Life Fails, Life Lessons

Life Fails, Life Lessons

LifePay for a college education. Read a self-help book. Find a mentor. There are many ways that we look to others in an attempt to improve ourselves. However, I believe that sometimes we are our own best teachers. No, I’m not saying we have some innate ability to know how to do something without any instructions. Instead, we tend to be experts at screwing up really badly, and if we take the time to examine what we did wrong, we can learn not to repeat those mistakes in the future. One of those key moments for me was way back when I was attending elementary school, and it’s a lesson I never forgot.

In 5th and 6th grade I participated in our school district’s gifted program, a program targeted at advanced students that gave them an opportunity for study beyond the regular classroom lessons. In my school system, gifted students were picked up from their local schools once a week and bused to a common campus where they chose various courses in subjects that interested them. Some of the topics I remember studying were the Olympics, the Oregon Trail and westward expansion, and chess. I don’t remember much about those days, but I do remember one special assembly.

One of the offered classes that I didn’t take was film. As part of the class, each student had to write and produce a filmstrip. (For those of you who might not know, a filmstrip is similar to a movie, but the story is told through several still pictures that correspond with an audio track of narration and dialog.) Near the end of the semester, all the students were gathered together for a presentation of several of the class projects. The filmstrips that were shown were made by students that met on a different day of the week, so none of the little producer/directors were present at the showing. That turned out to be rather fortunate.

This little film festival went along without a hitch and we were all entertained until the final strip was shown. All I remember about this strip is that it was a story that featured a crow… and that it wasn’t very good. I don’t remember exactly all the reasons it wasn’t good. In fact, the only thing I specifically remember is that the story referred to the crow as a “black” crow, but the crow on the screen was colored yellow. I can assure you, however, that the overall quality of this production left a lot to be desired by the reaction of several of my classmates who were very vocal about their opinions. Groans and moans and statement such as, “That was really bad!” filled the room. I remember saying, “Even I could do better than that!”

Then the hammer dropped.

The teacher turned on the light, promptly shushed the room and began to lecture us. She told us of the hard work the film students put into these projects and, since no one in the room had taken the class, what we saw was more than any of us did. Furthermore, she was very disappointed at our response, and actually shocked at one student who she thought “knew better.”

That student was me.

No, she didn’t call me out by name, but that didn’t matter. I knew right away that I was the intended target of that barb. You see, I was kind of a teacher’s pet in those days. I wasn’t the brown-nosing kind who brought the teacher apples and put on a sickeningly sweet facade whenever I felt I would be noticed. No, I was just a good student who did his work, didn’t cause any trouble, was helpful, and usually considerate of others. Of course the teacher was speaking about me. Even if she wasn’t, it didn’t really matter because, in my mind, she was scolding me personally. Needless to say, I felt ashamed. I’d like to say I apologized, but I didn’t. I just kept quiet, exited the room and took the bus back to my school.

But I never forgot. It would be almost a dozen years later before I acknowledged God and His plan for my life, but I know now that back in that instance He was already teaching me important lessons about being considerate towards others and their feelings (Titus 3:2, Phil. 2:3-4, 1 Cor. 10:24). Ever since that day I have been more careful about what I say and how I say it. I don’t avoid criticism when it is warranted, but I do try to point out positives to balance the negatives, or be careful to – at least – not use harsh words or a hostile tone. I’ll admit, there are still many times I mess up. My loving wife is quick to point this out when she notices. The point, however, is that I am aware of this fault in me and because I’m aware I can try to do something about it.

That is what I mean when I say we need only look to ourselves to learn some of the greatest lessons in life. I could tell you about several other times in my life, most of them rather embarrassing. Like that one New’s Year’s Eve that involved a high school crush, a little too much champagne, a dead rose, an ill-conceived poem and a series of events that could have gotten me arrested for stalking. But that is another story for another day. Or possibly never. Now that I think about it, it’s something I’d really rather forget.


Quick Shots for 08/11/2017

Quick Shots for 08/11/2017

When asking someone to adjust the air conditioning, telling them to “Turn it up,” isn’t good enough. Not everyone has the same A/C speak. It’s best to specify if you want it cooler or warmer. If you don’t, you might find your Florida home nearing 100° after you ask your daughter, “Please turn up the air.”

