So long, Spring break

March 23, 2008 at 10:22 pm (Day to Day)

As expected, Caleb, D.J., and I went up to the city on Friday. And as expected, we went by Al’s Bike Shop on Main Street in Norman. I ended up only spending $10 on tubes. I am definitely a bike newbie so walking into a bike shop with seasoned veterans just hanging out is a little bit intimidating. It reminded me a little bit of High Fidelity, only with bicycles instead of music. There was even a wise-cracking Jack Black character that probably makes fun of people as soon as they leave, “ha, the Shimano 105 group stacks up worse than a couple of…”(can’t think of anything). After talking to the sales guy for a few minutes and explaining the dilemma, I just wheeled my front tire in and had him take a look. Very sarcastically, he said that I only needed a new tube. Despite his perceived snobbishness, he installed the tube and aired of the tire without charging me any labor. I bought another tube for my rear tire and left.

We then went to Bath, Body, and Beyond. I am unsure of which order, however. Caleb was screaming like a schoolgirl. This is his kind of place. I bought a $2 tea infuser for loose leaf tea, AND a moo cow LED key chain that cost just as much.  Barnes and Nobles is in the same shopping area. We walked in, and I screamed like a schoolgirl. After looking for a book on Masters Theory and coming up disappointed, I settled for a book on snobbery and a book on vampires since I am strangely connected to both. It was actually my own version of March Madness. I started out with two books and asked D.J., “would you rather read this book or this book…” This went on for a good fifteen minutes until I finally decided. There was a consolation book on string theory. It worked out well because D.J. ended up buying it. As soon as he bought it I innocently asked, “Can I borrow that sometime?” That’s so inconspicuous. Caleb ended up buying an audio lecture about the Crusades. We listened to a couple of lectures the rest of the trip. I was actually a little bit disappointed with it. For a guy who is top of the field and teaches a top tier university, he didn’t say anything I didn’t learn in my history of Islam or modern Middle-East class. We then drove two minutes to my Norman tradition of Charleston’s. This time D.J. screamed like a schoolgirl—if a schoolgirl sounded like Jabba the Hut.

We made it to Guitar Center in OKC with no problems. It was packed with eleven year old prodigies. It made D.J. feel inadequate to have an eleven year old kid with a mullet absolutely rock. Caleb bought an Elton John book, D.J. bought a how-to book for the guitar, and I did some remixing of Vanessa Hudgens (of High School Musical…) in the d.j. section. D.J. (the Gandy, not the jockey) is convinced he is going to buy a Gibson Les Paul by the end of the summer. This is about a $2000 guitar. It’s not that I don’t have faith, but I expect him to give up on the guitar in about two weeks. He is more impulsive than I am. Fortunately he is using a borrowed guitar and hasn’t had to sink money into it yet.  We walked around Penn Square Mall for a bit before going home. Caleb buying a new wallet from Dillard’s was the highlight from that, while D.J. and I made fun at him for buying a $35 piece of material that holds money.

I got home and quickly got started trying to figure my bike out. I immediately regretted not taking my rear wheel to Al’s. It would have done in five minutes what took me almost two hours. I could not for the life of me get the rear tire off the wheel. After some internet sloothing, I went to Wal-Mart and bought some tire levers. I was surprised they actually had them, in quite a surplus in the bike section. I bought two sets of two for the inevitable time I loose one. It took forever to pry the tire off the wheel. It wasn’t a matter of figuring it out as much as it was me not taking a jackhammer to it because it was being so stubborn. After some finagling, it popped off, I inserted the tube, and spent the next twenty minutes trying to get the damn thing back on. Using tire levers was not recommended, as it could damage the tube. I used the tire levers. The next problem I faced was a lack of tire pump. I had one before but apparently lost it. I went back to Wal-Mart to buy the pump, went home, pumped up the tire, and danced in victory. Take that, powers that be! Everything worked out well, and I actually wrote to D.J.’s, where he, Lee, and I watched part of American Gangster before everybody got too tired to finish it.

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Mid-Spring Break update

March 21, 2008 at 12:47 am (Day to Day)

The Perfect Blend has become a place of “other friends”. It just so happens that the same group of people just happen to be there every time I am there. We have formed our own coffee shop group and are even discussing going on tour as a dance troupe. The Coffee Quartet perhaps? It consists of the esteemed Dr. Jonathan, the very artsy and overly cynical Zach, and one of the funniest men on earth, Russ. Jonathan works there so we conveniently show up whenever we know he has a shift to work. It’s either this or take the chance of looking Melody in the eye for a split second and ending up in a fifteen minute conversation in which you say literally nothing. I expect coffee for my $.74, not the latest church gossip surrounding the ambiguously-gendered parishioner. I have my own church for nonsense like that. Anyways, we eat wings together on a lot of Thursday nights and have a pretty good time. I am still not completely in with them. I have my on days and off days. Russ only has on days it seems, Jon always has an opinion about something, which usually starts with “…and two, I believe…”, and Zach can have a conversation about anything. Regardless, it’s a very fun group to be around.

