There's literally been a lot of earth-shaking reported on the news the past few days.
So naturally I wanted to do a bit of research online to get a little more information.
It surprised me to learn that over 120 earthquakes have been recorded in the last seven days alone, according to the Recent Earthquakes page on the US Geological Survey website.
When I add to the mix all the active volcanoes that have recently been making their presence felt, I can't help but wonder if all this activity is truly noteworthy or if our increasingly wired and informed world is simply making it easier to know what's going on in the world.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
There's literally been a lot of earth-shaking reported on the news the past few days.
It took a bit of experimentation, but I was finally able to update my Flickr badge today. I had gotten a bit tired of the old Flash-based badge, and wanted to do something a little more fun.
Thanks to a bit of web surfing, I found Veerle's wonderful blogpost that describes how she tweaked the generic Flickr html badge code so that it would display four Flickr images in a 2-by-2 grid.
I had wanted to display six images in a 2-by-3 grid, so her CSS/XHTML code was exactly what I needed.
Now that the badge is there and displayed in a fairly prominent spot on my sidebar, I guess I'll need to upload new photos more often.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
A lot of the people I've talked to in the past week have said that they don't quite feel the Christmas spirit this year. I found it interesting how I've heard the exact same comment from friends in different social circles. The feeling seems to be present regardless of age or social circumstances. I find myself half-wondering if there is something in the air we're breathing or the water we're drinking that's making everyone feel this way!
It might be that my friends are all getting older... and the many "repeats" have worn away the polish and shimmer of the holidays, leaving only things that are faded, familiar, and almost chore-like. It's got a nice homey feel, yes, but it lacks the zest and the sparkle.
* * *
Earlier today in church, I remember thinking to myself that pastors must have a really hard time figuring out how to keep their Christmas sermons relevant and fresh with each passing year.
It takes a lot of effort to dig deep down inside for some new insight to re-ignite that feeling of wonder, appreciation, and love. Especially when you're preaching to people who have read the Christmas Story a gazillion times already.
I guess if there's anyone whom I expect should be able to find the Christmas Spirit every year, it would be our spiritual leaders.
Strangely enough, I find Easter a lot more moving than Christmas, perhaps because Easter is a lot less commercialized and there area very few social expectations attached to it. Plus it is traditionally a time for reflection. During the Christmas holidays, there's very little time to think when we're all running around like the proverbial headless chicken.
* * *
Merry Christmas! May we all rediscover the true meaning of Christmas this holiday season.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Warning: Long and Rambling Entry.
Have lately been reading a book by Max Lucado entitled "It's Not About Me: Rescue from the Life We Thought Would Make Us Happy."
The book was a birthday present from a couple whom I've known socially for quite some time, although I guess it would be a bit of a stretch to say that we're close friends. Not that I wouldn't want to be a close friend; it's more a lack of opportunity than anything else.
Anyway, it's a highly readable book, and I agree with most of the things that are in it (I'm only half-way through so there's still a chance that I'll find something really disagreeable before I finish it).
* * *
What I particularly like about the book is that it touches on the one aspect of the Christian faith that's my stumbling block: the fact that God has done and will do everything for His glory.
Below is a passage from pp.40-41. The Chapter Title is "Divine Self-Promotion."
God exists to showcase God.And by golly, that last question encapsulates the biggest struggle I have with my Christian faith.
He told Moses: "By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified (Lev 10:3 NKJV).
Why did he harden Pharoah's heart? "I will harden Pharoah's heart, and he will pursue them [the Israelites]. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharoah and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord (Exo 14:4 NIV).
Why do the heavens exist? The heavens exist to "declare the glory of God" (Psa 19:1 NIV).
Why did God choose the Israelites? Through Isaiah he called out to "everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory" (Isa 43:7 NKJV)
Why do people struggle? God answers, "I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for My own sake, I will act" (Isa 48:10-11). "Trust me in your times of trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory" (Psa 50:15 NLT).
He spoke of "this people I have formed for Myself; they shall declare My praise" (Isa 43:21 JKJV).
The prophet Isaiah proclaimed, "You lead Your people, to make Yourself a glorious name" (Isa 63:14 NKJV).
Christ taught us to make God's reputation our priority in prayer: "Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name" (Matt 6:9).
