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Tuesday, 31 May 2011


Recently, I've taken to praying for God's will above everything else that I've prayed for. It's the idea I had back when I was talking about Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. If you don't remember that post, feel free to check it quickly here. Anyway, remember the old saying 'Be careful what you pray for'? It's the truth.

God gave me a bit of his will that I wasn't really expecting/ready for. And I've had to deal with that - especially because, recently, he's really been blessing me a fair bit more than is due. So there's a bit of contrast there. Because God's will certainly isn't what we always think it is. Most of the time, in fact. He has a habit of coming in from left field just when you could use a nice fly ball. But it keeps you on your toes - he doesn't give you anything that you can't get up from. And, as another proverb goes, whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I'm not sure if that's completely accurate, but it works well in this case.

Recently noticed that I haven't done another 'Biblical myths' sort of thing since my first one (here). So, hopefully, that should become a bi-weekly sort of thing, maybe Saturdays. Think that would work out nicely. Also, sorry for late post. But I have a general rule of thumb that it doesn't count as the next day until I've had some sleep, unless I'm not having any. Makes referring to that day much easier; you don't have to watch the clock and suddenly start referring to it as 'yesterday' as son as you go past 12am, if you're up late/early.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Social Ineptitude.

Well, I said last week that I'd talk about this today, so I am. Don't know quite how I'm going to word it, but I'll make it up as I go.
First off. For those who are somehow unaware of this, I am a social recluse. Hermit. Et cetera. I have written at least a couple of songs about it.
This is, of course, by and large my own fault; I've chosen to spend more time with books than my friends, more time on the PC than talking to people. The number of parties that I go to in a year could be listed on the fingers on one hand. And that's not declining invites, by the way; generally speaking, I've gone to every party I'm invited to. (Though some more happily than others.) My responses to questions can often be fairly short; and most people would probably view me as a pretty quiet person.
The main readon for that is because I find it hard to even go up to someone and say hi. Whether they be someone I know or don't know, I'm shit at starting a conversation. As some of you may know, if you get me onto the right topic I can really get going - but until then, I can be quite Stoic. It's something that I'm working on - as I've mentioned, I think - but I've still got ages to go.
So, chances are, half the stuff I want to say, I won't, because I'm not good at that. Most of it I'll probably forget, unfortunately; unfortunately because there is some good stuff in there. Heck, I've got a whole philosophy in there probably, if I put it all together. Suppose that's one of the big reasons I started this blog - to say some of the stuff that I don't elsewhere.
Think that's it. Kinda went on a bit of a tangent on the end there, but I think I can get away with it.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Ticking time bombs.

There's a study that we looked at in Psych, which is possibly one of the most well known studies around. It's called the Milgram experiment. I'll try to give you the short version.

They got about 40 guys to come in for some research. (This was a few years back; they did it at Yale uni.) They said that the study was about how learning was related to punishment/pain. In the experiment, they basically had one guy come in, and one guy that already knew what was happening. They said they would randomly allocate a 'teacher' and a 'learner'. It was rigged so that the person who came in would always be the teacher. The learner was strapped into a chair, and the teacher was given these word sets. They would read out the words, and the learner would respond with the one that was right. If they got it right, nothing happened. If they got it wrong, they got an electric shock. The shocks started at 15 volts, and then worked up in increments of 15 to 450 volts. They were using an impressive looking machine, and about 2/3 of the way along under the knobs it said "lethal", and under the last 3 or so it just read "XXX". Note, however, that at no time was any shock actually given to the learner. The teacher could not see them, and could only hear them. Every now and then, a prerecorded message, such as "Let me out!" etc was played, growing increasingly desperate. After a certain point, no more sound was heard. The 'teacher' was naive to all of this, and thought it was completely real. If they ever said that they wanted to stop, they were told by the researcher that they had to continue for the sake of the experiment.
When this idea was presented to a bunch of professional researchers etc, the most pessimistic of them said that only 3% would go all the way to 450 volts.
The actual result was a massive 62%. These were not bad people; not sadistic, or with some other sort of lack of empathy; they were all fairly average. It was the environment that they were in which lead to their actions.

