Transferring over, Testing 123

If you found this blog and follow me through blogger… I must say I am impressed. ;) 

I am going through the process of upgrading and transferring all my posts and blog to wordpress, mainly to streamline various accounts.

Thanks for reading, and get ready for version 2.0 ! :)

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Flashback: Clean it up and Try again

The first day at a new job is an unforgettable experience. Let’s just say mine at the Auto Shop was less than ideal.

Tony truly is an awesome boss. However, his methods of teaching are a little… Different, shall we say. I started working for him back in the fall of 2009, and as a young, still in highschool kid, I had never learned how to use a ratchet wrench, much less work on automobiles. I don’t even know why Tony hired me really. I had no experience and could only work a few hours a week.
Maybe it was the fact I was working for free….
Or it could have been sympathy.

Whatever the case, he did hire me to work there and allowed me to restore my car in his shop. I’ll never forget that first day. I strolled in around 9:00am, expected to be given an orientation on what Tony expected, what he was going to show me, etc. Instead, he handed me a wrench and some keys and said “There’s a Mercedes Benz out front, the black one, pull that around and change the spark plugs and the oil.”
I stood there kinda shocked and dumbly said, “Can you show me where the sparkplugs are?”
“After you pull the car around and get it open, sure.” Tony replied

So I, a 17 year old guy with minimal driving experience, got into the $30,000+ car and terrified I would bump it into something, pulled it into the shop. It took about 20 min I was going so slow. After another 10 minutes, I finally figured out how to open the hood. Tony showed me where the spark plugs were, and explained how they worked with the timing system. I of course asked what the timing system was, which he went on to explain that as well. It is now 10:00 and I finally had a tool in hand ready to do… something. Tony went back into the office.
I still don’t know what he did in there all day.

So a little more confident, now knowing what exactly to remove, I located a socket, and then proceeded to figure out how exactly the wrench worked. Sounds dumb, but it did take me a few minutes. I proceeded to remove one sparkplug. Pulling it out made me feel so victorious. I had five more to go… On plug number 3, I broke it. Granted it was a bad plug and was going to be tossed, but is was quite embarrassing for me. Thankfully, nothing dropped into the engine itself. That would have made for a worse day for sure.

Around noon, I had gotten four plugs out. Tony came in to check on me, commented on the broke plug, and told me to take lunch. So I did, and got back to it around 12:30. Finally, around 1:30, I had removed all six plugs. Now, heheh, I just had to put the new ones in. At 3:00, six hours later, I finally had successfully changed all the plugs in the mercedes, and not lost track of the timing wires. (A plug job takes me now about 30-45 minutes, which is the standard speed.) 

Tony came in, checked what I had done, then said to change the oil. This is where the first flashback lesson comes in. In my arrogant little mind, I instantly thought “Haha! I changed the plugs perfectly (even if it took a little longer than normal), and I know how to change the oil. Piece of cake.” How does that saying go again? Pride before the fall? Well, I removed the plug, drained the old oil, and removed the old filter. I forgot oil would still be in the filter, and because of that dumped it all over my shirt.

The new filter and oil came in a bit later, so now it is about 4:00pm. An hour left until the day is over. I checked the ring on the oil filter, screwed it in, and poured the oil into the engine as proud as could be. I mean, hey, I got a whole car done in a single day. Without wasting any parts or breaking any tools. I was feeling pretty sure of myself, completely missing how badly I had performed in hours/labor.

Then Tony walked in, I remember this like it was yesterday…. He looks under the car, and asks…
“You put the plug back in?”
Ever have that moment of complete and undeniable stupidity founded in arrogance? That was me. Right then, my little image of “master mechanic” was crushed like a car compactor in a junk yard. I had forgotten to put the pan plug back in, and had proceeded to pour four quarts of brand new oil all over the shop floor. I was devastated. I knew right then, I was going to get fired on my first day. I was a horrid mechanic. I couldn’t even change the stinking oil without wasting money!

And then Tony said something which has stuck to me this day. He is not a believer, he rejects Christ, but what he said was something which had the incredible qualities of grace.
“Well, clean it up and try again, this time with the plug in.”
He didn’t get mad, he didn’t fuss at me, he didn’t even make me pay for the oil (I tried). He didn’t tell me to stop working. In fact, he made a joke out of the situation, and told me to try again.