Every act of heaven reveals God's glory. Every act of Jesus did the same. Indeed, "The Son reflects the glory of God" (Heb 1:3 NCV). The night before his cruxifixion, Jesus declared, "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!" (John 12:27-28 NIV). Paul explains that "Christ has become a servant of the Jews... so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy" (Rom 15:8-9 NIV).
And Jesus declared his mission a success by saying, "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do" (John 17:4 NIV).
God has one goal: God. "I have my reputation to keep up" (Isa 48:11 MSG).
Surprised? Isn't such an attitude, dare we ask, self-centered? Don't we deem this behavior "self-promotion"?
According to all of the above, God created us for His pleasure and for His glory. Yet by creating us and giving us free will, He surely created the possibility of sin. By virtue of His omniscience, He surely must know that many will choose not to accept His offer of salvation, and consequently, countless millions will be condemned to hell in the process.
Given all this, why did He still do it? Why create man and give man free will if He knows that souls will spend eternity in hell as a result? Is it a good enough answer to say that He simply did this for His pleasure and glory?
Are we nothing more than laboratory rats in a complex puzzle called Earth, placed there for the amusement of a divine being who is indulging Himself in an elaborate experiment?
I find the mental image difficult to accept.
Mr. Lucado does spend some time in the book to explain the virtue of Divine Self-Promotion. And while I am not completely satisfied with his answer, I do greatly appreciate the fact that his book actually raises and addresses the question. It is the first time I've actually encountered a book that tackles this issue head on. I am gratified to know that I'm not the only thinking such potentially sacrilegious thoughts.
* * *
Edited to Add:
I wrote the above entry a couple of days ago, but I didn't quite know how to end this post... until now.
Because tonight, as I was discussing this issue with my cellgroup mates, I came to the realization that I am way too proud and too full of myself and my own worth -- and that my pride is the barrier that prevents me from accepting that I exist primarily to praise and worship God.
I rebel against the idea because I want to believe that my life has more meaning than simply being an instrument of praise. I want to believe that I am important enough in my own right, that I deserve to exist for a purpose beyond just worshipping God. At the core of my angst lies the fact that I can't accept the notion that I'm really nothing.
In stark contrast to my attitude is the worldview of one of my cellgroup mates. I'd have to say that she's probably one of the most humble people I know. She attributes every little success or victory to God's provision. She praises God for every trial she encounters because she perceives every solution as evidence of God's grace. I often find myself marvelling at her child-like faith when she shares her experiences with the rest of the group. She truly believes that she is powerless, helpless, and yes, even worthless when she's without God.
Tonight, I realized that her life embodies the title of the book: "It's Not About Me."
So finally, after months of intermittently wresting with this issue, I find myself feeling better. Because I've come to realize that when the day comes that I have finally learned true humility, everything that was so hard to accept about "Divine Self-Promotion" will suddenly make perfect sense to me.
I just hope that humility will not have to be too painful a lesson to learn.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
I'd been longing for quite some time to migrate my Blogger blogs to the new Beta version, especially since my initial exploration into the new Beta was such a positive experience.
Well, after three months of waiting, I finally saw a link on my Blogger profile today inviting me to migrate my blogs to the new Beta! Of course I clicked yes right away! The whole migration must have taken less than a couple of minutes.
Turns out that I couldn't be invited to migrate earlier because I am a member of a team blog, and that was among the last of the features to be migrated to the new Beta.
So with the migration completed, I literally went through all 60 of my blogposts on this blog to apply labels (aka tags) to each post. If you're following this blog on a feed, some of my old posts may reappear as "new" entries (my apologies for that).
It helps that I had just recently viewed a video interview with Eric Case, a Google developer who's been working on the Beta version. Watching that interview gave me a lot more confidence about the migration process (especially since there was a warning that there's no turning back after migrating). haha!
After publishing this post, I plan to explore the layout options with the new Beta. So don't be surprised if you see a few changes to the look and content of the template. :-p
Updated 8:30pm: Happy with the new look. Also updated my Twitter color scheme to match. Woot!
While I can easily shrug most things or situations aside without a second thought, there really are a few things that can make me instantly lose my temper.
- People who barely know me, and yet are presumptuous enough to assume that I will do what they say, simply because they say it.
- People who think that I don't mean what I say when I say no. How complicated can it be to understand a two-letter word?
- People who make public, sweeping generalizations about me on the basis of little or no information.
I tell you, it's enough to make a saint swear (not that I would ever consider myself a saint).
