Archive for ‘Diary’

August 22, 2011

2,000th Post

by Vince

Looking in the rear view yields some interesting images. On May 26th, 2010, I posted for the first time on here under the blog name VMG. Nearly six months later, I posted my 1,000th post. Now nine months after that milestone, this stands as my 2,000th post. Over the past year of this blog being in operation, it has gone through several themes, shared posts by four authors, and not even I know what is in store for it over the next 1,000 posts.

This summer has been a slow one for blogging and at times even non-existent. I hope with my new job at a public library doing IT/Information Service, it will lend me more time to read online and hopefully blog about it.

June 6, 2011

Remembering Grandpa

by Vince

Vovô from Luiz Lafayette Stockler on Vimeo.

June 3, 2011

Wedding Bells

by Vince

I am at a friend’s wedding this weekend so time for posting may be slim. Stay tuned!

June 2, 2011

Visual Diary

by Vince

My Visual Diary from joehollier on Vimeo.

May 27, 2011

Tornado Watch

by Vince

I woke up this morning feeling really thankful that I still had a roof over my head. We lost power last night for four hours due to a severe storm sweeping through central Pennsylvania. A few trees came down and I heard a house got struck by lightning nearby. I turned the radio on this morning and heard of the continued destruction across the Midwest and South and now floods in Vermont.

Again, I’m very thankful. I haven’t lost power for that long of a time in a few years. I’m just not use to mother nature going haywire in my area. Pennsylvania seems to be mostly a lucky place in that it misses tornado’s and major storms.

My thoughts and prayers are out for those hurting across the U.S.A.

May 18, 2011

35 Years In Reverse

by Vince

Sam Klemke has been recording year-end video diaries for the past 35 years. This year he decided to stitch together, in reverse chronological order, clips from all 35 reflections.

Watch Sam go “from a paunchy middle aged white bearded self deprecating schluby old fart, to a svelt, full haired, clean shaven, self-important, inspired but clueless 20 year old.” It’s quite a sight to see.

May 12, 2011

New Name/Slogan, Same Address

by Vince

I was thinking the other day about changing around some of the logistics here on my blog. I thought one place I could start was with the name. VMG, yes, is my initials, but I wanted the blog to go beyond simply me and my identity (for obvious reasons – I have other people write here who are not me).

What I just came up with is this: The Twenty-Something Experience (TTSE). I originally thought to have experiment instead of experience but I didn’t think that was a fit.

In the end, I see the material shared through here comes through a world view from the twenty-something realm and addresses things in that experiential lens.

And of course, the address stays the same (for now, at least). If it changes, I will let you all know.

May 9, 2011

The Richness of Life

by Vince
April 17, 2011

What “Saves” a Christian?

by Vince

I finished last night Rob Bell’s book Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived. I have mixed reviews about the book; I appreciated some of the questions Bell asks but I didn’t always agree with some of his conclusions. In the end, it is a somewhat choppy read (his writing style is as if he is giving a sermon) but lighter than what I’ve been reading lately.

Chapter 1 asks a lot of good questions. The general question asked is this: how is a Christian “saved”, meaning how do they get to heaven and have their sins forgiven? I grew up in the Protestant faith the past 6 years with the idea that you are forgiven as a Christian by believing Jesus is your Lord and Savior, that he was born a virgin birth, performed miracles, suffered on the cross, died, was buried, and rose on the third day. I also have been taught to believe that being “saved” requires you to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus.

I don’t see anything wrong with believing the above tenets. A problem that arises is that the second one – having a personal relationship – is written nowhere in The Bible.

If we are to go back to The Bible, most notably the Christian New Testament (and not simply the beliefs of The Bible that have arose over the past 100 or so years), we will find some “unorthodox” ways of being “saved”. An important note to add: it can be questioned whether some of these people listed are even Christians!

