Here's a (Not Blasphemous) Thought
adammcdorman
Today, I found myself listening to David Bazan's album Curse Your Branches. Each of the songs on that album are so simply constructed that I couldn't help but to consider the lyrics. The chorus of one song in particular, "When We Fell," is as follows:

When you set the table
When you chose the scale
Did you write a riddle that you knew they would fail
Did you make them tremble
So they would tell the tale
Did you push us when we fell

As with many of David Bazan's songs, he is clearly questioning God's motives in watching humanity plummet into what many might call a state of moral depravity. I've been plagued by similar questions in recent months, as I find the faith that I was taught as a child to be somewhat inconsistent at certain points. I still believe, but I can't help but wonder at some of the things that have been presented to me as universal truths by God's earthly representatives.

It seems obvious to me that Adam and Eve never really had a choice but to fail. Before they ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they couldn't possibly have had any understanding of the concept of consequence. Without the understanding for which the tree was named, they wouldn't have been able to make a distinction between good and evil, and thus all conceivable choices would have led to the only result that they knew. It's also no surprise that they were manipulated by the serpent, as they wouldn't have been able to discern his evil.

It's almost as though the game was fixed from the very start.

I can't imagine facing an eternal consequence for someone else's mistake. I was born into my body and have subsequently lived my life to the best of my ability as guided by the experiences that have been orchestrated by the culmination of the free wills of every sentient creation that walks the face of this mortal coil.

Just some thoughts.

Here's a (Nerd-lord) Thought
adammcdorman
When people create comic book reading orders for big events (let's take Blackest Night for example), I think they take the chronology of events to the detriment of the narrative structures.

Let's look at part of the more-or-less agreed upon Blackest Night reading order:
...
Blackest Night #2
Blackest Night: Batman #1
Blackest Night: Superman #1
Blackest Night: Titans #1
Green Lantern #45
Green Lantern Corps #40
Blackest Night #3
Blackest Night: Batman #2
Blackest Night: Superman #2
Blackest Night: Titans #2
Green Lantern #46
Green Lantern Corps #41
Blackest Night: Batman #3
Blackest Night: Superman #3
Blackest Night: Titans #3
...

There are some events happening in the background of these stories that make it very easy to plot the issues on a timeline. But if you read the issues in that order, the story events end up as a mess inside your brainlocker.

I don't like it. I'd revise it like this:

...
Blackest Night #2
Blackest Night: Titans #1
Blackest Night: Titans #2
Blackest Night: Titans #3
Blackest Night: Batman #1
Blackest Night: Batman #2
Blackest Night: Batman #3
Blackest Night: Superman #1
Blackest Night: Superman #2
Blackest Night: Superman #3
Green Lantern #45
Green Lantern #46
Blackest Night #3
Green Lantern Corps #40
Green Lantern Corps #41
...

I know this means that some minute details will be read out of order, but the narrative structure is more intact. It's better this way, I promise.

However, my decision to read comics in this way requires SO MUCH MORE WORK. I have to wait until a story line is essentially over to slice up the reading orders that people come up with (often resulting in the spoilage of key story beats) and painstakingly reconstruct the plot in a way that is more digestible.

I wonder if it's even worth it.

(no subject)
adammcdorman
I have to answer this "Pause and Reflect" question for . I thought it might be interesting to develop my answer publicly.

The high school years are often said to be the “best years of your life” Do you agree with this assertion and why? If not what could and should be done to change the high school experience?

Personally, high school was far from the best years of my life. Of course this had much more to do with my interactions with my classmates than the quality of my education. I had to find a challenging balance between my school peers' focus on academic success and my friends who spent their weekends playing music. I had the distinct privilege of experiencing a sense of community while observing some from of adult life with all of its difficulties and complexities. This revealed a growing disparity between what I wanted my life to be and the microcosm of high school.

In retrospect, I wouldn't change any of it. An integral part of the high school experience is socialization. I suppose that it is possible to change the experience for the better, but it would be more likely to upset the delicate balance that makes American students so "well rounded".

(no subject)
adammcdorman
Lately, I've been reading just about any comic books that I can get my hands on. It's kind of a new thing for me. It started with me getting interested in Watchmen back in the early days of February and shortly thereafter, spiraled out of control into something closely resembling obsession.

With Watchmen (the book... not so much the movie) having piqued my curiosity in the medium, I decided it would be best to consult some experts as to what to read next. So I went to the forums.

Amidst the slightly confusing cacophony of varying opinion I decided to take a look at Marvels by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross. I enjoyed every single page of that book. I loved the fact that Busiek's story revolved not around super-people but around a regular guy who makes a living off of photographing the "Marvels". Of course, Ross's artwork is stunning and really captures the feel of the story.