D.J., Caleb, and I are going to the city tomorrow. I hope to swing by Al’s Bike Shop in Norman and pick up new tired for my Motobecane. This is the same bike that attracts bad Mexican drivers to fly through intersections and hit me. It was almost two years ago to the day that incident occurred. Had I been hurt it would have only been mildly funny instead of hilarious. I took the front wheel off my bike in order for them to have a good look and decide exactly what I need. Hopefully I will only need new tubes, saving me money that would otherwise be spend on a new set of tires. There is also the possibility of the store being closed since it is Good Friday. D.J. wants to go to Guitar Center after getting the impulsive idea of picking of the guitar. I tried reasoning with him to borrow a friend’s $100 piece of crap guitar made with genuine synthetic plywood imported directly from somewhere in Communist China. His reasoning is that he’ll be more likely to stick with if he buys an expensive guitar. This is also the same person who dropped $300 on an Ipod Nano, Nike shoes, and the Ipod chip that is inserted into the shoes to show running stats. That lasted about three weeks by the way. I knew from the beginning that he is the kind of person who has to have his impulsion quenched, but I tried reasoning with anyways. Oh well, Guitar Center should be fun, and we’ll probably have other fun while we’re up there.

My Facebook note was received a little hostilely by D.J.s dad. It was mean to be a polite response, and he and Kathy have both been way too concerned by my a Calvinist. That’s why they were tagged. Instead of them trying to understand me a little better, it slightly upset them and got D.J. in a little bit of trouble for mentioning a comment they made about me. I don’t think they are mad, only a little irritated. It wasn’t supposed to be defensive, only a little bit poignant and not directed at them. A few people have asked me about it in the last few weeks.

I want to go camping over the weekend…alone. It could end up with me being in some crappy horror-movie situation. The killer is ironically somebody from my past I would never expect (the hitchhiker from my Colorado trip two years ago?) come to teach me a lesson I’LL NEVER FORGET!” Little did he know I learned from the Home Alone kid (no, not how to properly smoke pot [he got busted a few years back]), and I set up traps that eventually lead to his doom. Anyways, it’s a thought. This is the first Spring break I have not gone on some extravagant trip so I’d like to do something.

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A Loving God?

March 21, 2008 at 12:45 am (Day to Day)

For reasons beyond my immediate —perhaps God’s providence?—I have been hit with more anti-Calvinistic criticisms both directly and indirectly. Fortunately it has not been done hostilely, which makes this a lot easier to write. Since my response is not hostile it would be nice for a few people who disagree with me to respond. I have developed thick skin over the years. Calvinism is only one of the less pervasive ideas I defend but the most volatile among all of the usual cohorts. This is easily explained because it is dealing with my view of God, a very volatile subject indeed. By the very act of dissenting from the common view of free will, it is assumed that I have insidious intentions. I’m not sure why. Because I am “B” and not “A” does not mean I am trying to destroy “A”. I disagree with “A”, I will debate that “B” is correct, but I do not think “A” is a bad person. This has caused and underlying enmity and even antipathy in the past. I could probably expect the same reaction if I was staunchly defending string theory among very hard line biologists.

Soteriology, and most theology in general, is a subject I have avoided for good reason among all the usual suspects. It doesn’t bother me to get people riled up over something as innocuous as politics because the consequences of differing opinions aren’t very evident; they are usually just words that accompany a wry, smug smile. My problem lately is that I am being very misunderstood in what I believe. Material assumptions are made about me due to non-material ideals. Being called cynical because I point out most marriages end in divorce doesn’t bother me; being called cynical because I believe God sovereignly declares salvation does, however. The reason is because it is complete misconception of what I believe. It is creating a straw man of my beliefs and then beating it to death. Calvinism, like any systematic theology (Arminianism definitely included), is a very complex system of thought, making it unrealistic to write exactly what I believe, with sufficient answers, in an acceptable timeframe; besides, most people are not bored enough to read it. So this will be very esoteric. I am not writing this with defense in mind; I am writing it with explanation in mind. I believe what I believe. I am a Christian with hard Calvinist tendencies. I think I am right, but I know I can be wrong. I am writing this short piece so people can understand that I am not a heartless monster that is too stubborn to read the Bible for what it is worth. Those who disagree with me will disagree with my presuppositions, which is expected, but this is being written for the sake of clarifying the consistency of the system of thought itself and consistency with the very basic tenets of Christianity.  I am addressing the issue in this way because the argument usually starts with “IF Calvinism is true…” So I will be arguing in the same manner.

