Monday, October 31, 2005

Observations from my time experiment

I blogged last Monday about an experiment upon which I embarked over this past week. The task was to chronicle, as closely as possible, how I used my time over the course of the week in order to determine where I was wasting time and how much I was wasting. So, a week later, the experiment is essentially completed, and I have made some interesting discoveries as I reflect on the results, which I shall list here.

1. I do not waste that much time. I was pleasantly surprised that there is not a lot of time that I end up lolligagging and wasting. When I did, it was not surprisingly in front of some sort of screen. Another common culprit were the five, ten, or twenty minute chunks inbetween things. I need to find a better way to use those little bits of time. Still, I would estimate that over 80% of my time is used purposefully. Whether that purpose is valid of the time it demanded is another question...

2. I was disappointed, though not surprised, with my lack of God-time this week. I spent enough time pursuing God corporately, but not individually. That's a big thing to work on.

3. I actually got eight or so hours of sleep each night. Granted, my roommate did not have school, so my carpool was reduced to one and could leave an hour later, meaning more sleep for me. So now I have to shift my bedtime back to be able to accommodate for an earlier wake-up time, which should also help with the God-time.

4. I multitask a lot more than I thought I did, particularly when doing mundane tasks. I will often have music, and fairly often television or internet going on during chores or e-mailing or whatever other particular tasks must be done. It was a pleasant surprise.

5. I spent not a lot of time on schoolwork. But knowing that I was just coming out of midterms and had a "breather" before paper season started, combined with the necessary socialness required before digging into the books, contributed to this tipping of the scales. The goal is now surely to spend more time on schoolwork, especially since I need to.

6. I think I need to designate a specific Sabbath day in which I do no schoolwork. It often ends up being Saturday, but more by coincidence and not design. I'll have to figure out when it will be that I take time for me and for God.

7. I separate things into 15-minute chunks more when I'm monitoring myself. Not necessarily bad, maybe good (especially with internet usage), but at the very least a neutral development.

At any rate, I think I am going to attempt to implement some changes this week and to continue the self-monitoring. I have two months left in this semester, and it will require a lot of self-discipline and determination, so I'm really going to work hard to do so. One step at a time. I'll keep y'all appraised of the progress.

I just don't get some things...

My buddy Dave tagged me with a challenge: list five things that people in your circle of friends or peer group do (so university students for me) that you just do not understand the fuss over. Here's my list:

1. Getting drunk. I've never understood this idea: let's drink alcohol until we cannot taste it anymore and induce vomiting, nausea, headaches, memory loss, and involuntary spasming and call it fun. I would include the entire bar-star lifestyle in this bafflement. I just don't get it.

2. Family Guy. It's funny from time to time, but I usually find it overly sophmoric and unnecessary.

3. Wes Anderson. Granted, I have not seen Rushmore or Royal Tenenbaums, but I saw Life Aquatic and just didn't get it. Maybe I need to change this. Maybe I can't even if I try.

4. Gangsta Rap. I don't really know anyone who's into this, but I just don't get the whole thugz4life thing with the bling and the killing and the street cred and the hey hey you shot me! Ain't nobody frontin' or representin' G-Unit in my world.

5. New video games. Really, I'm a classic gamer. I've tried to get into XBox and PS2, but I just feel like a dinosaur. I like the Gamecube, which is unsurprising, given my historical preference for Nintendo. But another generation of systems is coming...and it too will pass me by. Speaking of which, computer games also fall into this same category - just never really got them.

And now to tag...how about Maryanne, Scotty, Andrew, and Evan. That should spread it to the masses. Remember to use the create backlink option that Blogger offers if you are so inclined!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Serenity, the sci-fi conundrum, and the role of belief