Tony may not be wise in the ways of the Lord, which saddens me immensely. But he is wise in the ways of leadership and direction. Which got me, because when I make a mistake, too often I am quick to snap at them and make sure they never forget the wrong they did. Tony taught me that day, my first day, you are going to make mistakes. Your employees are going to make mistakes, and lots of them. He, a non-believer, choose to show grace and patience. While I, a professing Christian, was (and still am) short and quick to punish. That first day I was not only ashamed of the lack of my skill, but more-so at the fact God had to use one who blasphemes Him daily to teach me just how messed up I still was and am.

Everyday I have to clean it up and try again. How about you?

It’s a Contest! Time to get your game on.

I am going to be introducing my very first contest and giveaway ever for my blog today. You ready? Here it is: I will be giving away one brand new copy of the movie “Guardians of Ga’hoole” to the winner of my first “Best Movie Review” Contest. I realize it lacks in creativity… But it gets the point across.

How does it work? I am so glad you asked. Through February 11th- March 1st, I will be accepting submissions of movie reviews from the various readers of this blog. If you write a review AFTER February 11th, and send it to me via email (masterproducts323@gmail.com), you will be entered to win the DVD.

Reviews will not be selected at random, but judged by myself, my brother, and another close friend according to the following criteria:

  1. Analysis: How well did the reviewer flesh out the themes and messages of the film?
  2. Content: Was the reviewer thorough in their inclusion of the various content of the film?
  3. Professionalism: Was the review written in a thought out and organized manner?
Each of those criteria will be judged by each of us on a scale of 1-10. For a total of 30 possible points maximum. I realize these are just personal opinions of people who don’t really have degrees in being a professional judge… But that’s the way it’ll work this time around. ;) We will NOT be judging on whether or not we agree with you, but in the manner you present your thoughts.
So that’s it! Really easy, review a movie, and have a chance to win a free DVD of one of my favorite films. The winner’s review will also be posted here with appropriate congrats, credit, and copy>paste. 
May the best review win. :) Any submissions turned in after March 1st 11:59PM will be rejected for the competition. Again, the email to turn in your submissions is masterproducts323@gmail.com .

How to Write a Movie Review

As the collection of films I’ve reviewed builds, I am hearing more and more comments from my friends and folks like.

“There is no way I could do that.” or “Nice! I have no idea how I would review a movie like that.” 

And so forth and so on. I’m going to take a minute and talk about how you can review the movies you watch. In the past, we’ve gone over the why. We are told to take every thought captive for Christ. This especially includes the movies we watch and media we partake in. If we are not doing that, the time we spend in that media, is in my opinion, wasted.

So here are three… guides to assist you in reviewing movies. The goal in posting these is first you begin to think about what you are watching if you have not done so already. Second, to equip you in some basic skills to effectively engage your mind when you watch a movie.
Let’s begin.

1. Don’t Check Out- Check In.
For many, films, music, video games, etc are an escape. It is crucial to go into a movie with the intent of engaging it on a critical level. Not necessarily on the grounds whether the movie is enjoyable or not, but on the ground of “What is the message or theme of this movie?” ask yourself this throughout the movie and it will keep you alert to key quotes and actions.
In the course of the movie, I sometimes take mental notes in my mind. A certain quote, a specific character, etc. If there is something that really stands out to you, write it down or make a note in your mind. I have been guilty of taking a small notebook into a movie and writing down key phrases. Don’t be afraid to do that. But please, don’t type it on your phone, that’s just distracting. ;)

2. Don’t Dismiss- Digest.
After a movie is over, what most people do is go “That was a great movie!” and go on their merry way after a few minutes though of what they really liked, and whether or not they will recommend it to their friends based upon that like. The second step to writing good reviews is to truly digest what you have seen, then reflect upon it. I have the benefit of talking with my bro and some close friends about the movie in depth after viewing it. You have to instantly think about what you’ve just watched if you want to accurately portray what the movie’s themes were.
I have actually found if I wait a few days before actually digesting a movie, my mind will drop things which I subconsciously don’t like, and I won’t remember them until I look up another review or am told otherwise. Fresh thoughts are always more reliable than ones a few days old. Don’t wait.