Within the past two weeks there has been literally five people who have asked a very good question surrounding Calvinism, a question that makes a very good argument by focusing on the wrong “point” of Calvinism. The question is in some form, “how can a loving, just God predestine some for heaven while overlooking others?”  This is a question that is in response to Unconditional election, the second point of Calvinism. I don’t argue with the definition of unconditional election. God chose those human beings who are predestined to life before the foundation of the world, in accordance with his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will. God chose them in Christ for eternal glory, solely out of his free grace and love, without anything in the creature as a condition or cause moving him to choose them. I do believe that God predestines some for heaven, while overlooking others. The emphasis people place on unconditional election is that they believe it is God acting arbitrarily and unnecessarily. It is unreasonable, and unloving, that God determine salvation in this manner because our free will is sufficient enough to let us choose him. The error exists because people focus too much on the mere fact the predestination exists instead of asking the “why, Rob, oh believer and apologist of inferior and meany-face theology, does predestination exist?” I would first point out that the idea of predestination is very biblical (Rom. 8:29-30, Eph. 1), and that arguing over its existence makes me uneasy in the first place. We should be arguing on how we are predestined (according to God‘s foreknowledge of our acceptance [classical Arminianism] or unconditionally upon God’s sovereign will [Calvinism]. For the same of my own conscious, I’ll go ahead and falsely assume it is semantics, and we are arguing over the how. Unconditional election, under Calvinism, exists out of necessity over our depraved and sinful nature. This is what I believe regarding man‘s nature, summed up beautiful from the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith:

God created Adam upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law which secured life for him while he kept it, but threatened death if he broke it. Yet Adam did not live long in this position of honor. Satan used the subtlety of the serpent to subdue Eve, she seduced Adam, and Adam (without any compulsion) willfully transgressed the law of their creation and the command given to them by eating the forbidden fruit. God was pleased to permit this act, according to his wise and holy counsel, as it was his purpose to direct it toward his own glory.

By this sin our first parents fell from their original righteousness and communion with God. We fell in them, for by it death came upon all; all became dead in sin and totally defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.

By God’s appointment, they were the root, standing in the place of the whole human race. The guilt of this sin was imputed to, and their corrupted nature passed on to all their posterity by ordinary birth. Their descendants are therefore conceived in sin, and are by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death and all other miseries—spiritual, temporal, and eternal—unless the Lord Jesus sets them free.

All actual transgressions proceed from this original corruption. By it we are completely incapacitated and disabled, antagonistic to all good and entirely biased towards evil.

During this life, this corruption of nature remains in those who are regenerated. Although it is pardoned and put to death through Christ, yet both this corrupt nature and all its actions are truly and actually sin.

OR the three point Rob version:

1. By the default of being born the progeny of Adam, man is sinful.
2. This sin is universal and all-encompassing of our nature, our will.
3. It is so great that we cannot choose God on our own accord.

I do believe that man has a free will, but free does not mean it does not have limitations. I would love to be able to fly, but I cannot; I am limited in my ability. I do not have wings, for example, or a propeller. I also can’t think of enough happy thoughts to make me go Peter-Pan style. I am free  to do everything within my ability, but my ability does not allow me to fly. In the same way, I believe that sinful man is limited in his ability to choose God. His will is free, albeit corrupted. Due to this free will, the will tainted by sin, man will only choose sin. He does not choose God because he cannot choose God.

John 8:47  “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Romans 3:10-18: “…as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Rom 8:5-8: “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

If we were left to our own free will, heaven would be a lonely place with humanity excluded. Our freewill would choose only sin, and only sin will not lead to God. I do not think anybody would consider choosing salvation a bad thing but is indeed a good thing. For us to choose this spiritually good thing, would be to act contrary to our nature (Rom. 8:8); therefore, it has to be of God. Somewhere, man has to choose good, choose Jesus Christ, choose salvation. Our totally depraved nature (the “T” in the TULIP acronym) will cause us to choose evil, reject salvation, accept separation from God. Man is unable to choose God. Therefore, in love, not sadism, God predestines salvation. Go into the issue of who God chooses, and why he does not choose everybody is not the point of this, but I am well acquainted with the argument. Who can come to God? John 6:44  “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” “Can” implies ability, not permission. There is a contingency for man to come to Christ. That contingency is God drawing them. Those that God draws, Christ raises up on the last day.  The fact that not everybody is saved is enough to make that argument irrelevant, however, since all who are drawn are all raised up. My point is to show that the very fact that predestination exists is not evil, but in fact a very loving act.

What is the state of man? Christians remember Ephesians 2 mostly for verse 8—our salvation is not a work, but an act of grace. The beginning of Eph. 2 explains why the grace is necessary, why our works are unacceptable to God. Eph. 2:8 is the effect, the synthesis. We need to know why. Eph 2: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience– among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Man is not “struggling” in his sins, he is not “drowning” in his sins; he is dead. Salvation is Christ reviving us from our sinful nature. Dead people don’t choose Christ, unless they are no longer dead. In his grace, Christ chose us. Predestination, again, is necessary.

When God converts sinners and transfers them into the state of grace, he frees them from their natural bondage to sin, and by his grace alone he enables them freely to will and to do what is spiritually good. Nevertheless, because of their remaining corruption, they do not perfectly nor exclusively will what is good, but also will what is evil. John 8:36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Col 1:13  “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

When looked at unconditional election in the context of the depraved nature of man’s will, it is NOT cynical, but in fact optimistic. The crux all of Calvinism relies on (apart from the Bible) is not unconditional election, for unconditional election is the how, not the why of salvation. The crux of Calvinism, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance of the saints is that man’s will is dead in sin, unable to be moved on his own accord, and forever separated from God. It is easy for people who have a problem with Calvinism to get stuck on the predestining part and not the total depravity part. A total libertarian free will is such an assumption in Western culture that in an entire system of theology, it is what will stick out the most. IF Calvinism is true, therefore, God is loving for predestining some for heaven. I may tackle the issue of why some are elected and others are not if it becomes necessary.

