Saturday, October 08, 2005
From when I was five until only just recently, my life has followed a cyclic pattern of two dominant seasons: School Year and Summer. Since graduation I have not known anything more than a long weekend away from work--months off for summer and Christmas are like dreams of youth. As a result, I have again become in tune with the true seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter.
With the change of seasons, people alter many things about their habitat, their wardrobes, and even their diets. Gardeners make preparations in their flowerbeds before the first frost of autumn; people put away their sweaters at the sight of spring's first robin. I am no different, but my major changes involve the music in my stereo.
Music, like most other art, is influenced by the environment of the artist. This, I believe, is the essence of what makes different music more or less suitable for any particular season of the year.
Summer and winter are the two extreme seasons, while spring and autumn are complimentary transitional seasons. The differences between the extremes are not just in temperatures. Summer is bright, warm and full of energy. Winter is dark, slower, and colder.
Summer - In our collection, Incubus is the best example of a summertime band. They're a group of pothead, modern hippies, and Brandon Boyd has recently dabbled in things political. Their sound is best suited for the bright, warm days of summer, where even the sounds in the air are energized by the sun. It's no wonder that they are a group of surfer boys from California, the land of eternal sunshine.
Other boys of summer from our jukebox include Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, Keith Urban, and Andrew WK, although each represents a different aspect of summertime music. Country music is well suited for the everlasting twilight of a summer evening or the easy feeling of a summer Saturday--times like these are where Keith and James come in. The music of Springsteen and Andrew WK embodies the energy and joy of weekend day at the shore.
Autumn - There is no better example of transitional autumn rock than early days Led Zeppelin. A song like "Ramble On" is written at the end of summer, with a mood ready for the transition into things more introspective, but with an energy still ripe with the residual carefree feeling of summer. (Led Zeppelin is a band whose catalog of music included a wide array of rock styles. It is foolish that an attempt should be made to fit them into any one box. As a note of interest, it should not be considered coincidental that Led Zeppelin also produced music while residing in a variety of climates.)
Dredg is a good late summer/early fall band, while I use Counting Crows as a late autumn band with a generous overlap into early winter.
Winter - Winter is the musical season of choice for Becca and me. We find winter music to be more cerebral, more introspective, and generally of a higher worth as art than the work of other seasons. Winter bands dominate our collection.
Coldplay is a good example of winter music. Chris Martin and Coldplay hail from Britain, where the skies are mostly grey, the days are damp and cold, and a day of sun is a day to be cherished. In June or July, their sound doesn't come across as anything more than simplistic but catchy; however, if allowed to develop in the dark, crisp air of a winter evening, their interwoven complexities can tantalize the ears for hours.
Chevelle's music is the same way. In any other season, Chevelle is just three guys playing the same three (really loud) chords over and over. But a road trip on a winter's nite will work wonders to unravel the power of each scream, each smash, each auditory assault.
Pearl Jam comes from Seattle, which is not unlike Britain in many ways. (Discussion topic for later: Almost every great rock band has come from Britain, and the greatest number of American rock bands were formed in Seattle--coincidence??). Seattle bands are the prime examples of environmental influences on music composition. The weather is so dismal in Seattle throughout the year in the northwest that guys started tuning their guitars differently to create a sound that matched their grungey weather.
Matthew Good is from the Great White North, where summer is a merely week of days with temperature in the 70s. Long, cold nights in Canada make for conditions suitable to nurture the poignant cynicism and acute power that are Matthew Good's songs.
Spring – Spring is the season of thaw, new life, and holistic rebirth. Spring music makes the transition from the deeper introspection of winter and it’s frequently darker themes to the joy and energy of summer. By mid-March, I am usually aching for green grass and a warm sun that the spring transition is much more abrupt than that of autumn. All it takes is the first day in the 60ºs for me to break out the spring soundtrack.
Punk rawk is the tried and true selection for the spring season. Each track comes as a burst of life rich with shallow lyrics written by a love-struck high school kid. MxPx, Green Day, and Ghoti Hook collect dust much of the year, but are never caught off guard when they get the call every spring. MeWithoutYou was a welcome addition to the spring genre—they have fit deeper lyrics to a raw energy that bridges the gaps between seasons. Mad At Gravity is another springtime regular.
There are, of course, exceptions. There are the STPs and Audioslaves and CAKEs of the music world that are like little black cocktail dresses and don't even not fit. There are bands like Weezer who have produced albums of polar opposite seasons. There are albums like "Dark Side of the Moon" that mean different things in different seasons. This is a theory, not a universal law of nature.
And so it would be a generalization to say that summer bands are melody-driven while winter songs are deeper and more lyrically meaningful, but it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch.
As for me and Bec, it’s no wonder we’re winter music people.
