Curling

Curling Interview 2

I caught up with Liberty, Maine resident Brian Morris. The 38 year old club curler was enthusiastic about the sport he loves, and he even hopes to compete in the 2018 Olympics*. *Okay, I hope he competes in the 2018 Olympics.

Here’s what he had to say:

Ian Campbell: When did you become interested in curling?

Brian Morris: I first became interested in curling during the 2006 Olympics. I had never heard of it before that. We moved to Maine a year and a half ago and I found out that there was a curling club about 25 minutes away. I went to a “Learn To Curl” event at the club in Jan 2013. I joined the club this fall as a full member.

IC: What do you find appealing about the sport?

BM: There are many aspects of curling that make it a great sport. I enjoy anything that involves strategy and curling is all about strategy. And, the strategy is not only for this shot, or this end, but for the whole match. I also like that everyone on the team is involved and everyone’s role is equally important. An appealing aspect of playing is that there is very little downtime. You are either working on getting your stone down the ice, strategizing about your next shot, or watching how your opponents stones are going so you can use that information for your next shot. I also like that it can be adapted so that anyone can play. At my club we have curlers from 18 years old to 75.

IC: Why do you think curling is mocked by many Americans, and not regarded as a “real” sport?

BM: First of all I don’t think people understand it, and as Americans what we do not understand we fear. Secondly, we think “how hard can that be?” Let me tell you, if you give it your all, you will be sore the next day.

IC: How difficult is curling?

BM: It really depends on what you are doing at the moment. When delivering the stone, judging how much weight you are throwing is extremely difficult. The difference in power between ‘hogging it’ (not making it over the hog line) and throwing it all the way through ‘the house’ is a very fine line. When sweeping, it is very physical and tiring. Usually you have to sweep the hardest when you are close to the house. Of course by that point your arms are burning. You are also trying to judge the weight that was thrown so you can communicate that to your skip so that he can make a judgement call on whether you should sweep or not. Then there is the difficult job of ‘reading the ice’. The ice is pebbled for every game. It is always different. And it can change throughout the game. In some places the stone will curl more. In others it will run straighter. Really the whole game is difficult but that is why I like it. It is a real challenge, mentally and physically.

IC: What do you think is the future of curling in the US?

BM: I think it will continue to grow on the club level. As people discover there are clubs near them I think they will give it a try and the appreciation of the sport will continue to grow. There are new clubs being opened every year.

IC: What do you think about USA’s poor showing in Sochi?

BM: I think some things need to change. Right now club teams compete against one another to go to the Olympics [in a sort of playoffs]. So you might not necessarily be getting the best players on one team. Other countries cherry-pick their best players for an ‘All-Star’ team–you see this in Olympic hockey and basketball for all countries. The other problem is that US curlers are not sponsored until they qualify for the Olympic team. Until then they have to work jobs and curl in their free time. We will never be able to compete on the international level while this is the case.

IC: Will you compete in the 2018 Olympic games?

BM: No. I will not have time to devote to curling to gain the experience necessary or to travel to the numerous events required to gain national exposure.

Author PicIan Campbell is a writer that contributes to We The Campbell’s regularly. He hasn’t graduated anything except if you count kindergarten and grades 1-8, and he is still able to play sports, unlike most sports writers published in Sports Illustrated.

Knights Shutout On Way Out

4679On Saturday, the Canandaigua Knights Midget team was eliminated from the playoffs in round one. The talk leading up to this match was that Canandaigua would be eliminated easily, but they refused to go down without a fight.

The Knights were seeded sixth, playing the Tri-County Eagles the third best team in the Empire League. History suggested a close match, with a 43.6%* chance of a blowout.(*Rough Metaphorical Math.)

The first contest between the teams this season provided suspense until the very end, with Knights goaltender Ian Campbell fending off a fair amount of shots to hold on to a shutout. 1 – 0 the final score was telling of the amazing defense played by each team, both offenses forcing defensive perfection.

The second go around was more lopsided with the Eagles capitalizing five times on Campbell. All were shots created by passes to the backside. The Eagles’ lateral puck movement sealed the game as they breezed by 5-2.