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One step closer to D&D

March 17, 2008 at 10:06 am (Day to Day)

I am really started cultivating my nerdiness this week by picking up the first of Isaac Asimov’s famous Foundations Trilogy, Foundation. I have always had an aversion towards science fiction, but I think it is mostly credited towards me reading or hearing about bad science fiction. Good science fiction is like making a wife out of an American girl. Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land is one of my favorite books, as is another of his, Job: A Comedy of Justice. Even though those two books blew my mind—more the former—he wrote some pretty terrible science fiction. I checked out of book of short stories he wrote and concluded that the paper it was printed on would serve the exact same purpose by picking up animal droppings—either way, it would have crap all over it. Isaac Asimov consistently came up on top Sci-fi lists on the internet. I’m only seventy-five pages in, but the “science” is so interesting. What grabs me about books like this is that the fact that the universe is completely unreal and doesn’t make sense in juxtaposition to reality, but everything remains consistent throughout the fictional universe. It’s to the point that I can say, “that makes sense” or “that doesn’t make sense.” The first book is pretty short, only 230 pages, especially when compared to Heinlein’s.

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Times a changin’

March 9, 2008 at 1:43 am (Day to Day)

It is Spring forward after all…

Some highlights of the past week:

I went to Norman Monday night with Caleb and D.J. Caleb had an appointment with his counselor so D.J. and I tagged along. We ate a Tai Raja’s, which ended with me getting a t-shirt which coincidentally says, “I love Tai Raja’s”. The employee who gave it to me had a smile on her face as she handed it over and said, “Appy birfday!” Nobody told them it was my birthday beforehand, most likely because it was not. Instead of explaining I wanted the shirt out of sheer ridiculousness and not a happy-birthday-to-me present, I smiled graciously and thanked her. Dad went to work and dropped the kids off at the pool (dad=Caleb, kids=D.J. plus Rob, pool=mall). As soon as we passed a watch repair store, I remembered I needed a new battery installed. While that was getting taken care of, D.J. and I went to the smoking store. We felt a little bit out of place among the $30 cigars and $1100 pens. I was very tempted to buy a flask, however, and fill it with water. It would be quite a sight I’m sure to take it out in class and have a swig of water disguised as vodka. There was no price tag on it, but given that it was in a case full of very expensive smoking accessories (I am not sure when pens became a smoking accessory…) I decided not to inquire. I did manage to get into a smoking conversation with one of the employees. We discussed pipes and how they are once again in vogue. I let him know that I’m starting to polish my pogs up since it’s only a matter of time. The watch people had problems putting the back onto my watch. The new battery worked fine. I guess her specialty is taking watches apart, not putting them back together. She didn’t charge me for the battery at least. I should have been suspicious from the start when she opened up a trench coat and offered me fake Rolexes right next to black market babies. I’ll get it fixed here in town when I get the chance. It started snowing on our way back, which worried me since I had work in the morning. Joe let me know I could come in late if I needed to.

I absolutely hate Tuesday’s. I work in the morning, have some classes, and then work as soon as I get out of class for about ten hours. Tuesday is the busiest night doughnut-making wise, and my coworker is a little bit slow. I put in fourteen hours this particular Tuesday; that’s the majority of the day! Speaking of work, two employees are no longer in the already-small pool of doughnut jokey’s—the assistant manager and her husband. I don’t even know the details yet; Joe just texted me that she walked out during the rush Friday morning and her husband with her. I have always thought she was a little neurotic (to the point of making me laugh) but I did not expect a walkout.

I talked to Dr. Robertson about counseling stuff. Not necessarily ECU’s, just counseling programs in general. Although I have already taken the GRE, she told me about another exam, the Millers-Analogy Test. As its name suggests, it deals with analogies. My GRE score was pretty good (could be better though), but I could potentially do very well on a test like this.

Carissa and I got to hang out off and on throughout the week, which was nice. We had a bit of a heart-to-heart on Friday that lasted a while.

I am trying to be less inwardly focused right now. I am not sad right now, but a lot of my sadness comes about when I am too inwardly focused and not outwardly. I have been getting my introversion on the past few weeks. It has been getting pretty addictive not having to think about other people. I don’t know if I can be outwardly focused while spending a lot of time by myself. At the very least, maybe I can at least not be inwardly focused. I once read that extroverted people have higher rates of happiness than the more introverted. I believe this is due to not being deeply connected to a community. Depression is gaining ground in America, and I believe it is largely due to this.

I won a little, lost a little, won a little this week in poker. I came out enough on top just to keep things in perspective. I think I am done with poker for now. I had my phase, my kick, and it’s time to give up dirty money. The fancy rings and pretty ladies are nice, but so is have people not refer to me as C-Nasty (my poker moniker).

