Friday, March 30, 2007

Day 27

This morning I slept in until I woke up naturally (except for that phone call at the unearthly hour of 8:30, but I managed to fall back asleep for another hour after that). Glorious. When I finally dragged my well-rested body out of bed, I found my way to the kitchen and conjured up a tasty oatmeal breakfast, which I may or may not have eaten while watching part of another episode of Joan of Arcadia. By that, of course, I mean that I did indeed watch TV, but only while I ate, and then it was off to work I go-ed.

My day was spent playing with pictures. Not entirely "playing" per se, rather engaging with Photoshop in an attempt to produce some nice graphics for the new MA site, a task I feel I succeeded in, with no small thanks due to Peter, our new web consultant, who sent me a PSD with all the necessary components to break out into smaller, individual graphics. The superb graphics were well received by both Merry and Rich when we met this evening, and, even though we did some tweaking to them, I can rest easy knowing we ended with a pretty good result. Even with regard to the new website as a whole, I'm feeling much better about where we are. We're nowhere near done, but we're a lot closer than we were not too long ago, and I feel like we're finally on the right path toward completion of something we can be proud of.

Harry Putter once more ruled my evening. When I got home from work I spent some length of time redoing some of the the color correction on the two scenes I'm showing in assembly at MA tomorrow, as well as a little sound tweaking (and one instance of soundtrack addition). I want to have the best quality to show, and I just wasn't happy with what I'd burned last night.

Then there was the whole speech thing. Yes, I've had since August or so to write this speech. It's not like tomorrow was any big surprise (ironic, no?). Somehow I just haven't had the time to devote to actually writing anything for it yet. My big fear was that I'd leave it until the morning of and then do a terrible job, but I couldn't let that become reality. Now it's crunch time. I started typing somewhere between about 9:00 and 10:00, and I just went. I'm basically talking about me, my favorite topic, so it went very quickly. I scribble typed a few things I wanted to say into a semblance of an outline, and then just wrote. The end result, which from the future I can say I don't proofread until tomorrow morning, I thought was decent, maybe even pretty good. Now my big fear is just whether the students will like it. Not much I can do about that. I think the film clips are funny, I think my speech is relatively sound, and I think there's a message to be taken from it, if only about why I think I'm in the film business. I'll post a copy of the speech tomorrow.

Day 26

I've been saying it for a few days now, but Spring is really here, and the way I know today is by taking notice that I went outside without employing the use of my faithful polar fleece outer layer. After a quick bowl of cereal I was on my way out the door sans fleece to go to Church. Not Emmaus today, not even a "normal" church, per se. Today, the first Sunday of break, I went again to visit the River Church at Mall of America. And today it was even more different than normal, because the service was held in one of the AMC movie theatres (normally they are in the Great Lakes Ballroom just inside "The Park at MOA" from the west). That was certainly a different experience. The seating was arguably the most comfortable of any church service I've ever been to. I like visiting that congregation, though, just for the novelty factor, and because, at least for the two times I've heard him preach, the pastor delivers a good message. Still, I'm not entirely convinced that the church in a movie theatre idea works for me. I felt very disconnected, very distant, even from the people in the row behind and in front of me. There's something about sinking into that comfortable stadium seating that also makes the sense of community sink away.

On my way out of the Mall I stopped in the Barnes and Noble and was astonished to see quite the contingent of Jesus books waiting to greet happy customers as they walked along the main entrance isle (if I were being really picky tonight, I'd have revised that sentence to remove the ambiguity of whether the books or customers were the ones walking... but I'll just let you think about it and choose the interpretation that works best for you). Books about Jesus, a whole table of Bibles, it must be getting close to Easter, but hey, I'm not complaining if B&N wants to use that as an excuse to promote the central figure in my faith.

Mom, Dad, and Grandpa met me at Taco Bell for lunch, or rather I met them, and yes, I got my usual #7 chicken quesadilla with hard shell taco and large Baja Blast Mountain Dew drink. We wouldn't want to stray from normalcy, now, would we?

Harry Putter more or less dominated the rest of my day. I had some free time to myself in the afternoon right after lunch, but about 3:00 until midnight, Harry ruled. This started with a trip to the composer's house in the hopes of picking up the soundtrack, which I would then bring to the editor's house and we'd put it in. The composer hadn't answered his phone all morning, so it was a bit of a risk to just show up, but fortunately he was there when I got to the house. Unfortunately, he'd not yet burned the music onto discs, so on my way I went without music.

Tony [the editor] and I spent three hours perfecting the Putter trailer. Not too many surprises there, other than I'm just really glad we're done with it. Arby's for dinner was delicious, as always, and then we set off to the composer's house (we called and talked to him first this time). Here's the surprise: we actually got discs from him! So we went back to Tony's and put them in the computer. Here's the next surprise: there was nothing on them! Arg! After all that waiting, and now nothing. Crumb. We called back to have them re-burned, and set off in the car again. Before that, though, while waiting to hear back about the re-burning, Tony sent me a short little film idea he'd written a while back, based on a real life experience of his in a coffee shop. I really liked the story. The basic idea is there's an attractive young woman sitting by a fireplace in the coffee shop, but the protagonist is intimated and never approaches her. It's only a two or three minute thing, tops, but reading it I felt like I was recounting some of my own experiences, and I started to picture, if I were shooting this, how would I do it? What would it look or sound like? In short, I felt an immediate connection with this script, even though it wasn't in script format at all. "Cool," I thought. "Maybe Tony'll let me help when he shoots this". Then he asked how I'd direct it, so I told him the ideas I'd had, and then he asked if I would be willing to direct it. Of course!

Our hope is to shoot in late May.

We drove back to pick up the second set of CDs, and this time we checked them on my computer first before driving away. Yes, they both have music on them. Great. We left, Tony copied the files onto my laptop while I drove, and then kept the original discs with him. It was time to call it a night. We didn't get as far as I'd hoped (in that I'd hoped to have all the music laid in today), but at least we finally finished that trailer, which means now I should have everything I need to get ready for my short Harry Putter presentation at Minnehaha on Tuesday. More on that tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Day 25

God and I got a jump start on surprises today: I woke up at 8:30 and actually felt rested. Wow! I can't express how much I love not having to get up at 7:15 for an 8:00 class. Even better, I made a productive use of the morning, sorting papers, taking care of house stuff, setting my Scooba loose on the basement floor, that kind of thing.

In case I've never mentioned before, I own two robotic floor cleaners: a Roomba to vacuum the carpet upstairs, and a Scooba that I've been using to scrub the basement floor. The scrubbing needs to be done as a prerequisite to sealing the tiles (which needs to happen because the carpet was removed a while back after a very heavy rainstorm and water damage). Scooba is pretty high maintenance, though, and I'm not entirely happy with it for just that reason. Changing the water every 45 minutes, that I can handle. But dealing with all it's stupid complaining is tiresome. By this I mean it has come to frequently complain about its front wheel being stuck, even though when I take it out and try to clean it, there's nothing to clean, and it works fine. Then of course, you can't tell the robot to resume, no, you need to power off and restart the cleaning cycle, which means then it will complain that there's not enough water in the tank (since some of it was already used before the wheel malfunction). After a few rounds of this, then the battery will die, and the poor thing never actually finishes a complete cleaning cycle (and thus hasn't run it's self-cleaning in a while).

On a completely new but still moisture related note, when I went outside this mornig to go shopping I discovered it's really quite foggy. As in, I can't even see a full block ahead while I'm driving. Fortunately I saw well enough to make it to the bank to deposit the reimbursement check I finally received from Madrigal Dinner, and then to Sam's Club to of course spend a significant portion of that money. I'm trying not to feel too badly about that, though, because most of the expenses were for things like a huge massive block of toilet paper, and a giant container of honey, neither of which will need replacing for probably the rest of my life. Okay, fine, by next year, but still, not a weekly expense, thank goodness.

I also made some healthier decisions (I think) about what I bought in terms of food. The aforementioned massive vessel of honey aside, I made a point to pick out some fresh items from the bakery rather than the preservative laced plastic wrapped tasties that were, ironically, only slightly less expensive. This is not to say I made the healthiest choices ever, but still, better than normal, which is a good start for me.

After unloading all my wonderful groceries into the house I spent the afternoon and early evening over at MA, first to meet with Rich, my fellow webmaster, and then afterward to continue working on what we'd talked about. For any web geeks out there, if you ever need to dynamically position, say, a magically appearing/disappearing flyout menu, and you don't know at the start exactly where on the page it will need to be displayed (because you're displaying it relative to other elements that may be in varying locations), this site might be helpful for you:

Sometime today, while driving, I heard something on KTIS that I need to share: another Hebrews verse, this one is 13:15: "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name." I'll have to wait until the end of the month, but I will need to go back and piece all of these Hebrews references together to see what I can make out of them.

My evening was far less adventuresome or exciting than my day. I cooked dinner (and by "cook" I mean "microwaved a container of fettucini alfredo with chicken from Sams"), did some floor scrubbing (and by "did" I mean "pressed a button and let the robot do the work"), rearranged some of my kitchen cabinets (now the dishes are above the dishwasher, and the food is right next to the microwave), entered my ideal schedule for next semester into the St Olaf Student Information System, and watched an episode or two from the first season DVDs of Joan of Arcadia. I love that show. The characters are so real... and the lead is cute. But star-crushes aside, I fell in love with the series because it's exactly the kind of filmmaking (or TV-making) that I want to do some day. A story with a moral, with a message, that's fun to watch, yet real to life. Some day, God willing, maybe my name can show up in the ending credits of something so great.

Day 24

Spring Break. It's almost here. One last day of Individual Fitness and I'm home free. I go early, work out, have class, work out a few minutes more, and leave early. Class is over for the week, but unfortunately homework still abounds in the form of much reading, a take home midterm, and planning for two papers that I'll be writing in the second part of the semester.

