Time to Think

Aaaah. Room to stretch. I am writing this post from the Messiah College campus on my iMac, all of the rest having been written on my iPad, and I can tell you, it is nice to get a little room to maneuver. Don’t get me wrong, I love the iPad, and am amazed that I have lived with it as my only link to the world wide web for so long without going mad, but I own a 21″ iMac for a reason. More on that on Monday.

I have been graduated for all of twelve days, and after moving, and cleaning the old apartment, I have been sitting around the new apartment.

My Jeep has a weird issue that restricts me from driving it above 40 mph, safely that is, and Hannah takes the car into work, so I can’t really go anywhere. This being central Pennsylvania, the drivers really hate it when you drive the speed limit, much less 10 mph slower than the posted limit, and this being central Pennsylvania, everything is distressingly out of walking distance. No, really, I would walk to the grocery store out of sheer boredom, but I draw the line at anything over 8 miles. Besides, this walking would be along the roads where the maniacs drive, and that doesn’t make me feel any safer than driving my Jeep does. So, I sit around the apartment.

I could get a job, maybe, though I have tried and haven’t been successful so far (apart from not having a safe car to drive) but my wife might be hired for a job that would require us to move to Wisconsin, and it isn’t fair to an employer to get a job and quit a week and a half later. So, for the moment, I sit around the apartment.

While I do, I watch baseball, blog a bit, but mostly think. I think about my life, and all that I have accomplished: graduating from high school, Bible school, and college; dating and marrying a wonderful woman; making a few friends; and, um, I am sure other things. If I were honest, or depressed, I would say that it doesn’t feel like I have really done any of those things. Sure, I have a woman who sleeps in my (our) bed now, and I guess in a few weeks Messiah College will mail me a diploma, but if I went by feelings, as far as I can tell I feel like I did when I was 15, sitting around at home playing Need for Speed on my computer.

Maybe that is because I sit around by myself most of the day. I don’t know, because I have no basis for comparison, not having ever had a full time, or part time, job that required me to be outside of the house. I honestly don’t know what kind of job would appeal to me, though the idea of lifting heavy things or working at McDonald’s turns my stomach. If it were up to me, and money didn’t matter, I would rather just hang out with my wife and create. Create writing, create art, create music, create photography…just create. Being alone for a large part of the day saps my energy and my creative momentum. Writing this blog takes most of what I do have. That might astound me, except for the observation that my most highly creative times in the past three years have come right after my favorite English classes.

Where do I go from here? I am not really sure. For the time being, I have to wait anyway to see what happens with my wife’s job/no job thing. On the complete other side of things, the past five years of college have worn me out more than I can say, so it is really nice to have no real demands on my energy besides dishes and making the bed.

Forgive my personal ramblings, dear readers, but that is what Thursday is about on this blog, and it is mildly therapeutic for me to write this stuff. Tomorrow is baseball day, and I have a feeling it may be a bit of a rant. The Indians haven’t been playing too well as of late.

Don’t forget to email me questions, musings, or random thoughts for Tuesday’s Q&A blog, or just to say hi.


The Hunt for Red October

The only book I am reading at the moment is Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October. I first read the “thrilling” tale when I was younger, probably in my teens. I must have read it a second time a few years ago because I currently own a paperback copy that has all the earmarks of a yard sale or thrift store pickup that I don’t remember owning back in the day. Anyway, having recently come across it again, I decided to give it another read through.

This time through the story, I was continually struck by how boring, monotonous, and detail-heavy the novel manages to be. According to the back of my book, Clancy’s included level of detail and realism resulted in a rumored debrief at the White House, but I found it unnecessary. Clancy is wont to give a detailed history of every character, ship, submarine, or term that he talks about, and very often he tells a part of the story from the point of view of a sub or person who is never heard from again. In and amongst all of his detail and dramatis personae, the story stops and starts like an old pickup truck.

The reader has to plod through most of the book before the action even starts, and then it is over in about two pages. Most of the book centres around the cat-and-mouse hunt for the defecting Russian missile submarine Red October, but that ceases to be interesting after the first few chapters.

Red October is certainly a well researched, planned, and thought out novel, but it fails to hold attention or keep the reader turning pages unless they really have nothing else to do. I confess that Red October is my bathroom reading, but if I was reading it in any other setting than the 20 minutes or so I am occupied thereby, I would not have continued to read it. I am fairly certain I won’t read the book again, once I finish it, which should be in a day or two.

I have read a few of Clancy’s other Jack Ryan stories, among them Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games, but I dont remember them well enough to know if they fall victim to the same troubles with plague October.

Honestly, for my time and effort, I would more heartily recommend that someone watch the excellent film adaptation starring Alec Baldwim and Sean Connery rather than read the book. The literary person inside of me cringes at that suggestion, but sometimes the book isn’t really better.

Starting next week I will blog through the next book I choose to read, which, for the moment, is a mystery. During my capstone writing course at Messiah College my professor assigned me the task of compiling a reading list for future reading, and I will be selecting one of the books from that list.

