Brian Ferguson

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 

Colorado for Vacation

I just booked my first vacation as person in The Real World™, and I’m going back to Colorado! Woo! This will be my first flight since getting back from my Europe Trip in August. I’ll be flying out right after work on Wednesday, November 18th, at 4:20pm (arriving at 8pm local time) and departing on Monday, November 23, at 6:05pm (arriving at 7:59pm local time).

It’s Brothers birthday1 on Thursday, the 19th, and some other familial obligations to attend to on Friday, but that leaves Frinight and the weekend open for whatever crazyness I can stir up with your help. I also want to go to Merge on Sunday night, so plan on that.

Should be a good little respite from work.

On a side note, sorry that updates have been few and far between. That’s sort of the way life is going for me right now. Hopefully that will change and I’ll get back to my usual posting antics.

  1. 21st to be precise 

What My Brother Is Doing This Summer

Editors Note: This is a post I asked my brother, Brian, to write. Since neither of us are home for the summer, I figured it might be nice to let everyone know what he’s been up to.

This summer I am working in the tiny mountain town of Salida, Colorado. I am the Summer youth Intern at First Presbyterian Church. Me and Hilary Downs, the associate pastor, are responsible for running the entire youth department, including but not limited to high school, middle school, and elementary school. Our ministry is almost completely relational and event based. We don’t have enough kids who would come to a weekly kids service to do one. So we basically just plan a lot of events and hang out with the kids. We have also had one 10-day high school mission trip and Hilary is gone on the middle school mission trip right now.

In addition to working with youth, I also have been helping out with the regular services. Almost a month ago, I was the “Lay leader” meaning I was the one who had to know when to go up between each thing and say things like “Please stand as we sing the first song of the morning” or “You may now be seated” and “Please pray with me”. Needless to say, I don’t think I will pursue a career being a lay leader.

And then two weeks ago, I got to sing with the worship team, and this week I gave the sermon at all three services. It was a great experience. Now I am focusing on Day Camp for the K-4th graders. This will be next week and A LOT has to get done before hand. One thing that is sometimes frustrating about small towns is that you will call people and leave them messages and some times several messages and you almost NEVER get called back. Apparently, it’s just the way things are here, which is fine but makes planning events a nightmare. If I want people to show up, I have to send a flier or postcard like two weeks in advance and then call to remind them. So all this to say I have come to greatly appreciate the youth groups I have worked with before where you could call up a bunch of kids a few hours before an event and still get a better turn out than I do here.

My favorite part of the job has been just doing stuff with high school boys. There is SOOOO much good mountain biking here and so I have been soaking up every ride. And we will get some of the guys together and play paintball at one of the kids ranch. Or I built a sick a jump and we went down to Fronzer lake and jumped mini bikes and scooters into it. It was Awesome.

Note: if you can’t see the video, you may need to click through to the post.

So thats a little bit about my summer.


Shooting Salida

I went to Salida with my family this past Tuesday so that Brian could check out the church he would be working at as their Youth Intern.

While driving through town, we came across a set of abandoned railroad tracks. Having wanted to do some urban1 exploring, I took the opportunity to wander about.

50.0 mm || 1/8000 || f/1.8 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Salida, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/5000 || f/2.8 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Salida, Colorado, United States

Blue White Red
50.0 mm || 1/8000 || f/2.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Salida, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/8000 || f/2.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Salida, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/1250 || f/2.8 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Salida, Colorado, United States

50.0 mm || 1/5000 || f/1.8 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Salida, Colorado, United States

Calco Inc
50.0 mm || 1/3200 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Salida, Colorado, United States

As always, you can see the rest of the photos on Flickr: Exploring Salida

As a side note: Brian will be working with Hilary Downs, who fellow UPC folk may recognize as the Ministry Coordinator for The Rock and The Edge back In The Day™. After graduating from Princeton, Hilary became the Associate Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Salida. As Jeff noted, “Wow, small world… (or UPC is just that huge…).”

As yes, I love alliterations.

  1. although I’m not sure I’d call Salida urban 


I’m currently sitting at the airport waiting for my boarding call1. I’ll short board my flight to Seattle. I tweeted last night that I was “going to bed. Leaving for Seattle in the morning.” I received several concerned comments from friends regarding my trip back to seattle, so let me first allay your fears of some impending doom in my life: I am fine. I am simply flying back to Seattle for Ben Towne’s memorial service. I will return on Sunday.

The complete reason behind my desire to attend his memorial service are a mystery even to me. As best I can tell, it’s 33% for me, 34% for Jeff and Carin, and 33% for Ben:

For Ben, I was fortunate enough to meet him a couple times when I was helping Jeff with some computer issues. This was over the summer of 2008 and at that time Ben’s prognosis (at least in my mind) was good. He loved the movie Cars and had an extensive collection of Hot Wheel’s that I’m pretty sure rivaled mine when I was his age.

