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Month: September 2005

First day on the job

First day on the job

Yeah, the first day in the bit mines is always the hardest.

You get up hours before dawn and only the hint of morning light is breathing in the eastern sky. The air is crisp and cold – burning the lungs and numbing the fingers.  As each person shuffles in from their homes through the main gates – each one carrying the hardened skin, dull eyes, and protective gruff in their voice earned over years of watching friends and relatives hurt, broken or buried alive in these mines.

The new kid joins the others with wild eyes of expectation flashing. The older guys try not to pay any attention – but they knew their first days too – so many days ago. Now hardened by the forge of this brutal work, they mutter quiet words of ‘greenhorn’, ‘kid’, and ‘rookie’ under their breath, but don’t make eye contact.

The kid gets squeezed by the crowd of men into a group that has formed an indistinguishable line waiting at the entrance of a scrap-metal elevator.  Twenty get on the post-apocalyptic cage at a time.  The doors scrape and smash shut, and the tired machinery jolts them down through a hole brutally dynamited and violated through bare bit walls.

Nobody talks. You only hear the shuffling of worn shoes speaking to the gravel and the odd cough as that morning cigarette kicks in.  The men disappear into darkened hole with the scrape of metal; the cables popping and grinding as they work like teeth gnashing at bread. The grinding stops, and the process reverses.  The empty elevator crashes to a stop back at the top from the darkness below only minutes later.  It’s like a horrible machine that carries groups of men to be chewed up, and then comes back for more like some sick, demonic conveyor belt.

As the kid gets closer to the elevator, the men push in and he sees their tattered, layered clothes. He sees flannel colors through the holes in their jackets – sometimes all the way down to overalls.  Original colors can barely be discerned by even the most careful observation.  Everything is covered in bit ash, machine grease, sweat and blood wiped from foreheads, fingers, and friends. These are the clothes that have been singed by hell and then brought the occupant back from some Dantian voyage through the 7 circles.

He is pushed forward by the mob of men closest to the rusty cage when it returns from the depths, fresh from dumping its cargo of flesh into the hole.  He smells the electric brine of the raw ore flowing up from the square chasm. He can see through the weld cracks that the shaft disappears unknown hundreds of feet into the sightless depths below. When the doors of the elevator scrape and smash closed, the helmets of the coughing, snorting men sway in unison as they jolt to a start. The kid realizes the gravity of where he is and shudders. This is all blood, sweat, and tears. Blood, sweat and tears…

Wifi PDX

Wifi PDX

As a supplement to my own/private find-a-cool-wifi-location project, there is already a bigger one at work. I noticed that it is missing a number of my favorite spots, but has a huge database, online google maps display that you can click on, comments, etc. You can find it at:

*Real* freedom

*Real* freedom

Here’s a snippet from an email I just sent a good friend. She had sent me a list of questions and one particularly stood out: Is what your doing really speak to your heart and soul?

Modern society tends to view the word ‘happiness’ as similar to sitting around eating chocolate cake all the time.  When philosophers up until the 19th century talked about ‘happiness’, however, they meant something VERY different.  The Greeks framed the original term ‘happiness’ (eudaimonia) – but their term encompassed the idea of a person’s wellbeing.  Many now posit a better translation using modern terms would be ‘human flourishing’.  In order for a person to ‘flourish’ – they need to live rightly.  And living rightly meant pursuing truth in all things (eating, exercise, government, law, work, etc).

The framers of our constitution (do the words ‘pursuit of happiness’ ring a bell) would have said the word ‘happiness’ with the Greek understanding.  That the ‘pursuit of happiness’ is to seek the highest good of the person/government.  The Greeks, and the framers of our constitution, believe that striving towards the good should be pursued even at the expense of giving up one’s own life for one believes is good, right, and true.  But knowing what is good, right and true isn’t always easy – and the Greeks well knew.

In the same way, I’ve found the search for the true self to be a very difficult process.  My email to her went as follows:

I have been asking that question a lot because I really, really liked software engineering and just didn’t understand a lot of the ministry work I did.  But what I’ve been learning most lately is that knowing what *really* touches your true self/heart takes a lot of work and discovery.  We start with the things we are attracted to; but then have to keep digging into our motivations and attractions to those things.

I found out that one reason that I was so drawn to the order and predictability of software was because I had so little of that in my childhood. It also gave me a sense of control, accomplishment and a way to feel important when I wasn’t very socially adept/popular. It’s interesting; but I liked it not because I was a really free person, or it was really what my heart wanted, but because it was helping me patch over pain, disappointment, feeling unloved, and give me a way to ‘feel fulfilled’ without actually becoming free of those pains or addressing them.

Yes, I genuinely enjoyed it with as much love as I had, and it really was great work. I still enjoy the challenge and creativity of it. But I’m only now realizing how un-free, and little of the true/inner me I was really reaching.  I was acting out of fear of old hurts or expectations of reward, not out of what I *really* thought was the best and most giving thing for me and those around me. I also learned how un-loving and shallow I was because of that. I kept making decisions that helped me stay in that ‘safe’ place. I think that is why relationships have so much power and why I want to explore them so much more right now.

