Friday, June 26, 2009

What Comes First?

My New Testament reading for tonight was I Peter 3-5. It's a good passage in general, but one verse caught my eye. That verse was I Peter 3:15:

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

The verse goes a little bit further than that, but this is the part that resonated with me. The first part seems to be the easy part, at least to me. Alright, sure, Christ is Lord. Deal. The second... well... not so much. I have reasons I believe, but it would be tough for me to give a concise statement explaining my faith.

I hadn't ever really thought about it before, but I think that's because I've got it backwards. You don't set Christ apart as Lord because you have a fantastic answer for anyone that asks why you believe what you do; you don't get faith from fancy, well-constructed verbiage. The answer to the question "Why do you believe what you believe?" comes directly from the fact that you've done what is actually the hard part: you've given yourself to Christ.

This is not to say that we should follow blindly. There's a difference between faith and being a lemming. You may not be able to completely explain your faith, but there should be some well thought out reasoning behind it. I think that's crucial mostly because it's what helps you through doubt. At some point I'll try to dive a little further into doubt and what my doubts are, but when I start to doubt, I always have to take the time to remind myself of the foundational reasons I believe.

This has been good for me. Hopefully it's allowed you to be a little introspective as well. Now that it's 1am, I should probably get some sleep. I've got a long weekend ahead (taking Monday off) and it's full of golf, Sea-dooing, probably some discing, and maybe some biking (I didn't get out today like I wanted to, ugh. I just gotta freaking do that).

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Whoops!

Alright, I missed Wednesday by about 16 hours, but this will just have to do for some quick updates. I'm still at work, but no one else is, so I can spare a few minutes.

First of all, the list.

1) I attempted steak cooking again last night with somewhat better results than the first try. Thanks to some actual instructions from the internet and some fantastic spices, the steak turned out... well... better than last time. Still not great, but we're getting there. Gotta work on getting the timing down, because it was a little dry again. (A better cut of meat would probably be a good idea too... $5 for two sizzler steaks doesn't instill too much confidence in the quality of the beef.) I'm getting frighteningly good at spaghetti though. Dump in boiling water, wait, strain, eat. That's my kind of food.

2) I still haven't ridden my bike since the 30 mile ride out to the zoo right after school got out, but I've been getting my exercise in other ways. Seadooing/tubing is a great workout, and I've been golfing occasionally as well. I'm hoping to get a ride in tonight, but we'll see what happens.

3) Just a quick warning that this next section is going to be incredibly boring for almost everyone. You've been warned. Using Visual Studio 2005, I was able to create a little custom application that can chat with the Arduino over a USB cable that's acting as a serial COM port. The Arduino can talk back as well, but I haven't really integrated that into the app yet. Visual Studio is absolutely incredible in how easy it makes that type of communication. The entire program involved me dropping some text boxes and a button onto a blank form, then writing five lines of code to be executed when the button is clicked. Voila! I can now control a microchip from my laptop. More interesting than the fact that I can do this, though, is that after the last year of classes, I actually partially understand what's going on. Very cool.

4) My devos haven't changed much. I'm still reading a few chapters a night. I've gotten through Matthew, Ephesians, and I've started on I Peter. It's a strange order, but that's the way the "New Testament in 90 Days" set it up. I think it helps things not get too repetitive. (All four gospels in a row might not always have the same effect as splitting them up with some Pauline Epistles.) I'm learning things here and there, but actually I'm coming up with more questions than answers. I should really start writing them down so I can throw them up here for people to check out and maybe try to answer for me. It's hard to convince me of things, so you'd have to have some pretty good responses.

That's all. I'm going to pick up some shirts I ordered that were delivered to my parents' house today... if they don't fit I might burn something down.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Inspiration

I missed my Sunday evening blogging session last night, so I'm making up for it now while I watch some CSI. Not a whole lot has happened since last Wednesday, so I guess one extra day of material is probably a good thing.

For the past couple of years or so, I've been taking some time every once in a while to watch a few of the videos at TED.com. Most of them are fantastic. Without fail, I learn something, and I always end up wanting to get out and do something ambitous right away. Unfortunately I usually watch them at 11:30 at night before I go to bed, so that doesn't happen and I wake up almost as lazy as when I went to sleep. My hope is that one day I'll have watched so many of them I actually do something meaningful.

I watched a couple last night on varied topics. One was about how biology and engineering are interconnected, and used the example of gecko feet/tails. Biology found the amazing ability of the gecko to climb walls, which engineers replicated in a lab, and then noticed that it didn't work without a tail, and so they suggested that the biologists study the geckos' tails. The results were some pretty monumental discoveries and some incredible video footage.