But that could wait. In order for me to even think about focusing on homework, I needed to pack so I'd be ready to leave campus tonight. This was productive in and of itself, too, as I ended up with an extra box full of stuff that I can bring home and leave home, which is a good feeling, even if it's an extra trip to and from the car.

Early afternoon I finally decided to be hungry, so lunchward I went to seek food, and, happy-surprisingly, I found a group of friends to sit with. When I go to meals alone, I always hope to find people to sit with, but it doesn't always happen. In fact, it rarely happens, which makes a day like today even more special because not only did I find one person to sit with, I found three. The food was good, too, but I more enjoyed the company.

The afternoon wasn't too exciting; I sent back some comments to my editor about the Putter trailer, and then finally got some ideas sent to the publicist for the next press release. There was some homework time in there, too, just to try to get ahead for after break.

Later in the afternoon I got together with Ash to offer some small help with her footnoting and citations in her Jesus in Scripture and Tradition paper (the one I turned in earlier this week), and then she, her roommate, and I went to have a very calm and relaxed dinner. This was the first time in a long while we could remember not feeling some sense of rush as we ate; it was very freeing knowing there was nothing that needed to be done for a long while. It was also great to have my second meal of the day with Dalay (Ash's roommate; she was one of the friends I found at lunch)

Loading the car went quickly; I brought all my stuff up, and then, because I also gave Ashley a ride home, went to wait for her, and in the process had a completely random conversation with Dalay about why Macs are better than PCs. Well, that was my position, at least :)

The last bit of greatness for the day came when we got to Ashley's house, and she and her mom and I had a chance to talk for a while, something we haven't all done for probably a year. That was a perfect way to end the day, just spending time with good people talking about anything.

Day 23

Spring is here! It's warm, it's sunshiny, and it was the perfect day to go driving with the windows down and moonroof open. Driving where? It's a school day.

After morning classes, and after chapel (the pastoral intern from last year was back today to speak!), I took a ride down to Emmaus to learn about their sound system from Kurt, an Ole grad from two years ago and the current director of Worship at the church. The task at hand: "practice", or in a sense, "prove myself", on the sound board by mixing a vocal and piano, then later a guitar. That sounded harsh; it was more so that I felt a need to prove myself to myself before I could feel ready to jump in as one of the rotating sound technicians for Sunday morning worship. And I suppose showing someone else that I know how to use a sound board didn't hurt at all. My conclusion, I have the sheer knowledge of what the knobs and buttons do, I just need to develop my art of mixing, which will only come with time and practice.

My Photoshop skills are also in need of refinement and practice. Why? Because I talked to my graphic designer for Putter today, and it turns out he won't be able to do it after all. Surprise. This means I'll have to take it on, in the midst of homework, papers, and everything. At least there's break next week, maybe I can get it all done then. Panic.

Tonight, though, the panic can wait. It's a night of celebration for me: I'm done with classes and homework for the week, and tonight is a fancy ice cream social for the students on the Dean's List, which I made for last semester (only the second time in my college career).

There was a special event in Ytterboe tonight put on by CAN (the Christian Activities Network) in place of Thursday Night. I only made it for the last 10 minutes or so, and that time was spent in quiet prayer and meditation. Walking out of Ytterboe turned out to be somewhat opposite of the serenity I'd left: I watched as a car drove up onto the sidewalk toward me (as they are apt to do, it's actually not that unusual on this particular stretch), but what was "surprising" was to discover the people in the car were none other than Ashley and Kyle, just stopping by to pick something up from someone. We talked for a while before I went on my way to deliver chocolate and visit with a couple good friends in Mellby, one of whom has a huge paper to write for tomorrow (I gave her the chocolates to help her stay awake through the night), and the other has a Norwegian midterm. Naturally we ended up talking for a long time about the class and test instead of her actually studying for it. Like I've mentioned before, I love the random long talks with friends.

The most powerful story of today I've deliberately saved for last. Let's go back in time some number of hours, to about 4:00 in the afternoon.

Some number of weeks ago I'd agreed to drive one of my CS friends to the airport today. There's nothing surprising about that (other than coming back: the 35E exit from Cedar always sneaks up on me). But sadly, there was a surprise lurking as I waited in my car outside Ytterboe. Remembering that I'd not yet received a confirmation from another friend about dinner tonight, I decided to make good use of my waiting time and call him to find out for sure if we were on or not. It's generally not a good sign when someone answers the typical "how are you today?" with a not-so-typical "I've had better". As I found out, his fiancé's father had just died this morning after a two month battle with cancer. How does one respond to that? Prayers, as well as my "if you need to talk, I'm here" offer, just didn't seem like enough, not for this.

Suffering is my favorite topic of study in theology. But it's a much different situation when the question of theodicy comes into full swing in your real life, or the life of a friend. One thing I've concluded, though, is that suffering gives the person not suffering an opportunity, not only to pray, but to reach out, to be a small light in that tragic darkness. Grieving and recovery take time. Period. There is no getting around that. Still, in the midst of grief, observers are given a unique chance to step into the ring, stop observing, and do something to lift that person up, even something as simple as a smile or a hug. It may not seem like much, and let's be honest, to some people it won't be much. For some people, though, that smile or hug, that sign of affection, that reminder that someone else cares, can make a difference. I don't live under false pretenses of thinking it will take the pain away; it won't. But it may lessen the pain, ever so slightly, and that makes the smile, or the card, or the hug, or whatever, worth it.

I waiting outside Ytterboe to bring someone to the airport, but I'm sure God put me there for another purpose: so that I could go inside and give my friend a hug.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Day 22

They had chocolate muffins at breakfast today! This is always a sign of a good day to come. Yes, of course I took one for a snack later; why should I not try to prolong the goodness that is chocolate-y muffin deliciousness?

Today's selection of homework-reading brought to my eyes the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, a non-canonical collection of stories about Jesus when He was a child. For years I've known the stories existed, but until now I'd never known where to find them, so it was neat to finally read this book, all the while thinking about the question of why it wasn't included in the Bible. It didn't take long before that answer became very apparent: Jesus is a brat! A downright angry, mean, vengeful little child who almost derives a holy pleasure from killing people all over the place. Again, it's no wonder it didn't make it into the canon.

With Thomas done, I finally got to play guitar again after a few days of nothingness in the midst of paper, test, and homework, and surprisingly I was no worse for wear after the time away. The surprises kept coming when I called the Putter composer: first of all, he answered, which was a miracle in and of itself (I always get voicemail), and secondly, he's almost done with the music (this after just starting when he got a disc from me in the mail yesterday). Wow. Now he's working on alternative arrangements so we have choices when we go to put the music into the scenes.

On my way into Buntrock, I passed Nicole on the stairs and we ended up talking for almost half an hour. I love those long, random conversations with good friends; it's so refreshing to just stop, take a time out and talk to people!

Later, while I was waiting by Fireside to go to dinner with Ash, one of my friends who I thought was rather upset at me tapped my shoulder, waved, and said "hi" as she walked by. Happiness, I'm not hated after all.

After dinner I sequestered myself in the library to do my last little bit of reading, but, not vert surprisingly, there's nothing quite like a textbook and a comfortable chair to put you to sleep, so I decided to come back to my room, where at least I could lay down for a nap if I needed. Oh, but wait, surprise! It's raining outside! (As I found out tomorrow, the rain gave my car a much needed shower, bringing it back to a state of beautiful cleanliness).

What a day. I want more surprises like these!

Day 21

Today was not a bad day; in fact, far from it. As is always the pressing question when I wake up on a Tuesday morning, I made it to breakfast, and today, going in, I bumped into a friend who I'd remembered last night is going through some trying times in her family. The point: it's odd, or perfect, coincidence that I just happened to remember to be praying for them last night and thinking to myself, "I should send an email and see how things are", and then I see her the next morning in person.

Classes came and went. We turned in our papers in my first class (I'm happy with how mine turned out; and I can even say I had fun writing it), and then took a midterm test in my second class. Ah yes, the test. This is a test that I really should have studied for, well, a lot. I studied slightly less than a lot. It's in fact quite possible I studied a lot less than a lot. In other words, I didn't study nearly enough, and because I also hadn't done the reading in this particular class for the first several weeks of the semester, the test went... less well than it otherwise might have. But that was out of choice, it was my decision making all the way that produced this outcome, and I don't feel bad about it. I hadn't done the reading those several weeks because I was still playing catchup after Madrigals, and I just never was able to catch up in this course (I did in all my others, and then, scared of the shear mass of reading that had piled up here, I just picked up where we were instead of backtracking). And I didn't study as much this weekend because, well, frankly, there are more important things in life, like friends... and maybe Lost.

The test is over now, and that means I have normal homework for Thursday, but otherwise, Spring Break is here! To top that, I got a phone call from someone this afternoon to whom I'd offered the position of graphics designer for Harry Putter, and he wants to do it! I thought I'd have to do all the graphics myself, but now it's looking like I'll be able to pass that off to someone else, which is absolutely awesome.

Evening brought our group back to the George's home after a week away while John and Karen visited Israel. It was fun to be back and to hear a few stories from their trip, as well as just be together with that group of friends again.

After watching a friend's stand up comedy routine in the Pause (he had a really good crowd there), it was off to get ready for FCA. No huge surprises here, other than a fun time being allowed to mix the audio for them. Pastor Will spoke tonight (he's the pastor at Emmaus, where I normally attend on Sundays), and he was intentionally very funny, as usual.

