Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Double-Tap In Rochester

Today I went to Rochester with my parents and littlest sister. My parents had said they would get me some kind of new music listening device for Christmas. My phone is getting pretty old, so they were originally thinking an iPhone. After seeing how expensive it was going to be to add another one to the plan however, we decided to get an iPod Touch instead. So while I still need a new phone eventually, this more than satisfies all of my music storage needs. It also makes an awesome little web browser, and I am actually posting from it at this very minute. There is a tad of irony in the fact that I am sitting right in front of my computer while tapping away at my touch, but I mainly just want to see if this will work.

Tapping, is in fact the word used in the instruction manual to describe the action of your fingers on the screen. This seemed a little funny to me at first. But when I got to the part where they call doing it twice a "double tap" it struck me as downright hilarious because I previously new that only to mean killing some one hitman style....

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Friends

Christmas came. The part with my immediate family was wonderful as always. The part with my extended family was troubling.

This morning I went to Church with my family at the local house fellowship. There must have been some unspoken agreement that this was going to be Anabaptist (Mennonite) theology day, because they were all laying it on heavy with the supremacy of free will, and the importance of living a life style that sets you apart from the unbeliever, and the vitality of keeping the commandments to salvation, and other things that would make Charles Spurgeon, John Calvin, St. Augustine, and most of the other theologians that I tend to agree with turn over in their graves all at once.

Fortunately, I had to leave early to go to a birthday party in Corning for my old neighbor, Jordan.

He had a Texas Hold Em' themed party, which, as I learned, is a form of poker. I had never played before... but fortunately for me, neither had most of the people there. So I learned how, which I had wanted to do for some time actually. That was fun. I also got to see my old Sovereign Grace friends again. Between this and the Christmas party, I've become quite acquainted with some of them, and may end up coming to their guys nights.

I've been tired since yesterday. I think I have a cold that put my little sister Maryah on the couch for about 24 hours. No fun. I don't have a lot of typical cold syptoms besides a sore throat, but as far as general energy and state of well being goes, I feel like I got hit by a truck (ok, so I'm sure if I actually ever did get hit by a truck, I'd feel much worse, but I like the expression).

However, that didn't stop me from driving to Williamsport yesterday to meet up with my friend Jonathan from SBI. We had a great time. And yes, he may be the only person I know who just sitting a Wegmans and eating a slice of pizza with could be classified as a great time. We talked about my plans, for the next semester, but mostly reminisced about stuff that we did in Italy. That eventually led to talking about plans for the near future. This usually terrifies me, but it was actually fun. He is going on a missions trip to Italy this summer... which led to us talking about me making a possible visit for a week or two while he's there. I did of course bring up the insufferable issue of money, which is the only factor I can really see as a negative. We decided though that regardless of what happens this summer, we want to just go to Europe some Christmas break and see how many places we can go. Which sounds absolutely fantastic to me. So, that's hopeful, and in the near future, even if the immediate future is becoming more and more foggy.

The last situation with my extended family tonight had me rather depressed for a bit. I just ended up not being able to think of anything but the anthem from Coldplay's last album: "I don't want to follow death and all of his friends." And I came to the conclusion eventually that the fact that I actualy don't want to follow death and all of his friends is hopeful (because sometimes I feel like I might be following them, and not just in regards to family), and must mean God is still doing something with me; which is hopeful.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Black & White Affair

This past Sunday I went to yet another party. This one was in Corning, held by some friends at the Church I used to be a part of there. It was an It's A Wonderful Life themed Christmas party, and so everyone was expected to wear black and white. It ended up looking pretty sweet, and there was opportunity for a few good pictures.













I met a lot of people that I hadn't seen, let alone talked to, in at least a couple years. It was good to catch up with them and also to meet some new people who are attending now. One of them, Tim.













After the party I went to the Jeror's house for the after party, and ended up playing guitar hero for the first time ever (hey, I've been a real guitar hero before).













So that was a lot of fun. I ended up at the Jeror's again the night before last because they had invited my whole family up for supper. They took us all out to Wegmans for gelato afterwords, and the little girls (and Derrick for a minute) ended up dancing on the floor after the store people put the tables away for the night.

Last night was our families traditional "soup night" when my grandma makes soup for everyone. This time was a little bigger than usual, as the Efthimiou's are back up from Florida for Rachael's graduation.

My cousin Chris and his wife Sarah were also back from Carolina, where he is in Navy sub engineering training. It's funny to hear him actually doing a lot of the things that we talked about or pretended to do when we were little kids.

So it's shaping up to be a pretty full holiday season so far, which is okay with me.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Venti, Navi, & Wild Parties


















This evening I went to see Avatar with Joe and Mattea. Movie rocked my socks! Instant favorite! It was somewhere in between the Matrix, Star Wars, and apparently, Dancing With Wolves (which I've never seen, believe it or not). At any rate, about as soon as the star, Jake, spent his first five minutes with the Navi (the big blue indigenous people on the far away planet) I decided I wish I was one.

So... being a Navi would be kind of weird I guess. But you know what's almost as weird? Being 20! Yes, I turned 20 today! That's like one of those things that I thought about when I was little: "wow, when you're twenty, you're like... wow" So... anyways.

