Friday, July 31, 2015

Appreciation: Spiders, Mosquitoes, and Beetles

I'll be honest with you; this beetle has absolutely nothing to do with the post. This particular insect was just more visually appealing than the other subjects we will be discussing presently.
Several of my comrades have returned from their forays into the basements of my workplace complaining of a most insidious group of marauders - the deadly spiders.

Of course, from what I can gather, most people only dislike spiders because of the way they move. Something about the way those eight little legs churn give people the willies. I've also heard that a lot of people are scared of being bitten by a poisonous spider. That's a genuine fear--I've seen horrible pictures of the effects some spider venom has on human flesh--but it's rather racist to assume every spider you run into is poisonous. Look up the poisonous spiders in your area so you can identify them. Odds are, 95% of the spiders you run into are completely harmless, right?


No? You still want to assume all spiders are poisonous? All right, I'l try a different tack.

The common house spider is one of the least proactive predators on the planet. Seriously. It weaves a web and waits for something to fly into it. Yes, I'm aware some spiders are more hunters than fishers, but let's be honest here; the spiders we're familiar with are probably all web weavers.

The cool thing about these web weavers is that they straight-up protect us from far more aggressive insects. Take the mosquito, for instance. Not only can those little blood-suckers fly, they are able to maintain a near-invisibility when their nighttime hunting begins. They leave bites all over your body, which itch like the dickens, and you can be sure they didn't sterilize their proboscis after biting your friend and then coming after you.

Spiders eat these things. By the dozens. Spiders are useful. Spiders are our friends.

These arguments fell on deaf ears. An exterminator was called to eradicate the spider population in the basements. Though I never saw the sight, hundreds upon hundreds of our mosquito-eating friends lay prone on the floor, their legs pointing toward heaven.

I kid you not, literally a day after the extermination, I heard people complain about mosquito bites for the first time all summer.

I truly do believe God puts everything here on earth for a reason. "Why did he put spiders on the earth, then," someone might ask. I would respond that the spiders are here to protect us from mosquitoes. "Why did God put mosquitoes on the earth, then?"

So we can appreciate spiders all the more.

You, too, have a purpose here on earth. There are so many things you do, every day, that someone notices and admires. No matter how insignificant or disregarded you may feel, your contribution means something. It has worth. Don't be afraid to let your light so shine.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Throwback Thursday #33 - Pumpin' Plasma

Don't forget to raise your brainlances and participate in this week's thinkjoust! Be sure to add your voice to the poll, located at the top of the column on the right!

Today's throwback comes to us from October 14 of last year.

I like the message in the original post, so I don't think I'm going to add much commentary on that. I will, however, follow up on the story of my blood-selling.

Despite my opinions on the practice, detailed in the post itself, I continued to pump my plasma for the next three months. This actually provided a much-needed stipend to my wallet. When December rolled around, however, several things convened to keep me from going back. First, my blood broke several of the machines (you can ask, but I honestly couldn't tell you), and second, my parents paid me to take December off. By the time the next semester started, I was too busy to continue.

Either way, I only have half a job lined up for next semester. With this semester winding down and the next one only barely starting, I just may resume my questionable practice. We'll see.

Click here to read True Charity Prose: Pumpin' Plasma!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Weaknesses: Terrible Repair Job

It was a beautiful day at my workplace. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I was strolling through a building double-checking my job well done.

As I passed by a certain sink, I noticed something seemed off. Oh, ho! I thought. What's this?

Upon further inspection, I discovered this.

Well, what was the point of that? I thought.

I left the building shortly thereafter. The sun was still shining. The birds were still singing.

Everything was fine.

Whoever had been assigned to work on that hole in the wall had ended up covering it up rather than just taking care of the problem. I'm sure he had plans to eventually come back, but as it was, the problem still remained. Any of the youths coming in for a conference would undoubtedly be more intrigued by the cover-up job than they would have been by the hole itself.

Much like a hole in the wall, I am continually aware of my negative qualities. Sometimes, I am actively attempting to improve myself. Other times, I try to ignore I have a problem and move on.

I have personally found that, as I make improvements, the overall pain I feel decreases because I have to shoulder the burden for a shorter amount of time. When I try to ignore the things I dislike about myself, it becomes much harder to bear.

No matter what happens, though, things aren't as bad as they seem. I may have a glaring weakness, but there are still so many positives out there in the world today.

After all, the sun is still shining. The birds are still singing. And I am still working.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Thinkjoust Tuesday #10 - Do You Eat Brownie Goop?

Last week's results: Gatorade vs. Powerade

Gatorade: 58%
Other: 28%
Powerade: 14%

Dang! I was certain that advertisement I posted would push a lot of people over to the Powerade side, but I guess I was mistaken. Oh, well.

