Friday, September 23, 2011


After all those wonderful days of summer being able to post every day, school is exhausting when it comes to managing time well. So instead of giving you a regular weekly challenge, I'm going request for tips about high school. What's a good trick to make sure you don't fall asleep before you homework gets done? Best food to eat after a soccer game? How does a person stay on top of college applications? Time management and waking up early? What's a good way to clear your mind?

-What are some good tips relating to high school?
-Share below in the comments or email to!
-I appreciate the extra effort for commenting/replying. So why not, throw in another blog topic you want me to write about and I'll find time later in the year =]

Stereo Hearts- Gym Class Heroes

It's been a while since I've posted. School's taking more out of me than I expected, so expect less frequent posting for a month or two. Enjoy a great song while you're at it though. =D

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Lion King- 3D in Theaters

Disney certainly knew what they were doing when they decided to bring back The Lion King to theaters, this time boasting 3D animation for a limited 2 weeks. It was a smart move- I just came back from watching it tonight and the theater was packed, most of whom were teenagers. I mean, the original one came out in 1994. But having it brought back to us made it that much more exciting and epic to go see. The movie was GOOD. Better than I remembered from last watching it five or six years ago, though part of it is the retouched animation and high quality resolution. It's such a classic. All of it- the epic story, the music, the characters... they were brought back with just the added touch of being in 3D. It wasn't eye popping, but it fit nicely and was comfortable to watch. I think most of the awesomeness came from just the movie itself, which is a fantastic movie for all ages.

I'm hard pressed to think of a movie with more vivid and alluring characters. The grandeur of seeing Mufasa on the big screen, the antics of Rafiki, the sheer hilarity that naturally comes with Pumbaa and Timon, the chilling wickedness of Scar... I mean, the stampede scene and Mufasa's fall was just epic. Heart-wrenching, but epic. And just revisiting everything else and enjoying the movie with friends made it special to watch again. I was particularly moved by the songs- partly because my friends were singing along and reciting lines by heart throughout the entire movie, and partly because they were just awesome. The voices are so charismatic. Rafiki and Scar are my two most favorite characters, hands down. Scar's cruelty makes me hate him to death, but I love him as a character and the embodiment of evil. A lot of movies and books are defined by how well the bad guy is portrayed. And Scar's "Be Prepared" song in the movie gave me chills because I always hated that part when I was watching the Lion King as a kid.

Hans Zimmer and Elton John, I applaud thee. The music and voices in the movie are the absolute best. Listening to the soundtrack makes me want to go trek trough the African savanna, find a pomegranate, smear it on a lion cub's forehead and just hold it aloft a giant rock in triumph. Absolutely legendary.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Giving things a second chance

What what YOU do for a Klondike bar.... the second time around?

Let me tell you, I used to not like Klondikes at all. I was more of a vanilla ice cream type of person- the ratio of chocolate shell to actual ice cream in a Klondike was too much for me. The chocolate came across as an annoyance rather than a bonus, hindering the taste of the ice cream. I would always try to eat the chocolate shell first, which wasn't that good to begin with because the shards of chocolate in your mouth took forever to melt and were overly sweet. They just weren't as enjoyable as ice cream sandwiches for example, which were moist and chewy and more balanced than a Klondike bar, not to mention a lot less messy. Klondikes came across as just an all-around 2nd choice ice cream dessert... I would never reach for one if I had a choice, but I would occasionally eat one if there was nothing better.

The other day, however, I came home to find a big pack of Klondikes in the freezer, which my mom had apparently gotten at the local wholesale club without asking me. So I decided to give Klondikes another chance, figuring that it was better to eat them rather than let them go to waste. The first one was pretty mediocre. I wasn't too excited about having them, but having some ice cream is better than no ice cream after all. And so I came back for seconds and then thirds. And the interesting part was that as I had more, I started to look forward to eating Klondikes after mowing the lawn or finishing my homework or while I was watching TV. I don't know if I finally "acquired" the taste, or if I simply discovered a better way to eat Klondike bars.

