The Da Vinci Code

I just finished reading The Da Vinci Code (hereafter TDVC–or maybe I’ll write it out for SEO purposes). It was more or less, given all the fuss, what I’d expected. I thought I’d share some thoughts and reflections. Be warned–I will probably reveal things about the plot that you may not want to know if you are keeping a vow of Da Vinci virginity or something.

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Back from Whitney / Into Spareroom Studios

You should all be relieved to hear that Dan and I did not die on Mt Whitney. Though the summit attempt was a good deal more difficult than it was supposed to be, due to weather. In fact, on our way up the last 1,000 ft or so, our group kicked off a couple small avalanches, causing the team leader to declare emphatically that conditions were very unsafe. Things were so bad, we descended immediately, packed up camp (at 12,000 ft) as quickly as possible, and rushed all the way down the mountain. So unfortunately, we did not summit Mt Whitney. I did get this great picture of it during a short lull in the rogue winter storm that hit us:

It should be said also that we did have an excellent time, were in great physical condition (we rocked the climb and the altitude) and health for the duration, and got back a day early, safe and sound. These are all good things, and the whole experience was overwhelmingly positive. I’m sure Dan and I will be writing a full trip report to post at Summit Whitney, so I’ll post here when that happens. At that time we should have a number of awesome pictures, too.

About a day after I got back from Whitney, I left for Florida to be at work and with family for a week and a half or so. Since my brother David has gotten in to Duke law school and will be moving to Durham pretty shortly, we decided that Splendour Hyaline (which consists of the two of us) needed to make a new record, and fast. So apart from work, we’re pretty much in the studio (Spareroom Studios, that is). So far things are going great–we’re planning on releasing a 5 or 6 song EP. The recording quality we’re getting, both mechanically and in terms of performance, is light years beyond our previous attempts, so definitely stay tuned; we might post some unofficial mixes here or at our myspace page.

On another music-related note, you’ll notice a new sidebar on my blog, which consists of recently-played tracks from iTunes. All e4 blogs now have the ability to get data from last.fm if you have a last.fm username and some implementation of AudioScrobbler (downloads here for all platforms). If you’ve never heard of last.fm, you should check it out–it’s a cool web application that tracks your music listening and gives you cool statistics about it, suggests new artists, and connects you with people with similar taste. All that is to say, if I’ve been listening to iTunes recently (and had an internet connection), you should now be able to see that info on my blog! (If you also have an e4 blog, just go to the weblog config page and put in your last.fm username to take advantage of this feature too).

Inspiration from Game Design

The list of bloggable topics on my mind is currently very long, and (I am thinking) very good. Prominent on said list are (a) a long discourse on spiritual discipline and its effects, and (b) an explication of a home-brewed, possibly-heretical theology of creation that Nick and I have been kicking around for a little while and are pretty enchanted by, which seeks to resolve intuitions of a good pre-fall state with what evolutionary history says about nature being “red in tooth and claw”–i.e., vicious and cruel–long before humans arrived on the scene. However, something I saw last night on digg inspired me to push these topics yet further back, and that was a demo for an upcoming game by Maxis (creators of all the Sim games–of which the early SimCity and SimCity 2000 were the most groundbreaking, in my opinion–incidentally, you can play SimCity Classic online here if you have a PC).

Now, I want to preface this whole entry with a bit of history, since to many of you it may come as a shock that for most of my life I have considered myself and been considered by others a “gamer”. If you want to skip the history and get to the point, scroll down to “The Reason for this Entry” below.

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Faith and Science

I’m in Orlando this week for a seminar we’re putting on with Alister McGrath as the lecturer. We’re filming the whole experience in an insanely-designed soundstage at Disney’s MGM studios, and just being in such a cool place every day is pretty fun. The lectures themselves, and more importantly the interaction that I’ve been able to have with Alister both on and off camera, have been incredible.

