Saturday, October 30, 2004

Only Luke is with me

One of the most fascinating saints in the Bible for me is St. Luke. He is fascinating precisely because very little is known about him.

Yet his contributions to the Christian Faith are nothing short of phenomenal. He authored The Gospel According to Luke which was addressed to the non-Jewish audience entirely unfamiliar with the concept of monotheism and the life of Jesus. The book of Luke is followed by Acts which details the accounts of the persecuted early Church and her struggles both internal and external. Just in terms of shear volume, he was the second most prolific New Testament writer following the Great Apostle Paul.

Other than his distinction as the only non-Jewish New Testament writer and his occupation as a physician, very little about his life is known despite the enormity of his contributions. He never mentions his own name in any of his writings which only intensifies the mystery. We know that he was Paul's traveling companion, a fact that biblical scholars derive from the use of the first person plural we throughout Acts.

The most telling, albeit brief testament to Luke's character comes in Timothy II which was the last epistle Paul penned while on death row in his last days. In the closing chapter, he poignantly recounts to his young friend Timothy of how almost all of his companions have abandoned him, leaving him to face his final dark hours alone. But amazingly there was one notable exception.
Only Luke is with me.
This speaks volumes about St. Luke's loyalty as a friend and a fellow brother in Christ.

I've come across a few choice servants like Luke throughout my life. It is hard to extract information about their lives because they talk so little, but yet do a lot. They can be found at homeless shelters working with the "least of these." Some are doctors who regularly make trips to poverty striken areas to treat people with no access to medical care. Some are PhD's scattered throughout remote places around the world translating the Bible to obsecure languages.

Just like Luke, they share a strong aversion to the spotlight, which stands in stark contrast with our celebrity obsessive culture. They truly personify what Jesus had to say about gaining one's life in the process of losing it.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Is this a Dumb Question to Ask?

So we had the 90's. The decade before that was the 80's. And the 70's. And the 60's. And the 50's. And the 40's. And the 30's. And the 20's.

What do you call this decade? Are we in the 0's?

Then what will we call the next decade? The teens? That won't start till the year 2013. 10's?

Monday, October 18, 2004

My Dear Mother (Mar. 21, 1941 - Oct. 18, 1995)

Today marks the 9th year anniversary of my mother's death.

Most of us either have, or will have experienced the loss of parents at some point in our lives, which makes my situation hardly unique. But I still would like to share a few words about my mother.

My mother endured a very hard life. My father was in and out of my life until he left the family for good when I was six, leaving her to raise me and my sister alone when single motherhood was unheard of in Korea at the time. I am still haunted by the childhood memories of watching her helplessly as she struggled financially and emotionally to keep the family together. I am still bewildered by how she overcame the overwhelming odds through her difficult 54 years.

This one poignant story from her teenage years will stay with me for the rest of my life. When she was in high school, after her own father had left the family also, she found herself months behind in tuition bills. At the school's weekly assembly, the principal of the school routinely called out a dozen or so of students who were also behind in tuition bills in front of the entire student body. After her name was called, she was ordered to go and stand with other students in the same predicament in full display before her classmates for public humiliation.

That unspeakable experience along with her childhood turmoil emboldened her to make our lives much better off than her own, working long and hard hours as a single mother with little regard to her own well being. And through good and countless bad times, her faith in God never wavered.

My Mom was a wonderful mother.

My mother was a phenomenal human being.

Just two days before her death, she asked me and my sister to huddle around her hospital bed. It was our one last time for the three of us together as a family. She admonished us to keep our faith in God in so many words, and then said,

"Thank you. Thank you for having been such wonderful children."

While the dark clouds of the profound sadness and grief that engulfed my heart in the months following her burial have subsided long ago, I am still mindful of the painful memories of her hard life, even though I am certain that she has long forgotten them in the presence of her Dear Savior. My guess is God still uses them to humble me and help keep things in perspective.

Oh Death, where is thy sting?
Oh Death, where is thy victory?
- I Corinthians 15:55

Friday, October 15, 2004

In His Service

Reading Jenn's blog about her friend Matt got me to think about those who serve in ministry and to write down a few thoughts. Jenn by the way is a fellow blogger whom I have not met in person, but were introduced to each other's blogs through Jenny Smith. Her blog has now become a favorite of mine, so go check it out.

Over the years, I have known people who have gone into full time ministry in various capacities. What they do come in all shapes and sizes. Some like Matt work on college campuses with students in various outreach programs to spread the good news, and some people have gone to remote places overseas and submerged themselves into strange cultures for the same purpose.