Going into the third matchup the story was less about the teams skills as their numbers. With injuries to wingers Jack Cutri, and Wyatt Tatakis, the line-up was shaken. To add to the disorientation in the line-up, center Kody Laird, and David Frelier suspended in the last game for fighting. With only eleven skaters slated to show up, would Canandaigua be able to hang with Tri-County’s full roster? [Blaise Michael was not in attendance for undisclosed personal reasons.]

The end of the season wasn’t pretty, another reason the Eagles were favored leading up to the game. In the final regular season game, which team leader Lucas Ruckle called “embarrassing”, the Knights were beaten 8-1 by the Monroe County Eagles. After a thumping the Knights’ confidence was significantly shaken.

“[Man,] Anytime you get beat like that you’re gonna doubt yourself, no doubt,” winger Nicholas Colucci commented.

With that win by the MC Eagles, the Rochester Americans moved to second, and the Knights stayed put in sixth place. They found they were to play the Tri-County Eagles.

Before the playoff game, the Knights had dropped six of seven games, outscored on average 2 to 1. “It definitely gets to you,” says Campbell, regarding the losses. “As a goaltender, you start to over-think all of your movements. You stop trusting teammates to do their job, and everyone’s running around trying to do [everyone else’s] jobs.”

The situation wasn’t bright, with some fans even tweeting their disdain for what they saw as lack of effort. The Knights were feeling the pressure, but, before the playoff game, “I don’t think anyone was doing anything different,” said Assistant Coach Nick van Stralen, filling in for Head Coach Phil Priolo. (Unable to coach due to familial circumstances.) [His son Jared Priolo, a defenseman, also missed the game.] “The guys did a good job ignoring the hype, and stuck to their routines. Colucci was slow dressing, and Trillaud got pumped up with his music. It was business as usual.”

The moment the puck dropped the game was defined. A couple of rushes for both teams, it seemed to be a game of finesse from the Eagles, and hard work from the Knights. A couple of rushes were stymied by both sides, as the game settled into it’s rhythm. “Coach told us before the game we needed to score early,” says Ryan Mack, who led the team in shots. “He also said our forechecking needed to be more aggressive. He wanted to make sure we had short shifts, and just stayed in control of the puck,” Mack says with a smile. Controlling the puck is one of his strengths.

Captain Neale van Stralen was happy with the first period, saying, “Defensively we were solid, Jeff [Frelier] was mixing it up, and we did well offensively, with everyone getting shots. Even Noah [van Stralen]!” he says with a wink at his younger brother. “Without Rog[er Panara] we just didn’t get any real good chances, and they did a great job shutting down Hunter [Goldstin].”

The Knights’ goaltender Campbell was stellar in the first period, looking locked in, always square to the puck, stopping [some unknown amount of] shots.

Going into the second tied at zero was to the Knights advantage says Mack. “… when we huddled during intermission I just told the team ‘Their defense is giving up so many breakaways! Even Timmy [Trost] got one!”–Mack smiles–”Let’s pressure them!’ just trying to get them fired up, you know?”

It was midway through the second period when the first goal was scored by the Eagles. “I feel like I lost the puck a little,” Campbell says. “There were a couple of my D[efensemen] screening me, and actually I didn’t see the guy who came in to jam at the rebound, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to get my leg over in time. Kudos to them; great play.”

The score stayed the same as the game wore on, closing the second with the pace of the game shifting. “In the second, I think things shifted,” Coach van Stralen told the team. “With only three defensemen, we were wearing out.”

The game drifted into the third with Campbell fighting off shot after shot as the offense became steadily one-sided. At the six minute mark Tri-County buried a goal that took all the wind out of Canandaigua’s comeback sails.

“It was an unfortunate goal,” Campbell says. “I just misjudged the guy. I thought he was going blocker-side–I think he thought he was going blocker side, and I gave him a little room glove-side, and he took it. Perfect shot, really.”

With the game practically out of reach for Canandaigua, the game finished mostly in the Canandaigua defensive zone. Tri-County’s  #15 punched in the final goal, adding insult to injury, making it 3-0. “Number fifteen was really bothering me,” Campbell says. “He took a run at Rolfie [Justin Rolfe], and a slash at [Jake] Corey. I wanted to have a go at him after that third goal.”