Relationships force us out of our comfort zones and force us to face those places of pain/disappointment/feeling loved or at least they should. We all will have a tendency to pick partners that won’t challenge us or that we know can secretly help us stay in our comfortable brokenness by reading their dysfunctions/lack of maturity as ways they won’t challenge us in those very areas.  Or worse, take advantage of them to enhance our specific coping/patching mechanisms.  Growing beyond this is not always a pretty process – which is why relationships are so hard.  My view of relationships has really changed because of this understanding. Relationships are when people decide to put themselves aside (as best they can) in order to provide a place where both people grow well into the people they should be.

I think these questions are very good ones to ask yourself. They’ll help you pursue the things you are drawn to, and then you can keep digging and discovering things about who you, a unique and gifted person, with all her deep joys and longings are really looking for.

Someone that has a lot to offer the world through her freedom and self-knowledge. I know that it’s a difficult journey at times; and the change it calls us to can feel overwhelming.  But that is where I find that’s where God lives in me. It’s when I start digging into the real joys of my heart (and finding out why they are joys to me) that I start confronting my real self and find lots of brokenness in why I do things I do.

God is there in the joys, and hence I can then feel safe in revealing the why’s and hows of my brokenness to God (and myself) to be given forgiveness, healing, and love.  He won’t abandon me in those most deep and truthful places – the place where I’m finally honest with myself. But honest with myself in front of Him.  So it’s not just me, but both of us, looking, laughing, crying and enjoying what we find there together. That’s what I want to share with others.

Ha ho ho ho! This adventure game is awesome.

I’ve been enjoying playing for a couple of days now. You can sign up for a character and then adventure online (with live chatting) through the Kingdom of loathing – for free!

It’s so much more awesome than Everquest – and less likely to addict you. You only get a certain number of ‘adventures’ (adventure points) each day – which you can play through in about 30 minutes.  This keeps people from getting horribly addicted; and at just the right levels of fun/involvement. All the graphics are badly hand-drawn stick figures. Meat is the currency – not gold. Adventure to Mt. Noob for instruction, challenge the Brotherhood of the Smackdown, find adventure in the haunted pantry, or the dungeon full of dungeons. You must pass a literacy test in order to gain access to the online chat (including knowing the correct usages of their, there, and they’re).

So far I have attacked: a possessed can of tomatoes, undead elbow macaroni, and so forth. But don’t just listen to me, here’s a quote from the game:

“Just outside Cobb’s Knob, you encounter an adolescent Knob Goblin waving a paintbrush around. “Look at me,” he shouts. “I’m an artist! I don’t have a real job! I only listen to bands you’ve never heard of!” Knowing better, you lay the smack down and take the brush, determined to return it to its rightful owner. You acquire an item: pretentious paintbrush”.

How can you go wrong like that?

Amazing sites

Amazing sites

I was going through and cleaning up all my old bookmarks (yeah – we’re all ‘going’ to do that one day aren’t we?) Here’s some for your clicking enjoyment. I’ll put more up as I keep cleaning.

Heater Core – part duex

Heater Core – part duex

It worked!

It took me and a very good friend (who I owe a seriously nice dinner/movie/beer/etc night) about 8-10 hours of work and you literally had to pull the ENTIRE inside of the car apart to the firewall. I got pictures at the various stages; and it was really impressive. We got it all back together and fired it up – worked like a champ. In fact, I fixed a vent problem (it had been stuck closed for 4 months) that had been really annoying me.

Now the whole car smells like fresh aluminum and no more antifreeze smell. 🙂 I forgot my flash card, so I’ll have to put the pictures up separately. Right now it’s all back to normal, all the console pieces work perfectly (better than before actually) and the heater is better than ever. I just need to dry the inside passenger compartment carpet since the core leaked antifreeze down the firewall as it died.

Heater core blows – part 1

Heater core blows – part 1

After years and years of good luck, my car seems to want repairs now. I drove up to Mt. St. Helens for a hike, and as I got back into Portland, the heater core totally died.  I don’t know how many of you have ever blown/lost a heater core; but it’s a LOT of fun. You get mists of freshly evaporated engine coolant (aka anti-freeze – makes you go blind and die if consumed) blowing in your face.

What makes this particularly fun for me is that for some time my car has been overheating. I’ve changed all the easy stuff (radiator, thermostat, water pump) but to no avail – which means it’s probably the block or a head gasket ($1000+). So the only way to keep it from overheating is to run the heater. But with now I can’t do that without inhaling loads of noxious fumes and causing permanent brain damage or blindness or death or combinations of the above. So, I pull out the guide for repair and see that one has to remove the ENTIRE console of the car to get it out. I knew it would be an awesome job when the first lines of the repair read “First, the manufacturer recommends you remove the front seats.” I call around and the core is about $150, but most places want $800 for all the labor. What to do?  Do it yourself!

I’m going to pull the better part of the entire inside of the car apart this weekend in a friend’s garage. Will it come out OK?  I don’t know. But at this point I’m ready for a new car and I’ve never attempted anything quite this ambitious before. Closest I’ve come is a water pump that required unbolting and jacking the engine partly out. I’ll be taking pictures and we’ll all see how it goes.  Wish me luck.