I know people have opinions about this. After all, I, for one, find brownie goop to be absolutely delicious. If you click here, you'll see I'm definitely not alone. And if you click here, you'll realize I really like this particular webcomic. Sue me.

Of course, on the flip side, some people are pretty put off by the idea of consuming raw eggs. After all, you might get salmonella! Of course, I like salmon, so eating little salmons actually sounds like an entirely delicious prospect. Sure, I'll admit not everyone likes seafood as much as I do, so I could understand why someone might not want to get salmonella, but ...

... I'm sorry, what?

A bacteria?

Wait, let me look this up.


Well, I don't care. I would totally buy Unca Arthur's WHAT-A-SCOOP!

What do you think? Do you eat brownie goop? Be sure to throw your hat into the comments below! And don't forget to add your voice to the poll, located at the top on the right-hand side.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Where You're Needed: RA Hike

While my dream job involves getting paid to write blog posts every day, it is a true statement that I nonetheless need to work to, you know, eat and stuff. I'm sure most people would agree they would love to be paid to jump on their computer for an hour a day. Man, I sometimes think. Wouldn't it be great if I didn't have to work through school, at least?

The answer is no.

Of course, all last year, I worked with a stunningly amazingly group of resident assistants. Each of us were in charge of ensuring the freshmen under our care received the guidance they needed, and while we were paid for that service, I doubt many of us suspected were would also be rewarded with several deep and abiding bonds between our fellow coworkers.

A group of us decided to get together last weekend and go on a hike. While it was true that our group represented a very small fraction of the overall group, and that each of us frequently expressed regret we didn't have a complete set, we nonetheless felt energized just by being around each other.

We conquered the trail, and some of us even conquered steeper slopes. 

We enthusiastically jumped into whatever adventures were before us, egging each other on and laughing the entire way.

Looking back, there were certain things I really didn't like about being an RA. However, I wouldn't go back and change it. I couldn't imagine where I would be without having grown and experienced the tender, sweet parts of life without these people.

It's definitely a good thing I'm not being paid for blogging full-time yet.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Contribution: GetOut Games

Last weekend, a group of friends and I went to go check out the hot new local establishment known as 'GetOut Games.' 

The concept is simple. First, the people in charge lock you in a room. There are a smattering of random items and clues you have to utilize to eventually unlock the door and leave. Each room has its own theme or concept, and the one from which we escaped involved stolen gold and a local mob boss.

We ended up escaping the room after about forty-five minutes, with fifteen minutes to spare on the clock. It was truly an epic experience.

Pose like a team, cuz this nonsense just got real.
In all honesty, though, when I first walked out, I barely felt like I helped the team.

I will admit I contributed a few important pieces to the puzzle, like figuring out one of the lock combinations and remembering that we'd found a key. However, compared to most of the members of our party, who possessed keen deductive reasoning and were rapidly finding answers and clues, I was always a few steps behind, and most of my contributions involved figuring out what didn't work.

I would put down the combination lock in my hand. "Well, that sequence of numbers didn't open up this lock."

"It opened up this one!" one of my compatriots called.

I stared at my list of anagrams. "Well, this cube didn't spell anything useful."
"You missed this spelling, though!"

"I think we're supposed to move this potted plant here," I said.


I beamed.

"But you should have put it inside the metal pail!"

I soured.

After I thought about it some more later, however, I realized my contributions, inconclusive though they may have been, still provided building blocks for my more quick-thinking comrades. As I slaved away at solutions that never worked, I was allowing the people around me to use their brains on the solutions that would work.

In the end, I gave the glory to those individuals who were consistently sharp as tacks and on the ball. However, as I walked away from the utterly fantastic experience, I realized that, while my contribution was still small, it wasn't as small as I'd first thought.

Perhaps our contributions are never as small as we think.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Assuming the Best: Parking Ticket

Sometime last week, I was visiting a friend on the South side of campus. When I returned to my car, I discovered I had procured a parking ticket.

Lovely, I thought.

When I discussed this unfortunate turn of events with my direct supervisor later on in the day, he told me he thought the parking ticket was, in essence, placed on my car unlawfully. He directed me to my university's parking regulations page, on which I soon discovered he was correct. The wording of this document justifies my being parked there at that time, I reasoned.

So, when I had the chance, I went in to contend the citation. I first had to fill out a form explaining why I felt as though my ticket was unlawful. I accomplished this with a calm and respectful tone in my writing, specifically citing the article I had read to determine my innocence. 

Finally, after a short wait, I was ushered in to speak with the lady overseeing my case. I expected some sort of greeting or salutation, but despite the fact I was the only one in the office, the lady started barking at me before I'd even stepped all the way into the door. In the short conversation we had, I maintained a respectful and level tone, for which I was rewarded with belittling statements and a complete disregard for my well-crafted argument.