I saw Serenity today in the brand new renovated Rainbow Roxy Theatre here in Saskatoon. They've done a great job of bringing a historical landmark back to life there. If you are in the Saskatoon area, check it out. This viewing did produce a few observations. I realized that I like occasionally entering a movie with no expectations; I knew to expect a sci-fi movie, but beyond that had not really watched any trailers or done much reading. And I was pleasantly surprised: not on a level like The Matrix back when it came out, but more along the same lines as when I saw Pitch Black - a movie that was decently made that told a decent story that entertained me along the way. Speaking of sci-fi movies, watching Serenity also made me think about the genre of the space-action sci-fi shoot-em-up, and I wonder how much longer that genre can/will last before it becomes endlessly derivative. The first hour of the movie was especially captivating, since there were still characters being introduced and plot points being clarified, but once there was the big revelation in the middle of the movie, it became straight-forward and fairly predictable. It was still entertaining; I just knew pretty much exactly what was going to happen as a result of knowing the genre. The movie was worth a viewing: not the greatest movie I have ever seen, but not making me want to gouge my eyes out either.
Another interesting observation that came out of the film for me was the role of belief. Although it was not featured prominently, there was evidence of Christianity having remained a part of humanity, which is unusual for the genre. But apart from that, much of the talk of the movie focused on belief and its role in our lives. At one point one character asks the main protagonist if he believes in something, and whether he is willing to die for that belief, and his response is to act on that belief. But what is interesting is that that question is raised throughout the movie; it is only when he is confronted with no option but to choose that he finally acts on that belief. In many ways, this is reflective of us as Christians; we say we believe, and it is easy to do so when times are not difficult or not as difficult as they could get. Then there comes a real testing point in which we must act on that belief to validate it; that is that point at which inaction essentially invalidates the belief that is of necessity linked to the action in order to prove it as having been believed. What makes this climactic scene more interesting is that the other man is also acting based on his belief (earlier in the movie he is referred to as a "believer"), and the two belief systems clash. They were both driven to this point by their particular beliefs, and as I study other religions, I begin to think more and more that God uses those belief systems to bring them closer to him somehow. There comes a crisis point at which a certain path must be chosen, but as the spiritual leader advises the protagonist, "I don't care what you believe - just believe." At some fundamental level, belief in some cause produces a positive result, according to this film, and I think I would tend to agree with that hypothesis. Belief is the first step...just believe.

A link to the past

It is time again, where I have stumbled across several sites of whose existence I have need to inform you.

The Bottom of the Barrel - My roommate Andrew's observations on life, seminary, living with me, and assorted rants. Check out the intense design - it's probably one of the most well-designed blogs I have seen.

Les noces de la fille Lipskey - This long dormant blog has finally been revived! If you are a fan of blogs like QoWP and A Mandolyn and Ky, Meg's amusing observations about life will likely intrigue you. A great way to waste some time.

Here Be Dragons - Backwatersask is dead, but in its place is a new blog attempting to chronicle its author's experiences learning to live on the coast. It's not quite as good as BWS was, but it still contains a healthy dose of crazy science experiments and slightly inaccurate phrasing and grammar.

Timnath Serah (and what comes before) - To be honest, I don't quite understand Lauren most of the time. But on the off chance that he might do something entertaining or insightful, I am letting you know he exists.

Where boys go to get more chocolate bars - I am hoping for good things to come in this blog by a fellow D. Observations on hockey, life as a married person, and being an education student.

Who Links To Me - A great site that helps track who links to you. Brilliant AND pleasing to the ego.

Now the next project is to get more exposure in the blogosphere, do some RSS stuff and get listed on some blog sites. Woo.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Loud angry music

Demon Hunter. Underoath. Project 86. Emery. Underoath. Blindside. As Cities Burn. Living Sacrifice. Maylene and the Sons of Disaster. Haste The Day. P.O.D. Pillar. I doubt that most of you recognized more than a couple of these bands, but these have been a significant part of my musical diet over the past couple of months. I like my fair share of loud angry music, but recently, I have been trying to figure out why. I didn't in high school: I was introduced to P.O.D. and Project 86 in Grade 12, and didn't start to get into them until second-ish year of university. So why did I change? One, I've had a lot of influences that have listened to harder music, so I have had a lot of exposure to it. Two, I think that there's only so much that the mainstream can do before I get sick out. Three, it's not entirely a change - it's more of an addition. I would probably consider it my primary genre, but I wholeheartedly acknowledge that I need a balanced diet - I need some vegetables and grains with my meat. So I still listen to much from other genres like hiphop, modern rock, electronica, ambient, pop-punk, acoustic worship, and even some ska out of the vault. So what is it that draws me to the harder edge of the spectrum? One thing to note first is that I am not drawn to all members of this end of the spectrum. Some stuff (eg. Zao, Mortal Treason) is still too far out there for me, and some of it is also just plain bad. I listen to the best of the lot, in my opinion. These artists are honest, raw, and open in a way that many artists seem to have difficulty with. They are constantly pushing boundaries and trying new things, incorporating new elements and being musically and lyrically innovative. It's difficult to find this in other genres. I think a lot of people reject hard music as unmusical just because it is loud and includes screaming, but what they don't realize is that it takes more musicianship to do a lot of the things that these bands do. The point is that I am a fan of lots of loud angry bands, and I love it, regardless of why and how it happened.