I didn't have a party, but that's really OK, because I'm almost partied out for the moment after yesterday. I had three, back to back. First, I went over to Kathe and Chad's house in Wellsboro to hang out for a little after semester celebration. Then, I drove home just in time to leave with my family for the Osburns house up near Catan NY. After drinking some wassail and chatting about the demise of Western civilization for about half an hour, I headed down into Gang Mills to play Halo with Joe and the crew.

Tomorrow I'm waking up earlyish to go here the Christmas Cantata at the Old Coovert Church up on Armenia Mountain. Then, going over and hanging out with our local fellowship for a bit. Then, I'm off to another Christmas party in Corning with friends from the Church I used to go to there. Now, this celebration is vamped as being something like the party of the decade, and with a theme like "It's a Wonderful Life" I imagine it is going to be pretty cool.

So... wow... I'm 20.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Someone Set The Sky On Fire

video
Last week was crazy with all the writing from my three (W) courses. It's paying off this week though, because those classes either didn't have finals, or they were given online and I was able to take them already. So, as of 4:30 this afternoon, I was done with the semester. Woot.

This evening I went to Bible study at North Hall Library in Mansfield. Before going up I went into the Night & Day Cafe and ordered a chai latte. The barrista saw my bible and didn't realize what it was and said "Wow, that's a cool looking book." So I was like, "yeah, it is pretty cool actually.", and showed her what it was. It was almost closing time, and I ended up getting upgraded to a "Chai Charger", meaning that it had an extra shot of espresso in it, simply because she had was going to dump it down the drain otherwise. That shot may be responsible for my antics the rest of the evening, as well as the fact that I am up writing this now.

Patrick and I ended up going over to Allen Hall where they were giving away free coffee and doughnuts for a "late night finals study break" before starting. As it turned out, there were no more doughnuts, and I already had coffee. It was all worth it in the end though, as the had Baklava, which, while random, I was ecstatic about.

On the way home, I saw eerie flickering red glow lighting up the entire horizon. On the way over I had taken it for a lightning storm or something, but since it was still there, I decided to investigate. I switched the stereo to Muses latest album and turned off of 549 onto onto a backroad that seemed to be pointing roughly in the direction of the flashes. After driving recklessly for eight or nine miles, switching roads once, and only briefly catching sight of the source of the conflagration, I shot up a hill and came face to face with it. It was a gas well that was uncapped, and jetting a forty foot plume of flame into the night sky. The video doesn't do it justice. You can hear the roar, but I could also feel the heat radiating from it all the way into my car, and I wondered if I was maybe closer to it than I was supposed to be.

A semitrailer came up behind me, and I was unable to turn around, and ended up thinking I was lost, but then ending up in a little village outside of Mansfield that I recalled. So I ended up having to drive all the way home again. It was worth it though.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Currywurst - I Ate It

Today on BBCnews.com, I stumbled across a headline video about Germany's current culinary obsession: currywurst. I was delighted then, that when I was in Villach Austria this past April, I actually had some.

We (Connor, Nicole, Mary and I) had just gone for a long walk, and coming back toward the center of the city, we found a little cart down by the river. It looked like one that you would expect to be selling hotdogs in the U.S, but this was Austria, so of course, they were selling bratwurst; prepared in more ways than I ever imagined possible. Connor is a vegetarian, so it didn't do him too much good, but Mary and I went down and ordered. Out of all the different variations of wurst on the menu, currywurst stuck out to me. It was good. Basically just bratwurst in a thick curry sauce. So I was surprised this morning, to find that it is now apparently something of a cultural icon for the German speaking nations of the world. And I ate it.



Friday, December 11, 2009

A Long and Dark December

Well, I'm effectively done with this semester. After turning in 20 pages of writing last week, all that I have left are two finals, but they are both online, so I won't even have to go to school for them

I can't say I'm at all sad to be done. It was a crazy and not fun one. I guess it did improve in the middle, but it started really badly, and got a little intense toward the end, what with that Social Research class and having to write three major research papers all due the same week and all.

I did develop some relationships with people in the department that I had really missed out on the last two semesters, which was good I guess. On the other hand, I'm not sure how long all that's going to be meaningful.

We have been having some serious winter weather the last few days and I've been frustrated by the fact that my house still has no real heat. Last night was so cold that I could hardly sleep, despite being under a quilt and a sleeping bag.

My Dad had promised several times that we would install some kind of heating system, and he ended up deciding on a Verner, which is a Czech biomass furnace. We used to sell them at this warm house, and ended up having a display model left on hand. They are really nice machines, so I was exited about getting it.

The only problem with us and projects is that my Dad has all these contractor friends who do work for him. They end up basically being contractors, only minus the contract part. This means they often show up, do some work, and disappear for weeks (or even months) at a time leaving the job undone.

Naturally, they got the Verner about 90% installed, and now its been three weeks since I've seen them, and I'm sealing of my room with blankets and and trying to find out how many electric space heaters our breaker will support.

So anyhow, as Coldplay said, it's been a rather "long and dark December" so far... but I feel like the rest of it may be a lot better, or at least I hope it will.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!

Today my brother had the idea of getting a small Christmas tree from the pine forest near our house and planting it in our yard where we had recently chopped a dead tree down. He asked my Dad about it, and my Dad decided that we should get a bigger tree - and put lights on it. The next thing I knew, I was standing 12 feet in the air stringing lights on a mid sized tree that 20 minutes before had been in the forest: