Friday, September 18, 2009

Robot Tour

I'm about to take apart the May Day robot and build something that's hopefully better, so my brothers made a little demo video since most of you haven't seen it:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Why is Gore Disturbing?

Dunno. My brain drained about a year ago. Before I begin, though, let me warn you to take what I say with a grain of salt -- I don't have anything figured out.

I've seen a lot of gore -- real and very disturbing gore. (Thanks, safety training!) Consequently, it doesn't bother me anymore. How come?

If you see someone get a fingernail ripped out it's very disturbing, and the first reaction is imagining what it would feel like to have your own fingernail ripped out. For the next few minutes, you'll probably stand their gripping a finger in your fist in an effort to avoid the same calamity. After that, a lot of people tend to feel very badly for that person. Not me. I say, "HAHA! Too bad for you!" (Ok, not really :-)

As another example, think of a disfigured person. Your first natural reaction is to recoil -- all because they don't look like you do. Your reaction is solely based on the fact that they don't look like you; as with the fingernail, you're using yourself as the point of reference.

So, why don't gory pictures disturb me anymore? I think it's because, with practice, I can look at an injury in a somewhat non-self-referential way -- as long as I can keep from associating gore or dismemberment with my own self, it doesn't bother me. This is something people who work in the medical field have to overcome very quickly.

A good illustration is a car accident involving a serious injury. Most people either leave or stand around the victim in shock, not knowing what to do. Others get weak and faint. Those who are able to keep themselves from comparing the blood and gore with their own bodies are the ones who save lives; those who don't use themselves as the point of reference while observing the victim are the ones who have the presence of mind to make a difference.

Now for a little analogy...

Throughout our daily lives, we judge. "Oh, this is good." "This is bad." "I'm cold and that isn't good." "I'll order from this company because I liked their website."

And when it comes to people, we cannot help but judge -- this happens all the time. When you first meet someone, you immediately form an opinion about them. Using your own mind and self as the point of reference, our opinions tend to be formed by how they compare to us. Do they conform to our self-imposed moral standards? Do they dress how we dress? Do they listen to the same music we do? Do they home school? Do they go to movie theaters? Do they have sound doctrine? or, God forbid, do they drink? Too often we use these self-referential judgements to form our opinion of our fellow brothers in Christ.

Isn't this part what Christ warned about in the Sermon on the Mount? Is it so much that He's calling us to avoid the sin of judgementalism, or is the point natural-mindedness, using our own flawed judgement?

I'll steal something from Pastor Culver's notes on the subject and can be downloaded here:
"And yet, multitudes miss the crucial connection between human estrangement and the
practice of judging – a very likely outcome if this passage isn’t interpreted within the overall context. Jesus was addressing earthly-mindedness as the foundational barrier to the kingdom of heaven, and all human judgment reflects and proceeds out of this human condition. It isn’t judging as such that Jesus confronted, but neither is it merely a faultfinding, judgmental spirit. Perhaps most Christians confine Jesus’ concern in this passage to the sin of judgmentalism, and this was certainly His point of departure. But when this passage is viewed through the lens of the wider context, one discovers that Jesus was speaking ultimately to the entire psychology and operation of human judgment, positive as much as negative. He was here treating the problem of judging in the broadest sense – that is, as a natural, spontaneous, and even unconscious function of the fallen, earthly mind, rather than only in the narrow sense of a judgmental spirit. The Lord’s overarching concern was the human condition that destroys people’s capacity to judge rightly, only one expression of which is judgmentalism. ... Again, the problem isn’t human beings making judgments; this is an essential and glorious feature of bearing the divine image and likeness. Man cannot fulfill hiscreated identity without judging, the greatest proof of this being the example ofJesus Christ, the consummate Man. In every circumstance and with regard to every person, Jesus made judgments. But His judgments were distinguished bythe fact that they proceeded out of a mind in perfect harmony with His Father’s; Jesus judged all things, but always and only with “righteous judgment.”

(I was going to go into much more detail and talk for a while, but I doubt anyone will make it to here, so I'll keep it short and throw out a bunch of disconnected sentences. :-)

It is our obligation to live by the law of love. Judging our fellow Christians in natural-mindedness, and in one aspect, using ourselves as the point of reference, divides the body of Christ whereas judging with the mind of Christ builds the body.

Judging our righteousness or "right-ness with God" on our own works is the broad way -- to steal a phrase yet again, the biggest stumbling block to Christians is often their own righteousness. This is the way that leads to destruction. Judging with ourselves as the point of reference -- what a great way to keep our focus on our own works and live estranged from God and ourselves! What a great way to focus on our works -- what we do to be "right with God" and get what we want, whether it be fulfillment through estrangement, temporal wealth, happiness, or an easy life. Satan loves highly moral and religious people who live with the natural mind as he loves the Atheist -- in the end, they both live by the same mind and he's accomplished the same goal.

Natural man is incapable of rightly judging. We, as members of the body, have the mind of Christ -- we can rightly judge. How often do we live with the mind of Christ and rightly judge, though? I know I don't!

