Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Google Maps: Street View

Google is so amazing. I just can't handle it.

Check out the new Google Maps: Street View. They've taken street-level pictures all around the initial cities: San Fransisco Bay area, New York, Las Vegas, Miami, and Denver!

This is such a huge step because now you can actually look around the city like you're walking from street to street! It's so much fun to just browse around, I had to stop myself because it was so fun, helpful, and addicting!

Click on the picture to see where I was looking at Times Square:

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sheehan Gives Up, Losing Even More

This morning I read an article about Cindy Sheehan and her decision about giving up her anti-war protest. And I'm amazed at how blind she is.

One of her children decides to enlist in the military, Casey Sheehan, and ends up dying in Baghdad. She then decides to protest against the war.

I have no problem with people who protest against what this country does. I admire people who stand up peacefully and lead people with similar beliefs. And that is what Cindy did. However, I do have a problem with people who get caught up into a movement like this and forget about their more important responsibilities.

"She said her antiwar activism had cost her her marriage, that she had put the survivor's benefits paid for her son's death and all her speaking and book fees into the cause and that she now owed extensive medical bills." The article talks about how Cindy Sheehan finally goes home after devoting all of her time to this campaign.

So let me get this straight... she loses a son in the war, still has a husband and other children back home, but decides to go on a campaign for several years only to lose her husband, savings, and time investing into her kids that were still alive. This is so backwards! Because of this "cause" of campaigning against the war, she ends up losing even more of her family: not only her son in the war, but also her husband and very likely her other kids' respect as a mother.

So often do we do this in our own lives. We think too much about the bigger perspective. We think too much about the world "out there." We think too much about how other people should run their lives. Myself included.

How much better off would we be if we concentrated on our own lives? Wouldn't we benefit more from focusing on fixing our own problems instead of the problems of others?

Sure, by doing this we wouldn't have the publicity that Cindy got when she protested Bush and said that her son "did indeed die for nothing." And there's certainly nothing wrong with voicing your opinions in public. But how many people are going to respect what she has to say when she focused more on her (respectfully) dead son and her political agenda than she focused on her own family -- her husband and children, alive and well.

Where are our priorities?

Photo from

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Weekly Pics: Summer's Comin'...

Somewhere over Multnomah Falls, Oregon (taken summer 2004)

Grass in Gasworks Park, Seattle

Backyard Bee (Beaverton, Oregon) (taken summer 2004)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Videoblog: 155,555

On this beautiful morning, on Bike-To-Work Day, I am unfortunately not participating. Instead, here I am posting this, a monumental event in the history of my car... which just happened yesterday.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

American Idol Top 3 Results

American Idol results are a funny thing. It's one of the main reasons I'm so fascinated with this show. Thinking about all the times when the results were surprising (my immediate thought goes back to Chris Daughtry not making the Top 3 last year), I would say that last night's results would fit into that category.

Melinda deserved to be in the finale. She was easily the most consistent performer, belting beautifully week after week and continually receiving praise from the judges. She was rarely criticized for being off-key or "pitchy," and was arguably the best vocalist in the competition. Tuesday night she was obviously Simon's favorite and was confident she was going to stay in.

So why did she get booted off this week? I think it was a number of reasons:
  • Melinda (29) looks significantly older than Blake (25) and Jordin (17).
  • She doesn't have a young "vibe" that Blake (hip/contemporary) and Jordin (spunky/fun) have.
  • Melinda likely was another victim of the phenomenon called Diffusion of Responsibility (generally considered to be the cause of why Daughtry was booted).
Personally, I think that Blake should have been the one to leave the show this week. If I judge the contestants based solely on a vocal competition, then I think Melinda and Jordin deserve the top spots.

However, I don't think that American Idol is a purely vocal competition. I believe that it is a vocal performance competition. Just think about it... It's the most popular show on television. Millions of viewers get so connected to the contestants that they actually start getting emotionally involved with the show. Even I got pumped and excited when I heard Blake sing his version of Bon Jovi's "You Give Love A Bad Name."

When viewers get involved more than purely judging the contestants based on vocal ability, then it becomes more about the performance than just the vocals. I believe this is why Blake has gotten into the finale. He has taken risks, transformed songs into his own style, and used a form of music (Beatboxing) to his advantage in order to create performances that woo the audience. He is extremely talented when it comes to his overall package, but when just competing against vocal ability, Melinda and Jordin beat him there.

Overall, I'm extremely happy with the Top 3 choices. They have been my favorites since I first heard them in the Top 24. With my three favorites singing this week, even though Melinda is going home, I just can't be disappointed!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Flat Tire

Yep... surprise, surprise... I got a flat tire on my second day of riding my bike to work. Thankfully it was on my way home and it wasn't that long of a walk. Probably just an old inner-tube.

Go figure. I guess neglecting something for 3 years actually does come back to bite me.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Rusty Gears

I have not been exercising as much the past couple months. Which is unusual for me because I have played Ultimate pretty much every week since 2002. I guess that exercising is a lot harder to find in the real world (i.e., life after graduating from college). At SPU, the Ultimate organization on campus regularly plays at 10pm at night! That is certainly too late to play for a working stiff like myself, since I usually get up at 6:30am daily.

