Jason's Blog

Archive for October, 2005

Where I remember why I stopped going to mass

by on Oct.31, 2005, under General

This has been a fairly long weekend for me, in many ways… Friday night was the yearly Newman hayride, which I attended. Then, Saturday night was a halloween party, again with mostly Newman folk. I’m not going into all the details of the weekend, but I wanted to mention a few things – specifically, the things that reminded me why I stopped going to Newman. First with regards to Friday night, nothing was too unusual – went out with a bunch of people, hung out, had some hotdogs around the bonfire. However, it’s more what didn’t happen that bothers me. At first, I didn’t really know what it was, nor understand what bothered me about Friday night. It wasn’t until Saturday night that I really understood, and remembered why I stopped going to Newman.

For me, going to church, following Christ includes several important details. First of these is community and love. That means that anyone is welcome to the community. When I first went to Newman in 97, I felt that – I hadn’t understood it at the time, but the Newman center of 1997 was very much about community and love. The Newman I went to this weekend wasn’t about that. I showed up, and felt tolerated. Not welcome, but just tolerated. Now, don’t get me wrong – some of those who were there were cool and welcoming, but they were definitely on the “rare” side. NO church of Christ should ever make someone feel barely tolerated. That’s not a church of Christ, but a church of self interest, and wrong indeed. Then, Saturday was even… more interesting.

Saturday was the Halloween party. I provided the music as well as helped with decorations. I already had a vast array of halloween decorations and this allowed them to avoid having to buy decorations. This all seemed simple enough to me. Show up, drink, relax, play some music. This night was even worse than the previous night – I realized how much the attitudes that I encountered at Newman disgusted me. Let me exlpain. Lots of people at the party was drinking and me having alcohol, I was helping with this endeavor smile A very cool girl – definitely enjoyed meeting her – was one of the ones drinking. The thing was, she wasn’t part of the Newman community. She was visiting one of the hosts of the party named Kristen. Shortly after this Kristen showed a lack of ethics that was an additional reminder of why I don’t go to Newman. This host was one of the “leaders” of the Newman community, who from what I’ve seen takes a pretty self-righteous point of view. My views on Kristen are only relevant to the discussion that occurred in that I want to make sure people realize I might have a certain bias when I relate the events that occurred.

With that background out of the way, let me go into the details of what bothered me so much. First, the girl who was visiting was getting on the more intoxicated side. After a bit of time, Kristen comes up to me, and says to stop giving her drinks. Now, my initial reaction is ok, no biggy, I don’t much care either way. However, my general view on this is such: if a person wants to drink, that’s their choice. If I’m asked for a drink, I won’t hestitate to help out. Now, I didn’t offer anymore, and just sat and talked. However, after a while, I forgot, and offered the girl a drink again. Not a big deal, as it had been quite a while since the last offer, and the girl seemed to have been sobering up. Regardless, it’s a party, people are drinking, and guess what – that’s a normal thing at a party. What happened next though, is what REALLY left me pissed the rest of the weekend.

After the second drink, Kristen comes up to me, and says if I give her friend another drink, I have to leave the party. This is when I get REALLY pissed. First – guess what – drinking at a party is normal. Someone coming up to me and telling me that I have to leave if someone at a party is drinking? Just because they’re getting a drink from me? Now, I realize she was her guest. This guest was also on the drunk side, and being a massive flirt. The guest having a boyfriend at home probably was not behaving the best, but hey, it’s a party, and nothing unusual. Guess what – you’re at a party. You know there’s drinking at this party. You invite her, and you know she’s going to be drinking. SO, asking me to leave because her guest is drinking? That’s NOT right. But, what isn’t right about it is this:

It’s about responsibility. The responsibility to monitor the girls drinking was her own responsibility. Now, as her host, if Kristen wants to mention something to the girl drinking, that’s fine. But, by asking me to stop giving her drinks, she’s asking me to be the jerk. Kristen doesn’t want to confront her friend so she asks me to do it. At that point, I tell her guest that Kristen asked me stop giving her drinks. She then has a talk to Kristen about it. Kristen gets all really pissed off at me. At that point, I walk away while Kristen is upset. I said my goodbyes and headed home.