To follow up with the laughter from Pastor Will's talk, my last act tonight was to come back to the room and watch Top Secret!, which was absolutely hysterical. It's by the same people who did Airplane, so it makes sense that there isn't much in the way of plot, other than to cram as many absurd silly little jokes into 90 minutes as possible. Like I said, hysterical. A good way to end a long day.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Day 20

Today was the day. After months, if not quite possibly over a year, of the zippers on my briefcase showing signs of wear (by coming detached from the fabric they're supposed to hold closed), one of the slidy things finally came undone. Sure, I could spend a lot of time trying to get it back together, but I was ready to be on my way out the door, I've been considering buying a new bag for a while now, and I just took this as the sign that that time had finally arrived: I needed to go bag shopping (by the way, it's pronounced "baig", with the long "a", none of this "bahg" business here in Minnesota).

Dave and I cancelled our normal Monday talking time since we both had a lot on our plates to do; he's leading the Thursday Night missions trip to Costa Rica next week, so he's in those final days of preparation; me, I just have a lot of homework and studying that I should be doing. Before homework, though, a trip to Best Buy must be made.

Staying awake on that oh-so-familiar stretch of I35 can sometimes be a challenge, especially today, given that I didn't get much sleep last night. Actually, I'm really not sure at all how much (or how little) I got; I was awake some number of hours or minutes with a pain in my neck and head, such that I just couldn't fall asleep. The pain was mostly gone when I got in the car and started driving, and clearly, based on the fact I'm writing this now, I stayed awake on the way to and from Best Buy.

Finding a good briefcase can be an adventure, and of course there are a certain number of key requirements that must be met by the bag. First, it needs to be able to hold my laptop. Most bag manufacturers nowadays make their products friendly to 17" machines, but it's still something to be aware of, that not all bags will necessarily be large enough. And of course, when I have my laptop, there needs to be another pocket that holds the power adapter and any other accessories I need to bring along. This bag also has to double as a school bag, meaning there needs to be a separate pocket to hold folders and papers and notepads, oh my!

I found a bag that met these requirements and so much more (meaning several extra pockets/areas than my minimum needs), and the price, well, it was the same as my previous briefcase: expensive. Drat. But it's the perfect one, I'm very happy with it, and so, well, I just had to swallow that price and hope for the best.

Best Buy has a large collection of DVDs, and I normally take a gander just to see if there are any movies on the shelves that I'd forgotten I need. Today I told myself going in that I would limit myself to one and only one, and I also specified that, if there was going to be a "one", it had to be "Top Secret!", a 1984 movie that I haven't seen in years but just recently found the name in a somewhat non-related Google searching endeavor the other day. I didn't remember plot, or many details from it, just enough to recognize the description and recall it being absolutely hilarious.

Coming up with creative transitions between stories is not my strongest point. Later in the day, as I was leaving the library to go find food in Buntrock, I was randomly approached by an acquaintance passing in the hallway, and he complimented me on how great the slideshows at Selah and FCA have been when I do them, and how glad he is that someone has finally stepped up to the plate with something better looking than PowerPoint. It meant a lot to hear that random compliment. He didn't have to say anything, didn't have to go out of his way to stop and talk to me, but I'm really glad he did. It's another voice telling me I've made good choices in my efforts to keep the motion backgrounds subtle and non-distracting during worship. But furthermore, and more importantly, it's validation; it's reassurance that I'm doing something that's actually appreciated, that's actually noticed. Thanks for that random act of surprising compliment-ness, God.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Day 19

On my way to breakfast and church this morning, just outside Rand, I found a dollar bill, just lying around, waiting to be given a new home. That's a good way to start the day, isn't it?

But aside from that, there weren't a whole lot of surprises during the morning and afternoon. Church was a mixed bag: the sermon was inspirational, but the technical side of things saw the worst performance they've had in a long time, and, me being me, I too easily get distracted by those sound and media glitches. At least I had friends to sit with, that was a definite plus.

It's quite possible that I spent the majority of the afternoon watching more Lost. Actually, I'm sure I did. After all, I need to catch up if I'm going to start watching the new episodes again on Wednesdays (almost there; of 12 episodes this season, I'm through about 8 so far this weekend - oh yes, I'm hard at work). Wait, no, I did make a run to Target to pick up water today, so I didn't spend the entire time watching TV.

The night was more adventuresome than the day, starting with Selah group dinner at 6:00. I was late (busy on the phone–that's a whole other story, but suffice it to say it was all Putter related), so no one was left in Fireside when I got there, but then, oddly, no one was upstairs, either. I spotted one other group member who had also just come up the stairs, so we started our own table and eventually half a dozen or so people joined us, but it was still weird because none of the very recognizable leaders were there.

From dinner we went down to the Pause for rehearsal, and I got my computer all set up. This was the first time I'd run slides for Selah in the Pause (last time we were in the ballroom upstairs), so it was a new experience, but fortunately there weren't any major technological surprises (you know about my fear of Windows), except for when I had completely the wrong lyrics for one of the songs. Good thing that got ironed out during rehearsal, otherwise that would have been very embarrassing. The performance itself went great, very few errors on my part, and then several good conversation with friends during and after cleanup. Great day.

Day 18

God didn't get too many chances to surprise me today, because I spent almost the entire day in the library writing my paper for Jesus in Scripture and Tradition. And perhaps watching a few episodes from this season of Lost, I'm not sure I can admit to that publicly, though.

I planted myself in various parts of the library throughout the day: fifth floor right by the shelf of religion books about John's Gospel, later on 3rd floor by a window, and later on first floor in a small little cubbie with comfortable chairs. The change of scenery helps keep the brain active. Sure.

And throughout my writing, God did end up having a few little surprises to throw at me: namely, Microsoft Word kept having fits. Now, of course, that should be of no surprise, given that it is a product of the Evil Empire of Gates, but today was worse than normal because, apparently, it thought it found another copy of MSWord on the St Olaf wireless network in the library with the same product id as mine, and thus it decided that it just had to quit. I found this to be incredibly aggravating, because I purchased my copy of MS Office fair and square, so for it to have the nerve to suggest to me that I'm using pirated software is beyond insulting, especially considering how much that horrendously buggy piece of something software cost! Thankfully I'm a habitual saver, because otherwise this awful misfeature would have caused doom and lost work. As it was my productivity sunk because I could not be simultaneously working on my paper in Word and also be connected to the network (read: "internet and email"). I guess I did volunteer to take the bad with the good, though. Surprise.

In the midst of cursing Microsoft, some research did actually happen, and I found a couple books that were wonderful resources. Who would have suspected that entire sections of books had been written on just the exact subject I wanted to write about?! Certainly not I, because until today I had no idea. (My topic, by the way, concerns the applicability of the title "king" for Jesus in John's Gospel; it's something I've wanted to look into since first-year religion two years ago, but not exactly something I would have expected to have much written about it–Surprise!).

Somewhere in the middle of the day I left the library to meet Nicole for lunch (I think that was my transition between fifth and third floor), and then came back to hammer out my introductory paragraph. It actually came pretty quickly: based on what I'd read and my own opinions, I knew where I was headed, so laying it out wasn't hard. Making the rest of the words appear on the page, on the other hand, was slightly more difficult, and I didn't finish until about 9:30 (after being exiled from the closing library).

This paper is the first time I've ever had to use footnotes instead of inline citations, but, to my very pleasant surprise, the professor had given us an example online of how these footnotes should be formatted, saving me from the guesswork of trying to decipher the cryptic "style guide" that he also so kindly provided.

My day was not completely consumed by my paper, though it feels like it. Dinner I ate alone for the first time in 17 days (sad surprise), but perhaps that was for the best, since I needed to finish quickly and get back to work. Then later, while, um, "taking a break", I happened upon a friend's FaceBook profile (clearly FaceBook was actually part of my Gospel of John research... yes), and saw another Scripture passage from Hebrews (I think I mentioned some number of days ago that I'm now keeping track of all the Hebrews references I find, or that find me): "Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see" - Hebrews 11:1. I'm too tired to think about the deep meaning much right now, but perhaps some day when I look back and read this, it will make complete sense. Or maybe there's someone else who will read this that needed to hear that, who knows?

The rest of my evening was lost to Lost, as well as discovering some of the episodes hadn't downloaded properly, so I needed to restart those. Good to find out now, though, before I'm ready to watch that particular episode only to discover it's not ready.

Hmm. In retrospect, I guess God did have a number of surprises lined up for me today after all.

Day 17

The first surprise this morning came bright and early when my phone rang at 8:50. My cell phone is always set to vibrate... except when it's plugged in, then it sets itself to loud. That's a good thing, normally, in case it's in a different room from me, I can still hear it. Unfortunately, when it rang this morning, I wasn't awake yet–my alarm was set for 9:05–and it was right next to my pillow. I became confused: why is my alarm playing David Crowder, and why isn't the snooze button making it stop? Oh, right, cell phone, plugged in, ringing.

I made it to breakfast just in time before they closed, sat with Sarah for two minutes until she had to leave, and then eventually made my way over to the Pastors' Office in Boe to get ready for chapel (I read the scripture passage today). On my way I was delayed in trying to drop off a card in someone's PO, because right as I got there a tour group of middle schoolers happened to step in the way... and then their guide talked for a couple minutes. There was no way through them, either, I just needed to have patience.

Nancy, the pastors' secretary, had a surprise waiting for me today: she had neglected to mention I needed to lead an additional prayer reading later in the 20-minute service. Not a huge deal, I just start the congregation and then they turn the microphone down, but unexpected nonetheless.