I was informed, right off the bat, that "nobody had ever come in to complain about this type of ticket, except for those who haven't read the parking regulations." This sentence was repeated several times, as if to accentuate how daft I was supposedly being, and was almost always in response to my direct quotations of the regulation document itself. In the end, despite my calm suggestions that the lady's interpretation of the cited regulation was not made explicitly clear in the document itself, she explained that the language was clear, and that I needed to do a better job 'studying it for next time.'

So, yes. In the end, it came down to the linguistics of the document. When I pointed this out, the lady informed me that she wasn't going to argue with me, and that, if I stopped, she would agree to lower the ticket's cost from twenty to ten dollars. I almost took the twenty dollars as a matter of principle, but, thinking about my next meal, sighed and agreed.

Really, though, if it came to it, I wouldn't have minded paying the whole twenty dollars. That wasn't the real problem I had with the entire exchange. I was frustrated because, first and foremost, I shouldn't have had to pay any money at all. Even if the lady's interpretation was the correct one, it should have been written in such a way that there wouldn't be a misunderstanding. Second, I was not respected despite my calm demeanor and my genuine concerns. 

From the get-go, that lady was raring for a fight. She expected me to come in swinging, and so swung at me first. 

In mulling the situation over, I feel like my frustrations would have been greatly mollified if I had been treated properly from the get-go. I honestly harbored no bitterness about the ticket itself, but now, I am still nursing a grudge against the lady, who I feel was inclined to treat me like dirt instead of like a person.

Sometimes I worry I come across this way to people. I get concerned if I notice I'm coming out swinging instead of beginning with the building blocks of mutual respect and trust. When I have experiences like the one I had at the parking ticket office, I take the opportunity to step back, reevaluate myself, and commit to not becoming that which I hate. And, then, of course, I write the experience down.

So I don't forget again.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Throwback Thursday #32 - Miracles Poem

Don't forget to add your voice to the ongoing thinkjoust between Gatorade and Powerade! Click this link to read more, or cast your vote on the poll, located just below the ad on the right-hand side.

Today's throwback comes to us from October 13 of last year.

While I usually blog about a wide variety of topics, I have observed that there have been two periods of time in which many of my blog posts somehow connected with an overarching theme.

I believe there was some overlapping between said periods of time, but the very first theme was, obviously, 'Let Your Light So Shine.' The current theme seems to be something along the lines of 'Let Your Voice Be Heard,' especially considering the new Thinkjoust Tuesday feature (click here for an example) and the recent post regarding the Supreme Court Ruling (click here for the link to that).

In that light, today's featured post seems to be slightly misplaced. The poem is very reminiscent of the current theme, in that it advocates the allowance of agency amid differing or incomplete belief systems.

Regardless, I recall a lot of people commenting to me privately how much they appreciated this particular piece, and while I don't really like throwing back to poems, that alone helped me decide to put it back in the spotlight. So! Without further ado, click here to visit Miracles (Poem)! 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Intentions: Midnight Drive-By

One night last week, the half moon found four friends sitting on a fish statue outside a very fancy restaurant. I'm not sure said restaurant would have appreciated our squatting upon their aesthetics, but that's what they get for being closed at midnight.

This meeting was preceded by an interesting experience, however.

The two individuals in the middle live about thirty minutes from town. The two of us on the edges decided we wanted to surprise them by driving through the canyon to their home and miraculously appearing with no prior warning. Oh, what voracious amusement! we pondered to ourselves as we continued our drive. Our assembly will be replete with jocularity and tomfoolery! Oh, what ecstasy!

We arrived, and they weren't home WHAT

As it so turned out, our friends had decided to hit the town themselves. After we sent the below picture to prove we actually had gone up to visit them, we agreed to meet at a halfway point on our way back to our respective homes.

Thus, the fish statue.

As I thought about it, I realized the experience reminded me of the Tale of the Two Brothers, a very short story you can read by clicking here. Even if you don't read it, the tale features two well-meaning individuals passing each other in the middle of the night with naught but loving intentions. It got me thinking about how many times I've tried to offer my help to someone, only to discover they have helped me in ways I never could have imagined. My offerings always seem so frail in comparison.

As I drove home that night, I concluded I needed to do a better job expressing gratitude to those all-important individuals in my life. I have no doubt that, one day soon, I will need their love and influence again.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Thinkjoust Tuesday: Gatorade vs. Powerade

Last week's results: Gum v. Mints

Gum: 60%
Mints: 40%

Darn! After some thought, I eventually decided to cast my lot with mints, but it looks like gum pulled ahead in the end. Maybe next time, I should add my own voice to the poll.