Please don’t forget to email me a question, pondering, or random thought for Tuesday’s Q&A blog.

’till tomorrow!

the Slave

the slave

shadows slant as the sun
arcs across the prison walls
he walks his paces
sinking to his cot and rising again
he pounds the iron walls in frustration
days come and go
without count and number
how long has it been?
will deliverance….?
falling into the corner
he sobs
running out of tears
his crime, his punishment
the love he showed
and the kindness given
for this they beat and mock
he waits in the dungeon
locked in a foreign land across the sands
by all but his God
but still this man
the Hebrew
footsteps come

I wrote this poem some time ago about the Biblical character of Joseph. This poem takes place in the middle his story, while wrongfully imprisoned on a charge of rape. Go read the story in Genesis 37 and the surrounding chapters. It is an interesting story.

A Brief History

For most of my life, I have been a PC guy, that is, after my Commondore 64 days. I was there for the the very beginning of Microsoft Windows 3.1. I spent hours being amazed at their killer program, Paint, and the thrilling games Minesweeper and Solitaire. And then came the fully featured Windows 95 which became 98, ME, and 2000 before finally being updated for real in XP which was the last Windows OS I actually used for any length of time.

My paternal grandfather became my patron saint of computers through the evolution of the home PC, and the rise of the Internet. He tended to upgrade his system fairly often, and when he did he would pass his old computers onto my family. My older brother Joe learned more about the inner workings of computers, but I jumped right into the mode of the everyday consumer user. I remember logging onto the very first Lego.com and StarWars.com, back in the day when the Internet was still a novelty. I loved games, playing DOS favorites Commander Keen and One Must Fall, and the very first Need For Speed game that launched their rise to fame: Hot Pursuit.

While I was such a PC user, let’s be clear, I was never a PC fanboy, I was aware of the other side of computing: the Apple computer. Some friends of my parents were Mac users from beginning, and whenever we visited for dinner, they would invariably stay late talking, and I would get bored and be allowed to play Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego on the Mac.

Eventually though, through the mid to late 90s, Apple started to make their rise to dominance, which they are continuing through today, and I started to hear a lot more about them on a regular basis. I was so taken with them, that by the time I contemplated my very first computer purchase, I was dead set on buying an Apple computer. I hadn’t used one in years, and only knew about them by reputation, but that reputation was strong enough to convince me to spend three times what I knew I could spend on a PC.

My family was about to move to Papua New Guinea for mission work, and I didn’t want to lug my old beige tower and huge CRT monitor across the world. Besides, I knew I would soon be starting college, and wanted a smaller computer to take with me. So I sold my PC, and bought a 2004 generation Apple iBook.

Since that time I have owned another older iBook (a G3), one of the first Intel iMacs, a Macbook, and now currently use an Aluminum iMac and an iPad. My only prenuptial agreement with my wife was that she ditch her Toshiba laptop, and I bought her a Macbook Air. I will never go back to PCs, and that decision runs deeper than a Mac fanboy fascination.

I really believe that Apple will be the computer of the future. Computers began as a digitization of two things: math and file storage. Way back to the UNIAC and ENIAC days, computers were glorified building sized calculators. By the time Microsoft came along, computers were glorified typewriters that also stored all your documents. That is why Windows Explorer is a file manager. Programs, or applications (games, picture editors, and other things) really were sort of an afterthought. People began to see the potential of computers, and started to write more sophisticated programs for them to run. But still, computers were primarily file cabinets.

Once the Internet went mainstream and Mac rose from the ashes, Apple turned the computer into a machine that was about the program, not the files. In other words, it wasn’t that you could also store your pictures in a digital format on your computer, but it was that your computer could show you pictures in a way never before thought possible. Music on the computer wasn’t just an alternative to a CD player, but a whole new way to play music. And movies, and so on. While the PC could do all those things, the Mac was built from the ground up to be all about those things.

Mac took the daily life things, and exploded them. My iBook was my first step into the larger world of computers that were not machines to be used, but were extensions of myself, in the same way that clothing is not just something humans wear, but part of their being.

To be continued….

On the Field: Interleague Play

Tonight is the first night for interleague play in baseball in the 2010 season. The Cincinnati Reds have made the drive north to Cleveland to take on the Indians. As it stands tonight, the Reds lead the National League Central Division, and the Indians bring up the rear of the American League Central Division, but in their interleague matchup the Reds and Indians are almost dead even for wins and losses, so it should be an interesting game. At the time of writing, it is the top of the fourth, and the game is tied 1-1, so it remains either team’s game to win.

Ever since 1997, when Interleague play was adopted into Major League Baseball, the Reds and Indians have been meeting as state rivals, and similar matchups take place all across the nation. The New York Mets are playing the New York Yankees, and the Philadelphia Phillies are hosting the Boston Red Sox. Later in the year the Chicago Cubs will host their cross city rivals White Sox.

