Wednesday, September 26, 2007

God is Good

Wendy has already mentioned this on her blog, but for those who don't read hers, here's the good news: the place I've been temping hired me on permanently. I'm finally making more money than I ever did in California, and since I'm at the Corporate HQ, I get the Corporate benefits package. What a blessing! Medical, dental, vision for the entire family is covered; 3x my annual salary in life insurance; $15k in disability; 2 weeks vacation per year.

Not to mention that it's a great company and it's nice working with good people too.

The other great thing that happened recently, was church's Men's retreat I went to this last weekend. Steve (my bro) went too. It was pretty intense...and I don't just mean spiritually. The main thrust of the leadership was building relationships. And I guess they thought team competitions was one way to accomplish that.

There were 3 teams (green, red, and blue) Steve and I were on Green. We got checked in around 7pm on Friday, and after an opening session around a bonfire, they launched us right into a 3-hour volleyball/basketball tournament. I chose volleyball since I abhor running. I was pretty awesome - our team won like 15 games in a row and I got a pretty decent workout.

The next day had a couple hours of capture-the-flag: green won those game too. That night, I was holding my own in an impromptu ping-pong tournament.

In between all the sports/etc. there were great times of men sharing their lives, God working on our hearts, and the starting of accountability groups. I've been in men's Bible studies before, but never a real, hard-core accountability group.

I'm tired...time for sleep.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Ok, so several guys from church play poker every Wednesday night. It's a 10-man table, $20 each, top 3 pay out (100, 60, 40). I've gone three times when there's been an open seat (when one of the regulars doesn't come). Steve (my bro) went once too. My first time, I placed 2nd. My 2nd time (when Steve went) I didn't do so hot and took 6th, but Steve place 3rd and doubled-up.

Then there's tonight. I just got home after my first big win! I love playing with these guys. It's awesome male-bonding/fellowship, all the guys are nice and funny. A few of them play a few times a week, and travel to casinos to play in big cash games.

One of them, Jerry, was in California yesterday sitting at a table with Jamie Gold and JC Chan, a couple top pros I see on TV a lot. He's great about helping me learn the game, advising me what I should've done after a hand, or answering questions, etc.

Then it hit me. Hmmm, Jerry Jenkins sounds familiar. He said he's an author. Then tonight, when everyone was pitching in on a string of jokes that I won't try to explain, he mentioned that one of the guys was "Left Behind" and everyone laughed. It dawned on me that this was the guy that wrote the Left Behind series with Tim LaHaye. Woah!

My deal with Wendy is that I'm allowed the $20 stake once a month. If I don't place and get cash back, I'm done for the month. If I win, I've got a stake for another game. When you think about how much dinner and a movie costs nowadays, it's a pretty cheap way to have fun on a guy's night out.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Coming of the King

That’s the title of the 670-page historical fiction I randomly decided to start reading. It’s by Nikolai Tolstoy, grandson of the famous War and Peace author, Leo Tolstoy. In a nutshell, it’s the life-story of Merlin, famed wizard and advisor to Arthur of Camelot. Nikolai is one of the world’s leading Celtic and Arthurian scholars, who thoroughly researched Merlin and the time/place setting such a person may have existed.

As I’ve been reading The Coming of the King, I am constantly getting stumped by Welsh words and people/place references. It’s confounded by the fact that the historical fiction takes place in the British Isles circa 556 A.D*., so I’m always trying to extrapolate the archaic Welsh name for a place with the modern equivalent. For example, the large island to the west of England called “Ywerdon” is obviously Ireland. And they’re referring to Iessu Crist is easy enough to figure out. But it takes me a little longer to realize that “gwyddbwyll” = “chess”; or that a “cyfarwys” = “gift/reward”.

So to help, I’ve been doing a little research on the internet. First, just looking through some Welsh/English dictionaries to get the literal translations of Welsh words. And second, to learn the pronunciation rules. As I’ve been diving into Welsh, I’ve actually had a couple moments when I start giggling and feeling something inside leap for joy. I fancy that it’s a taste of what Professor Tolkien felt.

I feel like I could be a grandson to Tolkien. It’s moments like today that I feel like I miss him (as if I ever knew him). In Professor Tolkien’s writings and biographical notes, it’s obvious how infatuated he was not only with languages, but with Welsh in particular.

So, all that to say I’m enjoying the novel, and subsequently enjoying learning a little bit of Welsh.

*Incidentally, I got that date from an interview with Nikolai Tolstoy I ran across.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Billions served...

Time for another update, I guess.

The big news for the week: I had a hamburger from McDonalds…for the first time EVER.
I’ve always gotten the chicken nuggets at McD’s. For some reason, their burgers never appealed to me, and I was never interested in trying. But on Wednesday, while standing in line to order my nuggets for lunch, I thought to myself, “Hey, maybe I’ll be surprised and actually like it. At least I’ll know what I’ve been missing.”

So I got a quarter-pounder with cheese (and nothing else…I’m sure Ric would agree with me that plain is best). My review: Meh. What advanced technology do they use to remove flavor? It wasn’t exactly gross, but it was pretty disappointing.

Caveat: In California a couple months ago, McD’s started offering a special new Angus burger. I tried it and was quite impressed. It’s pretty loaded with flavor. I didn’t count that in my “Never-had-a-burger-at-McDonald’s” thing though, because I still had never had any regular-menu burger for the last 30 years, that most people have had. The bummer is, they don’t have it at the McD’s outside of California, so…back to the chicken nuggets.