Reflection and Updates

Tuesday was my 25th birthday. I have now been on this earth for a quarter of a century. I consider myself blessed. At the age of 25, I have a good job, am enrolled in a good school working toward my Master's degree, have an excellent relationship with my family, and own property in the most outrageously priced section of the country. I have been mortally ill several times, and have been spared each time. And my mom made German chocolate cake for my birthday :)

Since I last posted, much has happened. Also on Tuesday I concluded my 3rd semester at USC with a final at 8 am. I have a generally good feeling about how the semester went. I completed the final in time and left no questions unanswered. I recently emailed a couple friends from Rolla, neither of whom I have seen or talked to in a while.

At times I think I should have stayed in Rolla. I would have completed my Master's degree earlier, under professors I already knew and had a working relationship with. I do not regret it though. Had I done that, I would not now be a homeowner and my student debt would have been greater. There is indeed no sense in lamenting it. All I can do is push forward with my education at USC. Next semester I am taking two classes. This will be the first time I have taken two 500-level classes simultaneously but supposedly EE562a (the class I just finished) is the hardest EE class there is.

Now that I am out of school, I am working full time and have fewer obligations on weekends or evenings. I hope to accomplish a few things. I would like to get my room wired for surround sound and put the blacklight wiring in-wall. I'd also like to read Schindler's List. I want to progress forward in my Bible study of Haggai so we can start the Isaiah group soon. I accepted a challenge from Laura a couple weeks ago that she mentions here. So far I have been a bit negligent - I have read through Haggai 10 times (which is exactly where I was a couple weeks ago).

Laura gave me her old laptop a little while back. It's a Gateway Solo 2550. I upgraded the ram, installed a larger hard drive, bought a wireless card, and had the battery serviced. After attempting to install Windows XP on it and discovering it was uselessly slow, I installed Ubuntu Linux. This has worked well so far and I haven't found any shortcomings. About all that I do on Windows that I can't do on Linux is game, program (Windows applications for work), and use AutoCAD. This computer is too slow to game or use AutoCAD effectively anyway. At the very least this will be a fun hobby. I've been taking the bus to work since I don't have to ride up to school and it does give me something to do on the way.

Speaking of hobbies, the black Bug is not selling. I lowered the price but no interest. I have sold off some of the parts I have for sale and hope to get some time and nice weather to get the orange one ready for sale.


I have been doing a lot of reflection lately. One question that comes to my mind is the one of identity. It's not that I'm unsure who I am. I have a good idea of who I am, what I stand for, and what my place in life is right now. It's simply that I haven't found a core group of friends who have similar mindsets and values. It seems to me that I am somehow different from my friends. I think I can partly attribute it to a generational rift. I am part of the MTV Generation. I think that most of my friends are part of the Internet Generation. Another issue that complicates things is the completely different set of values and ideologies that Californians embrace. The saying goes, "You can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy." I think most of my values and world views are pretty deeply rooted in what I developed as a kid and young adult in the Midwest.

I'm not exactly sure what I'm getting at here. If anyone has any insights to my yet unasked questions, feel free to comment.

A sense of accomplishment

This past weekend I got the black Bug running properly, cleaned up, and ready for sale. Now I just hope someone comes along who really likes it (and my asking price). The process was not without its share of tribulations. I had two fuel leaks in as many days but all seems to be well now.

I love motorcycling

Today on the way from work to school, I was thinking about how much I love to ride my motorcycle. Not only is it more fuel-economical than a car and I can travel in the carpool lane alone, it is a sort of sanctuary. Amidst the ten million other Angeleans, I feel somehow unmolested and uninterrupted in my thoughts.

It's Piling Up

School has gotten very overwhelming in the last week or so. HW3 is due today. After about 12 hours of work (including 3 study sessions) I am somewhere between 1/2 and 2/3 done. Not good. I decided it wasn't worth another 10 hours of my life to maybe finish it so I'm going to turn it in late. I'll get no credit for it but I'll also not be penalized. HW4 is due next Thursday. I am leaving Wednesday to go to Iowa for my cousin's wedding, so I pretty much have to have it done Tuesday. That leaves me less than a week and only 1 study session. This weekend I have a Saturday event at church from 9-4. There goes most of Saturday. Sunday I am eating lunch with the Thursday Bible study leadership team and may go to a housewarming at UCLA. There goes most of Sunday. Sometime in there I have to pack too.