For Jeff and Carin, because of what Jeff has done for me (perhaps without even knowing it). Jeff (along with a few other key players) was instrumental in my high school Christian experience; and for that, I will always be thankful. Jeff has always been a fantastic youth minister and I hope that he returns to it. I’ve met Carin many times and she’s an absolutely wonderful and energetic person. She’s also a great, and at times humorusly sarcastic, writter. Her updates to Ben’s CaringBridge site were an amazing insight into the hard journey she and Jeff have taken.

For me, this is not the first time I’ve had to deal with a someone dying from cancer, nor (unfortunately) do I suspect it will be my last. Several years ago (early 90’s), I had a cousin, Jesse, die from cancer. The part that makes it difficult was the age difference. Jesse was only 5 months older than me. She was also the only older cousin I had. Her death put a two+ year gap between me and my next eldest cousin, Katie, who is about the same age as Brian (my brother). I didn’t realize it fifteen years ago, and I still can’t grasp the full ramifications of her death. How would my life changed had someone closer to my age been around? We both would have been out of college right now. For years after her passing, my Aunt and Uncle had a bell called the Jesse Bell. I haven’t seen it in recent years and I sometimes wonder where it went.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve asked myself if it’s even worth it to come all this way. Sometimes I think yes, other times I think not. My hope is that I can get can some resolution, both on Ben and Jesse.

  1. Well, I was when I started writing this post. I’m now in Seattle 

Summer Wind

As July finishes up, so does my summer vacation. Less then three weeks remain before my final year of college starts. This summer has been a rather interesting one. If I had to put word to it, I’d describe it as: low-key.

Many of my friends have graduated from college and are getting jobs in The Real World©. My brother and one of my best friends are on mission trips in Europe for the summer. The dynamics have changed for sure.

That’s not to say that I haven’t enjoyed my summer. On the contrary, I love returning back to Seattle. Sailing and hiking are definitely two things I enjoyed doing and I wish I had more time to dedicate to them. I haven’t been climbing or camping yet, which is sort of a bummer. Hopefully I’ll be able to get to those before I start school.

Heads up: any outstanding chits, beers, IOU’s, etc should be redeemed before I leave Seattle on 14 August.

And guess who sighs his lullabies – through nights that never end
My fickle friend, the summer wind


Something Meaningfull to Convey

Things have been quiet here (my website, that is) for a while. I can’t say that nothing exciting is going on, because lots of exciting things are going on. I just haven’t felt compelled to write really. I do have a couple of posts I’m working on regarding my drive from Colorado to Seattle, but those will have to wait for me to finish getting by pictures uploaded.

My brother left for a 9 week trip to Greece. I think he’ll have a great time and experience lots of growth while he’s there.

Work started last Friday. It’s fun and I love the people I work with. I do not, however, enjoying getting up at 5:30am. Unfortunately, this is not something that is likely to change now or in the future.

I also hate $4.29/gal gas; apparently not as bad as in San Francisco, but still ridiculous none-the-less. To that end, I have decided to VanPool to work. It costs $50 a month to be in the VanPool, which is $150/month savings on gas (and doesn’t include whatever fuel it takes to drive the five minutes to the Greenlake Park and Ride).


New Toy

My brother got me a Bogen Super Clamp for Christmas. It was on my wishlist, so I was pretty pumped to use it. What I didn’t realize is that it didn’t actually come with all the hardware that I needed to use it. This was my fault.

After doing a bit of research on exactly what I would need and want, I finally ordered a swivel-bracket with umbrella mount and a 5/8″ snap-in pin.

I used B&H photo, which is the same company I ordered my tripod and head from. I can now take cool photos like this:

DSC_1761 (by Mr Ferguson)

In reality, I’ll be able to put my flash just about anywhere now:

The bent arms of the clamping jaws make it particularly appropriate for clamping onto a variety of shapes. Pipes, railing, doors, shelves, tables, tree branches, electrical conduit running up the wall in a high school gym (not too tight…) are all no problem.


I Remember: My First MP3

Back In The Day™, they used to not have MP3s. Yea, I know; I have no idea how the world lived before then either, but the fact still remains.

Also back In The Day™, I used to have a babysitter. I actually went though many babysitters, however that is a topic for another day. My babysitter at the time was a student by the name of Andrew Schirmer.

One of the times he was baby sitting us (Brian and me), he downloaded Winamp (version 1, so this version didn’t suck) and then played a copy of Goldfinger that he downloaded from his server1.

That was my first MP3 I ever heard. I have no idea why I still remember that either.

1 Actually I think it was his friends server…not that it matters.


More Snow

Brian and Quinn both just let me know that it’s snowing in Seattle and sticking. Looks like I got out just in time. My flight yesterday was delayed 30 minutes so they could de-ice. I slept the whole way. I’m good on the plane like that.