All in all, I like interleague play. Before 1997, anytime a team, or even a player, from either league saw one from the opposing league it was during Spring Training, the AllĀ·Star Game, or the World Series. The separation between the American and the National Leagues was a mile wide and a wall of iron. The only real difference between the leagues, as far as rules go, is in the American League with the implementation of the designated hitter, a player that bats in place of the pitcher, but who doesn’t play defensively. Despite this minor difference, the leagues seem to have an intangible difference: the National League is said to be more offensive, the American League is more of a pitcher’s league.

I like interleague play because I like seeing teams from opposing leagues play each other. Because the separation existed for over 100 years, the novelty is still fresh. Secondly, I have been an Indians fan my entire life, which means I have become a bit of an American League fan, but I have never really liked the designated hitter rule. My personal philosophy is that if you play defense you play offense. Pitchers should not be exempted because of their “special” status as a specialized position player. National League pitchers have been hitting since the dawn of baseball and still manage to pitch extremely well. Let’s not forget that Babe Ruth, the most legendary hitter in all of baseball, was a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. Sure, pitchers today are way more targeted than in Ruth’s time, but I think the logic holds.

Lastly, I like the idea of interleague play because it brings teams to town that otherwise a fan would not often see. Cleveland and Cincinnati are close enough that one could make the occasional drive to the other city, or in Chicago or New York one can simply take a subway or cab to the other stadium, but I doubt many people make the 5 and 1/2 hour drive between Boston and Philadelphia to be a fan of both the Red Sox and the Phillies. Now, at least three times during the season, a fan can see opposing league teams ride right into town and play the home team. In the era of internet and TV televised games, going out to the ballpark is still time well spent, and if you can see a team you would never before see, that is a bonus for fans.

As of 2010, every team in each league has played every other team at least once, and I hope that Interleague play continues into the future. I for one look forward to seeing which National League teams will come into Cleveland, and which cities the Indians will visit that they normally don’t see. This year, I am eager to see the Philadelphia Phillies cruise into Cleveland, because having spent several years in central Pennsylvania I have become a Phillies fan. Because my teams sit in opposing leagues, the opportunity that I would have to pick one over the other to cheer for is a limited prospect. In a few weeks, I will be forced to make that decision, but it is easy: I cheer for the Indians. Always first, foremost, and forever. However, my rational assessment of each team leads me to believe that the Phillies will beat the living daylights out of the Tribe, as currently the Phillies are the best team in the National League, and the Indians are close to the worst team in the American League. But, there is still plenty of baseball to play, and anything can happen.

Speaking of which, while I was writing this post, the Reds jumped ahead of the Indians 4-1, but in the last Indians’ at bat, Shin-Soo Choo of the Tribe went deep, hitting a two run home run helping his team tie the game 4-4. The top of the sixth is under way, and still either team could wind up with the win.

This is why baseball is the best sport in the world.

Back Up and Running

Hello, readers.

After several months of unintentional hiatus, my blog is back! I would like to welcome any new readers that I have solicited.

If you would like to be more active, please register and you will be able to comment, and if you were to contact me, there might even be the possibility of a guest post. Also, if you are good with editing, and would like to help, I might distribute a few editing privileges.

On Saturday past, I graduated from Messiah College, the liberal arts college in small town Pennsylvania that I have been attending for the past three years. I graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English.

I have also recently moved into a splendid little apartment, one with windows and a tall airy ceiling, and I feel like my life is moving forward. However, I have been unable to find a job, but for the moment, I am very glad that I haven’t. The past few years have been really tough for me, and I am physically exhausted from the past few days of graduating-moving-cleaning and am mentally exhausted from all the college.

But, while I am weary, I am also excited for the future. Part of that future is a commitment to regular blogging, something I really enjoy but, as a college student with a myriad of other things to write, never really had the time to do. Now that I am free I want to write something every day, for the discipline in writing and for the joy of sharing my thoughts.

I have devised a simple schedule of one topic per day, to help me plan and keep writing, and also to make sure things stay easy to follow for my readers. The schedule, tentatively, is as follows:

Monday is iGeek, and I will post about my iPad, Apple, and other tech things which excite me.

Tuesday will be a double post day. I will start with Q&A. If you have a question, query, or wondering that you want me to write about, email me, and I will select one and write about it. I will finish with a poem. I consider myself to be a poet, and will write, or revise, a new poem every Tuesday.

Wednesday is about literature and language. iRead day will be the day I disseminate and parse through whichever book(s) I am currently reading. Nothing too formal or academic, just my thoughts based upon my college degree.

Thursday will be my iLife day, the post being about myself, and my life, and something interesting or significant that occurred during my week.

Friday, always a fun day, will be about baseball. I love the sport, and watch every game that I can. I am a die-hard Cleveland Indians fan, and will be till the day I die. (Today’s game vs the Kansas City Royals starts soon!) I have also become a Philadelphia Phillies fan, but will always love the Tribe first and most. Anyway, Friday I will talk all about baseball.

Saturday and Sunday I will take off, though there maybe eventual guest posts if anyone wants to contribute to my blog.

Anyway, sounds like a plan, and I hope that you can enjoy the experience.

Follow me on Twitter @PhilipJoelM, and email me stormrider@wordflood.net.

Be seeing you!