Sunday, December 27, 2009

Wow... lots of stuff

One of weird things I always think about when I see the new year coming is how I don't view the world in yearly blocks like some people. I look at events in my life and in my world that happen on a different time scale. So... in a lot of ways, this year started about the same time my school started. In Late August my family went to Thailand for a vacation. And, while my parents had a good time, I did not. All my life I've been a introvert and I've never needed much social interaction, but this year I've found, more and more, how I really do enjoy the social interaction that I get and how much I cherish social interaction. I think if I hadn't been homeschooled I would probably enjoy social activities with my friends a lot more than I do.

Anyways... so I didn't enjoy myself because, at nearly 18 we were on holiday at a place in the beginning of the school year for most people my age. Ergo, there was no one but my family and a bunch of little kids or adults (neither of which wanted to spend time with me, really). The vacation wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t amazing either. Plus, the hotel we stayed in while in Bangkok was… horrible. Bangkok has the worst spiritual atmosphere I’ve been in ever I think. Stupid prostitutes ruining my vacation. -_-

Okay… I need to remember to not ramble here… so anyways, from there I went to Texas where I had a WONDERFUL two weeks with my grandparents, dad and aunt. I visited Baylor University and St. Edwards University and made my decision about college (St. Eds here I come. (: ).

Then the school year hit like a bomb. Now, I’m not an idiot or anything, and I do work hard (not hard enough, perhaps, but there is always room for improvement) I’ve always been satisfied with my grades and yes, there have been many moments when I wanted to scream in frustration, but that’s part of life. Well this year school hit me hard. Math is hard. And, for the first time, I realized why I am NOT going to pursue math. I knew I wasn’t good in it, but wow… this year has been really hard for me in math. Physics is actually fun, but I’m bad at it. Again, no science for me. Latin and Logic have challenged me, but with hard work I know I can make it up and do good in these classes. I won’t be taking latin in College though, I think I’ll try an easy language and one that might actually prove useful (well, more useful that Latin), like Spanish. English has been fun, but I wish I could focus more energy into it. With more editing, and more time, I might have been able to swing an A this semester, as it is I’ll have to deal with just an 85 average.

Wow… this is long… *sigh* I can’t seem to sum things up.

Okay, so, big picture: This year has, in many ways, been a hard year. I’m in a time of transition and that’s hard one anybody. I remember four years ago when “college” was some magical land in the distant future. But now it’s a stark reality and I have no idea what exactly its going to be like. I’m sure a lot of you know what I mean, being juniors and seniors. I have this sense of dread and excitement. I’m looking forward to America a lot, but at the same time I know I’m going to hate a lot of it. Not one of my friends who have made this transition in the past few years has had a lot of good things to say about America. I know at least one of my friends has really struggled and hates America. I’ve always tried to have a positive outlook on this transition, but at the same time I’m… afraid (?) that I’ll end up hating America and alienating a lot of people because “I’m different”. I’m afraid of rejection and I’m afraid that I won’t have a place in the world.

Random stuff, right? I mean… come on, I know in the back of my head that I will have a place in the world. God has done so many wonderful things in my life these past few years, preparing me for the future he has planned for me. He’s not gonna abandon me all of the sudden. I’m gonna be fine.

But, then, you know this Christmas, for all I know, could have been my last Christmas in Bangladesh. Forever. That scares me. A lot. I came to Bangladesh in 1998 when I was almost 7 years old. Eleven years later I’m 18 and I have had an awesome life in this wonderful (if corrupt, overpopulated, stinky and annoying) country.

I guess I just need to trust God and try and focus on small things, one day, one week, one month at a time. I’m now almost half way done my senior year of High School. In six months I’ll be done Highschool. Forever. In 12 months I’ll have made a HUGE transition from on continent, one culture, to another. It’s a big deal and if I think about it too much (like I am now) I get all nervous.

Annd that was a bad big picture. I’d go back and edit but honestly, I think my thoughts work best just as they are, maybe badly written and a bit confusing, but this is, literally a thought dump, so I think I’ll keep it as it is.

That’s all for now. I probably won’t get another update in until school starts again.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

So on Friday night I watched most of The School of Rock. Awesome show, and anyone remotely interested in Rock n’ Roll (Read: Modern Music) should watch the show, because its so dang funny.

Anyways, the one thing I have to say I thought was slightly annoying was the use of the term “facemelter” for a the solos that were NOT facemelters. Maybe its all the metal I listen to but its not a Facemelter unless its:

2 Minutes long
Twin Lead
All of the above

And yes, I know at least one solo I’ve heard (Iron Maiden, I think it was Rock in Rio, they were doing the Trooper), anyways, I believe it was Gers and Smith, playing two separate guitar solos at the same time for about at least a minute and a half straight. Those guys are epic.