Most of the people I've known are highly talented and educated individuals who would have been very successful in non-ministry careers (I hesitate to use the term 'secular' for various reasons I won't go into right now). And some even have left lucrative mid-careers in their 30's and 40's to join the legions of people in ministry.

Whether or not you agree with what they believe to be the "good news" or their tactics, you've got to admire them for putting their money where they mouths are. While Matt's peers are slaving away on their first jobs in corporate America as ambitious twenty somethings in hopes of impressing their bosses in exchange for career advancement, he has taken a step of faith and chosen "the road less traveled."

At the risk of making sweeping generalizations based on small samples, I have observed that they seem to be more content with and grateful for their lives even though they work a lot more for much less pay. One missionary once joked that his gross annual income was, well, gross.

I often think back on my college days of a friend of mine named Kelly who is currently serving overseas with the Campus Crusade for Christ. After an unforgettable trip to Urbana 87 in my junior year in college, many of us caught the World mission fever and professed our eargerness and enthusiasm to respond to the Great Commission. We spoke of the future when we would storm into places untouched by the good news and turn the world upside down.

But my friend Kelly was always steady in his pursuits without saying much. Rarely did he talk of plans to go to the mission field unless asked, and he spent most of his time making steps to prepare rather than talking. While many of us, including myself paraded around with banners grandstanding about our future plans, he marched on quietly and resolutely with no fanfare, undetered by several obstacles including strong opposition from his family and a myterious illness that almost claimed his life.

Today he is in his 15th year in Asia while most of us have stormed into very comfortable lives in suburbia USA and turned the burgers on the BBQ grill upside down.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Followup on "Sell by"

I followed the helpful suggestions posted by Stepp and Jenn and placed the eggs in a pot filled with water. The results: 4 floaters and 6 sinkers.

Even though there were 6 sinkers, I chose to dump them all in the trash can, and of course in the process of doing so, I dropped half of them on the floor of my kitchen.

Now on to the next dilemma. What do you do with milk whose "sell by" date has long been gone. Again, the label does not suggest when to consume it by. If we are to go strictly by the sell by date to decide whether to drink the milk or not, are we expected to gobble up the entire jug of milk if it is purchased on the sell by date? Imagine you just purchased the milk at 11:59 PM of the sell by date. You've got exactly a minute. Then again, there is a question of in which time zone the milk was produced and the sellby date stamped on the jug. Some of the stuff we West Coast residents have to deal with. Perhaps that is what lured Jenny to New Jersey.

Though not a physicist, I don't think the "sink test" will work with milk.

Ah...The life of a single guy.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Sell By?

After one of my roommates moved out, I notced that he left a carton still full of eggs in the refrigerator. 'Oh cool,' I said to myself, 'I don't have to make a run to the supermarket.'

Then I noticed the little stamped text on the carton that read, 'Sell by July 23rd.'

Okay, so here is a question. Is it still okay to eat them? It does not say, 'EAT by July 23rd.' I suppose it's too late for me to sell them to an unsuspecting neighbor at the garage sale, but can I at least eat the eggs?

Sunday, October 10, 2004

A Picture worth a thousand words?

This past weekend wasn't particularly blog worthy, so I am reaching back to the past.

As I was driving north on Harbor Blvd up in the Fullerton area one day, I caught a quick glimpse of a young couple in a car getting ready for the light on the left turn lane. Nothing special until the very next moment.

With my profuse apologies to the regular visitors to my blog, most of whom are accomplished artists, I confess that this is indeed the best artist rendition I can pull off, but please do not allow my limited artistry to cloud your ability to appreciate the incredulity of what I witnessed with my own eyes.

(Click to Enlarge)
(sorry about the poor drawing. The thing hanging out of the girl's mouth is one of her fangs. Yes, they were that big.)

It took me hours to pick up my jaw off the floor. I wonder how long it took that poor guy to pick up his.

Thursday, October 07, 2004


I lost my connection to the Internet, so as any engineer would, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

  • Powercycled the router 4 times. 15 minutes
  • Reset the router twice. 10 minutes
  • Reconfigured the router twice. 10 minutes
  • Powercycled the cable modem twice. 10 minutes
  • Called my provider's customer service and was put was on hold. 10 minutes
  • Finally talked the customer service. 5 minutes
  • Rebooted the computer. 10 minutes
  • Drove over to Office Max and back to buy a new router. They were closed. 20 minutes
  • Talked to a friend on the phone about my woes. 10 minutes.

Turned out that the network cable was not plugged into the router all the way.

  • The amount of time it could have taken to fix the problem. 1 minute.
  • The amount of time I wasted - 100 minutes.
  • My hardware ineptitude - timeless.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

A small but very pleasant surprise

I bought a software development tool from this company last year, shortly after which they released an upgrade with a lot of very cool features and priced the new version at the same price I bought the old version for (BTW, is it a grammatic sin to end a sentence with a preposition? Somebody told me that a long time ago. Is that true?).

