Jul 22, 2009

"Tue" I would change Golf

I’ve had some free time this summer. When you discover free time there’s a weird thing that happens for the first couple of weeks… you do absolutely nothing. Not because you want to do nothing, but mostly because you have so many things you’ve always wanted to do or learn or create that you really end up frozen by all of the options (That’s sorta why In-N-Out only has 3 options, because they understand people). But after that dies down then you start to get around to things you’ve been planning to do for awhile. For me one of those things was golf.

So myself and Ryan, my brother-in-law (I would say he’s my bro, but I think in California that just means friend or pal or something because it’s all about free love and stuff out there….Maybe. So I’m going to stick with brother-in-law; or maybe Blaw. Making his wife someone’s Slaw. That could work.) So me and my Blaw head out into 100+ degree temps last weekend to give this golf thing a shot. First of all, it was actually pretty fun. I know Mark Twain describes golf as “A good walk spoiled” but that’s probably just because he took it too seriously. He was a bit of a curmudgeon. While we were playing I was struck by some possible improvements that should be made to the game of golf. So as is tradition in this space, I thought I’d rehash some of those for you, starting with the least revolutionary.

Floating Balls
Usually on a golf course there’s lakes or rivers or in the case of Arizona golf courses, still, shallow pools of murky water. Every so often a ball makes its way towards these black pools and then is never heard from again. There are some official rules for handling this situation like you get to drop your ball near where the ball entered the water or re-shoot while taking a penalty. But I think really that ball should float and you should have to wade or swim out there and hit that ball off the top of the water. That’s how Tiger handles it anyway. So really that should be a rule already.

4 player team speed golf
This probably exists already somewhere but I’d still like to make it official. A quick rundown of the rules. Let’s say Bob and Jerry are on a team against Ben and Frank (These are all fictional people, the Frank I know doesn’t actually play golf). So Jerry and Frank would run off down the fairway and setup where they think their partners will hit the ball. A whistle blows and Bob and Ben tee-off then start running towards where they think Bob and Ben will hit their next shot and this continues until someone puts it in the hole. So you have to take turns hitting the ball, and the ball does not have to stop in order for you to hit it. I’d play that. Actually I’ll be giving this a shot soon, so let me know if you want in. No experience required.

This is really simple. Why can’t the sprinklers be going on the course while we’re out there. Seems like a no-brainer.

Opposite of Strip-Golf
This would really only work in the summer, but it’s basically how it sounds. You lose a hole to your friend, you have to put on an additional article of clothing from the box of winter clothes you guys picked up at a yard sale earlier in the day. First one to tap-out loses. This could really be an important step in the cure for America’s obese epidemic. Well this and grilled chicken at KFC. Either way they’re both steps in the right direction.

Night Golf
Did you know that golf can only be played during the day? Why is that? I mean I know we have miniature golf but first of all that was created for women, and secondly the great things about golf, the meandering around a beautiful peaceful area, the sound of hitting the ball, the severe lack of screams coming from the bumper boat area are non-existent in the putt-putt world. So if I owned a golf course, I would deck that place out with Christmas lights similar to what they do at the Phoenix Zoo. We’d play a little soft music over some outdoor speakers, the balls would have LED lights in them so you could find them and instead of a flag in the hole we’d have a tiki torch. Heck I’d go there just to hang out, much less play a game.

Golf has been stagnant too long. If I learned anything from standing around that pool of murky, non moving, puddle looking for my ball it was that stagnation is bad and breeds mosquitos which carry diseases. So it’s time to change golf before someone gets sick.

Jul 21, 2009

"Mon": I like having a bad attitude

In life things don’t always go how you plan them. You probably know this by now, because frankly most of you guys are older than I am. Personally I plan so little that when these few things don’t go well, it seems like every event ever has gone terribly. I’d like to say that when things go differently I roll with it, I move on and make due smiling like an idiot…. Actually that usually is how I deal with things. Just move on, I’m not really a smiler but I’ll usually try and keep making jokes when things don’t go well and laugh it off. But all that “move on, shake it off” rhetoric seems to be purely external. Privately it seems I enjoy hating things, dwelling on the unbelievable injustices, and really immersing myself in misery. It’s such a weird, strange and backwards idea.

