So if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you’ll notice that I don’t post super regularly… Part of my remedy to that has been to finally give in and join the Twitterati. You can follow me @natxi3000 (a mix of my favorite nickname from my Barcelona years and a family joke coined by my “cousin-in-law” Trevor).
We’re now back from our travels, and boy, what a great trip! I thought that after Colombia and my hike with my friend Peter where we climbed from about 2500 to 3500 m above sea level that I was immune to altitude sickness, but it was quite different to go from sea level to constantly being above 3300m! Thankfully I had a few days to acclimate before playing some soccer matches with former street kids at one of the homes that Kaya Children International runs. More posts to come soon with stories from the trip, but for now, suffice it to say that my soul, mind, and body were challenged and inspired by the trip!
(La Paz is basically in a canyon surrounded by sweet mountain views on all sides… along with the housing that is quickly creeping up every available surface!)
…if only it were that straightforward to move cross-country! I can’t imagine what it’s like to do this internationally… oh wait, I’ve done that twice :) I have a newfound big appreciation for all the work that my parents did to get us to Spain & back again!
For our move from sunny, slow-paced Menlo Park to the windy skyscraper-studded Battery Park City we chose to use a company called ABF U-Pack, which, as the name implies, let’s you pack up their trailers or cubes, they ship them, and then you unpack them at the destination. Overall, a great option for the price, and the cool thing is that you use only the space you need, then install a divider wall, and then the rest of the room in the truck is used by ABF to ship freight across country, so you are the only person being moved on that truck and your stuff never leaves the truck enroute.
With much help from friends and family, we managed to sell everything we could that we didn’t need at a moving sale, pack up what we wanted neatly into the ABF truck (think heavy-lifting Tetris, trying to pack all our stuff in the least space possible), and giving away all the rest. The truck looked beautiful when we managed to tightly pack all our stuff into <500 cu. ft and installed the bulkhead wall. You can imagine our dismay when we opened up the truck yesterday in the middle of a rainy New York day:
Yeah, that wall was vertical when the truck left Menlo… We were told that the metal brace was going to be installed adjacent to the wall… as you might be able to see in the picture above, it was more like 3 feet away! And when we removed the completely destroyed wall, this:
Yet believe it or not, so far nothing is broken! Thank God for bungee cords! A few minor scuffs on some furniture, but we are now happily living amongst a maze of boxes.
More to come soon as these get unpacked!
P.S.: I was struck by this article in the Wall Street Journal a week or so ago where a couple of architects claimed that eternal life was acheivable through creating a living space that is more challenging to navigate through… they say that we die because we are too comfortable… while I’m not informed enough on their philosophy in order to be able to fully refute it, I can definitely tell you that you can acheive similar results just by living doing a move and navigating amongst boxes, recycling and trash bags, having to build furniture in order to use it, having to unpack 3 boxes in order to get one thing you need, etc. Check out the photos from the article here.
Ever since I first heard the story of Brian “Head” Welch’s encounter with Jesus a while back, I’ve been checking in every so often to see what he’s up to, and now he’s featured as part of the I Am Second website—a snazzy, hi def video-based site of people from various walks telling their stories and talking about who is first ;) Check it!
P.S.: The more I think about this, the more I wish the site was called “I Am Last.” If we truly put Christ first, then we will want to love and serve everyone, seeing them all as greater than ourselves.
After many months of prayer, job fairs, conversations, various internships, interviews, and lots of support from my wife (read: hugs), I’ve decided to take a civil engineer position at Arup in Manhattan, New York! We are really excited about this new direction that God is leading us in, as we bounce back to the East Coast and true seasons… but more importantly for us, an urban environment where there is lots of career development potential and lots of ways to connect and enjoy our new 8 million person community (*no worries, we’re staying staunch Red Sox fans)! The decision was really gut-wrenching on several levels, as we’re moving away from a wonderful town in the Bay Area surrounded by friends old and new and beloved family members. There were also a couple of other opportunities I had to work in quite different aspects of my field, but after much conversation and rumination, this position with Arup seems to offer the best mix of qualities in what I’m looking for in my first “real” job (yes, once I started interviewing, I realized that my years of internship and co-op experience only get me so far).
As we step out into this new phase, there are many unknowns to be resolved, but we face them with the knowledge that our God is a loving, awesome God who provides for his kids. As always, he cares about us in the process, and there is plenty of growth and adventure ahead!
P.S.: Yes, I am hoping that this will be a rebirth to my blogging life!
So here it is folks, my top 10 websites to check out when you’re bored or need a good laugh:
10. icanhascheezburger.com – cute kitties and other miscellaneous animals saying dumb stuff… kind of demeaning, sometimes very boring, but occasionally brilliant
9. Magical Trevor – seriously, I’ve probably watched this clip for over half an hour in my life… somehow it just doesn’t get old… or maybe I’m exposing how weird my sense of humor can be… anyhoo, hope you at least get a laugh out of it. (they’ve also made a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th episodes, but only the 2nd comes even close to as good as the first)
8. The Onion – we’re saturated with misinformation half the time anyway, so why not be deliberate about it?
7. Vintage 21 Jesus Video Series (scroll down) – dubbed over clips of an old jesus film done by a church in NC… quite thought-provoking! as long as you don’t get offended at the “sacrilege” in it, it just might get you to rofl…
6. Real Ultimate Power – this was a hit way back in like 2002, but I still haven’t gotten over it… check out the Seppuku with a frisbee link! ninjas rule & pirates drool!