3. Write.
This is probably the easiest part of the reviewing process, though the most time consuming. If you don’t write down your thoughts, they eventually will fade. While it isn’t as important to write the review right away, I think it is important to write to yourself a summary of what the movie was about and what those themes were. I’ll be honest, for every review, I always write the Closing Thoughts first. Why? Because they are the most important. Content is easy to look up on sites like Plugged In. However, your personal thoughts on the movie cannot be replicated nor found anywhere else. It is important to get those down.
Once you have your thoughts and opinion on the film, you can go in and fill in the content you remember, things you liked, the story, etc if you like. The thing to keep in mind though, when you write a review, it really is for you as much as anyone else who reads it. Be honest in what you type, because when you get older and think of movies you want to show your kids, your review will help in preventing an acidental showing of a movie which wasn’t as clean as you remembered.

So, I hope that helps you all in providing a starting point to review movies for your own benefit, and the benefit of others. This is by no means the best or only way to do this, just thoughts from my experience.

If you have any tips or recommendations be sure to post them in the comments below. :)

Movie Review: Saving Private Ryan

In World War II, millions died fighting against the tyranny of Adolf Hitler. Captain Miller and his small team of soldiers have been commanded to save a private who has lost all of his brothers in action. Then, to return him home to his mother. In order to do this however, they have to cross territory covered in Germans. It is a mission which many in the company disagree with, but they follow orders, and we watch them make an unforgettable journey to save private Ryan.

This time, the mission is a man.

Things I liked
The brotherhood found in the soliders is one of the most admirable things in this movie. The men all are ready to lay down their life for each other at a moments notice. What’s more admirable though, is the movie shows the men aren’t just macho soliders, but they have feelings, families, and care about more than just being tough. There are some incredibly touching moments where the talk about home and what they miss, what they look forward to going back to, and what they are protecting. The talk about their mothers, their hopes, their dreams. None of them enjoy fighting, none of them want to be there. Many do sacrifice themselves for others, and some die trying to protect civilians. They embody the ultimate ideal of selflessness, putting others before self each and every time.
The soliders also persevere to the end of their mission against incredible odds. Many times they think about just quitting or giving up, but they don’t.

Mercy is trait we see occasionally. An enemy is allowed to live, even after killing a fellow solider.

I also appreciated the way war was shown. While it was not enjoyable in the least, for the first time, I began to understand what soliders went through on D-day and everyday battles.

Things I didn’t Like
You know what I said about Braveheart, it being the most violent film I’ve ever seen? I take that back one hundred percent. The first five minutes of this movie made my hands go numb. I almost turned it off actually. When the soliders storm the beach, the result is one of the most gory and graphic 5 minutes you’ll ever see. Soliders are shot with machine guns and we see their bodies peppered with gunfire, we hear the moans, screams, and see the blood.
But it gets worse. The men who aren’t shot to death are impaled with schrapnel and mortars. One man’s arm is blown off. He numbly picks it up and tries to put it back on. Then he is gunned down. Guts, intestines, and other body parts are strewn across the beach, and the men who haven’t died scream for someone to kill them. Blood is everywhere and often splashes onto the camera lens. Close-ups of men being shot in the head are common. Medical teams trying to save some soliders are shown covered in the patient’s blood, while the mortally wounded soliders are screaming and thrashing.
After the beach is taken, german soliders are gunned down mercilessly. The few America soliders who made it past the slaughter of the beach laugh maniacally as they gun down the germans who have surrendered.

After the first five minutes, things lessen, but are not less graphic. We see the sniper of the group kill many people, a man is killed and the group is helpless to save him. We watch him bleed to death. In a final scene soliders are shot and blown to bits. A one-on-one struggle results in a man being stabbed with a knife. It is shown he resists to his last, so the blade goes in slowly and we see and hear the crunch of tissue as it pierces his heart.

Other graphic and disturbing images include seeing soliders wounded after a battle marching back. Another time a solider is mortally wounded within the group and his comrades try to save him. The result is a dead man and the entire group covered in blood. After each battle, the dead and dying are shown as flyovers show the immense death and destruction which has been wrought.

The Soliders have extremely dirty mouths. This may be accurate, it is still deplorable and repulsive. Crude sexual innuendo, jargon, and functions are joked about. There are dozens of F words, and more of other forms of profanity. Christ’s name is abused, as is the Lord’s many times.

Closing thoughts
Saving Private Ryan is a film which is unapologeticly raw. It shows the raw emotions of soliders fighting for their families. It shows the raw reactions of men in combat. It shows the raw horror of war in a way which only begins to capture the reality of those battles. Never again will I read the history of World War II (or any war) the same way. Never again will I look at a field of white crosses and not give it a second thought. I thought the movie “Act of Valor” showed me what war was truly like. I was wrong.