Monday, October 24, 2005

An experiment in time management

Starting Tuesday morning, I will be conducting an experiment on myself. I will be monitoring my schedule to determine how well I use my time. I have little doubt that I will be disappointed in some ways, but I feel that I need some empirical data to help motivate myself to change. That is why I am endeavouring to live this week as normally as most weeks I live, and to leave any changing until afterward. I am not sure of what all of the categories are into which my activities will fit, since determining that is itself part of the experiment. I imagine some of the categories will be things like sleep, eating, television, internet, e-mail, blogging, schoolwork, social time, God time, recreational reading, hobbies, and so on. I would challenge you to attempt to complete the same task and see what happens. I will be posting the results in a week, so stay tuned to see what a week in the Life of Turner looks like as empirically examined as possible.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Boy Vs. The Cynic

Although I have not yet picked up John Reuben's most recent CD, I have no doubt that I would identify with his struggle. Throughout the CD (whose title is the same as that of this post), Reuben works through the dichotomy of his own life: the child within juxtaposed with the aging critic who finds it easier to find fault than to see things in a good light. Tonight's worship at church focussed on the idea of "wonder," and it got me thinking about how little I wonder. I take things for granted or explain them away. In true post-modern form, I deconstruct and analyze and dissect to the point where there is no mystery or wonder. I do not take the time to wonder in my life. I'm too busy or tired or frustrated or cynical to take the time and appreciate the wonder of creation and of life. I'm more like a child trying to act older than I am than I am a child who is happy in their childishness, which is what we need to be sometimes to appreciate God's wonder. And I wonder what to do about it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Student Samsara

I have had the privilege of learning about two Eastern religious traditions this semester, as I am taking classes in Hinduism and in Buddhism. One of the interesting features of both of these traditions is the idea of being caught in a life-cycle called samsara that humans must escape to achieve true self in a liberation process called moksha. Much of this semester, and indeed throughout my student career, I have felt like I have been caught in student samsara, a never-ending cycle from which there is no escape. Often, I am rather oblivious to my plight, but there are times when I just feel like something is not right, and I need to be enlightened somehow as to how to be free of this burden and leave student samsara. But there's only one who can help me do that - Christ. I've been living out Romans 7:15, and I need to be living Philippians 4:13. (Look 'em up...great verses). Liberation will come...someday.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Corner G and the Rub

What is it boy? Corner Gas is the most brilliant show on television (with My Name Is Earl coming a close second). The most recent episode made me laugh harder than almost any other episode I can remember seeing. Hank sees a dog he thinks is the littlest hobo, and Brent gets a rap name...sheer genius. I love how Corner Gas is so unabashedly Canadian, and how they make reference to shows like The Littlest Hobo. "Maybe tomorrow, I'll want to settle down; until tomorrow, I'll just keep moving on."

P.S. To hear the theme of the Littlest Hobo in Spanish, click onto this site.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Leafs are back!

Well, my Maple Leafs are off to a smashing start. They are now 3-1-2, with the three losses coming on a late third-period goal to Montreal and two shootouts against Ottawa. Even though Sundin has gone down with an orbital bone injury, the offense is clicking on all cylinders. Long-time Leafs Tucker, McCabe, Kaberle, along with newcomers O'Neill, Lindros, and Allison are all among league leaders in scoring. It is early in the season, and these are some pretty injury-prone players, but the gamble on the new guys is paying off (especially considering that all three cost the same as Alexander Mogilny). It seems like the Leafs are very well-adjusted for the new NHL. I think there are several reasons for the noted improvement. The lockout allowed the team to clean out a lot of players (and salary). Reichel, Renberg, Marchment, Francis, Leetch, Mogilny, Nolan...many of the overpriced underperforming players were allowed to move on, which left room for new players to come in. This has also allowed younger players to take prominent roles, like Alexander Steen and Matt Stajan. And it is easy to see that there are now fewer weak-willed Europeans and more good Canadian boys playing with the club. There are still a couple of weak spots (like Aki Berg), and there will be some adjustment when players like Sundin and Kilger come back into the lineup, but things are looking good. I'm still not predicting more than advancing to the second round of the playoffs, but at least it will be a fun ride while it lasts!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Madagascar: a parable about comfort zones