You see, I always used to eat the Klondikes the same way: pick off the chocolate shell first, then try to enjoy the goopy ice cream mess inside without distraction. I was getting tired of that method, so I decided to try something new- I straight up bit into a Klondike bar and chomped my way through. And then I realized, that was the way it was supposed to be eaten- chocolate shards and vanilla ice cream together in one bite, not eaten separately. Each bite had a creamy but crunchy texture to it. You would chew into the shards of chocolate while savoring the vanilla tones as the ice cream melted first, leaving the chocolate on the top of your tongue, slowing melting away and leaving a nice aftertaste. That delayed melting of chocolate is a nice contrast to the ice cream and really allows you to enjoy each bite. The cold introduction of the ice cream, the combination of chocolate and vanilla at the same time, and finally the chocolate finish before you start over with a fresh bite.

So you never really know about the foods and desserts that you dislike. Perhaps you haven't given it enough of a chance, or the problem lies in the way you think and perceive the food rather than how it tastes. I know Klondikes have won me back over. But that got me thinking, if I can give ice cream bars a second chance, I most certainly can give people second chances as well. That initial negative impression I might of had with someone might be totally false now. Or I haven't yet discovered a truly admirable characteristic of a person. Friends, family, or strangers... second chances can sometimes lead to awesome things. But it's important that you give them that chance to begin with. (Broccoli and brussels sprouts remain as exceptions, but I'm working on it.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

VERSE- Pattern of the world

Romans 12:2
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will."

It is often too easy for us to fall into the patterns of this world. We live our lives in such predetermined routine that we lose sight of the most important things in life. We forget the bigger picture and focus on matters that really are of trivial importance but end up holding a big part in our hearts and minds. As a teen, school is the dominating force that most of our lives are based around, whether we're conscious of it or not. Many people are working hard and striving to earn good grades for their future. Sports and music and clubs all tie in to school, as well as other extracurricular activities. The people we go to class with and the people we are friends with, all these relationships hold a big part of our lives that we interact with on a daily basis. School and friends and clubs certainly are not bad, but in my life I find that they often take the place of God or reading the Bible. I get caught up in excelling in school and applying to colleges and practicing for soccer, things that this world values, but forget the simple act of doing devotions or talking with Jesus, the very savior of my life!

When you think about it, there are a lot things that people aspire to have in this world- good grades, friendship, athleticism, comfort, a job, an interesting hobby... but none of them can truly take the place of God. As a busy teen about to apply to college, I find that I often have to have "renewings of my mind" on a daily basis. Here I am, a top student, all happy because I'm doing well in school and soccer and clubs, but I forget that I'm not the one who can ultimately live my life alone. Take away all my activities and hobbies and successes, and what do I have? Nothing but Jesus. And that's the way I should strive to live- to do these things, to go to school and play a sport and play a musical instrument, but according to God's good, pleasing, and perfect will. To live my life for and through Him, and not controlled by the patterns of this world. Because we already live in the routines of this world, it is especially hard to break free of a certain mindset that earthly things are more important than a spiritual connection with God. We may know that deep inside, but we must try to act that way every day. Only then will you be "transformed" by this renewing of your mind.


If you're a teen or just enjoy reading this blog, submit a blog topic for me to write about! Fall's coming- you can feel it in the air. Before you know it the leaves will be covering the sidewalks in red, orange, and gold, delightfully crunchy underneath your feet.

-When is the first official day of autumn?
-Email or comment me the answer, along with a blog topic! If it's correct it'll be a done deal.
-The "Leave a Comment" link is right below, my email is =D

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Escape- Mt Eden (Dubstep)

A lot of songs sound a lot more epic when they include a choir part. It resounds more deeply and carries more emotion behind it- useful in fight scenes, film conclusions, or movie trailers. (Harry Potter 7 part 2 trailer anyone?)

Escape- Mt Eden:

Heart of Courage- Two Steps from Hell:

I rest my case.

Admiration vs. Jealousy

Isn't it funny how certain qualities have only a fine line distinguishing them from another quality? Take confidence vs cockiness, for example. What comes across as confidence to one person might seem like overconfidence and arrogance to someone else. A person who does not know them personally might have a hard time deciding which it really is, confidence or cockiness. The same holds true for ingenuity vs insanity... what might come across as an act of madness at the time might later be revealed to be an act of brilliance. Inventors, trend-setters, and scientists often have to deal with this initial misunderstanding.

