds the harp section and electronics. The top half is slightly heavier than the bottom half at around 110lbs. This is manageable by two people but not something I'd want to move solo.

The piano is like an acoustic electric guitar, in that it plays real strings but uses electronics to pick up the acoustic sounds. Instead of a mic or two, each string has a piezo pickup kind of like an electric guitar. The sound is definitely like a real piano. The strings are much shorter than even console pianos, but the electronics make up for the loss of volume and sustain. It's no baby grand, but you can't put a baby grand in your van and take it to a show.

I'm getting it tuned this Thursday, and according to what I've read, it should hold its tune fairly well even after being moved, as long as the harp section isn't subjected to a lot of banging around or vibration. It hasn't been tuned in over 3 years, so it sounds rather twangy at the moment.

You've probably heard this piano without realizing it. The band "Keane" currently uses this piano in all their songs on the debut album. U2 featured the piano in several of their songs, most prominently in "New Years Day".

Monday, February 20, 2006

Baby's got a new pair of shoes

Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

This weekend I gave my ride some TLC. On Saturday, I changed the brake pads on the front. I had a little phone coaching from Cort, but did all the work myself. Except when I needed to bleed the brake lines, and managed to find a neighbor to push the brake pedal for me. What should have taken about 2 hours took about 3.5, but I blame the fact that it was about 20 degrees out and I had a rather primitive jack for the heavy lifting. New England rust is a pain. On one of the brakes I couldn't remove the pins so I had to dismantle the caliper (hence, the need to bleed the brake line). But I feel good about accomplishing something like that, even if it is a simple job.

Today I got new tires. I've been riding on a spare for about a year and a half (it's a long story) and I finally found the tires I needed at Costco and got a great deal. They're an odd size, so just the fact that they had them in stock was a big deal. I just took her down to the car wash and got these pics. Not bad for 10 years and 150k miles.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

All Give Some - Some Give All

On Friday morning, I attended the funeral service of Matthew Bertolino, a Marine who was stationed in Afghanistan. (See links below for more info.) Matthew was the younger brother of one of the young ladies where I work. Having a brother who also served in the Marine Corps gave us something in common, and sometimes stories to share and talk about. My brother never served in a combat zone, but I could relate to her sharing somewhat about fearing that your brother whom you spent your whole life growing up with, could suddenly be taken away from you. On Monday she got the dreaded call that everyone hoped would never come.

It's always tragic to lose a family member, but especially one so young. No parent should ever have to bury their child, and to lose a sibling at that age is like having a piece of yourself torn from you. I can only begin to imagine what that must be like and my heart goes out to his family.

It also reminds me of how much I need to take advantage of the time I do have with family and friends. Being 3,000 miles away from most of them is a hard thing, and I visit as often as I can and call at least one family member daily. God forbid that they should ever think I love them any less because I am so far away.

Funerals by nature are emotional events. A military funeral with full honors is something that is hard to convey without sounding trite. The absolute precision and care that the Marines gave to every detail was an honor befitting royalty. You've probably seen it in the movies, but nothing can perpare you for the perfect dichotomy of pride and ultimate sorrow conveyed in the proceedings. Even after hearing the officer shout, "Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for the salute!" the guns made me jump so raw was my emotional state. I don't think I've ever heard or seen anything so heartbreaking - the bugler playing "taps" while his family sobbed and leaned on each other.

I never got to meet Matthew, but seeing the love and emotion poured out during that service moved me deeply. By the end, I counted him as a brother and wished I could have met him. It would have been an honor.

Rest in peace, Matthew. And thank you for giving everything for us.

News Story from WMUR with Video
News Story from the Concord Monitor
News Story from the Union Leader

P.S. As inappropriate as it sounds, I couldn't but help notice I'm in the newsvideo in that first link, just for a moment.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I Hate Valentine's Day

I Hate Valentine's Day
by Jewel

Valentine's Day
Wish I had a sweetheart
It's Valentine's Day
Didn't even get a stinkin' card
It's Valentine's Day
I just have to say
I hate Valentine's Day

It's Valentine's Day
And I didn't get no chocolate
It's Valentine's Day
If I had a heart I'd hock it
It's Valentine's Day
All I have to say
I hate Valentine's Day

It's Valentine's Day
And I hope it finds you healthy
It's Valentine's Day
I'm glad your stinkin' girlfriend's wealthy
It's Valentine's Day
I just love to say
I hate f***in' Valentine's Day

Monday, February 13, 2006

Blizzard '06

Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

Well, I survived the blizzard OK. My town got about 10" but there were places that got a lot more. Sunday night after things had settled down the landlords decided they wanted to plow the lot. So, I had to dig out my car in the dark and cold, but it meant I didn't have to do it this morning to get to work (as you can see in the pic). I took the opportunity to run down to Wendy's rather than eat more leftovers. I also found a couple of empty parking lots and did the mandatory cookies until I was dizzy.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Picture Update: NYC

Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

I've included a new album set from my last big trip to New York City from the summer of '04 with my parents. This is only the first half of them - more to come!