Saturday, September 24, 2005
A letter was delivered to our apartment yesterday. There was no return address on the envelope, but it looked pretty official and it was addressed specifically to me, 'Mr. Scott E. Pearce.' I opened it. Inside was a single-page letter that addressed me again as 'Mr. Pearce.' Below are the contents of the letter:
It has come to our attention that you are one of only nine people remaining in the greater New York metropolitan area who does not display a magnetic support ribbon on your personal vehicle. We have taken measures to confirm this through one or more reliable sources; you have not received this letter in error.
The reasons that you have as of yet not taken steps to display evidence that you do, in fact, support a cause is troubling news. In the volatile day in which we live, the need for support of all that is good and charitable has never been greater. There is no better way to support a cause than to purchase and display a magnetic ribbon on your car. After all, charitable work and donations to those in need should always be as public a gesture as possible.
Perhaps you are not aware of what you are missing by not displaying a magnetic ribbon on your 2001 Dodge Dakota. The purchase of a magnetic ribbon serves many purposes. First, almost half of the cost of the ribbon is contributed an organization consisting of many, many people who do not actually work for free. In actuality, the generous donation of $5 contributes very little financially to your cause of choice, but this should not be of concern because of the other ways in which your ribbon purchase shows support.
Not only does your purchase contribute financially, but it contributes much more importantly to you, the displayee. What good is supporting a cause if no one knows that you support it? Would your friends and neighbors have any idea of the depths of charity that your heart possesses without a collection of ribbons to make it outwardly evident? Of course not! Think of the self-satisfaction and personal pride you have not attained.
There is a veritable smorgasbord of causes worthy of your support. You have certainly noticed the variety of your fellow citizens' support, offered to the many causes available today. The list is practically limitless--limited only by cold-hearted Americans like you. Causes worthy of support include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:
"Support Our Troops" (also "Pray for Our Troops" and "Bring Our Troops Home")
"Breast Cancer" (also "Ovarian Cancer." Please no "Testicular" or "Prostate" or "Colon." Support for these causes should not be displayed--that's just gross.)
"AIDS Awareness" (Please no "Abstinence Awareness" or "Only Sex with Members of the Opposite Gender Awareness" for reasons that should go without saying.)
"Hepatitis C Awareness" (Please no "B" or "A")
"Feed Terrell Owens' Family"
"In God We Trust" (This should be displayed only in the most unassuming way possible)
It should, by now, be plain to see how your lack of support is both irrational and irresponsible. While your actions have not necessarily affected any one person or group directly, you should know that your negligence to support a cause may be interpreted by some to be an insult or worse, a sign of passive aggression.
Our troops need your support. Breast Cancer victims need your support. Hepatitis C patients need your support. They are not being supported to their maximum potential if your vehicle remains magnet-less.
This letter is intended to notify you of your grave negligence and to spur you on to show support of the cause(s) of your choosing. If you do not act in support of an approved cause, we wil have no choice but to force action.
The National Commission for Citizen's Awareness and Support
Sunday, September 18, 2005
So unless you've just returned from a summer-long missions trip to Tasmania, you've probably heard that the Rolling Stones are touring again. It's probably the big music news of the summer, and has got every radio deejay in any major city (even Pittsburgh!) simply drunk with giddiness. Ticket prices at the venues in our area started at $250 for floor level seats--and that's through TicketMaster, not even scalped yet!
I can only speculate as to your thoughts on the subject, if indeed you have any. If you're like me, you were born too early to have caught any part of the Stones' heyday, but you were born at such a time as to witness the band making (one can only hope, for their own sakes) maybe their last go-round, without exception being celebrated by the masses for their collective body of work.
If you're even more like me, you don't understand the fuss. In fact, if you are me, you think the Rolling Stones are perhaps the most overrated legendary rock band ever.
There is no doubt they are a legendary band. The fact that they have been around, practically unchanged since before man walked on the moon, grants them undisputed legend status. The fact that they can put on a show more than forty years after their first album earns my respect. I just don't think they're quite as great as so many people make them out to be.
I love a lot of Rolling Stones' songs--there might even be four or five that would crack a list of my 100 favourite songs. My complaint with the hubbub about the Stones is not the same as my confusion about the legendary status of Jim Morrison as "An American Poet"--at least I realize the Stones are a good band.
I don't even think I'm in the dark because I didn't live when they were in their prime, when they were revolutionary. This is similar to how people say "The Graduate" was a ground-breaking film in it's day but now isn't worth the price of a rental. Deejays don't build up the Stones as a band that changed rock n roll forever and therefore we should still celebrate them today. Deejays frequently call the Stones the greatest rock n roll band ever. I just don't get it.
Mick Jagger is great as a frontman. He's never not been ugly, and is altogether lacking as a lyricist, but is still a good lead guy to have. Keith Richards is even uglier then Mick and doesn't even hold a candle to any of the truly great guitarists of his day.
The Rolling Stones boast an ok frontman and an ordinary lead guitarist; as a group they haven't done enough to be considered revolutionary; as musicians they haven't had much success straying from their formulaic, almost predictable core style; and they've only just barely survived a rock scene in their lifetime that often was unhealthy enough to make them the only band left standing.