Usually when I have a bad attitude about something, I’ll listen to angry or sad music, I’ll spend more time by myself because explaining this stuff to other people is a pain. Sometimes I’ll just walk or drive around and try and ignore all the amazing things that God has done for me. It’s hard but possible. In fact I'll consciously ignore everything that I know will put me back in a good mood. I'll avoid my family, phone calls, funny movies, my dog, good music, quiet times, all of it. I'll actually run away from it so I can delve deeper into a stronger attitude.

A good strong bad attitude is great, relatively speaking of course. It feels good, almost like sitting inside under a blanket late at night, possibly reading while it rains outside. It's like being that kid that walks and makes fun of all the other kids who are running because they were told to. It's like speeding on a freeway, or talking during a movie. It's a pure focus on self, and self feels really good to focus on.

The most amusing thing about the idea is that I sincerely doubt I’m alone. At least I kind of hope I’m not alone. All those kids with the hair in their eyes and the skintight jeans would suggest that I’m not alone. I would guess that everyone likes to be in a bad mood, to stalk around and blame everything on someone else and count how the deck is stacked against them. It feels oddly gratifying. Isn’t it odd that we pursue happiness all our lives, it’s what this country (the US) was founded on, and yet we’re only really happy when we have something to complain about. We’re only happy when we’re miserable.
I imagine is has something to do with us being fallen and sick people embracing sick practices. I think on a very shallow level it gives us meaning. I should really stop speaking for other people though, on a shallow level I feel like it gives me meaning. Seeing things that are adverse, things that I can complain about gives purpose to my life, past and future. In the past it shows that because these things bug me, because I find these things unacceptable I must have experienced things better than this. In the future it gives me something to try and fix, and even if I can’t fix it, it gives me an amazing opportunity to be a martyr. Honestly I love being a martyr (lower-case “m”).

I’m not sure why I felt like talking about this today, especially since this space is usually reserved for my lighter, more capricious ideas. Maybe I was just having a hard time being light, and thinking that whimsy is stupid. It even sounds stupid as a word. More likely it’s because like the enjoyment of a bad attitude; it’s really just narcissism. Like the rest of this blog really, so I guess really it fits right in.

Jul 8, 2009

"Fri": I look forward to moving to S.D.

God in his infinite wisdom has deemed it time for me to leave home. Also in His wisdom He decided to send me to a warm place with a beach, so currently I am very much down with His plan. It is kind of sad to leave the place of my birth, family, friends, and Quiktrip, but I don’t really see it as a leaving so much as an extending of my world. That actually sounds like a really hippy thing to say, but I feel it’s pretty true. Arizona will always be home, always. I’m sure the first blog post I’ll write when I get to San Diego will be about how much I miss AZ, but for now, I’m focusing on the positives of God moving me out to a new place.

The first and possibly most important reason I’m looking forward to heading out west is because I’ll still have family there. Growing up family was number 2 behind God and that’s it. It was above friends, it was above work, it was even above the law. (I’m not sure what “above the law” means exactly, or what that looks like, and everytime I type it I hear it in Sylvester Stallone’s voice). I liked that. I liked that I had people that in every situation would be on my side and cheer for me. Well, most situations anyway. I didn’t want to really push the envelope too much but I’m confident they would have had my back if something happened. It’s a good feeling knowing that I’m not totally losing that going to San Diego.

We gave this whole San Diego thing a trial run this past weekend and one of the cooler things I’ve noticed about the place is that things are pretty random. There’s not the order and cleanness of the strip mall that pervades so much of the Phoenix area. It’s just a bunch of “mom and pop” coffee and donut joints, Pho noodle stores, Police museums and Farmers markets all thrown seemingly haphazardly together. To add to the randomness is the curvy streets that never allow you to see further than an eighth mile ahead of you at a time. Just driving around can be full of surprises.

Sometimes you just need solidness and reliability though. For that I would have to point to the ocean. Living by the ocean last summer was incredible, to have that reminder of God’s amazing scope of creation, especially when you go at night and can see it in turn with the stars…..It’s something I really enjoy. It helps me think and focus on God. Going to San Diego and being around God's humongous ocean it’s like the difference people must’ve felt between hearing a classical piece of music over the scratchy radio, and seeing it live in a hall, sitting feet away from the cellos, if that makes sense.