The Breakers

Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

This is a set of pictures I took the summer of '04 at Newport, RI. Most of the pics are from The Breakers mansion. I didn't take a single picture inside, but I went nuts with the architecture outside.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Is Bono a man of faith?

Christians have been quick to judge U2 for decades for the rock-n-roll lifestyle, and some would deny that the band members share faith in Christ as Believers. I've read a lot on the subject, but there is nothing more telling than a direct quote. So, here it is, straight from the book, "Bono in Conversations...", which is a good read, whether you are a U2 fan or not.

MA: As I told you, I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?

B: Yes, I think that’s normal. It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

MA: I haven’t heard you talk about that.

B: I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

MA: Well, that doesn’t make it clearer for me.

B: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics – in physical laws – every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the Universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “As you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

MA: I’d be interested to hear that.

B: That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep shit. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

MA: The son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.

B: But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says, “Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions.” The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled. It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of Heaven.

MA: That’s a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has the rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God isn’t that farfetched?

B: No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of the other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammed, Buddha, or Confucious. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says, “No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying, ‘I’m the Messiah.’ I’m saying, ‘I’m God incarnate.’” And people say, “No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the ‘M’ word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you.” And he goes, “No, no. I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah.” At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says, “Oh, my God, he’s gonna keep saying this.” So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He was – the Messiah – or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase one the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we’ve been talking about earlier. [Religious terrorists/martyrs] This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had “King of the Jews” on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the cross, was going, “OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it.” I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that’s farfetched…

Friday, February 03, 2006

Bono on Tithing

I just finished reading the transcript to Bono's speech at the National Prayer Breakfast this past week.

I find it interesting that it takes a self-proclaimed "rock star" to point out to Christians that the purpose of giving and tithing is for performing social justice, and it's NOT ABOUT US. God is more concerned about the poor, the orphan, the widow, the sick, those in prison, those who have real needs, than he is about what percentage we give or how we might be blessed because of our giving.

Arguing about how much to tithe or when/if you do it is missing the point. God wants us to be the means of changing a world that is in need.

I think the best example of this in the Bible is in Acts 10. God answered the prayers of a Roman Centurion because he used his power and wealth to provide for the poor. It was because of his giving (not his tithing!), that God used him as the first Gentile family to become Christians. We have Cornelius to thank for bringing the Gospel to the non-Jewish world.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Amazing Discoveries

CRW_1218 (1)
Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

One of the cool things about joining flickr is that I've been going through all my pics from the last 2.5 years and finding gems like this one. Some of these pictures I probably viewed once and never looked at them again. Now I have a way to share them with everyone, so I'm going to continue to delve into my archives to bring you more like this one. I've added a few dozen pictures today, and I'm still back in June of '04, so there's lots more to come. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

New Stuff

I had to go back to a simpler layout because the "neater" one had layout issues.

I've also included that new fangled picture thing on the right that links to my Flickr photos. It's a pretty cool web site that lets you store as many pictures as you like for free, with some upload restrictions on the free version. I went ahead and upgraded to "pro" for cheap so that I can basically do anything with it. It's pretty awesome. I threw in a few artsy pics and decided to give it the trial by fire by uploading most of my pics from Christmas.

Multnomah_Falls 043

Multnomah_Falls 043
Originally uploaded by Dan Bailiff.

Taken in July of '05. Hiked the Multnomah Falls area with Mom. Climbed 1000 vertical feet on the hike to get here.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Climbing Mt. Everest in your pajamas

I chose an occupation, that to this day, sometimes intimidates me. I grew up with a Dad who was a do-it-yourself-er for freaking everything. He had enough brains and chutzpah to tackle any project, whether it be completely rebuilding a car engine or building an addition to his house. He grew up in a relatively poor family and just learned his can-do attitude out of necessity. Alot of that attitude rubbed off onto me. I think my career choice had alot to do with the satisfaction of doing something yourself, and making something really useful out of scraps of material and the sweat of your brow. Only I chose the more "intellectual" route and build all my castles in the virtual land of computers. I'm a software engineer.

