Sometimes I get angry

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on November 13, 2009 by bsale

I’ve been told when you become frustrated with a person, situation, or experience, it is best to breathe deep, count to ten, or ‘take a chill pill.’ It has been half an hour of pondering, breathing deep, counting to a thousand, and metaphorically shoving a whole container of chill pills down my throat.

And I am still angry.

As I write this post, I sit in Metro Perc, a local coffee shop. There are many great ‘percs’ about this newfound study spot. It is a pleasant atmosphere featuring short round tables, tall round tables, tall square tables, and even two large, plush, comfortable chairs situated in front of a fireplace (these chairs are also round if you were wanting to know). The high ceilings accent the large windows and the color combination is soul-soothing. They carry Stumptown Coffee – one of Portland’s finest coffee bean roasters – and pastries from another Portland favorite, Nuvrei. Breakfast and lunch are served daily and they have a variety of options to choose from.

What makes this place great, however, is one key aspect. This is what sets this place head-and-shoulders above most every coffee shop I’ve ever been to: they serve Voodoo Doughnuts.

If you have never visited Portland, chances are that you do not have a clue what these delicious delicacies are. But if you are keen to Portland, you have fallen in love with Voodoo time and time again. Voodoo has the most unusual selection of doughnuts I have come across and they make original (and weird) combinations and place them on top.

For example, the Grape Ape. The Grape Ape is a regular raised doughnut with vanilla frosting and grape powder. I bet you’ve never tried that before. Or how about the Dirty Snowball, a chocolate cake doughnut that features pink marshmallow glaze and a ‘surprise’ filling. They even have a doughnut called the ‘No Name.’ It has chocolate rice crispys and peanut butter smeared all over it. So original. Sooo good.

Amidst this large cast of doughnut characters, one has captured my heart…and my taste buds. This drool-initiator and stomach-pleaser is simple. It is a plain raised doughnut with vanilla glaze evenly covering the circumference of the rim. If that’s not enough, they place crushed Oreo pieces on top with careful consideration and spacing. This doughnut is aptly named ‘Dirt.’

Dirt stole my heart a few nights ago and is not letting go easily. Now understand, I have had some dang good doughnuts in my life. There was a stint in ’98 where I only ate Boston Creme Pies during the time my family went on vacation to the New England area, also known as “Dunkin’ Donut Land.” Dunkin’ Donuts is, in my opinion, the best coffee/donut shop in the United States. They have far better coffee than the domination-driven Starbucks and have an enormous selection of doughnuts, depending on the particular shop you visit. I must have eaten, on average, two Boston Creams a day and did not get tired of them in the least. Winchells and Ellers, both Santa Barbara bakeries, had amazing donuts that filled the hungry stomachs of Westmont students and Montecito Covenant Church youth groupers week after week that I also gladly partook in. I’ve even had the infamous Donut Man* doughnuts popular in the San Dimas area. But none of these compare to Voodoo’s Dirt.

So here I am, a few days after enjoying the best doughnut I have ever tasted sitting in the same chair by the fireplace reminiscing about Dirt. When I entered the Metro Perc just moments ago, I passed by the doughnut display case and noticed Dirt was sitting there, waiting for me to delight myself in it. I took my seat across from my girlfriend who was studying and I turned my computer on to join her. Informing her of my plan, I told her that I would sign onto my computer and let it get started. During this time, I would saunter up to the counter and purchase Dirt – a perfect way to begin my study time.

And then this girl walked in. This little girl about the age of twelve that should have been in school with her two friends that were accompanying her. As a future teacher, this upset me as she clearly should be at school in the early afternoon. I don’t care that its Friday nor that it is a beautifully sunny day outside. She should be in school. And then she did the unthinkable: she asked for a doughnut.

My ears perked and my eyes quickly shot over to her as she asked for the Oreo-covered doughnut. I was in disbelief and thought I was dreaming. My jaw fell and I looked to my girlfriend to see if this was really happening. She affirmed me with her concerned eyes and I drew my attention back to the girl. Indeed, she had bought the doughnut. My aspirations for this afternoon were quickly vanishing. The worst part is that she was paying with a credit card. No twelve-year-old girl pays with a credit card, especially when she’s skipping school. Clearly, she had fiendishly stolen her mother’s credit card and was carelessly using it in her afternoon of joyously skipping class. All the while, she was haphazardly crushing my destined meeting with Dirt. Not only did she steal Dirt from me, but she also bought a large, coffee-infused drink that she didn’t finish and probably just bought because it was ‘free.’ Thanks mom.

