The Blessing

For everyone at The Colorado School of Mines, class starts today. Despite the fact that I’m not in school, I still like to celebrate this day, taking note of its significance. For me, it’s almost like New Years day, being the start of the school year and all.

I’ve been thinking recently a lot about the desires and challenges of life and where they lie. I have fond memories of playing in my backyard with my brother and my neighbors when I was little. During the summer, I would design tree forts and think, “If only I had the money to build this.” I had a desire to have the means necessary to fund my adventure.

Back then, I got something around a $5 allowance/week. And I could earn some extra money by doing some extra chores. But the $250 in materials needed was freaking huge. I dreamt of ways to come up with money so I could build the ultimate tree fort; I mowed lawns through middle and high school and eventually started fixing computers for friends and family who would also pay me. It never seemed like enough and always got spent in other places, mostly LEGOs. But I desired for the day that I would be a grownup and making lots of money; and then I could do anything!

Of course, there’s a certain innocence in being a child. While I wasn’t making any money, I also didn’t have to worry about other adult things, like figuring out living situations, paying for rent and utilities, working a little bit, and being generally responsible.

I had a desire to go to college, learn about engineering and get a job. Maybe I would build airplanes. I knew it would be a challenge, but I was prepared.

I went off to college and learned a lot. I had to deal with finding food on my own. Mom and Dad were no longer there to cook meals and I was 1000 miles from home. I had to do laundry, get up on my own, plan ahead, and keep my grades up; all without anyone else being there. I had several internships where I traded in some more responsibility for some more pay. But it wasn’t enough. I felt restricted in what I could do as an intern and in the limited confines of a classroom. My desire was to be done with school and to grow up; to go out into the world and make a difference. I wanted to make my mark on society and I was going to do this by challenging myself to be the best damn engineer the world has ever known1.

When I graduated, I took on an entirely new set of responsibilities. I had a job — a real, full-time job — and practically all the responsibilities of being grown up2. I had to deal with insurance in all its wonderful forms, making doctors appointments, scheduling vacation, getting enough sleep, budgeting, etc. I was working on integrating myself into society as a contributing member of what makes this world work. I had the desire to grow up more though, to contribute even more to society. My new challenge was to meet a woman, date her, marry her, and start a perfect nuclear family3.

Several months ago, probably starting during my trip to Haiti, I took pause.

At every point in life, I was measuring my level of happiness not by what I had, but by what I desired. It was never enough to have accomplished what I set out to do, because there was always another bigger desire behind it. And each desire became increasingly complex and time consuming. What was I really chasing?

I wanted to be grown up. I think I saw not being grown up as a limitation on what I could accomplish and a limit on what my opportunities were.

I came across this bit from C.S. Lewis4:

Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

This was one of those “A ha!” moments for me. Before, being an adult meant being grown up. But now, I can start to see the difference between the two. And so I think about what my desires for life really are; what are the things that I truly could not bare to be without?

So far, I’ve come up with three things:

  1. A loving relationship with my creator.
  2. A loving relationship with the people I care about.
  3. Never to be left unchallenged.

The last one, while it is last for a reason, is also important. As Scott Adams has pointed out, “Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems.”

I love solving things. I love figuring things out. What makes me excited to wake up in the morning is knowing that I have still have so much to figure out. I know I can be a better Christian, a better boyfriend, a better friend, a better engineer, a better coworker, a better person. I know there are so many things left to explore, there are many questions left to ask, and there are many challenges left to solve. I know I won’t be able to accomplish everything, but I that’s not the point. Besides, if I were to accomplish it all, what would I do with myself?

And so I wake up saying, “Today, I will try to be better than I was yesterday.”

Perhaps this is the blessing5 and what makes me so excited: a God who loves me, friends that care about me, and things — such as dating Carly — that challenge me in all the good ways….and vice versa.

Here’s to another successful trip around the sun.


  1. or something like that 

  2. or so I thought 

  3. this is simplified version of a complex challenge, but I think the point still stands 

  4. emphasis mine 

  5. read Hustling God by M. Craig Barnes for background 

Practical Example of Technology Advances of the Last Ten Years

Ten years ago, I walked into high school with a brand new Toshiba Satellite 2210 CDT. It wasn’t state-of-the-art, but it was pretty decent for its time. It had a 500 MHz Intel Celeron processor, 64 MB of RAM, and a 6 GB hard drive (which took up about 62.9 cm3, or 0.1 GB/cm3). The laptop had a 12.1″ 800×600 display and outside measured dimensions of 31.5 cm x 26.2 cm x 4.8 cm for a volume of 3960 cm3. It cost around $2000 at retail.

Today, I walk around with my Motorola Droid. It has a 550 MHz ARM Cortex A8 processor, 256 MB of RAM, and a 16 GB solid state memory chip (only 0.165 cm3, or 96.97 GB/cm3; which is almost 1000 times more dense than the hard drive in my laptop!) The display is 3.7″ 854 x 480 resolution. The phone measures 6.00cm x 11.58cm x 1.370 cm for a volume of 95.2 cm3, and cost around $600 at retail1. And it fits in my pocket, and can make phone calls to anyone in the world, and can check email, and can watch videos, and determine my location anywhere in the world down to 4m or so, and I can speak to it and it will do things!

That’s amazing.


  1. assuming you just brought the phone outright with no contract requirements 

A Haiti Followup

It’s hard to believe I was in Haiti only seven months ago. It’s a weird dichotomy of feeling like time has been going both very fast and very slow, all at once.

YouTube finally decided to allow uploads greater than 10 minutes, so I thought I’d share a video slide show I put together1. Click through to see the HD version (worth it, I think).