In all honesty, I think I'm actually pretty biased about this one.

When I was young, my dad was immensely proud of Gatorade due his University of Florida's involvement in the drink's creation. As it was, we four children ended up drinking a whole heap of it throughout our lives.

However, recently, Gatorade's attempts to produce different kinds of drinks and weird flavors and science jargon have kind of thrown me off. In my opinion, their Gs 1 through 3 all taste the same and produce the same effect on me. I much liked their original stuff better. In the end, I think I lean toward Powerade now, first because it is more simple, and second because it is more accessible out where I now live.

Really, though it's this commercial link that really sums it up for me.

What do you think? Be sure to add your voice to the comments below, as well as to the poll on the right-hand side, just below the ad.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Mission ... Accomplished? featuring Bitsy, Destroyer of Worlds

2 Nephi 25:23 - "... for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do."

Last day to participate in this week's thinkjoust! Be sure to add your voice to the poll, just below the ad on the right-hand side of the screen.

This last week, I created something beautiful. I created something marvelous. I created ART.


All right, all right, fair, fair, that's just a picture of a picture of a potentially miserable cat. I say 'potentially,' because I honestly can't read this guy's expression. Do you like being a frog, Bitsy? What secrets do you hold?

What I actually did was put a puzzle together with my coworker and friend. We'd been assigned to produce an inventory of a board game closet and determine if any of the games were missing any vital organs.

As we figured out which chess sets had separated monarchies and how many metal shoes had walked away from the Monopoly boards, we discovered a hundred piece jigsaw puzzle featuring our friend Bitsy. After some thought, we decided we just HAD to figure out if any pieces were missing. Counting could only be inconclusive. No, there was only one way to determine that this puzzle was whole.

We had to put it together.

This was, of course, foolish.

As you may have noticed, every single one of the edge pieces are white. Every. Single. ONE. I quickly learned that Bitsy, here, was nothing more than a cute and cuddly trap set by demonic eldritch marketers wanting to put my friend and I into a white-edged hell. For minutes we slaved, just randomly picking up random pieces to randomly attempt to see if they randomly fit.

Finally, when all hope was lost ... Bitsy finally emerged. Whole. Alive. His expression still ambiguous.

The war was over.

We had won.

It is important to point out, however, that when we found a thousand piece puzzle, we just assumed it had all the pieces and chucked it as far back into the closet as we could.

There was something satisfying about finishing that stupid puzzle, for what it was worth. A certain level of righteous pride filled me up as I contemplated just what my friend and I had accomplished. Though it wasn't much, it was something.

Of course that got me thinking. I soon realized just how many times I "finish" something, and yet don't feel as accomplished as when we tackled the puzzle. Beating a flash game usually fails to satisfy me. The same goes for finishing a YouTube video, or a TV show or movie, or even a meal or a snack.

I wonder why that is? My personal theory is that some things are accomplished because of our active participation in them. If we don't participate, then we haven't really done anything, and therefore we fail to feel accomplished. Passively watching someone else accomplish something, or simply keeping ourselves alive, doesn't seem to invoke the same level of pride.

At the same time, I think my theory is flawed, because some people feel great levels of accomplishment when, say, their favorite sports team takes home a win. And some people genuinely feel powerful when they finish binge-watching, say, Doctor Who on Netflix.

Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. What is your theory? Be sure to comment below! I love hearing from you, especially when I need it!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Gratitude: Mind-Blowing Email

Back in the old days (like, April), I struggled to keep up with this blog's daily pace. Some days, I'd be running around after midnight, seeking for inspiration (and an accompanying picture) for the next day's post. On other days, I might be scrambling for inspiration the hour before I started writing.

Well, my loyal readers, that has not been a problem as of late! As a matter of fact, I had posts planned up to next Saturday!

Then, thunder boomed.

I pushed my blogging schedule back a day.

After all, what else am I supposed to blog about when I received this email?

Whoa! You may be thinking. What does that mean?

Honestly? At this point? Nothing much. A new author has to take many steps toward publication before he actually crests that mountain. I may have gotten past the first round of review, but now, those editors have to determine if the rest of my book is any good, particularly the ending. Then, they will likely ask me to make some changes, and thereafter carefully monitor our interactions, watching to see if I have two all-important qualities. First, they will ensure I am creative and enthusiastic in taking their suggestions. Second, they will want to know I am a pleasant person with whom to work. Finally, those editors will have to decide if my novel will actually help feed their families. Then, and only then, will I be able to be considered a published author.

Beyond that, though. What does this mean for me, right now?

