Tuesday, November 1, 2011

InventioN!

I invented breaded curry french sticks!

They taste like fish sticks but are made of potato!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Kids, God, and cakes that look like mashed potatoes

Why I love kids: reason #1

Little kids are so easy to please. If you make them a cake, they will shout for joy, even if the cake looks like a mashed potato. If you sing them a song, they will say you have the most beautiful voice in the world. If you draw them a picture, they will smile and show everyone what you drew for them. 

And then they grow up.

And then they learn about being "perfect."

And then they become parents, and they sing off-key and make mashed potato disaster cakes and draw stick people for their own children. Unlike their happy children, however, they get frustrated with themselves because they can't do anything perfectly, because nothing they do is good enough to impress anyone but their own children.

There's something wrong with that. There's something really tragic about that life.

I might be going out on a limb here, but I think God is like a kid. I think that God is happy when we do anything for him, even if it's out-of-tune or misshapen or looks like a Picasso without the genius. I think that, like our children, God receives all sincere gifts joyfully. He doesn't judge our offerings based on some objective scale or some abstract concept of perfection. Rather, he loves every offering with a sincere heart. 

So what does that mean for today? It means that when you go do something for your family or your friends because you love them, it is a perfect gift. It's not perfect in an abstract, idealistic way, but it's perfect in the way that really matters. It's perfect because your heart is sincere. 

Giving gifts isn't about impressing people. It's about showing love, and showing love requires nothing more than a sincere heart and a little time.

When you, a mother that is actually working 25 hours a day, or you, a single twenty-something who has been wearing the same pair of shoes for three years because you don't have any money, brings a lumpy casserole to your church potluck, do you think that God loves you less than your neighbor that brings a lumpy casserole and a side of rolls? God doesn't compare and receive. God is like a child with undivided attention (i promise it can happen). He receives each gift individually, and rejoices in the sincere gift. 



Perfection isn't a measure of who makes the best food or who hosts the best parties or who has the most well-behaved children or who has the brightest smile. Perfection is between you and the person you're giving to, and it's a test of the sincerity of your heart.



Now here's a story, because I believe this, and because this is what gives me joy in life.

By the world's standards, I am a below-average musician. I know rhythm and scales and chords, sure, but I don't have much technical skill. Still, I love music and I love playing. At some point, I realized that  I knew enough to play for others in a way that could make them smile. So I started. I learned some silly songs and wrote others, and I played when the opportunity arose. Now, I can't stress enough that these songs were performed pretty badly, despite my practice. But here's what happened:

One day I was strumming a chord progression when my niece came up and started singing along. Within a few minutes we had created a new song and she was absolutely beaming. It was pretty terrible by the world's standards, but she couldn't have been happier. We later performed it for the family around a campfire.

At my wedding reception, I played a song that I secretly learned for my wife. It was a song that she loved, and I saved it as a surprise. In the middle of the song I forgot the words completely. I strummed and strummed but nothing came! I skipped the verse and moved on. As I played I couldn't look too much at my wife, not because I was embarrassed, but because she was crying and I knew I wouldn't be able to finish singing if I looked too much in her loving eyes.

At that wedding reception I also played a duet with my wife, and the two of us played a song with a small group of friends and family to close the night. All of the songs were performed with flaws. And yet, speaking of that night, my father, holding back tears, told me how much he was touched by the music, because there was so much love in it. 

Each of us can make another person happy, no matter how crummy our talents. The real measure of perfection is not found in comparison. It's found in your heart, and it's received with joy. God knows it, kids know it, and hopefully we will know it too. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Now, one year later...

It's not uncommon to be swept away by a new album, but new albums often lose their appeal after a few good listens. How many of us have bought a new lp based on some good reviews and a few catchy singles, only to discover a month later that the album was just a novelty, and like too much sugar, any further indulgence makes you puke? With that in mind, I think a better way to measure the quality of an album is its staying power. After a month of listening, how do you feel about it? How about six months? Twelve? Heaven forbid you listen to an album longer than a year!

