I apologize for the dearth in posting of late. I have been working diligently on a number of projects, including a revamp of my wife’s website for her violin studio, and a new website of my own designed to test the waters in the world of freelance writing. Given that web development is a hobby for me, rather than a job, these projects have necessarily taken up a large amount of my free time in recent days.
All that to say, I haven’t had much time for writing – or for thinking about new things to write.
This being the case, I’m going to take a break from my normal, philosophical fare and deal with a couple things I’ve been delinquent on in recent days. My wife tagged me with a couple of “memes” that have been circulating the blogosphere of late, and it is well past time for me to respond.
Seven Odd Things
The first of these memes asks individuals to list seven random facts or habits about themselves. So, without further ado, here are seven odd things about me you probably never cared to know . . .
1. Vocational Awesomeness
I recently rode in a helicopter for the first time . . . it was an Indiana National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk very similar to this one. Heck, for all I know, it might have been this one.
2. Ecclesiastical Oddity
Those of you who have read much of my writing know that I recently bid the local church farewell in favor of a more flexible, personal and intimate relationship with God than such a structured setting can provide. You may not, however, know that when I first did so, I resigned from the church I was attending at the time with a 24-page letter of resignation, complete with an executive summary and footnotes.
. . . hey . . . they said these factoids were supposed to be odd . . .
3. Origin of the Theses
I got my start blogging in the closed community of bloggers at BlogIt.com, which fit very well with my libertarian sensibilities. Each member pays a monthly fee (then $6, now $10) in order to post as many blogs as they wish on any number of topics. Writers are then paid a few pennies per click on their articles, and readers’ subscription fees are dispensed to those whose content they enjoy, according to how many times they read those writers’ stories. All very fair and equitable. I quit because I was managing a total of six blogs on different topics, posting on each of them multiple times per day, and I quite simply got burned out.
I earned a total of $60 in about 9 months of blogging.
4. A Few Notes
I don’t just write words, I write music as well – and have since I was a kid. I have not, however, tried my hand at actual composing for quite some time. Most of these days I just sit down at the piano or violin and play whatever I feel like, without writing any of it down. My most recent composition became the official hymn of my alma mater, Patrick Henry College nearly seven years ago. While deep and meaningful, it was slow and dragging, and as far as I know, has not been sung there for years. I doubt most of those currently attending even know Patrick Henry College has an “official hymn.”
My most recent arrangement, on the other hand, was much better received. I arranged “Gathering of the Clans” from the movie Braveheart for string quartet and uilleann pipes to be played during the groomsmen’s procession at our wedding. It was all very wonderful and I felt quite manly and warriorlike striding up the aisle to that particular piece.
5. Fun with the Fleet
I once got to tour an Ohio-class nuclear missile submarine, the Henry M. Jackson.
It was the second time such a sub had ever been opened to the public. They checked each of us for documentation verifying our U.S. citizenship (and accepted a driver’s license as proof – this was before September 11th). I was not allowed to take my camera on board. In the control room they had all the speed and depth gauges covered up so we could not even estimate how fast or deep she was capable of going.
As a side note, these modern day “boomers” have a lot more room than their slightly less modern cousins, like this one, which I’ve also had the pleasure of visiting a couple times.
6. Early Erstwhile Employment Efforts
My first job was a paper route. My sister and I delivered approximately 70 papers every morning for three years straight with only a couple family vacations off. That is not the odd part. This is. My second job was standing out in a parking lot directing traffic at an amusement park, rain or shine. I’m not entirely sure this was a step up from the paper route – although when they needed extra people inside the park they sometimes dragged me in to help police the water rides, assist backstage with the stunt show, or make sure little kids didn’t stick things (like fingers, for example) into the shark tank.
7. Gamboling, Gallivanting and Globetrotting Galore
I’ve never been outside the country for anything other than work – though I did thoroughly enjoy both my trips abroad. My first trip outside the U.S. was to Mexico in 1997, with a church group travelling to Calle Doce, Sonora to build a home for a pastor and his family whom we were supporting.
As a side note, it is very satisfying to construct a brick building entirely by hand. It is even more satisfying to stick one’s entire body into a barrel full of cold water intended for mixing cement, in the middle of a 120 degree afternoon.
My second trip was even more fun – I travelled to Bonn, Germany to heckle the United Nations . . . seriously.
It was 2001, and the Six Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was convening. If that’s too much of a mouthful, the words “Kyoto Protocol” might mean more to you. This bunch was the group that wrote said protocol, which purports to fix global warming by sending the economy of the U.S. and a couple other industrialized nations back into approximately the stone age.
Needless to say, there are those of us who don’t relish a return to the time when one’s primary mode of transportation ran on fodder. I and a bunch of my fellow Patrick Henry College Students joined a group going over to protest the treaty. We flew from Washington, D.C. to London, and from there to Brussels, Belgium – meeting with think tanks, scientists and others of like mind at each stop along the way. From Brussels we took a tour bus into Germany.
The highlight of this particular trip was when I talked the leaders of the group into letting me answer a challenge from Greenpeace! to hold a public, media-moderated debate over the Kyoto Protocol. The group leader didn’t want to participate, since he saw it as a stunt on the part of Greenpeace! designed to embarrass us – which it probably was.
I was probably the most prepared of the students on the trip, due to the fact that the professor who led the PHC delegation had asked me to complete an extra credit research assignment preparing all kinds of briefing materials for him in order to make sure he was as prepared as possible, several weeks before the trip. As he was getting his preparation, so was I, though I did not yet know it.
I led a team of three against three of the Greenpeace! students . . . and found out our team of two undergrad government majors and one business major was going up against their team of three graduate students in environmental sciences.
Surprisingly enough, they utterly failed to wipe the floor with us. This was either due to our l33t debating skillz, or due to the fact that the Protocol they were defending makes no sense.
Bonus points: We later found an online journal entry from one of the other Greenpeace! students who had observed the debate, which talked about how her side had “held their own against the conservatives.”
So there you have it . . . seven odd things which together paint a picture of Michael Daniels: World traveller, slayer of sacred cows, connoisseur of all things military, and writer of all things . . . well . . . written.
Now, I am supposed to tag
five seven people to continue this meme. I hereby tag:
Leeann Walker – because it’s been a long time, and I miss talking with her, and I hope she finds this and reads it.
2. Lynette Woods – because I’m sure this good friend has some interesting stories to tell.
3. David Hayward – because anybody with a blog called “The Naked Pastor” must have some odd things in his background.
4. Wayne Jacobsen – because I’d love to hear what someone so unconventional thinks is “odd.”
5. Chris Sligh – Yes, I watch American Idol, Yes, I do mean that Chris Sligh. Yes, he does have a blog, and yes, I do read it.
6. Glenn Reynolds – because I like his take on many things, and hey, if he should ever happen to see this, I could use the traffic . . .
* Upon further reflection, I recall that Leeann was already tagged on this particular meme by our friend Kelly, and so should not be expected to post on it again. In her place, I therefore tag Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Because he has a blog. And because he should therefore expect to fulfill the same obligations as the rest of us in the blogosphere, namely, taking a break from his nation’s nuclear program to tell us odd factoids about himself – like what exactly it feels like to be the Islamic version of John the Baptist.
Part two of this series – also known as “Five things I Dig about Jesus” – soon to come . . .