They need a topic filter on Facebook and Twitter. I’m very interested in a game journalist’s opinions on video games. I’m not necessarily interested in their opinions on politics.

I saw a new commercial this week. It opens with a shot of an elderly woman gazing upon her newborn great granddaughter. Then, we are treated a montage of scenes from the great grandmother’s younger years which include her as a small child running to hide in a cabinet during a WWII bomb attack, her a year or two later approaching a U.S. Immigration counter, and her working as a young woman in a sweat shop sewing clothes. While we watch, the woman tells of the struggles she’s endured and the obstacles she overcame to give her great granddaughter opportunities she herself never had.

By way of prediction, I ask my wife, “So, is this a commercial for Tampax… or University of Phoenix?”

Guess what?

University of Phoenix! FTW!!!!

(I really wanted it to be Tampax.)

“Pedal Stool!”

… that one’s for Deborah

When I was involved with the GadgetHovel Toddcast I used to tweet about opportunities to receive or win free video games. Now that I have started my own blog, I am continuing that tradition. Just follow Half Air’s Twitter Feed for information on how you can get hooked up with some great (and not so great) game codes, as well as be notified when something new posts on the site.


Wednesday Gameplay

Wednesday Gameplay

Last year my son informed me that he wanted to watch me play Tales From The Borderlands. I was okay with that, except for one thing. Andrew lived with his mother, was currently attending college and had a part time job. He just wasn’t around enough to see me play a story-based game that had a playtime of 10-13 hours. There was only one solution I could think of: I was going to have to record all my gameplay and post it on YouTube.

So that’s what I did. I had never recorded any gameplay prior to that. In fact, I wasn’t even sure I had a computer at the time that could do a decent job. Still, I gave it a shot and now, nearly fifteen episodes later, I have come to love recording and editing gameplay videos. I learned a lot over the past year (especially when I had major audio/video sync issues) and knew that I wanted to do more, so when I was developing Half Air I knew gameplay videos were going to play a role.

Starting next Wednesday, I will be posting a weekly gameplay session. It is my plan to avoid or filter excessive adult language and sensuality, as well as violence that I feel is too over the top or unnecessary. I am aware, however, that that is a judgment call and my judgment may not always be the best. So, to account for this, at the beginning of each video I will give you a brief description of what you can expect to see so that you can make your own decision.

But like I said, that will start next week. In the meantime, I will share with you a previously posted video of me playing Goat Simulator. This video is G-rated to, at the worst, PG, so there should be nothing of concern . . . unless you have a fear of goats. Also on my personal channel, you will find the previously mentioned Tales From The Borderlands videos. Be aware, however, that the video is posted without any content editing and some of the dialog does get a bit strong from time to time. Watch at your own risk.

What Is Half Air?

What Is Half Air?

Is the glass half full or half empty? It is the quintessential personality test. If you say the glass is half full, you are an optimist. If you say it is half empty, you are a pessimist. I was always a bit different. I liked to be a smart-aleck and would answer, “Actually, half is water and half is air. The glass is really filled all the way.”

From Bad Idea T-Shirts

Now, this observation isn’t unique to me. Several years ago I found a t-shirt company selling shirts depicting a half filled glass with the text, “50% Air, 50% Water, Technically the Glass is Completely Full.” Needless to say, I promptly bought one of those shirts for myself.

I like the full glass explanation because I see it as analogous with respect to two aspects of my life. The first is a positive outlook. I try not to worry about things and simply take life as it comes. In fact, my wife sometimes is afraid I might be too positive and ask, “Aren’t you concerned?” when I am involved in something that has the potential to go wrong. I’ll admit, however, that this positivity can be fleeting, because there are many other times that same wife will say, “You’re always so negative,” as I’m listing all the reasons I/we shouldn’t do something. But in the end, I’ve seen people worry about things they have little control over or focus primarily on the “worst case scenario,” and I would rather think positively and enjoy life.

The second analogy refers to my Christian faith, my relationship with God, and His influence in my life. The glass represents my life. The water represents me. The air represents God. The analogy works on several different levels.