We had a test today in individual fitness. It wasn't really a test, moreso a quiz, and it wasn't particularly difficult (I say this now, before seeing the graded results), except for the extra credit question. Our teacher warned us about extra credit question, that it would either be something about his family that he's mentioned in class or something in the news that everyone would know. I was ready to answer anything about his family, or at least come up with an amusing answer if I didn't know the real one, but the question (surprisingly) was where Anna Nicole Smith is buried right now. I don't know, that's not anything in the news I care about. What kind of stupid extra credit question is this, discriminating against those of us who don't really care about pop culture? I guessed the answer correctly from what I thought I'd heard at some point. Still, that was close.

I ate dinner with Kyle at the Cage; just a short time to get to know him a little better. For as close a friend as Ashley is, I've never really talked with Kyle for more than a few minutes at a time, so it was nice to have that time to actually meet part of the real person behind the name.

After dinner I spent the rest of my evening working on Putter stuff. Nothing too surprising, just updated the website a little bit, and started working on some invites and the DVD cover. Kind of a very blah evening. Worse, I was forced to stay awake much later than I'd planned or wanted: one of my roommates had a group of noisy "friends" over, and that made it rather impossible to go to bed until they left. I was not happy.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Day 16

Today started as a "late" kind of day; I woke up later than I'd planned (the snooze button is deceptively good at calling my name... and I obeyed), made it to breakfast just in time before they closed, and then made it to class just as the teacher was preparing to close the door (someone else was just as almost-late, though, so I didn't feel as horrible about it).

We watched an awesomely hilarious fake movie trailer in Jesus in Scripture and Tradition. It was a parody of what the next Terminator movie could have been: Arnold with his shotgun protecting Jesus. Words won't do it justice. Here's the link:

I finally fixed my mighty mouse this afternoon; for months the scroll ball hasn't scrolled down (physically it does, but it doesn't register on the computer). The problem is that dirt and grime collects inside the mouse casing under the scroll ball, preventing the little movement detector thingies (that's their technical name) from detecting some of the motion, specifically, the downward scrolling motion. I had brought the mouse into an Apple store some number of months ago, they cleaned it, and it worked for about a week. Now I finally got fed up and decided to do something about it again.

Option #1 - follow Apple's directions: rub vigorously with cloth. Nope, no luck at all.

Option #2 - disassemble the mouse following directions I found via Google. I started to, then discovered part of the disassembling required a thin sharp knife to cut loose a glued piece. I didn't have a knife that would work. Convenient excuse.

Option #3 - Using a twist-tie, insert the metal tip into the scroll ball receptacle and poke around a lot, followed up by vigorous rubbing on my little mouse carpet (it's seriously a little mouse rug, not a mouse pad). Success!

Joyful, I spent some time finally making a few updates to the Harry Putter website, then briefly skimmed over my phy ed readings to "study" for the test/quiz tomorrow (the teacher told us very clearly not to worry about it: it's going to be super easy such that even his 1st grader could probably score a 50% without studying).

Today the math and science people gathered in the Science Center for the "Pi After-day Party" (yesterday was Pi day, but the speaker couldn't make it then). I went, indulged myself in some delicious French Silk, then went back to the dorm to keep working before meeting Nick for dinner.

I ran slides again for Thursday Night tonight, and I think the only surprise was that there weren't any computer surprises. Thank goodness. I even got the set list of songs a full hour and a half in advance; that's a new record.

My only real "surprise" surprise of the day ironically came at the very end of it, a couple minutes past midnight, right before I went to bed. Ash has a test tomorrow, and I know she's been studying a lot for it, so, assuming she'd already be asleep, I walked to the other side of Rand to slip a good luck card under her door, but before I got there I bumped into her in person! I never imagined she knew what it was to be up past midnight, so that was a bit of a shocker. It was much nicer to deliver the card in person.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Day 15

Day 15. It's been just over two weeks. Half-way through. Am I surprised? Have I been surprised? Is God really doing anything or am I just spotting ordinary coincidences and pretending they're divine surprises?

I've been thinking about that a lot over the past week: what really is a surprise? Sure, I've used the word an inordinate number of times in this journal, but were those fair uses? In a sense I have to say absolutely: a surprise is a surprise, period. The more appropriate question to ask is whether they came from God. Maybe everything would have happened just as it did anyway, regardless of if I'd prayed the "surprise me" prayer. God only knows. What I can conclude, though, is that regardless of whether these "surprises" are really coming "from God" or not, I can still thank Him and I can still praise Him for all of them. God created the world, He created surprises. These random day-to-day events, well, maybe they're surprises sent from God, or maybe they're not, but regardless, I've become more aware of them, of everything around me. Maybe that's the point: just trying to recognize all the gifts God's already put into my life. When I start counting, now there's a surprise!

Today itself was relatively uneventful. I delivered two of the White day chocolates last night before bed (since the recipients are in my dorm) and the third this morning to a PO box, alongside a sympathy card for another friend and a birthday card for Kyle. It wasn't "surprising" when I saw a bouquet of sticks wrapped in newspaper sticking out (no pun intended) of his PO box today, but I still laughed [it's a long story; suffice it to say this was one of the very funny and very fitting birthday gifts I helped Ashley think up for him: instead of expensive flowers, sticks were much less costly, which is how he would want it]. I made the decision not to follow through with a mistake that I really wanted to make, I went to class, I worked out, I came back, played guitar, and then went to Buntrock and the Library for the afternoon to tackle some long neglected items on my todo list.

About my guitar: I reached a dramatic conclusion not too many weeks ago. I realized I can learn to play anything: any chords, any strumming pattern, any song–it just takes time. I'm nowhere near "good" yet, but I'm getting there, and I'm a lot less "bad" than I used to be. I can pick up a guitar and strum out a semblance of not just one, but several songs. That's a good feeling. It's validating. I think it's God's way of telling me that all this practicing hasn't been in vain; there's a purpose behind why I'm learning this instrument.

I also realized just now that I've probably made some mention of my 6-stringed love in almost every entry in this Surprise Me journal. That's probably a good thing. It's important to me, and I'm happy that I've been able to play just about every day.

I'm off to dinner with Amy now. I'm caught up on journaling, I've sent a bunch of emails that I needed to send, I've dealt with the most recent wave of pictures on Wendy's site (have I mentioned?, and now it's time for food.

Back from dinner. Wonderful and long chat. Decent salad. Banana to go.

I got the email with this week's schedule for Selah, as well as announcing that the semester schedule is now available. I'm on for this week, and then two more times in April and May. What's really neat is that this week I'll have done the lyrics for FCA, Thursday Night, and Selah–it will be my first week acting in a capacity I like to term something along the lines of the "official Christian slidemaster"... or something. I'm grateful God's given me these gifts that I can share with others in all these different groups.

Tonight was fairly unproductive. I did some reading for tomorrow, but I don't feel I really did a whole lot. Maybe that's okay. Maybe I need time to relax? I wish it could have been a more productive relaxation, though.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Day 14

The weather outside was curiously out of whack with reality: didn't Mother Nature know I had a test today? Shouldn't it be gloomy and raining and icky rather than warm and sun-shiny and, well, nice? Maybe that's okay, though; maybe that all-too cheerful sky was a good omen for tests to come.

Amy spoke in Chapel today! So after three hours of class (again, starting at 8:00 in the morning, before the world was meant to exist), I went to listen to her. I wasn't surprised, but that's only because I already had some idea of what she was planning to talk about, otherwise I would have dun been shocked. The speech was very much "Amy", though, complete with descriptions of the attractive young temple priests their Global group met in India and other slightly scandalous comments. She did well.

Theology of Creation. Great teacher, great class, except most of what we've talked about so far has been on the philosophers: less so about "creation" and moreso about how to know what's "real". Ooohhh. The test was typo-ridden. I can't stand typos. One or two, fine, I understand that we're all human, and I make mistakes, too (shocking, I know). But honestly, there was a little too much humanity going on in that test. I tried hard not to be too distracted by my perfectionist personality.

Being that this was a religion test, I knew going into it that I wasn't going finish first (always do for Computer Science tests, never have for a religion test). I was right near the tail end: five minutes past the technical end of class, only half a dozen students still scribbling into their blue books. But it went well. I think. I mean, I wrote a lot, more than I normally do for essay tests, and the multiple choice, true/falses, and fill in the blanks went decently (except the one for which I wrote in the teacher's name instead of a real philosopher whose name I had no hope of remembering). So I'm hopeful. Maybe that's a surprise in the making: the test I thought for sure I would fail I might end up earning an A on. Hint hint, God, that would be a really great idea for a surprise...

Later in the afternoon I went to hear a guest speaker who is a journalist in India. Even more cool, she's from Chennai/Madras, which is where I stayed when I was there two years ago. Oh, I miss their accents. Listening to speeches is one of those really odd things: I remember enjoying it at the time, but now, reflecting, I can't really remember any details of what she talked about. It was something about being a Christian in the midst of a non-Christian press, and she talked also about how much respect reporters have in India by their very nature of being able to reach out to so many people. I'm not sure what else, but take my word, she spoke well, and I was actually amazed at how fluent her english is; one could make an argument that she may speak better than most students at this college, myself included.

I needed to make a trip down to Target today to pick up some diabolical supplies for tomorrow. Might as well talk about it now, seeing as it is, in fact, "tomorrow" when I'm writing this. March 14th is a special day. Not only is it Pi Day (you know, the Greek letter that mathematicians use as a number, has to do with circles, 3.14159...), but, as I learned in my Interim class about Japanese culture, it's White Day. What the heck is that, you ask? As I understand it, White day is closely related to Valentine's day. In Japan, Valentine's is the day for girls to give flowers to guys; White day, then, is the day guys give chocolates to the girls. What I'll be doing (slash, have already done) is giving a bag of chocolate-y goodness to a couple of my best friends, along with a note explaining what it's about; thus, the need to purchase things at Target (my drive into town was gloriously refreshing, since I could leave the window down and moonroof open. Sweet).