Had I waited just a week, I'd had the much better version without paying more for the upgrade priced at $150 according to their web site. Well, after months, I finally broke down and initiated a transaction for the upgrade. In response to my order, the company wrote me back with a rather steep discount of $90 with no explanation attached! I am obviously not a high volume buyer and only a second time customer, so the unexplained discount is rather baffling to me.

Then why don't they advertise the price at the real price to encourage more people to buy? I am not complaining, but what a pleasant surprise.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

A Miracle?

Against my better judgment, I allowed a salesman to come in and give me a quote on windows in the evening while still in the throes of catching up with work that had been piling up. If you don't know, my laptop is back at the shop for the third time in two weeks, putting me out of commission for several days. To a software consultant like myself, that qualifies as a death knell.

So the guy came in, sat at the table, pulled out a laptop, and started going through a Powerpoint presentation about his company and its products. Just as a typical sales presentation, it was full of fluff eating up my valuable time which I could ill-afford.

'Just get me the price and the product,' I said to myself while trying to be polite. Then he pulled out some samples and continued to rave about the products. I thought he came pretty close to saying that his windows would turn my house into a magnet for supermodels.

'Oh Lord, please get him out of here. I've got work to do. Now is not the time to think about supermodels.'

That was all I could think of as the light at the end of the tunnel was nowhere near.

Then he proceeded to do a "demo" which required him to plug his apparatus to an outlet. I said, "Sure, go head. Plug it into the surge protector on the floor."

Nothing could have prepared me for the next turn of events. As he was fumbling around to plug his equipment into the outlet, my computer went off. HE ACCIDENTALLY UNPLUGGED MY COMPUTER!

He apologized profusely as I calmly turned the computer back on to watch it reboot. I was in the middle of composing a long email. As the computer came back on, I attempted to launch Outlook to see if the email had been auto-saved, BUT EVERY SINGLE PROGRAM HANGED! NOTHING WAS WORKING! You name it. Internet Explorer, Outlook, Word, etc. And I mean EVERYTHING.

He looked increasingly more nervous, but I tried to assure him that those things happen. But the machine still refused to show signs of life, which started to get me nervous. With what had been happening with my laptop and the drama surrounding it, this was the last thing I needed. There are three projects due this week. My customers are getting impatient. MY LIVELIHOOD IS AT STAKE.

Even after several reboots, the machine refused to budge. I murmured to myself, "Oh no, I may have to install everything from scratch," which at that point, the guy abruptly packed his stuff (and there was a lot of stuff he brought with him) up, and headed out to the door. Obviously the show of mounting distractions put on by my computer made it impossible for him to continue the presentation. I tried to tell him one more time not to worry about it and that it was not his fault.

Are you ready for this? As soon as I heard him drive off, ALL THE PROGRAMS THAT HANGED INSTANTLY CAME BACK TO LIFE! IN UNISON! This is no joke. And the email that I was in the middle of before he killed the computer was found completely intact.

A miracle? You better believe it.

Friday, October 01, 2004

WANTED: Roommate

After my roommate of seven years moved out to a condo he purchased a few miles away, I placed an ad on looking for someone to rent a room from me. Living alone in a 4 bedroom house with two empty bedrooms feels really empty and wasted, and since I work alone on most days, I can certainly use some companionship just to feel some sense of connectedness to the rest of the world.

But interviewing prospects to live with under the same roof can be a terrifying experience. There are more horror stories involving roommates than there are pleasant ones, but I still decided to take a step of faith to find someone over the Internet.

I went through ads and wrote to an individual who seemed like a good fit. In the email, it was explained that the only "vice" that I disallow is overnight female guests, to which he responded:

Haha. You are a real joke First of all, my personal life is mine and not yours whether it is a girl or a man. Second, I clearly said I wanted just one other person in the house, so I have no idea why you contacted me, except you want a professional who has money like I do. [more explicit vitriol snipped]

I think you need to separate the business of renting a place from trying to find people who share your philosphies! You are living in a dream world.

Do not contact me again

Do you sense some anger here? Note that he has money. Impressive.

Well, here is the deal. I am renting my room to only one person, not two. And if the tenant wants to make an exception by inviting over a guest to spend the night, it is my prerogative to decide which exceptions are allowed and which aren't on a case by case basis. It's as simple as that, which hardly amounts to "imposing" one's beliefs on others. I wouldn't allow my roommate to baby sit in his room his sister's 5 cats and 3 boa constrictors while she is away on vacation for the same reason. The room is being rented to only one person.