Category Archives: Uncategorized


A couple months ago, I happened upon a YouTube video. I think it probably showed up there because I was searching for things along the lines of “history of the early church” or “early Christianity”. Otherwise, not sure what would have caused YouTube to put it in my recommendations. Here is the video. Watch it if you want, I haven’t watched it since that first time but I thought it was good then:

Like I said, I haven’t watched it since then, so I don’t recall exactly what it was, but something about it intrigued me and I started searching out more regarding the Orthodox Church. I started just searching for other videos on YouTube, and then also just doing generalized Google searches, wondering what the Orthodox doctrine regarding some specific issue was. The thing that started to stand out to me the most about Orthodoxy was really that it asks different questions than the Western church does. And it’s much more comfortable with mystery.

A lot of what I was reading seemed to click in my mind – it just sort of made sense to me. And so I continued to delve in. One of the things I had discovered during my Google searches was Ancient Faith. I at some point realized that they have a huge collection of podcasts in addition to the blogs and such I had been reading. I tried to figure out what a good place to start would be, and at first started going through what is listed in “New To Orthodoxy“. It starts off right off the bat with some things that are pretty different as compared to Protestantism… Icons, Saints, the Theotokos… (I had no idea what that meant at first, so I’ll help you, that’s Greek for Mother of God – that is to say, Mary). I’ve still not listened to most of those, probably still under 10.

I also discovered pretty quickly on there a podcast called Amon Sûl. I was immediately intrigued by that, because it was obviously a podcast about The Lord of the Rings. If it’s not so obvious to you, Amon Sûl is another name for Weathertop. If it’s still not obvious to you, then, you’re probably not much of a Lord of the Rings fan. I started listening and it was a nice mix of something I was familiar with (the lore of Middle-Earth) and things I was less familiar with (Orthodox theology). I did a bit more research to see what people online recommended regarding podcasts I could listen to… One of the things that seemed like a must-hear was a podcast called “Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy”. So I grabbed the first few episodes, started listening, and thought to myself… “Hey, this guy sounds really familiar.” Turns out, both of those are hosted by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick. I devoured all of them (Amon Sûl was easy, there were only like 3 episodes at the time, up to 5 now), moved on to another called Faith and Philosophy hosted by someone else whose name I can’t recall offhand, and then after burning through all of those started on “The Aeriopagus”, which, again, is hosted by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, as well as a Pastor of a Protestant denomination named Michael Landsman. This was another that really hit the right notes for me as again I had a little more that I was familiar with. Really something about Fr. Damick’s voice is just nice to listen to as well – this time around I specifically picked the podcast because I saw his name on it.

If you can’t tell, I’ve listened to a LOT of audio content related to Orthodoxy – specifically, Ancient Faith is part of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. Which is a whole other thing with Orthodoxy… Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Antiochian Orthodox, etc… Now, all of these are just regional part of the Orthodox Church, but due to an “accident of history” as I’ve heard some Orthodox folks say, there is no American Orthodox church as such, and there are various Diocese that are under the jurisdiction of the aforementioned groups. But, all these churches are in communion with each other – and it’s worth noting, this is the second largest (Roman Catholic Church is largest) group of Christians that self-identify as being part of a single church (I’m not sure if I worded that the best way possible, but I think you’ll get what I mean). So in regard to doctrine, it’s not actually relevant which one the information comes from, they are all in agreement with each other.

So at some point during all this, actually it was probably at least a month ago, I decided to see if there were any Orthodox churches near me that I might possibly go to visit and see what it was like. As the Orthodox are fond of saying, “Come and see.” I did some Google searches and discovered two such churches in my immediate vicinity (that is, within a 15 minute drive). First was Sts. Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Church, and then there was St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church. It took me awhile, because as some of you know I run lights every other week for Collective Church, which I’ve been attending for the last year and a half or so, and also had a half marathon one of my off weeks, etc, but I did finally make a visit yesterday.