I got back, played guitar for a little bit more (oh, yes, I had played earlier today after studying and before my test), then met Ashley for what turned out to be a surprisingly long "quick" dinner. But I'm very grateful we had that time: I had a couple things I needed to ask, and, to no great surprise, Ash responded exactly how I knew she would, which definitely gave me some much needed guidance. One thing I'm so thankful for in our friendship is that she is always a straight shooter and doesn't shy away from saying something just because it's probably not the advice I wanted to hear. Anyway, it was a very good dinner talk.

Tonight was my debut for running lyrics at FCA. As with anything involving Windows, there were more than a few unpleasant surprises lurking, waiting to pounce on me. First Windows forgot how to do the proper 1680x1050 resolution on my laptop display. A simple reboot fixed that. Then, some of the motion backgrounds I used in EasyWorship lagged or jumped. Grrr. I also made a boo-boo: in the middle of the first song, I moved my laptop slightly, which unplugged the VGA cable going to the projector. 5 seconds of black screen. *Groans of agony*. The reason I tried moving things, though, was to fix another problem I'd caused: the VGA cable was, well, not tangled, but, "amidst" the power cords, which was causing a distorted image from the projector. After the blackout, I decided that slight, barely noticeable distortion was better than no image at all, so I stopped messing.

After the FCA speaker finished speaking (which, incidentally, included yet another reference to Hebrews; 2:3, I think), I needed to replug the video cable from his computer back into mine. That was easy, but, for whatever reason in its infinite stupidity, Windows forgot what it was doing with multiple displays, so it took the entire length of the transitional prayer time (a full two minutes, while everyone had their eyes closed, thankfully) for me to get things working again. I finished just as they said "amen". Thank you, God, but that was a little too close for my comfort.

Back in the room, I got an email from a friend who's grandmother just died a few days ago, and at the end she included a verse from, guess where: Hebrews 3:14. I decided I need to start keeping track of these verses.

I wrote a little, tried posting a couple days here, but Blogger's server was either having trouble or going through some nightly maintenance or something, so I couldn't get in. One last small surprise.

Day 13

Today was the day: I finally had to change the batteries in my voice recorder. Ah, AAAs, you've served me well.

This morning I had breakfast with Amy, who, enjoying the beautiful, absolutely gorgeous weather today, frolicked in the sunlight all the way to Buntrock. After eating, I made my way down toward Skoglund; today is special, of course, because it's Monday, and that means it's Ashley and my special day to work out together–always a treat to look forward to. We had a great conversation, but the day had brought nothing too surprising so far, just a normal Monday (other than the weather, that is, but that's more of a "gift" than a "surprise").

Came back to the room, practiced guitar for a while, then went to Buntrock to meet DaveO. It seems today's conversation was just doomed for interruptions–this is not inherently a bad thing, since interruptions have potential to be surprises in disguise, but today I had a couple important things on my mind that I really needed to talk about (okay, fine, I'll be honest: it was just one important thing... one really attractive important thing). First Dave was late: he had some errands he'd needed to run in town and they went longer than expected. Then, when he did get here, someone else joined our table for a good 10 minutes or so. I'm not opposed to meeting new friends at all, but time was short, I'm impatient, and I couldn't start on my list of conversation topics with someone else there. Finally, with maybe 5 or 10 minutes left before Dave had to move on to his next appointment (hmm, kind of makes him sound like a shrink... I think maybe he is, in a sense, just without the private office and extra letters at the end of his name), I delved into the relationship questions. And that's when the surprise came: he didn't say what I expected him to say at all; he said something a lot more in line with what I'd wanted to hear. What's more is that I know he wouldn't just pander to my hopes, which was encouraging. That's perhaps really abstract, but even at this I've may have written more detail than entirely appropriate.

In the afternoon I wrote another short response paper for one of my classes (this one as extra credit–the readings were about theodicy, how could I not have a lot to say about that after taking an entire course on the subject last year?). Then I took a nap, because I didn't really feel like doing anything, even though I knew I had a lot to do.

On my way out for dinner I printed some number of various papers and notes, one of which made the printer jam–that was exciting. It jammed in the same place as the last time a couple days ago, so I knew exactly what to pull out to fix it, and then, to my delight, the printer was smart enough to know it needed to reprint that page. Good printer.

Dinner was with Katie and her roommate, and then Katie and I were off to a small group study session for our Theology of Creation test tomorrow! Yay! It went reasonably well, and I felt somewhat relieved after actually talking through the study guide; not to say I felt completely prepared, but I felt less ill-prepared than before, so that's good.

The rest of the night was sort of a wash; my brain was tired, and I needed to get to bed so I could be well-rested for tomorrow. This did not happen before a hilarious conversation with my roommate about British spelling, though. If he reads this I'm sure he'll be upset, but I can't resist quoting this great line he said: "Do the British even use the 'z'? And simple words like xylophone don't count!". Oh Ben. He of course realized what he'd said right away (I'm sure my hysterical laughing helped), and it was just a great way to end the day.

Day 12

The day after a Daylight Savings Time shift always gives me trouble; last time around I was off by three hours all morning–yes, you heard me, three hours. No, I don't really know how it happened.

Today wasn't that bad. I thought I woke up at 9:00, actually it was 10:00 (since my self-setting alarm clock hadn't actually self-set over night); thank you cell phone and radio announcer for setting me straight on what time it really was. But, hmm, that means I have much less time to get ready for Church than I thought; that's okay, I'm a guy: I only need a couple minutes, anyway, and most of that is in brushing my teeth. I even had time to fold the towels I'd washed last night and then start this daily entry.

Just to keep life interesting, I went to Church at Boe today; actually, I went with a friend (the one from the phone message and run in last night), that's why I didn't head Emmaus-ward. Pastor Benson preached, and he said some things that really only a college pastor could get away with while talking about manure. He's the perfect college pastor, though; I don't know what St Olaf will do when he leaves.

After Church I went to lunch and found some friends to eat with, then it was off to the library. Nothing too eventful there, other than a most welcome surprise of actually finishing most all of my homework for Tuesday. Score! The book I read for Christian Theology and the Moral Life, "Lament for a Son", was surprisingly insightful; I'd expected it to be just like Kushner's book (which I read last year), but it was much more emotional, much less logical (this is neither a good nor bad thing, just an observation). In short, I was pleasantly surprised at how well-written and expressive it was; the author said just about everything I would have wanted to say if I were writing a book about suffering. The two books together, I think, would make a very nice complimentary pair.

I really feel that God's been talking to me a bit yesterday and today, giving me some direction on a very tangible idea I can use to just do something nice for a couple of my closest friends later this week; I think it again ties in well with what Terry mentioned about being the surprise.

On a completely different note, my voice recorder has been on one bar of battery life for several days now–normally it only lasts a few hours in that state. Hm. Surprise!

Day 11

The day started with the usual routine of dealing with emails, much of which is spam, some of which are actually newsletters worth reading, and very few of the friend variety. This morning, though, somewhere between the newsletters and friend categories, came a note across the techies email list at MA regarding an upcoming concert rumored to be held in the chapel sometime on Sunday: someone didn't think they'd be able to help with the concert because it might conflict with church that morning. Okay, makes sense enough, but what was so striking to me was that this came from someone, who, not that many months ago, identified themselves as a very non-Christian Wiccan. I think their significant other has had a very positive effect there...

I printed off some chord sheets on my way out for my prayer time in Mellby chapel today (I'm bringing my guitar with this time), and of course there's a paper jam. Not a huge deal, I fixed it soon enough and the printer gave me my printouts, but just another one of those tiny things (perhaps we can call them surprises?) that I wasn't at all expecting.

So prayer time today served three purposes: one, simply, prayer and contemplation about God, St Olaf, the 47-hours-of-prayer itself, etc. Two, guitar practice; I justify that because they're all worshipful Selah songs, so even if I'm not good I think God can accept the effort anyway. And three, read Hebrews... for one of my classes; okay, so maybe it's "homework", but it's still reading from the Bible, that's got to count for something.

Maybe it's just because I happened to read Hebrews today, but it seems afterward I kept seeing references to it everywhere: in my textbook for a completely other class, on the prayer chapel walls themselves, I don't know, it just struck me as odd coincidence.

On my way back to Rand I ran into one of the theatre majors who graduated last year, back for a visit to see a show. Nothing too surprising during our brief talk, other than the initial surprise of seeing her again.

I happened to check one of my stocks this afternoon and discovered it's continuing to do really well, but the special realization I came to today is that, if I wanted to, I could sell it all and completely pay off my credit card debt. Wow, way cool.

I then proceeded to spend the entire rest of my afternoon fighting Internet Explorer (running on Windows) to try to get a website I've been working on to display and behave correctly. Every other browser does things the right way, even Firefox on Windows, but IE has to be different. Lots of research and a couple CSS and javascript tweaks later, it worked again. Just very frustrating. Grrr. Another reason to hate Windows.

Tonight I think I learned a lesson about how to "be the surprise" (Terry's next book). For the first night in a while, I didn't have any dinner plans already, until a friend called and we went. She'd had a really rough day and just needed someone to listen; I'm glad I could be there for her. I like asking questions; I feel like I'm good at it, good at prodding people toward figuring out their own thoughts; it's something I can actually do to help, which is a good feeling.

After a bout of homework in the library (which surprisingly closed much earlier than I'd expected!), I was around Buntrock for a while. As I was preparing to head back to Rand, I called a friend to ask about church in the morning, and had no sooner finished leaving a message on her cell phone than I bumped into her in person, all because I chose to take the longer route out of Buntrock. Surprises like that make my day like no other.