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Robbie Seay

March 2, 2008 at 3:39 pm (Day to Day)

A group went to a Robbie Seay concert last night at The Door in Dallas. I was actually lured in by promises of seeing Matt Chandler before the concert. Robbie Seay was an afterthought. We were going to leave at around two, just in time to go to Chandler’s church (The Village) at five. The first problem occurred when a few of the people didn’t show up until two fifteen, only to go to Sonic to get food. The girl half of our fifteen (or so) person group was having some of their own problems, making it inconceivable for us to leave early enough to go to The Village. I had already scheduled myself to be gone for the day so I thought I might be missing out on some fun if I stayed in town. Everybody showed up, and we left a little bit after three. The drive down their was a blast. Other than Jesse Coffee and Michaela (Michaela was in the other car anyways), I didn’t know anybody else well. Most of the people go to Trinity. It was just us being guys, making jokes and having fun—the way guys get to know each other and interact. We ate at Rudy’s BBQ in Denton. We predicted the girls would react poorly since they were following us, making us the shot callers. They complained about not getting a say in the matter, while enjoying themselves on the BBQ. That reminded me of my basset hound, Tulip. As long as she thought something was her idea, I could get her to do anything. The girls liked the decision of eating at Rudy’s; they just wanted to think it was at least partially their idea. The day was so beautiful we sat on the patio at the big boy table. I’m pretty sure it was the table Paul Bunyan would sit at. I had a BBQ turkey sandwich. I don’t know why I bought it since turkey is not a particularly favorite of mine. It was probably the fact that I only eat it at Thanksgiving and Christmas, making it seem like a novelty. It was just as I remembered it to be, dry. I still wolfed it down. In order to get the taste of dry turkey out of my mouth, I decided I had better eat another sandwich. This time it was spicy chopped beef, and it was delicious.

We got to The Door right before the first band started playing. The parking lot Nazi held us up since our land yacht wasn’t precisely parallel with the yellow lines. Jared, backed up and went forward about five times before just moving to another end of the parking lot. The venue was nostalgic looking, for no other reason than it painted completely black, and their was a bar towards the back (ironically, it became a no alcohol venue but decided to keep the stocked bar). We sat at a table towards the front and hung out until the first band started. I don’t remember their name, other than it had three words to it. I thought the drummer was very creative but the overall sound wasn’t my favorite. The lead singer of the second band, Sparrow Fly, looked like Jesse Turp. only about fifty pounds heavier. Since Jesse weighs about 130, this guy still looked skinny. The guy’s facial hair was even the same. Michaela got a picture with the guy after the set as a souvenir. Despite the very creepy resemblance, the sound was too generic for me. The next band was the Rob Wilson Band. I was a big fan of the guy. His voice reminded me slightly of Claudio’s from Coheed and Cambria. The band’s sound was very tight, with the bass player being especially impressive. Jill Paquette was next. It was just an acoustic guitar. That’s all that was needed because her lyrics were so amazing. She is probably most appealing to the angsty college girl, but she is an amazing songwriter for everybody. She also had a very dry, sarcastic wit, which was shown through her lyrics and her commentary. The Robbie Seay Band was excellent. They did about a one hour set and made it easy to have a good time.

The going home part was a lot harder than the getting to Dallas part. Despite Jeff’s fancy GPS to help Jerrod drive, we got lost a few times and ended up taking H75 back to Ada. The girls apparently knew where they were going and told us to piss off as they went their own way home, beating us back by a whopping fifteen minutes. We got back at three thirty in the morning. Jesse Coffee, Jerrod, and Josh had to be up in just hours to get ready for worship at Trinity. I drove to work to check my schedule and was very unhappy at what starred back at me. I was scheduled to work Sunday night from 4:30-12:30, Monday morning from 5:00-9:00, Monday evening from 1:00-9:00, Tuesday morning from 5:00-9:00, and Tuesday evening from 1:00-9:00. That thirty-two hours. I agreed to switch shifts with a co-worker (who happens to be the husband of the assistant manager and creator of schedules) before I left for Dallas. I was going to trade my Monday afternoon shift with him and take his Sunday shift. I got both instead. I immediately texted Joe with the problem. The schedule reflected to me that he had no idea what was going on because there is no way he would approve a schedule like that. I wasn’t wanting to wake him, but he replied at four a.m. telling me he would deal with it. As of now, he did indeed deal with it. The assistant manager was just hoping I wouldn’t mind or notice the discrepancy. While it was dealt with, I’m still very irritated by the lack of respect.

From Friday to Friday I won $624 playing poker. That is roughly two weeks pay if I was working about thirty hours a week. Joe is well aware that I am winning so much and has even hinted to me that I quit the doughnut business if I keep it up. Nothing yet, but if I have over $2000 dollars in pure poker winnings this time next month, I will probably take his advice. He did send me a hilarious text message Wednesday night after I texted him about winning a big pot:

“I am worried about you and your new self indulgent anti-Christian lifestyle; littered with drugs, alcohol, prostitution, and dirty money. Gambling is the creation of Satan and is designed to systematically suck you in. Come see me and I’ll give you the opportunity to actually work for your money and feel good about the fruits of your effort.”

