"SILENT NIGHT, HOLY NIGHT"
During World War I, in the winter of 1914, on the battlefields of Flanders, one of the most unusual events in all of human history took place. The Germans had been in a fierce battle with the British and French. Both sides were dug in, safe in muddy, man-made trenches six to eight feet deep that seemed to stretch forever.
All of a sudden, German troops began to put small Christmas trees, lit with candles, outside of their trenches. Then, they began to sing songs. Across the way, in the "no man's land" between them, came songs from the British and French troops. Incredibly, many of the Germans, who had worked in England before the war, were able to speak good enough English to propose a "Christmas" truce.
The British and French troops, all along the miles of trenches, accepted. In a few places, allied troops fired at the Germans as they climbed out of their trenches. But the Germans were persistent and Christmas would be celebrated even under the threat of impending death.
According to Stanley Weintraub, who wrote about this event in his book, Silent Night, "signboards arose up and down the trenches in a variety of shapes. They were usually in English, or - from the Germans - in fractured English. Rightly, the Germans assumed that the other side could not read traditional gothic lettering, and that few English understood spoken German. 'YOU NO FIGHT, WE NO FIGHT' was the most frequently employed German message. Some British units improvised 'MERRY CHRISTMAS' banners and waited for a response. More placards on both sides popped up."
A spontaneous truce resulted. Soldiers left their trenches, meeting in the middle to shake hands. The first order of business was to bury the dead who had been previously unreachable because of the conflict. Then, they exchanged gifts. Chocolate cake, cognac, postcards, newspapers, tobacco. In a few places, along the trenches, soldiers exchanged rifles for soccer balls and began to play games.
It didn't last forever. In fact, some of the generals didn't like it at all and commanded their troops to resume shooting at each other. After all, they were in a war. Soldiers eventually did resume shooting at each other. But only after, in a number of cases, a few days of wasting rounds of ammunition shooting at stars in the sky instead of soldiers in the opposing army across the field.
For a few precious moments there was peace on earth good will toward men. All because the focus was on Christmas. Happens every time. There's something about Christmas that changes people. It happened over 2000 years ago in a little town called Bethlehem. It's been happening over and over again down through the years of time.
This week, Lord willing, it will happen again.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
And as overzealous, ill-prepared kids do, I struggled. I just couldn't figure out how to cast the line. I barely figured out how to attach one of those shiny hooks to the other end. So I just pulled on the line until I created enough slack, grabbed the line by the hook and threw it as far as I could... which turned out to be in the shallow waters ten feet from shore. So I stood, waiting and hoping for the tide to pull the line further out. But of course, that time never came, so I had to reel the line in and throw it out as far as my skinny arms would let me.
I turned around and saw that my dad was behind me the entire time, watching me struggle but never interrupting me to take over. But just before the wave of embarrassment had a chance to settle in, he began clapping his hands and hollering with approval. And he came over and joined me. I understand now more than ever that kids' needs can be simple -- love and encouragement. Basking in that feeling -- whatever it is you call it -- when you know someone is proud of you, has no words. And for reasons unknown, he felt so proud in that moment, and I felt it. Still.
I've yet to catch my first fish and that's okay. Because there's a kind of memory that clings hard enough to remind you that it was once real, and that it was once good.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
Happiness is real only when shared. --Chris Supertramp, Into the Wild
This movie solidified my convictions about going to Alaska even more. One day!
p.s. There are very few things that taste better than cold pizza at 2am.
Monday, October 22, 2007
National championship hopes down the drain. Still doesn't change the fact that Cal is still the best team in the Pac-10, although our record doesn't show it. Sigh.
From PostSecret... this one made me laugh because it's so innocent.
As a child on my aunt and uncle's farm, I fed a chicken nugget to a chicken. I still feel guilty about it.
Hahah. I would too.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Ben Affleck, who would have guessed.. you're much better off as a director. Just leave the Daredevil outfit in the closet.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Continuing with the cheesy metaphor -- should these doors never open again, would I manage to find contentment as a man should, or fluster as a child would?
I... I don't know.
I'll have to sleep on this one. Maybe it won't matter by morning. But I'm never that lucky.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
- I won't dare describe the sunsets.
- Hawaiians are the nicest people you'll ever meet.
- Kauai is the wettest place on earth. It's fun running for cover when the sun's out shining so brightly only moments before.
- There are roosters and chickens everywhere. Strutting around the roads, on people's lawns, even in the dense forests. They're like the pigeons of Hawaii.
- Hawaiians end their sentences with an inquisitive "yeah?" a lot of the time.