Another good facemelter is Twilight of the Thunder God’s Guitar solo. Roope is an amazing, amazing guitarist.

What is not a good facemelter is the stuff most rock bands call solos. They’re not fast, brutal, long, or well… good. No, that’s not true, there are some good rock solos, but considering the face that metal is like… built around solos in a lot of subgenres (let’s be honest, the entire reason bands like DragonForce exist is because of their solos) its kinda funny to see someone term a solo a “facemelter” and I’m going… “meh… I have a friend who’s better.”

Now… onto the more important stuff:

So yesterday our youth group had a “night of testimonies” which was, as I expected, incredible. A lot of it I had heard before, but certain details I had missed out on. The best part, however, came after the testimonies, we had an ending time of prayer and out of nowhere the Holy Spirit hit us right at the moment. After thirty minutes (at least it seemed like thirty minutes) of praying and worshipping we left, but honestly, it had to be one of the most amazing youth meetings we’ve had all year. A lot of times when we get to praying for a really long time I get sorta bored. I mean, prayer is important, but I don’t enjoy listening to other people pray that much. This time it didn’t matter, and I loved every moment of it.

As a minor tangent, I’ve come to realize over these past two months how blessed I’ve been in my spiritual journey. To be completely honest, I’m probably quite spoiled, because I’ve had access to men and women of God who could blow your mind. Thinking about, at least on my paternal grandmother’s side I’ve probably had about 100 years of Christianity in the family. 4 generations (myself included) of God-fearing men and women who followed Christ to the best of their ability. All four of my grandparents are amazingly godly people (thank god) and seeing as my parents work as missionaries I have been constantly surrounded by people who have done tremendous things for God. The stories I’ve heard from their National Director, the guy who founded our organization here (25 years ago, he came a young man with little English and no Bangla; he is now married to a Bengali women and has two wonderful sons, my friends, both of which have grown up in Bangladesh). My former Youth pastor was… amazing. That’s about all I can say, and it’s hard to describe him in any other way. He was serious, stupid, smart and wise all at once. Without him I know for a fact our Youth Group would not be at the situation it is today (which is, FYI, a very good situation; we have problems, but I do think each and every one of the people who attend 4him regularly have seen marked improvement in their faith over the past 3 years). And of course, I could talk about my parents, who have done an amazing job of parenting (and teaching!) me.

So yes… that is all I have to say right now.

Friday, December 4, 2009

You know, its funny, one of the chief complaints that I’ve heard about CCM and most Christian music is that much of isn’t Christian enough. I’d agree that much of the lyrics are rather generic and not that good, but its something that most bands have. Actually, I’ve heard worse when it comes to lyrics. If you want cheesy, lame, formulatic lyrics listen to power metal. The words steel, heart, fire, and other such often appear. HEARTS ON FIRE! HEARTS ON FIRE! BURNING! BURNING! WITH DESIRE! Burning for the steel! Hearts on Fire. THAT is bad lyrics.

But anyways, Christian bands tend to have bad lyrics (but like I said, this is normal even in the secular realm. There are few bands that I know of that have good lyrics. Nightwish and Kamelot being two bands out of the like 50 bands I listen to regularly, there are others, but they stand out a good bit), but then… then we have Demon Hunter.

Demon Hunter is, for those of you woefully uneducated, a Metalcore/Hardcore band from Seattle, Washington. Ryan Clark, founding member and chief composer is someone who, besides being a really cool frontman, also happens to be well… an amazing artist. His lyrics may not be “poetic” (but seeing as I don’t like poetry to much that’s fine) but darnit, they are some of the most thoughtful lyrics I’ve ever heard of.

Storm the Gates of Hell, the title track from their latest release is a song that I could spend HOURS mediating over. The bridge, a single line, Hell Hath No Fury at all has to be the most powerful phrase I’ve ever heard in a song ever (except perhaps so worship songs). Songs like Fiction Kingdom, Storm the Gates of Hell, Thread of Light, Not I, and Undying are powerful, powerful reminders of just how powerful our God is and what we are called to do as his servants.

I think one really interesting comment that Ryan Clark once made regarding his music is that if Christians are at war against Satan and the Force of Darkness, we need war music. And, though he does respect many CCM artists (as do I!) CCM is hardly what he would call “war music”. “God I love you” or whatever is a really good thing to say, it’s a really important thing to say; I can never say “God I love you” enough. But there are a whole lot of psalms that don’t say “God I love”, there are a whole lot of psalms about war and violence.

Of course, the funniest thing about this band is that I can bet that so many people would be put off by Demon Hunter’s appearance and musical style. Tattoos adorn all the band members (last I checked at least; Ryan Clark has tattoos all down his arms), I have their live DVD and their bassist is a crazy headbanger. Plus there is the whole “loud music” thing that Metal has.