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The odds of me being broke by 25

February 23, 2008 at 5:39 pm (Day to Day)

D.J. and I played some poker last night. It was the first time I have played in a few months. Ideally, I’d much rather play in $5 home games that go to the casino and end up smelling like a walking advertisement for Marlboro (they’re so smooth and mild. Buy Marboro). Unfortunately we have not been able to get a game together the last few times we tried so we were off to pay our respects to the Lakota. Joe inspired me to play by telling me some of his poker stories from the previous two nights—a home game Thursday, and the casino on Wednesday. He has long maintained that I should give up my lucrative career as a doughnut chef and play small stakes poker semi-professionally. I have considered it, but the lack of security and the precarious nature of the game have caused me to shy away from the game. Still, playing every now and then is fun. The game was $1/$2 no-limit hold’em, minimum buy-in was $50, $200 max. I bought in for $75. The table was full, and I ended up waiting for about fifteen minutes before getting to play. I used the time to explain proper table etiquette to D.J. since he has never played at a casino before. I also made myself aware of everybody’s chip count, betting habits, and playing habits (lose, tight). When I got to the table, it didn’t take me too long to get acclimated. After a few hands, I got a delicious A-J and limped in under the gun (mistake). There were a few more callers, and the flop came A, J, rag. I bet $5, got one caller, with the other two folding. The turn came 2. I bet $10, he folded. I assumed he had a J-rag. He turned up a jack and through it into the muck, reassuring me. A few hands later, I got a creative-looking 8-7 of diamonds. There are three things I take into consideration when determining the playability of a hand pre-flop: high-card strength, suitedness, connectedness. Typically I want two of the three factors met in order to play. The odds of winning with 8-7 suited are low, but the low odds of winning have to be stacked up against the value of winning, the typically low cost to play (it’s an easy hand to get away from when you don’t hit), and the pot/implied odds. The flop hit 9-6-queen with two diamonds, giving me both a straight and flush draw. My odds to hit the flush are roughly 2:1 and my odds of hitting the straight are roughly 2.2:1. I am looking at potentially 15 outs. The odds of making either a straight or flush by the end of the hand are 1:1.2 (making me the favorite). Pot odds dictate I play the hand through. I was under the gun and bet $10. There were two callers. The next card did not hit, making my odds diminish. The player sitting next to me made a very unhappy face when the card hit. I had no clue what the other player had, but I bet it anyways. The grumpy-faced player folded, as well as the other, giving me the pot.  I won a few more hands, walking away with $132 more than I started with. Poor D.J. on the other hand lost the $50 he started with.

I texted Joe in triumph. He responded by demanding 20% for what he called a “good advice fee”. I thought about the possibilities how hard it would be to make enough money to quit my job. If I made on average $50 a day, that would be $350/week, $1400/month, which is a considerate amount more than what I am making now. I let it slip through my mind as quickly as it came.

Last week was not the best week in terms of test grades. I had two tests last Friday, social psychology and physical anthropology. I had only missed one class in social psychology and thought I had a good handle on the material. I had very thorough notes but neglected to study them for any longer than ten minutes before the test. That was a bad idea because I ended up making a C on the test. As soon as the test was over, I looked over my notes, taking all of ten seconds for me to realize I messed up bad. Bentel’s tests are typically hard, but I did very well on them last semester, luring me into a false sense of security. I whipped
out my notes for anthropology since I had only an hour before test time. I missed a lot of days for that class but did a good job studying. A lot of answers to the test questions were implied by knowing other facts and making inferences. Still, I only made a B on the test. Both tests frustrated me since Bentel only gives three tests, making it nearly impossible for me to make an A in the classes.

Work was made a lot easier. Joe has decided to move the shifts and slightly stagger them. I will come in at one in the afternoon, with the second person coming it at three. This will get me out by nine, the other by (ideally). This will allow more sleep and the ability to work the next morning if needed. This past week was terrible in terms of schedule. I worked 25 hours, but I had to work Monday morning from 5-9, only to come back from 4:30-12:30. My schedule didn’t allow for any naps, unfortunately. My first class T-R is at 9:30, not allow for too much sleep because I had homework I had to work on before going to bed Monday night. I had to work Tuesday night, the busiest night in terms of doughnut production. We didn’t get out until about 2:00, and I had class at 10:00 Wednesday morning. I zombied through my classes and then went home to sleep the rest of the day. Anyways, this new schedule should help me out quite a bit. The lack of sleep has been one of the main reasons I have been wanting to quit for the past few weeks. This should alleviate that problem. This is until my career into poker stardom takes off.