So my afternoon has quickly turned sour. There is no Dirt in my stomach. There is no homework to be shown. All that has come of this afternoon are dreams gone down the hole and this angry blog post. At least I have the Blazers to look forward to tonight.

 

 

*Thank you, Jacob.

True or False

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 29, 2009 by bsale

True or False: Customers at Trader Joe’s are always right.

Circle your answer and pass your papers to the front, please.

Now let’s discuss why you, and the retail philosophy of the ‘customer alway being right!’ is, in fact, wrong. And stupid.

Here is a story with my thoughts italicized. Although I eagerly desired to voice my mind to this particular customer, I left my thoughts in itaclics and, in doing so, probably kept my job. I will use the name “Cynthia” to refer to the customer.

 

(Cynthia walks up to me. Seemingly in a hissy-fit.)

“Um, excuse me….do you work here?” prodded Cynthia.

Do you see this nametag I’m wearing? How many people do you know that walk around throughout their day wearing a nametag?

“Oh, of course you do,” she answered herself, “You’re wearing one of those shirts. I’m trying to find your pickles.”

Oh, one of those shirts. Well at least they aren’t making me wear a sweater-cardigan-vestie with pumpkin heads every three inches like you’re sporting this morning, Cynthia.

“Yeah, they’re right over here. Let me walk you over to ’em,” I said as I started down toward the ‘pickle section.’

As we stopped and I pointed at the pickles, I could tell that Cynthia either had a sudden bowel movement that forced her face to contort into a weird grimace, or that she was not pleased with our selection of pickles.

“Yeaahhhh, these aren’t the ones,” Cynthia informed me, “Where are your other pickles?”

“These are the only pickles that we’re carrying right now,” I informed her.

“No, no, no. You have other ones,” she corrected me, “I think they’re buttered pickles or something like that.”

She must be thinking about the infamously discontinued ‘Bread & Butter Pickles’ that had been taken off the Trader Joe’s shelves six months prior.

Reacting with as much sympathy as I could, I said, “Oh right, Trader Joe’s no longer carries the Bread & Butter Pickles. They’ve been discontinued and we don’t know if they’ll be back anytime soon.”

“Oh yes, you do carry them,” Cynthia notified me as she continued to impart her all-knowing demeanor upon the situation.

Cynthia, did you hear what I just told you.

“Well, I am just about certain we don’t have any,” I attempted to say rather nicely, “The pickles were a discontinued product that left the shelves before summer began…and that was about six months ago.”

“No, you guys have them,” she again told me. “I know you do, I bought them last week.”

Really. Last week? The only real certainty I believe in is my faith in Christ. However, Cynthia, you are persuading me that human beings are LIARS.

“You bought them last week?” I questioned her as she might be mistaking Trader Joe’s for another grocery store that does sell Bread & Butter Pickles.

“Yes,” she said. “I bought them here last week. At this store. They come in a glass jar and have….”

Blah, blah, blah. You are a liar. There is no feasible way that you bought them here last week. They’ve been off the shelf for at least six months. Cynthia: you are lying to me.

“Um, I don’t know if you bought them here or not but I’m pretty sure we don’t have them right–“

“Oh, so you’re only ‘pretty sure’ you don’t have them?” she asked as she cut me off. “Do you think that you could go look for them for me in the back there?”

Queue the music. “I would do anything for you….”  Thank you, Meatloaf, for giving me inspiration to help this liar of a lady.

“I’ll be right back out,” I said to her as I walked into the freezer.

Knowing fully well that the pickles Cynthia was requesting did not exist and that my time in the freezer was pointless, I stood there and contemplated life. Who was this lady that has damanded a phanton-product? Why could she not believe me – a credible and believable source of information pertaining to Trader Joe’s products? Why did she lie to me? What am I still doing in this rediculously cold freezer?

I walked up to Cynthia knowing that my time with her was just about complete.