It seems to me that the only thing they really have going for them is that they've lasted. They're sixty-something and people are paying thousands of dollars to be in their audience for a few hours. It's beyond me, but it's one thing I can't knock them for. They sell. They've always sold.
Just please don't make them out to be more than they are. It grates my ears to hear deejays proclaim them the greatest rock n roll band of all time, or introduce "Satisfaction" as the greatest rock n roll song of all time. They're a good band that has lasted. Nothing more.
Here at the outset I would like to cite a post from Daryl's blog that sparked me to put to keyboard the thoughts below. Daryl's blog can be found at http://derail.blogspot.com/ or at the link to the left. The post was titled, "Cutesy Christian Catchphrases."
Daryl vented his displeasure at the catchphrase fad that started with WWJD? and is still so prevalent in Christian circles today. He ranted about how even an edifying and beneficial idea can be manipulated in what would appear to be questionable ways. Daryl's frustration, I think, stems from the fact that both the instigating and participating catchphrase Christians seem to be displaying an image of the disciples of Christ that many of us do not wish to be associated with.
I commend you to read his blog for more on that topic and I will now continue onto my own.
My displeasure is with how much of mainstream Christian pop culture is merely a rip-off of the secular mainstream. How can it be that we who are called to be set apart as a people holy to the Lord find it so appealing to witness to this fact with spin-offs of the world around us?
Exhibit A. The "got milk?" ad campaign was rated the most effective promotion of a product in something like a dozen years, and it's easy to see evidence of that--imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so they say. There are perhaps only a few objects in the English language that have not been copied-and-pasted into the "got milk?" phrase. I've seen bumper stickers and t-shirts with everything from "got beer?" to "got peace?" to "got virus protection?" People of all kinds have no shame ripping off a popular phrase to push their own product or idea, because in doing so they can siphon off a guaranteed positive association for themselves. Sadly, in this case, Christians are no exception. "got Jesus?", "got salvation?", and "got Spirit?" can be seen plastered on the back of the car in front of you--or maybe even your own.
Other examples can be found on the tshirts that are in every Christian bookstore: the "CK" logo for Calvin Klein turned into a "JC" for Jesus Christ; what looks like a GAP tshirt, but the message is now "GAP-Jesus fills it" instead of the clothier. The list goes on. "King of Kings" instead of "King of Beers" (Budweiser); "Jesus Inside" instead of "Intel Inside"; "You're in good hands with AllFaith" (AllState insurance); and perhaps my favourite from www.christiantshirts.net : a rip-off of those lean, green heroes in half shells, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles--"Teenage Jesus-Worshipping Christians". You've got to check out christiantshirts.net to get the full effect of what I'm trying to express.
Exhibit B. Painting with a broad brush (which is apt to get me in trouble), Christian radio, on the whole, is embarrassing. There has never been a dire lack of good Christian music, but you wouldn't always be able to tell from what one can at any time receive on mainstream Christian airwaves. This is not a statement where I can point to specific examples such as with the slogan rip-offs, but there is an underlying current that is noticeable enough to me.
There is little difference between a secular "love song" and a man-centered "praise song"--the words "baby" and "Jesus" can be interchanged between the two without either sounding much different. If Mr. Rock Star wants to tell a girl he loves her (for whatever reason), Rock Star composes priceless verses like "Can't live without you, baby" or "All I need is the air that I breathe, and to love you" or "Oh, Baby, Baby, Baby, Baby, Baby, cause you mean so much to me." If Mr. CCM artist wants to tell Jesus he loves Him (for whatever reason), he assembles a song with lines like "I'm desperate for you/I'm lost without you" or "This is the air I breath" or "Yes, Lord, Yes, Lord, Yes, Yes, Lord, Amen."
I don't think it's a stretch to say that it is, in this case, Christian culture that is guilty of mimicking secular culture. Ambiguous, emotionally driven, self-serving lyrics are all too common in today's Christian Top 40 and on our churches' overhead projectors.
It is true that the apostle Paul taught that we are to "be all things to all men" so as to make the gospel attractive to all kinds of people. I do not believe that this is an adequate defense for this all-out Christianizing of secular pop culture. When Paul's missionary journey took him to Athens, he noticed that the people there worshipped a great number of gods. It's noteworthy to see how Paul shared the gospel to that particular people. He could have said, "You worship this god Zeus. Well, my God is kinda like Zeus. Let me see if I can relate to you using your own gods as starting points." No, Paul instead threw all that out the window and unashamedly preached the true God to the people of Athens. No apologies. No cutesy Christian catchphrases. Just Christ crucified.
