Friday, April 29, 2011

it's been so long since i've seen the ocean

A long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember the last thing that you said as you were leaving
Oh the days go by so fast

And it's one more day up in the canyons
And it's one more night in Hollywood
If you think that I could be forgiven
I wish you would

Drove up to Hillside Manor sometime after 2 a.m.
And talked a little while about the year
I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower
Makes you talk a little lower about the things you could not show her

And it's one more day up in the canyon
And it's one more night in Hollywood
It's been so long since I've seen the ocean
I guess I should

-Counting Crows, "A Long December"

Sunday, April 24, 2011

well that turned into a rant rather quickly

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works his sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.

-William Cowper, “Light Shining out of Darkness”

The man who wrote these words lived a tragic life. His mother died when he was six. He was in love with his cousin at a young age but was barred from marrying her by her father. Neither ever married. He suffered from severe depression his entire life, attempting suicide multiple times. During some of his breakdowns, he was convinced that he was damned to hell for eternity and believed that God was asking him to take his own life as a sacrifice. He died as he lived, hopeless and despairing.

But out of this tragic figure flowed poetry which has lifted souls to soaring heights for centuries. This hymn has reduced me to tears on more than one occasion.  What a fascinating human being.  His writing is made all the more beautiful by knowing his background.  People are drawn to this kind of person.  One of his closest friends was pastor and reformed slave trader John Newton, who penned “Amazing Grace.”  John Piper, when preparing a lecture on him, wrote:
“I devoted about three days from waking till sleeping to William Cowper, besides leisurely reading of his poetry up till that time. Those three days I was almost entirely outside myself as it were. Now and then I "came to" and became aware that I had been absorbed wholly in the life of another. But most of the time I was not self-conscious. I was not thinking about me at all.”
So often are beautiful lives carved out of unfortunate circumstances. Out of struggle, and longsuffering, and pain. As Christians, there is often pressure to be cheerful and rejoicing at all times. “Smile, Jesus loves you!” Well, sometimes, I don’t freaking feel like it. Is that okay? Sometimes the futility of life and the weight of the world take its toll. Sometimes it is hard to feel the way we are "supposed" to feel. Sometimes what we know in our heads refuses to travel the twelve inches down to our hearts. Some people are able to ignore those doubts or, even better, bear them with some otherworldly display of grace. I am not one of those people.

Is it beneficial to hide how we feel? I mean, it is not realistic to respond to every "How are you?" with "Oh God the world is eating my face," but some people are so practiced at faking happiness that they convince even themselves of it. Maybe that is where happiness comes from to begin with. But how much weight does that brand of happiness carry?  The Jesus I picture is a burdened, heavy hearted individual, aware of the weight of his responsibility. I find that quality to greatly magnify the beauty of his existence.

I wonder if William Cowper or any number of artists would trade away their suffering if it meant the loss of their art. If it meant living carefree but trivial lives. Sometimes I wonder if I purposely dwell on the darker facets of existence in an attempt to imbue some kind of deeper meaning into what I do. So far I have only discovered that I cannot force myself to be an optimist, or an extrovert. What end will come from who I am I do not yet know.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

good friday

God is dead.

That’s how it feels sometimes. On this night some two thousand years ago, God died. Mocked, beaten, killed. As the sun set over that hill in Jerusalem, God’s fragile body hung limp and lifeless against the knurled bark he was bound to. For those who knew him and followed him, who loved him, this was the end. The man they believed was their savior, their king, their only hope, was gone. Everything they knew for the last three years, everything they were so sure of, died on that tree. What could they do now? Where would they go? How could they follow him to heaven if he was dead? Maybe he was misleading them. Maybe he was just wrong, like so many others who claimed to have answers to life’s mysteries. Their sleep must have been fitful that night, if they got to sleep at all.

The morning arrives. No voice booming from above, no caverns of fire opening up from below. Just the regular morning busyness out in the street. Birds chirp, children play, men prepare for the day. The previous day’s events seem like a dream, like they couldn’t have happened. Like they didn’t happen. Except that for the last three years, every morning, the disciples knew there would be a plan for that day. Somewhere to go, something to do, someone to follow. Now there was no one. No direction, no guidance. No purpose. No hope.

The only consolation left to them was each other. No one else could understand the loss they felt. Eleven souls adrift in murky, uncertain seas. Being together was their only, but significant, comfort. Each one encouraged the others to be stronger than they felt themselves. Some cried. They told stories of the last three years. Some were funny and they forced a weak smile. Mostly though, they felt betrayed. He often talked about his death, but none of them imagined it like this. At least, not so soon. With so many promises unfulfilled. With no final instructions.

But the miracles which opened their minds and the words which scorched their hearts flashed in memory. They could all but dismiss what they experienced as genuine and true. But what could they do now? He was the source of it all. They were just observers. Witnesses. They couldn’t continue his work themselves. Unsure of their future and of their faith, the disciples discussed their options. They had to go on. What did they do before all of this started?

People say that the disciples’ return to fishing was a result of their lack of faith. Symbolic of their failure to continue as disciples. Upon experiencing loss, we tend to return to the familiar, seeking some kind of anchor to regain a semblance of bearing. I do not fault them for this. The alternative would have been to give up altogether. I can only imagine the amount of courage and strength it took to even leave the house. They were failures and fools in the eyes of the entire city. Their savior, crucified like a criminal. The combined pain of shame and purposelessness must have been crippling. It is the kind of pain that rends the most vital of men numb and bedridden. But they continued the best that they were able, with torn hearts and clouded minds.