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Things I Like 10-2005

So that I will not be accused of only making lists of heavy and depressing stuff like doubts, here is installment #1 of “Things I Like”! I have put “10-2005” in the title, which implies but does not do anything like promise that this will be a monthly series. The list is not supposed to be particularly deep, so please do not feel injured that I do not mention our relationship, or Jesus, or anything like that. But do remember that I spend most of my days coding, and so a lot of this will be my inner nerd coming out. Here is the list, in no particular order:

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Serenity

On a spur of the moment, I went to see the last showing of Serenity tonight at a local theater. I’d seen previews for it during Batman Begins, and thought, “Oh no, another mediocre sci-fi flick with none-too-great special effects and bad acting.” But since it opened a few days ago, I’ve been hearing nothing but positive things from people whom I trust to know better, so I thought I’d give it a chance.

My conclusion, after seeing it, was that it’s probably the best sci-fi movie I have seen in the theaters, for as long as I can remember. The problem with sci-fi movies is that they’re typically either “sci-fi”, meaning, not sci-fi in spirit, but set in space, so everyone thinks it’s sci-fi, or that they’re sci-fi in spirit, but horribly written and acted or produced.

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The Narrow Way

Kierkegaard speaks to my deepest self when he says:

The simple man who humbly confesses himself to be a sinner–himself personally (the individual)–does not at all need to become aware of all the difficulties which emerge when one is neither simple nor humble. But when this is lacking, this humble consciousness of being personally a sinner (the individual)–yea, if such a one possessed all human wisdom and shrewdness along with all human talents, it would profit him little. Christianity shall in a degree corresponding to his superiority erect itself against him and transform itself into madness and terror, until he learns either to give up Christianity, or else by the help of what is very far remote from scientific propaedeutic, apologetic, &c., that is, by the help of the torments of a contrite heart (just in proportion to his need of it) learns to enter by the narrow way, through the consciousness of sin, into Christianity.

A camel passing through the eye of the needle, indeed! It is so clear–am I not rich in every imaginable way?

Christ offended the rich young ruler when he told him to sell all his possessions… Kierkegaard’s point is that it was very natural and reasonable for him to be offended while the disciples were not when Christ called them.

Assuming I am even able to recognize the offense in my case (which is a point in favor of the rich young ruler–he knew what Christ meant for him), what will I do? Will it be the offense that moves me (“Go, sell all your possessions”) and sends me away, as it did the young ruler? Or will it be the invitation (“…and come follow me.”) that moves me and draws me in? It seems that being a Christian just is getting over the offense somehow, having faith in spite of it–and the richer/wiser we are, the more easily we are offended, therefore the harder it is to have faith.

For me, I hope it is the invitation I ultimately embrace, in spite of the offense. But I am realizing I cannot take this process for granted, neither its outcome!

Here I am, beginning finally to uncover my weakness, to see that I am truly weak; I am in awe of it!

Podornot.com

I’m happy to announce the result of an insane weekend of creative coding/design with my roommate Justin: Podornot.com.

Podornot is a fun mash-up of the new podcasting trend (internet buzz, anyone?) and the old Internet time-wasting stand-by, Hot or not.

The idea is to generate a random audio experience; you never know what you’re going to get! But as you go through, you can rate the podcasts you hear, and maybe someday we will use this information to create lists of the hottest podcasts on the web. So go to the site and check it out!

Graphic/visual design right now done by me and Justin, hopefully to be improved in the near future.

Anyway, it’s fun to have an idea, to implement it rapidly, and to see it pretty much near completion in a short amount of time. Go visit!

Around-the-clock Development

Since I work in California and most of Teleios is in Florida, there is a 3-hour time difference which would ostensibly cause some problems in synchronizing workdays.

Recently I’ve taken to a strategy which has been used, to great effect, by almost every software giant in existence. This strategy doesn’t so much solve the workday synchronization problem (as getting up at 4:30 am would, for example), but instead says that, actually, desynchronization is the solution! Namely: around-the-clock development.

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