No matter what happens, this is the farthest I've ever reached in seeking publication. Before Valentine's Day of this year, I had only received rejection letters. On Valentine's Day, I received submission recommendations from two separate professionals in the industry. Now, today, I finally found footing on another step toward achieving my dream.

In the end, this may go nowhere. After I send my full manuscript, I might never hear from those editors again. It is entirely possible God has completely different plans for me and my talents. But now, I have greater hope.

And that is what that email means to me.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Excellence: Epic Car Chase


... well, sort of.

I was minding my own business a few days ago, driving around town, when a goat caught my eye and winked at me.

Well, sure, I guess it didn't wink, seeing as how it was a picture on the back of a bus and all, but I nonetheless couldn't help but notice that the advertised job offering seemed pretty legit.*

So I saw this backside advertisement. I made the decision to snap a picture of the details.

... and then the bus stopped, and I slid right past it in the other lane.

Dang it! I thought to myself. I looked at my clock. Plenty of time to not go where I was heading. Taking a left at the next light, I threw my vehicle into gear and prepared for the most epic car chase of my life.

And by "Most epic," I mean, "Likely only."

So, guessing at the bus route (I feel pretty familiar with it at this point), I went around the block and followed up from behind, dodging traffic, lights, and pedestrians, hoping I would catch the bus the next time it stopped or something. I had a moment of elation when I saw a bus up ahead, but then that all crashed around me when I realized this was a completely different bus with a completely different advertisement on the back. I was just about ready to throw in the towel when I finally saw the object of my desire.

"There she blows!-there she blows! A hump like a snow-hill! It is Moby Dick!"
Or just a bus, I guess. It took me a few tries to actually snap a picture I could read, but, behold, it was done.

The experience got me to thinking about how I can improve in my other pursuits. I operate a daily blog, I'm writing several novels, I am trying to improve my skills in the arts of capoeira, ASL, music, and illustration, I am trying to gain an education ... While it is true I don't balance these things as well as I would like, I have slacked off in doggedly pursuing excellence in a lot of these categories.

Maybe if I applied the same skills I had in chasing down a bus ...

How do you pursue excellence in your daily endeavors? Be sure to comment below!

*Now, I know what you're thinking. Come on, Zac! I thought you were working on getting employment at the local library to help you further understand your interest level in your potential career! Well, you're exactly right, observant reader, but seeing as how nothing beyond half of an internship is completely finalized as of yet, I thought it'd be nice to keep some options open ... just in case. Is that OK with you? Good! Well!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Throwback Thursday #31 - Balancing Family and Light

Don't forget to add your voice to this week's thinkjoust! Add your voice to the poll, located just below the ad on the right-hand side!

Today's throwback comes to us from October 12 of last year.

I went back and forth on highlighting this post a few times, but finally decided to go through with it for two reasons. First, I find it hard to remember when Sunday Snapshots weren't always a part of the blog, though it still appears as though I tried to stick with quieter, more pensive posts back then.

Second, I was touched by how I referred to two of my very close groups of friends as family. It took me a bit to remember why I'd chosen the two pictures I had to illustrate the message behind the post, and when I did make the connection, I couldn't help but smile. That previous Saturday was an example of much more to come, and I am grateful I thought to capture those moments.

Now what? Well, if you're still curious, click here to read Balancing Family and Light!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


A little bit ago, I was lying on the unused mattress in my room (my place was built for two, but because of the terms in my contract, I have it all to myself until I move out) when I noticed, all at once, the outline of a peculiar creature in my spackle.

Do you see the scorpion?

For a while, I sat there, staring at it, wondering what prompted us members of mankind to see shapes in things where there was none. It's kind of like looking at clouds, I mused. I seemed to recall an actual definition for the experience of seeing shapes in clouds, and so, even as the scorpion stood above me, I began to research.

The term for this psychological phenomena is Pareidolia. You may laugh at the source, but this link is where I gathered most of my information. Forgive my crude drawings, but which picture from which do you feel more hostility?

From what I was able to learn, humans are built to recognize and ascertain potential threats on a subconscious level, even to the point of labeling a mere stick figure as possessing aggressive traits. In regards to the previous exercise, in all honesty, there is little difference between the two set of lines I drew. Both have five lines and two circles. However, if you're anything like me, you are naturally wary of the set of lines on the left. I drew the darned thing, and my eyes keep shifting over to it, almost like I'm waiting to see what it does next.

Again, though, that same trait--to label potential threats--can also be used to label good things. True, Pareidolia is most often connected to faces, but when I look up into the clouds and use my imagination to see the shapes of things not there, I am exercising that gift God has given us.

And yes; I do believe this is a gift.