To get back to my weak analogy, those who keep from using themselves as the point of reference when seeing an injured person are the ones who save lives; those who don't live by natural mindedness but rather with the mind of Christ bear the fragrance of Christ -- fulfilled creatures living into their true identity as image sons.

It's only in Christ where we can find our true humanness. Seek fulfillment and you won't find it. Seek Christ and you'll find fulfillment. Seek happiness and you won't find it. Seek Christ and you'll find happiness. Seek peace and you won't find it. Seek Christ and you'll find peace. Christ is the answer and the point where we find our true humanness as God's image-bearers.

And if you made it through that jumbled mess and want to read more, not to mention much better writing with a much greater understanding, check this out:

Sport a Strong Stomach?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Funny Bird

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Post Dinner

Upon arriving at our hotel after a rather hot day of work, the representative from the "local" area office and I agreed on a time at which to meet for dinner. Meeting in the hotel parking lot, we proceeded to Los Banos for a spot of dinner. (And, yes, Los Banos, in common Spanish, means, "The Bathrooms.")

It's funny how you ask and get asked the same questions when spending time with a stranger...
"So... Do you have a girlfriend?"
"Hehe... nope."
"How on earth did you get through college without getting a girlfriend?"
"I was in the engineering program."
"Yeah, there was only one guy in our class who had a girlfriend -- sweethearts from high school. They got married right after they graduated."
"Boy, I hope their marriage lasts -- statistically, they don't have a very good chance."

Spoken like a true engineer -- objectify, add statistics, and analyze :-)

Since then, he's been pointing out "cute girls" to me.

"Oh, the front-desk lady is kinda cute."
"She's married." (Ok, I didn't actually say that :-) "Hehehe. Um... yeah."
"Maybe there're some cute chicks at the pool."

The restaurant was pretty good -- not nearly spicy enough for the area office guy. He said his quote used to be, "You can't make hot sauce hot enough" until he found Habanero oil. Costing about $40/oz and being much hotter than Cinnamon oil, the vile substance might possibly kill.

The restaurant was a "white man's Mexican restaurant." The music reminded me of something Eddie Fisher might sing -- Spanish songs written in English. The interior architecture was quite odd -- I've don't believe I've ever seen Edo Japanese architecture with Spanish archades. Large picture windows looked out into elaborate Californian gardens. (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

I was parched, so I drank and drank... and drank... after about the 5th refill, I realized I wasn't going to be finishing dinner due to the large volumes of liquid sloshing around in my stomach. Shortly thereafter, I pronounced my dinner "finished" as I sadly stared at $7 of rejected hard earned per-Diem. (money provided for eating on trips) OK, so it wasn't a funeral or anything, I was just starting to feel rather gross, so I was glad to not have to think about the taste of shredded beef Chimichanga anymore. Good thing I didn't add a salad to the meal -- I would have been content with a salad and a few pitchers of Pepsi... OK, water would have been OK, but pop? Yeah, man!

Whelp, I must go perform CPR on my readers, so hang in there! (Man, do you know how much of a workout CPR is? I hate doing it on our practice dummies at work...)

One and two and three and four and five and six and seven and eight and nine and ten and eleven and twelve and thirteen and fourteen and fifteen and sixteen and seventeen and eighteen and nineteen OK, CLASS, YOUR MANIKIN JUST THREW UP! *rolls manikin on side and cleans out mouth* twenty and twenty one, twenty two, twenty three, twenty four, twenty five, twenty six, twenty seven, twenty eight, twenty nine, thirty... breath, 2, 3, and another breath into the mouth of the manikin that just threw up. OK, CLASS! THE BREATH DID NOT GO IN! *fishes object out manikin's mouth* Yet another breath into the latex airway. THE BREATH WENT IN! CONTINUE CPR! one and two and three, OK, CLASS, THE CARTILAGE HOLDING THE STERNUM IN PLACE HAS BROKEN FREE AND THE STERNUM IS FLOATING AROUND. WHAT DO YOU DO? Continue CPR. and four and five and six and OK, CLASS, AN AED HAS ARRIVED. PARTNERS, ATTACH THE PADS! "ANALYZING! EVERYONE STAND CLEAR!" "SHOCK ADVISED! EVERYONE STAND CLEAR!" "DELIVERING SHOCK NOW!" The manikin is not responding. Continue CPR for another ten minutes... Yes, it can be rather entertaining as people get sick of practicing and start pleading with their manikins to hang in there and sobbing because it doesn't respond.

People seem to get the idea that CPR is some romantic thing a guy could do to save a girl's life, gaining the everlasting gratitude of said girl, but frankly, CPR is not something you'd wish on your worst enemy. I sure hope I never have to do CPR on a real person.

10 Minute Post

I'll be going to dinner soon, so I figured I'd babble since there appears to be a sign of life from a viewer.

It was a nice day -- only in the low 100s with no clouds. There were lots and lots and lots of wasps and mosquitoes to complete the serene environment. It's a wonder I didn't get stung. Oh, I got eaten alive by mosquito's, but that was OK. Having overweight beaks you could feel 'em, so you could squash 'em right as they took their first sip of the red tastiness.