Back in the room, Ben and Todd and I spent a short bit of time trying to find the live video feed of St Olaf's construction webcam. They have the normal link on their home page, but this only gives the user a still image, set to refresh every 5 seconds; not nearly as cool as a live motion video feed would be. The best part, after finding the web interface with streaming MPEG-4 video, we could save the file reference onto our computers, open it in Quicktime, and stream live in full screen. Beautiful.

Almost time for bed, but first, a round of laundry (I really need towels). After drying, I had one last surprise: the dryer didn't completely dry everything. Turns out someone forgot to empty the lint trap, as did about the last 50 people before him. Alas, live and learn (and yes, I emptied it afterward so that the next person wouldn't have the same surprise I got :)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Day 10

Surprise! It's warm, and it's raining outside! Or, at least, it was this morning, like real rain, not snow, not icky sleet; rain! Bring on Spring, I'm ready!

If I thought yesterday might have been lacking in its quantity of surprises, today swung the pendulum in the complete other direction. And by that I mean it was just a really good day. I think I've been really blessed, or just lucky, in that God hasn't thrown many nasty surprises my way–they've all been of the uplifting, joyful variety.

I had lunch today with one of my computer science friends; she's not a CS major, but we lab TAed together last year and became good friends from that. I discovered that humor is a funny thing (punny, I know): some days I can't make a decently amusing joke for the life of me, they all just completely fall short of generating laughter, and garner unpleasant awkward stares instead. I've sort of gotten used to that. But other days, like today, circumstances can be just right such that my mind can process quickly enough, and effectively enough, to keep the funnies flowing. Honestly, I like to think of myself as a funny person–er, funny in what I say, intentionally, as opposed to funny looking or anything–it just can't happen everyday, I suppose. Anyway, today was one of those good joking days: everything just seemed to work. Wish I could pull that off all the time.

When I came back to my room I took my chance to practice guitar for another hour before my roommates came back from class (I'd practiced a little before lunch, too). Surprise! I'm actually getting decent! Apparently repetitive practice does actually help with muscle memory. Now I can sort-of, almost, somewhat play things that resemble real songs!

There were a couple non productive hours spent in the middle of the day trying to catch up on "surprise" journaling amidst the allure of watching the Guitar Hero animations on the TV while my roommate played. Focus: it's a rare commodity. On the other hand, God snuck in another little surprise in this time: I have a widget that tracks stocks, and when I happened to glance at the numbers for one of the stocks I own, well, I was surprised, because it's doing surprisingly well. This makes me happy.

Tonight was the first of hopefully many cooking lessons, offered free (only cost is for the ingredients) by a student in one of the on-campus honor houses. Tonight's menu: hardy lentil soup, bread, and apple pie. The email said we should bring a couple apples, so I went into town to find some.

First, though, my car was almost out of gas, and that situation needed to be remedied. Surprise! No longer is gas cheaply under $2.00 per gallon; no, now they've decided to hike the price back to $2.49! Ahh! Goodbye money, I'll miss you.

My idea of grocery shopping involves Sam's Club and a giant cart filled with frozen, microwaveable meals in bulk packaging. I'm not sure I've gone shopping for apples in a "real" grocery store in some number of years, so today was an experience all in itself. I found the apples section, but then there were so many colors and choices. Okay, the email said "Granny Smith", I can do that. Found them. Now, how many go into a pie? Oh, and I'm supposed to bring some for Ashley, too (we're both in tonight's class!). Well, um, they're mighty large, maybe, 6 of them will be good? And they're only $1.99 a pound, so that won't be too bad. Wait, 6 of them weigh almost 5 pounds!?

Cooking class itself turned out to be not nearly as nerve-wracking as I'd thought it might be. You must keep in mind that I'm the one who, on the sign up sheet under "experience" circled "Me? In a kitchen?". But recipes are very step by step, and the more experienced people were certainly very friendly and held the novice hands all the way through the process. The end result was amazingly tasty, and not just because it was far past my normal dinner-eating time. The bread in particular was gloriously delicious. I only wish I had more time to learn this art of food-making.

Eating came later than anticipated. Actually, I think we started eating at about the time we originally thought we'd be completely done and leaving, which sadly meant I missed the beginning of the 48-hours-of-prayer in Mellby chapel this weekend (the idea is that people take one hour shifts, not that everyone is there all the time). Alas, thus is life, but I feel I "made up" for it after spending some several hours there later in the evening/night.

I need to interject a short funny story here: walking up from parking my car in Skoglund after cooking class, there was a hidden puddle near Rand that jumped out and surprised me, attacking my right shoe.

Back to Mellby: what does one do in the chapel for any length of time? Well, it's been rearranged from the creepy, spooky room it normally is into an inviting little living room, decorated with papers all over the walls to write on, a few hymnals and Bibles, a rosary or two, and a bean bag chair, in addition to the normal benches. In my time there I was only alone for maybe 50 minutes, during which I prayed, read the rest of John that I still hadn't read for class (but it's still Bible reading, so I think it's okay), and quietly sang a couple hymns. Then Nick came in and I was going to leave, but we ended up talking for over an hour, and then Sarah joined us, and we all talked some more. So, 48 hours of prayer (or 47, as the case is because of Daylights Savings Time), perhaps not so much intended to be solid prayer, but rather 48 hours of focusing on God.

Day 9

Despite an all too early start to the day (8:00 am class), today held very few surprises for me. Maybe that's okay, maybe I needed a break from writing so much. Class in the morning, another class after that, Remicaid over the lunch hours (including a short but very rejuvenating nap), and in the afternoon I finally started my renewal FAFSA. Yay.

Dinner was infinitely more exciting, since I got to eat with Nicole and Annie. Have I mentioned I love eating meals with friends? I love eating meals with friends, it's so much better than my first year when I ate almost every single meal alone. I love my friends.

I started out this entry writing about a lack of surprises. I think that was premature; it seems God saved the day's "surprises" for the very end, almost as a dessert, if you will (since they came after dinner, the analogy made sense to me :).

For the second week I was privileged to use my Windows (*shudder*) partition and EasyWorship on my laptop to show the Thursday Night lyrics, and, though I was still counting mistakes throughout, both Dave and Adam reassured me it went fine. I'm almost always a harsher critic of myself than anyone else is, have been for many years, but I think Adam and Dave helped me realize something else important that I know I need to deal with: I suspect I judge myself more harshly than God does. Even though it's such a huge deal to me, I'm not sure if God really cares whether every slide is shown absolutely perfectly; maybe it's time for me to accept that, as long as I tried me best, that's what God truly looks for.

Adam really encouraged me tonight, and I'm not sure if he even fully understands just how meaningful his words were and are to me. Coming from someone who I truly admire, respect, and look up to as a role model, his encouragement to me during our small group prayer time before the Bible Study, and again afterward, was indescribably special to me.

After Thursday Night is when God gave me the real surprises of my day. Well, maybe not a "surprise", but a "gift": the chance to go out for late night pizza at the Pause with Adam, Dave, and two of the other leaders from Thursday Night. Yes, I suppose I was sort of hungry, but moreso I cherished the time of fun and fellowship, and the chance to hang out with some really good people.

I went back to Ytterboe with Adam to pick up my briefcase, and then, on the way out of the dorm, came across a penny. For anyone who is familiar with the "Pennies from Heaven" story, you'll understand why finding a penny "from Grandma" is so heartwarming to me. For those not familiar with the story, I'll explain it another time when my eyes aren't threatening to close and my head fall flat on my keyboard.

Day 8

I got to sleep in today! Well, that is, if one considers 8:30 to be sleeping in, but still, the early awakening was worthwhile because I had my weekly breakfast with Sarah, one of my best friends, to look forward to, which was, always, wonderful. I'm really happy that I'm seeing my friends so much this semester–seems I've successfully learned at least some important lessons about how to place my social life above school.

Individual Fitness was what it was–not terrible by any means, but every day I'm always reminded at just how out-of-shape I am, and I'm not entirely convinced I've seen major improvements since the beginning of the term, other than slightly sore muscles at the end of the day. Maybe I just need to "give it time", like so many other things in life.

After exercising I almost always come back to the room for some alone time with my guitar and God, and today I played refreshingly better than the past couple times: my fingers obeyed very well, and I even hobbled my way through a couple new songs (new to me, that is; I'm sure they've been around many years). I've also found I seem to play better standing up than sitting down; no doubt this is a good thing, since when I actually get to the point of being able to perform, it will obviously be while standing.

Amazingly (to my surprise, you might say), the fax from the doctor made it's way to Northfield, so there was no problem scheduling my Remicaid. Whew. Good thing my Thursday test was postponed, since now I'd have no time to study right before it.

God blessed me with a day of friends and good conversation: I got to have dinner with another of my best friends, Amy, and we had plenty to talk about between our respective romantic interests, the overall dating scene at St Olaf, and Amy's post-graduation plans.

After dinner I went to listen to Terry Fretheim, a visiting Old Testament scholar. This is one of those times when, while I know he's really knowledgeable and, well, smart, the event itself was painfully boring, a situation only aggravated by the absurdly intelligent questions people asked: in short, I was completely in over my head and had no clue what everyone was talking about. Oh well, I did hear one great quote from the speaker (not that this single saving grace made the event fun, but call it one surprising saving grace in the midst of confusion and darkness): "Do make a distinction between the authority of the Bible and the authority of your interpretation of the Bible".

Post-lecture/discussion, the library, and God, had one last amazing surprise gift waiting for me: an unexpected, and long, conversation Kyle, Ashley's boyfriend. I've talked to him in brief passings before, but sadly never at any length, Tonight we finally had that chance to really talk, and to talk for real, beyond all the silly typical "what's your major" kind of questions (okay, some of those snuck in, too, but this was so much more than that). Just one more layer of icing on an already beautiful cake, er, um, day.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Day 7

It's a Tuesday, meaning... *drumroll* 8:00 am class! Yay! Snore. Well, not usually. I mean, the class is interesting, usually, but it's also so early! I'm a computer scientist, I'm not meant to wake up before 9:00 at the very earliest (though I am proud of the fact that I have never ever slept in past noon in my life, aside, I'm sure, from my days as an infant, but it's not really fair to count those).