- People wear Hawaiian shirts to work. And their typical work day ends around 4pm.
- I befriended a nice owner of a souvenir shop who turned out to be korean. When asked about my marital status, she got angry when I told her that I still unmarried. She gave me a fifty percent discount off of everything, and she also threw in a shell necklace for free. Connections!
- The sushi is really bad. Their cooked fish delicacies are excellent.
- It's really fun saying "mahalo" to people. I absent-mindedly said it on a couple occasions when I should have said "aloha," but Hawaiians are probably used to ignorant tourists by now.
- A rainbow's end really exists! Optical illusion, light refraction.. call it what you want, but it was twenty feet away from me. This wasn't like the time in third grade when I thought I found a four-leaf clover.
- I found a product called "Donkey Balls" at the local market. I really regret not buying it.
Friday, September 21, 2007
A recent string of events, revealing conversations, and even my dreams have led me to believe that life was fighting to get my attention. And now I've reached a point where there's nothing else I can do but listen. Here are some of the things I'm hearing.
The passing of time. It's incredible what it can do to a person. A lot of hurt can be eventually forgotten. It just so happens that the valuable lessons we've learned and once swore to live by can be forgotten just as easily. Hence the reason why we continue making the same mistakes over and over again. Well, your friends love you anyway. You learn to crawl again, or maybe you're able to hit the ground running. In either case, life moves forward.
But I'm beginning to see that the older we get, the more the scenery changes and as things fade to gray, how necessary it's becoming to believe in something that doesn't. Change, that is. To believe in something that's always been there, always familiar, always accepting. Always. Best friends, lovers, family... they all come pretty close. But even then, you're left with a quiet desire that remains to be fulfilled.
And then, maybe on some idle afternoon, that desire just wakes up completely and doesn't leave you be. At first, you entertain this desire with silly questions, which quickly grows in all seriousness before you know it. After a while, it's not even about seeking the answers anymore. It evolved into a self-defense mechanism. You realize that you've ironically wrapped yourself with these questions to protect you from the answers you don't want to hear.
I believe the light is faithful enough to eventually break through any cover we place over ourselves. And the warmth it brings could feel strange at first, even discomforting to a degree, but soon you'll begin to wonder how you were ever without it. Breakthrough.
The question I ask myself is, could I live the rest of my life without feeling the assurances that christians are supposed to have? I'm not even talking about a life-lasting search for inexplicable joy and happiness. The truth is all I want. I'm willing to wrestle with it. And the way I understand it now.. joy, happiness, and an unwavering peace will soon follow. Give me the assurances.
Trying is never easy. Letting go can be impossible. At the end of the day, I might have failed miserably. Heck, even before I step out the door. But because He never changes, I swear I hope this is true, it's enough reason to keep going. I'm trying, God. For I know that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, and I believe the best is still yet to come.
I'm still listening. So please, speak up.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
So fun. Time to really consider getting a macbook. And a harmonica.
Monday, September 03, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.
*equivalent to: Bison from upstate New York who are intimidated by other bison in their community also happen to intimidate other bison in their community.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Throughout the entire day, I noticed that I was experiencing blurred vision in my left eye. I've tried using rewetting drops and readjusting the position of the contact with my finger, in hopes of ridding whatever it was that was clouding my vision, but to no avail. I even tried yawning constantly, thinking that my natural tears would have a better vantage point of flushing out the problem. No luck.
The day is now ending. I just took out my contacts earlier than usual because the blurriness was giving me a headache. Out came two contacts from my left eye, the old one and the new one. I must have made the decision to crack open the new case in midst of putting on my contacts.
A sad "d'oh" from my mouth soon followed.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
Friday, August 03, 2007
"Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?" -Evan Almighty.
I think there just has to be more to life than treading water, going with the current, kicking furiously just to stay afloat. I want there to be mornings where I wake up and just feel thankful to be alive. Just once.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Monday, March 26, 2007
Putting Kobe in perspective
By Jemele Hill
Kobe Bryant is better than Michael Jordan.
Not more successful.
Hasn't had a bigger economic impact.
Hasn't won more MVPs.
did -- score 50-plus in four consecutive games.
Hasn't won more titles.
But he's a better player.
Kobe can do everything Michael did, and even a few things Michael couldn't do.
Kobe is just as good a defender. His killer instinct is just as pronounced. He can shoot, finish and explode. And just like Jordan, the more he's pissed off, the more unstoppable he is.