All I have to do is politely tell her that there were no Bread & Butter Pickles in the back and she’ll be pleased with the extra effort I put into attemping to locate those darned pickles in the sub-arctic freezer temperatures.

“Ma’am,” I began, “There aren’t any pickles in the back room. Is there anything else I can help you find today?”

“Well you sure came back quick. Did you even look?” she replied.

I’m gunna stuff you in a freezer.

“Yes, ma’am, I looked,” I said. “There aren’t any pickles in our back room.”

“Can you look them up and see when they’re coming in next?” she prodded.

At this point, I really don’t know what else to say. I know she is conversing with me as she responds to words I say. But it doesn’t really seem as if she really understands what I’m telling her. These are the times while at work that I wish I possessed an airhorn so when a customer tried to ask me a question, I could squeeze the airhorn and interrupt their ill-thought-out question. I think it would make a pretty funny video.

“Yes,” I agreed, “I’ll go look them up.”

She followed me over to the computer and stood behind the counter watching as I looked up those precious pickles. Typing in her request to see if any ‘Bread & Butter Pickles’ were scheduled to come in the next week, Cynthia continued to shoot evil glances at me with her eyes.

To inform the reader, a discontinued product will usually have some form of information underneath it, indicating the reason the product was discontinued – slow sales, specific for a certain season, or even conflicts in the cost of producing a product. However, since the Bread & Butter Pickles had been discontinued for over six months, that information didn’t even show up.

“Well it doesn’t seem like we’ll be getting this product anytime soon,” I informed her, worried that she would want to analyze the computer screen and see for herself.

Upon hearing this, Cynthia walked away without saying goodbye.

Goodbye, Cynthia. I really value and appreciate your kindness. I wish we could’ve chatted longer. Especially about that lovely pumpkin sweater you’re wearing.

 

So I’ll give you another try. True or False: Customers at Trader Joe’s are always right.

Circle your answer and turn it in.

The Day I Made America Laugh

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on February 24, 2009 by bsale

So I’m at work one day at the fine establishment that is Trader Joe’s. I had just completed working through my section and had moved on to spot-mopping. Some of you may be unfamiliar with the term “spot-mopping,” which is just a clever little name we give to cleaning up the spots (ie gum, shoe marks, and gunk) on the floor with a lightly dampened mop.

As I was making my way around the store, I heard a man ask my friend, Matt, where the hot dogs were located. Continuing to scrape the day-old gum off the floor, I listened as Matt struggled his way in letting this customer know where the hot dogs were. Thinking to myself, “Matt, come on! You know where the hot dogs are at!” I turned around and saw the reason he was fumbling through his words – it was him – Jim Halpert.

For years I’d seen him on TV and have laughed along with friends at his crazy office antics he pulls on Dwight and the rest of his co-workers. And, now, he was right there! He picked out his Hebrew Nationals and went on shopping, leaving me behind to finish cleaning up the gum.

Digression

What ever gives somebody the brilliant idea of spitting gum out on the floor? But I can tell you that at least once a day, someone will mistake the floor as a trashcan and leave their gum there. What possesses someone to the point where they can’t wait ten seconds to spit their gum out in a trash can? I’ll tell you what possesses someone: evil.

These are the people that will spit their gum out, stake out a spot in the store, and maniacally watch as a fellow human being stomps their foot in the gooey mess and curses into the air at their dumb luck. These are the people who use a restroom, pee on the toilet seat and don’t clean it up. These are the people who sneeze without covering their mouths in the buffet line. These are the people who fart in church and don’t go directly to God and ask for forgiveness. Amazing.

End of Digression

For the better part of the next twenty minutes, I creepily followed the television/movie star around pretending to mop the floor. I felt sort of like a stalker as I was assessing each of the items he and this strange lady were putting into their shopping cart. Ice cream. Pretty normal. Soup. I get that, too! Dried fruit?! Nooo, don’t get that! It tastes like old peoples’ skin if you were to nibble on them!

I decided I was wasting enough time as it was following these two people around…all the while getting paid for it. I put my mop down and headed to the front of the store. On my way up, I passed by one of the managers.

“Alec! Did you see John Krasinski?!” I asked him.