And that's really what I want you to take from this; when people do bad things, it not always because they're bad people. Sometimes, they're just in terrible situations. There are some people who believe that anyone can do anything, given the right situation; each of us is a ticking time bomb, each which has a different sort of spark that will light it. Perhaps it is pessimistic; perhaps it is realistic. Your thoughts would be welcome here.

As an aside, straight afterwards, the 'learners' came out to show the 'teachers' that they were fine, no harm had been done, etc. As well as this, all of them have been followed up regularly, and basically all of them have said that it was a great experience, and they're glad they did it. If you're interested, a study with similar results is the Stanford prison experiment.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Listening, remembering and loving.

Recently, I've tried to take up this maxim to listen, remember and love. Quite simply because those are three things I'm not too good at, but I need to be; my failures in each of these have been showing up in my relationships with both family and friends.

Listening well is something that I already did a post on in Mozart's blog; the link is here.

My main problem with listening, admittedly, is remembering; my Mum often tells me that she can tell me something one minute, then ask me just a few minutes later and I'm like 'What?' OK, it's not quite that bad. But the number of times I've forgotten things that have been said to me - whether it be just the gist of it or the details - is a very long list. As well as that, I can just be a very forgetful person. I now have a running tally of how many times I've locked my keys in the car that I've put right in front of me when I'm driving so I don't forget. It's at 10. And remembering is so important in showing someone that what they said matters - if you can remember what they said a long time after they said it, that can mean a lot. Even just remembering a name is a good start, which I'm very bad at too - though I always remember a face.

Loving isn't something, admittedly, that I do too much of. I can be a lot more of an intellectual than a social person; I like being by myself, and find it difficult being with a lot of other people. If there are people I don't know, it's much more difficult. Heck, it was so bad in high school that a lot of the girls pretty much thought that I really didn't like hugs; a couple of them then tried to do so sneakily at different points. (If you want proof - here.) Needless to say, the latter spurred the former somewhat. (And, as an aside, I currently have no aversion to hugs at all.) I can probably elaborate on that slightly in another post. I know, I've said that a few times. How about I make that next Thursday then - I usually leave Monday open, because I often do it on the sermon or communion talk from that Sunday, or following on from it.
But just with people that are my family, my friends - always keeping their best interests in mind, over and above my own. It's a difficult goal, but one I strive for.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Exciting times...

Today, God has made a change in me.
I'm still me. Chances are, I'm going to lock the keys in the car again. Forget the bins. Be massively socially inept. I'm definitely still a sinner. Not heaven yet.
But it's like he's thrown a switch in my brain - and I actually feel some of that passion that I was hoping and praying for. It's not like I didn't love God and what he had done before; I most definitely did. But I certainly didn't have that passion, that fire for Him, that I've seen in other people. Now, though, I think He's blown on that spark in me. And it's beginning to grow. And if he can manage that, I can't wait to see what else he's got in store. It reminds me of that line from the Matrix, which I've also used as the title for this - when Tank is about to put Neo through the training, and he's wondering whether he really is the One. And he says, wow, if you are....these are exciting times, exciting times we live in.
This is just a short one for today. Not really anything to think on, I suppose. Just an update, I guess, as to how I'm doing.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Image filtration.

Realised a minute ago that I have once again gone into tomorrow. Oh well, I don't call it tomorrow until I've had some sleep. :p Makes it slightly easier when you're talking about the day when it's just gone past 12am, less confusion over today/yesterday.
Anyway. Post. Blog. Thing. Yes.