I ended up visiting St. John the Baptist. I had initially felt inclined to go to the Greek Orthodox church because it is a bit closer and also larger, but then I learned (if I recall, from reading Yelp reviews) that they do a large portion of their service in Greek, and well, I do want to understand what is going on, so… I decided on the other. Now, it’s also worth nothing that having grown up going to an Assemblies of God church, then a few non-denominational churches, that I had never really been to anything resembling a liturgical service (there’s kind of an exception as during the brief period I went to a Catholic high school, they had 1 or 2 services I was around for). But honestly, it’s all foreign to me. So knowing that, and having researched what to expect, I was highly intimidated about going. Also, while I have some vague recollection about dressing up for church when I was a kid, I couldn’t have told you when the last time I dressed up for church had been. Now I can, it was yesterday. I’ve never been much for dressing up. For the past couple decades it’s been for job interviews and… well, that’s it. But doing so is part of the Orthodox tradition, and so, I did it.

So I go to bed on Saturday night knowing that I will be going to the church the next day. I wake up, still feeling a bit anxious about it, but get myself to drive over there. I pull up to the church and realize it’s smaller than I had even thought it was. And there was no parking lot, just parking along the side of the road. And there were not nearly enough cars. This was not a place I could go in largely unnoticed. So, I wasn’t really sure what time I should arrive – let me explain why. On a Sunday morning, an Orthodox church will first have Matins- morning prayers – and this will flow into the Divine Liturgy, which I guess you could call the “main service”. So, since I was “just checking things out”, I decided to arrive just before the Divine Liturgy started. This was another thing I realized as I was getting ready to go in – no one else seemed to be arriving at this time really. So, it certainly wasn’t a big deal, but, I walked in, and let me just say… I have never felt so lost in regard to what I should be doing… haha. I don’t doubt that everyone there knew it was my first time ever being in an Orthodox church. But, a nice lady, who I later learned to be the Pastor’s wife, helped me find where they were in the service so I could follow along. I was grateful for it, because I was completely at a loss… haha.

So, here was my initial reaction to it – I thought, “This is weird”. Now, as I’ve said, my interactions with the Catholic church have been pretty limited, so I’m not sure if the same is true of their services, but the Orthodox Divine Liturgy is largely sung. And that felt very weird to me. That’s on top of the other various things going on that aren’t part of any Protestant service I’ve ever been to. But with all that said, I made it through, went up front as they took communion (not being Orthodox, I could not partake, but instead received a blessing) – then returned to my seat and the Pastor spoke a bit and welcomed me as well as a couple other visitors (though they were Orthodox). I had a good talk with him after the service as well.

This is quite long, and it’s getting late, so I’m going to end this here for now. Tomorrow, or whenever I next have time, I’ll continue on in my thoughts on this.

Get Used To Disappointment

Tomorrow is the beginning of the end for the television sensation that is Game of Thrones. I’ve been looking forward to it for a very long time, and I certainly hope that the ending is satisfying – but I can’t shake the nagging feeling that it’s going to disappoint me in the end, just like most of the shows I have loved before it. Now, it’s better than a show not getting an ending because it was cancelled… Stargate Universe, Colony, Firefly, I could go on for quite awhile I’m sure, those are the first 3 that came to mind for me. But then we’ve also got shows like Lost or How I Met Your Mother – shows that I loved pretty much all the way through, but that kind of went to crap in the final season.

The only show that I can think of off the top of my head that had a better than “meh” ending is Breaking Bad. I’m sure there are others, but my point is, they are the exception, not the rule. It’s hard to wrap up a long running story in a satisfying way… and if I’m honest, I don’t know how you wrap up Game of Thrones in another 8 hours or so (I haven’t done the math on the runtimes, nor do I know if the numbers that came out with finalized, but I know all 6 are generally under 90 minutes).

So I’m trying to tone down my own hype for the end. Lowered expectations are met much more easily. To be sure, I’m hoping not to be disappointed, but, I also think that’s the most likely scenario. Especially when I read articles making predictions about how things will end and all the proposed endings sound rather lame to me. Also, everyone seems to be obsessed on the idea of who will end up in the Iron Throne, and I can’t help but feel like that’s missing the point. If the ending involves the importance of some individual occupying the throne, I feel like it will be very uninteresting.

I like to think that George RR Martin came up with some brilliant ending years ago that no one else has been able to imagine and that we’re all going to be blown away by it. How likely is that? I don’t know.