There are several things that pissed me off about the whole situation. First is Kristen in her actions, felt she had the right to control her friends actions and make decisions for her – without her being aware of it. In my view, that’s utterly disgusting – people should have the right to make their own decisions, even if they’re bad decisions. Second, because she didn’t want to confront her friend about getting drunk, she decided to try and use me to control her friends drinking. She wanted to avoid the confrontation that would entail. I do NOT like being used, by anyone. Particularly by someone who doesn’t have the honor to do what they think needs to be done themselves. Instead of talking to her friend about drinking, she decided to try and use me. Third, throwing me out of a party for the actions of someone else? And because I choose to allow people to make their own choices??? That’s as disgusting as you can get. Let me explain this further, in what I think should have happened.

If Kristen had wanted her friend to stop drinking, instead of trying to get me to refuse to give her drinks, Kristen should have talked to her friend directly. If her friend wanted to continue to drink then it was Kristen’s responsibility to deal with the situation. That gives her friend the option, and also leaves the drinking issue with-in the parties that are at conflict. If Kristen chose to push the issue then she had the option to take her friend home which is what happened later.

Instead of this, Kristen got all pissed off at me, and threatened to have me thrown out of the party when I refused to play along. This is the kind of self-righteous, I think I know what’s best and will make your choices for you, kind of attitude that pisses me off, and makes me realize that this is not a community I want to be a part of. I believe firmly in free will, and in letting people make their own choices, and own mistakes – and then loving them regardless. Trying to make those choices for someone else is wrong in my view – even worse is trying to use someone to do such a thing. That’s disgusting, and NOT the kind of community I want anything to do with.

[update: had to add this in here to clarify. What bothered me, in the end, about the whole weekend was this: I’m annoyed with the lack of personal responsibility I saw and someone blaming me for things that are their responsibility. What’s worse, this was without asking me to assist, but instead demanding it through force (i.e. threatening to kick me out). I’ve never reacted to force at all willingly – I fight back. That’s why I told the girl about her friends trying to prevent me from giving her a drink. That’s also why I left shortly after that – someone who acts that way is someone I want nothing to do with. ]

SO, overall, a weekend of learning – of seeing what kind of people call themselves Christians. Of finding out where I fit, where I belong, and where I’m not welcome. A place where people think they have the right to make decisions for other people is NOT a place I want to be.

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I hate oil companies, and this is why.

by on Oct.27, 2005, under General

An article posted by the Orlando Sential says it all in my viewpoint. Profits up 89% after the hurricanes? Yeah, oil companies are really hurting – they have to keep prices up to deal with all the hurricanes and other problems. Oh, and they don’t have ANY affect on the way people vote in congress. Oh yeah, did I mention pigs fly and lead floats?

This is precisely why I have an issue with larger companies. A LOT of large companies, from what I’ve seen, act with a total lack of any ethics, or ethical oversight. What incentive is there for such companies to act ethically when their unethical actions lead to larger profits? If anything the incentive is to act without regard for anyone other than themselves. Long term, perhaps there are some reasons why ethical policies are good – but does that motivation apply considering stocks and dividends that matter so much to companies are looked at on a short term basis?

Why do people seem more interested in lining their own pockets than in doing what is right? I’ll grant anyone the right to a certain amount of profit, but there comes a point where fleecing the customers is NOT right. Where’s the competition here? Or the possibility of competition? Why is it that there isn’t an oil company that has reduced prices in competition, thus forcing another oil company to reduce their prices? I have to ask, why isn’t capitalism working here????

