Friday, February 20, 2004

Somewhere I Belong

I think anybody who is transitioning in their life can understand these lyrics. I have some big decisions to make by the end of March. They'll make my life for the next year hell and enjoyable or relaxing and wondering. Either way, I wonder whether I'd be content and satisfied.

Somewhere I Belong
By Linkin Park

(When this began)
I had nothing to say
And I get lost in the nothingness inside of me
(I was confused)
And I let it all out to find
That I’m not the only person with these things in mind
(Inside of me)
But all that they can see the words revealed
Is the only real thing that I’ve got left to feel
(Nothing to lose)
Just stuck, hollow and alone
And the fault is my own, and the fault is my own

I wanna heal, I wanna feel what I thought was never real
I wanna let go of the pain I’ve felt so long
(Erase all the pain till it’s gone)
I wanna heal, I wanna feel like I’m close to something real
I wanna find something I’ve wanted all along
Somewhere I belong

And I’ve got nothing to say
I can’t believe I didn’t fall right down on my face
(I was confused)
Looking everywhere only to find
That it’s not the way I had imagined it all in my mind
(So what am I)
What do I have but negativity
’Cause I can’t justify the way, everyone is looking at me
(Nothing to lose)
Nothing to gain, hollow and alone
And the fault is my own, and the fault is my own

[Repeat Chorus]

I will never know myself until I do this on my own
And I will never feel anything else until my wounds are healed
I will never be anything till I break away from me
I will break away, I'll find myself today

[Repeat Chorus]

I wanna heal, I wanna feel like I’m somewhere I belong
I wanna heal, I wanna feel like I’m somewhere I belong
Somewhere I belong

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Happy Valentines

It is official. Ken and Barbie have officially broken up. Of all days to do it, why Valentines? Ken must be heartbroken right now, Barbie's chasing some Australian surfer. Figures, I guess Ken just didn't have what she wanted in the end.

I spent the morning at a concert of prayer in Vancouver, which was led by our dear Easter Bunny. Spending Valentines with God is very cool. Was supposed to arrive at 7 am, but I woke up a little late and missed my bus. So I waited for the next one and arrived at 7:40, but they were still going. :D Check out Vancouver Fire, that's where I go on Saturday mornings usually. There's just something about group prayer and worship on early Saturday mornings that is so powerful. Where two or three are gathered.

Went to the dentist in the afternoon to get my last cavity filled. I must have the only dentist in town who has a TV above each patient's chair set to the hockey channel. Or if hockey's not on, she pops in tapes of old playoffs. She rocks. :D Too bad for her that the Canucks lost tonight; she's very keen on seeing Linden pass Stan Smyl for all-time Canuck points lead and was hoping that he'd do it tonight.

Oh yeah, I posted another poem. I wanted to write about something tonight, but it slipped my mind. Perhaps another day. In the meantime, here's a song from the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack. One of my all-time favourite songs for some reason. It ranks right up there with Iris, by Goo Goo Dolls. I've heard it again today for the first time in a long time and it was nice. Thanks to Dammon for sending me the lyrics. I especially love the instrumentals in this song though. They're great.

Words By: Tim Jensen
Vocal: Steve Conte

I close my eyes and I keep seeing things
Rainbow waterfalls
sunny liquid dream
Confusion creeps inside me raining doubt
Gotta get to you
But I don't know how
Call me, Call me
Let me know it's alright
Call me, call me
Don't you think it's 'bout time
Please won't you call and
Ease my mind
Reasons for me to find you
Peace of mind
What can I do
to get me to you
I had your number quite some time ago
Back when we were one
But I had to grow
Ten thousand years I've searched it seems and now
Gotta get to you
Won't you tell me how
Call me, Call me
Let me know you are there
Call me, call me
I wanna know you still care
Come on now won't you
Ease my mind
Reasons for me to find you
Peace of mind
What can I do
to get me to you
Ease my mind
Reasons for me to find you
Peace of mind
Reasons for living my life
Ease my mind
Reasons for me to know you
Peace of mind
what can I do
to get me to you

Saturday, February 14, 2004

The Most Important Things in Life Are Free

So said my father. Went out for a walk with him last night and we had a good father-son talk. But his point was that the things that we value the most and the things that we need the most, we cannot buy with money. Ironically, that makes them more costly because they cannot be valued; that is, they are invaluable. The economic idea of the water-diamond paradox may explain how some necessities can be free or so cheap. However, I would argue that we don't begin to appreciate the value of something invaluable until it is gone; that is why necessities can be so cheap and worthless. As soon as water is scarce or nowhere to be found, it'll be a lot more valuable than diamonds. I think we can all agree on that, no?