I now work for a market research company, which is not quite like a marketing company where people are trying to create new ideas to sell stuff. No, it's more like rocket science, except instead of rockets we use statistics to tell our customers what they think they really want in a product or service. The math is enough to make your head swim, and I took enough math in college as a C.S. major such that only math majors had taken more than I did. My last class was in statistics and I remember walking away from the final vowing to forget all I could because I thought "Hey, I'm going to make cool web sites, not study a bunch of boring numbers." Kharma, Fate, or whatever took issue with that statement, because now I do nothing but write statistical analysis software so the marketing analysts don't have to worry about how the math works and they can just push a button.

That was all a setup to how I'm feeling today. I got handed the latest project, and the background info given to me was a stack of technical white papers thick enough to cause someone back trouble from carrying it around. The first of which is titled "Fast Polyhedral Adaptive Conjoint Estimation", and it was written by four PhD's at MIT and UCLA. Oh, and the goal here is to write some software that does all this stuff. Luckily, the hardest part (the math) has already been coded and I just have to figure out an easy way to present this stuff to a marketing analyst so that it's a useful tool. Still, I can't help but feel at times like this that I've just been roused from bed, I'm still in my pajamas, some guy hands me a map and a canteen and tells me to go climb Mt. Everest. Right...

So many of life's problems seem that way to me sometimes. Then I look back at all the personal mountains in my life that I've climbed and it gives me the confidence to start on the next one.

At the very least I have enough reading material to ensure I get to sleep at night for about the next 3 months...

Trusting God

A friend of mine emailed me this snippet from someone's blog. I don't know where it came from, so I can't give proper credit. However, it got me to thinking about how often people misunderstand the concept of "trusting God".

I am struggling right now. I am wrestling with something that has seem to become the predominate factor in my life. Apparently through all of my 'training' I have picked up this bad habit of thinking that God is a God of reason. I constantly try to understand God. I try to relate to Him through the avenue of my intellect. A relationship with God is NOT an intellectual journey. It does involve your intellect, but only as a secondary mechanism to enhance your experience and better value God and His choices for your life. Not as a way to follow Him or get to know Him.
O. Chambers 'The hindrance is that I will not trust God, but only my mental understanding.' Well, what happens when you don't have any mental understanding? You end up so confused and your faith is so shaky, because you don't 'get it.' Our faith and trust in God must be found in a relational way that remains solid with and without intellectual understanding or emotional persuasion. God does not come to us and attempt to convince us of the way to go in such a way that the reason overwhelms us and we KNOW that that is the way to go. No, He comes to us and whispers to us what we need to do. Our choice is then to follow that or remain safe, secure, bored and frustrated with our lives, because we don't UNDERSTAND.

My response:

I suppose it's somewhat arrogant of me to say I know a thing or two about faith and trusting God. But I can't help but cringe when people start throwing around the term "trusting God" like it's some kind of magical solution for their problems. What does that term mean to you? Is it just some Christian thing we say to sound pious? Or is it just mysticism camoflauged as devotion?

If I say God told me to do X, then I have reason to trust God to help me accomplish X. Or if God promised me something, then I can trust Him to fulfill that promise. That's faith in action. Read Romans 4. And that's consistent with reason and good thinking. Why? Because even when we can't understand the circumstances, we can understand and reason that God is capable of doing what He said He would do. However, if you are going through a hard time, and all you can think of to do is "trust God", then what exactly are you trusting Him for? Yes, this does seem antithetical to reason and good thinking, and that's because it fails even to use good common sense about assigning responsibility to your own actions and how to face adversity. If we are going through hard times because of our own actions and failure to make good decisions, are we simply going to "trust God" to get us out of our mess?

And I disagree with the idea that trusting God is antithetical to positive emotions. In fact, it is my trust in God to do what He said that buoys my emotions through difficult times. Without that hope and trust, I would be an emotional wreck!! Also, when God tells me to do what I know is right, that doesn't make me feel awful, it makes me feel good, and that is positive emotional persuasion. I can be encouraged by others in Christ to do the right things and trust God and that is positive emotional persuasion. I find the idea of emotional detachment from spirituality a disturbing perspective in modern Christianity. The Psalms are reinforcement of the idea that emotions enhance our spirituality. More than once David tells his soul (emotions) to rejoice in the knowledge (reason) of the things that God has done for him already and the things He will do for him. How can you then say trusting in God should involve neither?

