Desierto norte de Chile

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Of bikes and men

My dad and younger brother Charles have recently gotten into riding motorcycles. They each bought a motorbike in the last year and ride them around town (and even out of town) when the weather is good. Dad brought both his and CG's cycles down to the beach this week (along with the standard foot-powered bicycle, which I have grown more adept at maneuvering since living in Graz). This afternoon, Dad convinced me to ride Charles's (motorized) bike with him down the street (me on CG's, and dad leading on his own bike).

Last week, Dad took me over to our high school's parking lot, and I rode around learning how to accelerate/change gears and how to turn. The lessons went well, but they were short (only ~ 15 minutes total), and I guess I wasn't totally prepared for riding on a street (with other people, cars, cross-streets, stop signs, etc.). I crashed while trying to turn left, landing on (and dragging) my elbow at 10 mph. My left arm is in a lot of hurt tonight, with two very fun-looking scrapes on either side of my elbow, along with a scrape on my knee and other places on my arm. My dad, who is not a cussing man, probably got the idea how I felt when I responded to his "what happened?" with "I fell off the damn thing!" I hope nothing is broken (anyone know what a broken elbow feels like?), but it's hard to tell b/c the scrapes and bruises are still pretty fresh. (I crashed only 2 hrs ago).

I think I know one reason why I wasn't able to turn (other than the fact that this was my first real attempt at riding a motorcycle): after learning to balance on a bicycle, I attempted to "lean into" the turn on the motorcycle. However, my bicycle weighs around 30 lbs (maybe 10, or 50, I'm not great at guessing!), and the motorbike weighs about 500 lbs. (I weigh 225). "Leaning" a motorcycle around a curve just doesn't work. Remember our good friend Newton: "objects in motion tend to stay in motion..." Well, my motorcycle decided to follow Newton's advice and keep going straight, even though I was leaning and trying to get it to go left. Net result is that I managed to cross the road but miss the turn, and I fell off (and slid along as the bike drug my right foot which was trapped underneath) as the bike came to a stop on the embankment.

Not fun at the time, but if the bones are not broken, I guess it'll be a story to tell later.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Chillin' with the fam

I interviewed last week in Mobile, AL, and then continued eastward to attend the memorial service for my grandfather. It was a good service, and also a very nice visit with family - both immediate, whom I last saw in February, and extended, some of whom I saw over Christmas 2005, and the rest I hadn't seen in at least two years.

Now I am at my parent's home in Greenville for the next week. Guess it's taken me ten years of being at university, and six years of living in Oklahoma, to start calling this place my "parent's home", even though my things have long since been moved out and most of the furnishings have changed! I'm working this week on two related research items: my dissertation and a manuscript that I will submit for publication. (The manuscript is a smaller, more condensed version of the dissertation, but both contain the same underlying research).

Next week I'll head to the beach with my family, just mom & dad (and maybe aunt & uncle) for the weekdays (M-Th) and then my 2 brothers and sister-in-law for F-Sa. I'll do some work but will likely spend more time relaxing than working. It'll be my first real vacation -- not as a tourist or going from place to place, but spending six+ hours per day lying on a sandy beach with a book.

I already read Harry Potter 7 (finished it late Sunday night after buying it Saturday morning and getting in a few pages between chats with my family and the memorial service). If my mother, who's reading it now, can finish in time, I'll probably re-read HP7 next week to get the details I missed. I don't want this to be a spoiler, but I'll admit I didn't laugh as much during HP7 as I did during HP1,2,3, and 4. The scenes were darker (I mean, the title is "Deathly Hallows"!), so I guess JKR didn't find room for as many humorous settings. On one related note, I like the British HP7 cover much better than the American one. You judge for yourselves.

I'll post my job decision later this week, as I know many of you have been asking about it. (Postdoc with the University of Chile, in Santiago, or Assistant professor with the University of South Alabama, in Mobile). I want to inform both universities before putting anything here, although I don't think many people read this site. (Related note: it's amazing after ending my long-distance relationship with Bethany that my daily site visits got cut in half, maybe more. She brought a lot of traffic here! [It could also be that at the time I was living abroad, and somehow far-away friends have much more interesting lives than those we see daily. Thoughts?] )

See you in ten days, perhaps sooner with beach photos!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Let my heart .. sing for you ... and not remain silent !