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Reality check

February 14, 2008 at 2:00 am (Day to Day)

Does it ever seem that people don’t…exist(?) until you really start knowing them? There are so many people that I come into contact with every day that I treat almost as “objects” that happen to be interacting. I see simple, common patterns that are an axiom of humanity. Everybody notices these patterns. You go into McDonalds, “welcome to McDonalds, how may I help you?” So I treat them like I would a vending machine. They do not exist, they do not have a life; they are only there to fulfill their duties of the job. They are the job to me. It’s not always this heartless, though. I try to flash my goofy looking smile to most people I happen to come across, just in passing, on campus. This is out of cordiality for people I don’t even know exist in essence. I was at the Perfect Blend earlier tonight ordering coffee when it hit me that this girl has a story. It was when I saw her reading a book that I actually realized that she is exactly like me in the sense of her humanity: she has desires, she interacts and communicates with people, she texts, she smiles, she has stories, she reads books, she listens to music. That blew my mind that there are six billion people who, like me, are human. D.J. was with me and knows her well enough to talk to her. I found out she is graduating in December and is even thinking about the Peace Corps. By hearing that little bit, she became human to me; she became more than a vending machine but had a personality and a mind and thoughts and feelings. I immediately started wondering what kinds of books she liked to read, what kind of music she listened to, what her opinions on the presidential race were, if she had been or currently was in love. Granted, I projected more humanity on her than I knew from five minutes, but she still became exactly like me. My interaction with a lot of girls like her is restricted to meaningless flirting. That is predictable behavior from a guy and is not an attribute of humanity. Pretty girls like her have probably heard a lot of the same stuff from guys coming her way. As a donut jokey, I certainly have, not so much as flirtation but a common conversation is, “I know these are bad for me but they are so good!” “Oh no! They’re fat free and sugar free. We make them with Splenda.” And we both laugh, but it isn’t real. They aren’t a person to me, and I am not a person to them; it is a situation of customer/employee. This person might be going through a divorce, but I don’t know. If they told me, they would be human to me, and we would be equals. Everybody has some kind of history! This doesn’t even make me happy, only sad. If I become sad at times, my friends become sad at times, there is an entire world that is sad at times.

This made me start thinking about myself. I wonder if I am a situation, not a person. I know how to make people laugh—this is repetitive behavior; everybody seems to have a formula on how to get them to laugh. I know how to make people think I am deep/funny/insightful/religious/charming/saint/sinner/etc. These are all just situations. I can get girls to like me without knowing hardly a thing about me, without knowing my family’s background, without knowing my ambitions and desires, without knowing I play piano, without knowing  I could develop a formula on how to be generally well-received by peers without having one drop in the bucket of humanity. It’s unfortunate because I am a well of emotion. The only problem is that I have dried up. Maybe it’s because I am so introverted while trying to put up a good front. Everything I am swells up internally, and I have a hard time extroverting anything but a formula for whatever end I am trying to produce. Every end is situation. I don’t want a girlfriend, but I am sometimes a good flirt. I have brief, intense friendships that fizzle out when they should go deeper. Again, I just don’t know how to make who I am on the inside the person seen on the outside. Surely this is a problem a lot of people face. It isn’t as though I am shallow on the outside and care too much about what others think. That has never been the case. While I can pander to other peoples’ expectations, I don’t think I have been seen as the guy who is passive and agreeable.

The end. I am tired.

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Boring Monday…minus some

February 11, 2008 at 7:51 pm (Day to Day)

I am sitting at the BSU, watching and listening to eight people laugh and have a good time. I have ear buds on with Sigur Ros’ Takk album playing louder than anybody else‘s voice can talk. Everything seems…infinite when set to the tune of Sigur Ros. Everything should have at least a hint of Sigur Ros ambiance in the background.

I was able to successfully end about ¾ of all girl drama. The remaining ¼ will just have to burn itself out. I am getting way too good at “having talks” with people, and they happen way too frequently.

The Journal is going to run my article, “Saving Darfur isn’t Sexy”. Thanks, Scott for the eye-catching title. I already have another article in mind, a satire on pretentious, indy culture and how it puts itself at opposition towards everything not pretentious and indy. Being on the edge of that culture, and knowing a lot of people fully immersed in it, it makes it fairly easy to point things that are satire-worthy without personally insulting myself. So, speaking of pretentious-indo culture, I was working on ways to increase my credibility as a pretentio. That’s when I started reading some Robert Frost poems. I have to be honest, I absolutely hate poetry and no amount of people telling me what a Good Read™ is can change my mind. Poetry is lyrics with no music, and I have a hard enough time liking music when I have to pay attention to lyrics. So poetry is everything I hate most about music. I can appreciate good poetry and understand what makes it good, but that doesn’t make me enjoy it anymore. I also don’t like sunsets though; they kill the day.

Yet again, I am thinking of new, post-graduate careers. Going to seminary and getting a degree in Biblical counseling is starting to catch my eye. Here’s some sociologizing; most majors have patterns of the kind of student that enters the program; English majors typically come from middle and upper middle class backgrounds and have higher-than-average intelligence. Teachers and nurses are typically working-middle class (job security). Social workers are typically the same. Criminal justice majors either have it run in their family or have had a run-in with the law themselves. Anyways, these are just example. Considering my background and the always-precarious family situations, it could have been predicted that I would counseling or social work—the type of people who want to fix their own world and background by helping other people. It’s nothing but projection. I would like to work in the church in some fashion but not as a pastor. Counseling could allow for that.