There are plenty of others...  I can think of independence vs alienation and courageous vs reckless right now. Or how about admiration vs jealousy? That's something I find that as teens we may deal with a lot, whether we're conscious of it or not. There's a lot of competition in a typical high school student's life. Grades, for one, are always a source of contest. "Hey, what did so-and-so get on that last math test? 87? *fist pump* I got two points higher!" Or SATs and standardized tests, for example. And that's just academics. Competition gets fierce when it comes to high school sports or even music ensembles, where not everyone can participate so some sort of selection process is required. Sport try-outs can sometimes be difficult when it comes to making the cut for the team and then seeing who gets the most playing time. I'm lucky to go to a high school where our sports teams are really team-spirited and encouraging rather than cut-throat when it comes to practices and games, but I'm sure this is not the case in other schools.

The same goes for musical ensembles and auditioning for chair seating, auditions for a school musical or drama production, and even club competitions. All of these are opportunities for a student to compare himself or herself to all the others. And when one student rises above the rest, does that inspire admiration or jealousy? I find it difficult to gauge my own reaction sometimes... on one hand, I have admiration and respect for anyone that can achieve such success. But if that person is someone I know as a friend, sometimes the feeling of "why not me" (in other words, jealousy) masks the admiration and turns my feelings into resentment.
This is especially hard for friends in a competitive setting, where both are trying out for a team or auditioning for a part in a play. One makes it to the top, the other falls. What's the result?

It's so hard to be able to say "I'm happy for you" honestly. Disappointment often gets in the way of true and selfless joy for a friend. The line between admiration (even if reluctant) and jealousy is important to distinguish in order to better understand your own emotions. Jealousy has negative connotations and usually feels bad and self-destructive, whereas learning to admire and respect a friend (or stranger) for what they do is much more inspiring and positive.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fans are awesome

Someone in the crowd brought a vuvuzela to our soccer match today. It was awesome. 
Fans are truly awesome. And by that I mean team supporters, not the electric ones you turn on when it's hot. Why do they call them "fans" anyways? For any sports team out there, it's always 100 times better when fans came to watch and support you. The feeling of being on the field or court or track and hearing familiar voices shout out encouragement while you compete has got to be the best feeling in the world for any athlete. And spectators- don't forget that your presence is always appreciated! It may not seem like people notice you out of the crowd, but the teams do. It's so encouraging when other classmates have school spirit and take time out of their day to watch a game or match. I had that honor this evening to have a sizable crowd at our soccer match. So you know what, fan-with-the-vuvuzela? You just made my day.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

End of summer, back to school

It's here, once again. The end to one whole summer of fun, laughter, excitement, memories, pool parties, family, friends, bug bites, and talking into the night. The end to sleeping in. The end to joyful abandon and rested peace. I will miss those lazy afternoons and memorable evenings spent walking around and enjoying the time at hand, not worrying about the next day. I will miss taking the time to gaze at the stars and feel the wind on my skin, soaking in the golden rays of summer sun or savoring a refreshing, cold drink. The days of warmth and sun are giving way to autumn, cooler temperatures and overcast skies.

It's interesting to think that many people still put a lot of emphasis on New Year's resolutions, the turning of the year from December to January. But by then the weather one day is already indistinguishable from the next. In Syracuse, there will already by a thick layer of white snow on the ground. The only quivering energy in the air is the energy left over from Christmas. For teens and young adults still going to school, doesn't it make more sense to base the year around September? I know I do- it's an obvious transition from relaxation to work. And it's shocking how fast summer vacation has gone by.

It feels like only yesterday I was still in California with my cousins, enjoying the beach and lack of work or stress. Getting my senior schedule in the mail was one thing, knowing I have to pack my bag for 8 hours of school tomorrow is another. And don't even talk to me about getting up at 6 am. I guess in some ways I am still excited to go back to school. I get to see all my friends and classmates again, which is always fun. There's a feeling of authority now presiding with us seniors. We can just walk to school and through the hallways and just feel like we own the place. Classes and homework will be a bother, but that's okay, fall sports and other school spirit events will make up for it.