But, I do have my own idea of what I think an interesting (if perhaps depressing) way to end the series would be: they lose. Despite their efforts to band together in the eleventh hour and fight off the army of the dead, Westeros is wiped out, or at least all the structures that exist there. Perhaps the seeds of some new civilization are planted, but the end of the world as they know it would seem interesting to me, and it goes against what an audience expects in the story.

Part of the reason why I think this would be better is I can’t imagine them beating the White Walkers in a way that doesn’t feel contrived in the time left – but perhaps there is a way. If we just end up with Dany or Jon or Jon and Dany ruling the 7 kingdoms with the White Walkers having been kicked off back up to the north and life in Westeros continues on with the Targareans back on the throne and they all live happily ever after, what sort of a conclusion is that to the story?

I don’t call my proposed ending a prediction – I don’t know that I have any reason to think it will happen – other than that the whole storyline seems to have been the people of Westeros fighting about things that don’t really matter whilst ignoring the thing that matters most of all… and it seems like there should be consequences for that – but, I do know that the happy ending doesn’t seem like a fitting one for this story – especially as Martin has posited this series as a bit of a critique on Lord of the Rings… which ends with the return of the king and a happy ending now that the rightful king has returned and evil has been defeated. So is he really going to end his story in the same (not to mention expected) way? It would seem an odd choice to me.

We’ll find out soon enough. Maybe it will become a bit clearer even after tomorrow’s episode. But I wanted to write down some thoughts before the season began.


Note: This is long, rambly, and self-reflective. It takes a really long time for me to get to the point, and it’s probably not a point worth getting to for anyone other than myself. But you’re welcome to read it if you like.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. Which is indistinct from any other time, as my brain rarely shuts up. About the only time I’m not mulling something over is if my brain is preoccupied with something else, like playing a game, perhaps. That’s probably part of the reason that I like them.

One of the thoughts that entered my head recently was this idea that throughout my life there have been different versions of me, and I am in a very literal sense a different person than I was many years ago. It seems to me to be true in both a physical sense and a mental sense. Now, scientifically speaking, ones cells are dying and being replaced by new ones all the time. According to some folks (a quick google search tells me it’s dubious) every 7 to 10 years you’re a whole new mess of cells than you had been 7 to 10 years earlier. So by that logic (I’ll go with the 10 year span), sitting in front of this computer right now is Jason 4.0.

(If that seems off to you, remember, you’re version 1.0 when you’re born, so at 10 you are 2.0, etc.)

Then throughout life you have all sorts of experiences and meet and interact with all kinds of people. Those people have all sorts of experiences of their own, some of which intermingle with yours. They have a bunch of different ideas about things too, and often they’ll tell you about them. Some of those things might seem to you quite interesting or compelling. Some may seem foolish. Sometimes, given more time and experience, a thing that seemed foolish may later seem compelling, or the reverse.

The people that you are friends with are also very likely to shape you in any given moment. Who they are and what they believe is not insignificant in shaping you (“as iron sharpens iron”, as a certain book says.) This is more and more true the closer you are to the person. Your best friend, a girlfriend (or perhaps boyfriend, depending on who you are), or spouse most of all.

One may also just choose to place emphasis on something that they had never placed emphasis on before. Quite likely it’s not a conscious choice, it’s just a thing that happens.

So, as it turns out the versions of myself that I would identify don’t really fit into 10 year windows – but I can certainly identify what I see are major divisions of my life in which I think there was a fundamental shift in who I am as a person – (admittedly it was a little more gradual than it will be written here – I’m identifying it by major milestones):

  • Child – from about when I started having memories to 5th grade, when I switched to a Christian school
  • Pre-teen/Teen – Really just all of middle and high school – I didn’t change much in all of that time.
  • College – Probably extended a couple years beyond college… maybe 6 or 7 years of this – I’d call this a period of reinvention.
  • Married – This is definitely the shortest one, in no small part because of the shortness of one of the defining characteristics (and namesake) of this period
  • Divorced – Obviously barring becoming remarried to a person (lest you think otherwise, something that will never happen) once you are divorced from them you always will be. That said, I’m past the point of it defining me. But for probably a good 4 or 5 years, it did in many ways.
  • Dreamer – This one actually overlaps with the only before and the one after, perhaps never existing entirely on its own.
  • Philosopher – I can’t think of a better way to put it. This is where I feel I am now, and it’s marked by exploring philosophical ideas, culture, theology, history, etc.