I think too often evangelical/charismatic Christians get too spooky about understanding how to "trust God" and reduce it to some kind of magical formula that is written in Christianese. Too often the formula doesn't work and it's because it fails to give God the credit for being an intellectual, reasoning, and emotional God who created humans in his likeness: intellectual, reasoning, and emotional beings capable of making good decisions about who He is and what He wants in our lives.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Passion vs. Comfort

A friend of mine had an interesting conversation with one of her girlfriends about the differences between passion and comfort in a relationship and whether or not they coexist. Below is a transcript of our email conversation (with names removed to protect the guilty!). I've since thought about it more, but I don't have the time to refine it at the moment, so here it is in all its rawness!

So i had a pretty interesting discussion with my friend, {removed}, last night. She's married and we were talking about relationships that are passionate and relationships that are just comfortable and natural. She said that she thinks that it will always be one or the other...and there really isn't such thing as having a relationship that's both naturally comfortable and passionate. She talked about how she wasn't really attracted to her husband at all...but got to know him and fell in love with who he was...but there's never been passion.
It's a conversation that i haven't been able to shake. Any thoughts?

My response:

I guess it depends on how you define "passion"? If you mean fiery explosions, clothes-ripping, I must have you or die, kind of passion...I personally think that seeking that kind of excitement as the primary purpose or goal of a relationship is self-destructive. You might get it sometimes, but it's unsustainable in the long run. It's temporary at best. After the explosions, then what? It's like when people get married just for the sex, what do they do with the other 23.5 hours of the day?

pas·sion n.
  1. A powerful emotion, such as love, joy, hatred, or anger.
    1. Ardent love.
    2. Strong sexual desire; lust.
    3. The object of such love or desire.
    1. Boundless enthusiasm: His skills as a player don't quite match his passion for the game.
    2. The object of such enthusiasm: Soccer is her passion.

If we define it in the first way, then it's much easier to think of your feelings as being passionate for someone. If she really loves him, isn't that passion? If by saying she had no passion, that she never had feelings of "strong sexual desire" - ever - then I suppose that could be a real issue. There are many women who are still happily married without it.

I think it also depends on your personality. Some people are happier being comfortable, and other people just can't sit still and get bored with comfortable. I think the more "passionate" personality will find it harder to find someone of similar tastes and they will find it even harder to keep things going than a couple who has to learn to spice things up occassionally.

They say half of sex is mental. I think the same is even truer for passion. In fact, I'd say it's ALL mental. How you think or feel about the other person defines your passion. If you truly love someone, it's much easier to be passionate towards them. Love is more than a feeling, it's also a choice. In that sense, I think you have some control over your own passions. If you never feel passionate about someone or something you love, then it's up to you to change it, or do like most people do and question whether they really "love" the person or not. I think that's where people confuse the feelings vs. choice part of love.

Do I think you can be comfortable and passionate at the same time?

Maybe it depends on how you define "comfortable"!!! hahaha Sorry I'm playing with words here, but I think it's worth exploring. If you mean that a person is truly at ease and feels safe in a relationship, then yes I think both can happen. If you mean comfortable as in "good enough to keep me from being single and alone and unhappy" then, yeah, they could seem exclusive. Passion shouldn't have to feel like you're risking the relationship for it to be passionate. Passion is an expression of a desire for someone, the need for some kind of fulfillment. If fulfilling that need (feeding your passion) makes you comfortable, wouldn't that be counterproductive to having passion? The only way to have passion then would be to never fulfill the desire. I think that's why people find stories like Romeo & Juliet so intriguing. Yes, they did have passion, but their passion was never fulfilled. Had they not died, would they have still had passion? I think that people's perception of it is this kind of thinking where the passion only really works if there's some risk or danger of failure. To me, that seems a rather unfulfilling kind of lifestyle that leaves you empty just searching for the next rush of passion.

Just in my short time with {removed}, I never got tired of kissing her. Maybe we hadn't been going out that long, but it seemed strange to me that my own passion was renewed every time, and it never got boring. But I could tell when her passion ended, and it was because mentally she was already thinking about how to break up with me. :-P

I'm starting to ramble now. Guys and girls maybe different, but I still say it's a mental game you play with yourself. You have some control over your own passions by the choices you make.

First Post

This is the new home of my blog, "All Things Considered". In it I will talk about stuff. Excited yet?