My sister recently said that someone she knew was more random than me. And I don't pride myself on much, but I do on being pretty darn weird/random. So I asked her why that was the case, and if it was anything to do with predictability - after all, I am her brother, so she has known me all her life. Even randomness can be predictable. For example, if I suddenly write apple chicken banana turkey, that's very random, but if I asked you to guess what word I'd write next you'd probably get it in the ballcourt, because it's an ordered, predictable sort of randomness, if that makes sense.
But she said no, it was more because he just suddenly came out with random things while they (school group of friends) were hanging out at lunch. He'd just abruptly say, 'I had a weird dream last night,' and proceed to tell everyone about it. Apparently, that was pretty random in the context, and I can get that.

I suppose one of the things that I've realised recently - also when I've looked at this blog - is that although I see myself as quite random/weird, a lot of that stays in my head, and doesn't come out because everything that comes out I put through a sort of filter, a screening or something. And, of course, things will always slip through, etc etc. But it got me thinking - I'm pretty darn sure I'm not the only person out there who does something similar to this 'screening' thing. So I suppose the question is this: do we screen so much that what other people think about us can be totally different to our views? (For the moment, ignoring things where we're a bit more conscious of image, actions, whatever.)
For example, one event that comes to mind was at the Speech and Awards night at my school when I was in Year 11. I was getting this special award for outreach, christian ministry, that sort of thing. So basically I go up on stage and stand there while the headmaster says good stuff about me and flashes big pictures of me up on the screen. But some of the stuff he was saying was like (very much guessing, but this is the gist of it) 'Brendan goes out of his way to tell other people about the Christian message.' Hardly. I'm probably one of the worst at it out of the people I know. I don't think I ever told anyone a Christian that didn't directly ask me, in fact. Kinda sad, but I'm really bad at going up and talking to people. Or broaching topics. Another one: 'Brendan has been a great asset to the Thailand Outreach Team, Oasis group, and the bible study.' Yes, I probably helped out a fair bit with the Thailand Team. Oasis, I led one session, helped out now and then. I was probably one of the more frequent attenders, but that was about it. The bible study, however, I never got to. :p So whether that was just an assumption, or exactly what happened there, I don't know. But they did seem to be attributing a fair bit to me that wasn't quite deserved. Anyway. My little rant ended.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

In writing.

Forewarning: This will be quite a longer blog post than most ones I've done. Though that will be because of the long texts I'm including, not actually the amount I'm writing. If that makes sense. If I know my audience at all, it shouldn't bother you too much.