When I write it all out and really think about it I can see the seeds of later versions of me being in place in earlier versions. I can also easily pinpoint the single largest shift in who I was (that divorce thing will do it to ya).

One of the things that happened in the marriage period that has sort of stuck with my and grown is an interest in politics. I didn’t really care about it much before that. Late in college I thought about it a bit, but it was mostly characterized by things that I knew I didn’t agree with – and there were plenty of things in both the political parties that I didn’t like (note that at the time I wasn’t really aware that you could be anything but a Republican or a Democrat). I didn’t vote in the 2004 election, which was the first election I was eligible to vote in, because I just couldn’t decide – it might surprise many to learn some of the things I felt I leaned left on at the time.

In this era we had Ron Paul make 2 runs in the Republican party and as a result I discovered libertarianism, which was pretty important for me if I was going to feel like I had a place in politics – whatever I agreed with or disagreed with the Republicans or Democrats on, neither seemed like something I felt compelled to be a part of. Prior to this discovery, politics were simply not important to me, and I wouldn’t have cared what you believed politically about almost anything (one or two exceptions I can think of).

Since then, I’ve started to follow politics quite extensively. I think it is a part of the “philosopher” mentality – political theory certainly ties into philosophy and culture and all or that. I’ve had plenty of discussions with people about it – it’s especially easy to get me talking about it if I’ve got a few beers in me and you bring up anything political at all. I definitely think it’s interesting, and, like most things, I’ve arrived at some outside-the-box conclusions about stuff. It puts me in a rather small camp. And so I’m pretty used to voting for people who don’t win (and never had a chance of winning) and pining for policies (or lack of them) that will never come to pass.

Then in recent years, things just got crazy – and when I say that I’m talking about both of those big parties. If you think only one is the problem, allow me to suggest you should pay more attention to the one you think isn’t a problem. People are super divisive, and if you disagree with someone their perception seems to be that it’s because you are somehow malicious, rather than a person who perhaps sees the same problem and has a different solution. That latter position is a perfectly fair one to take, and is how I saw Bernie Sanders in the 2016 campaign. I thought he identified a lot of problems very well – I just thought all of his solutions were terrible. But, that doesn’t make him evil or malicious.

I have a few friends who post on Facebook about politics almost incessantly. And it’s always negative. One of the things that I realized a few months after the 2016 election was that I didn’t want to post about politics constantly. It’s kind of just annoying. No one is going to change their mind, and you don’t accomplish anything by doing it. You just kind of frustrate yourself. So I went from posting about it fairly often to not doing so very much. Since then I’ve curbed Facebook use in general as well. I’ll often go a whole month and only post anything at all once or twice.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with people posting political commentary on Facebook. However, I do think they’re probably making themselves unhappy and accomplishing nothing of value. I believe that was the case for me. Especially if the things being posted are super negative all the time. We still have a long way to go to achieve a perfect society to be sure, but we live in objectively the best period of time ever – and I think we would do well to remember that from time to time, rather than always being angry that things aren’t perfect – much of the time I find I’m in agreement with people when they say that something is a problem, but their solution seems to be “tell people to stop doing bad thing x”. If only it were so simple.

So here’s what I’ve found. I can get super frustrated at people when the political ideas they throw out there don’t seem to me to be logical or really make any sense at all. But often those same people I think are perfectly nice and cool to be around. And I can easily interact with them without thinking even a bit about what their political ideas are.

So I wonder how often discussing politics is really valuable. One’s ability to shape politics is pretty miniscule – no matter what I think about anything, I have virtually no say in the matter (one way to put it is, in the event that it is otherwise a tie, you get to decide… otherwise you vote doesn’t matter). Where you really make headway is in changing people’s minds about things, and I really don’t think you do that by talking about politics directly. I think you do that by talking more about culture, and by simply being friends with people, sharing your way of thinking about the world with them. I won’t say there’s never a place for a political conversation, but I think we’d all do well to disengage politically for a bit from time to time, and really to focus WAY less on it in our day to day lives. We’re way too fixated on it right now.

