28 November 2006

Hiatus the Second

Finals. Projects. At some point, hopefully sleep.

I'm busy again, so don't expect anything until the thirteenth.

I know, my three loyal readers are heart-broken, but my grades (and scholarship) need rescuing.

Shalom, Drew

Edit: One assignment down, two to go, plus finals. Two nights in a row at the library til 1:30. Bleh.

23 November 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Praise the Lord.
I will extol the Lord with all my heart
In the council of the upright and in the assembly.
Great are the works of the Lord;
They are pondered by all who delight in them.
Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
And his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
The Lord is gracious and compassionate.
He provides food for those who fear him;
He remembers his covenant forever.
He has shown his people the power of his works,
Giving them the lands of other nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
All his precepts are trustworthy.
They are steadfast for ever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness.
He provided redemption for his people;
He ordained his covenant forever -
Holy and awesom is his name.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
All who follow his precepts have tood understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.

- Psalm 111

20 November 2006

Eye of the Storm

The following words and pictures were written and taken during my trip to the New Orleans area to clean up after Hurricane Katrina. It has been over a year since the storm hit and the area faces at least another four years before it is completely restored (thanks to the work of various organizations, this is down from the fifteen year estimate originally given).

11/18/2006 - It's a little after one in the morning, central time, and I'm in New Orleans. We're camping in an old elementary school. Driving through, signs of storm damage are obvious. On approach to the school, the Hoovervilles of trailors are set up and fenced off. Houses sit in ruin, and several have trailosrs set up in the front yard. The school itself is fenced off, the fence crowned with barbed wire. The bottom floor of the school has been gutted and the top floor shows the spartan conditions that the students had been learning in pre-Katrina. Our beds are box springs and mattresses on the floor, but it still gives us a roof over our heads. Just arriving here has made me feel so blessed.

That Evening - The day is done and the results are in. After all was said and done, we had cleaned up three buildings. We woke up at 6:30 and were working by nine. The first house had remained almost untouched since Katrina. Mold ran rampant. There was still food in the pantry and water in the washing machine. A black goo had formed in the fridge. Our first task was to remove everything from the house, including the food, carpet, and floor boards. Everything. Then came the walls. By the time we were done, only the ceiling and frame were left in tact and there was a debris pile over six fee high outside. After lunch, we moved on to our secound house. Our objective this time was to remove the ceiling from an already-gutted house. Along with the rotted remains of the fiberglass insulation. Part of the house still had water in it. This water had come to resemble the ooze from the fridge. Our third building was a two-story duplex. The watermark was four feet from the floor. On the secound story. The lower level had been gutted, but the upper rooms still had the belongings of one's life left behind.

I'm sitting in the gym at the old schoo now, though, honestly, it looks more like a military instilation than a school. But in spite of all the horrible surrondings, there are glimmers of hope. Several of the homes are decorated for Christmas.

The title of this post comes from a Blindside song and is in recognition of the fact that while the city is now calm, there is a long way to go before the disaster can be considered over.

Rock on.

13 November 2006


School work is temporarily taking over my life. I have a ton of stuff due this week, then I'm off to New Orleans for a weekend mission trip. I'll try to start posting next week, possibly as late as Thanksgiving Break.


08 November 2006

I Can Only Hope to Be Peter

Matthew 14:22-36

Peter catches a lot of crud. He proclaimed Christ and was called the Rock on which the Church would be built, but also denied knowing Christ and sank when trying to walk on the water.

But let us take a closer look at his little stroll on the Sea of Galilee. First, the context. John the Baptist had just been killed and Jesus withdrew. However, people followed to hear him speak. This is where we hear that famous story that we all remember from Sunday school: The Feeding of the Five Thousand. Afterwards, the crowds dispersed and Jesus sent the disciples away on boat while he prayed. The disciples hit some rough water and then see a strange figure on the water moving towards them...on foot. "And now," to quote Paul Harvey, "the rest of the story."

The disciples did what any red-blooded human would do - flip out. After Christ assured them, Peter calls out to him. This is often translated as "Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water," and this is often seen as Peter's first mistake (doubting Christ). But "if" could be better translated as "because". The NIV study note says it is "A condition assumed to be true." Peter is telling Christ that he will follow him, even in the seemingly impossible. And after having the faith to step from the ship to the sea, Peter gets scared and begins to sink. But here is where things get interesting: his first response isn't to try to save himself and swim back to the boat. Matthew tells us that he calls out to Christ for salvation.

I can only pray that when I start to sink, my first reaction is to call out to God.

Rock on.

The Simulated Economy

The economy is normally one of the biggest voting issues for presidential elections. Anyone will tell you that. But have you ever thought about our economy? And the global economy as a whole, for that matter?

Look at a dollar bill, or whatever piece of currency you have laying around. What is it worth? Can you take it to the government and get a dollar's worth of gold or silver or anything for it? Not anymore. Our currency is entirely theoretical. The dollar's value is derived from faith that when you give it to someone, you get something back for it. Dollar in soda machine, Coke out of soda machine. Five dollars to cashier, cheeseburger from cashier.

Bonds are based on the idea that you give money to the government and you get it back. A currency of currency, in a sense.