Finally I’m looking forward to going to work. People ask me what I’ll be doing in San Diego and I tell them “I’m going into ministry with the Navigators at SDSU” and truthfully that’s as far as I know. I have an idea of what that’s going to look like from what I’ve seen in the lives of friends in ministry, but not a solid, exact description and set of tasks like I’ve had for the past 7 years of my working life. I simultaneously really look forward to it and am worried about it. I’m not really a worrier, so we’re going to focus on the “looking forward to” aspect. Also God has promised me more than a few times that things are going to be alright and not to worry. With that in mind it’s easier to look forward to being a part of and witnessing the work out there.

By the way I have another blog that I’m using to keep track of the San Diego/EDGE/God stuff that’s a little more serious. I have a link in the sidebar or you can just go to www.gabeonamission.blogspot.com to check that out and maybe follow along there.

Jul 2, 2009

Thu: I Miss the Library’s Summer Reading Program

A long, long time ago I remember I used to get paid to read. It didn’t really matter what I read, a newspaper, a novel, the Bible, or the instructions to a video game, it all paid the same. “Paid” is a pretty word for what was really going on however. More accurately I was being bribed. Brainwashed into thinking that reading was a good thing and the more you read the greater rewards you would reap. I was young and being manipulated by the public library. It was a good time.

I’m not sure if you (the reader) ever took part in a summer reading program so I’ll briefly explain how this little scheme works. Kids are given a colorful, fun looking boardgame type paper with different paths laid out. Like any boardgame the paths consist of spaces and in the world of Summer Reading Programs a space was equal to 30 minutes of reading. The idea being that for every 30 minutes of reading a kid completed, they were rewarded with progress on this board, which when they finished a path could be shown to a librarian at their local library who would then reward the kid with various prizes. Starting to see some similarities to bribery?

Let’s talk about the prizes for a second. The prizes were basically exactly what every kid ages 6-9 dreamt prizes to be. I can remember winning a small plastic bowling set, one of those cups with a ball attached that you have to swing and try and catch the ball in (I believe the cool name for them is a Bolero), pencils, stickers, amazing book markers, one of those wooden racquets with a ball attached to it by an elastic cord (which gets my vote for the most disappointing toy ever), kaleidoscopes, and probably a bunch of other things I’m forgetting. To add to the greatness of these prizes was that you picked them out of a giant treasure chest. And in case you forgot, a treasure chest is basically one of the top 3 things a kid ever hopes to encounter in their young lives (the other 2 are probably a mish-mash of a rocket, a favorite animal, and/or Santa Clause). Along with the tangible prizes that you took home that same day, you could also put your name in a drawing for other stuff like movie tickets, passes to the wave pool, or a bunch of other pretty cool things. I vaguely remember winning passes to the wave pool once, but the only thing that ever really stuck in my mind from those drawings was my brother winning a poster from Jurassic Park. We had that poster hanging up in our room for man years to come. I wonder what ever happened to that thing.

The Summer Reading program taught me a lot of things. It taught me about the honor system. You were in charge of filling in your spaces yourself for the most part and it occurred to me on more than one occasion that no one would ever know if I had really read all these 30 minute blocks, that I could just initial some boxes and be on my way to treasure chest glory. I’m not really sure what kept me from doing that exactly, maybe my parents and my upbringing, maybe the work of the Holy Spirit convicting me, maybe the librarians at my library that always had an intense look practiced that gave the impression that they could see right into your inner core (to discourage against fines and book abuse allegedly).

The reading program also taught kids something else, it taught them that summers could be productive. That this time could be used to keep busy, to keep learning, and accomplishing. Something that’s been hard to keep in mind this summer as I finally have no real end to the “summer” in sight. I’m not going back to school. I’m not just biding time between semesters. I’m forever in that world where productivity is something that isn’t forced down the throat (a la school) but created through desire for things in treasure chests. One of the verses I was given for encouragement this summer was Isaiah 45:3. It talks about the treasures God promises us, that he has stored for us. So I now realize that as great as the Summer Reading Programs and all their prizes and hoopla were, I’ve appropriately moved on and yet God still takes pleasure in revealing and surprising me with His treasures chests which he “stored in secret dark places” just for me. It’s been and will be an exciting summer. Even without Jurassic Park posters.