Yet, despite all this, Demon Hunter is amazing. Their musical ability has never impressed me overtly (they are good, but not amazing) but they are one of those ands that you just have to go “wow” to.

Aaand… in other, unrelated news, yesterday I played a 5v5 Single Draft DotA match that lasted 72 (!) minutes. Most games usually last 55 minutes.

In essence, we were losing, they we MESSED UP and got stalled and then the game tettered back and forth for about 15 minutes until my team finally regained the advantage and we destroyed their base. It was a fun, fun, game.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Google, Internet, and Privacy

This is an interesting article if you ask me. I just read on Facebook how Facebook now has 350 million people registered, and, even if that includes inactive accounts and spam accounts, that’s a lot of people, more than perhaps most countries, independent of each other at least.

So anyways, basically, everyone is on facebook. I have just 184 friends, many of whom I don’t really know that well, but many who I do talk to a lot. I see maybe 20+ of my friends on facebook regularly and the rest are people I want to keep in contact with that I’ve known from before or are TPS friends. But the thing is, while 184 sounds like a lot, it’s not. I have friends with nearly 500 friends on facebook, some with perhaps close to 1000. It’s not that hard to get that many friends, especially if you go to a big school and add anyone from your school.

But, that being said, I think it will be interesting to see how social networking sites like Facebook continue to expand and continue to grow and how we, as people, treat them. Right now, when people think of making money via facebook they think of creating an application that will allow for monetary gain. Games like Mafia Wars and Farmville. However, I do not think it impossible that in the near future many business transactions will be done over facebook. Business will create pages with their sales and specials advertised on facebook. I can easily see facebook and other such social networking sites soon replacing things like Email and possibly even text-based chatting. I do think Facebook’s chat system needs serious improvement before the former can happen, but seriously, with 350 MILLION people onboard, Facebook has the ability to knockout Google Talk, MSN, Yahoo Messenger and AOL if they devote the time and energy into doing it.

And while we’re on the topic, the BBC did an interesting article on Google previewing their new OS, Google Chrome. This OS is, for now, just going to be for Netbooks, but what google is trying to do really is amazing. Microsoft has always been about expensive software you buy in a store and install onto your machine. Windows was invented when the internet was hardly even available to the public. My parents, in 1989, used Fax and Long Distance Phone Calls to deal with people in the US while they were in India. Google is doing their best to show how “old” and “obsolete” MS’ design of “you don’t need internet” is. Google basically is assuming that the users of this OS (which is designed to run on netboooks, so it makes sense) will always have access to the Internet. Everything on this machine is designed to be done on the internet, Word Processing, Spread Sheets, everything.

On one hand, its exciting, on the other, I do find this somewhat scary. See, I love the internet, and I love it when in Star Trek the Captain will say, “Computer, play some 20th Century Jazz,” or whatever and some Random Jazz plays. That’s amazing. I want to be able to listen to ANY music from ANY era like that. I remember in one episode Riker and Deanna research something and instead of working their way through dusty tomes they use the computer to cross-reference topics. Their computer database as all sorts of information readily available for people and while searches can take a long time, they can be done without much need for manual labor.

This type of stuff does exist to a point now. Assuming I have a large database of Jazz music, I can pull out my computer and listen to Jazz, and with the likes of Google I’m sure there are programs that could, somewhat accurately, cross-reference searches done on google and stuff. But, its not the level where everything is on the net, freely available via the Socialist/Communist society of the Federation. But it’d be nice to such a society, methinks (it’s a Utopia. What’s NOT nice about it?).

So, one side, I’m all for this kind of awesome technology, but, I’m also apprehensive. I think one thing that I always want to know is how secure things are. If I am hosting all my Spreadsheets, which contain all my Financial data on the Web, who has access to them? Nothing is unhackable, yes, but it’s a whole lot harder/worth less to grab my personal data from my personal harddrive on my personal computer than it is to break into the Google mainfraim and steal data. I wonder how easy it will be to do this, and while I do realize that it’s unlikely that such hacks will happen, having lived in the third world where all the hackers and pirates operate. Every supposedly “unpiratable” game has been pirated within a week or two of release and distributed.

So, I kinda get this feeling that as more and more stuff gets on the internet, I wonder how privacy will develop. I realize there are some things that people will just have to deal with, stuff like me having my profile pic on Facebook open for all to see (though I can change that I think…) but at the same time I wonder what privacy issues will be enforced, and how they will be enforced.

Anyways, I think the development of the Internet is very interesting. 10 years ago no one could have known what the Internet today would have looked like. 20 years ago the internet hardly existed. And 30 years ago it basically didn’t exist. That means, for anyone 40+ years old (read: my parents) we have gone from an internetless society to one that will soon be (if google’s schemes work out, which I think they will, eventually) completely dependent on access to the Internet. It will be interesting watch both how this happens, and the response on MS as they try to fight to keep their dominance in the market of OSes.