“Who’s John Krasinski?” answered Alec.

“You know, Jim Halpert….from The Office,” I informed him.

“Who’s Jim Halpert? And I haven’t even heard of The Office,” he unabashedly confessed.

Dumbfounded and understandably shocked, I stood there for a second or two and gave Alec the ‘disapproval scowl’ and shook my head. Explaining to him that he was a televesion star who had also been in some movies, he remarked, “So that’s why they were in here taking pictures!”

Knowing that ‘they’ can refer anywhere from Jim Halpert’s parents to pre-teen girls with uncontrolable crushes, I asked who ‘they’ was.

“The paparazzi!” he said.

At this point I don’t know who I was more excited to see – Jim Halpert or the paparazzi themselves! Anyone can see a movie star, that’s old hat. But who can say they have put a face on the paparazzi, the very folks who take distasteful pictures of Hollywood’s finest and print them in tabloids? I poked my head outside the door and saw no one with cameras or anything. The paparazzi are a sneaky people, like modern day ninjas. I give them credit for this.

Coming back into the store, I noticed Jim and this ‘other girl’ entering into one of the checkstands. I make a point here to say ‘other girl’ because she was clearly his girlfriend, however, clearly not Pam. This rocked my world. I felt like I, myself, was being cheated on. How could he do this to Pam? And who was this ‘other girl’?

Bringing myself back to reality, I told myself that The Office is just a TV show and that Jim really isn’t that bad of a person. And, actually, his name isn’t even Jim. As their grocery items were flying through the check stand, I noticed that no one was bagging their groceries. Knowing that I probably won’t ever get a shot like this again, I awkwardly speed-walk over to the check stand and begin placing their ice cream and old peoples’ skin into paper bags.

Mr. Krasinski had his head down playing with his phone as I was him and his ‘other girl’ on the opposite side of the register. Interesting, he’s taller than I thought…and he wears hats. He actually looks good in a hat. And a beard! Never would’ve thought about that. I wonder if he’s contemplated growing it out for the show?

All of these questions (and so much more!) running through my own preteen girl-with-a-crush mentality. Halfway through asking them silly checkstand-banter questions and trying to muster enough courage to ask Jim if, in real life, he was friends with Dwight, I heard a loud noise from behind me.

“You have to get out! Please leave!” shouted Alec near the exit of the store.

I noticed that paparazzi were poking their heads in and snapping some shots as Alec was ushering them out. Taken aback by the noise for a few moments, I turned back to finish bagging and stopped and looked at Jim. He was looking up from his phone at the commotion and noticed me looking at him. Without hesitation or really even thinking, I told him, “I hate when they take pictures of me working.”

Standing there, he looked at me for a second and started to laugh. I blushed like a little girl and continued putting their groceries in bags marveling at my witty comment. Gosh, I’m pretty funny! I don’t even know where that came from! Jim didn’t seem as impressed with my comment as I was and began burying his head in his phone just as quickly as I made him chuckle. So as I finished putting their groceries away, I kindly asked if they needed any help out and left them to bag another customer’s bags.

Midway through packing bags, I looked up and met eyes with Jim one last time. He looked and me and said, “Thanks, I’ll see ya later.” My heart sunk. If ever I have felt like a girl being asked by the star quarterback to the Prom, this was it. Not only did he compliment me and say ‘Thank you,’ but he also said ‘See ya later.’ See ya later!?! Could this be his round-a-bout way of asking me to cameo on his TV show? Possibly!

It has been about two months since this encounter and I have not been contacted in the least bit. No phone call to make a guest appearance on The Office. No text message from Jim asking if I want to catch a movie on Friday night. Not even a visit from him back into Trader Joe’s. My hope in Hollywood stardom has been crushed, as is my trust in people who’ve made it big.