And as for those who already started school, you have my sympathies. The first day of school is fun. The second day is alright. The third day is bearable. And then it usually goes downhill from there. But hey, there are still other things to be happy about. Autumn is coming, the leaves will be changing color and the bugs will start to disappear. Forget some of the disappointments of summer and concentrate on having a good year. After all, the feeling of a fresh start only comes once a school year.

Interesting commercials

Some commercials just make me laugh. When I saw the hamster dance commercial for Kia Soul, I just had to go back and watch it again. (Song is Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO.)

It's funny how a popular or recent pop song can really make a commercial stick in your head (successful marketing right there, I guess). And how about this Doritos commercial from the 2007 Superbowl?

But then there are also commercials that are truly inspiring. I remember this one from a while back that I loved watching every time it came on. So much so that I even found it on Youtube. They made the soundtrack into a whole album entitled "The Blue Sky Project." This particular clip uses the song "Pirates," but I still think back to this commercial every time I hear it on my ipod. The boy, the ships, the billowing sails... to me the music captures the essence of youthful imagination. 

What other commercials have you seen that you think are really memorable? Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Be a hose, not a beaker

Metaphors are my favorite literary device to use. I don't mean to bring you back to memories of English class and rhetoric analysis and all that, but metaphors can be extremely powerful. The act of comparing something directly to a common or well-known object immediately creates a connection in your mind, a vivid picture that is summoned in just one or two words. Take a regular garden hose, for example. I could use imagery to describe it- "Our hose, green and made of a tough synthetic rubber, coils in a pile from the spigot and around the house, hard to distinguish from the long grass." Or, I could be a bit more efficient and use a metaphor. "Our hose is a snake that slithers around the house." Think of metaphors as a key to a bank. Inside the bank are safes containing information you already know about certain objects or things. A snake, you know, can be green and have tough, scaly skin. It can coil up or stretch around a yard. The metaphor simply accesses that database of knowledge that you already have, using a short one or two words instead of long, arduous descriptions to provide the same effect.

The Bible, whether you believe in it or not yet, is an amazing yet timeless text. It uses metaphors everywhere. We are the sheep. Jesus is our Shepard. There are the fruits of the spirit. God is the light. His Word is our bread. During the Last Supper (Luke 22:7-22), for example, Jesus takes the bread and specifically said, "This is my body which is given for you." Then he takes the wine, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." There are more metaphors than I could list.

But one stands out more than the others in the Old Testament, and that is water. Water can be seen as a universal metaphor that is used not only in the Bible but in all different cultures. All creatures need it to survive. Therefore it represents life. In the Bible it also symbolizes truth and knowledge. My Young Life leaders did an awesome job (well, they're all-around awesome anyways but did a particularly good job) in explaining it to us last Tuesday. We were looking at John 7:38, and there it was again, the metaphor of water. "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." What? you must be thinking. Streams of water will flow from within a person? Of course water will not literally gush out of a person's pores. In our awesome data bank of knowledge though, we know that water is clear. It is refreshing, cool, good to drink, necessary for life. In this particular verse, the streams of water represent joy, hope, and love, anything and everything that is good that can come out of a person, whether through words or actions or body language. But you know what? My Young Life leaders reminded us that streams have to have a source: Jesus.

And here comes the genius of the lesson that my leaders presented. It is quite clear that the living water does not come from the person themselves. So since we're using the metaphor of water to represent companionship, kindness, knowledge, and love, why not take it a step further and compare humans to containers holding that water? A hose is a conduit for water- it transfers that which is not its own. We as humans have nothing good of our own, but when God works through us (like water through a hose), then as John 7:38 says, "streams of living water will flow from within us." In real life, these streams of water will be visible as a warm greeting from a stranger, an act of random kindness, sympathy from a friend, encouragement from your siblings, or anything else that is positive and loving. It may still sound confusing to non-Christians for the Bible to use words like "living water" and all these other metaphors, but it's alright, I encourage anyone to look more into this on their own time. (Heck, it was even confusing to me when I first tried to understand it). 