All this is not to say that it's wrong to spin-off what's already out there. It's easy. It can be effective. But why go that route? Why resort to merely taking what the world feeds us, doing a little photoshop work and presenting it back to the world--Christianized, but not necessarily improved? To me it makes Christians seem second rate, as if we can't produce quality of our own. If I were an unbeliever browsing christiantshirts.net it would seem to me that these Christians were living with a foot planted in each realm, as a child sitting in his room of Christianity, but looking out the window and longing to be playing outside with the other boys and girls.
Christ commanded his disciples to be a salt and light in a dark generation, even warning them not to lose their saltiness. It will be a constant and lifelong struggle for each of us to put off the old man and clothe ourselves with Christ. It is difficult to stand out; it is a daunting task to try to truly live in this world but not be of this world. But we must.
"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men." Matthew 5.13
"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12.2
Friday, September 09, 2005
I was involved on-and-off in the earthwork operations of a large building expansion site in Roxbury this summer. A huge trucking distribution center was expanding its existing building and putting up a new one next to it. The earthwork involved was almost a perfectly balanced cut-and-fill situation straight from a geotech textbook. The area under construction was the slope of a hill, with the bottom half being below grade and the upper half being above grade. Solution: Move top half of hill to bottom half of hill, creating level building pad.
In cutting the upper part of the hill, the contractor generated massive amounts of boulders. They can't use boulders as structural fill, so they brought a crusher onto site for a few weeks and before long, they had turned un-usable boulders into gravel they could use as retaining wall backfill. In paying a little extra to operate the crusher and transport the new gravel, they probably made out like bandits by not having to pay to truck boulders off site and then pay to truck gravel in. The eliminated the middle man (the quarry) and came out smelling like roses.
This is common practice for such a situation since it makes sense and is to the advantage of most everyone involved. However, it got me thinking...
What do they do in areas like the Lehigh Valley, where the parent bedrock is limestone? Do they re-use limestone?
*We've come to the part of this entry where Scott has succesfully built a 'stop'--a point where the reader will have to stop to wonder, "Why would the re-use of limestone be a problem, Scott? Tell us, tell us!" This is what we in the business call a captured audience.*
Limestone is a geotechnical concern because many types of limestone are dissolvable in water. You've probably seen a picture of a sinkhole. Maybe your uncle Phil lost his Audi into a sinkhole when one opened up in his driveway. They look like imploded crater holes.
Sinkholes occur where water seeps into the subsoil, ponds on a section of limestone, and essentially causes the limestone to vanish. This happens so gradually over time that often the soils will retain enough of their strength so as to make the dissolving to be practically imperceptible until failure. On the surface, the roadway or farmer's field looks normal until one morning uncle Phil can't drive to work and farmer Maurice can't harvest any corn from his field.
Limestone, therefore, would be a problem to re-use as structural fill because the life expectancy of a subgrade prepared with limestone--particularly one close to the surface or near the groundwater table--would be significantly reduced.
So, getting to the apology, eventually...
Only a measly ten miles of the entire PA section of I-80 widens to five lanes across; the other 352 miles is only four lanes. The New Jersey part of I-80, by comparison, has only ten miles of four-lane highway; the rest is six or more! New Jersey's interstates are it's pride and joy (which is helpful since seemingly half of the ground cover of the greater Newark area is interstate) and are a smooth ride almost anywhere. In Pennsylvania, I have always complained, a driver is hard pressed to find a stretch of one mile without a pothole or 100 miles without construction.
Well, PennDOT, it seems I was too quick to pass judgment. For years I have bad-mouthed you and scoffed at your inability to maintain your sorry excuse for an interstate highway system. I always assumed that your highway design engineers were a rag tag bunch of buffoons who didn't know DGA from a DCP. It turns out, you're not bad engineers, after all--you're just good businessmen and inconsiderate of your state's drivers.
You know about limestone's susceptibility to decay over time and yet that hasn't stopped you from using crushed limestone as your roadbase. You didn't see the need to spend millions of taxpayers' dollars on importing costs when you had all the subbase material you needed right in your own backyard. Instead of bringing in clean stone from another state, you simply paid your local Tom, Dick, and Harry Pennsylvanian to give you cheap processed limestone for your roads. You save millions of dollars, and instead figure you'd just spend a portion of the fortune you saved by employing Frank, Joe, and Larry road crewman to repair the roads that always go bad because they're paved on limestone subbase and limestone dissolves in water!
Engineering school prepared me to think like an engineer (innocent as a dove), but a year of working for an engineering firm has taught me to think like a businessman (wise as a serpent). Engineers design in a perfect world, and they are driven by fear of failure. This is how we get the reputation of being out of touch and unrealistic. Businessmen live and breathe in the real world and they are driven by the bottom line. This is how they get the reputation of being ruthless and sacrificial when it comes to quality.
Any good engineering solution needs to be driven by both quality and practicality. PennDOT, in my opinion, has sacrificed quality for the bottom line. They have paved their roads with a material that dissolves in water, all for the sake of a little green.
You may remember that after my first round of golf this season, back in April, I had announced, "My goals for the year are to break 50 for a round of nine, go the whole summer without scoring over 60, and go a whole round without a 3-putt."