This movie isn’t honorable. It isn’t respectable. It isn’t enjoyable.

It is however, powerful. Powerful in the manner which it displays so tragically the acts of selflessness, the bonds of brotherhood, and the spirit of the heart.

I’ll be honest with you, this is the first (and only so far) movie which brought me to tears. Not just watery eyes, but a tearstained face. The story of these men, what they go through, and the genuineness of character rips into our hearts cuts to the core. We never will fully recover from the wound which is inflicted from watching this movie. It leaves a scar on the soul which serves as a reminder of things past and things present.  We remember the horrors of war.  We remember these men and the millions which died protecting those they cared about. We remember each one of those white crosses represents a man and the sacrifice he gave.

“It is well war is so terrible- otherwise we should grow found of it.”
~Robert E. Lee~

Color on the Car!

I’ll keep this short and sweet, life is busily blessed at the moment…

I painted color on my car today! I promise in depth pics and progress once I get this all finished, but couldn’t resist showing you a pic of what I got done today. All the inners of the doors, decklid, hood, and door jams were painted this morning.

Looks good, dontcha think? :)

Flashback: A little girl named Boope’

Setting: August 2010, in the Zambia bush. On a six week mission trip with Mr. Matt.
Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Boopé. Boopé lived in the Zambian bush, which is equivalent to our rural areas of the US. She lived in a one room mud hut with a thatched roof. No electricity. No running water. No comforts of any kind, save for the grass doll her mother made her. 
 
Boopé was also an orphan. 
 
Her father died in 2009 of malaria. When he came down with the sickness, they had no way of getting to a hospital which was a 45 min car drive away. So, Boopé’s mother cared for him until it was clear he was not going to get better. She had no money for a bus ticket, so had to borrow a bike from a neighbor to transport her husband to the hospital. It was a 70+ mile trip, and he died on the way.
 
A $2 (USD) bus ticket would have gotten him to a hospital where they could have given him a shot, and he would have recovered.
 
Boopé came down with Malaria in early 2010. Mr. Matt was there, and by God’s grace went to the bush a week which he was not supposed to. They got her to a hospital and she survived.
Left to Right: Boope’s “Uncle” (a man just helping the two survive), Boope, and her mother.

This was one of the very first stories I heard when I went to Zambia. It was also the first time I seriously asked God “Why?“. Yes I had seen the orphans on the street. Yes I had seen the poverty of the Nation.
But when I heard a father died, because they could afford a $2 bus ticket, I was shaken. How many times have we blown $2 on a soda? A candy bar? Heck, even lost $2 worth of change.
It could have saved the man’s life.

To say I was upset would be an understatement. Internally, my head knew it was God’s plan, but my heart was revolted that such a plan would include a little girl who had nothing lose her father as well. This is the thing which I came to see being shown to me over and over again while in Zambia. It had to be drilled into me again and again. I remember searching Psalms, Proverbs, James, and more for scripture which would tell me why He let such a thing happen.

I found the answer in the latter part of Job, Chapters 38-42. A small excerpt is below.
Click here to Read Job 38-42

Moreover the Lord answered Job, and said:
“Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?
He who rebukes God, let him answer it.”

Then Job answered the Lord and said:
“Behold, I am vile;
What shall I answer You?
I lay my hand over my mouth.
Once I have spoken, but I will not answer;
Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.”

That passage struck me so hard I remember it quite vividly. Who was I to question the Lord’s ways in such ignorance? To think I knew it would be better if her father lived. Reading that passage could quite possibly be the most humbling experience I’ve encountered. My, coming from America with money to “help”, “sacrificing” myself to serve, and then seeing how really prideful my heart was (and still is) in rejecting the fact God does indeed know best.

Who are we to question the Lord in his perfect, abundant, exponential, awesome, mighty, incredible, omnipotent, and eternal plan?

Looking at Boopé and her mother. They weren’t angry with God. They didn’t turn away from Him. They continued to attend church and desired to learn.
I learned that week I may have been able to give physically, but Boopé, her mother, and their story gave to me spiritually. How incredibly humbling, to find the people you traveled the world to help and teach, first inadvertently taught and helped you through their example and spirit.