April 2008 Archives

This thing used to be almost a personal diary, but now people read it... and so they're getting news about me from it, which is great, except when I forget to mention major things on it and then there's the awkward pause as I explain something that I failed to mention.

Previously unreported happenings in the life of Byron
• In January, I had lasik surgery. I no longer wear glasses and aside from the occasional dry eye, have been very happy with my slightly better than 20/20 vision.
• Two weeks after foster-adopting Joy and George, I took them back to the shelter because my place just wasn't big enough for them and they were destroying things I didn't want destroyed. The program was a foster to adopt thing, so I just took them back rather than finalizing the adoption. I occasionally miss them, but not very often.
• I started a new website called Torben Reviews where I review the things I do in life. The point of the site is for me to make money. So far, I've got $1.22 in revenues after about two months.
• I bought season tickets to the Chicago Fire this year. They cost me $200 for 20 games. Not bad. Soccer rocks.

I got this link at work, tried listening to it without the sound... but obviously the sound is needed. I really tried not to start laughing so loudly, but I couldn't help myself.

From the wedding last summer. Kelly made me take food pictures. Originals available upon request.





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Resolved - I am moving overseas in the next fifteen months. Perspectives was awesome tonight. ntm.org

Ill'n & Oppress'n

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I joined a new gym last Wednesday, worked out, and immediately had an allergic reaction to exercise. A fever, sniffles, cough, nausea, and missed weekend later, I'm feeling semi-human.

Today was surreal. I took some NyQuil last night to help me sleep... and barely woke up in time to get to work. Then, all day long I was high. As in spacy and couldn't concentrate at all. Strangely however, I was probably twice as productive as normal.

After work, I adamantly refused to spend the evening in my apartment (as I have the previous four), so I went out with Adam and got $1 burgers at Darkhorse. On the way there, I listened to the first half of the sermon for this week's small group. After eating, I stopped at Wrigleyville Sports and bought a new Cubs hat. (My old one was from Feb. 2004.) Then, on the train back, I listened to the second half of the sermon and learned that I was guilty of perpetrating a system of oppression and indifference. (I may sound jesting, but I'm actually serious.)

Anyhow, we're listing to Rob Bell's series, A New Exodus. In the first sermon, we learned that throughout the Bible, God often acts when an oppressed people cry out. In the second sermon, Bell teaches that God pulls people out of oppression so that they can bless others. Then in today's sermon, we see Israel at what appears to be their peak. The sermon hits on I Kings 9, 10, and 11. In those three chapters we learn that Solomon has used forced labor to build the Temple, his palaces, and three fortresses. He's also got 700 wives of Royal descent, and 300 concubines... all of this while the Queen of Sheba comes to visit and praises Solomon's God because he is a God that values justice and righteousness.

In an interesting note, Bell also points out a passage in Deuteronomy and then points out where Solomon goes astray in I Kings.

Deuteronomy 17:14-17

14 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, "Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us," 15 be sure to appoint over you the king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from among your own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite. 16 The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, "You are not to go back that way again." 17 He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.

In I Kings, Solomon gets his horses from Egypt, and then becomes an arms dealer, importing and exporting chariots. Then there are the 700 wives, and then finally this indictment in I Kings 10:27, "The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones." As if the parallels aren't telling enough, there's this gem: 1 Kings 10:14 "The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents."

All of this is to illustrate that after being delivered by God, Solomon and the Israelites (in a pattern that will reoccur throughout the Bible) build for themselves an empire of comfort and convenience. Bell then draws the parallel to our culture and asked people in the congregation to look at their shirt labels and call out where the shirt was manufactured. He then proceeds to ask dozens of questions such as, was your shirt manufactured by someone with: access to healthcare? A living wage? In a heated building? In a cooled building? etc. etc. etc.

It was a good point and really makes you think. Is our compartive wealth and comfort built on the backs of oppressed people? Are we not complicit then in those systems of oppression?

Yup, that's it folks... that was my point. The end.

Update: In a bizarre twist, Comrade Wyatt is also struggling with similar thoughts.

It's springtime in Chicago. My beautiful baby awakes from her dreary nap and comes alive once more. Yes, it's still chilly. Yes, it's rainy, but the sunlight is stronger, and my sports teams are in season once more. Yeah!

Saturday: Fire @ RSL, watch party at Villains.

Sunday: Church at LaSalle street church. More on that later, perhaps.

Monday: Year end financials posted. Praise be to God! I hate the first quarter.

Tuesday at 00:00: A toast to the second quarter. Probably five drops of rum, 8 oz of seven-up.

Tuesday at 08:00: Feeling like crap. It was honestly no more than a tablespoon of rum.

Wednesday: Small group at Clarke's on Lincoln. Cool name, iffy service, expensive french fries.

Thursday: Fire vs. NE Revolution. Four-nil She-Ca-Go! Old Style? still awful. PBR, even awfuller.


Friday morning: Feeling good sort-of. Stomach can still taste PBR.

Friday mid-morning: Insanely busy at work... don't even have time for my bagel... and my poor tummy.

Friday afternoon: Meet Joe at Bacci's pizza followed by Cubs vs. Astros. Cubs fall 3-4, the weather was cold, but the sun was magnificent!


Friday evening: The email says I have to go in to work tomorrow to send out K-1s? But I already filed my taxes! Can I at least have my half-day of vacation back? Oh well, Blades of Glory came from Blockbuster today.

The Hippy project

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I took another step on the road to becoming one of those 'weird hippies' this weekend. As you may, or may not know, several Dominican players have had their ties to cock-fighting exposed over this past offseason. Since one of those players was Aramis Ramirez, the Cubs third basemen, it got extensive coverage at Goat Riders. In his defense of Ramirez, my fellow Goat Rider, Jason, wrote:

I don't want to get too far into this discussion, but I do want to make one simple point: there's a difference between doing a bad thing and being a bad person. We can all step back and say hey! We know what's right. Cock fighting is bad, regular fighting is okay, and not fighting at all makes you some sort of damn dirty hippie. However, if you don't know something is wrong, how can doing it make you a bad person? Say, for example, that everyone decided that raising chickens for slaughter 5 or 6 to a cage with less than a square foot of space for each was wrong. Would that make those who willing ate the chicken despite known the conditions evil? If you were a kid who was raised and worked on this kind of farm and never knew anything different, who that make you a horrible person?

Say what you want about Jason's opinions, but the idea of packing five or six chickens in a cage seems to be disrespectful of one (or five to six) of God's finest creations. So, as I'm reaching for the eggs at Jewel on Saturday, I grabbed the cheapest dozen and put them in my cart, and then froze. These eggs were obtained in a method I would find reprehensible... but did my aversion to chicken mistreatment extend $1.50?

I think I spent ten minutes in the egg aisle questioning myself. Who am I? What do I stand for? What does it say about me if I spend more on an item than I need to, just so I have a clearer conscience? What does it say if I buy the cheaper eggs even after thinking about it?

The whole episode was very distressing to me. It certainly wasn't the $1.50, but it exposed a deeper crisis of identity. The culture and attitudes I grew up are at odds with my values now... but I have so much respect for that culture. I'm confused and still working through it.

I bought the cage-less chicken eggs, but I haven't decided if that will be an on-going habit. I'm just confused about it.