There is a bright side to this story, however. As I began to think about it, I started to have a better outlook to life. In the few short minutes I had with Jim Halpert, I made him laugh. Every week, Jim Halpert makes people laugh. According to the Law of Detachment (if p and [p implies q] then we conclude q), I made America laugh. In just a couple minutes I made one of the funniest people in America chuckle to himself. And every week, he goes out and makes the people of this fine country laugh to their hearts’ end. I really see no way around it – I am one of the funniest people in America. I’m where Jim, when feeling down and lonely, thinks back to the good ‘ol days of TJ’s and remembers his funny friend that made him laugh. I give hope to Jim and, thus, I give hope to America. Maybe even more hope than Barack Obama…

Maybe…

Fun Times at the DMV

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 17, 2009 by bsale

It was brought to my attention in late April (’08 ) that the registration on my car (formerly known as Garp) was soon to expire. Being Mr. Quicken himself when it comes to matters such as this, I delayed renewing my registration until mid-December.

Digression-

Some folks may see this as procrastination at its finest. I disagree. Although I dawdled my way through the better part of half-a-year to renew the registration, I fail to view this as procrastination when there are more pressing issues at hand: rent, food, student loans, starving people in Africa (and Santa Barbara), etc. So, when you look at the matter as a larger picture, it’s not that big of a deal. I’m a big-picture guy. At least that’s my excuse for my procrastination.

End of Digression

Finally mustering up the courage to dish out the money for repairs to see that my car was environmentally friendly, I sauntered into the California DMV with high hopes.

I was taken aback by the amount of people in the DMV not because there were so many, rather, there were hardly any. This was a first for me as usually one expects to spend a significant amount of their day sitting next to a teenage girl who is overly-excited to get her driving permit and begin “life as an independant.” Oh how I wish they knew.

Astonished as I was, I took my ticket and, before I could even take a seat, my number was called. Linda (who had a thick, what I thought to be, Russian accent) was the lady who helped me. I gave her all the information that was needed to renew my registration as she looked up at me more than once and kept saying, “This should’ve been done months ago.”

Yes, Linda, I know.

After we chewed-the-fat about Russia and government jobs while she was inspecting my car, we went back inside for the final touches of the re-registration process. She gave me a few more papers to fill out – which I filled out – and asked me a few more questions – which I answered. She then asked if I had a screwdriver on me. I inanely gazed back at her and responded that, “No, today I am not carrying around my screwdriver. Silly me.”

Linda then handed me a screwdriver from within her desk-drawer with a not-so-amused look on her face. I take time to write about this seemingly insignificant event because this screwdriver was one of the most flamboyantly monsterous objects I have seen in my life – especially when it comes to screwdrivers. I am not a mechanic, but I am fairly certain that this made-for-monster-trucks screwdriver was not going to do anything to my little red car other than easily bash in the windows and make huge dents in side of it.

“Take this screwdriver and replace the license plates, here are your new ones,” Linda said as she handed me over a glossy new pair of California license plates, “And bring in your old ones to surrender when you’re finished.”

My heart dropped. My mind went blank. As I walked out into the parking lot toward my car, I was realizing what was happening: the evil state of California was making me turn in my Oregon license plates. This is a big deal because, 1) Oregon license plates are a lot cooler than California license plates, and, 2) my Oregon plates were personalized “Garp” which aptly gave birth to the car’s name. Thus, I did not want to “surrender” my plates to Linda, the DMV, or California.

Solemnly arriving at my car, I looked at the hubungo screwdriver that was weighing my hand down and at the back license plate. No way is this screwdriver going to fit into those screws. My thoughts were confirmed when I put the screwdriver up to one of the screws and saw it was definately too large. A new thought raced into my head as I was kneeling down by my car: What if I just left the DMV? I already had my new California plates that would make my car legal to drive, and I would get to keep my Oregon plates and not have to turn them in. Even more, I could take home with me a monster-like screwdriver to show off to my housemates and place on my bookshelf with all my bobblehead dolls. Brilliant!

So I left.

However, as most of my ideas come to fruition, I find they are poorly thought out. I was heading to the beach to do some reading when I received a phone-call from a “Restricted Number.” I’ve always been nervous about receiving those phone calls and so much so with this one. I had recently watched “The Dark Knight” and remembered the device Lucious used to help Batman track The Joker in which Lucious had complete access to locate everyone in Gotham by means of their cell phone. Thinking to the extreme, I was for sure that Linda had called the FBI (or Batman) and was having them track me down because she finally caught on that I had ditched her and her silly rules about “surrendering my plates.” As follows, I refused to answer my phone. I was feeling pretty good that the FBI (and Batman) could not possibly trace me and arrived at the beach.