I can think of several times in my life when I have instinctively recognized a threat and reacted in time to save my life, or at least my skin. I can also think of times in life when I have recognized sorrow in another, and known to reach out. There have even been times when I have recognized a happiness in another, and sought them out for strength and guidance. And with all those, they who were once my enemy, they who once were sad, they who once raised me up ... with them, I have laid on the grass, looked to the skies, and dreamed.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Thinkjoust Tuesday: Gum v. Mints

Isaiah 1:18 - "Come now, and let us reason together ..."

Last Week's results: Geek vs. Nerd

Nerd: 37.5%
No, but I'd date a Nerd: 37.5%
Geek: 25%

No love for the geeks, I see. At the very least, everyone who wants to date a nerd can hit up the nerds, right?

In this particular thinkjoust, I am torn. After all, both have their pros and cons. There's something satisfying about chewing something, and gum offers that in literal infinite qualities. Of course, the bad thing to gum is that you eventually end up slobbering over a tasteless piece of polymer, so there's that. The worst thing is, there's often nowhere to put that slop, so unwanted pieces usually seem to end up in the worst of places (I'm looking at you, park benches).

Because of this, I feel I may be more of a mint guy. I pop one in, suck it up, and then all evidence mysteriously disappears, leaving nothing behind but fresher breath. Of course, given my impatience, that slow and enjoyable process is usually shattered when I give up and just begin to chew the thing into tiny minty slivers. One thing's for sure, that dirty owl perfectly captured my own personal struggle.

So, what do youse guys think? Either comment below, or add your voice to the poll just below the ad on the right hand side!

It does take some time for your vote to load, so try refreshing a couple of times to confirm.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Daily Adventure: Beer Hat

A little while ago, I abruptly decided I needed a beer hat. For sodas, you see. Why should beer get all the fun, amiright?

Upon taking on the role and responsibilities of the beer hat's caretaker, I set about to give it a nice little test run. Choosing the sprite, I popped 'em and inserted the cans into their holding places.

I quickly learned that necks are not generally accustomed to supporting full soda cans, plus however much the hat weighs. In addition, the liquid dribbling down my shoulders taught me that keeping my back perfectly straight would require constant vigilance. In the end, I concluded the convenience of hands-free drinking was far smaller than simply reaching out and lifting to my lips every once in a while.

Yet, I had fun! It was a wonderful experiment, and now I know what to expect for the next time I'm tempted to buy ridiculous headgear.

That simple decision to buy a stupid hat offered a me new and fresh experience. And that was just a small moment. There are so many wonderful things out there in this world of ours, new opportunities I know I miss every day. I, for one, am trying to do a better job just experiencing all that is available.

What brave new step will YOU take?

Why not carpe diem?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

No Need to Fear: The Automatic Public Toilet

Just so you know, I realize how ridiculous this post is, but it makes me laugh. Enjoy!

I was in a Wal-Mart recently, trying to buy pikinik stuff for another fireworks celebration, when I discovered something very important. Something terrifying. Something dreadful.

I needed to use the public restroom.

When I was finished, I was stymied by the fact that the toilet wouldn't flush. I waved my hand in front of the censor a few times, I stepped back and forward and few times, I even did a few jumping jacks. Nothing.

After stressing over this for a few minutes, I finally gave in. I did all I could, I thought to myself. It's out of my hands, now. Letting go, I stepped out of the stall.

I heard the toilet flush behind me.

Flash! went my inspiration.

Click! went my camera phone.

You guessed it: I learned something from this experience.

Sometimes, things simply are out of our control. There are times when our alarm doesn't go off, when the pipes burst, when traffic makes us late, when someone chews us out, when somebody denies our worth and value. It is easy to stress in these situations, pushing against the grain to try everything we really can't to change a situation we have no control over.

It was when I finally decided to let my toilet run its course when it resolved the problem for me. Sometimes, there simply isn't much we can do. So why worry about it? In the end, God has everything in His hands, and he will be the one, in His wisdom, who ultimately helps us rise above our trials, even when He uses us as the instrument in solving those problems. I have seen that. I know that.

Even if it takes a finicky toilet to help me remember.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Fixed: Shattered Stone

Isaiah 48:10 - "Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction."

While I was up making sure the roof didn't burn to the ground this past Saturday (click here to read all about that), my impatience led me to investigate some of the gravel that had been placed on top. I'm not sure why the gravel was needed on the roof in the first place--perhaps it served as another layer of protection for the aforementioned flammability concerns--but, regards, there it was.

A particular set of stones caught my eye, and after some careful excavation, I had gathered together the pieces to what looked like a natural rock puzzle.

I wasn't really sure why the this particular rock had been so brittle to split apart into all these various pieces. I couldn't imagine the kind of stress and abuse it had experienced in its life. I wondered what metaphorical straw broke its metaphorical back. What force acted upon this rock to finally shatter it?