With the  disappointing loss, Canandaigua can only look forward to next year. “I was talking with Ian,” Lucas Ruckle said, “and we both agreed: Next year is looking good. We’ve got guys getting better everyday on this team, and we’ll only lose three or four guys [after this season], so with the new recruits from Bantam it should be exciting.”

The team finished the regular season 5-11-1, with one playoff loss. A tough season, no doubt, but fun nonetheless. “This is the end of the regular season, so now it’s time to have a little more fun, just playing loose at the tourneys [Big Thaw, NCCYH Steelers]. Time to relax a bit, and enjoy being with the guys.”

With the regular season over, non-league games are the only thing left to focus on for the team. Should be an entertaining last stretch with excellent goaltending, and lots, lots more goals.

Cam Speak

Cam CamCameron sure is a fun person! He’s full of spit and vinegar, too, but mostly he’s full of zest and spunk and… life!

He also says things interestingly, as small people are prone to do.

Here are some Cam Cam word pronunciations that I’d like not to forget!

  • Sugar = SHEE-ger
  • Normal = ner-mal
  • Touchdown = CUTCH-down
  • Almost = all-MISS
  • Pretend = pre-TEM-ber (that is from big sister, Emma) 🙂
  • Her = she’s (he’s allmiss correct…)

I’m quite sure there are many more, but that’s a good start for now. We love it!

Keep up the Cam speak, Cam!

Life and Death

Life and Death are inseparable.

Life is the beginning of struggles to find truth, to live truth. Life is a constant battle between our hearts and our greedy flesh. Life is also the time when we get to experience God’s love.

Death is the end of struggles to find truth, and the end of our constant battle with our flesh. It’s also a beginning. It’s doorway to the choice to live with God, in his unshackled glory, or to live without God, supposedly unshackled to be as we may.

On Earth, Life is judged with certainty. “Life is good,” they say. They say it because Life seems like something we can control. Reality tells us different.

On Earth, Death is judged a certainty. It’s the end from this vantage point, and it’s a sad, evil thing. It’s scary because we know we can’t control it.

From the Other Side, Life is a hardship to be borne. It’s cold, hard, and uncomfortable. It’s scary because we can’t control it.

From the Other Side, Death is a new beginning. There’s a decision which we can control, either on Earth, or on the Other Side. To live with God, or without. Without struggle, or with. With peace, or with pain, without strife, or without calm.

Life is Good.

Life is Hard.

Death is Hard.

Death is Good.

Not a Black and White Issue

racism-workshopIn light of the holiday passed, I thought I’d write out some thoughts on racism.

The first think I’d like to say is that almost every term in the whole of the racist argument is bogus. For example: African-American, White-Hispanic-American, Latin-American. When you are born in America, you assume the title American, no attachments, we’re all americans.

Heritage is a great thing, don’t get me wrong, but in the present, you’re an American with the same amount of opportunity as your fellow American, the naming of groups of people just delves to deeply in to the caste system. We’re all created equal, right?

More bogus terms in the racist argument: Race, and any derivatives thereof.

The problem I have with the word “race” is that it just separates the people. (Dictionary Definition: each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics)

Major divisions? Are you kidding me? Look up Ebony and Ivory, listen to the lyrics. We sing that song, wondering why people can’t stop hating people different than them, and we still use the word “race”? It’s definition shows that it’s meant to separate. It denotes physical characteristics as if we’re animals.

Ah, yes, this species is white, they’re good at being privileged, rich slave-masters that hate on this other species, the black ones that are only peaceful and always the victim. Very, very evolutionist.

I don’t want to get into the politics of the situation, because the issue is much more personal. The word “race”, though, is what causes the entire racism problem.

No, it’s not about the color of your skin. Black, white, yellow, red, it doesn’t matter. Everyone is human. The stark contrast, like black on white, between skin colors is not the focus of this. It’s about one man respecting another. One man treating another as he would treat himself.