On these days of three religion classes I get a two or three hour reprieve in the middle of my day, a time I will normally spend catching up on emails, phone calls, writing, whatever. Today that time brought me an exciting surprise (exciting in the sense of somewhat frustrating). It's been almost 8 weeks since my last Remicaid infusion, which means, actually, now that I think about it, I should have really scheduled one for last week. Anyway, I've been feeling fine, but I know the time has come that I need to get that scheduled, or I'll be very unhappy in a couple days. I called to schedule, and the nurse called me back an hour later. Good thing I'm not in the desperately bad days yet, because apparently the doctor's orders that Northfield hospital has on file are out of date, and they haven't been able to get MN Gastro to send updated ones. Oh, that's fun. It's only my ability to have a normal life that's on the line, no biggie (context, for those who may be reading and didn't know, I have something called "Crohn's disease"... just go look it up on Wikipedia). Anyway, I called the doctor's office, they said they'd fax something, so hopefully that will all be resolved by tomorrow.

Theology of Creation. Oh today was a good class! Not only was I able to draw connections and contribute something I'd learned last year in 'God and Human Suffering', but we spent some significant amount of time looking closely at different translations of Genesis 1:1. Well, I thought it was fun, anyway, to see the vast difference between "When God began to create, the earth being unformed and void..." and "In the beginning when God created the heaven and the earth...". The first is from a Jewish translation, the second is from the NRSV, and the connection I drew was that the former seems to imply a form of ongoing creation / redemption of what Stansell called "preexisting stuff", or chaos, which ties directly into what we read in Rabbi Kushner's book last year about God's unfinished but continuing work in redeeming the chaos. Maybe it was more profound in my mind than when I type it out, but for me it was one of those "Oh, it all makes so much sense now!" moments.

The other wonderful surprise from TC came in the form of something much less theological: due to a glitch in emailing the study guide for our test on Thursday, we get a reprieve from it until Tuesday! That means no cramming tomorrow night, and an entire weekend to slack off before cramming Monday night! (I'm an honest person, what can I say?)

A shower and short study time in the library later and I was back to Buntrock to chauffeur our small group down to the George's for Tuesday night dinner. Today's was a special dinner for at least three reasons that come to mind:
1) It was Lara's birthday today! So there was special cake and singing (and we're St Olaf students, so of course Happy Birthday was sung with some number of harmonies);
2) The George's are leaving on Thursday for a 10-day trip to Israel, so no dinner next week (a whole extra week living without John's puns, I'm not sure how I'll survive)
3) We had special guests, and my new friend who came last week came again this week!

Perhaps the greatest surprise came somewhere in the middle, as I was originally on my way to the library: I got a text message saying that Michael had had his heart transplant! Once more I was filled with such mixed emotion–I'm so glad to know Michael will have many years ahead of him, but I'm saddened to think that someone else just died, some other family is going through the pain and sorrow of planning a likely unexpected funeral of their loved one. Still, perhaps for now it is best I focus on Michael's restoration.

Tuesday night means FCA, my newfound place-to-be every week at 9:00. The speaker was really good, very well-spoken, and I think her message was something I really needed to hear. What's more, and more in the surprise alley, at the end one of the leaders actually spoke about the "surprise me" experiment, following up from last week. "Surprisingly", she encouraged everyone to try it for the next 30 days, and each week there will be some time for people to talk about what surprises God has put into their lives. I think I'll have plenty of stories that I could share by my day 14 next week. Plus I think it's just cool that I had the same idea as they did (of actually trying the experiment), or maybe rather, that they had the same idea that I had a week ago.

At the end of FCA I took the plunge: I talked to "Koach" Nesbit for a few minutes, then we walked over so I could meet the leadership people; I had emailed Coach Nesbit last week to volunteer my time and service for running song slides for FCA if there was a need, and when the student leaders met, they decided enthusiastically to take me up on my offer. So now I'll get to start slideshowing it up for FCA as often as I want, for now every other week. What was really, rewarding, I think is the word, is how much they appreciate the offer, and it's so awesome to be able to use these gifts that God has given me for yet another something that will truly be appreciated. And admittedly there will be some bragging involved if there comes a week when I'm scheduled to run slides for FCA, Thursday Night, and Selah.

My last little "oh that's cool" surprise tonight came when adding Lara's birthday into my computer's address book: for fun I thought I'd just type the word "today" into the birthday field, and lo and behold, it just worked! The year was wrong, but it auto-entered today's date. Cool! Just another reason to love Apple: NSFormatter, which, as my roommates and I decided, may just be one of the coolest things since sliced bread. This spawned another conversation, of course, about what was the coolest thing before sliced bread, to which we answered it must have been rising bread. And on that note, goodnight!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Day 6

Today started at what can only properly, or rather, sanely, be called an insanely early hour of the morning: 7:00 am. I was meeting a new friend for breakfast at 7:30, because this was the only time we could find that worked for both schedules. Okay, she was cute, too, so that helped in my willingness to wake up, but really, this was truly just a "get to know you" variety of breakfasting. In that vein, it came up in conversation that her roommate had graduated from Minnehaha last year; I didn't recognize the name, but still, neat connection.

I think I've discovered that God's an early riser. My first surprise of the morning happened before breakfast at around 7:20, when I first came into Fireside to wait: I saw someone who, from a distance, looked very much like my best friend, but, as I realised after waving and talking at them, definitely wasn't anyone I even knew. That was awkward.

Ashley and I resumed our weekly Monday morning workout time today, surprise, it turns out we've been in one of the same classes this semester and didn't know it! Well, we're not quite as ignorant as that makes us sound: she's in one section of the class and I'm in the other, so, same class, same teacher, just different time of day. Still, cool! Not so cool, though, the massive "worksheet" that's due Tuesday (tomorrow) comparing the four Gospel Passion narratives. I did mine Saturday night, and it took many hours. Why bring this up? Because in the course of our conversation, Ashley pointed out to me that, listed on the assignment sheet, even, there's a website that could have helped me with the comparing. Hmm, read directions? Me? Surely not!

Later in the day I received an email from Matthew telling me our friend Michael is in the hospital in serious condition. He told us a few weeks ago about how his heart was becoming less and less effective, and that he needed a new one to live. The doctors 'gave' him only a few months. The "good news" is that being in the hospital now bumps him to the very top of the waiting list (he was further down on the list before not because he wasn't in desperate need, but simply because he still had a quality of life on his own outside of a hospital bed).

So now we pray. It's an odd prayer, if you think about it, because as I realized, in order for Michael to live, that means someone else has to die. What a conundrum. On another related philosophical note, we never really know when our time on this world is going to be over; knowing of cases like Michael's is one reason I decided many years ago that I would be an organ donor.

After a short break following class, I met DaveO (he's one of the pastors at Emmaus, also the one who leads Thursday Night) in Buntrock for our weekly Monday afternoon talk–just a time to talk about what's going on in life, usually my life, mostly on the spiritual side, Bible reading, prayer life, the God-connectedness factor, and also classes, homework, a brush with the attractive females in my life, whatever comes up. The time goes by too quickly, but I cherish it just the same, not only for the opportunity it gives me to talk about myself (my favorite subject, of course), but also because I've found David is a very wise man who always has some positive, deep spiritual insight into what I'm feeling or going through; our talks help bring a little bit of outside perspective to my chaotic mind.

The rest of my afternoon was spent entirely in the library in my new favorite, couch-lined study pit. The topic of my studies? Reading, and lots of it, since I'd not really done any all weekend yet. Oops. It also kind of limited the number of surprises God could throw at me–after all, aside from when I took breaks to read a chapter or two from "Surprise Me", there's not too much unexpected stuff going on in books about sin or the Christology of Paul's letters.

That may have been a lie; I did have one surprise: I actually finished all the reading that I needed to get done for Tuesday. Now, granted, some of it may very well have been sped-read, with some cost to actual comprehension of the material, but let's be honest, I wasn't getting much out of it to begin with, so I don't feel terribly guilty.

Somewhere in the midst of addiction and sin (reading about, not engaging in, mind you) there was a quick break for dinner with Ashley–we both had a lot of work to do, so it had to be quick, but still, better to eat quickly with a friend than alone. And we both got a surprise: the lemon bars. Oh, yes, Stav had lemon bars! This is a rare event, one that must be properly celebrated by taking multiple servings of the delicious lemony substances. But wait, this time around a surprise lurked! When the lemon bar primordial ooze of goodness was being formed in the mixing bowl, it apparently suffered a massive overdosing of salt, a taste that made its way quite noticeably into the final product.

After dinner, and after more reading about Paul, I packed up and returned to my room, anxiously awaiting my 8:30 time to play guitar with Stacy. Stacy is one of those people that lives on my "oh-my-goodness-you're-so-cool-I-can't-believe-you're-actually-talking-with-lowly-little-me" list. More specifically, she's one of the Selah leaders, and, like fellow Away With The Stone band members Adam and Kurt, is a really really good guitar player (she also seems to play just about every other stringed instrument known to mankind). Okay, so getting to play / learn guitar with/from her is just as amazingly, awe-inspiringly cool as it has been when I've met with Adam and Kurt in the past. I know they're normal people, but still in my mind I've placed them all on this pedestal of near-deity-ness.