Since my group went to Haiti in January, UPC has sent two more groups: one was a team similar to ours (i.e. short term, 10 day mission), the other is team of engineering students from the UW sent by UPC for World Deputation.

Team Haiti: Adam, Jeff, and Jordan

DSC_6201
18.0 mm || 1/60 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Seattle, Washington, United States

They’re just about ready to return, but have been keeping a blog detailing some of the work they’ve been doing and fun they’ve been having:

On a related note, Bruce and Deb are going to be in Seattle in September and we’re going to get to have dinner with them!


  1. including some wonderful CC-licensed music from Arthur Pope 

One Year Ago: Photo Time Capsule, Part III

The last month (of travel last year) was an interesting collection of friends from half a world away. I was with Charlie by this point (beginning of July) in Italy where we met up with his friend Andy, who’s from Germany but Charlie actually meet in Ecuador.

While in Italy, we also met up with James, who know both Charlie and me from Seattle, and Mark — who James knows from his time at Occidental.

I left Charlie in Italy and continued on to Switzerland where I met up with Quinn, a best friend from Seattle, at L’Abri. We then continued north and to hang out with Remo and Gunther, who first stayed with my family over 13 years ago in Seattle when Remo was in school.

After traveling with Quinn a bit, Charlie met back up with us in Prague (just in time for the tour). We finished touring together in Czech Republic, Poland, and Germany: Three great friends half a world away.

DSC_2489
18.0 mm || 1/8000 || f/3.5 || ISO800 || NIKON D70
Florence, Tuscany, Italy


DSC_2495
18.0 mm || 1/60 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Florence, Tuscany, Italy


DSC_2559
18.0 mm || 1/200 || f/4.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Aigle, Canton of Vaud, Switzerland


DSC_2654
18.0 mm || 1/13 || f/9.0 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70


DSC_2683
29.0 mm || 1/60 || f/4.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70


DSC_3186
18.0 mm || 1/3200 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Prague, Prague, Czech Republic


DSC_3248
18.0 mm || 1/15 || f/3.5 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
Krakow, Lesser Poland, Poland


Halt! Stou!
70.0 mm || 1/500 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Gmina Oswiecim, Lesser Poland, Poland


DSC_3414
18.0 mm || 1/125 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Krakow, Lesser Poland, Poland


DSC_3509
18.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Berlin, Berlin, Germany

via the Photojojo Time Capsule

This weekend is going to be ridiculously awesome! This evening, Carly and I are going Buzz Putting1 with a bunch of friends to celebrate Beth’s birthday. Then tomorrow we’re going to have breakfast and enjoy the Blue Angles — whom I haven’t been in town to see for the last two years — then a Polish wedding, a bachelor party2, all topped off with lunch with Jon and Kristen — who are getting married in less than a month — on Sunday!

Pyramid Formation Turn
190.0 mm || 1/2000 || f/6.3 || ISO400 || NIKON D70


Pyramid Formation
190.0 mm || 1/2000 || f/5.6 || ISO400 || NIKON D70


Bottom Side Pyramid Formation
70.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/9.0 || ISO400 || NIKON D70

Anyway, that wraps up the Photo Time Capsule series; hope you enjoyed the tour!


  1. “combining the best of childhood and being 21+” 

  2. sans Le GF 

A Red Hook Brew Tour

I went with Girlfriend to the Redhook Brewery on Saturday for a fun date (lunch + brewery tour = awesome).

The tour was pretty fun, although not many people were there (it was noon and a bit overcast, not quite beer drinking time, I guess). Our tour guide for the day was Spencer; who was a new guide for me, but trained by the perennial favorite Valerie. He was also good and I would definitely recommend him as a tour guide. This post isn’t about that though. This is about the phone call I got later that night from a number not in my phone book.

I picked up the phone and didn’t hear anyone. A pocket dial? I called the number back, “Hi, you’ve reached Spencer….” Drat, a voicemail.

Wait, wasn’t that the name of our tour guide today?

I left a vague message with a request to call back. Then I got this message via Facebook:

Hey! You were on my tour today! So, I accidentally called you. Funny story – not trying to be creepy at all, I found you on facebook on my iPhone and it listed your cell phone number, which I bumped and called by accident. I think you might have tried to call me back – and I felt really awkward so I didn’t answer… so sorry for the call – I really didn’t mean for it to happen and I feel really bad. I did, however, notice that you know Kelly Knowland1, who I went to highschool with, and Kiel Johnson2 who I went to college with in Portland! Which is awesome! Small world! I love them both endlessly! And they can vouch for me that I’m not a creeper. I can’t begin to tell you how awkward I feel about the accidental call.

Anyway… hope you had a great time on the tour today, and thanks for the hug3, haha! If you come back to Redhook, I think I owe you a beer. At the least.

Okay, well at least that solves the question of who was calling me4. But what prompted him to look me up in the first place?

Update:
If you happen to be going on a Red Hook tour soon, I suggest you ask Spencer, “So I hear you like to call people from your tour…and offer free beer if you find them on Facebook?” (a thought mentioned by Andrew Z)


  1. who I know from the Edge, I think 

  2. who I know from highschool, we both went to SAAS 

  3. I was getting our tokens and asking who was going to lead the tour. I noted that I hoped it was Valerie, because she’s a very good tour guide, as well as the guide I’ve had on all the previous tours. Spencer took offense to this, jokingly, so I offered to hug it out with him. 

  4. I’m the guy who always picks up the phone when a new number dials, just so I can solve the mystery