The issue isn’t whether or not people with black skin should be equal in America (that’s  already been determined a big fat yes). The problem is that people see black-skinned people as different, and think that because they don’t look alike they’re not actually human.

Dehumanization is causing problems on both sides, and it goes both ways. When people say Blacks, or Whites, they’re referring to their stereotypical image of the other race.

When the argument is removed from a personal relationship with the person/people in question, and it’s turned into a legal battle over wether or not the minority race is being treated equally, a black man can refer to Blacks, as one person. Blacks, in his mind, is a guy that has been beaten down, abused, and mistreated, and someone who he wants to free and allow to flourish. Meanwhile Whites, to him, is a man who takes advantage of the majority vote, and abuses Blacks, shamelessly taking advantage of him at every opportunity, in every arena.

You can’t lump all of the people with black skin into one “race”, just as you can’t do it with white-skinned people. We’re all individual. If I were black, I know I’d want to be known for my personality, a collection of traits that only I possess.

No, the issue isn’t that a long time ago people cared what color you were, nor that a long time ago people beat you, depending on what color you were. It’s not that simple.

The issue is man to man; respect, or disrespect. The issue is that people don’t overlook something as… uh, skin-deep… as skin. The issue is the enmity we have towards fellow men who are precious in the eyes of God, even as we are. The issue is the trespasses made by both sides (sides created by stupid, stupid, stupid politicians) that pit brothers against brothers.

This issue isn’t  clean-cut, as you can see. It’s definitely not black and white, right and wrong.

William Wilberforce, Wow!

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A miracle, according to the New Oxford English Dictionary, is a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.

With that definition, I’d have to say that William Wilberforce’s life was jam-packed with miracles. Left and right you can see divine influence, without too much assumption. The story of a man who had the guts to stand against all of the nastiest people in the country–in the world, really–wasn’t one of glamor, or glory. No, the hardships were extreme, and the consequences dear, but the results are still in effect.

In an attempt to tell of two main miracles in William Wilberforce’s life, I’d have to start at the beginning. He was born into a moderately well-off family, and didn’t want for food or shelter. That leads to the first miracle: Wilberforce was very spoiled, because of his “societal class,” and he grew into a charming party animal. Friends with all, and well-practiced in the art of public speaking, he was geared for success in a life of politics.

As he grew beyond childhood (making beyond ten being a miracle at that time in England) he was sent to his aunt and uncle’s home. They continued his upbringing, and he was converted, during his time with them, to a radical Methodist. At the time that was considered to be, well, radical. The “Methodists,” or “enthusiasts” as they were derisively dubbed, were scorned for their enthusiasm towards evangelical activities. They were considered uncouth by the elite of the culture and society. [Look up George Whitfield] This is miracle number two: Wilberforce, until this point, had lived rather frivolously, due to his significant monetary benefits. He was able to do anything he wanted, and he wanted to have a good time. He was smart but lacked direction. In this section of life God gave him direction. This helped Wilberforce realize the incredibly evil contrast between his life, and the lives of the slaves.

Further into his life, Wilberforce has gained a reputation. He is a witty, charming, and kind politician fighting for the rights of all men, because all are equal. He’s proposed and passed bills to stop public burning, and has reduced the laws punishable by public hanging by nearly half and half again! He’s becoming quite accomplished, but he knows his work is nowhere near finished. Slavery is still rampant at this time.

To properly frame the situation I have to explain a bit. When I say slavery, or racial injustice, you think of the Civil War maybe? The whites in the South? The Triple K? Or the Brown v. Board of Education case?

Take all of those horrendous things and defenestrate them. Now think of the very worst racial injustice you’ve heard of and double, if not triple it. The process is disgusting.

These slaves were stolen from their homeland of Africa and forced to lay horizontally stacked, one upon the other, until you couldn’t fit anymore because of the ceiling. Then, if they weren’t dead at the end of the trip, because of indescribable horrors, then they were taken to fields in America, or in any other colony that the British could use them at, to work until they broke, or died. It was a lucrative trade that many were loath to part with, but at it’s core it was evil, and many sensed that.