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I love Chocolate!!!

by on Oct.17, 2005, under General

Mmm, yay for packs of mini-snickers sitting in a desk drawer. Not-yay for how many delectable calories I may be adding onto my day. Definitely yay for all halloween candy.

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I.  Passionately.  Hate.  Being.  Sick.

by on Oct.17, 2005, under General

I’m doing better than last week, by far, but I’m still coughing up crap. And I do mean crap. UGH, I hate it. Allergies are bad enough – and were particularly annoying this year – but being sick is like the ultra-creamy-sugary-evilness icing on top.

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On Fall and all that’s colorful

by on Oct.06, 2005, under General

Well, it’s that time of year again – the time when the weather changes, and I pull sweaters out of storage. It’s the time of year when leaves start changing colors, when there are hay rides and apple cider. Where you feel Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas coming up. It’s a time for football, home games, friends, walks in the park, and family. With the coming of fall I always end up emotional outpourings and introspection. It’s a time of year when I do lots of contemplation and self-analysis, trying to figure out where my life is and where it’s going. Not necessarily healthy, but definitely part of who I am. Now, to some of my thoughts and what has been going on.

With regards to work, I’ve been massively wrapped up in work, developing application code for a rewrite of one of our major applications. I was able to release a few components via permission from Campus Facilities as open source which hopefully others in the community will be able to make use of. To see the projects I’ve worked on, please take a look at my project page: http://poetshome.com/development/?page_id=15. I’ve been swamped every day, doing massive amounts of code and it wont’ slow down anytime soon. The program will probably take me a good 6+ months to write, and then probably another 6 months of “tweaking” for user support. SO, massive amounts of work every day.

I’ve also been wrapped up the last few month with moving into a new apartment. That has been a chore in and of itself, and a whole new set of experiences. My roommate from last year, James, and I moved into a new apartment with two girls. This is the first time I’ve ever lived in an apartment or house with 4 people – that of course adds dymanics – but the big thing I’m getting used to is living of course with two girls. I grew up in a family of boys with no sisters to speak of and as a result I’ve got very little experience living wtih girls (I don’t exactly count my mom). I’m still trying to figure out how all this will work, and wondering whether it will work next year.

During this same time, I’ve also made a few trips. I flew out to Colorado to help Joan move to St. Louis to be with Christian. That was a fun trip overall, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to help them out. With that, I saw some people I haven’t seen in quite a while such as Dan Poth and Joe Cosas as well seeing the beautiful area in Colorado. Thankfully though, driving back inovled seeing Kansas at night (and thus, seeing the same thing during the day – nothing). Was a good trip overall, although very tiring.

For more recent trips, I went to my grandmothers last weekend and am going again this saturday. I’ve been very productive down there, including things like cutting firewood, cleaning out her flu, and this weekend will be cutting grass and helping clean out the old house my father built there. It’s about 4 hours to drive there and 4 hours back to Columbia, which is a fairly extensive amount of time. But, it’s definitely a good drive too – lots to see and experience.

That’s about it for trips, but there is an interesting side effect to fall closing in and the trip to my grandmothers. Visiting my grandmother tends to bring all kinds of emotions to the surface. I think of trips there as a young kid, playing in the dirt while my father worked on the house. I remember swinging on a big rope, back and forth which was hung on a tree limb. I think of the garden and of other times, traipsing around the countryside. I have memories of seeing the tractor down there, my grandmothers dogs including a beautiful collie. I think of all the other dogs and the bunny rabbits she had. I think of the old houses she’s shown me, where she grew up, and most of all, these memories start me thinking of the past as well as the future.