For starters, the air represents God in several ways. I’m sure there are skeptics reading this who are saying, “Of course it does, because God is nothing but thin air!” But the Christian knows that God exists and influences every aspect of life even though He cannot be seen. (Rom. 1:20) Similarly, the scientist knows that air exists of various molecules, has weight, and can affect its surroundings even though it cannot be seen. In fact, air, in the form of wind, is a classic analogy for God. Even though you can’t see the wind, you know it exists because you can see and feel its effects.

Another way air represents God is that it is necessary for life. You can survive about three weeks without food and about three days without water, but deprive yourself of air and you will last about 3 minutes. Similarly, God sustains every living creature every minute of the day, regardless of whether they believe He does or not. The entire universe, in fact, is ultimately sustained by the will of God. (Heb. 1:3, Col 1:17) No God, no life.

Let’s get back to our glass and explore how it represents the relationship between God and the Christian. This is first uniquely seen in the glass’s chemistry. The air is primarily oxygen which, as you might remember from school, is made up of two oxygen molecules. (I know what some of you are saying right now, but I’m not trying to write a science textbook here. I’m just keeping it simple.) The water is made up of two molecules of hydrogen and one molecule of oxygen. This means that a part of what makes up the air is also found in the water. Similarly, God lives within the Christian in the form of the Holy Spirit. So, it can be said that a part of God can be found in the Christian.

Next, the water in the glass is finite. It exists in a measurable space bordered by the glass on its sides and bottom, and by the air on top. The air fills up the rest of the glass, which, if you remember, represents an individual’s life. However, unlike the water, it is unlimited since the top of the glass is open and the air in the glass is supplied by a much larger body of air that surrounds everything and fills many other glasses. In the same way, man is very limited while God is infinite and omnipresent. I can go on, but I believe you get the picture.

So, how does this relate to my blog and what can you expect from Half Air? For me, a full life (or full glass) consists not just of my actions and desires, but also God’s actions and desires for me, and not just on Sunday mornings, but every day of the week. Therefore, all I do, say, and think is done within the context of what God has revealed in His Word, the Bible. The same goes for Half Air. Ideally, I want everything I post to be positively influenced by scripture. This doesn’t mean I will beat you over the head with the Bible through sermons, admonitions, and apologetics. Instead, it means that the Bible will be “in the room” while we talk, and every now and then I might tap you on the shoulder with it. How this translates is that while many of my posts may contain little to no specific mention of my faith, that faith will still be guiding what and how I write. However, every now and then I will post something that spotlights my faith, bringing it to the forefront (such as this post). When I do it’s because I learned or read something that I want to share, or I really feel the need to comment on a current issue or event. I expect that the exact balance between the two will shift as time goes by and I follow where I feel led.

My goal with Half Air is to post at least three times each week. One post will be a long form article that will share a story about what’s going on in my life, tell you about a book I read or movie I saw, or just offer my thoughts on a particular topic. Another post will be what I call “Quick Shots”, which is a compilation of several smaller observations or comments, 2 to 4 sentences in length, representing thoughts I have had that don’t require a full article. I expect this will be an end-of-the-week post, acting as a weekly wrap. The final type of post will be a “Let’s Play” style video of me playing and commenting on some video game.

Why a gameplay video, you might ask? While you can read a more detailed explanation in the “About” section, the simple reason is that I want Half Air to be a place where I can share all aspects of my life, and gaming is a big part of that. These videos will feature a wide variety of games that deal with everything from adventure to action to storytelling. Sometimes the games may deal with mature topics. However, my desire is to steer clear of posting anything with excessive adult language or sensuality. Additionally, while violent actions are a big part of many video games, especially first or third person shooters, I will attempt to avoid games or scenes that I feel go over the top with unnecessarily excessive violence. I realize all this is a judgment call on my part, but I will open each video with a screen explaining what you can expect to see so you are not surprised (i.e. “This game involves a large yellow pie that eats dots. Also, it has a supernatural aspect as the main villains are ghosts.”).

That’s pretty much it. As I mentioned before, I’m looking to present as positive a blog as I can and I hope it will be something others will enjoy reading. So I invite you to come back often to take this journey with me, as we live a life that may be half water and half air, but always completely full! (Col 2:9,10)