A Shameless Minecraft Post

Minecraft post header

Five years ago I did a post about Minecraft. It’s by far the most popular thing I’ve ever written on this site not because it was particularly good (it actually kinda sucks), but because something like 35% of the internet is dedicated to Minecraft.

Incidentally, the second most popular post I’ve written was about Disney buying Star Wars, so, y’know. Popular things are popular. That’s SEO, kids!

In my old post I made this foolish declaration:

No, I haven’t started playing Minecraft nor will I. The game, if you can call it that, seems like a gigantic time suck. It’s the sort of thing I could get into if I had unlimited time on this earth and didn’t feel guilty about such things.

About a month later I bought the game.

A lot has happened in five years – even just to Minecraft. Notch did not make the game open-source. He sold it to Microsoft for buckets of money. The game has continued to receive updates and is now available on pretty much every electronic device with a color screen. Minecraft merchandise is in nearly every retail space that sells stuff to kids or nerds or nerdy kids. And apparently there’s a movie in the works possibly with Steve Carell.

I hope he’s playing Steve.

I don’t really care about any of that. Minecraft has become essentially one thing for me: a replacement for Lego, K’nex, and all the other building toys I grew up with.

You know what? I was right. Minecraft is a huge time sink. In five years, I’ve gone from not playing at all to building all of this.

Novus overview.jpg
My world from the “air”
A skyline view of the same – or most of it

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Printers are the worst

I’ve had a personal saying for years now. Printers are designed, manufactured, and possessed by Satan. I hate them and they hate me.

There are, I suppose, good printers. Office printers seem to work well most of the time, but they’re not practical for home use at all. And come to think, the first time I used the printer at my new job I wound up dealing with a paper jam.

There’s a reason that copier smashing scene from Office Space resonates with so many people. Printer/copier/scanners are horrible to us. Consumer printers are particularly bad.

Consumer printers have this sinister business model where the actual machines are sold as loss leaders because you’re going to have to buy extremely overpriced ink as long as you want to use it. According to Consumer Reports, printer ink costs anywhere between $13 to $75 PER OUNCE. How is this not price fixing?

This thing is the worst.
This thing is the worst.

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My not-so-new show: Debug Mode

Back in November I had the softest of launches for an occasional web show about video games (or whatever else I want to talk about – it’s my show) called Debug Mode. The first episode was about Call of Juarez: Gunslinger for no particular reason other than I thought it had an interesting narrative structure and it wasn’t already talked about to death.

I’ve done a few videos about games before and I’ve wanted to do something more structured and regular for a long time. Now that everyone and their little brother (especially their little brother) is making video content about games, I thought it would be the perfect time to saunter into a crowded medium with opinions of my own! It doesn’t help that I don’t have a particular “angle” or easily distillable style. In fact I haven’t really found my style yet and I suspect that will take some time. Then again, most of the games commentators I really like don’t fit into short, easy descriptions either.

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The Search for a New Phone

So it’s time to find a new phone. Autumn, my trusty old Nexus 4, has served me well, but it’s been acting up lately and the battery life is dismal.

nexus 4

Actually, that’s my second trusty Nexus 4. This is my first trusty Nexus 4.

nexus 4 broken
This is what happens when you chase after pretty girls and your pockets are too loose to hold your phone properly.

Yep. Those are some pretty nasty cracks. It was so bad that the screen stopped responding to touch input effectively rendering the phone useless. I take good care of my phones, but let’s face it: they go with us everywhere. They’re bound to get into trouble now and again.

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Happy Birthday, St. Louis!

The City of St. Louis is 250 years old today… maybe. Then again, it could have been yesterday.

Our city’s French founder, Auguste Chouteau, wrote the date in his diary, but authorities have gone back and forth about whether he wrote February 14th or 15th. Nobody’s quite sure which is the right date. Yay for bad handwriting!

I’ve lived in St. Louis, Missouri my entire life. Okay, technically I’ve lived in the suburbs of St. Louis and not the city proper, but we claim St. Louis residency and culture just the same.

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Thoughts for the New Year

It occurs to me that God did not give us a quota of souls to affect in our lives. He didn’t say “you must preach the gospel to this many people” or “you must disciple that many people.” As Christians we’re supposed to be doing that work but I often think that, given my previous failings in that area, I must now turn things around and make a huge impact. That line of reasoning is flawed, selfish, and just pain wrong.

For one thing, it places far too much emphasis on me. It insists that because I have done a poor job of submitting to the Lordship of Christ that I must now make up for it. But he already died for my failings. He died to set me free from theology of the Pharisees which binds salvation to a quantifiable set of rules and achievements instead of a changed heart.

If we are failing, it is not because we have failed to bring about the next Great Awakening; it is because we are failing to do the simple work of Christ in our everyday lives. Notice that the only servant who was rebuked in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) was the one who wasted what he was given. He buried it in the ground. He didn’t even try to make something of the opportunity he was given.

It is a lie to think that our success must be “great” (by human standards) if it is to be worthwhile. And this is the lie that I have allowed myself to believe without even realizing it. I have believed it about all kinds of areas in life, not just spiritually.

I have gotten off to a slower start this year than I had intended. It is my intention to be more consistent with my pursuits both professional and personal. By God’s grace, this will be a year of real growth – maybe not growth in the way I’d predict or plan, but growth nonetheless.

Happy (late) New Year to everyone!

Set Adrift – a state of mind

“Set Adrift” is a set of lyrics I wrote from March through September of this year. It represents a state of mind or a state of being. This is my outlet for stuff that’s been on my mind and heart but I feel I can’t talk about in other ways. Either I’m not good with this subject matter in other forms of expression or I never have the occasion to speak about it.

I’m not much of a musician. I can’t really sing well (although I try a lot). I have very little experience with putting together songs or writing actual music. Consequently these songs have a slim chance of ever being fully realized. I knew that writing them. Really, I can’t properly call these songs nor myself a songwriter. But I can’t quite bring myself to admit that I’m a poet either.

But that’s totally what I am. This is lyric poetry. For whatever reason I don’t tend to look as favorably on poets as I do on lyricists. It’s just not as cool.

I’m posting this mainly because I know some people out there can relate. Hopefully some of them will see this and it will make some sort of impact. But if not, I am happy enough to have written it for me.

In the circles I’ve run in historically, it seems like people don’t tend to address people’s hearts. We talk about “how was work/school/your day?” “How is your family/friends?” Small talk is most talk. Even among close friends the conversation is sometimes quite banal. Sometimes you need that. But mostly I find that heart-to-hearts are lacking. I hope this is not the case for you.

Perhaps mine is an especially needy heart. I think most of us are more needy than we let on. Damn that human tendency toward self-sufficiency! It is a lie. We need God and we need one another.

In this stage of life which I’ve described as “set adrift,” it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the plethora of choices that can and will be made in determining our own personal futures. In my case, I’m facing these many life choices in the absence of a deep personal connection with any one person and in a culture which procrastinates on big, tough decisions. This is as much my fault as it is circumstantial. I’m not trying to complain about how things are. I’m just painting what I see.

I put the lyrics into the form of mock liner notes for an album (complete with my theoretical band name). This is one of the things I really miss about digital music. Sometimes you’ll get a PDF with the album art and lyrics but it’s easy to forget about it when you do. It’s just not a format that lends itself especially well to display on a computer screen. But I went ahead and used it anyhow because I like it.

This post would be a million miles long if I put all the pictures and lyrics here. I’ve put them on their own page for simplicity’s sake. Click here to read “Set Adrift.” I hope you get something out of the experience. If it strikes a nerve, let me know.