Work, on the other hand, is going well. I am on a new project working with a very knowledgeable senior engineer here. I'm learning a new piece of software that simulates stuff (I don't know for sure if I can elaborate so I won't). I have completed the tutorials and am ready to actually begin runs. I got an assignment so I'll see how effectively and efficiently I can produce results.

Bible study has been a bit stalemated lately. I haven't delved any more deeply into Haggai and have only briefly been studying for Sunday and Tuesday. I just need to budget my time a bit better.

Making progress

Well, since last I posted, I have made a bit of headway in things:

  • I held a study session at my house on Monday night for my class. These have proven to be very helpful (this was the third weekly meeting). Not only does teamwork make the problems easier, it shows me that perhaps I'm not quite as dumb as I thought and this is just a very difficult class. We got through 2 problems (of 6) in about 3 1/2 hours so are having a supplemental session on Thursday.
  • I downloaded Accounts Manager, a freeware financial thingy for my Palm Pilot in order to track my expenses. Much like my food journal, I think that simply keeping track of what I spend will make me much more conscientious and I'll be more thoughtful of impulse buys. I have decided to quit eating out except for rare occasions and have been bringing my breakfast and lunch to work for some time.
  • I figured out how I'm going to fashion my program for work. I won't go into great detail, but I do have an outline of what needs to happen in my mind. Unfortunately, the powers that be have cut back spending on this particular project since it's the end of the fiscal year and they're hurting for cash. I may not make any progress for a couple weeks.
  • I finished Going to Church in the First Century last night. It's a good book and a very quick read. I'd really recommend it for anyone starting a home or small group Bible study. Here are some reflections from the book (note that I usually have to read something a few times before it sinks in very well):
    • Church in the first century was very communal. Home church services usually lasted all evening.
    • Church was a relaxed, casual affair. Food was served and people sat around and chatted about worries and concerns.
    • Church was familial. Parents brought their children, who enjoyed playing with each other and running about the house. They also listened when the story was told, and were attentive when their parents requested something of them.
    • Church was classless. Slaves, middle class, and upper class citizens were treated fairly and equally - as friends.
    • Church was prayerful. There was a time of worshipful prayer, and also a time of supplicatory prayer.
  • Haggai is also progressing. I am still reading to get the big picture, but will start digging in soon.

Last night I felt YAM went well. I took it upon myself to lead my couch group. I now see the challenge of leading a Bible study when no one else has prepared. When we start the Isaiah group, I'd like to make some preparation a sort of requirement for attendance (unless of course it's someone's first time). My youngest brother Stevo went to YAM last night and his reaction was positive. I am hoping this will get him plugged back in.

A bit overwhelmed but calm

I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately. It seems I've gotten behind in nearly every aspect of my life:

  • I've got a major overhaul to do on my computer program I'm creating for work. It seems every time I get something working on it, something else breaks.
  • I need to get both VW's running well and sold. It seems every time I plan to work on one of them, something else comes up.
  • I am behind on the mortgage payments and my financial responsibility in general isn't good. It seems every time I get a bit saved up, an unexpected financial burden hits me.
  • I am behind on schoolwork - I haven't done HW1 yet and am making very slow progress on HW3 (the current assignment). It seems every time I start to make progress I get sidetracked or the problem looks insurmountable.
  • I am behind on Bible study - I need to finish Going to Church in the First Century and study Haggai intently. It seems that I find other things to do or excuses not to read.

Despite all this, I feel a calm. I read the entirety of Haggai this morning. Verses 1-6 spoke to me. Perhaps I should stop focusing on everything else so hard and simply work on building the temple. I have a feeling if I do, all else will fall into place.