OK. Recently, I saw an ad up at uni about doing a bit of script writing. It mentioned that it would include a bit of black humour, a bit of survival-type drama. Though it did say that the possibility of being actually paid for it was probably small, though still there. I was immediately interested and contacted the guy via email. The information he sent me interested me even further. Now, I've got no idea exactly how copyright laws or anything work, so I don't know exactly how much of this I should really be putting up here, but what the heck. I've hardly got any viewers, and I'm not putting up too much.
Anyway, he told me that the basic idea was the sudden loss of any advanced electronic technology across Australia. In some sort of event called the 'Zap' (he called it that, not me). Not sure at the moment how far that extends - for example, would planes in australian air space be affected? Anyway, he said that he'd be sending out a brief fairly soon.
Yesterday, he sent out an email saying he was sorry he was taking too long, he was a bit of a perfectionist. However, he did have one character bio written up, and encouraged us (that is, me and whoever else had replied to the ad, I'm guessing) to write up some sort of backstory. As I looked at the character bio, I was quite surprised. Perhaps you'll see why. I've got it reproduced here, word for word - and this was written by him, I haven't changed it.
Full Name: David Ravi Boxer 
Age: 25 
Ethnicity: Half-Caucasian (maternal), Half-Indian (paternal)  
Visual Description: Tall, Lean, Fair-skinned, Dark hair, Brown eyes, Perfect teeth, 
Occupation: Not officially employed, Amateur Hacker 
Hobbies: X-Box, PS3, Hacking, TvTropes, Woodwork, Working out 
Skills: Highly intelligent, Very good with electronics, Knowledgeable about a wide variety of subjects, Plays a lot of musical instruments, especially keyboard
Phobias: Tight spaces, 
Allergies: Grass, Strawberries 
Friends: Not many. A few fellow hacker-type characters. 
Family: Mother, two younger sisters (Father deceased, recently) 
Medical history: Appendicitis, Broke left leg at age four 
Mood: Lazy, Easily bored, Depressive, Lack of agency over his life 
Education history: Graduated year 12, Bachelors degree in InfoTech 
Employment history: Fired from every job after a couple weeks 
Brief description of character: David Boxer is your smart but lazy archetype. He's really good at a wide variety of creative and technical fields, but isn't motivated and doesn't get a lot of fulfilment out of the activities he does. Socially awkward, he has difficulty relating to people who don't get his intelligence. Is prone to mischief, dismissiveness, snubbing of authority. 
Brief description of role in context of show: After the Zap, David is probably the character most affected, and more importantly: affected positively. Without electronics, all of his usual activities are no longer possible. This means he has a lot more time on his hands. But also, he is the only person in the immediate area who can perform a vital function: making stuff work again. David becomes the go- to fix-it guy, using his incredible intelligence and experience with electronics to repair and reactivate a few essential devices like fridges and heaters. After the Zap, David finds purpose in life.
Perhaps you can see why I found this somewhat surprising - he has a fair few things in common with me. OK, a lot. The majority of that corresponds to me, which I found a bit weird. Needless to say, I found it quite easy to write a bit of a backstory for him. What I wrote is below. Some of it corresponds to me as well, but there's a few important differences.

·      David Boxer
David was the guy who knew it all from day one. Maybe it was because of the upbringing he got from his parents. Maybe it was just something innate. Whichever it was, David was smart. Very smart. Mensa sort of smart. And so, when he went to school, he was the kid who could already read, write, add numbers. The teachers didn’t know how to handle him; they were just a small public school. So they asked his parents about putting him in some of the classes – say, for example, reading and maths – that were a year or two above him. They were delighted, and immediately said yes.
However, those in David’s new class weren’t too happy about it, and they let him know. They didn’t use any physical violence – they didn’t want to get in trouble – but they made sure David got the message that he wasn’t wanted there. David took the hint and asked to be moved down again. He did extremely well in his first few years of schooling, but by the time he had gotten to high school, any excitement he had for school had left. It had ceased to be a challenge long ago. His parents could see what was happening, but they didn’t know what they could do; they didn’t have the money to send him to a private school, so they just hoped for the best.
But David’s performance in school plummeted. His teachers could see that he was talented, because every now and again, something slightly left field would come up and his attention would suddenly be gained, his interest piqued – only for it to disappear again just as quickly.
Many, David’s parents included, thought that he would probably drop out in year 10, given that he had so little interest in school. However, in year 9, he was given the opportunity to choose a computing subject, which he took an immediate liking to. He proceeded to regularly top the class in every exercise, and was learning at a pace faster than the teacher could teach him. He proceeded to find out much more information regarding computers online; this is also how he got his interest in hacking, though he never took it too seriously.
He resolved to take a Bachelors degree in Information Technology, which he also did well in, completing it with Distinction. Since then, he has continued to learn about technology from the internet, and has a solid interest in most aspects of electronics, including gaming.
A few other notes on David: from a young age, his mother also introduced him to the world of music; she played the guitar. David also gradually learned to play the guitar, and many other instruments as well, including the cello, violin, trombone, saxophone, clarinet, and keyboard – the keyboard becoming the one he played the most; many of the others he borrowed from his high school, and so it was difficult to continue playing after he had finished.
David also enjoys working, though usually finds it hard to spur himself to start – hence why he has not been very successful in keeping a job as yet. However, he has taken an interest in woodwork, and has recently taken to carving out a chess set, so that he would not have to buy one. He also frequents his local gym, and likes to keep his body in shape, and he regularly goes for runs and swims at the local pool. Hence, he is very happy when the Zap gives him a lot of opportunity to utilise this, as well as his knowledge.
As can go hand in hand with great intelligence, David also has great social ineptitude. He doesn’t have a girlfriend, and honestly doesn’t even know where to start with that sort of thing. The Zap halts any searching he may have commenced otherwise, as he becomes flooded with work.
His recent father’s passing has taken a lot more out of him than most would see. He was very close to his father, and finds it very difficult now he has gone. He feels that he must now be the strong foundation for the family, and particularly his two sisters, and so does his best to keep his emotions in check. The Zap puts this out of his mind for the moment, but it is still there.
Ideas for David:
-  He gets so swamped with work (fix-it stuff) that he needs to train a couple of other guys to be able to do some too.
-  This character, as is, does not have much potential to write black humour in, unless you start working with his father’s death. 
 Any comments would be muchly appreciated. And sorry for the fairly lengthy post.