5. Men In Hats – an interesting and quite existential comic, equally funny and tragic at times
4. GraphJam – totally random & often “wrong” graphs & charts… love it!
3. PhD Comics – for all those in grad school (esp. at Stanford), this comic captures the quirks of life on the Farm
2. XCKD – somewhat inappropriate at times, but totally nerdy & hilarious mostly (*make sure to hover your mouse over the comic for the author’s caption)
1. homestarrunner.com – the brothers Chaps will forever be unbeatable, with special mention of their efforts at Videlectrix… pure awesomeness (*also, make sure to hunt for the ubiquitous “easter eggs”)
Wow, it’s embarrassing how long it’s been since I’ve posted! Somehow I know it’s so vital to steal the time to reflect amidst all the craziness of life… and I’ve been thinking too about how vital it is to keep consistent connection with friends.
My winter quarter at Stanford was super-intense, but also very rewarding. Some highlights: birdwatching & seawater-testing & sleeping at the Aquarium in Monterey; seeing the elephant seals at Año Nuevo beach (see photo below); working with a research team on developing a response to global sea level rise in order to protect coastal communities and ports; visiting a water treatment plant and a wastewater treatment plant; designing a water supply system for a town in Panama (as a class project), and then hearing from a colleague that actually built a system there!! And of course, having my loving and supportive wife at my side throughout it all—even when I’d go for days on almost no sleep and the flower vase was often empty… I am one lucky dude!
The weather here is kind of surreal to me still… I think there have maybe been 3 weeks of rain total in the last 11 months! I definitely feel like I can see God through the mountains, the flowers, the clouds… I love the words of the likely early hymn: “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13).
A song that has really been impacting me lately is “Your Love is Strong” by Jon Foreman, off of his Spring album. Kind of different than what he delivers with Switchfoot, almost like a more chill (if possible!) Jack Johnson with such a deep yet controlled passion… here’s my favorite lyric excerpt:
I look out the window the birds are composing
Not a note is out of tune or out of place
I look at the meadow and stare at the flowers
Better dressed than any girl on her wedding day
So why do I worry?
Why do I freak out?
God knows what I need
You know what I need
Your love is
Your love is
Your love is strong
No matter where I go, no matter what happens in life, I feel like everything just comes back to that: somehow, God knows me, knows everything about me, and he actually loves me—not with some sappy, feel-good kind of love, but a strong love that is there to bring me life and set me free to live for a kingdom that is so far beyond the corporate empires and humanitarian ideals that seem to loom so high in our culture. It’s pretty mind-blowing. I’m so glad that life is not all about me!
Distraction is such a killer. I think it’s necessary at times to see the works of a highly prolific & successful person, or even an idealized person, in order to see that it is possible to pursue & attain one’s dreams. Tonight I hung out with some friends from my Framingham era (a.k.a. senior year of HS), and it’s really cool to see how they’re embracing their talents & honing them. Then I went to see Juno w/ Meredith—such a great movie! It’s super refreshing to have this indie-ish music-filled, totally realistic movie about a quirky high school girl who gets pregnant & decides to keep the baby & give it up for adoption. It’s inspiring to me to see the dad & the girl be into music & songwriting, as well as the adoptive dad.
All this to say, I feel like we each have something inside us that is uniquely us & made to burst out of us in a way that will give others hope & joy & love & a sense of togetherness in the midst of both the chaos and the normalcy of life. Whether that is expressed through art or engineering or heartfelt acts of service or discipline… the form does not matter, it’s the cutting out of all distraction in order to make space for that stuff that makes your heart beat faster & lets you know that God is smiling. I know I’ve missed it or given it up many times, but if I’m still breathing, then I’ve got another chance.
Yes, foosball (called futbolín in Spanish) originated in Europe (possibly in Spain), and the true Catalan foosball table is worlds apart from typical American foosball tables. Just compare these two photos and you’ll have no doubt.
Where is all this foosball coming out of nowhere, you ask? Well, I just got back from a great weekend at Hume Lake with the high school group from my church where we focused on being SOLID men of God, ate tons of meat, played hours of foosball, paintball, and Family Business… it was a blast! Pictured above are some of the guys who helped me re-learn the value of having some plain old fun.
Living a simple life, finding ways to rest, making time for activities that revitalize you… these are some things I’ve been thinking about lately. How do we stay faithful to our commitments and values while not becoming overwhelmed in busyness and clutter? Is the relentless pursuit of excellence something that is even desirable/optimal? I’ll be adding some thoughts to this line of thinking as I explore these questions more in the coming weeks and experiment with some approaches to simplicity.
But for now, I’ll leave you with this cool idea from Adbusters on a fun & less-consumeristic way to celebrate Christmas… by doing the “Jesus Walk” (basically you cut out this mask of Jesus’ face, and walk around the mall reaaallly slowly… and watch people’s reactions!).