But putting things in terms of common objects makes it easier to understand. The water is not mine, it is the living water of Jesus. I simply want to be a hose and conduct some of His love and knowledge and Word to the world, not be a beaker (as my Young Life leader put it, he just had to introduce chemistry terms into it) and keep the water bottled up and stagnant. "Be a river, not a swamp." The things that I say and the Bible verses that I quote are not my words at all, because they don't originate from me, but from God. So I'm content to stay here and keep typing, hoping that something I write will help people in some small way. And hoping that my previous English teachers will come across this post and realize that they did a good job in teaching me about metaphors after all. 

Surface- Dimrain47

Just listening to this song makes me happy. Good techno/electronic songs are awesome to listen to when working out or on a run. Dimrain47 is one of the best.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Strengths and Weaknesses

For anyone who is expecting a college interview in the near future, this is almost certainly a question that will be asked- "In light of your own characteristics and achievements, what do you think are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?" If I was asked that out of the blue, I know I wouldn't always have an answer ready. In some aspects it would be easy to answer. I have strengths in playing soccer and tennis, weaknesses in swimming and floor hockey. I do well in English class but not French. But what if the topic turned to life outside of classes and sports?

Romans 12:6 got me thinking about the strengths and weaknesses God gave me as a person. "We have different gifts, according to the grace given us," the verse says. God gave me the talent and skill to be a soccer player, not a swimmer. He gave me gift of writing and expressing my thoughts in English, but also the opportunity to struggle in French. But what about the strengths and weaknesses He gave me as a Christian?

God gave us all different gifts. It is possible I have not found mine yet. But by looking at the social circles I'm a part of and the different activities and organizations I participate in, I have a feeling one of the gifts that God gave me is the way I can relate to a lot of different people. I can talk with other people and understand them when they talk about their lives. I share common interests with a lot of people and always try to be friends with whoever I meet. Maybe the reason God intended that was so I could try to share his message better with other people. People listen to others they associate with themselves better than they would listen to a complete stranger, after all. And the fact that I've gained the trust and respect of a certain group makes it easier for me to talk to them about other things, including God.

But that being said, I also have weaknesses that I have to deal with. If I'm a light for Jesus, then I am a candle that flickers constantly in the wind. I find that I try to please others too much, instead of focusing on just pleasing God. Sure, I can relate to others well, but sometimes it comes with the sacrifice of my morals or beliefs. I preoccupy myself with seeking people's approval and sometimes change myself in order to "fit in." There are a couple of verses in the Bible that talk about the importance of pleasing God, not man.

So it's kind of ironic that my strength and weakness are so closely related. Perhaps there is a reason for that as I go on with my life, making me doubly cautious with how I act. I think it's good to know your own strengths and weaknesses, in whatever you do. This is especially true in sports and academics as you are always striving to get better. To get that weak foot up to par, or to keep in mind your academic strengths and weaknesses so that you can choose an ideal career path. But it is also true with relationships and daily life. So let me turn around and ask you: what are the strengths and weaknesses that you think God gave you?

Sunday, September 4, 2011


It's one thing to see and read about people achieving great things, but another thing entirely to see your peers doing things of similar merit. Age is something we relate to right away. Similarities in experiences, thought, or conditions make you feel more connected to that person, and many of those are dependent on age.

How many times have you felt awkward at a check-out line or embarrassed to see a classmate working in a clothing store? When we're shopping, we like our cashiers to be faceless and distant. The moment there's a personal connection, such as realizing it's the person-you-sorta-know-from-school-because-they-sit-next-to-you-in-class-but-you-never-say-hi-to-them-in-the-hallway, you pay more attention to them and feel more self conscious. This happens even if you don't know them personally, but they look to be about your age. Now that I'm 17, I always feel a bit weird when the cashier is younger than me, yet holding a job and telling me to "Have a nice day."

That being said, it is much more remarkable for me to watch the U-17 Fifa World Cup than the actual World Cup, simply because the players are all my age or younger, yet playing on a world stage. When you see other people your age doing great things, you feel inspired in a way that reading about an adult doing the same thing doesn't. That is why as a new blogger, I am particularly interested in reading blogs that other teens are maintaining. So when I stumbled across a website called MuseShark, my mind was blown. Lee Downen, the author of the blog, is 17 like myself and a senior in high school. But when I first clicked onto his website, the only thing I could do was marvel at how professional it looked. It's a really, well set up blog, with a lot of content that interests me. So I couldn't help but draw attention to it because that's what it deserves.