So I have motivated myself to start biking to work! I'm not quite sure how long this will last, and I'm not planning on doing it every single day. But a handful of my co-workers tell me how much they love biking in the mornings... especially when the weather is as beautiful as it has been recently.

The last time I rode my bike was about 3 years ago. I figured that beginning this journey would include tightening brakes, greasing up gears, or some other strange bicycle problem. However, I was surprised to realize that all I needed to do was pump up my tires and she was all ready to go for a ride!

Obviously the first trip was a tough one the first go-around. I used muscles I haven't used in awhile, my back straining from leaning forward, and my butt hurt so bad. ...But it was wonderful! I know that as long as I keep going and don't give up at this, my muscles will adjust, my back will be stronger, and my butt will become... well... simply... buns of steel!

It's amazing how I became much more aware of the hills in Seattle when I pedal up the steep inclines, gasping for breath. It makes me much more appreciative of my car when I'm just pushing the pedal a few inches instead of the endless circular motion on my bike pedals.

And new frustration also has appeared, one that I haven't had to deal with for the past 3 years: gears that won't always do what I want them to do.

But yeah... seriously, I love biking to work.

I'll give an update in a few months on how it's been going... I guess at that point in time, we'll really see how much I love it. :-)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Does God Exist?

Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron started an evangelical organization called The Way of the Master. It's very popular among Christians. These two guys have their own TV show, giving Christians the tools they need to feel comfortable introducing the Gospel to people. I think it's really good what Ray and Kirk are doing to spread the good news of Jesus to unbelievers, but I think the debate they got into recently was very unwise.

Ray and Kirk decided to hold a logical debate on ABC's Nightline, claiming to prove the existence of God, scientifically, without mentioning faith or the Bible. "Proving the existence of God is actually a lot easier than you think," says Kirk. Responding to their claims are two atheists, Brian Sapient and Kelly, from the Rational Response Squad.

After watching all of the videos on ABC News' website, it is clear to me that Ray and Kirk were slaughtered. Brian and Kelly were spot on in the discussion, and knocked down almost every bit of "proof" that Ray and Kirk brought forward. Watch the videos for yourself here and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Honestly, I felt really bad for Ray and Kirk. Their intention for this was out of love for people, but their argument was flattened like a house of cards. And the funny thing is that I agreed with almost every argument that Brian and Kelly were stating, even though they are atheists. In regards to logic and science, they were right on.

The problem with this debate is that the existence of God cannot be proven scientifically because we use natural law as our grounds for science, and God is supernatural. He is outside of the dimension of our natural laws.

Here are some of the problematic points that I came up with when listening to the debate:
  • Personal experience isn't scientific. Kirk Cameron shouldn't have brought in his "personal experience" to the debate because nobody can argue about a personal experience. Since it is something specific that only you have experienced, then why is that relevant to a debate about logic? They were supposed to come with proof, but then resort to personal experience to uphold their argument.
  • Was "Creation" really created? One of Ray's arguments were that all creations must have a creator. One example was that a painting must have a painter who created it. Brian stated his reason for why this is a flawed argument, but I thought about something else: What about people who don't believe that we are actually "Creation?" What if we were just "formed" like Evolutionists believe? You can't use the argument of "If there's a Creation, then there must be a Creator" against people that don't believe that it has been "created" in the first place. They believe that it formed by random chance, and that the universe is infinite. So the argument is irrelevant.
  • Like I briefly mentioned above, God cannot be proven scientifically. Science is logical. However, Christianity isn't logical at all: God came to Earth in the form of a man (no scientific explanation), named Jesus, born of a virgin (no scientific explanation), was perfect, was crucified, died, then rose again (no scientific explanation). That doesn't seem logical to me. It actually sounds pretty crazy. The definition of "miracle" is an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause. How can you have a debate using logic when God Himself is NOT logical at all? He's supernatural.
When speaking of God's knowledge, Psalm 139 (NASB) says, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it." So how can we attempt to prove God's existence if we can't even come close to understanding God and Creation?

Overall, I appreciate Ray Comfort's heart for non-Christians headed for hell (according to the Bible), and I appreciate him making it clear that God will reveal Himself to those who seek God out with genuine intentions. Hebrews 11 (ESV) says, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. ... By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible," [Emphasis added]. Ray Comfort knows the Bible very well, and gives many examples of evidence that the Bible is true.

But he went about this debate all wrong. He even mentioned the Bible in his argument after he said that he wouldn't. It's a mistake to take this onto network television and then get knocked down by logic. God can't be proven by science. In the end it just comes down to faith. Not science.

Photo from

Monday, May 7, 2007

Movie Review #4 - Spider-Man 3

Spider-Man 3
Directed by Sam Raimi

We went to see this last Friday, opening night! My first impression when leaving the theater: SO AWESOME!!!