You probably don't, but it brings nonetheless it brings me great pleasure to declare that I have achieved one of these goals so far this summer.
On a sultry July Saturday, Phil, Ben, and I played a round of nine at Fairway Valley, the course behind Warren Hills high school. I shot a triple-bogey 8 on the par 5 first hole, and triple-bogeyed the 8th with a 6. Despite those two black eyes, I was otherwise surprisingly steady and even par-ed a par 5 for the first time.
I ended up with a score of 49, demolishing my previous best mark of 55, set in April. I hit a couple remarkable shots, but neither significant enough to be remarked on here--which is exactly my next point.
I am gradually becoming a better golfer. I'm dangerously close to becoming a golfer. Two summers ago, I would have called everyone I knew to tell them about shooting a birdie on a real golf course. I birdied a hole for the first time this summer, the morning of my bachelor party, and hardly raised my heartbeat. The difference in me these days is that I expect great things from myself and the problem is that I routinely almost achieve them. My golf game is to the point now that I'm disappointed if I more than double-bogey. In fact, snowmen and 7s are now the exception. It's exciting to think about, but only when compared to what I once was.
I am Tiger Woods.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
My bride, Rebecca Rose, and I finally did uni-flesh this past June 25th, 2005. We have wasted no time and are well on our way to living happily ever after in the bliss that is marriage.
We are living in Washington, New Jersey, just an unladen swallow's flight away from Hackettstown and my parents and the church. Becca has started at the presitgious Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, and I am a promising young geotechnical engineer with Whitestone Associates in Watchung.
We have spent our post-wedding summer seemingly alternating weekend trips to Montrose and Williamsport, visiting Becca's family and the Williams family, respectively. Now that we will be home a little more often, we will be starting and I will be leading a bi-weekly small group Bible study in our apartment. The boys and girls youth groups will be starting up again this month, and Becca and I will both be serving as counselors. I will have way more fun because boys' idea of craft time is painting a pine wood derby car.
I'm gonna put an end to this entry now because it feels like I'm writing a family Christmas letter.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
The entry titled "Shower the People You Love With Love" touches on the decision Becca and I had to make about where to live out our first year of marriage. I'd like to share a bit about the place the Lord has provided--both as a testimony to His goodness to us, and also as a ploy to add entries to our new Guestbook.
Early in our apartment search, we together came to the conclusion that it would be wise of us to lower our expectations and try as much as possible to "settle" for a lesser (read: smaller) apartment rather than pay more for more. Our thinking was, and still is, that if we could spend $100-150 less per month and make due bumping elbows a little more in a smaller space, it would help toward our ultimate goal of being in a house as soon as possible. We realized it might mean we could feel like we were living on top of one another, but isn't that what the first year of marriage is all about (hehe...you know...)?
It has only become more and more evident how the Lord has blessed that decision--a humbling thought. Not only are we paying at least $100 less per month than we would have been at places we otherwise would have considered over our place now, but I don't think we could have found a better apartment if we had looked for a whole year. Let me give you the details.
First, the apartment itself is practically brand new. The previous resident must have been a tenent for quite a few years because when he moved out, they redid the entire place. Our kitchen has a brand new fridge/freezer, new microwave, new stove top and oven, new counters, new cupboards, new dishwasher, and new flooring. The entire place has brand new carpet. The bathroom has a new tub and shower head, new vanity, new sink and counter, and a new toilet seat. There is nothing in the entire place that even suggests anyone had lived there prior to us. It feels like a nice hotel, but much more personal.
Second, we have no complaints about space, even though at 555 square feet, our place is easily the smallest residence we found available. What we lack in square footage is more than offset by the high ceilings (10' or higher--I can't reach them even jumping) and very tall windows that get sun nearly all hours of the day. I should reword that sentence because we don't lack space at all. We have fit a full sized couch and a large loveseat, with a dining room table and five chairs and have room to spare for dance parties, orgies, and the like. We wouldn't know what to do with more space (plus, there is the whole living on top of each other part alluded to above).
Thirdly are the intangibles. Moving day was exponentially easier because we're on the first floor--we actually passed stuff through the window. There is a Little League field across the street. We have yet to hear any evidence that we have people living above, below, or next to us on either side. Our landlady is a dear. Our town is almost exactly located between my office and Becca's hospital. There is a good pizzaria in town (but no bagel place yet--curses!).
For such a nice place in New Jersey, $735 a month is an absolute steal. It's quite a large fixed expense to suddenly tack onto two car payments and insurance and student loans. BUT the Lord has so blessed Becca and I over these last months that I have more than once wondered, "Lord, if these are supposed to be the lean years when money is tight and major sacrifices are to be made, what's in store for the fat years??"
So visit us or write us at our new locale. Becca is living solo for now, very quickly making bare white walls feel like a home. I move in June 25. The address is below.