And then I received the voicemail.

Deciding that it was a safe spot to listen to the voicemail message, I heard  Linda’s Russian accent informing me about several things that slipped my mind before ditching the DMV and their silly rules.

“Barret, this is Linda…from the DMV. I don’t know if you accidentally left or are still in the parking lot. The reason I’m calling is because you left all of your paperwork here that you need to have in your car.You still need to surrender your plates as well. Oh yeah, and you still have my screwdriver.”

My plan was foiled.

In my premature departure from the DMV, I had forgotten that all of my registration papers were still with Linda! Even more, she remembered about her giant-screwdriver. Bugger!

Re-entering the DMV, I had a few feelings churning in my inner being. First off, I was pretty embarrassed that I had tried to fool Linda by running away with her screwdriver. Secondly, the DMV had become incrasingly busier then when I left just a few minutes earlier. This wouldn’t have been such a big deal except that I had Linda’s Godzilla-sized screwdriver in my hand with nothing else.

Understandably, people looked at me with curiosity.

If I saw someone walking into the DMV with a screwdriver in their grip, I would almost automatically think that they were going ot kill someone. Because of this, I felt like people were viewing me as a potential murderer.

I felt awkward asking for a new number at the front desk and decided to just stand and wait for Linda to be free. As she opened up and called a new number, I darted over to her counter in front of the woman whose number was called. The lady gave me an ugly scowl and showed me that it was her turn by flashing me ticket in my face. I then flashed her Linda’s screwdriver in my hand and she backed off. Owned.

Looking across the counter at Linda, she had the face of a mother who was disappointed with her son for doing something he knew he shouldn’t have.

“Where did you go?” Linda prodded.

“Oh, nowhere. I was just trying to take the plates off my car,” I lied. “This screwdriver is just way too big, Linda!”

“Well, that’s the only screwdriver we have here,” she informed me.

Thinking up schemes in my head, I came up with another brilliant idea.

“Linda,” I started off, “I have a normal-sized screwdriver back at my house. How about I take my car home and take the plates off there? Then I can bring them back and everything would be fine!”

Assessing this in her mind, Linda hesitantly agreed by exclaiming, “Sure… I guess that would work. Here’s your paperwork, just be sure to bring the plates back as soon as you take them off.”

Was she serious?!? She was trusting me with taking my plates off at my house and bringing them back? One thing she forgot in allowing me this privilege was a definitive time limit in bring them back! Sure, she ‘as soon as you take them off,’ but what does that really mean? Ten minutes? Ten days? Ten years?!

It’s been about three months since I put my new California license plates on the little red car. It hurts seeing such boring plates on it, but there is a great assurance knowing that I still possess the old ‘Oregon’ plates. Linda can’t take that away from me. At least not yet.

Philosophy of Life

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 17, 2009 by bsale

Having taken the past year away from formal education, I am overtaken by, what I believe to be, a distinct calling to teach. Being in a classroom has always triggered something deep inside my soul that yearns for some greater knowledge, whether that be a simple curiosity or a prideful control over the subject at hand. While neither of those sources of knowledge – curiosity and control – are pure in themselves, being away from the classroom this past year has awakened a new feeling inside my soul, that of love.

If you were to ask me David Purpel’s question, ‘What is your philosophy of education?’ a year ago, I would have expounded upon my curious love for knowledge and the desire to master the subject at hand. As I’ve reflected upon why I have the desire to become a teacher, I have had to wrestle with why, it is, I love education. For me to be, as I say, called into a vocation, means that I should love what I’ve been called to do. Assessing my drive for knowledge, I have come to a point where having a simple curiosity was not a good enough reason to love something. If we are to love something, or even someone, a curiosity for love is not a good enough reason because it is merely an ends to itself. Taking the example of loving someone, it would not make sense to only love them as a curious object for it leads, inevitably, to a dissatisfying ends. Relationships are not ends to themselves as they are constantly shifting and reshaping themselves with new experiences, interactions, and particularities concerning the relationship. Thus, shifting back to a philosophy of education that is centered around curiously knowing, I was not satisfied.