At the very least, Kobe's scoring spree over the last week should put to rest any lingering doubts that he's the best player in the NBA. Yes, better than Steve Nash, who is the best point guard, but not the lethal force that Kobe is. Yes, better than Dwyane Wade, who is certainly closer to the Kobe-Jordan level than LeBron James, but D-Wade's game is not as polished as Kobe's.
Kobe's streak of four straight 50-points-plus games is something none of those players can do, and it's something that hasn't been done since Wilt Chamberlain, who had an NBA-record seven straight 50-point games. Truthfully, Kobe should have tacked another 50 on Golden State on Sunday night.
Of course, the idea that Kobe is better than Jordan -- or even the best player in this league -- is as repugnant to some folks as a rectal exam. Even though Kobe has proven himself under pressure countless times, he gets the A-Rod treatment.
Kobe can't please anyone. And it doesn't help that most people suffer from revisionist history when it comes to Jordan, forgetting that he was just as poor a teammate and a ball hog and that he ran off coach Doug Collins like Kobe ran off Phil Jackson the first time.
In fact, you could argue that Jordan was even worse. Far as we know, Kobe hasn't jacked up any of his teammates the way Jordan punched out Steve Kerr and Will Perdue at practice.
Kobe will never be forgiven for Shaq's departure, but you're delusional if you think Jordan wouldn't have had any ego issues playing alongside a player with Shaq's star power.
The best-player argument shouldn't be determined by personal dislike. But if you want to take it there, fine. Jordan was hardly the ideal husband, but only the tabloids were brave enough to venture into his personal life. And what about those gambling issues? If Jordan's life had been covered like Kobe's, we would have an entirely different opinion of His Airness.
Besides a different level of media scrutiny, there was definitely a difference in the level of competition during Jordan's heyday compared to now.
Yesterday's NBA player certainly was more fundamentally sound, but there's no question that today's player is bigger, stronger and faster. When Jordan played, he was a singular force that could not be equaled. Jordan was guarded by the likes of John Starks and Joe Dumars, who were fine players but weren't nearly as skilled or physically imposing as LeBron, D-Wade, Tracy McGrady or even Vince Carter.
The NBA is tougher now.
Kobe, like Michael, is surrounded with mediocre to below-average talent, and Phoenix, Dallas and San Antonio are all better than the Utah, Portland and the Charles Barkley-led Phoenix team that Michael met in the NBA Finals.
Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson and Patrick Ewing will be among the best centers ever, but none of them affected the league the way Shaq and Tim Duncan have. There are two two-time MVPs in Kobe's own conference (Duncan, Nash), which is a problem Jordan never faced during his championship runs. Seven-footers weren't launching 3s back then. Magic Johnson and the Lakers were on a downward spiral, and the Pistons were on their last legs. It was Michael and everyone else. That's not the case for Kobe.
The shame of it is that Kobe might finish his career without a MVP, even though his ability can be compared only to that of Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. All this time we've been looking for a player who is better than Jordan, but most of us can't get beyond whether we like or dislike Kobe as a person to recognize his contributions to the game.
Ultimately the MVP award will go to either Nash or Dirk Nowitzki, who are deserving this season, but neither are as good as Kobe. Dallas and Phoenix are strong enough to make the playoffs without their stars. The Lakers, however, are a lottery team without Kobe.
Now that's a valuable player.Jemele Hill, a Page 2 columnist and writer for ESPN The Magazine, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Sunday, February 11, 2007
San Diego is an awesome town. Feeding paul's addiction to video games was not. Neither was his covert operation with andy on the macbook via vidchat.
Weekends exist so that you can eat mexican food at 3am.
I'm a type of person who when hearing a good song for the first time, replays it over and over until it's beaten and dead. I've been listening to Switchfoot's "Yesterdays" for the past three hours. And I'm still not done.
Life goes on. It's a gangsta's paradise.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
His name is Dirty.
Dirty is dirty because I tend to wait until the last possible minute to clean his fish bowl. When the water turns a milky, foggy color, I know it's time.
Dirty doesn't mind waiting that long. He is a trooper.
In no way does he take after his owner. I'm actually very clean.
He seems to prefer the acoustic guitar over the wail of an electric guitar. He's mellow like that.
Dirty is surprisingly smart. He recognizes the little red-capped container as fish food. Whenever I place it close enough to the bowl, he immediately turns to it and stares. Who says that fish could only recollect the last seven seconds?
He's brilliant red... my favorite color.
I love Dirty.
"My Heart Will Go On" still doesn't make me cringe. I hope I don't have issues.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
This is your one opportunity to do something that no one has ever done before and that no one will copy throughout human existence. And if nothing else, you will be remembered as the one guy who ever did this. This one thing.