Scott and Becca (soon to be) Pearce
66 Park Avenue
Washington, NJ 07882
We are just using our cell phones for now and do not have a land line.
I am 908.343.1962. Becca is 908.343.8632.
Monday, May 02, 2005
A while back Becca and I were faced with the decision of where to live after marriage. The Lord had already blessed me with work in Jersey, so we at least had a home base of Warren County, New Jersey from which to fan out and begin our search. It quickly boiled down to a choice between western Jersey or eastern Pennsylvania.
Finances are a big deal to most any newly-wed couple. As far as I can tell, gas is the only thing more costly on the western side of the Delaware River. Car insurance, rent, houses, and property taxes are just a few of the cost of living items that make living in Pennsylvania seem so appealing. If Financial Impact was the item on our decision matrix that carried the highest weighting factor, I can say with certainty that Becca and I would have a lease contract, if not mortgage, for a place in PA.
But it's not just a dollars-and-cents decision. We both have strong convictions that money should not be a deterent to obtaining what we believe to be the worthy pursuits in life. Through prayer and wise council, we are trying to prepare ourselves now, early in our marriage-to-be, to establish habits that we hope will free us of letting money be a controlling force in our decisions in our life. With that said, the intangible reasons to stay in New Jersey were more persuasive than that which could be deposited and withdrawn.
After much consideration, the item with the highest weighting factor became our conviction that we needed to be able to live close enough to be active members in a body of believers, a local church. Through various means and living examples (both bad and good), we agreed that we would not settle for being "Sunday members" of a congregation--essentially commuting to church for Lord's Day worship and not much else during the week. We both wanted to at least present ourselves with the possibility of plugging into the weekly life of the church, if not even going to far as to engage in church ministry. We limited ourselves to a twenty-minute radius about any known reformed congregation in PA or NJ in which to settle, so this did not of necessity mean we decided to stay near the Hackettstown OPC. It certainly did, however, made it harder to leave.
There were a few reasons we chose to stay at Hackettstown OPC. The first was that we were obviously already there. Becca had been received as a communicant member this summer, and I am going on 23 years here. There are members who prayed for me on my date of birth, or changed my diapers in the nursery, or babysat me as a toddler. In some ways I have more of an affection for my "adopted grandparents" here than I do my own blood relations.
It has been difficult in ways for Becca to come into "my world" at church, with literally every member knowing so much about me. She has had to fight frustrations of feeling more like "Scott's fiance" than "Rebecca Roszel, new member." But aside from this and the subtle tendency to blur the line between familiarity and indifference, we could not be in a more caring, supportive environment to start out.
And this could not have been made more evident than it was this Saturday when Becca was thrown a surprise bridal shower. Nearly 30 women of the church came out on a cold and otherwise dismal Saturday afternoon to literally shower my future wife with gifts, food, recipes, furnishings, appliances, advice, love, joy, and cake. Another three sent a gift and their regrets at not being able to attend; two more brought theirs to church the next day.
We came away with a haul that required a Rav4 and the trunk of my parent's car to bring back to our apartment. Becca came away with an overwhelming sense of the outpouring of love that is so easily stirred up from the women of Hackettstown OPC. We both came away with gratitude and praise to the Lord who had given us such a clear and immediate sign that it was indeed a good decision to remain a part of our local church.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Not that you would know it by checking the frequency with which I post new entries, but I swear that I think of at least five new things to write about every week. Really, all that's keeping me from making it big as a world-famous blogger is my full-time job, planning a wedding, doing housework to pay rent, sister's softball games, and golf. Oh yeah, and sleeping and dinnertimes.
I played my first round of golf of the season yesterday. I was able to play quasi-hooky from work and Greg snuck away from seminary long enough to get in 18 holes on a beautiful spring day in Philly. We played at Twining Valley (Greg's interim home course), which turned out to be the most challenging course I have played to date.
I broke my previous personal best (by one stroke) for any 9 holes by shooting a 55 on the front, and then shot a 56 on the back for a 111 18-hole score. I've only played a full 18 two other times and I don't remember how I fared.
My front score could have been much lower, but I hacked two 8's on two different par 4's, and scored a 10 on the par-4 4th hole. My lie on the green started out well below the hole and the greens were pool table fast. I think Greg and I both 6-putted, and it was almost reaching the point of comical tragedy with how many times we putted up the hill only to have it roll right back down to our feet. My final put actually went past the hole and rolled back down in.
I tallied two pars, on holes 2 and 6, and the highlight of my golf career so far was scoring a birdie on the par-4 9th hole. I had put my tee shot on the green with my driver, and then left a 35-foot eagle putt short. I tapped in for birdie and got a handshake from Greg.
My goals for the year are to break 50, not ever score over 60, and go a whole round without a 3-putt.
Thursday, February 24, 2005
(last updated 24 Feb 2005)
Becca and I are to be wed in the holiest of matrimonies on June 25 of this year. The reception will be outside in the backyard of the ever-generous Keith and Deanna Cuomo's house. We will not be having a DJ, per se, but are instead loading Joel's mp3 player with several million of our favourite songs (listed below).