Wilberforce fought for years upon years, and slowly chipped away at the massive institutionally accepted evil, and eventually gained some credence. Many of his friends laid their professional lives on the line for his cause, and helped him fight the slave trade. Eventually, after endless trials and underhanded schemes being thrown at them by large corporations (such as the British East India Company, which essentially governed India) Wilberforce prevailed, derailing what at the time was probably the most integral trade in the British Empire.

To correlate everything, I’d like to point out that Wilberforce never would have been so empathetic with the slaves if he hadn’t become a radical Methodist when his mother sent him to his aunt’s. That event alone was life-changing, and -shaping. He was changed from the well-educated, charming ne’er-do-anything-of-import that he was, to a deep thinking and pious man.

He also wouldn’t have been so self-condemning, if he hadn’t had his previous life as a well-to-do British elite.

The implications are astounding, aren’t they? Let’s go step by step, taking a few liberties.

God places Wilberforce into a rich family, Wilberforce grows; he learns academically–earning degrees necessary for a career in parliament–and personally–he develops his personality: wit, charm, and eloquence. Then, Wilberforce throws everything for a loop. He doesn’t have any ambition. Everyone likes him, and he just wants to enjoy life. God says, “No, you’ve got bigger things to do,” and sends him on his way to his Aunt’s by manipulating extenuating circumstances. Wilberforce becomes a Methodist, this leads to the cure of the world’s most deadly disease: slavery.

It’s amazing to see that through one man, God changed the world, taking in stride Wilberforce’s own decisions, and using them for the benefit of the world.

That shows me, more than anything else, God will forgive any sin. Not only that, but he’ll use that sin to the benefit of you, your family, the world?

The possibilities are endless. Luke 1:37, Luke 18:27.

For anyone looking to read more on William Wilberforce, the book that I read is Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas (above). It was comprehensive, as far as I could tell, and well written. And if you don’t want to read a scholarly work such as that, then Wikipedia is open 24/7 🙂

Snow

100_5159High above the world small droplet of water fell, it fell with several other, and as it fell, it was crystalized.

The small piece of snow–beautiful despite the fact that no one could make out its intricate design–was called Mervin. Mervin had been in the atmosphere for a while, waiting for his chance. He knew he was small, but he knew he could make it to the ground with the others. He didn’t worry about that.

As he drifted downwards, Mervin looked around him. There were dazzling SnowFlakes all around him. Each different, with his or her own pattern. Mervin was amazed at all the shapes, designs, and sizes.

“Good luck!” he called, with his small voice, to a strong, square-looking HeFlake. There wasn’t a reply.

“You look great!” he said to a especially intricate SheFlake. She looked at him, and didn’t respond.

Mervin sighed. No one thought anything about him. They didn’t offer any praise, or wish him goodwill. He didn’t blame them, though. Even if they could see him, there wasn’t anything too special about him–he knew–but he didn’t let that discourage him… too badly, anyway.

The Wind was picking up, and he swung Mervin around with the others. Mervin wasn’t effected as much as the Cliques of SnowFlakes—the clusters almost forming larger SnowFlakes—they were more easily blown around. The Wind picked up the speed, and swirled them all around. The Cliques fluttered around in the blizzard, too busy to be bothered. Mervin tried to flutter into one of the Cliques, attempting to join one. He missed all three times.

He was disheartened, but not so much as to derail his happy disposition. The Wind sorted him out, and directed him toward a colder region, and he met up with a whole storm of smaller SnowFlakes. The Wind had started howling at them, and swirling them around in big  gusts. Mervin could just make out the very tips of several pine trees.

Smack!

He stopped suddenly. The wind pressed him up against several SnowFlakes.

“Hi guys! How are you?” he asked excitedly.

“We’re awful! Stuck up here on the tree! We won’t get to do anything fun. We don’t get to take part in snowballs or snowmen. No hope falling on romantic winter strolls! We’re stuck.”

“But, guys, this is an amazing job! You should be thanking the Wind! He trusted you and me enough to give us the job!”

“But what job,” they asked, “are we doing?”

“You’re painting the trees. You help everyone see beauty in the lovable Pines. You let them know there’s a fun side to the pointy solemn Guardians of the Ground.”

