Thursday, October 25, 2007

Culture: 24 - season 7 trailer

There you go.

Hmm ... hacking into computers that control infrastructure?

Sounds a bit like Live Free or Die Hard?

Crashing planes into each other?

Sounds a bit like Die Hard 2?

Tony a bad guy?

Oh no, sounds like Mr. Phelps turning bad in Mission Impossible?

Travel: One stop travel page - my various photo travelogues

UPDATE: With the end of AOL Hometown and Geocities, many of the links below are broken or the pictures they call up are missing. It is my long-term goal to repair as many of the links as possible.

I enjoy travel!

Fully repaired links (if problems are found please send email to me at rrblog(at)
[in progress]
Glacier NP August 2005

Below are links to various travelogues with photos.
July 2008 - Mississippi and New Orleans
Midsummer 2008 in Stockholm
Oahu-Kauai, September 2007 - photos and travelogue
Oahu-Kauai, September 2007 - you tube video
Palm Springs, July 2007
Seeking the Scrolls, July 2007
San Francisco, June 2007
Mammoth, May 2007
Kansas, April 2007
Central California Coast - December 2006
Yosemite August 2006
Joshua Tree 2006
Big West Tournament 2006 - 6 posts
Yosemite trip 2005
Spring Break 2004: Switzerland and France
Minneapolis Photos September 2003
Gonna Go to Botswana (June/July 2003)
Backpacking class at Joshua Tree NP, Nov. 2002
Alaska adventure 2002
My 2001 Asia trip!
See the Red Rock Country of Sedona, AZ
French Canada 2000
In EUROPE, 1999 -- see the photos!
Canadian Rockies 1998
Wanna go on a road trip? Across America 1997
LONDON in 1997

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Life: Hung's 60th birthday party and Fan lab reunion

I went to UC Irvine for graduate school in the department of molecular biology and biochemistry and did my dissertation work in the laboratory of Hung Fan.

The other weekend, alumni of the lab came from around the world for a reunion and to celebrate his 60th birthday!

It was such a nice feeling to reconnect!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Life: Random thoughts this morning

Image source:

STS-120 has launched and is underway!

Meanwhile, back on the earth, in Southern California, wild fires rage on.

Image source:

If one believes in god, how does one pray in the face of such an enormous situation?

Lord, don't know what to pray right now. All I can ask is that you would work through the firefighters giving them strength and wisdom across the board from those on the ground to those who lead them. Thank you that such courageous people are a part of our communities. Lord, thank you for the compassionate impulses of those who are volunteering to help the evacuees and are opening up their homes and their resources to help people who have lost all their material possessions. Creator God, with a mere word you can still the winds and raise the humidity of the air so that these devestating fires can be diminished and I ask that you would do so. Amen.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sports: Topsy turvey College Football 2007

Wow. Can't believe all the top ranked teams are getting beat week after week.

Goes to show you that just because a team has a stable full of 4 and 5 star recruits, they aren't sure fire world beaters. A team is more than just the some of its parts. Also, a key injury here and there, you not only lose the talent at that spot, you lose the chemistry of a unit that had been playing together.

Stanford (2-4) beats #1 USC. Oregon State (4-3) beats #2 California. UCLA (4-2) beat both Stanford and Oregon State. UCLA lost to Utah (4-3) and Notre Dame (1-6). What next?

UCLA plays California this Saturday. As of Monday morning, on Yahoo! Sports NCAAF Odds it is off the board! I guess that means the number crunchers in Las Vegas don't want to risk the house money on a crazy game like that where who knows which QB will play and how they will play?

In any case, Go Bruins!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Devotional Thoughts: The Gospels as Screenplays?

What are the Gospels?

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.


But what are they?

They aren't biographies in the way we understand biographies.

Today, when we think of biographies we think of massive tomes like Doris Kearns Goodwin writing about Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt (768 pages!) or David McCullough's Truman (1120 pages!).

Grabbing one of my Bibles on my bookshelf:
Matthew, p. 554-572 (18 pages)
Mark, p 573-585 (12 pages)
Luke, p. 586-607 (21 pages)
John, p. 608-623 (15 pages).

If one were to read aloud the Gospel of Mark, how long would it take?

According to Gary Friesen about 90 minutes!

Would it be horrifying to think of the Gospels as movie screenplays?

Interestingly, one recent film maker opted to use the text of the Gospel of John as his script for a movie. The film ran 180 minutes.

The life of Jesus in all its detail would be far too much to write about. The Gospel of John acknowledges this in John 21:25: Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

Inherent to a biography is selection of material. Doris Kearns Goodwin could have probably written several thousand pages about FDR but she cut it down to 768 pages.

And if her book were ever to be made into a movie, the screen writer would trim it down even more.

Did the Gospel writers act as the screen writers of their day?

There must have been lots of material written about Jesus and a lot of material that existed in oral form. At some point, with the church growing, as a practical matter, authoritative and reliable material about Jesus had to be produced.

We get hints of that from Luke 1:1-4: Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

And so a screen writer must adopt a style and select material accordingly.

The Gospel of Mark doesn't beat around the bush and dives right in with Mark 1:1: The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

This is followed by the citation of prophecy from the Old Testament, a brief sketch of John the Baptist, Jesus baptism and temptation, Jesus preaching, Jesus calling the disciples, Jesus healing and so on ... boom, boom, boom ... in staccato fashion with quick hit episodes.