I didn't have all the pieces. But I was able to reconstruct what I could.

It is true I didn't have the power to return the rock to its former glory. However, in a certain circumstance, if I could have had the raw firepower to melt this rock down and let it cool again, it would have been whole again.

When it feels like my life has shattered, I often find it is this process of rebuilding that hurts the most. Placing pieces back where they belong and leaving out those unsavory elements is a long and difficult process, and generally requires someone else's aid. Finally, when it is time to ensure that God is back in my life, that fiery refinement process seems most painful.

However, I know that no matter how hard things are, I can be rebuilt. And it is totally worth it.

That rock still sits up on that roof.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Throwback Thursday #30 - The Quest

Don't forget Thinkjoust Tuesday! Add your voice to the poll, located just below the ad on the right hand side!

Today's throwback comes to us from October 10 of last year.

This experience I had helped to initiate the crew, aka the Core Four, or the same group of people with whom I traveled up to Vegas at the beginning of the summer and who are often featured on Change and Cherish. Seeing as how this post helps illustrate at least a bit of our humble beginnings, it has special meaning for me.

Also, I still think the exercise I came up with (which you can read about by clicking on the link below) is one of the coolest ideas I've ever had. I think I'll have to try it again soon, perhaps before this semester is up.

Anyway! Without further ado, click here to read Seeking Enlightenment: The Quest!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Another Thank You: 400 days & 12,000 views

2 Peter 1:9 - "But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off ..."

Don't forget to add your voice to the poll located underneath the ad on the right hand side! For more information, click here to visit yesterday's Thinkjoust Tuesday!

Two hundred and eighty one posts ago, I celebrated my hundredth post by talking about Nutella spread bread. That day was monumental for me, for many reasons. First, it signified I had vastly exceeded my expectations for the number of pageviews in that amount of time. Second, it marked the fact that my previous internet hubs had never yielded the same traffic despite four years of trying. zacjam dot com and its animated web series Two Words, USA never saw the same amount of love as Change and Cherish has. Now, the URL is defunct, and the animated series lies gathering dust in my archives.

Since that Nutella day, however, ever other landmark failed to yield what I'd hoped. When I hit two hundred posts, the pageview count was vastly below six thousand. When I hit three hundred posts, I was just barely exceeding eight thousand. It seemed as though the content I was producing was unable to sustain the same level of growth as those first hundred days.

Well, today, I hopped onto Blogger and found this little beauty waiting for me.

In less than eighty days, I'd reached that lovely '4th number divisible by 3,000' long before the anticipated 400 post mark.

So, even though I thanked you all in my Anniversary Special Recap Slide Show Love Letter Extravaganza a mere fifteen days ago, I want to thank you again. I do write these posts for all of you, but I am filled with gratitude when a far-reaching interest actually seems to sniff the air. When I first started, I half expected to receive maybe a view or two a day, perhaps from my parents, and never really feel as though my thoughts were helping others.

Thank you for letting me know when I am able to help.

Love you guys! See you tomorrow, when we begin again and anew!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Thinkjoust Tuesday: Geek vs. Nerd

Isaiah 1:18 - "Come now, and let us reason together ..."

Last week's results: Favorite Transportation

Floo Powder: 38%
Feet: 30%
Teleportation: 15%
Bicycle: 7%
Horseback: 7%

There are a lot more wizards in my readership than I thought! I'm impressed! They probably account for the missing 3%, as well.

Let's look at today's feature!

This is the modern internet debate as intense as the pirate vs. ninja debate of the mid-2000s. Actually, that would be a fun post to write about. I'll get on it. If you would like to view a truly epic rap video on the subject, click here. 

Now, many people have various definitions of what the difference is between geeks and nerds. Here's what I've gathered.

A geek is someone who is abnormally versed in pop culture and the like. Geeks can either specialize in a topic, or be knowledgeable in a lot of topics. The important thing is, none of these topics have any real weight or value in a real world setting. For example, my interests in Dungeons and Dragons, Doctor Who, the Walking Dead, and even My Little Pony all suggest my geekiness.

A nerd is someone who is abnormally versed in real world applications  and the like. Nerds can either specialize in a topic, or be knowledgeable in a lot of topics. For example, one might say I am an English nerd, what with my taking enjoyment out of the studies of grammar and genre. Other, more stereotypical nerds might take enjoyment out of subjects and topics like computer science or mechanical engineering.

Of course, there is always a blurring between lines. After all, someone who is really into bands might be considered a music geek, while someone who is more into the technical aspect of playing those same bands' songs might be considered a music nerd. 