There are periods when all earnest followers of Jesus are introduced to this situation. When God feels distant, silent, or dead. Personal tragedy, bad church experiences, failed relationships, loneliness. The world is filled with circumstances that make us feel like God has forgotten us. We remember how he had set fire to our lives in the past, but that past feels disconnected. Like it belongs to someone else. We feel hopeless and purposeless, like the disciples without Jesus. Unsure of our future and our faith.

How can we continue? We must, because the alternative is not an option. We cannot deny the muffled screams from the part of our souls that knows there is no going back. Our experiences with God, however muted, has changed us forever. We must do our jobs, serve at our churches, and seek out fellow lost souls. We must not stop. There are others who feel abandoned by God, others who are waiting for him to return. As long as there are others, it is possible to go on.

Those three days between Friday and Sunday must have felt like an eternity to the disciples, but it came. They did not know when it would come, or if it would come, but it came. They did their best to pray to a God who had died before their eyes. Those could only have been confused, angry prayers. No more than cries out to the darkness. But it was enough. These eleven broken men were redeemed and their impact continues to be felt two thousand years later.

As we go through stages in our lives between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, we must remember what happened to those who experienced it first. God had to die in order to be raised. He leaves us in order to return to us in the most glorious of ways. At least, I hope so. Until then I guess.

Friday, April 22, 2011

one day in nevada

The yearly tradeshow in Las Vegas has come and gone.  This year I went on a different day than my coworkers, so I ended up buying a monorail ticket and spending most of the day wandering the strip taking pictures. It was my first time visiting a couple of the newer casinos.  I love wandering.

Leaving the Convention Center

Lunch at Harrah's Buffet (Ribs, Clams, and Kindle)

gondola tip
Gondolas at the Venetian
artificial light
Indoor shops at the Venetian, everyone has copied the indoor sky from Ceasar's Palace
welcome to earth
The Fashion Show Mall looks like Independence Day

ferraris for sale
Ferrari Store at the Wynn
Fancy ceilings near the Ferrari Store
corvette generations
 The car collection at Imperial Palace, I remembered this from when I was like 10 and stayed there with family


out of place
Among giants, yes that's a Yugo in mint condition

A Paris interior I believe, looks almost HDR'ed
eifell moon
Moon over Eiffel Tower, never seen the real thing
Outside the window on the way home

For a healthy chunk of more pictures, visit the full set at flickr.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

regret and potential

Waste forces within him, and a desert all around, this man stood still on his way across a silent terrace, and saw for a moment, lying in the wilderness before him, a mirage of honourable ambition, self-denial, and perseverance. In the fair city of this vision, there were airy galleries from which the loves and graces looked upon him, gardens in which the fruits of life hung ripening, waters of Hope that sparkled in his sight. A moment, and it was gone. Climbing to a high chamber in a well of houses, he threw himself down in his clothes on a neglected bed, and its pillow was wet with wasted tears.

Sadly, sadly, the sun rose; it rose upon no sadder sight than the man of good abilities and good emotions, incapable of their directed exercise, incapable of his own help and his own happiness, sensible of the blight on him, and resigning himself to let it eat him away.

-Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Amazing time lapse shot in the Canary Islands by Norwegian photographer Terje Sorgjerd. Absolutely breathtaking. See more of his work at and


Thursday, April 14, 2011


Mountain High was surprisingly awesome for April. Soft powder in the morning, falling snow and packed powder higher up in the afternoon. And no snow machines! Everything went better than expected, minus a 4 foot fall off a trick box. That was pretty bad.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

what's in a voice

The faintness of the voice was pitiable and dreadful. It was not the faintness of physical weakness, though confinement and hard fare no doubt had their part in it. Its deplorable peculiarity was, that it was the faintness of solitude and disuse. It was like the last feeble echo of a sound made long and long ago. So entirely had it lost the life and resonance of the human voice, that it affected the senses like a once beautiful colour faded away into a poor weak stain. So sunken and suppressed it was, that it was like a voice underground. So expressive it was, of a hopeless and lost creature, that a famished traveller, wearied out by lonely wandering in a wilderness, would have remembered home and friends in such a tone before lying down to die.

"If you hear in my voice - I don't know that it is so, but I hope it is - if you hear in my voice any resemblance to a voice that once was sweet music in your ears, weep for it, weep for it! If you touch, in touching my hair, anything that recalls a beloved head that lay on your breast when you were young and free, weep for it, weep for it! If, when I hint to you of a Home that is before us, where I will be true to you with all my duty and with all my faithful service, I bring back the remembrance of a Home long desolate, while your poor heart pined away, weep for it, weep for it!"

-Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Monday, April 11, 2011

monday morning

One of the things that make the Monday morning routine bearable is reading Postsecret's weekly post. If you don't already know what that is, crawl out from under your rock it is a blog that people send anonymous postcards revealing a secret. Some are funny, some are raunchy, some are heartfelt. Once in a while, one will stand out and hit like a ton of bricks. This one did today, and I don't even know why...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

meat and masts

Random couple pictures from my phone.

Amazing porterhouse steak from Harris' last weekend in San Francisco. 21 oz. and dry aged to perfection. Apparently dry aging takes much longer and very few places do it anymore. 50$ and worth every penny.

Very clever Sherman Oaks. Hidden cell tower along Burbank Ave. It's supposed to be a palm tree, but looks like a mutant bee hive. An evil bee hive mega lair. With antenna leaves.