After that, I wasn't really sure what to read. I ventured carefully into my local comic book shop, Kokomo Cards & Comics, where I stumbled upon Marvels: Eye of the Camera and Astro City, both of which feature awesome stories by Kurt Busiek.

Meanwhile, I found that forum-posters seemed to have someone of an agreement as to the awesomeness of Batman: Year One by Frank Miller. I obtained a copy of this and digested this even more quickly than I had Marvels.

Shortly thereafter, I started reading Walking Dead, which drew me in with its zombie craziness. I burned through about 60 issues of this comic (conveniently borrowed from the internet) before I realized that the story could never find a resolution apart from the depressing sense of hopelessness that the survivors feel. I stopped reading this, and looked to some superheroes to lift my spirits.

It was around this time that I heard about a highly anticipated mini-series called Flash: Rebirth by some guy named Geoff Johns. I figured that I should give it a read, and I picked up the first issue from my local shop. Knowing very little about the Flash, I had no trouble jumping into the story (after consulting Wikipedia as to why Barry Allen had died in the first place).

The aforementioned consultation with Wikipedia prompted me to dive headlong into the history of the DC Universe, where I discovered the origin of nearly every major DC event in the last 20-plus years: Crisis on Infinite Earths. I took my time reading through this, in part because of its importance and in part because it was just really confusing. Apparently, this confusion was the product of a highly unorganized continuity that had existed until the time of it's publication in 1985 (the 50th Birthday of DC Comics).

And apparently, it was here that DC hooked me. I meant to get into some Marvel stuff (because that's where I started back when I read Marvels), but I never got around to it. I went on to read more DC stuff.

It was a combination of the nostalgic feeling of this old Crisis on Infinite Earths book and a growing interest in anything written by Geoff Johns that inspired me to take a look at Green Lantern. Waaaaay back when I was young enough to have a favorite color, I loved the Green Lantern and was fascinated by the symmetry of his battles against his yellow ring-slinging arch enemy, Sinestro. And while I could have jumped into the Green Lantern continuity at the beginning of Johns's run, I went way back to the old stories: Emerald Dawn, Emerald Twilight, and on to Zero Hour and Final Night.

So for the last couple of months, I've been furiously reading back issues of Green Lantern (up through Green Lantern: Rebirth and The Sinestro Corp. War), hoping to catch up to the current issues leading up to the Blackest Night event that is about to take place.

And that brings us to the present. Sorry if that was boring to read.

(no subject)
adammcdorman
I recently signed up for classes: 15 credit hours. That could prove to be a challenge, or it could be easy. I have no idea. In any case I'm on track to get my second bachelor's degree. Hopefully, this one will be worth something.

Perhaps, I'll be able to get a part-time job sometime before then. I blame the economy. However, having a college degree makes getting a job at McDonalds impossible.

In the midst of this transitory state of life, I've been reading a ton of comic books. I'm not sure how I managed to make it 23 years without stumbling across at least a few good comics. Quarter-life delays aside, I'm pretty much obsessed.

(no subject)
adammcdorman
The classified section in the newspaper isn't at all what it used to be. Thumbing through the pages, I find that, where employers once asked for prospective workers, people now reduce their skill sets to a short paragraph of shorthand and pray that someone wile take notice... that someone will offer them work.

I can read through the advertisement to their desperation. I feel it.

(no subject)
adammcdorman
I'm a whole album kinda guy, and she listens to her iPod on shuffle.

Obviously such a conclusion is an oversimplification whose only purpose is illustrate how it might be difficult to relate. I'm taking in the big picture as best I can, while she's defining the patterns of life in much smaller units.

Let's return to the metaphor. If your favorite Yes record has a song on it that you don't care for, you can do one of a few things:

  • Learn to appreciate the interesting parts of that song.

  • Recognize that the song is simply part of a greater whole that you enjoy and deal with it.

  • Decide that the song ruins the album for you and throw it into the garbage.

It seems simple enough when you translate the more convoluted parts of life into something more manageable. I've made my decision (and made it easily): I'll take the good with the bad. I want to hear the whole record.

(no subject)
adammcdorman
According to Maclolm Gladwell, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery at any particular craft. If this 10,000-hour rule is true, then I must be no more than one-quarter of the way to competency as a writer. Apparently, this could be accomplished by spending 20 hours at work every week for 10 years.

I've got ideas that are bigger than my skill-sets.

Lea claims that I dabble in so many artistic projects that I never manage to make any significant advancements in any of them. She's probably right. If I'm going to make any progress, I need to learn how to focus my efforts.

I'm going to do it!

(no subject)
adammcdorman
How and where do I begin to describe 2008? It seems to have come and gone so quickly that I can scarcely recall it even though it’s only a few weeks departed. Two thousand eight, I hardly knew thee!