The Gospel of Matthew takes an entirely different approach. There are long lingering passages like the Genealogy of Jesus found in Matthew 1:1-17, the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 or the Kingdom Parables of Matthew 13.

Skeptics will say, yup, they wrote screenplays as in fictionalized and fabricated and fanciful stories of a Jesus who never existed.

They presume intentional deception on the part of the Gospel writers.

On the other hand, is it possible that they selected and arranged actual stories, events, deeds and teachings of Jesus and wove them into a screenplay?

They are not meant to be exhaustive and comprehensive biographies of Jesus. Instead, imagine if you will, an executive producer (God in this case) asking four film makers (Gospel writers) to come up with a script for a movie about the life of Jesus running anywhere from 90 minutes to 4 hours so that followers of Jesus would be encouraged in and educated about their faith.

Result: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Lord, you say, Come, follow me. It isn't easy. It wasn't easy for the disciples in the Gospels either. But you have called and have given us instruction and have sent the Holy Spirit to remind, convict and empower us. Lord, help me to follow you and live a life that shows you are in my life. Amen.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Travel: Hawaii-Kauai, September 2007

My first You Tube video!


UPDATE: Here is a YouTube video that shows there is trouble in the paradise of Kauai.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Devotional Thoughts: The stories of our times

In youth group today, the idea was what's our story?

And is our story inter-voven with God's story?

Part of the way the message was given was through film. The latest one isn't yet posted on the group's film page but hopefully it will be soon.

Anyway, it got me started into a reflective mood and so in that mood sometimes I write.

Here is what I jotted down in my journal today:

Cars going too fast
Eating too much
Eating too little
We follow the folly of the famous
Diminished life
Images in movies
Sounds of music
To dull the pain?
Missing a cross on a hill
Redeeming life
To whom do we go?
To whom shall we go?
To the living water
The true bread?
Receive life.

Lord, you are on the move in this world. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Thy Kingdom come. Master, will I be a part of what you are doing in this world? Jesus, I want to be; help my unwillingness. Send others to spur me onward. Send me to spur others onward. Amen.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Sports: UCLA self-destructs against ND

What can you say?

The 14-point defeat was entirely accounted for by two turnovers that ND cashed in.

Key play call by the Bruin brain trust: 3rd and long deep in their own territory. They call for a pass and it got intercepted which eventually led to an ND TD for a 13-6 lead.

If they had called for a run, they would have punted on fourth down. ND would have had good field position but they weren't showing much offensive prowess against the UCLA defense.

Do you fault the walk-on freshman third string QB for throwing the INT or do you fault the OC and the head coach for making that play call deep in your side of the field?

UCLA gets one week off to absorb their second very bitter loss of the season and the second bitter loss at the hands of the Golden Domers in two years.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Devotional Thoughts: What makes church different?

Really, what makes church different?

We sing songs.

I suppose if one when to go to one of these arty coffee shops where people sing thoughtful songs they have written it might seem similar. Or how about karaoke? Isn't that fun singing?

We hear sermons.

I suppose people go to public lectures to hear people expound on some subject matter of importance or share their life experiences. I bet self-help book authors get big audiences at book tours.

We contemplate.

I suppose with the rise of yoga and new age meditation, people do something similar.

Really, what makes church different?

When we gather at together as a church (not necessarily a place but rather a community of people), we do the three things mentioned above. And it is supposed to be different.

Certainly, the content is different: Christians sing to, learn about and contemplate about Jesus.

And what does Jesus say is the most important thing?

Can't help but think about Jesus in his final thoughts he shared with his disciples before going to the cross. For instance, John 15:12-17:

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.

In youth group planning meeting there was a discussion about how youth today feel abandoned. And in the broader society there seems to be a rough edge to how people interact with each other.

Indeed, love would mark Christians as different.

People often think of the Apostle Paul as a grumpy old hard nosed guy. He probably had some of that. But what else did he write?

I Corinthians 13:2 ... if I have not love, I am nothing ...

Lord, help me to be lost in your love. To swim in it. To drink deeply from the wonder of it. I'm an empty vessel. I'm a leaky vessel. God, I have nothing in of myself to give to others. So, Jesus, help me draw near to you. Fill me with the Holy Spirit so that I may go forth into the world and be your hands and feet to a lost and dying world. Amen.

Sports: Dodgers done and UCLA in the middle

The Dodgers were riding high mid-season then they had the slump from which they never fully recovered.

As they say winning helps cover up a lot of clubhouse infighting and it was so unseemly to see the team take to public sniping as the season came to a disappointing end.

There is blame to go all around. Some of acquisitions didn't work out, the veterans had injuries and underperformed and the kids showed promise but also made mistakes.

Its baseball. Wait 'till next year.

Meanwhile after seeing the BYU game at the Rose Bowl, I knew this team wasn't ready for prime time and they promptly got humiliated in Utah. They bounced back for wins against Washington and Oregon State.

Clearly, the class of the Pac10 are USC, Cal Bears, Oregon Ducks and Arizona State. UCLA might stake claim to being the #5 team in the Pac10. But soon enough, UCLA will have to play the aforementioned top tier. We shall see if UCLA can take any of them down.