Luke 23: the man hanging next to Jesus on the cross is assured that he and Jesus will be together in paradise. Is it what we say that saves us?
Matthew 6: forgive others, you then are forgiven. Don’t forgive others, you won’t be forgiven. Do we have to forgive others to be saved?
Matthew 7: not everyone who says ‘LORD, LORD’ will enter the kingdom, but only those who do the will of the Father. Do we have to do the will of the Father to be saved?
Matthew 10: those who stand firm till the end will be saved. Do we have to stand firm to be saved?
Luke 7: a woman who has lived a “sinful life” washed Jesus feet with perfume. Jesus tells her that her sins have been forgiven. Will washing Jesus’ feet with your tears and perfume get you saved?
Luke 19: Zacchaeus tells Jesus that he gives half of his possessions to the poor and he pays back anyone he has cheated four times the amount due. Jesus responds: today salvation has come to this house. Does saying what we are going to do save us?
Mark 2: Jesus is teaching, some men cut a hole in a roof, lower their friend down to be healed, and Jesus sees their act (the friends of the paralyzed man in need of healing) of faith and responds ‘son, your sins are forgiven’. Are we saved because of who our friends are or what they do?
1 Timothy 2: women will be saved through childbearing. Are you saved as a woman through giving birth to a child?
Acts 22: Saul (soon to become Paul) has his conversion on the road to Damascus. The gist of the story is this: Paul is asked a question, he then responds with a question, and then he goes into a city to do something. Are we saved by the questions we are asked, by what questions we ask in return, or by going somewhere and doing what we are told?


So in the end, Christian community, what saves us? It doesn’t seem so clear and unambiguous after all, does it?

P.S. – read Rob Bell’s book for yourself and don’t simply be told what the book says or stands for.

April 3, 2011

Wishing Away The Times

by Vince

I feel that I am just now coming out of a season of loneliness.

MJ and I moved to the York area in late August. We moved in with some family and then into our own place the week before Christmas. Since originally coming into this area, it has been hard for me to adjust. I didn’t know anyone in the area, except a friend near Lancaster. Most of my friends, family, and close relationships were either in the Philly area, Chambersburg/Shippensburg, or the State College region. Moving here gave me a lot of weeks of feeling out of touch, disconnected from where I lived, and alone.

You may think that I can’t be alone because I am married. MJ can only do so much and she can’t fulfill the presence of friends.

As time went on, I took opportunities to expand myself and connect to the area. I started volunteering once a week at a library in town, played basketball with a few groups of guys, joined a gym, started to see a therapist, exchanged contact info with co-workers and acquittance’s, and spent the money for gas or other things so to be out and enjoy life with out-of-town friends and MJ. The last one – spending money – has been hard for me. A friend described it to me like this: any well-tuned car needs money spent on it to run and keep running. Treat your relationships and marriage like a well-tuned car now or later it will either break down, cost you an arm and a leg, or call for a trade-in. Well put, I say.

In the midst of connecting to this area and reconnecting with friends from yore, I would wish away the days I was currently living in. I would want to recreate the past times, the past feelings, and think that these times today were not going to amount to anything, or just not in the timing I wanted (or said I needed). Now that I have had my long-term sub position, have been able to see friends from different areas over the last few weekends, been able to talk through my baggage with my therapist, and stayed active with exercising (this is not an exhaustive list), I feel better than ever. This book also helped me with my times of loneliness.

The moral of my story is that wishing away my days in hopes of regaining past glories did not work. It often kept me frustrated and didn’t change my circumstances. I’ve come to see that some of my friends from past seasons of life are not on the same wavelength with me now. That doesn’t mean I don’t call them friends, but it has given me an epiphany to now reconsider who I need to be my friend and who I am OK with not being as close a friend now.

Living in this present moment has been hard for me. Really hard. Much of the culture around me can call us to live in the past, present, or future. I can imagine some balance is needed in that, but for me, living in the present and accepting that the future is to be seen and the past may be closed is a tough reality to face each day.

April 1, 2011

Reflecting on Colossians 3:1-17

by Vince

This is what I jotted down this morning over a cup of coffee.

Seek the things that are above, where Christ is.
Does this call my focus to Godly care and providence? What about my worries? Does His will factor in to this?

Set your mind on things above, not on earth.
Set my whole mind, with all of its thoughts? What about my cares, love, passions?

Put to death passion
I don’t think this means to put to death good passion since this one is nestled between bad descriptors.

Put off the old self
a.k.a. be ‘born again’. Isn’t this a process, and by process I mean life long process? Not necessarily a one time thing / moment or a station you arrive at.

New self
It is being renewed, it has not been renewed.

Christ is all and in all
Is all of what? In all of what? In all humans?

And be thankful.
I have been growing in this.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.
Such a beautiful description.

April 1, 2011

The Sad Evolution of Pull-Up Bars

by Vince

I love pull ups. The secret is out. I love the challenge of getting my 200 lb body up and over a bar with different hand grips. P90X has brought on this new adoration for me.