Stocks are just the same. The value of stock (non-prefered stock, that is) is dependent not only on how the company performs, but also (and more so) on the supply of the stock. How many people are buying it? How many people are selling it? You give money to a company, and assuming that the company does not fail, you can sell it to another person, assuming that that person is willing to pay for it.

Keeping this in mind, it makes sense that the currency in the game Second Life should have an impact on the currency in the "real" world. Currency in Second Life is a currency of currency as well. You give the Second Life makers your money, assuming that you will get Second Life money back. You use the cyber SL money assuming that you will get SL goods. You sell those goods, knowing that you will get SL money. You transfer the cyber bucks to "real" bucks, assuming that when you give the "real" money to someone, you will get something back.

In short, this cyber economy is every bit as real as the US economy.

Rock on.

Edit: It has been brought to my attention that this is the nature of economy. The point was made that gold has an assigned value, just like the dollar. After pondering it for a while, I realized that gold was used as a currency because it was a commodity, just like salt. A gold-based currency is a version of a barter system.

07 November 2006

Today, I Become a Disillusioned Youth

It's official. Today was election day, and I voted. But barely.

Now I see the vicious cycle in it's entirety: Politicians don't care about students because students don't care about politics. Students don't care about politics because politicians don't care about students.

I was able to register to vote on campus. This is good. Both the Young Republicans and Young Democrats had registration drives. And that's as far as it went. Outside of registration, there were no movements on camus to get students to vote or even concerned about politics. A few facts to consider:
  1. Despite claiming a campus of 30,000+ students plus faculty and staff, there is no polling site on campus.
  2. There was no organized system to get students to their polling places, despite an enormous campus tranist system. I had to get a ride from an intern at CCF.
  3. My polling place was on the completely opposite side of campus from me (and about three miles away from that side of campus, in the middle of nowhere), despite other polling places being closer.
  4. Outside of the attack ads on TV, there was no attempt to educate students on issues or candidates.
  5. Students registered in other states and precincts were unable (and unwilling) to get through the red tape to get their absentee ballots. Some planned to drive home to vote, but classes got in the way.
I know two other people who voted. Only one of them was a student.

On the note of not being educated enough to vote, I almost decided not to vote. Simply because I didn't know anything about any of the candidates running. The one thing that got me to the polls was the tax issue: I wanted to vote for the Special Local Option Sales Tax.

I hope people do a better job in two years when the election matters most.

Rock on.

06 November 2006

When Satan Uses the Church

Today was fun. We had a group of protesters, for lack of a better term (though religious nut-ball fits just as well), held signs in front of the Tate Student Center telling all who saw and heard that they were going to Hell. It takes a turn for the worse here, as part of their message was that Christianity is not the answer and that those who thought they were Christians were going to Hell for listening to their respective churches instead of God.

Given my short temper and low tolerance for stupidity, I did what I do best: yelled. I grabbed my Bible and, at the top of my lungs (and louder than I’ve ever yelled before), read 1 John 4:7 to them and the crowd. After the main “preacher” mocked me (much in the manner that I mocked my sister when I was five), and told me that I was not a Christian, I announced to the assembled crowd (weirdos always draw a crowd) that God loved them.

And this brings me to my point: Satan can use the Church and believers as effectively as he can use anybody else. The obvious example here is the protesting group. But what about me and the other people who were arguing with/yelling at them? Did people get our message that these people were wrong? Or did they just see people who claim to follow God yelling at people who claim to follow God? By shouting the Word, did anyone get my point or did they just see another version of a protester? One person thanked me for what I did, but she was one of those arguing with the protesters.

Feet, meet mouths.

Rock on.

Guy Fawkes Night

"Remember, remember, the fifth of November; the gunpowder treason and plot.
I know of no reason the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot."

03 November 2006

College Randomness

College...is random. So very random. Very very random. And now I'll tell you why.

Yesterday, I spent three hours at CCF washing cars. And then went home, showered, came back for evening activities, and spent another six hours there. Doing things like making brownies. And discussing biblical family structures. And carrying people around on my shoulders. Now I'm sitting in the CCF house typing this.

Today, I went to my Geology class and we had a pop quiz. However, the teacher told us we could get our answers through "a collective effort". She told us we had five minutes, then stared at us. Laughing, she said in her Argentinian accent, "Why aren't you going?" After four minutes of us yelling across the room of about eighty students, one girl stood up and shouted all five answers. The entire class ended up getting an 80%.

Anyways...college. It's random.


02 November 2006

The Rat Brains Are Taking Over!

As if an online game that impacts the economy wasn’t enough, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are growing cultures of brain cells from rodents on electrodes. These electrodes are hooked up to robots, which are, in turn, able to navigate mazes, follow objects around a room, and even draw.

To me, this screams I, Robot. Or even possibly Borg. Sci Fi aside, what is the use of this? The possibility of transplanting human brains into robots (yea for living forever!) is ruled out as the cells must be grown on the electrodes. Creating drones raises more questions then stem cell research (surely, having a human mind, and therefore, soul, qualifies one as human).

So, real cyber pets? Another "real" simulacrum?

Rock on.