Tonight was one of those special nights. Where everything comes together so well that you want to cry for joy and laugh so hard and have it never end. I've been hanging out pretty much every week for the past 6 with Mee, Por, Jeab, Yi-fang, and Kris. (We said 'good-bye' to Pu and Ryan at the end of June.) Tonight we decided we wanted to talk through some of the things that Jesus said and which are recorded in Matthew 6. Having ended only a few hours ago the discussion is still fresh in my mind -- and let me say that when you have one of those heart-to-heart talks, where everyone's listening and learning and discovering, it's hard to forget! Collectively we caught a beautiful glimpse of our God and his provision in so many ways. Perhaps this lesson connects with me strongly now because my grandfather died earlier this week. Perhaps it's because I'm staring down the barrel (in a good, God-has-provided kind of way of course!) of a career decision in the next ten days. Perhaps it's because I won't be in Norman much longer and I am fighting nostalgia, longing for closure with great friends while seeking to maximize every second in their company. Perhaps it's because I have a lot more work to do before I defend my dissertation (but I want to be done now!). Perhaps it's because I have an interview next week, followed by a funeral and extended time with extended family, which itself is followed by a week at my parents' house, capped off with a (much needed!) week-long stint at the beach with my parents, aunt & uncle, and then bro's at the weekend. Perhaps it's because I remember my friends from months and years past and want to reconnect with the love they showered upon me. Perhaps it's because people elsewhere are hurting, lonely, hungry, or otherwise in need, and part of my heart cannot help but empathize and desire to do something, in some way, to bless them.

Whatever the reason, I loved talking out the provision from God. "Who among you can, by worrying, add even one hour to his life?" "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, but rather store up for yourself treasures in heaven." "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." God controls even the details of life and death, and yup, I believe that! I believe that my heart is set on heavenly things (even with all the crap [selfishness, doubt, taking my sense of security & self-worth from my knowledge, professional titles/awards, friends, physical abilities, and savings] that I know goes on in there). So tonight, after the cards have been put away (I was king 3 times! Whoop!), the dishes washed, Mee and Por returned to Heidi's house, my friends' blogs caught-up with, and the praise music blasting (as much as possible but not to disturb my Jordanian neighbors below with their 2 one-year-olds!) ... now my soul is at rest, at peace, even with all the "perhaps's" listed above still awaiting resolution. Here are a few things that I think are neat, especially if they work out:

- I really want to visit Trygve (Norwegian friend in Graz, once called "the cute guy in the red coat" by my nameless Italian-American chica ;) and travel around a few countries that I haven't visited yet
- I connected with this group called "Latin American Ministries" (LAM) and they are amazing. Reading their stories has set my dreamer-phase on overdrive. I still vividly recall the faces of the Guatemalan kids. I wonder how it's possible to leverage whatever future career (professor?) into blessing those amazing kids, either in Guatemala or elsewhere?
- I wonder how my roommates and friends from Graz are doing. Haven't really been good at keeping in touch, which I guess is a peril of being my friend: I live heavily in the moment .. which is to your advantage if you have me at present -- you get my mostly undivided attention. But if someone else grabs that friendship, unfortunately they claim top-spot and get my focus. I guess this is a little strange, but I've realized it's how I operate. Just ask my Angolan friends from last summer ... they got all of me last summer but now I rarely see them (not from lack of want!)
- I would really LOVE to visit my friend Mohammed in Isfahan (Esfahan), Iran, whom I met at the CCME conference in Istanbul last November. I think it would also be sweet to go to N. Africa to visit one of my American friends.
- I've been quickly reminded that my skills at ultimate Frisbee are okay, but not stellar like I might have hoped. I've played 4 times now with the club team from OU, and their skills far surpass mine. I enjoy it but often get lost in the shuffle... making bad cuts to get the disc, or getting burned on defense (either through my own tiredness/out-of-shape-ness, or through a deftly-executed cut to the disc). It's during those times that I remember why I prefer to play with less-serious players, who still try hard but don't mind throwing the disc to everyone on the team!

I think this is one of the most personal (and longest, and perhaps lesser-organized) posts yet, so thanks for reading through it. As Enter the Worship Circle says, "Let my heart ... sing for You ... and not remain silent!! Dance, dance, my soul, there's no reason for you to weep; Dance, dance, my soul, make music to your king." Amen, and good night!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Yesterday, during our regular weekly game of Ultimate Frisbee, I had a very interesting and very personal encounter with one of our discs. While warming up, I raced into the middle of our 5-person circle to snag an underthrown disc, and at that exact time, one of my friends, who shall remain nameless, stepped into a full-throttle huck about 20 feet from my face. You can guess the rest (a blind-sided collision with my right temple ... for those slow on the uptake). Today I am sporting a nice quarter-sized bruise above my eyebrow, and it hurts to squint. But you know, I don't think I would have it any other way... this remains the best sport known to man (even if I'm lousy at the running part of it!)

From left to right: Caleb, Tate, Mee, Brad, Nathan, Nick, Leo.

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