I'm glad life isn't normally this complicated.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Yesterday, while surfing the Twitter Public Timeline, I saw a Twitter post by web designer D. Keith Robinson, whose blog I had been following on-and-off for over a year now.
Of course I couldn't resist checking his Twitter page, and by golly, it was a pleasant surprise to realize that quite a number of A-list web designers are long-time users!
Clicking through the various icons yielded a few more interesting names, so now I'm also following...
Sunday, December 10, 2006
One of my officemates tied the knot today. In the weeks just before her wedding, she seemed a bit stressed out with all the preparatory work. But on her wedding day, she truly looked beautiful. I am really happy for her.
Although I'd known months ahead of time that she'd be getting married, it was still a bit of a surprise to finally see the girl who used to be our company's "baby" now all grown up and married. Time does fly by so quickly.
But it's a really nice feeling to see my friends making life-changing commitments and starting their own families. There's a sense of progress there that I can share in, however vicarious the sharing may be.
To A&J, my heart-felt wishes for a long and happy marriage.
Note: this blog entry is back-dated.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
The past couple of weeks have gone by in a really quick whirlwind. I've actually had a lot of "bloggable" thoughts in that time, but it was much too tiring to sit down and think.
Thank goodness for Twitter; reading my cryptic entries over the past couple of weeks allowed me to remember enough of recent events to actually write a coherent entry here. hehe.
* * *
Had a long lunch with friends on November 25. We were at the restaurant literally for several hours, just chatting and watching the kids chase each other around the tables.
I miss this particular group of friends because I don't see them nearly as much as I used to, or as much as I'd like to. It also surprised me to realize during lunch that everyone there was already married, and except for one newly married couple, everyone already had kids. I guess my friends are also getting older too.
* * *
One of the highlights of the past two weeks was the church's Praise Night on November 26.
I think the choir spent over 350 man-hours rehearsing just for that single night. A week before the event, I was overwhelmed by dread because we really sounded so bad during rehearsals. We were just plain awful -- I can't quite put into words just how bad it was.
But on the final dress rehearsal, things really fell into place... which was such a big surprise. In retrospect, I think everyone knew that the event was just hours away so everyone had to stay focused. It would have been nice if everyone was focused 100% right from the start, but I guess that's too much to expect from a volunteer choir.
* * *
Another recent highlight was a reunion dinner with my long-lost college gal-pals on November 28. I had so much fun at this dinner, partly because of my friends, and partly because of the way this dinner came about.
M had flown in from the US to attend her sister's wedding, while D, who is based in Hong Kong, was coincidentally in town for a three day visit. We were joking that the "planets have aligned" just so the three of us could get together for the first time in more than 10 years. I still get a huge smile on my face whenever I think of that get-together. And thankfully, M had the foresight to bring a camera, so we have photographic evidence. hehe.
* * *
November 29 was turkey day at the office. I think this is the fourth year in a row now that we've had our own version of Thanksgiving.
I can never tell whether people really enjoyed the meal or not. I suppose there's a really good chance that they're just being polite when they say that the meal was good. At this point, I'm not going to second-guess myself and will just take what they say at face value. hehe.
* * *
Typhoon Reming thankfully changed course and spared Metro Manila on November 30 and December 1, but it sure battered other parts of the country.
I have to confess that I really dreaded the arrival of the storm, especially after what we experienced with typhoon Milenyo just two short months ago. I literally felt my chest tighten at the news. I was overwhelmed with sheer relief when they announced that Manila would not be hit.
* * *
December 1 was the church's annual Thanksgiving luncheon for co-workers. It was my first time to attend such an occassion, and while it was fun to be with friends, I found that I didn't enjoy it as much as I expected. And that's all that I'm willing to say about the matter on a public blog.
* * *
My sis-in-law invited me to go shopping on December 2, which was perfect timing. I was able to buy Christmas presents for my godchildren, for which I'm soooo thankful. I'm finding that it gets tougher over the years to find the right presents, especially since the kids are growing up.
Thanks to my sis-in-law's encouragement, I will not be that hopeless ninang who cops out of gift-giving by just giving cash this year. hehe.
* * *
Then on December 3, we all trekked to one of the nearby subdivisions for my niece's kiddie pool party for her birthday. While it the venue was warm and a bit humid, the food was great, especially the bibingka. It was almost a diet breaker, to be honest! haha!
I'm glad my dad had the foresight to charge his camera batteries, because as it turns out, he and I were the only photographers at the party. At least my niece will have some photos to remind her of this year's birthday.