The wasps seemed to have found homes in the pumps. It's a little scary turning on a large pump that's 10 feet away from you, knowing full well that a whole flock of angered wasps will come charging after you to carry you away in their beaks... Yeah, I make no sense :-) Actually, they seemed to be rather confused by their home being turned into a wind tunnel, so they weren't about to eat us.

We skipped lunch today. Good thing I went to a convenience store and bought snacks last night :-)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Elitches Turns Lakeside

Sounds like the headlines on National Enquire, though I'll have to admit it isn't as exciting as "Pit Bull Eats Motor Home."

Elitches is in a sad state. It appears they sold way too many season passes this year -- it's very rare to see someone enter with an actual ticket, and... well... when their rides break, they just kind of sit there... the place is starting to look like Lakeside. One difference -- at least Lakeside has a new coat of paint every once in a while. Eltiches? They didn't even bother to power wash this year. For me, Elitches peaked last year.

Now, on the other hand, I brought my brothers to Lakeside a few weeks ago and WOW! They're really been fixing up the place. Like seriously. We're not just talking about yet another coat of paint. We're talking rides being completely restored, motors being replaced, ALL the neon lights on rides they've restored replaced and working... There was something else I saw that really surprised me -- you know those three pigs on the pole at the Star Ride? There's new high-voltage direct-bury cable installed! (There are three transformers on a telephone pole next to the star ride that have some new, rather expensive power cables going to them.)

Not only that, when I brought my brothers, there were no parking places left in the main lot and people were parking all over the place behind the temporary rides... I got one of the last places in the park!

The only thing I wasn't too keen on was the fact they shimmed the Sattellite tower -- I guess they decided that even though the ride was designed to lurch around, it gave the impression that the ride was ready to break. They also replaced the air hoses -- I bounced at the resonant frequency of one of the arms and the air hose didn't burst, so I guess it's good! (It's kind of an under-damped system.)

And, lastly, the operators at Lakeside are definitely a much higher class than the guys at Elitches. I think it has something to do with actually giving the operators responsibility... Eltiches "safeness" has somewhat backfired. The operators are board out of their heads and oblivious to anything that goes on -- it took a whole two seasons for an operator to finally yell at me for crawling around on the frame of the Thunderbolt while it was in operation -- ok, ok... for using the resonant frequency of the hills to get my car to swing out past horizontal, putting sheer stress on the adjustment mechanism and high energy impulses on the shock absorbers. (BTW, if you want to be completely exhausted and battered in 2 minutes, that's the way to do it -- It's like a power workout times ten.)

Ok, ok... I'm using technical terms to make it sound like I was really putting the rides through their paces... It wasn't nearly as abusive as I make it sound.

I don't know what happened, but Lakeside is shaping up and Elitches seems to be going down the path that landed Lakeside in its pit.

Greetings from the Land of Nuts

I'm back in the lovely little truck stop of Santa Nella once again -- This time, I'm by myself... It's the first work-related trip I've taken by myself outside of Colorado, so it's quite the experience. I had to rent a car for the first time in my life. Yeah, yeah... Hey, there's always a first time, right? :-) I have a Nissan Altima. It's interesting -- a car without a key... well, a mechanical key, that is. When you get in, you put your foot on the break and press the "Start" button. I'm not sure what to think about it. While it's a "cool feature," it further distances the average Joe from an understanding of mechanical systems. True, the average Joe probably couldn't care less, but still... I assume people kind of get a vague idea on how things work after years and years of using something. Guess this generation will only be stimulated by Dopamine.

Time for a short break!

I flew into Fresno, CA this morning/afternoon. The plane was so small I couldn't stand straight in the middle isle without bashing my noggin to shreds -- probably the smallest plane I've been on. (I haven't flown much, as I'm sure you can tell.) Man, I'm really starting to hibernate on planes. I slept next to a mom and her two squirrels, and it didn't bug me in the least -- I slept right through it. As a side note, I'm really not impressed with the new "correct" methods for disciplining your kids. Somehow, asking your two-year-old to sit in their seat for takeoff and reasoning with them while they're in the throws of a temper tantrum just doesn't seem to work. :-) Thank you, child psychology! (BTW, if you ever get the chance, take a psychology class -- it's very interesting and reveals the logical progression that leads to things like today's child-raising tactics. Yes, it's very logical, but it's based on a set of logical fallacies...)

Anyway, I don't know what I'm going to do till bed. I've been studying, but I'm tired of that. I already ate dinner at Carl's Jr... Maybe I'll... OOOH! I'll start rewriting the bridge contest software. Time to learn SQL Server... Huh, I bet I don't have it installed. Well, anyway... LOL! The outlet on the lamp on the desk for a laptop in the hotel room is labeled, "120V, 60Hz, 11Amps Max, Combined." Who on earth is going to sit here and calculate the current draw of their device before plugging it in? And 60Hz? I'd hope so! It ain't the U.K.!