Madagascar, though ostensibly a children's movie, is a great parable about the search for the unknown. Marty the zebra is frustrated with his life in the Central Park Zoo. He wants to see the wild, but the other animals are satisfied with their existence. Through some unique circumstances, the gang ends up in Madagascar, in the wild, a situation to which each animal has a different reaction. Marty loves it and makes the most of it; Melman the hypochondriac giraffe worries about his health and material concerns; Gloria the hippo ends up going with the flow and making the most of it; and Alex the lion resists the new surroundings the longest of all. Their different reactions are very similar to how many people react when confronted with the truth of Christianity which takes them out of their comfort zone: some are concerned about their things; some are rather passive and do little, preferring to just "enjoy the ride"; some resist, preferring that they had never heard; and some wholeheartedly embrace it. It is not surprising that it is the one who resists, Alex, who is ultimately the most challenged to accept the new reality and change. He is challenged the most, as his "old nature" (ie. being carnivorous) battles with his concern for his friends, and it is he who is forced to change in order to help his friends. Often, it seems that God often pushes hardest those who seem furthest away, which will cause them either to embrace the truth, or somehow to hurt themselves and others in not doing so. In the end, the animals are about to set sail for home, but they are not going home as they once were. They have all been changed, but it is Alex, the furthest away, who seems to have changed the most. Some might say that Marty is reneging on his change, but it seems more comparable to God releasing us back into our spheres of influence once he has taken us out of our comfort zone to reach us. Madagascar is an interesting - and likely unintentional - parable of how God shows himself to us and gives us a chance to make a decision; a children's movie, but an adult decision.

By the way, this has been my 200th post to Life of Turner. Woot.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Speaking of political leanings...

Evan gave me the inspiration to complete this test, and I think (despite the fact that it is intended for Americans) that it is fairly accurate for what I actually believe. Not that it necessarily reflects how I vote, since the voting process is inherently flawed. But at least in an ideal world, this is where I stand. I think.
You are a Social Moderate (43% permissive)
and an Economic Liberal (16% permissive).
You are best described as a Strong Democrat.




Take The Politics Test

Friday, October 07, 2005

Exhausted and defeated

44.6 % No, 55.4 % Yes.

CFS wins. Students lose.

Damn.

"I have fought the good fight, I have run the race, I have kept the faith." - 2 Timothy 4:7.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Hockey Docs

Today was a big day. The jerseys were dug out of storage, the cheers and jeers coursed from throats that have been aching to use them for too long, and all the talk finally resulted in the biggest single day of NHL history, as all thirty NHL teams played. I watched the Leafs-Sens game tonight with Scotty D, and it felt so good, especially seeing the "Big E" score what should have been the game-winning goal. I am a hockey guy, and man do I need this season. And so it is time to reveal my second blog side project, Hockey Docs. HD is an attempt to share opinions about the game I love, along with some other contributors, and to share our ideas for what is best for the game. It is still in the beta stage, but should hopefully be fully functioning within a week or so. If you're a hockey person (or even if you're not), come check it out sometime. And don't worry - if you miss a post, you can always make it your goal to backcheck to recent posts, or to crosscheck with other hockey blogs. You make the call. (How's that for cliched hockey term usage in a sentence? Score!) Game on!

Political partisanship

I usually try to stay neutral and apolitical. I do not like to endorse one viewpoint over the other, and I do everything I can to be involved in the political process without succumbing to picking one party over another. Maybe it is the journalist in me, maybe because I see it sometimes conflicting with my faith, I just do not really know. But this week I have been visibly and vocally campaigning against the CFS (see "Just Say No To CFS" post from last week), and I have been loving it. It has been exciting to be talking to people and representing a particular opinion. I am still not sure if I will ever become a "card-carrying member" of any political party, but at least now I know that I can put myself behind a cause in which I believe. And I definitely believe in keeping the CFS off of the U of S campus. If you are a U of S student, remember to vote "NO!" to CFS. Not me, not now: no CFS!

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