Consider this an open invitation to suggest songs that we might have overlooked in compiling this soundtrack. We are looking for dancing songs, dinner songs, or any other appropriate tune. As you can see, our list is anything but your run-of-the-mill "Electric Slide," "Time of My Life," and "Cotton-Eyed Joe."
Feel free to go obscure, go mainstream, old or new. I can tell you right now that there will be no Celine Dion, so don't even bother.
The List (as of 24 Feb 2005)
Aerosmith - "Sweet Emotion"
Allman Brothers Band - "Melissa"
Allman Brothers Band - "Jessica"
Allman Brothers Band - "Blue Sky"
Aretha Franklin - "RESPECT"
Aretha Franklin - "Son of a Preacher Man"
AWK - "She Is Beautiful"
B52s - "Love Shack"
Bad Company - "Feel Like Makin Love"
Barry White - Can't Get Enough of Your Love Babe (thanks! Daryl)
Barry White - "You're the First"
Beastie Boys - "Sure Shot"
Beegees - "Stayin Alive"
Ben Folds - "The Luckiest" (thanks JoelandLizzz)
Billy Idol - "Mony Mony"
Billy Joel - "She's Got a Way"
Boston - "Rock 'N' Roll Band"
Boston - "Peace of Mind"
Brian Adams - "Heaven"
Bruce Springsteen - "Dancing in the Dark"
Cars - "Good Times Roll"
Cars - "Bye Bye Love"
Cars - "Shake it Up"
Cindi Lauper - "Girls Wanna Have Fun"
Coldplay - "Sparks"
Coldplay - "Green Eyes"
David Bowie - "Suffer Jet City"
David Bowie - "Golden Years"
DC Talk - "That Kinda Girl"
Dire Straits - "Romeo and Juliet"
Doobies - "Rockin Down the Highway"
Eddie Money - "Two Tickets to Paradise"
Ella Fitzgerald - "I Could Write a Book"
Eric Clapton - "Wonderful Tonight"
Flaming Lips - "Do You Realize"
Fleetwood Mac - "Say You Love Me"
Foo Fighters - "Everlong"
Foundations - "(Why Do You) Build Me Up Buttercup"
Four Seasons - "Oh What a Night"
Frank Sinatra - "Dancing Cheek to Cheek"
Frank Sinatra - "Fly Me to the Moon"
Frank Sinatra - "The Way You Look Tonight"
Frank Sinatra - "I Won't Dance"
Frank Sinatra - "Let's Fall in Love"
Frank Sinatra - "I Get a Kick Out of You"
Frank Sinatra - "The Last Dance"
Frank Sinatra - "The Best is Yet to Come"
George Thoroughgood (sp?) - "Who Do You Love"
Grand Funk Railroad - "Some Kind of Wonderful"
Incubus - "Echo"
James Taylor - "Something in the Way She Moves"
James Taylor - "How Sweet It Is"
James Taylor & Carly Simon - "Devoted to You"
Jay and the Americans - "This Magic Moment"
Jim Croce - "Time in a Bottle"
Jimi Hendrix - "Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire"
Jimmy Eat World - "Jukebox" (thanks, Greg)
Jimmy Eat World - "Sweetness" (thanks, Greg)
Jimmy Eat World - "Praise Chorus" (thanks, Greg)
Joe Cocker - "Feelin' Alright"
The Kinks - "All Day and All of the Night"
The Knack - "My Sheronah"
Kool & the Gang - "Jungle Boogie" (thanks, Daryl)
Led Zeppelin - "Houses of the Holy"
Led Zeppelin - "The Ocean"
Led Zeppelin - "Trampled Underfoot"
Louis Armstrong - "Sugar"
Maroon 5 - "Sunday Morning"
Marshall Tucker Band - "Can't You See"
Natalie Cole - This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)
Norah Jones - "Come Away With Me"
Norah Jones - "Nearness of You"
Outkast - "Hey Ya" (thanks, Daryl)
Queen - "Best Friend"
Righteous Brothers - "Unchained Melody"
Rolling Stones - "Satisfaction (I Can't Get No)"
Rolling Stones - "Hey, You, Get Off of My Cloud"
Romantics - "What I Like About You"
Roy Orbison - "Pretty Woman"
Sara Groves - "Fly"
Sara Groves - "Cannot Lose My Love"
Sarah McLachlan - "Ice Cream"
Sixpence None the Richer - "Kiss Me"
Smashing Pumpkins - "Take Me Down" (thanks, Dan Sack)
Spiral Staircase - "More Today Than Yesterday" (thanks, Nanx and Dan Sack)
Steely Dan - "Reeling in the Years"
Steppenwolf - "Magic Carpet Ride"
Stevie Ray Vaughn - "The House Is Rockin"
Stevie Wonder - "Signed, Sealed, Delivered"
Styx - "Renegade"
Thin Lizzy - "The Boys Are Back in Town"
Tim McGraw & Faith Hill - "It's Your Love"
Temptations - "My Girl" (thanks, Daryl)
Temptations - "The Way You Do the Things You Do" (thanks, Daryl)
Turtles - "Happy Together"
Van Halen - "Dance the Night Away"
Van Halen - "Panama"
Van Halen - "Right Now"
Van Halen - "Jump"
Van Morrison - "Have I Told You Lately"
Van Morrison - "Moondance"
Van Morrison - "Crazy Love"
Van Morrison - "Gloria"
ZZ Top - "Cheap Sunglasses"
ZZ Top - "Legs"
ZZ Top - "Gimme All Your Lovin"
ZZ Top - "Sharp Dressed Man"
Click "Comments" below to make a suggestion.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Pale-skinned hockey fans of Scandenavia and Canadia grow 'playoff beards' during the Stanley Cup playoffs to show their devotion to their team. The prescense of whiskers on a fan's face also serves as a means of unspoken bragging rights, being that the team that eventually hoists the Cup will be the only team with bearded fans by the end of the playoffs. It is at worst an amusing tradition of the Great White North and is something of which I have spun off in an attempt to bring more order and even more regularity to my life.
