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?