It's 2011. What albums from last year are you still listening to? Hopefully there is at least one album in your that made it past the holiday season.

Here's my list of albums from last year that I still listen to pretty regularly.

From least to most:

10. She & Him - Volume Two (a good one to listen to with the mrs.)
9. Joanna Newsom - Have One on Me
8. Surfer Blood - Astro Coast (sometimes you just need some good surf rock!)
7. Beach House - Teen Dream (this would be higher on the list, but I don't actually own it. I do stream it pretty often though.)
6. Sufjan Stevens - Age of Adz
5. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
4. The National - High Violet (early in 2011 this would have been #1 or #2, but then I got less moody and got married)
3. Vampire Weekend - Contra (my wife likes this album a lot. we listen to it quite a bit.)
2. Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest (i have often left this album in my car for a week at a time.)
1. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening (seriously, I can't get enough of LCD Soundsystem.)

There probably aren't too many surprises here. It's kinda a list of essential hipster albums of last year (minus Kanye and Big Boi, probably). If you've missed out on any of these albums, however, I highly recommend them. Buying last years albums is also not a bad choice if you have a used record store nearby; people often trade them in for the new releases. Don't count on being able to find really popular albums used, though. Good luck ever finding a copy of Merriweather Post Pavillion used in Utah.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Experiment in Dance-Punk

I was home alone tonight and I needed a break from studying, so I made this short sample. What do you think?

1&2 by drummermlw

I might extend it to be a whole song, and if I do I'll probably give it some real lyrics.

Maybe.

I really just want a good dance beat.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Resolution

no more planning
no more thinking
no more philosophizing
no more wishing

without doing.





no more rationalizing
no more justifying
no more excuses
no more extenuating circumstance
no more exceptions

period.

Friday, April 29, 2011

questions: people and things

There are so many amazing people that work hard and give meaningful contributions to the world, and I have been inspired by so many of them. Writers, musicians, philosophers, theologians, historians and others throughout the ages have given me so much and continue to shape my perceptions and understanding of the world. Their works excite and enlighten and lead me to wonder -- will I ever contribute in such a way?

The irony of it all is that the act of producing such a work might not itself be the source of fulfillment. Could it be that making those works is not life, but rather the reflections and philosophies of a life well-lived? Behind the subject of every painting and the thesis of every paper is a creator who lives a human life. Their works give us more insight into the human condition, but what is the relationship between the life and fulfillment of the creator and the work they produce? Does living a good life require one to philosophize and produce some great insight? If not, why do I feel the urge to create something that will be of value to mankind? Is it a matter of pride and validation, or is it something more noble? Is this feeling general? Does the creation and nurturing of a family satisfy these needs?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Viva La Science

Hey guys. I made another song. This one is a rant from a scientist who's work was thwarted by scientific revolution.

Viva La Science by drummermlw

Monday, March 21, 2011

Searching for reality

This entry is a reflection on the phenomenology of Dorothy Smith, who focused on the dichotomy of concrete and abstract realities. Smith, writing in the 1960's, argued that women resided in the concrete world and men in the abstract, and because of this, the standpoint of women reflected true reality. It is a misreading of Smith to say that women have a superior essence; her argument is rooted in the dichotomy of the abstract and the concrete, not inherent gender differences.


Dorothy says there's no place like home.


Why can we not just live in the world of the abstract? Why is it important to be connected to the concrete world in some way? Is there really such a divide? Where does that divide fall? What is the concrete world, anyway? Will Dorothy and Toto ever make it back home to Kansas? The answer to the last question is yes. I'll try to address some of the others.... now.

