Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Rational Love

Hey y'all.  This is just a poem I wrote, sort of in the tradition of the Irish storytelling narrative in songs and such.  Many of the songs that passed down in Irish song tradition are true to life stories, and this poem is true in the sense that it...well, I'll let you figure out the meaning.  That's always more fun in poetry.

You're the man I never met
Oh maybe I saw you once or twice
How would we know if I've seen you yet?
I never said hello

Walking a straight path on crooked roads
Doesn't lend itself much to love
Every adventure sorted out alone
Should I have looked to the left or right?

Every scene more beautiful than words
With colors in their place they tell
The loveliest story we've ever heard
Yet I never saw your place in it.

Paths among trees stretch for miles
Or suddenly end two feet ahead
The end has been there all the while
I didn't tell it to stop

I looked for you when I left
Expecting you, I saw you in my mind
I saw things worth seeing again and again
But you I didn't find

We were so beautiful
We held hands on hard roads
It would be devastating to learn
You're as imaginary as I am

We were so beautiful
There in my mind
And you were my love
In my imagination

Chances are I never saw you
And if you exist, you never saw me
I thought I died first
But maybe, perhaps, you beat me

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tea of the Day: Lemon Fight and a Mystery

Hey y'all.  So I managed to get Dad to participate in another tea contest.  Yeah, we had some tea and watched Star Trek '09.   Thing about Dad is that you have to trick him into trying new things, because he's the sort of guy that distrusts anything in his food or drink that is different.  However, if you get him to eat or drink it before he knows what it is, he might find out he'll like it. 

In that spirit, I tried to trick Dad by making the first two flavors of tea lemon, so that he'd think the third was lemon also.  Nope, it's ginger peach, one of my favorite flavors of all time.  So let's see how he liked it all, shall we?

Competitor #1: Bentley's Lemon Green Tea
Ingredients: Premium Chinese green tea, lemon flavor.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Updates, Jan 16

Hey y'all.  Just wanted to let you know what's going on.  Thing is, I've started school, so my updates here aren't going to be as fast as I would like.   And then my internet at my house went kaput, so now I have the wonderful joy of trying to figure out how to make it come back.  I hope the internet company doesn't think I'm going to pay their next bill until they fix this.

So yeah, stuff.  However, here are the things I'm working on:

- Mortal Kombat blog.  This is my favorite movie of all time, and I feel like going over why it is.  About....40% done at this point.

- Star Trek '09 review.  This may end up being a multi-parter.  I don't want to do a top-ten list on it, as I really want to go into detail of my feelings on this movie.  I've taken full notes, so it's just a matter of turning the notes into rant.

- Questions for normal people blog.  This will probably end up being a series, as I have a lot of things I wonder about that exist in the world today, and I'll think of more in the future.

- Me and Aldaris.  To be honest, there are things I need to write that are more important than this, and this story isn't exactly my best work.  It's just stream of consciousness, and I feel I've made bad plot choices from time to time.  However, I'm still inspired, and I think I can finish it eventually.  Probably what will happen is that it'll pop up in small posts, and we'll go from there.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Me and Aldaris (p27): Charlie Said a Naughty Word

Aldaris didn't want to leave his study.  It was nice to simply sit and draw with someone, even if it was a little human dwarfed by his table like a child interfering with the business of adults -- and Aldaris liked no children, much less the interfering ones.  Still, this particular "child" couldn't talk back.  Aldaris missed intelligent conversation very badly, but at least he wouldn't have to put up with any human nonsense.  Still, it was nice to at least have someone to look at his drawings and enjoy them, even if she didn't quite understand what they were.  Cheonha had given up on drawing the face of that woman, and was now trying to copy his summer home drawing.  Aldaris grudgingly admitted to himself that he wanted to see how the copy turned out.

Most of all he didn't want to leave Cheonha in his ship by herself.  Even if the worst she did was look through the rest of his sketches, he didn't want her fingerprints all over everything.  Who knows what that human had already touched with her greasy little fingers?  At least Cheonha was so fearfully polite that she probably wouldn't roam about the ship at will.  Aldaris didn't trust any of the other three even slightly.

No, Aldaris had to risk letting the human have free reign on his ship.  The power loss of the recall unit couldn't be ignored forever.  Aldaris rose from the table and gathered his papers on the far side of the table from where Cheonha sat, leaving behind an ominous emotion so Cheonha wouldn't be tempted.