The pull-up, a great compound exercise (one that works many muscle groups at once), does not seem to be a very popular exercise at corporate gyms. Go to any gym today (especially palace-type gyms – i.e. L.A Fitness) and you will find a handful of pull-up bars that are not at all bars. They branch out with little handles that make it difficult to grip and seem to de-fang this grueling, timeless exercise.

I am a member of Gold’s Gym and was even surprised that one I visited did not have a legit pull-up bar. Gold’s, to me, has always been a good mainline-type gym that strips down the glamor and focuses on the fundamentals (lots of DBs, good balance with machines, good environment in general to be serious and not at all representing a resort atmosphere). The closest pull-up bar was a Smith Machine cranked to the top (and this requires you to bend your knees so to not drag your feet).

All in all, pull-up bars sometimes are hard to come by. And to think it’s just a bar.

March 30, 2011

Grading is Self-Inflicting

by Vince

I want to start write a piece about living in the present moment and the impacts of wishing today away for a desired tomorrow but I am still grading papers. I had my students write a 1-page paper giving three reasons why a terrorist should and shouldn’t get the right to a lawyer (as based on the 2004 Supreme Court case of Rasul v. Bush). I have at least 30 papers left. I hope to be done soon! I have PSSA’s to thank for this extra grading time.

March 26, 2011

Saturday Goodness

by Vince

Last night was full of great times with friends in the valley. It brought me to bed just after 11:30pm and I slept so well. Waking up today from the sunshine across my face at 8:30am felt great.

MJ, BM, and I headed out for the morning. We stopped at a few thrift shops and were surprised by the little gems we found. We picked up The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, Pure Pleasure by Gary Thomas, Just Courage by Gary Haugen, and God’s Politics by Jim Wallace (each for $1 or less). I also found a pristine DVD copy of 500 days of summer. I also had the chance while MJ and BM were in a harness shop to read the following pieces in the new Atlantic issue.

Now that we are home, we relax, read, possibly do some Plyo (only me), and take naps.

Here is what I am watching or reading up on from the net.

(Pictured is Stone Valley, PA in a wintry mix).

March 5, 2011

Saturday Morning Computer Crash

by Vince

I finished watching half of the movie The Fighter last night, turned off my Acer, and went to bed.

I didn’t use my computer until noonish today. When I turned it on, everything was different. Instead of the usual Windows 7 Home Premium display, it was in an old Windows 98 type display. Everything was disabled – volume control, wireless and internet, anti-virus programs, system restore, and at least 100 processes in the task manager. Nothing could be changed. I was about to live out an Office Space moment.

The help I received made me feel dumb. The support guide took me to the msconfig page and adjusted my startup options. That was all I needed to be back to normal.

This mornings issue leaves me wondering about the need for anti-virus protection. Such programs as Norton and McAfee only search for viruses when you tell it to. They don’t actively check for viruses when they come in or stop them on their way in. At least they don’t seem to. They seem to be a bit less proactive about virus protection for my own comforts.  Thoughts?

March 2, 2011

Inside My Mind

by Vince

Let me share with you all this article by Jonah Lehrer on the psychological understanding behind simple decisions becoming overcomplicated. The story of my life. Money quote:

The problem, of course, is that the modern marketplace is a conspiracy to confuse, to trick the mind into believing that our most banal choices are actually extremely significant. Companies spend a fortune trying to convince us that only their toothpaste will clean our teeth, or that only their detergent will remove the stains from our clothes, or that every other cereal tastes like cardboard. And then there is the surreal abundance of the store shelf. Do we really need 13 different varieties of Cheerios? Why does the average drug store contain 55 floss alternatives and more than 350 kinds of toothpaste? While all these products are designed to cater to particular consumer niches, they end up duping the brain into believing that picking a floss is a high-stakes game, since it’s so damn hard. And so we get mired in decision-making quicksand.

February 27, 2011

Weekend Re-Up

by Vince

It seems as if my first week was so long when in fact it was only three days of teaching. We had off Tuesday because of snow. Each day has built on itself and I have grown to feel more confident in running my own classroom. The support from my colleagues and MJ has been just what I’ve needed but I won’t lie, its still an ongoing adjustment.

Subbing, to me, is not work. I show up, give out the class “orders”, sit back and read. Now, I am constantly up, checking up on whats going on, and taking on more duties as a full time teacher. Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t in my mind a lazy sub who did nothing – but it was much easier than this.

In the end, I hope that this proves to be worthwhile for me and the kids.

PS – Thanks Charles for the post!