I have often felt annoyed by the dichotomy of the abstract and the concrete and the dominant role that the abstract holds in the world today. Sometimes I feel that life would be the most enjoyable if I could just live in the concrete world and be a sustenance farmer, but usually these feelings are replaced by a sense of responsibility to 1) use the gifts and opportunities I've received and become a leader and 2) choose a life course that will enable me and my family to function easily in today's modern world. My reasons are not important. I share my feelings to point out that by feeling this way, I recognize that the ideas and disciplines that govern the world really are abstract, as Dorothy Smith argued. To be the man I want to be, engaging in abstract dialogue seems to be a necessary part. I suppose this idea is debatable, but I have yet to find a satisfactory alternative.

Accepting the existence of an abstract reality (ha, please notice the irony) and its supremacy in social and economic power does not eliminate our dependence on the concrete world, however. Not only do I feel a strong desire to be connected with the world in which I live, but I also find it necessary to sustain life. Looking past mere survival though, why else might we feel inclined to be more united with the “real” world of the concrete? Why do I feel that strong desire? I would suggest that one reason might be the different effects that abstract and concrete worlds have on people and their relations.

To engage in a dialogue in the abstract world requires training. It is inherently exclusive. Practicing law, for example, requires an undergraduate education, a law school education, and certification to practice law in a given state. Anyone can represent themselves in a court of law, but to do so effectively requires special training, and to do so professionally in behalf of another absolutely requires it. As students of the abstract progress further and deeper in their field of study, they find themselves increasingly alienated from those who do not reside in the same region of abstract space. If they travel far enough, they will find themselves utterly alone, speaking a language of one. Off in the distance they may see friends with whom they had once shared a common space, but they will see that these friends have also forged their own divergent paths leading to equally isolating spaces. Such is the phenomenon of Mathematicians who are unable to communicate with other mathematicians who reside in different areas of the “same” field.

In contrast to the abstract world, the world of the concrete is inherently inclusive and edifying. Feeding another person; caring for another's wounds; dressing a child; all of these actions belong in the real world, and are inherently for people. Real people. I do not believe it is coincidence that one of the most basic and successful social gatherings is a shared meal. In the act of eating together we find universal common ground. Diet restrictions aside, when we eat together we recognize that each of us are alike in that we need food to live and we find the experience pleasurable. Likewise, things like food or clothes are some of the most common gifts because of their universal applicability. Everyone is a partaker of these things in some form or another.

Though there is admittedly some abstract influence in the way we live in the concrete world, the final product or result is always something appreciated and understandable to all. I do not know all of the knowledge necessary for the construction of a well-designed and stable house, but I can still appreciate the finished product. As someone who lives in a house, I find relevance in the discipline of home-building. It includes me. This home fulfills a need, a need that most would argue to be universal.

In summary, the divide between abstract and concrete is a divide between alienation and edification. Things that alienate are abstract, and things that relate to people in a physical way are concrete. Though abstract occupying spaces does not necessarily prevent our social interaction, it is its inherent nature to be exclusive in some way and necessarily excludes to someone. The extent of its exclusiveness depends on its distance from the concrete world and its distance from common abstract space. Concrete things, in addition to satisfying the demands of survival, have greater potential to fulfill social needs and desires because of their universality and thus, inherent inclusiveness. Like Dorothy said, there is, quite literally, no place like home.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Egg

http://galactanet.com/oneoff/theegg_mod.html

This short story has apparently been circulating around the internet for some time, but I just came across it thanks to a friend. Finding things like this renew my faith in modern technology and its capacity to disseminate meaningful information to the masses. It reminds me that there are more results of modernism than just consumerism and empty distractions.

While I don't agree with all the ideas the story presents, there are some real gems in the dialog that are worth pondering.

How would you treat others, if every other person were you? Love thy neighbor as thyself? It's the old axiom with a dramatic new perspective. I like it.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Jamaican Friends

What's the best way to spend a Sunday evening? I don't know, but making silly reggae beats with a friend is a pretty good option.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Rocks

rocky
rockin'
rock solid
rock bottom
rock n' roll
on the rocks
between a rock and a hard place
rock a bye baby
under a rock
to be rocked
rock the boat
off one's rocker
rock one socks off

it's language, it's not rock(et) science.