So, the thinkjoust for today is, which one do you think you are? Or, if you don't feel you belong in either camp, which one would you prefer to date? Be sure to comment below and contribute to the poll, set just underneath the ad on the right hand side.

Note: Again, it takes some time for your vote to register, so just be patient! Maybe reload the poll until it registers or something. I don't know. Whatever floats ya boat.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Patience: Fourth of July 2015 Recap


The local and annual Independence Day Stadium of Fire event featured the band Journey this year. However, even if I was a die hard Journey fan, I wouldn't have been able to personally attend considering my responsibilities as a CA.

No, neither of those people are me. Thanks, though! ;)
I was charged with the task of clambering onto one of the roofs, notable for resting just within the fireworks fallout zone, and manning a hose to ensure the place didn't catch on fire and burn to the ground. After I'd conquered my fears of heights and drowning, I was able to appreciate the view for some time.

I could see grass when I was on the ground before, but man, grass sure is different-looking three stories up!
It didn't take long, however, for boredom to set in. The very act of sitting on top of a roof with nothing to do but contemplate grass began to gnaw at my very sanity like a plague rat. Soon, I was yelling and raving, demanding that the show begin now!

"We still have three hours," someone said.

I began to cry. Some of my coworkers attempted to cheer me up.

As the night slowly descended upon the valley, my coworkers and I could hear Journey rocking out, the fans screaming, and, most importantly, a noticeable lack of fireworks.

And no, those orange lights are not fireworks.
Oh, sure, a firework was launched into the air here or there, and I could see things catching on fire now and then, but, for the most part, the stadium was dark and lifeless. The time for the actual fireworks portion of the show came and passed, and I was still trying to kill that horrendous plague rat.

Go, third-party fireworks, go!
Thankfully, some of the neighbors were having their own show. I could see them every now and again, shooting over the baseball field off in the distance. I commented aloud that these backyard ballistics were far more impressive than the actual event people had paid exorbitant amounts of money to watch. Resigned to the fact that I was set for another two hours of no excitement, I closed my eyes.

All at once, I was awake, staring wide-eyed at the cacophony of lights and sounds tearing the sky asunder. Explosion after explosion rocked the night as the Stadium lit up with its thunder, even drawing me in for three false conclusions before the entire night slowly quieted, with only a few measly neighborhood fireworks halfheartedly exploding a distance away..

I was stunned. Not only was the event worth waiting for, it had also been surprisingly patriotic. It may have taken some time for the event to start, but I haven't since regretted the time I spent on the roof. It was truly a grand experience.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Intervention: The Stupid Duckling

A few days ago, my coworker and I were fulfilling one of our many responsibilities when we noticed a peculiar sight.

In case you can't tell, there's a whole hoard of ducklings in the gutter, there.
The ducklings were unable to jump up the curb, and so were following their maternal figure from below. Mamma duck was doing her best to stay near her children, but the presence of us pedestrians had prompted her to warily back off. She kept hovering, thought, perhaps hoping she would be able to at least save a few instead of lose all.

The question was posed as to how the one duckling had found a way up onto the curb when the rest had not. After some thought, I had an answer.

"The duckling on top is smart. The rest are stupid."

I received an earful for that, let me tell you.

Anyway, we quickly figured out the ducklings were easily corralled against the side of the curb. With a couple of scoops, we deposited the ducklings at the same elevation as their mother, allowing the little family to make a beeline for the bushes just in case we changed our minds and ended up eating them, anyway.


For me, it was another example of how God works in my life. Sometimes, I am just too stupid to figure a way over my obstacles. Then, when things seem most dire, and some monstrous beast of a problem looms high over my head, a solution somehow immediately presents itself. Sometimes even the problem itself offers the best solution. In the end, I am always assured that I am never alone, and that safety is only a hop, skip, and a jump away.


How has God helped you over the curbs in your life? Be sure to comment below!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Protection: Helicopter Fleet

A few days ago, I headed outside and heard a low buzzing. Looking up, I saw a small fleet of helicopters flying over head, maintaining an impressive formation as they headed off to the North to locales unknown.

It's kind of hard to see, but those little specks in the sky are helicopters.
While it was true I didn't know why the helicopters were there in the first place (such a sight is rare here where I live), the sight brought me some level of comfort. Right above me flew direct evidence of my nation's care and concern for my safety and well-being. Somebody was watching overhead, and that was enough for me.

Of course, it's easy to be reminded of that through physical evidence. Sometimes, it's more hard to remember that God is doing the same for us, all the time, twenty-four seven.

I know He does, though. I know He's watching out for me and for you and for everyone on this planet, leading and guiding us so we don't ever have to feel insecure or alone. That is something I occasionally take for granted. I hope the sight of helicopters keeps reminding me.