Of course, I am a huge Spidey fan, so I'm a little biased. But there was more than just amazing web-swinging action in this film. Don't worry, I won't give away any spoilers about the movie if you haven't seen it.

Basically, the best part about the movie is the depth of it. Behind the three villains of the film, behind the stunning graphics, and behind the friendly neighborhood humor, there are two main themes that I appreciated and learned something from. The two main themes were pridefulness and friendships.

Peter becomes very prideful in this 3rd installment of the trilogy. I first noticed it when he was arguing with Mary Jane, he just wouldn't listen to her. He kept flipping the conversation back to himself. So often do I do this in my own life that in the middle of that scene, Jen looked over to me and gave me a "hmm... sounds like somebody I know" type of smile. And I smiled back, knowing exactly what she was thinking.

But the pride in Peter doesn't stop there. Consistent with the comic books, a symbiote (alien organism) comes from outer space and bonds with Spider-Man. This organism amplifies his powers, aggression, and his confidence. Too much confidence (too much self-esteem) turns into pride, and together with too much aggression is a dangerous combination. Spider-Man turns into a mean superhero, and Peter is very mean to Mary Jane. I could see myself in his character. I could see my own mean, childish behavior being played out on screen.

The second theme that I noticed was in regards to friendships. Specifically, Peter's friendship with Harry. I can't go into great detail with this topic, as I don't want to give anything away. Basically, what we learned from Spider-Man 2 is that Harry swore to his father that he would avenge his father by killing Spider-Man, and he also found out that Spider-Man was his best friend, Peter Parker. This vendetta continues into this film, along with performance-enhancing drugs (i.e., green smoke left by his father the Green Goblin). These two fight in some really awesome sequences, ultimately teaching the audience what true friendship really is.

Sure, it may not have been as good as Spider-Man 2 in regards to critics' reviews and the balance of the movie as a whole. However, it is still worth it to see because of the consistently high-quality product that Spider-Man is as a franchise, and also because of the main themes of pridefulness and friendships that we can all relate to. And hopefully, learn something from.

5 out of 5 stars.

Image taken from

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Weekly Pics: Animals

Is that an ass? Nope, a zebra!

Fascinating six-legged creature.

Scavenger battle (Two crows versus the squirrel).

Friday, May 4, 2007

I Won The Lottery!!!

A couple months ago, my fiancee got a new job. It happened to be very close to where I work, too. She is a preschool teacher now. That's about the age when kids start to learn basic math, right? Well, here's a math problem for ya... let's see if you can get it:

Jen and Aaron both work near the mall. Jen works 4 blocks away from where Aaron works. It takes Aaron 5 minutes to walk to the mall from where he works. It takes Jen 10 minutes to walk from where she works to where Aaron works. If Jen and Aaron both work 2 blocks away from the mall, then how long does it take for Jen to walk to the mall?

If you didn't think too hard about this, then you came up with the right answer: 5 minutes [highlight to see answer]. However, if you thought hard about this question, then you would likely have been stumped. Because what you made a little drawing on a scratch piece of paper, mapping out the word problem. Then you ask yourself, Doesn't the mall take up a whole block? Does it count as a block, or doesn't it? And then I laugh because I find it humorous when a simple word problem can turn into such complication.

What does this have to do with me winning the lottery? Well, lately I have been thinking about the simplicity of probabilities.

The two of us meet for lunch almost every day, now that we work so close to each other. Often, we go to the mall and sit in the Food Court and eat our sack lunches. Nearby, there is a lottery-ticket dispenser thing that people can buy lottery tickets at.

I am amazed at how many people buy lottery tickets from that thing. It is unbelievable! And almost every day we see an old man who always drinks a cup of coffee, eats a candy bar, and buys lottery tickets. And the funny thing is that he buys them religiously. After he scratches off his first few tickets, he walks up to the counter and collects his winnings. What does he do with his winnings? That's right, he goes back to the machine and buys more tickets. After this cycle repeats itself several times and when the pile of silver-scratched-off stuff completely covers his table, he finishes the last few sips of his drink and heads for the door.

What kind of life is this? Flushing money down the toilet, hoping that you'll be lucky and win big bucks. Do these people know what the probabilities of winning the lottery are? Sure, their odds of winning are better with the scratch-off tickets than the SuperJackpotBall or whatever it's called, but they are still more likely to go waste their money before winning anything worth while. It's hard for me to believe that it is brainwashing people into thinking that "it's good to play," according to their slogan.

Then I got to thinking about how sad it is. Hoping in something like this. Hoping that some day you might get rich. There is no hope in that. Especially with the odds being so crappy. I'm glad that I have a purpose in life and a hope in something that is guaranteed (according to the Bible).

I didn't really win the lottery. I have won a few bucks in the past when my aunt gave me some scratch-off tickets for Christmas, but certainly nothing that will make me rich. However, I have certainly won big time in Christ. What are the odds that a perfect guy who says that He is God gets tortured and crucified all for the purpose of saving me, a dude 2000 years in the future that He never met.

Sounds pretty crazy, huh? Well, I'll take it!

Image taken from