I then began to look at another reason I enjoyed being in the classroom: a mastery or control over a certain subject. Always having been motivated by the curious intrigue of a subject matter, I then shifted my efforts to an attempt to master the subject. I believe this is the case for much of life. We are truly interested in a particular ‘something’ and then have the yearning to discover every individual detail of that ‘something’ we were initially fascinated by. This holds true in many of the great philosophers who drove themselves mad with the quest for knowledge, truth, and eternal questions concerning God. Not only does it hold true for philosophers but even in the most common of people ranging anywhere from a child asking the ever-pervasive question of ‘But Why?’ to two lovers wanting to know anything and everything about their lover. Again, contrasting these examples, it seems absurd that one’s sole motivation for knowing would be a control, or mastery, over a subject. In a relationship, there should be no mastery of one person over another and is to be seen as an ever-changing journey that two people share together. Even in the case of the silly child’s question, a parent comes to frustration – and the child equally so – when they exclaim, ‘Why?! That’s just the way it is!’ This leaves both the parent and child perturbed because, deep down, they both know that there is a greater reason for ‘why’ things are. Consequently, I apply these situations to education and see that a mastery and control over a subject is not a solid enough answer to determining or pin-pointing a philosophy of education.

I began to see that many of the comparisons I was having with education were largely relational. Many relationships I have with people around me do not stem from a curious endeavor to know something about the person nor do I see them as objects that I attempt to control or master. This is none the more true than in my relationship with the Lord. Admittedly, at times, my yearning to seek God and know more about Him stem from a curious venture where I seek answers. And even more honestly, my relationship with Him is often one where I feel the need to control, speaking God into my situations and plans rather than letting Him speak His Word into my life. Both of these endeavors create a knowledge that distorts my relationship with the Lord which allows me to then use what I know about Him as some sort of game where I am the maker of these self-serving rules.

At some point through this process, I realize what a perfectly selfish mess my life is as I come to a realization that God has become a means to an end for my life. At almost this same point I feel the immense covering of the Lord on my life and on my conscience that reminds me that I have not only felt and thought this way before, but that He is a loving and forgiving Savior. This overwhelming reminder is not one that stirs up fanatic emotions, rather it is one that brings a calmness where I know that, despite my futile attempts to control God, the Maker of the universe, He loves me as I am and would take a bullet (or a cross) and die for me.

This knowledge of love brings me back to my philosophy of life and, in view of that, my philosophy of education. Seeing education as a curious or controlling means to an end is unsuccessful and leaves a dissatisfying taste in the mouth. These are not necessarily wicked motives in pursuing an education. However, if not linked with a pure love for knowledge where there is some sense of reunification with our Maker and the Giver of knowledge, I believe that the quest for knowledge will leave us broken as not only broken individuals, but broken communities. We are known in every aspect of our lives in such remarkable detail by God that it will take a lifetime to genuinely comprehend this reality. It is this compassionate love by our Lord that leads me to see knowledge as a realization of our broken selves and world and how we are being brought closer to God and His Kingdom. This knowledge that springs from love will connect us to the larger web of life and bring the pursuer of knowledge closer with the Subject (God), as we have the awesome responsibility and joy to seek more of God as we are transformed in the process.

The philosophy of education that I hold is coupled with a grander philosophy of life where we humbly seek God and lead others to the knowledge that we are loved by the One who made us. Underlying these words I have written are the tremendous ramifications that education is not solely about being intellectually curious nor having the instinctive intuition to control a subject matter in its full. Education is a journey to seek God and discover what He has made for us to enjoy. We enter into this adventure knowing that, at some level the Lord’s Kingdom is the end goal and, in a sense, a practical ends, we are being reunified to Christ from our broken selves and broken world. The ramifications are large, but the journey is worthwhile as we are being brought back to the One who loves us and makes it possible for us to truly know.

Tofu and Running

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 1, 2008 by bsale

The other day I went to Westmont’s Monday morning chapel. It was good seeing people there and then having a good swim session with Jon and Danny. Danny then took me to lunch. Free lunch is always a good thing.

Back to the chapel service. I can’t really remember what Nancy Ortberg spoke about, although she made me laugh a couple times and I remember it being really good. Her and her husband are good for each other: they have good stories but you can never really remember (albeit very good material) what they just explained and have to re-read it or ask someone what the heck they just said. Great stuff, it just doesn’t stick with me.