Let me paint you a picture of what I see every morning and every night. In the morning, I get out of the house at around 7:35. The sun is shining and is still in the middle of rising. There is a twilight effect in the air, as the night finishes transitioning to the day. The sky is a colour of freshness, not of mysticism, as it would be just before the dawn. There is a multitude of song, as birds chirp and the air is clean. And I see a moon still in the blue sky. The sunlight struggles to take over, as the moon fades away; its temporary reign is over. I can feel alive.

When I finish work, I walk out and on either side of me are flower beds. The smell is pungent and causes the mind to enter a drugged state of limbo. It's like I'm in a dream.

After class, I come home. Getting off the bus and walking down the street, I looked up a few nights ago. For the first time in a while, I realized how far away the stars seemed and how mystical they were. Blocking out peripheral vision and focusing on only the sky, it's like being in outer space itself. Orion stands out like a warrior triumphantly proclaiming that he has taken the sky back from the sun, so that his queen, the moon, may reign again. I get lost in the wonder of the stars, for I had forgotten the power that they could have. When was the last time I actually looked at stars? Not just see, but actually observe and appreciate? It seems so long ago. 'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free, 'tis the gift to be just right, as we ought to be.

But perhaps the most important thing any of us ever needs is also given to us without us paying a price. Grace is free. How do you live if people are unwilling to give you grace? If you are unwilling to give yourself grace? But by definition, grace is undeserved kindness. You cannot do anything to receive it, otherwise, you would deserve it. By definition, the only way for you to have it is to just receive it. And yet, all of these things have a cost. While we may not be paying the cost, something or someone is. For water, it's the ecosystem. We work hard to purify water that is wasted and put back into the ecosystem, but the ecosystem gets damaged nevertheless. Plus, aquifiers get depleted. That kind of sucks for landlocked areas. For flowers, they need sunlight to grow: the sun's rays will one day be no more as the sun gets closer and closer to supernova. They also take water from us. Dang flowers. ;) There's always a cost of some kind from somewhere; nothing can ever be free. One may argue that those costs might as well be put to use, for you can't stop the sun from doing what it's doing anyway. But cost-accounting has its advantages in accurately tracking expenses, you know?

But for grace, the cost is from the pocket of the giver; or rather, the heart. The father of the teenage son who died from gunshot wounds in Taber, Alberta was willing to forgive the killer. That took courage, heart, and much mental strength. When someone forgives me for something that I do wrong, they have to be able to forget the past; this is an especially difficult thing if the wrongdoing is significant and longterm. There is a huge cost in forgiveness. None more so than what JC did in taking my place in punishment. And it's freely given away.

"But to him who is forgiven much, loves much. But to him who is forgiven little, loves little." ~Jesus Christ

And then there's love. Perhaps just as important. I'd argue the two go hand in hand with each other. But really, you cannot earn somebody's love. In the end, they either choose to give it to you or not. But when they do, the cost is their heart. They give their heart away and hope that the person holding it takes good care of it. You can do nothing to deserve ownership of it, only be willing to accept it. Because it really is theirs to give.

I'd like to see Mel Gibson's The Passion when it comes out (it's out February 25). It's supposed to be an extremely well-done portrayal of the final hours of Christ before the crucifixion. Anybody want to go together?

Sunday, February 08, 2004

The Dehumanization of Humans

One of the things I study at SFU is Management Science. It's a subject that focuses primarily on risk management, decision analysis, forecasting and predictions, and process optimization (in both manufacturing and service operations). Management Science had its real boost from Dr. W. Edwards Deming. Have you ever heard of the term "Total Quality Management" or "TQM"? He INVENTED Total Quality Management.

The Americans rejected his ideas of statistical quality control, and so he shook the dust off of his feet and brought his message to people who desired to listen: the Japanese. He is lauded as the catalyst that revolutionized Japanese quality control, such that Japanese cars were able to be produced efficiently, cost-effectively, and with a much higher quality than American cars; this philosophy of quality control extended to all areas of Japanese industry. The Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) eventually set up an award in his honour, annually given to companies that demonstrate a fantastic achievement in quality control; it's now an internationally recognized award.