For me, I’ve decided to take some time off from following politics. It’s actually a bit hard, because my youtube subscriptions and twitter and facebook are all full of all kinds of political stuff. But I just want to not engage for awhile. Part of me thinks maybe I should become a “post-political” version of myself. I think I’d be happier that way.

If you read all the way to the end here, I’m sorry. That had to have been painful. I’ll try to write something less rambly and more coherent next time around.

A New Week

So my writing discipline fell apart a bit over the weekend. I’m gonna try to get back on track here this week. I felt like I burned myself out a bit, so I’m not too sure the best way to go about this… I don’t know if it would be better to just not make myself do it every day, or commit to only 30 minutes or something like that. Or maybe I’m just being a wuss and I should suck it up and deal with doing it for an hour every day.

Also, WordPress updated itself… or rather, my webhost updated WordPress for me… and… this looks weird now. I guess I’ll get used to it.

After a lot of screwing around with a few Linux distros, I finally settled on Solus. Unless I want to play a game that I cannot get to work in Solus, the plan is to use it exclusively rather than Windows (which I will only use when I want to play a game I can’t get working here). I really like the feel of Solus a lot.

Anyway, that’s it for now… I know this one is just kinda random and rambly, but… whatever. Hopefully I get this writing thing back on track.


I’ve done a terrible job of doing daily posts since the end of my 100 days of crazy diet… and through the holiday season I’ve eaten pretty poorly, but all that is about to change…

No, I won’t be posting every day about my diet again, but I am going to try to make a post every day of 2019. To start out, there might be some ultra lame ones (take this one, for example), but I hope they’ll get better… and I hope I keep it up. Or you know, it could just be a failed New Years Resolution a few days or weeks from now.

I’m going to try to come up with a few themes and certain days of the week to post on those themes as a means of trying to have something to talk about.

Oh, and also, re the diet, I may talk about it sometimes (again, like I am in this post). I’ve got a couple more days where I’ll be a bit lax about it (this Friday and Saturday), though I am stopping my absolutely horrendous holiday eating as of this moment. I’ll have fun weight charts to share at the beginning of February – I’ll show all of what happened from when I came off diet around Thanksgiving to now – It’s not great, but I’m pretty sure a bunch of it is water weight… basically all my clothes that didn’t used to fit are still fitting, so the damage isn’t too bad… but, it’s definitely gone up. It’s not unexpected though, I’ve been eating pretty terribly for most of December.

I’ll see you tomorrow – With something hopefully interesting to say, and it won’t be diet related – I swear!

Failure To Post

So my hopes of doing daily blog posts seem to be fruitless. I should probably try to work into it slowly, maybe starting with Saturday and Sunday posts and posting during the week when/if I can.

I wanted to post today though because after my weight stagnating and upticking a few pounds following the diet change up, finally last night / this morning it seems to have moved downward again. I’m finally getting closer to that initial goal of 174 again. 176.4 was this morning’s weigh in. Once I’m there, I can finally say that I’m not overweight anymore. So that will be a big one for me.

Of course, the timeframe of Thanksgiving through Christmas and New Years is probably going to slow down progress, but I’m hopeful to hit 174 by the end of November and maintain it (or continue to lose) through the end of the year.

Upon hitting 174, the long beard will be going away as well. Now, I know that I won’t be going clean shaven, but, I’ve not decided exactly what I’ll be doing yet. I’d like to have some interesting facial hair, just shorter. We’ll see.

I’ve done a lot of running as well, I went 4 days in a row, took a day off on Wednesday because I went to a movie that night, then ran last night. I am going to a movie again tonight but might try to squeeze a run in as well. I will definitely run Saturday and Sunday.

Keeping Busy

I’ve not been doing a good job of continuing with posting on a daily basis. I missed like 2 or 3 days now, which, isn’t good. But, I’ve been busy working on some other things.

I went for a run both yesterday and today. That would have been unthinkable on the meat/veg only diet. Today was also my longest run in quite a long time… roughly 6.5k. As I was reaching close to the end of the 5k, I realized I still felt like I could go further, so I decided to press on a bit more. The reason for the .5 instead of the 6 was just that the extra stretch of the route I went on happened to take me that much further out, and I figured I may as well just run the whole rest of the way back to the start.