Before lugging my guitar to one of the Ytterboe practice rooms, I thought I'd print out a few chord sheets to bring with, just of songs I know or wanted to know. Turns out that the Rand printer forgot who it was, and so no one in the dorm can print to it right now. Ben and I identified the problem (it has the wrong IP and needs to be re-netreg-ed, likely another small fall-out from the Great Network Crash of Aught-Seven) and emailed IIT, but that still meant I couldn't print anything. Oh, well. Surprise.

Lack of chord sheets wasn't a huge issue, though. More to my chagrin was the fact that I was not in top guitar-form that night. This is what I get after a couple days of not practicing. So that was a bit embarrassing, and it's hard to justify saying "I'm normally better than this, I promise". Oh well, it was still an absolutely awesome two hours of friendship building and guitar skill honing, and of course now I have plenty more to practice.

The time was getting late, and I have an 8:00 am class on Tuesdays, so it came time for me to march back across campus for two last small surprises: when I got back to the room I walked in and found we had a guest visiting: Dave, one of the CS graduates from last year. We didn't talk long, I had to get to bed and the others all went out to the Pause, but still, it was good to see he's doing well.

My last fun little surprise came in the form of an absolutely great quote that I read on another friend's blog. The quote, classically though mistakenly attributed to Sir Winston Churchill, is thus: "If you're not a liberal when you're 20, you have no heart, but if you're not a conservative by the time you're 40, you have no brain." Sadly, in whatever permutation it takes, he never said it (I'm not a hypocrite, I check my sources:, but still, regardless of original authorship, I found it to be hilarious; I guess I'm probably just a little more aged, no, let's say, "mature", than most of my fellow college classmates :)

Day 5

I have an addendum to add to yesterday: on my way into the poetry event, and then again leaving dinner, I bumped into a friend I haven't seen in a long time, and though we didn't have much chance to talk (so much catchup to do, especially since she was just in India over Interim!), it's these little run-ins that are truly the highlights in my days.

Today started bright and early heading to the 9:00 service at Emmaus, where I was pleasantly surprised with a very fun and just plain "good" selection of songs, especially "Shelter" and Chris Tomlin's "Forever". The other very pleasant surprise was to see Pastor Will back in the pulpit after being sick at home with shingles for a month.

Almost the entire afternoon was spent in a very comfortable (almost too comfortable) study pit in the library, just writing: I had four days (plus an introduction) of surprises to journal, so it was about time I dealt with all those random voice notes I'd taken. On a completely other note, while there I also had the pleasant surprise of discovering I'd already paid off my Target credit card. At least that's one less thing to worry about.

Since the library didn't open until noon, I spent about an hour this morning sitting in a window cubby in Buntrock near the Cage, an hour which held some nearly countless number of those day-highlighting "little run-ins": little surprise packages called friends, coupled with pleasant smiles that I'm sure God sent knowing how much they would lift me up.

Just before 6:00 I finally put down the computer and "Surprise Me" book and journeyed to Fireside to meet the Selah people for dinner, where I attempted, as always, somewhat unsuccessfully, to be funny, before returning to my cozy library corner for homework-esque reading.

The night didn't bring many "surprises", but a comment must be made about the smiles that I kept smiling at Selah. I know the songs by heart, at least, for the most part, so my eyes will often tend to wander around during the singing to see who else is there, and it seemed like every time I wandered tonight, they spotted a new friend or acquaintance coming in the door, down the steps, and into worship. It was no shock to see any one of these people in particular, but it made me smile to realize how Selah, how God, had brought so many very different people from different areas in my life into this one place, all for the same purpose of glorifying our Creator.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Day 4

My day started out with breakfast with a friend, and then it was up to the cities for errands. I decided a few days ago, after Thursday Night, that I wanted to buy my own Bible. Now, of course, I have any number of Bibles on my shelves at home, but what I realized (it was kind of a surprise...) is that I've never actually bought my own English Bible (other than the textbook Bible they made us buy for first year religion class, but that doesn't count): all the Bibles I've purchased have been foreign language Bibles, and all the English Bibles I own have been gifts. I wanted something lightweight that would be easier to read laying down, as well as then easier to carry to class and Thursday Night, than my bulky study Bible. I also wanted something with fancy silver or gold edging :) Northwestern Bookstore had a great selection, and I found the one I wanted, matching all my requirements.

While driving to the cities I happened to switch radio stations from KTIS to The Refuge (which I do often depending on who has a "better" song playing at the time) just in time to hear them thanking their daily sponsor: Dan Cummings. Whoa! I know him! We've worked with him and his company at Minnehaha for several years now.

My next great surprise came when I got home and saw how much snow there was! Minneapolis had about 2-3 feet of snow, which is a lot more than Northfield had gotten. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, I'm quite happy not having all that down here, but it was quite the shocker walking through the narrow winding sidewalk path amidst two giant walls of whiteness.

Checking my email brought me one semi-surprise slash I-can't-believe-it's-happened-again: someone from the Thursday Night alias had forwarded an urban legend about NASA trying to prove true the Bible story about the sun standing still. People never, ever bother to check their sources, or think about what they're sending when they click "forward", and this frustrates me to no end. Normally I send back a little Jeremy-gram saying (usually respectfully), "you're wrong, here's the Snopes article that proves you're wrong". But, second surprise! This time I didn't have to! Someone else not only had emailed back the alias saying the original legend was untrue, but also provided the Snopes link that discussed it! Yay! Someone else is with me in the battle against urban legends!

I made it back to Olaf safe and sound, and in plenty of time to go to a poetry event this afternoon. Did I mention? I planned to go to a poetry reading today. Don't get too excited, here was my thought process: two weeks ago there was a poet, Saul Williams, who came to read in the Pause. I didn't go, but from what I'm told, he was very good, and the event very moving and worthwhile. Crumb. I probably would have gone, too, but it was Ash Wednesday that day, and Emmaus's service was at the same time. In any case, if he ever comes back, I've done been highly encouraged to go see him next time. Now, I didn't want to miss out one something awesome like that again, so I said that the next time a poet, any poet, comes to campus, I'll go listen.

Then I saw an event pop up on FaceBook called "Poetry Reading", and two of my friends (one of my best and one of my brand new) marked themselves as 'planning to attend', so I thought I'd be safe in tagging along. I assumed it was another similar event, that some famous, or even not so famous, poet was going to come, make an appearance, and read something. And it was only scheduled for an hour, that's pretty safe sounding. Great, I'm ready, poem-ize me.

What I did not anticipate is that the "Poetry Reading" was actually a group of 8 senior girls sitting in a circle reading choice selections from their favorite books of poems. Surprise! So there I am, the only boy, the only junior in the group, and even worse I have no favorite poems [we could put a period here, but I'll continue] along with me to read. I covered by saying something like, "I'm just here to be cultured", but still, I'm sure they were amused by my anomalous presence. Thank goodness I came with Amy; I think being there with one of my best friends gave me at least a semblance of legitimacy, especially when given the fact that my other friend who I was expecting / hoping to see there, wasn't.

This is the point in this short essay for which I really need a segue, but have none.

I spent some time today thinking about Lent. A lot of people give up sweets and candies for Lent, I've never done anything before. This year, though, I have come to the conclusion that maybe I am actually giving up something. Lent is forty days, this experiment (if I can make it last) will be 30, but still, the essence is there: this Lent, maybe, for once, I decided to give something up and give it to God instead: Control.

Day 3

The surprises started right away today. I woke up, said my "Thank you for this day" and "surprise me" prayers, then was surprised to find that my computer was not connecting to the Internet. Surprise! No morning email for Jeremy. I troubleshot for about 10 minutes before finally concluding the problem was with IIT, not me, so I left for breakfast. On the way out the dorm door, I saw a large paper sign from IIT confirming my suspicions: "The campus network is down due to power failure". Later that evening I found out more to the story: the power in the server room failed probably around 4:00 am or so. IIT, being the responsible people they are, actually do have UPSs installed on their servers, and even have a separate UPS on the air conditioner unit. Good for them! Unfortunately, the AC's UPS was drained almost immediately, soon leading to the catastrophic failure of all the servers. IIT spent the entire day reinstalling OSes and restoring from backups.

I arrived at breakfast at about 9:40, 5 minutes before they closed, and was greeted by a most glorious sight of an abundant supply of both fruity turnovers and chocolate muffins. These are quite rare finds after the crowds about 8:30 or 9:00, and in my experience almost completely unheard of at 9:40! I took two of each and stuffed them away for later snacking pleasure.

From breakfast I hiked to Tostrud and started working out, then went to phy ed class at 10:45. But the teacher never showed up. We waited patiently for a few minutes, then everyone went to work out (the format of class is lecture for 15 minutes, workout for 40). I'd already put in my workout time for the day, so I left right away, a full 45 minutes early. Marvelous.

The best part of the day was yet to come. Late afternoon I took a walk over to Ashley's room to see if she had any dinner plans. She wasn't there, but her roommate, one of her new really good friends from Global, who I didn't know very well, was, so I went in and we talked for a few minutes. That was at 4:20. I didn't end up leaving until 6:00. It was just amazing. We talked about so many things, philosophy, people, music... much of the time it felt like we'd been friends for years rather than acquaintances of only a few weeks. What was most amazing for me was connecting with someone else my age who loves the same types of Christian music that I do. It was such a cool conversation all around. I went to Ashley's room looking for my friend, I left having met a new friend, someone who I'm now friends with in real life rather than just on FaceBook. Thank you, God, for that surprise.

The later evening brought me to see Michael Gulezian, a really, really good guitar player, perform in the Pause. Not much else to say other than that it was very impressive. (One odd note: each of his guitars [he brought a standard 6-string and also a 12-string] had two pickups in the bottom... hmm...)

I left the concert during the intermission and spent the rest of the night working on a photography website: Nothing too surprising, just a good, fun, and productive evening and night.