I welcomed the New Year among friends, watching Dick Clark countdown in Brad Erb’s living room. As has always been my tradition, I had great hope for things to come in the year.

The first order of business: graduate with college. For the 5 months that followed, I focused almost singularly on the matter of finishing my collegiate education with the highest GPA that I could manage. Of course, this effort was not without its consequences: any singular focus comes at the expense of any other important parts of life. That final semester proved to be a great strain on my relationship with Lea. I was busy learning about systems analysis when I needed to be learning about her, and this forced us to get serious about staying together when so many of our peers were just having fun being together.

On April 2nd, 2008, my grandmother, Judy Simmons, died. Coming from a young family, this was the first time that I had ever been profoundly effected by death. Grandma Judy was a lovely woman who was loved by everyone who had the pleasure of knowing her.

In May, I finally graduated. I proudly accepted my Bachelors degree in Computer and Information Technology and continued my, thus far, unsuccessful search for gainful employment. The search grew increasingly frustrating as the demand for C&IT graduates seemed to lie mostly in the area of software development, an area I had almost no training in.

At the end of June, I interviewed for Junior Software Developer position at Kaplan Compliance Solutions. The interview went decently well, but I left fairly certain that I would not get the job. The next week, as I was preparing to leave for the Cornerstone Festival, I got a call from Levi at Kaplan Compliance Solutions: I got the job. About a week later, I returned from Cornerstone quite ill and immediately began my career at Kaplan. My job would be to bandage the poorly designed software I had ever seen. Straight away, I knew that I (having no understanding of how to program) was in way over my head.

The path that I had chosen when I was in high school ended here: a job that I had no idea how to do. What’s worse is that I had no desire to learn how to do it. My boss, Rick Bowman, and his boss, Sameer Bhargava came to my cubicle on a daily basis to tell me that I was doing a horrible job and that as long as “Kaplan paid the bills”, I needed to put my work at top priority. Forced once again into a singular focus, my relationship with Lea was pushed to its limits. I hated my job. And as the strained economy put pressure on Kaplan, Kaplan put pressure on me.

The one good thing that took place during those months was my unexpected reunion with My Early Travels. Every few weekends, I could look forward to having my creative spirit renewed by rocking out.

Then one Friday afternoon Rick entered my little gray box and handed the company Blackberry to me. He informed me that my weekend would be dedicated to babysitting the company's servers. Then, I informed him that I was going to be out of town for most of the weekend playing shows with the band. He took the device away, but informed me that we would converse about my future on the following Monday.

As promised, Monday found me in a conference room with Rick and Sameer. Sameer looked at me and said: “if you want to play in a f***ing rock band, quit your f***ing job and join a f***ing rock band.” So I quit.

For the next month, I struggled to find some kind of transitory employment in the face of the dismal economy while trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. My experience at Kaplan had been negaitve enough to cause me to reconsider my future. The literary seeds that had been planted my life way back in high school had blossomed into an intense desire to find some way to make a living as a writer.

Meanwhile, I managed to get a seasonal position at Best Buy, which turned out to be a decent temporary job, which held the potential of becoming a long-term job.

One evening, I flippantly asked my mother what I should do with my life. She replied plainly: “you should become an English teacher.” The simple statement instantly struck me as a wonderful idea. I had direction. I would go back to school as soon as possible and pursue my future, and in the interim I would continue to work part-time, which would allow me the time to refresh my somewhat ill-attended relationship with Lea. A long-lost excitement return to fill my heart, and flowed out into nearly every other part of my life.

And so the year wound to a close, allowing 2009 to enter quietly.

(no subject)
adammcdorman
I rejoined My Early Travels with what was probably too little consideration as to the effects and repercussions of such a decision. My practicality would have taken over with loud warnings of time lost and impending hectic schedules. I blazed past any woeful forethought just in time to squeeze in one and one half practices before my first show. It was good fun.

Already they tell me that I've re-energized the band. However, I'm quite certain that they've got it backwards: I believe I'm the one whose spirits have been lifted.

I had most recently found it so easy to lose track of myself amidst the 40 hours I lost every week in efforts to repair 5-year old computer code in a barren gray cube. It seemed like the next several decades would be walled in by a mind-numbingly uninteresting career.

In any case the band has provided much-needed space for the free spirit that's left in me to run free and be creative. But as with all things, there is something that must be offered up in return for this great privilege. I'll be sacrificing more of what little time I have to spend with my lovely girlfriend.

Speaking of my lovely girlfriend: we are quickly closing in on one year of being a couple. I'm often very surprised that I've lasted this long in a relationship. She's been most patient with me, which is utterly necessary in order to be with me (feel free to ask anyone I've ever dated... most of whom I've offered sorely-needed apologies to).

We've nearly come full circle. I'll be looking forward the next year I can spend with her.

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