A murmur of amazement rippled through the flakes, and the Wind blew another gust, carrying Mervin and some new friends away.

They were carried high in the sky, almost higher than where Mervin had fallen from. Soon the Wind changed,  blowing them down, driving them speedily towards the frozen ground. A group of smaller SnowFlakes—including Mervin—were directed off course by the Wind, and they saw the pretty lights of a small town.

Mervin was getting excited. He couldn’t wait to see where the Wind put him; what his job would be. Being the smallest snowflake, Mervin was ahead of the pack. He was able to see that there was no snow in the small little town. No snow! Just bitter cold. Mervin’s whole body felt warm.

Well, as warm as a piece of ice can feel without melting.

He quickly checked his emotion and left the rest to the wind. Mervin hoped to be caught, but he couldn’t see any people close to him. He tried to forget about it, and let the Wind do it for him. He knew the Wind would put him in the best place.

Mervin neared the ground, nearer and nearer he came, and, astonishingly, he landed. Stuck in between a small rock and the road, he was stopped.

“What?” he said. “This is it? That’s all?” Mervin tried to think positively, a strength of his, but he couldn’t see anything good about this. He was on the ground, cold and alone, but worse than that, no one could see him.

He sighed, accepting his lot. But the Wind wasn’t finished. A rush of air came from nowhere and blew Mervin straight up. The wind stopped; it was completely gone. Mervin floated downward, lazily drifting side to side.

Mervin knew that the Wind had everything in his hands now. Mervin decided to just let him take over. He spread himself as wide as possible, and then he closed his eyes.

Drifting, fluttering, sailing. Mervin heard the gasp of a little girl.

“Mommy! Mommy!” she squealed. “The first snow!”

Mervin smiled as he landed in her hand. The Wind had done it again.

God.

Picture 1God.

The word itself causes conniptions in many circles. Descriptions vary. Relationships vary. Opinions regarding the sacredness of God vary. Love and acceptance of God varies.

One thing remains the same though. God. He never changes, has never changed, will never change. He will always love us. He will always remain, even when our earthly bodies have passed.

God doesn’t vary.

But I was just thinking about God’s enormity. He’s huge. He created an infinite space we aptly named “Space”.  Yeah, infinite. His power is unbelievable. He’s changed sticks into snakes, theoretically by reorganizing the atoms. He could have just created new atoms. He could have preformed an optical illusion. Who knows!!! His wisdom is beyond comprehension. If the old are wise, God is _______. There are no words for his wisdom. He designed a strategy to beat Satan that involved sacrificing his son. He knew exactly who and what he needed, and when he needed them/it to do something or happen. He orchestrated the biggest comeback in history, otherwise known as the Resurrection.

God is amazingly huge and powerful.

Then I thought about how he inhabits my heart. I know not physically, usually, though there’s something to be said (that I’m not going to say) for the Holy Spirit coming into us, and such like, and so forth. But the point is, God is huge and powerful, but he’s so personal, it’s mind-blowing! He wants to know me. He wants to talk with me! He wants to have a relationship with me! He wants to help me! He knows my heart better than I do!!! He’s the one who gives me a smile through a sibling or a stranger. He’s the one who grew the roses along the road of my life. And he gives me the option to stop and sniff them, when I do he shares the moment with me. When I don’t he helps me see the rose and know that he’s still with me.

God is incredibly personal.

I don’t think I’ll ever grasp the entirety of the love that God has for me. I don’t think I know as much as I’ll know later in life. I don’t even think I know five percent of the love. Scratch that. I don’t think you can put percentages on an infinite thing, right? (Ugh, math.) So it’s at least clear to me that if he can forgive me my “trespasses” there’s got to be a whole lot of love for me.

God loves me. (That’s amazing, by the way.)

Then there’s the story of Noah. Now, understand this: I wasn’t there when all the people were abusing their free will, and God made the decision. But I can imagine him being angry. Maybe at first with himself, and then the beautiful people he’d created. Can you imagine the colors you paint, the words you write, the peanut butter you spread, standing up and telling you how to do what you’re doing. The picture wouldn’t be beautiful anymore. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Satan probably enjoyed the desecration and chaos, but God didn’t.