Let me summarize: when people around your age do something awesome, you feel empowered because you feel connected in some way and there's a small voice in side of you going, "Hey, he's like me, a senior in high school. If he can do it, why can't I?" Their actions alone, the fact that they accomplished something, proves that it's possible.

Prodigies and genii are a bit too far out of reach to be inspiring. They're awe-inducing, but not empowering. It's the people just short of that, who exceed expectations but aren't unreal, that command awe and respect. They're almost within reach, but most importantly, they retain their realistic edge and human qualities. You can associate yourselves with them in some way. Lee Downen has a great blog set up that has captured a lot of attention. Because I've seen that it is possible, I can hope to do the same. After all, it's good to be inspired by your peers once in a while.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


I talked a lot about one of my new favorite bands, Mumford & Sons, here. If you have a blog topic you want to submit for me to write about, just answer the question below and include the topic in your comment or email!

-What's the name of the member who plays string bass?
-(Email me at or post below)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Forget scoring, I want the "assist"

Take a moment and reflect on some of the joys in your life. Think about the things that you love to do, the things that truly make you happy not because it will earn you money or prove advantageous to you in any way, but because you think it is a worthwhile activity. What do you come up with?

For me, playing soccer is one the joys in my life. I've played on my school team since 7th grade, and though at times there is stress and competition and pain involved, it's a sport I truly love to play. There's nothing quite like making a full sprint down the field for the through ball or solidly tackling an opponent to force the turnover, or beating a defender and just striking the ball in the perfect spot for that sweet upper ninety goal. But for me personally, the greatest joy comes from providing the key assist in the heat of competition for a teammate to score.

For non-soccer players, forwards (also called strikers) like to keep track of two things during the season: One is the number of goals that they score, the other is the number of "assists" they get. Whenever a goal is a scored, the "assist" is awarded to the player who passed the ball to the player who scored (the goal is obviously awarded to whoever last touched the ball before it went into the net). It could be a through ball that is placed neatly through the defense, or the brilliant cross that the scorer heads into the net. The "assister" helps directly before the goal is scored, providing the opportunity for the scorer to score.

So why would a striker like me rather get an assist than a goal? I played our first scrimmage of the year yesterday against a really tough team. We did well to keep possession and look for opportunities, but to tell the truth there weren't many. At one point during the game I was able to receive the ball and turn upfield against a few defenders. I pushed the ball through a gap to my teammate, who ran onto the ball and went one-on-one against the keeper. He neatly finished, slotting the ball into the lower left corner, and I just went crazy- I turned around and sprinted towards him, almost tackling him as I wrapped him in a big victory hug. That's what I love most, that feeling of elation of helping to score a goal, then celebrating with the scorer for a job well done. As the scorer in a game I don't like to celebrate that much. I guess I don't like to come across as boastful or arrogant. But when I celebrate with a teammate for an assist, it's the genuine joy of making a beautiful play and succeeding in what the game is all about- scoring a goal.

And the more I thought about it after the game, the more I realized I should apply that thought to real life as well. Oftentimes we don't "celebrate" enough with our friends and family, going crazy over the things that they do well in, whether or not you had a part in their success. I actually feel very satisfied whenever I can "assist" someone in life, whether it's contributing my time, effort, or knowledge to aid them in their endeavors, despite the lack of "fame." I mean, goalscorers always get their name in the paper. They are the ones that people notice and remember. This isn't always the case for the "assisters," key players who brought about the opportunity but just didn't participate in that final glorifying moment. Defenders, I'm sure, know exactly what I'm talking about. And it's the same in real life, we don't always get recognized for that brilliant pass or discreet aid. But that's okay. As Christians we should seek to serve others as Jesus did, supporting people in ways that aren't always noticed. We should share the joy of others who succeed, and truly being happy for them, not just offering them congratulations and a pat on the back. There's absolutely nothing wrong with being the goalscorer from time to time. But other times we must learn to be proud to be the washer of other people's feet, to be the goal assister or defensive MVP of a game that often goes unrecognized.