At any rate, I definitely could have still gone farther, but, I didn’t want to push it too much. Since I now know I can handle a longer distance and also that I can handle back to back days, I’m going to try to do 4 runs a week (probably 2 weekdays + saturday and sunday) – maybe even more – and on at least one of the days – specifically a weekend day – make the run longer… maybe try increasing it by 1K each week. I have to deal with K since that’s all my watch will track. Besides, it’s shorter than a mile so the increments are a bit less. If I decide I need it to be smaller increments still, I can always do half a K I guess.

Oh right, I never told you about my bagel. Amazing. I’ve really enjoyed having other foods again… I just got in a little big ago from my first grocery store run since changing my diet… got some soups and some sandwich stuff. Happy to have different things.

And I’m also enjoying a beer again here tonight. Part of my motivation for running is, it gets me enough extra calories burned so that I have some extra to spare for a beer without having to cut my food calories too much. So, if I can only have a beer on days that I run… then I will probably be running a lot of days.. haha.

Anyway, I’ll probably type up something election related tomorrow. I’d have done it tonight but… I’m just kinda tired.


I continue to enjoy eating things that are not meat or vegetables. I mean, some meat and vegetables slip in, but the other things accompanying them are great.

I know I keep promising not-diet-related posts, but that’s not today, and probably not tomorrow, I’m still too excited about the things I get to have now.

Here’s today’s rundown on food:


Breakfast: Maple and Brown Sugar Oatmeal.

Lunch: A “SmartMade” frozen meal… mexican pulled pork bowl – had some rice and corn and cheese and stuff.. pretty good.

Dinner: Black and Bleu steak sandwich

and finally… BEER.

Having finally had my first beer in 100+ days, I can definitely confirm for you that this Ben Franklin guy knew what he was talking about. This stuff is definitely proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

My first beer upon my return to drinking it? Bell’s Porter. I’d never had this one before, but, it’s really good.

And there’s some more great news too. I went for a run today. Weather was awesome for it, but, more importantly I can definitely confirm that the diet was the reason I was tiring out so quickly into the run. Tonight, not only did I not have to walk at all, but I could have easily kept running beyond the 5k if I had wanted to.

AND, weigh in this morning was pretty good. I was kind of expecting a raise. We’ll see what happens in the coming days, could be a delayed changeup I guess. But so far, so good. I’m feeling pretty good about things.

Tomorrow you’ll get to hear me rave about bagels and cream cheese. Maybe on Saturday you’ll get a not-diet post.

Until tomorrow!

Day Ninety-Seven

97! And I did it again – I forgot to post yesterday, so I’ll make up for it this morning.

I’m still hovering in the 178 range – hopeful that I’ll get a glimpse of 175 by my weigh in the morning of November 1st. The lowest I’ve seen thus far is 177.3, and usually after it goes back up for a few days, the next drop can be significant. So something like 175.9 (which I’d consider a glimpse of 175) is certainly possible. But, it’s not a given.

All that said, I’m excited to be able to eat a little more normally in a few days. And when I say normally I mean more like “how normal humans eats” rather than “how I normally eat”. At this point I don’t think I have a how I normally eat. Or at least I hope I don’t, because that was a big part of this. I truly am used to eating this way, and I could keep doing it if I wanted to / had to.

So what I see changing for me in the coming weeks is that starting on Thursday, I will probably begin eating some of the fruit there at work. I am going to try to hold off on snacky junk food for now (things like potato chips, crackers, etc). I’ll also likely start eating some yogurt for breakfast to start, though I *AM* going to have bagels w/ cream cheese on Fridays… because man, do I miss those.

Dinners will probably change less drastically. I guess cheese won’t be banned anymore, so there will be that. But they’re probably going to stay pretty low carb.

Anyway, I’ve gotta leave something to talk about tonight, so I better shut up now. It may already be too late.

Day Ninety-Six

96! Today was the last day that I have to skip the bagel at work. Next Friday I am totally having a bagel w/ cream cheese for breakfast. 400-500 calories well worth it.

This will also be the last weekend that I’m on the diet… I have to decide what my “cheat day” will be… either saturday or sunday. I think I’m going to say 2500 calories are allowed on that day, but, I’m not required to use them all.

Anyway, I’m tired… that’s all I’ve got tonight.