Then his anger would turn to sadness as he realized he needed destroy all of the ruined beings and the earth. Revising a masterpiece (or what you think is one) is never easy. Something you’ve poured yourself into, only to find it’s not right–or perfect–is so disappointing. I can see him pleading with each soul. Knocking on the door of the dead consciences. Begging them to reform. Then realizing what he already knew: They were gone.

God made us in his image. I think our emotions are just shadows and reflections of God’s extraordinary emotions.

Continuing with the flood thread: Can you hear God ordering the waters to come up through the ground and down from the skies, and just crying, adding to the floodwaters.  Sobbing as the people and animals drowned. Wincing as every life is extinguished, groaning as his beautiful trees and flowers and grasses are muddied and choked by the flood. I can see Wisdom up there in heaven consoling him. And God, suddenly realizing he can’t suffer like that again, creating the Rainbow.

God is graceful.

Where do emotions fit into a steady, unchanging God? How does he rule a world full of sin, death, and pain. It’s hard for someone as stubborn and arrogant as me to understand this. I know that he knows best, but… no buts.

God knows best.

Darkened

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I’ve recently been able to reflect upon myself, my writing, and I. I just pulled up some old files that held my  books and stories from years gone by. By no means am I old, but I do have a history, and in that history I wrote several small books, some complete, some incomplete, some lost in the cyber-abyss.

I re-read a few with a happy smile at the lack of punctuation and clarity. I struggle to remind myself what I was saying in certain sentences, but I laugh at my silly style of humor. I recollect the books that I was reading at the time, and I see the themes and phrases reflecting some of them. I grin when the story goes through the plot twists I vaguely remember installing. Then in the end I sigh and wish everything was so happy.

I dug around the bank of old computer files for another story. Sadly I only had half of the original draft. It was still entertaining because of the lack of quality. The plot was humorously flawed, and also hilariously complex. I can’t remember the half of it (and not just because the half of it was missing), but I loved seeing the difference from the previous book. In comparison I could see darker themes creeping in, and more complex characters evolving.

I saw growing. Just as I, a person, am growing, my stories are growing. For better or worse we’re both changing.

Then I compared the older stories to the work of fiction I’m currently writing. The contrast was stark. Firstly my plots were much more complex, but also coherent and cohesive. Secondly, my characters show life of their own, and also have real problems and real solutions. The stories have become real, and they convey the themes I find myself conveying. The theme that is currently being conveyed, wether I like it or not, is really just failure. Failure.

I’m not entirely sure why, but with the story I was writing I’ve not been able to find a happy ending. When I play around with the endings they always come full circle and fall back to the original ending of failure. It’s a spectacular ending (though not written in its entirety), but I did notice that’s not the ending Ian of 11 years would write. Or even Ian of 12 years.

Through a little virtual retrospection, I discovered that everything was a little darker. My stories, I realized, were slowly becoming darker and darker. I guess reality does that. Living life in a broken world is hard, crushing, and depressing. Everything–everything–is broken beyond earthly repair. Through exposure to “real” life a process of darkening occurs. Seasoning, as someone put it.

It’s sad, yes, but part of life. The devil broke the world with sin. Our own sinful nature feeds the brokenness, and lets it manifest. But that’s not the end.

Jesus died on a cross–a brutal death of a person who had done something wrong. He died while he was perfect. Not a blemish. Nails were driven through his wrists and ankles. He was murdered, willingly, to save our sinful souls. Our broken souls. Our darkened souls.

While I may be darkened, I’m still beautiful to him, and this life is not for keeps. I’m just a traveler passing through this earth. I’m thankful that someone gives me a chance at light. Something happy is still to come.

I  have the hope that like the flowers in the spring I will be renewed.

The Perfect Quarterback

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I’ve been having this conversation with my brother a lot. It starts out, “Who do you think is the best quarterback in the NFL?” It usually ends with Alex saying Russell Wilson, and/or Robert Griffin III.