There have also been several good presentations by Steelcase division presidents in the past week that have provided a little extra inspiration as well. It's always great to see someone who truly loves what they do and loves to share it with others. Not every company president is willing to take a few hours in the afternoon to talk to interns about what they do, where they're from, and take questions.

Suffice it to say, I'm spending a lot of my time these days thinking about what I want to do with my life. I've been poking around on company websites to see if they've got internships open that I might be interested in next summer for a change of pace. Places like Cisco and some others that would give me a chance to branch out a little bit as far as computer engineering goes. Who knows, but it's at least interesting to look into.

CSI is almost done, so I am as well.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It's Wednesday Again

Another Hump Day update for your pleasure. I'm not really in a great writing mood right now, so I'll just run through the four goals I have for myself this summer and let you know how I'm doing. Sound good? Good.

1. Learning to cook. I'm getting there. I've mastered spaghetti, but that doesn't really mean all that much. I did a pretty good job with some Shake & Bake the other day, and I can make Hamburger Helper with the best of them, but I've got a long way to go before I'm a decent cook. There are a couple more steaks in the freezer that I'll try again sometime in the near future. There are more pressing matters at this point though... like mowing the lawn, and that will probably force me to make a low-creativity meal on at least one occasion where I might have time for something a little bit fancier. So yeah, not there yet, but progress is being made.

2. Getting more exercise. This is the goal I'm doing the worst at so far. I still spend most of my evenings sitting around the house, but once my bike joins me here on Colton this week I'll have that to tool around on and stay active. I've been golfing a few times lately, and that's been going pretty well. I'm learning more about my swing this year (and hopefully that will show up in the scores soon) than I have ever before in my golf career. It feels good, I'm gaining confidence in my stroke, and best of all, it's just plain fun. (Short game still needs a lot of work.)

3. I'm slowly but surely learning how to use the Arduino I bought. I can control it by programming the board, but I've got a long way to go before I can interface it with C++ software I think. It's going to take many evenings of poking aroung on Google (or Bing I suppose, haha) and just playing around with the thing before I can make it do just what I want it to do, but that's the fun part! Luckily I had an old electronics kit at home that had dozens of resistors, a bunch of capacitors and diodes, and several op-amp and logic gate chips, so that prevented me from having to go out and buy extra components.

4. Devotions. These have been going pretty well as far as going through the motions. I've begun a "New Testament in 90 Days" plan, and am currently about 20 chapters into Matthew. I'm doing a good job of forcing myself to do the reading, but that's the easy part. I'm still trying to figure out the best way for me to internalize what I'm reading have have some sort of takeaway from each night's reading. Maybe it means moving the time I'm setting aside to right when I wake up in the morning, but I'm usually groggy enough in the morning that I think it'd be just as bad. I could do it right after I get home for work, but then my brain is ususally relatively numb, and it might be hard to concentrate.

Whatever the time, there are always things I pick up while I'm reading, and that's been the case the last week as well. There have been numerous little "hmmm" or "aha" moments for me while I read, and those are the times when I start to realize how important it is.

That's about it for this Wednesday. It's been a strange week at work, but there aren't any compelling stories to tell, so I'll pass on that. I think it's time for me to go watch some Conan, read some more of Matthew, and get some sleep.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Overwhelmed (In a good way)

Work today was tough. It wasn't physically hard, but I still came home exhausted. It's strange, because I spent a large portion of my day sitting around waiting for meetings, trying to stay occupied. Given all of that, after today I'm more excited for what's to come at work than I ever have been (I think...). After one meeting I walked away thinking, "Holy crap, what in the world is going on, I'm more lost now than I was beforehand."

I was overwhelmed. I still am.

Strangely enough though, that's what excites me. I'm an intern, working on a project that hasn't really gone anywhere in the last year or so with other people working on it. This means two things: I can't really mess it up, and there's a lot of potential for me to make some progress. (Also strange, I'm watching "The Pursuit of Happyness" right now... very fitting.)

The first of those two things is key. Someday I'll need to be able to handle a situation where I could seriously mess something up by making a wrong decision. Today is not that day. I know that the worst thing that could possibly happen right now is nothing. That's a comfort.

The second is also good. Not quite as important for my personal development, but good.

Normally I'd be frustrated by this situation, but I'm going to do everything I can to grab it by the horns and make something out of it. I can't help but think that all of the fog in my head will end up clearing at some point and I'll have a little bit of clarity on what needs to be done. It all coincides with the book I've been reading on integrity, so I guess it's all coming together at once and I just need to take advantage of it all.