When his statistical quality control techniques received their due recognition, hordes of Americans strove to learn his ways and became known as "Deming disciples." However, while Deming really pushed statistical quality control into the modern world, he didn't create the concept of using advanced statistics and measurement. In fact, he was an opponent of measurement, from a certain perspective. Deming argued that we shouldn't simply produce units and then have inspectors to ensure that a certain percentage were good enough to be sold. Rather, he argued that we should build quality into the production process itself, so that the outputted or produced units don't need to be inspected. For example, this is why companies can produce a thousand nails and not have to inspect every single one to take out all the bad ones (not straight, no point, no head, etc.). The production process is so good that the percentage of bad nails is likely less than a single percent.

However, measurement has its place in this world; otherwise, how do your monitor your progress? Here's the question though. When is your statistical analysis so detailed that it actually creates more detriment than it does benefit? Must I measure how many blog entries I create per week in order to be satisfied that I am sufficiently keeping this blog up to date? What about the individual entries? Must I measure how many words they each have? Or paragraphs? What about my typing speed? And what of the time? Must I measure how long it takes to write a single entry, in order to ensure that I am making the best use of my limited amount of time during the day? Through Management Science, the goal is to optimize resource utilization and minimize waste (but only because elimination of waste is impossible).

It would appear to me that micro-managing ourselves to the point of measuring everything and ensuring that we are able to maintain acceptable measures of "production" actually dehumanizes us. We become robots acting according to programmed algorithms, rather than humans who have the right of creative freedom and arbitrary action. There would seem to be several reasons for this. Perhaps most importantly, you can't measure some things. How can you measure the artistry of a painting? Correspondingly, how can you then determine what would be the best production process for paintings? Let's face it: the quality of art is made from creativity, not efficiency. If you apply a statistical analysis for quality control to the creation of paintings, you eliminate the very thing that makes us human (though you may get more paintings per week).

Humans have free will and emotions. In order to act in the most efficient manner during a production process, job satisfaction and happiness can be sacrificed in order to operate at peak capacity and efficiency; in this scenario, there is no time for rest while the operation is in process. Nor is there room for creative freedom. Our very sense of self-will is destroyed and the feeling is that we are instead slaves. Slaves with no free will. We might as well be robots.

Have I started down this path with the advent of a PDA? Ensuring that everything on my schedule is on my PDA and will only take up a certain number of hours per day is interesting. If I am unable to meet a self-imposed deadline, the entire schedule goes out of wack and needs to be rescheduled. Of course, flexibility is one of the things that makes us human. But this nullifies the point of scheduling in the first place, to a certain degree.

Micro-managing resources such as time, money, and so forth can benefit from management science. But as Deming explained, humans should be respected as humans. Because they are humans, dehumanization (as described above) can actually decrease efficiency. As humans feel more and more mechanical, they lose motivation and the will to work. Taylor, a predecessor of Deming, took this path in Management Science. He emphasized experiments and measuring everything. An example that sticks out in my mind is observing the paths that workers took while unloading big boxes from a delivery vehicle. Obviously, there are benefits in finding optimal paths. There comes a point though, when that measurement results in creating robots who don't think for themselves. When that happens, we are no longer human.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Say "ah"

So I had a dental appointment this afternoon, and it was with a brand new dentist. I have to say, this is the first time I've actually felt that the dentist was a spectacular one. First thing she did was an analysis of my mouth and it was just cool to hear her calling out all the identification numbers of my teeth and their characteristics to her assistant; they want to keep records of how the teeth progress. Good stuff, I've never had that done before. Also, she found three cavities, which I think is pretty cool. Because my previous dentist could never find anything wrong with my teeth. Of course, they could have developed in between now and my last dental appointment, but still, this dentist actually instilled confidence into me, regarding her abilities. I'm amazed at how many certifications she has, despite being so young. She looks to be only in her late twenties, but she's a dentist, a pharmacist, etc. And she's a hockey fan. :D We were watching a replay of the '98 Stanley Cup Finals while she was working on my teeth. And she's got Canuck bobbleheads on display. Yeah, I think I'll stick with this dentist. :)

On another note, I'm tasting nammer subs for the first time today. They are pretty nice. :) My friend walked into the shop and asked, "So if you buy 10, you get one free, right?" "Yup." "22 please?" /big shocking stare "Uh, ok."