I would like to point out that no quarterback can be perfect, and with that thus pointed out, I would like to attempt to combine the best parts of several of the best quarterbacks to make the perfect quarterback. This quarterback can run and pass. It can read defenses, and make the play to defeat them.

This is the perfect quarterback:

The Head: Peyton Manning. With his eyes dissecting the defense there isn’t a chance for the other team. Manning is the greatest authority regarding plays to beat the defense. With Manning’s knowledge of the game, the quarterback will be able to force defenses to think twice before daring him to run.

The Arm: Tom Brady. With Brady’s arm, the accuracy, and power will be perfect. Tom Brady has proven time and time again, that he can throw the ball to receivers who are draped in defenders. His accuracy extends to the deep ball, and he can drop  the ball into the perfect spot, and  does it on a consistent basis.

The Desire: Russell Wilson. Too short. Will never be able to see his receivers. Cannot. Can’t. No way. Wilson is fired up by all of the criticism and uses it to his advantage. The diminutive quarterback is not afraid to be hit, and always delivers in the clutch. (Excepting of course the last game where he threw the game ending interception.)

The Love of the Game: Tim Tebow. This man wants to do anything he can to help his team win. If that meant long-snapping, he’d do it. But instead he was able to pursue his dream as a quarterback. Built more like a full back though, he did what he was best at to help his team: run the ball. He’s the perfect example of a football player.

The Upper Body: Cam Newton. Cam Newton is a big boy. According to NFL.com Newton is 6′ 5″, weighing 245. I’ve seen rosters and trading cards that have his height at 6′ 6″ (I’ve actually seen 6′ 7″, too). That’s huge. To top it off he’s super strong, too. With Newton’s upper body and core strength the quarterback would be nearly impossible to tackle.

The Hips: Mike Vick. If you’ve ever watched a game that Michael Vick participated in, you’ve seen something special. Vick is a quarterback who takes advantage of a stereotype. He drops back to pass, the receivers are covered, he runs. What makes him special is his ability freeze defenders. Vick has incredible agility, and can shake his hips to fake one way, and then, a millisecond later, he flips his hips and is taking off, leaving the defender in the dust.

The Thighs: Colin Kaepernick. Watching Colin Kaepernick run is a bit comical. First he gets low to the ground and makes a few defenders miss. Then, when he’s in the open field, he straightens up and starts loping, or what looks like loping. Then you see that he’s going really fast. I’ll say two things. Colin Kaepernick has the most powerful thighs of any quarterback, and definitely the longest legs of any quarterback (Excluding Mike Glennon for definitive purposes :-)— isn’t he 6′ 8″?)

Lower Leg Agility: Robert Griffin III. Griffin is quite the athlete. He always reminds me of the few videos I’ve seen of Doug Flutie playing football. His legs, though, are far superior. Where Flutie could run, Griffin has ankle breaking cuts, and change of direction skills that are far beyond anything I’ve seen quarterbacks do. Besides that he’s pretty fast 🙂 I made the rule that you can only be in one category. So, Mike Vick is in this category too, just in spirit.

Lower Leg Stance: Drew Brees. Drew Brees is probably one of my favorite quarterbacks, he is soooooo short, but he bounces around in the pocket to see where his receivers are, then he throws the perfect ball to his receiver. The key to his success would have to be his stance. Drew Brees has the perfectest, widest base of any quarterback, it’s not even a contest. Even if you look at Peyton Manning (the perfectionist!), Brees gets lower, and delivers the ball better (according to the prototype of technique; obviously Manning has his own technique, and it works for him).  The stance is really important for Brees because he’s so short. When he bounces around to see over his line, it’s imperative that he lands in that perfect trapezoidal base. That way he can throw right away. It also improves his accuracy, and power. (No, I’m not that smart, I just got all that from watching Sunday Night Football 🙂 I thought it was interesting, though, because it makes perfect sense. At least to me. 🙂 )

Our little Frankenstinian creation doesn’t look pretty, but I’d say it’d get the job done. With all of these attributes defenses would have to double spy on the quarterback (because of the running ability) and that would force the defense into man coverage, with no safety help. That would be easy pickin’s for the perfect quarterback.