Friday, 6 May 2011


Realised when coming home after uni that I didn't write a post yesterday, so thought I'd better get round to that. So first I thought I'd write about something that happened yesterday, but then realised that I couldn't. Not because I don't want to, because I do. But because of one of many restrictions that I place around myself for various reasons. This one in particular I often find extremely annoying, and is based around the issue of trust. So I thought that I could at least talk about that.

The main reasons for the restriction (not all of them, but the main two) are simply these:
1. The unreliability of any form of communication to be completely private. When I say any, I mean any. People can tap into phone lines, hack emails, listen into conversations, etc etc. OK, yes, I do get slightly paranoid when it comes to this, fair enough.
2. Similarly, the unreliability of any people to be completely private. Chances are, if you tell x to someone, they will most likely tell someone else, even if it's only in passing or they don't mean anything by it. And I believe the snowball effect is pretty well understood.

The restriction even prevents me from telling you about what the restriction is, which is annoying too. And so I guess you could say that I have trust issues. Which is a fair enough point. Though, interestingly, I'd trust most people with my life. Just not my life. To explain (because evidently that wouldn't have made sense), I'd trust most people to hold me on a rock climbing/abseiling sort of thing, and in those sorts of situations. But I think there would be next to nobody that I would trust with absolutely every detail of my life. That's probably not a big thing, since pretty much everyone has something they wouldn't tell anyone. But I've got a fair few, I suppose. Which I find annoying, because it can make it more difficult to relate to people sometimes. (Which I have enough difficulties with. But that's for another blog post.) Though, hopefully, something will happen soon that could take a bit of that off my shoulders, so to speak. No idea what it will be, but we'll see.

Monday, 2 May 2011

The battle of life

Yesterday, there was a baby dedication at the church I go to. And the passage that the parents chose to read was Jeremiah 29:11, which some of you may be familiar with: 'For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' The person next to me at the time said that it always annoyed her when people quoted this verse, because when it was written, they were apparently about to go into battle, and she was annoyed about it being taken completely out of context.

Which got me thinking. Because, in a way, isn't that baby just as much going into a battle? If you're not a religious person, that battle is partly a battle of survival, and then a battle to thrive, grow, etc. If you are religious, then it's a spiritual battle that this would more refer to. And that's a battle we all face, with two great armies marching against one another, in the battle of life - the battle, in fact, for life.

It's an interesting concept, I think. There is also a point about things being taken out of context; I mean, one man I knew once talked about how there's a line in the Bible where it says 'There is no God.' Which, if you quoted that, would be completely out of context. Because, immediately preceding it, were these words: 'Only a fool says:' Though that doesn't mean that things have no importance, even if they are taken out of context. It can just sometimes be a bit dangerous if you start making claims with quotes as your support, if they are taken out of context. So I suppose that's a bit of a double point there.