But one thing I do remember:

Tofu. She talked about tofu. She said it is one of those foods that nobody actually likes and that the only reason people say they like it is because they think that they’re being healthy and body-conscious. All lies. Big. Fat. Lies.

And so as I was at work yesterday, I was checking somebody out who was buying a lot of tofu. I looked up at her and asked her (in my head of course): “Do you really like this stuff? Does it make you feel good or do you want to throw it up after every bite you take? Wouldn’t you rather have a huge, big, nasty cheeseburger?” If she were to be honest with herself, she would’ve succumb to her urge for a cheeseburger. Animal style.

But my mind didn’t stop there. It’s always asking questions and venturing into unknown territories that usually get it confused and into a tangled mess. However, this time was not one of those. Remember those silly little analogies that you studied for and took during the SATs? You know, like “Bird is to Nest as Beaver is to Dam.” (I thought of that one by myself.)

Dwelling on analogies and after running a painful longer-than-usual run that day, I came up with an analogous comparison to tofu. Here goes: “Tofu is to Horrible as Running is to Extra-Horrible.” I stinkin’ hate running. People think they like it. They think it’s good for them. All lies.

I never once read about Adam and Eve doing cardio-workouts while in Eden. They were lounging and eating. Only until after the fall do they run the heck out of there (my interpretation, of course). And as a trusted mentor once explained about running, “I only have a certain number of heartbeats in my lifetime that God has ordained for me. Why would I want to do something like running that speeds up my heart and uses up those heartbeats even quicker?”

Case in point.

But in all honesty, running is good for you. I’ve been (trying not too successfully) to train for a half-marathon in November. This year, I’m not running because of some silly team-building exercise (which ended up being really good). Rather, I’m running for an organization that that same trusted mentor started a few years ago. Think fondly of me and offer up prayers as I “train” for the next month. It’s a horrible thing but for a good cause. One things certain, though, there’s no way I’m eating tofu.

Three Questions

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 22, 2008 by bsale

It’s been almost a week since I had lunch with a former boss and mentor-type friend. I semi-regret not getting to know him as well during the span that I was on his staff, but regrets are for regretters, and I don’t want to be one of those. Nonetheless, the meal was good, and the chat even better.

Discussing some of lifes more important issues (such as cell phones going off while performing weddings), he asked me three questions. They are three questions that have been haunting me for the past week. Not haunting in a weird Halloween sort-of-way, nor a creepy haunting you get after watching The Shining and have re-occuring dreams of Jack Nicholson ambling toward you with an axe. Rather, it’s been a contemplative series of questions that have made me think.

He told me they are three questions that he asks himself every now and then to evaluate what he’s doing and where he’s at. They come from the first book of the Bible as God is talking with/to the woman and man. Here goes:

  1. Where are you?
  2. Who told you that you were naked?
  3. What have you done?

I get pretty comical picture in my head of this dude, Adam, and this lady, Eve, that was with him hiding in bushes from the Being that created them. He asks them, “Where are you?” If I were Adam, I’d be thinking Frick, frick, frick. Eve, I think God is onto us. Keep hiding, maybe He won’t find us.

Stupid.

It’s not really a question where God is looking for an answer. Rather its more of a question posed to the two folks hiding in the bushes. Do you know where you are? Of course I know where I’m at, God. I’m sitting in a coffee shop while my butt is getting sore from this uncomfortable contraption that they’re passing off as a chair.

But really, where am I.

The three questions are just good ones. They force us to take a step back and see ourselves from a different perspective. Where are you right now? Where is your mind. Where is your heart. Who told you that you were naked? Who told you that you weren’t good enough. Who told you those lies that you’re living into. What sort of irrational fears are you believing. What have you done? Why are you holding onto those fears and reacting to them and not grasping that I love you as you are. What have you done and what are you going to do for My Kingdom.

I find it excrutiatingly painful to try and live out of the Truth that I am loved and that grace is persistently shown to me despite what I have done and what I do to try and gain approval from the things, people, and structures that surround me.

I also find it excruciatingly painful to continue sitting in this chair as my butt is slowly going numb. Peace.