I have grown a winter beard each of the past two winters. Both beards were spurred by JP$ and his dorm's "No Shave November" bonding scam (of which I was secretly jealous). Beard 1 was the first time I had ever grown more than just chin hair and eventually phased into an Amish-looking growth that I am not fond of recalling. Beard 2 lasted most of this winter past and, I feel, gave me some subliminal higher-standing with Becca's [bearded] father. Beard 3, this year's latest and greatest, started in late October and has only recently fallen into the bathroom sink, victim of the guillotine that is the Mach3.
[For inclusion into the Scott Pearce biography: "It was after a few weeks of struggling with trying to decide when to return to the ranks of naked-faced (which coincidentally coincided with a few weeks of Rebecca Rose hinting that it would be nice to kiss a naked top lip again) that Scott Pearce made an official decision..."]
I have officially decided to grow a beard annually during the exact length of the baseball offseason. I will shave for the last time the morning after the last World Series game (regardless of which team wins the game) and will resume shaving again on the first day that the Yankees' pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
The press conference will be tomorrow at 3pm. Stupid questions will be rejected with Bill Parcellsian bluntness.
Monday, January 17, 2005
Licence to be Royally Pissed
So the other day I saw a Hummer H2 in local parking lot with a car-top carrier strapped to the roof.
I'll re-type that sentence for effect: The other day I saw a Hummer H2 with a car-top carrier strapped to the roof.
I have never so sincerely cursed out someone under my breath. How can this guy justify adding more cargo space atop what is arguably the largest four-wheeled beast on the roads today? Is it possible that he really couldn't contrive a means of packing into his hugeass tank-on-wheels whatever of his worldly possessions needed transport?
I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, hoping that maybe his lot was such that he had recently realized the gross lapse in judgement under which he was subject when he penned the lease for his Frigate of the Freeway and had adopted the policy of merely living out of his H2 as a make-shift RV. Maybe his monthly budget session brought him to the ultimatum of paying rent or paying for gas at 3 miles a gallon, after which he rationalized that an apartment does a far inferior job of announcing to the world, "Hey, look at me and deduce that my genitalia must be as grand in scale as my vehicle is excessive and wasteful!"
In related thoughts, I had an idea for a documentary. I would pay the Friday nite admission fee to the local cinema to watch even a half hour film of the following content. I would like to see a camera crew and a moderately-polite interview man/woman track the drivers of Hummers on the road and try to interview them when they get out of their H2s. I would like these drivers to be asked--objectively and without an air of pretense or bias--things like what made them buy their H2, if they are happy with their purchase, what their monthly gas expenses are, and how their H2 meets their particular transportation needs. I would like the interviewer to be equipped with facts informing the driver how much the gas expenses of the average economy-car-commuter match up with the typical H2 commuter, and do a quick calculation to let the H2 driver know how many children he or she could feed, clothe, and educate through Compassion International with the difference in monthly gas money alone.
I wouldn't care if this crew tracked down solo drivers of the other giant SUVs. I have nothing unique against Hummers except the added "status symbol" tag they supposedly carry. I would pay to watch a documentary like the one described above because I want to hear the H2 owner voice. I want this misinterpreted people group to be able to rationalize their very large decisions to the world; I want them to be able to plead their case to the average cynic like Scott Pearce who does nothing but assume the worst and secretly curse them out as they hum by. Really, I want to be able to secondarily look these people in the eye and hear them say that they can justify the money and gas and lifestyle they expend for the sake of [fill in the blank].
I obviously don't believe that I would hear one convincing argument/justification and would really only be looking for my own sense of justification for cursing at people I have never met.