February 18, 2011

Enter Your Classroom…

by Vince

That I will on Tuesday. I accepted a job as a long term substitute for a history class in a local middle school. It goes until the end of May. Time will tell if it turns into a permanent position.

This position I accepted literally fell into my lap. It wasn’t posted on the school districts website as an opening. I heard it through the internal grape vine and went ahead, introduced myself to the principal, and inquired about the possible opening. He called for me the next day, wanting me to come in and talk. That we did and we finalized it all.

I have been offered similar positions in the last few months and either turned them down or was not chosen. They ultimately didn’t fit for me as this position does. This school is great; an interconnected faculty and a  friendly and eager student body make it a joy to work for.

Now the obvious question must arise: how much will I be able to blog if I now have a full time teaching job? My answer: I don’t know. I will see what my lesson planning load looks like as well as my overall schedule. I surely won’t forget about this blog and the loyal readers who check it every day for thought provoking content.

So here I go, ready to enjoy this three-day weekend (with fantastic weather in the forecast) and prepare to enter my classroom on Tuesday.

February 7, 2011

Reading Mother Teresa’s Work…

by Vince

…definitely changes me. I checked out her little compilation book In the heart of the world. It truly is elegant in its brevity. Each of the chapters are no more than four pages and breath life into my life. Her stories of first hand experiences are remarkable. Another book that I am reading that is serving extremely well as a complimentary book is A tremor of bliss. Both books put me into a different world, one that hears the remarkable stories of our saints and live for a moment in one of their extraordinary lives.

Back to reading Mother Teresa’s work, the last chapter I read of hers was on the distressing disguise of suffering. She told the story of one of her sisters who was working at the home of the dying destitute in Calcutta. Her job was to take in those hurting and care for them. One final caveat from Teresa to her sister was to care for them with “Jesus being there in distressing disguise” in mind.

Later on, this sister emphatically reported back that she had been “touching the body of Christ for three hours(!)” and had been caring for a man who had fallen into a drain and had been covered with dirt and maggots.

This all connects to my life far, far away from Calcutta. I was sitting in the quiet reading section of the Martin Library today, passing my time after an appointment and before I started my shift volunteering at the library. A man sat down next to me and asked what time it was. I marveled at this question because in this beautifully wooden paneled room there were no clocks on the walls. I told him the time (4:04pm) and went on unloading my thoughts to him on there being no clocks in the room. He cut me off by saying that he had to be down to the mission to get dinner at 5pm. Him telling me this completely changed my train of thought from one of quasi-philosophy to the simplicity of eating a meal.

A conversation was then struck up with ‘Banks’ and I truly enjoyed listening to him. I then asked if I could drive him to the mission. He said yes and invited me to join him (I couldn’t; I start volunteering at 5pm and dinner is served at the same time). I drove him over and got to hear more of how he came to York (he too is from Philly). I was amazed by how far of a walk he would have trekked (in Timberland boots, mind you) just for a hot meal. I dropped him off, told him to stop by the library on any given Monday and hoped to see him again. He told me which church he attends and I hope to stop in sometime.

I have Mother Teresa to thank for changing my heart with just a few pages each day. Her stories inspire me to live with others and have stories to cherish.

January 12, 2011

Public Discourse and Mutual Target Usage

by Vince

It seems that almost everyone is commenting about our public discourse being out of control. Since the town halls formed during the summer of 2009 in response to health care reform talks, a lot of posters, bumper sticker slogans, and conversations have crossed the line into invective, vitriol, and cynicism. Since the shooting of Rep. Gabrille Giffords, the president of Fox News issued a note to his station to “tone it down” and turn to a more “civil public discourse”. What a “more civil public discourse” looks like coming from Fox News is unknown to me.

As for the gun targets used by Sarah Palin:

Similar targets (bow and arrow perhaps?) have also been used by Democrats:

The Right has been accused lately (by lately, I mean since 2008) of violent rhetoric. I do recall a lot of hurtful rhetoric thrown Bush II’s way.

In the end, one close friend of mine explained to me a lesson from which she learned it from another friend of ours. My postings on here over the last few months were at times strident. It reflected a hard few months for me. I have since then started to work through some of my own anger and invective but have also looked to change my format and approach. These friends of mine explained to me that I can reach more audiences and readers by speaking to people in love and less strident tones (how diverse a spectrum of readers does Michelle Malkin or Ann Coulter or Michael Moore attract?). An example of this is the writings of Dave True. In the end, I hope I can make a difference in this big national conversation table known as blogging.