Time passes so quickly sometimes, and it’s happening so fast that I can’t help but wonder what will happen. When you see a house, a hundred years old collapsing and falling apart (not my grandmothers but an older one I’d seen way out in the country), I can’t help but think of who was in that house, where they are now, and wonder where I’ll be in the years to come… Fall really gets me thinking about this stuff for some reason. Will next year be the year I leave Columbia? Will next year be the year I buy a house? Will I find a job in a new state, or finally find a decent relationship? Will I ever have kids someday? I really have no clue but these questions questions are coming to the foreground. They seem particularly intense this year and I don’t know whether it was this move, the new roommates, or just life in general that has prompted more thinking, but I’ve definitely been in the introspective mood lately. I can’t help but look around and wonder where my life is going, and where I’ll be in the future.

In areas other than work and apartment life and the occasional trip, there isn’t much to tell. The last two months or so has been somewhat different for me in comparison to any other point in my life. I’ve become more or less a recluse, going to work, coming home, and just sitting at home. I haven’t gone out to play pool in almost two months. I don’t really hang out with friends right now, but work and sleep. Oh occasionally I’ll see someone on the weekend or do things like that. But, considering I used to play pool near twice a week, plus make repeated trips to St. Louis or other locations, this has been a massive shift for me, and not all that good of a shift, I think. I should get out more, but that’s also been a challenge, as I’ve no one to go out with, really.

One aspect of this that I’m definitely struggling deals with going to mass. As many know or have guessed, I’ve stopped going to church. I haven’t been to a mass since this last spring when I went to a friends wedding. It’s something I’m struggling with more and more lately. I almost went this last Sunday, but there’s a part of me that wants to go, and a part of me that hates the thought. For me, church is about being a community of faith and believers, but very much a community. However, I haven’t seen much of a community there recently. Further, the “politics” and behaviors of many of the leaders bother me – a great great deal. So, I’m more or less cut off from what was one of the biggest parts of my life. I’m still struggling to figure out whether I’ll go back to that, see if I can integrate that into my life.

But, my problem and one of the reasons I’ve been less active lately, is that I have very few friends to be active with. Going to church isn’t like going to a community right now – it’s going to a place where I feel unwelcome and out of place. Thus the problem I’m faced with right now with a lack of ANY community. There are people I do know, but none that I know well or “hang out with” regularly. Life has been very lonely lately. The problem though is I don’t see an easy way to change it. Going to mass regularly wouldn’t necessarily solve my problems but is an option, but not one that would necessarily work. Leaving Columbia wouldn’t necessariliy work either, as with any new location, making friends is always difficult. I do have a lot of friends in St. Louis, but I doubt that would work any better due to distance issues and the whole actually meeting up with people. I really don’t know what to do, but lately things seem to be more problematic in this regard. Hopefully sometime soon I’ll find an answer….

I guess in the end, Fall is an interesting time for me. It’s a time for a traditional Halloween party, but this year I wonder – who would actually show? Who do I know anymore? Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all of these holidays are a time for community and friends, a time for fires and hayrides, but where is this community for me? Where do I go, and what do I do? I’m lost and struggling to find my way…. in the end, all I’m able to do is hope and pray for a future I’m hesitantly facing. Perhaps more trips or looking up old friends will help….

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All the politicians in one room for a year.

by on Oct.04, 2005, under Politics

I was just thinking of this, while reading some articles. Is there any way we can get all the lawyers/politicians locked in one room for a year? At the end of it, whoever’s left alive gets shot, because we know that you apparently have to be the vilest SOB out there to survive in that kind of crowd. It always seems the most powerful of the politiicians are also the most corrupt, the most adept at evading the law. Tom Delay right now is a perfect example of what bothers me so much in this country. I used to think politicians voted the way they do because of their ideals. Lately, it seems more vote because of business deals. The country shouldn’t be run by money – it should be run by heart, by mind, by faith. It shouldn’t be run by people who are out to get richer, but by people who are out to represent the people of the country. ALL of them – not the 1/10th of 1 percent who are already wealthy, own large corporations, and apparently hold senators in their pockets. What happened to such ideals as honesty, honor, integrity??? Maybe I’m naive about this, but that doesn’t mean I can’t wish for SOME level of integrity in our elected officials.

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