We shall see.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I was serious about this.

Hump day update.

I'm getting dangerously close to finishing my book. It's been interesting enough thus far to make me wish there was more. It's not often that I read a book and actually realize fairly important things about myself and what I want to do with my life. Don't misunderstand, I still have no idea on any of the specifics, but I'm starting to get pointed in the right direction at least.

The biggest thing I've learned is that I seriously need to stop wasting so much time. It's gotten out of control the last couple years (read: since my parents stopped making all my plans for me). I've got a few different things I want to work on throughout this summer, and I figure the best way to make sure I do that is to make a list:

1. I want to learn to cook an entire meal from scratch and have it taste as good as it would if my Mom was cooking. Luckily my mom isn't exactly Martha Stewart, so it's at least feasible, but she does set the bar pretty high. I tried steaks the other day and the results were mediocre at best. Next up is shake and bake chicken, and then I'll have to reevaluate what I want to specialize in.

2. I need to exercise more. This will consist almost entirely of biking, but I can't start that until after this week, as my bike is being borrowed for my Church's bike trip. I got a tire replaced a couple weeks ago, and it should be in tip-top shape, ready for me to pedal the heck out of it.

3. I ordered an Arduino today along with some other small components so I can see whether it's the kind of thing I could to prove out some Senior Design ideas. We'll see how that works, but at this point I just want to stay in touch with my technical side that isn't getting quite as much of a workout lately at Steelcase.

4. As I mentioned in the last blog post as well, I need to work on my devotions and my spiritual life in general. That starts with having a strong desire to do so, and lately I haven't had that. It's going to be accompanied by no small amount of dragging feet and probably some kicking and screaming. It's important enough that it needs to be done though, and I'm hoping I can stick with it. I'd gladly welcome anyone that's trying to do this as well to join me and be a sort of accountability partner. I've never had that, and I think it'd help a lot. We could work out the details later, it'd be fun.

So yeah, those are my four "goals" for the summer. At some point I may think of something else I'd like to try, but this seems like it could keep me busy for a large portion of most evenings after work.

My current plan (not to be confused with a commitment, as this is much weaker than that) is to make Wednesdays the day I provide updates on these goals. That's where it becomes handy that no one actually reads this, because I won't feel like I'm letting anyone down if I fall short on one or more of the items.

Now I'm off to do some hottubbing. Hottubbing > Blogging, 100% of the time.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Alright, let's try this again.

Ok, so after the first post I lost track of this. Since I have almost nothing else to do this summer, I'm going to try to do a semi-decent job of keeping this updated. Like I said before, I have no idea what it'll turn into, but as a kinda wise man at work said this morning (paraphrasing Confucious), "Every great journey begins with a single step." I guess this is that first step.

Bullet points:

1. Work is becoming interesting for me, one meeting at time. I've discovered that if there was such a thing as a professional listener, I would sign up immediately. My favorite part of being at work is the meetings, because it gives me the opportunity to hear what's going on in someone elses world. I get to hear what excites them about their job, what frustrates them, and how I might be able to help them "do what they do better" (quotes because that's a Steelcase slogan). I'm learning that office dynamics are incredibly complex, and each person approaches each problem from a slightly different position. Sometimes it leads to incredible innovation and breakthroughs, other times it just makes for intriguing conversation.

2. My devotional life sucks as of late. My prayer life as well, but it's not stagnant to the same extent. This is mostly because of my lack of discipline and energy, and partly because I've got lot of things I'm thinking about all the time. I won't go into it all here and now, but what I will say is that it's often a struggle for me to justify my scientifically oriented mind with my faith and the Bible. Doubt is a large, and in my opinion, very important part of Christianity, but it is frustrating to an extent that I never thought it would be. I need to make a list of books to read, and one of the top few is going to be "Faith & Doubt." We read passages during my analog circuit design class last semester, and it proved helpful even in small 10 minute segments.

3. I'm working on finding some other constructive things to do with myself this summer, and my first order of business (I think... I haven't pulled the trigger yet) is to buy an Arduino chip and some basic circuit components and see if I can't make something interesting. It's essentially a piece of hardware that allows you to program a chip through software that can interact with inputs, outputs, and all kinds of little add-on gadgets. It sounds incredibly nerdy, and it is, but the possible applications are quite stunning in their simplicity and usefulness. For example, a device you can stick into the dirt in a flower pot that will Tweet when it needs to be watered.

That's about it for now... hopefully I can keep this up.