With that, he vanished from the room, hurrying down the halls.  This ship was his only survival, his only sanctuary from the humans.  And that was assuming that if something went fatally wrong, he could make his way to Earth first.  Neither option appealed to him, and that meant keeping this hunk of metal in orbit.  He passed in a grumpy haze to the main bridge, where he poked about on the controls with impatience.

Aldaris blinked.  Had he been too impatient?  There didn't seem to be any indication of a power leakage at all.  All indicators were at nominal levels, other than the power level still recharging after the massive recall wave.  It was nearing half of its standby power, and still going forward.  At least the solar power conveyer was still operational.

"To recall Cheonha does not require more than half of the recall unit's power."

Aldaris tapped on the screen.  An image of a spherical mechanism appeared, with pipes jutting out at regular intervals.  At each joint where pipe met the sphere the lights shone green: nominal.  Out of a sneaking suspicion, Aldaris very reluctantly checked the recall records.  He saw exactly what he did not want to see: three more recall signatures, each matching the records of previous recalls.  All four humans had not only recalled, but been recalled at different coordinates.

"Venetaris bh'alla iinhuman," Aldaris growled as he slammed the innocent controls.  "Ma'cah irendeenia!"

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tea of the day: Battle of the Earl Greys

Hey y'all.  So I found out that there are three flavors of earl grey tea at my house, so I'll be doing another battle of the teas.  Once more, Dad will be joining me.  Again, he'll be drinking his with some fake sugar, and I'll be drinking mine black.

Earl grey might be the tea of choice for Starfleet's best captain (judging purely by efficiency, of course), but it's not my favorite.  I don't really care for the flavor of it, as it's too "dark-ish" for my taste.  Which is weird to complain about, considering that I drink my coffee black.  In any case, it's still better than brown rice green tea.

Dad likes it, but he's gone off his earl grey kick and is sort of in a slump about it.  I'm not looking forward to what Dad's comments will be, as he tends to realize he hates things when he takes the time to taste them. The best way to get Dad's opinion about any food or drink is to make him visit someone's house and have to eat it to be polite.

On looking at the ingredients, they all seem pretty similar.  I guess it comes down to quality of tea, then.  And what the frig is oil of bergamot?  My spell checker doesn't even consider that a word.

Onto the competition!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Meaning of Suffering

So there's been this debate on why good people suffer and why God would allow it.  This never bothered me when I was younger, but apparently it bothers others, and so I should acknowledge it.  I have two answers to this.  One is a conceptual, theoretical answer, and the other is more based on research.  I didn't know it was research at the time, but learning happens whether we allow it or not.

Theological answer:

Many people have assumed that since suffering is in the world, that God is either unkind, or is somehow limited in his power.  Why should either be true?  Do we need remember that it was man that brought sin into the world?  We chose to disobey, and one of the consequences of that is allowing satan greater authority to mess with stuff on this earth.  We chose to listen to a lie, and thus sin has entered the world, and like wind and rain it makes no distinction on who it affects.  We are all trapped by it.

But why, one may ask, did God just nip the whole sin thing in the bud so we wouldn't have to deal with all the evil we see in the world today?  Some might argue that we need to understand the consequences of free will, and that free will means being able to choose dumb choices.  I personally argue that we would not know good so well if we didn't have some idea of evil, and why it is bad.  How would we value something if we didn't know what life is without it?  

Research-based answer:

By research-based, I mean answers based on what I have heard/seen/read from others.  

My favorite author is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the writer of The Gulag Archipelago.  This book is the compilation of his own experiences and the testimony of witnesses as to the entire history of the Soviet prison camp system, from conception until Solzhenitsyn's release in 1953.  In part of the second volume, The Soul and Barbed Wire, he explains how living in the camp changes people.  It changed him for the better, and he became a Christian.  In fact, had Solzhenitsyn not been in the prison camp, he never would have become a writer, a sourge to the Soviet government, and voice for communism's dead in Russia.  

Solzhenitsyn also wrote how the zeks (prisoners) who were released from jail were happier than the general populace.  Shortages and small problems didn't bother the freed zeks so much, since they could now go where they pleased and see the sunshine.  It would be unbalanced to point out that Solzhenitsyn mentions those who were corrupted by the camps.  And yet the stories of those who didn't become more magnificent by comparison.

Perhaps a direct quote would secure Solzhenitsyn's opinion on the matter.

"So wouldn't it be more correct to say that no camp can corrupt those who have a stable nucleus, who do not accept that pitiful ideology which holds that 'human beings are created for happiness,' an ideology which is done in by the first blow of the work assigner's cudgel?"