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Ash Wednesday and then some

February 7, 2008 at 1:07 am (Day to Day)

I celebrated Ash Wednesday by being sick and sleeping most of the day after class let out. Sniffles aside, isn’t that the best way to start out the season that is meant to be about spiritual preparation for Easter? It is through the discipline of prayer, fasting, sacrifice, and meeting the needs of others that we prepare to remember Christ‘s sacrifice and our own baptism during Easter. I read a great Lenten sermon a few years ago by Pope Leo the Great (c. 5th century). I was having a hard time truly understanding the significance Lent as nothing more than a menial time of giving up something that has very little significance anyways. I was also having a hard time reconciling Lent in light of Matthew 6 (private fasting, prayer). This sermon helped me understand that Lent is spiritual preparation through physical suffering (mortification of the flesh). While there is a very wrong way to fast, as pointed out by Matthew 6 and Isaiah 58:3-4 —Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.—but the right way to go through this period is to heed the words of Calvin, “The greater your weakness is in yourself, so much the more the Lord assists you.” and more importantly Christ himself in John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branch, he who abides in me and I in him will bear much fruit. For apart from me, you are nothing.” Chant that over and over and see the effect it has on you, “Apart from Christ, I am nothing, apart from Christ, I am nothing, apart from Christ, I am nothing…”

My idea last year was to give up running. I know, “come on, Rob skillet, isn’t running physical TORTURE? Isn’t it a lost harder TO run than to give it up?” I abandoned the idea because I was running in the OKC Memorial Marathon, and training is bit important. I am entered again this year, but I am going to abandon my efforts and take the next forty days off in preparation for Easter. Running has become something I am just little bit psychologically addicted to: the endorphins, the overwhelming feeling of reaching a goal, the physical fitness, et al. It has become a second-nature habit. Work ran (get it, I’m punny…) late last night, and the first thing I did when I got home was take a quick three-mile run. I was sick and sore all over. my breathing sounded like the breathing of an asthmatic who has smoked since the second trimester. This is how most of my days end. The time gained from not running will be spent various ways, though I haven’t completely worked that detail out.

I learned something this week—girls are territorial. No, they don’t pee on you, but they do get jealous of each other even if they’re friends and you are just friends with both of them. I am no fan of this. I have not had girly problems in a very long time, and I haven’t had girly drama in an even longer time. So here’s the situation: Charissa and me, not a thing. We were never a thing, and other than the “what if” of just getting to know her, there was never much of a romantic attraction to her. Her attraction to me lasted longer than I knew, but if our talk a few weeks ago is any indication, that has passed. Charissa and I, friends, and that is it. She has been irritating to me lately, questioning if I like anybody. If I mention a girl, she inquires. It gets to the point of being ridiculous. The other day I mentioned a girl in my class in passing, and she asked. She is even more adamant with people she does know, namely our proud BSU big wig (no, not the other Rob) and president. They are both friends and get along great. It’s not that big of a deal, but the other day Jhenna and I were walking from Z-tree lunch back to the BSU when out of nowhere she hits me with, “Is our friendship better than your’s and Charissa’s?” That was a bombshell, and I sidestepped the question, responding with, “well, I’m different kinds of friends with different people; it’s usually based on a level of comfort. I am more comfortable with you than I am Charissa.” That halfway answered her question and placated the situation. The truth is, while I am more comfortable with Jhenna, I made a big effort last semester to get to know Charissa. If I had even the slightest problem, I would tell Charissa about it so she could feel “involved” in my life since that is what she wanted. Yes, a little bit sneaky and perhaps it even sounds calculated, but I didn’t get anything better out of it; it was for her sake. That question really bothered me, however, because it was something she had apparently thought about enough to ask. Out of all the girls I have told Charissa I don’t like, she specifically mentioned that Jhenna wouldn’t be good for me. She didn’t even ask if I liked Jhenna; she just let me know that she was bad for me.

The above paragraph was a tribute to the eighth grade. The thing is, I gave Jhenna a couple of mix CD’s and have been paying more attention to her than usual since this semester started. She is a friend; we do have done some non-BSU activities, and I think we actually “get” each other. I really don’t know how healthy relationships are supposed to work, so I am not looking for one. Maybe I am primed to very dramatic relationships and am conditioned to seek that out. In my social psychology class, I have learned the very practical heuristic of “Priming”— social situations that trigger memories, cause us to feel the same way as when the memory happened. I am having to consciously ignore my subconscious since my memory and feelings about relationships are a bit dramatic. Charissa and I haven’t been talking as much, but it has been very pleasant lately. I can safely go on Facebook again, and my phone isn’t filled with messages from her. In fact, she has verbally stated she has a crush on somebody else. Things are well, other than this slight nuisance.

I am having to change the spellings of peoples’ names for a two reasons: their protection (I have done this before) and mine from getting chewed out.

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