I have a book, which unfortunately I cannot find at the moment, called Sources of Korean Tradition.  I was only able to read the beginning before our hasty move to this new apartment, but I still recall the point of its prologue (it was a book on later Korean history, so it briefly touched on what came before).  The book claimed that since Koreans had had several centuries of peace, they weren't ready when the Japanese invaded them in the nineteenth century.  According to this book, too many years of peace had taken away the Korean's ability to defend themselves as they had once done, as well as keep them too content and separate (think "the hermit country"), to develop new technologies.  

When we read stories, do we like to read things where people have easy lives?  Do we like stories where every problem is solved without pain?  Of course not.  We call such fluff fake.  Even those stuck on cheesy romance plots don't want the protagonist to get her man without some dramatic twist.  We admire people who have gone through hard times and won, whether fiction or nonfiction.

As a Christian, I must point out the suffering of Jesus.  Many of us who complain about life haven't experienced anything so horrible as what Jesus went through for our sakes.  Jesus came to this earth for many reasons, and one of them is to share in all the pains of our lives.  How could we call someone Savior who hadn't experienced our problems?  Technically, God's knowledge is such that he doesn't have to suffer to understand us, but will we accept such an answer?  Probably not.  You know how much people say "you don't know me and what I've been through" these days.

Now, I've mentioned all these things, what is the point?  Simple.  Suffering makes us great.  Victimization may spoil it for us, but if we understand suffering and don't fear it, it will become an honor to us, a way we have survived and overcome in this world.  Perhaps some would find this idea offensive, but the truth of the matter is that it doesn't matter how we got to this situation.  We live in a flawed world, and we have to not only survive it, but enjoy it as it is, with all the endurance we can bring to the table.  Our need creates initiative to make better things.  Our flaws in ourselves inspire mercy for others.  Bad things in the world cause us to want to bring better into being, both for ourselves and each other.

"Formerly you never forgave anyone.  You judged people without mercy.  And you praised people with equal lack of moderation.  And now an understanding mildness has become the basis of your uncategorical judgements.  You have come to realize you own weakness--and you can therefore understand the weakness of others.  And be astonished at another's strength.  And wish to possess it yourself."

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Nitpickery -- Star Trek: Insurrection

Hey y'all.

Ugh.  Just ugh.  I have to do Star Trek Insurrection now, don't I?  I don't really want to.  The trouble with this movie is that it's just...well, boring.  The other three movies for Next Gen were all crap too, and technically Generations and Nemesis are worse, but Insurrection just has no appeal whatsoever.  Sure, Generations is technically a movie for no one, but it has William Shatner in it, as well as some nice Walter Koenig moments. First Contact had literally the most implausible plot ever, but it appealed to some fans, and the actress who played Lily actually acted like a real human rather than a plastic Trek trope.  Nemesis has no redeeming qualities, but it's at least highly nitpickable and a good example of several bad movie-making choices.

Insurrection, on the other's like they picked the plot out of a big batch of Star Trek cliches and went for it.  Sure, at this point the Star Trek franchise wasn't doing so hot.  The writers didn't know how to branch out and create new Trek things, except for the DS9 side, who went so far they ended up not being entirely Trek.  The true Trek feeling was fading, and Hollywood didn't seem to want to give out much money to it.

Ugh.  I was not looking forward to watching this movie.  I didn't want to do it.  But I'm supposed to be doing these blog posts on it, or something.  So yeah.  Have I mentioned how much I really hate fanciful DVD intros?  Y'know, those really fake looking gimmicky intros that think it's "cool" to pretend that clicking an option in the DVD menu is like doing some function on a spaceship (or other movie reference).  Maybe that's just a pet peeve, but yeah.  It annoys me.

Nitpickery is spoilers.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Tea of the Day: The Battle of the Oranges

Hey y'all.  So for New Year's Eve (by complete coincidence) my family and I will be having a competition between all three brands of orange flavors that I ended up with after Christmas.  We're all going to sit together, watch a movie, and rant about tea.  Marvelous!

A note about our judges.  One is me, of course, and the other is my dad.  Dad's a very regular sort of person, who doesn't like going out of his way to try weirdo things.  His favorite tea flavor is orange pekoe, which as tea folk know is a reference to when a leaf is picked, rather than a flavor.  I like trying new things, but I'm not necessarily the best at it. I don't have the most sophisticated palate, and unless a tea (or anything else) is very good or very bad, I'm not always likely to distinguish tastes without a frame of reference.

In other words, we're the best judges ever!

Dad will be drinking each tea with a packet of off-brand fake sugar, and I'll be drinking mine black, just for the record.