I bought the new Sting album today, and my first impression is: disappointing. I was disappointed right off the bat, finding out that it’s not coproduced by Hugh Padgham, who has coproduced every solo album Sting has made, as well as some of his Police stuff. Instead, it’s coproduced by some guy named Kipper. I think that’s it.

At any rate, the absence of Padgham is palpable – the entire feel of the album is different. To be honest, it’s kind of weird. I don’t know how to explain it. Anyway, the thing I have loved about Padgham produced Sting is that it just evokes this sense of atmosphere. That’s the only way I can explain it, just incredible moody atmosphere. For example, Every Breath You Take. This wonderful atmosphere in that song that really distinguishes it from older Police. Great stuff. Anyway, I don’t know Sting’s earlier solo stuff all that well, just what’s on his greatest hits, but The Soul Cages, Ten Summoner’s Tales, and Mercury Falling all have this incredible atomosphere to them. This incredible moody soul that just pervades the album, and even when they try different stuff, the atmosphere is still there.

For example, Sting tries some different stuff with like This Cowboy Song (off of Fields of Gold) and I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying, this country tinge, that actually started with The Munificent Seven (is that the title?) off of Ten Summoner’s Tales. But even though it’s country, there’s still atmosphere to it. Actually the only thing country about This Cowboy Song is the lyrics. But anyway.

Anyway, the whole feeling of Brand New Day is different – he decided to have world music elements in it. Which is interesting, just not the same atmospheric feel. And honestly, some of it is just weird. I don’t know, I feel like it didn’t catch me right away because it’s a little challenging. Gotta listen to it more.

But generally, I’ve been less and less impressed with his albums since The Soul Cages. That was a great album. Ten Summoner’s Tales is also really really good. I bought an extra copy in Korea because it had an extra song on it (Everybody Laughed But You). Anyway, Mercury Falling was good but it had some misses. Not misses, just not as good songs. But it had all these incredible gems that still made it an amazing album.

The country song is just absolutely bizarre. Actually much of the album is strange. There’s a French rapper on one track. Obviously, I can’t understand it. But I do admire certain things – like when he mixes really disparate musical elements together. At times, it works. But the end of the country song… gotta listen more.

Enough about Sting, the heathen.

So KCPC YAG has started up these Bible studies that have been really good. I’m doing Experiencing God, and I really feel that it’s been changing my life daily. First of all, I’m doing it, which is a life change. But it’s been really good. The reason I’m doing it, I don’t know. I feel like what I need from church, sermons, isn’t incredible insight or novel teaching. It’s just being reminded of the things I already know and challenged to actually do it. Anyway, I wanted something that was mostly fundamental, so I would just do it, not something really high and out there where I would learn, but you know, just head knowledge.

Anyway, the EG studies (for those many of you who have taken it. I don’t know why I never did.) are actually really simple, the answers are all there, it’s almost insulting to an adult intellect. But you think about it, and all they want is for you to get one insight. One insight a day.

Anyway, I’ve been getting 5 pretty good insights a week. It’s interesting reading/hearing about Dave not knowing what to do with life (or at least that’s what I think he’s saying) and then doing these studies. It’s like they have the answer. Anyway, the most recent insight is that God’s modus operandi is not where some person dreams and visions for the great thing he will do for God. It never works where a person plans what he’s gonna do for God. Rather, God decides on something and then invites someone to participate. The authors’ idea is that when we try the first way, we do a bunch of things, start a bunch of programs, whatever, but they all eventually die a miserable death. Whereas the second way bears much fruit. The first insight (to use the language of Redfield or whoever that Celestine quack is) is really that God is already at work all around you. The key is to join in what He’s already doing.

Anyway, agree or not, but it’s pretty Biblically sound – all the great people, it says basically, God heard and decided to do this and he calls people to do it. The surprising thing is how reluctant people are to do it – e.g. Moses, Gideon, kind of Saul/Paul. Anyway, it’s never dreamed up by the people. I thought a good insight.

So how do you see what God’s doing? I’ll let you know in a week.

I’ve also been reading a book by Charlie Peacock (a good friend) about the state of Christian music today. I’ve only gone through 5 chapters but it’s been very interesting. He’s pretty critical of the experiential nature of Christian music, and how it values experience over Scripture. He’s particularly critical of John Wimber. Anyway, his belief is this stems out of how Christian music started in the late 60’s and 70’s.

So there are a lot of views about what Christian musicians should be doing, how Christian music companies should be operating, stuff like that. His view, as I understand it so far is that Christian musicians are like a mini-body of Christ. The church is made up of the body, all of which are important. Any theology (in his view) which says that being a pastor is more holy or better than being a plumber is in error. Each part is different and vital, and anything that denies that any life profession (within reason) is a holy calling is wrong.

Anyway, Christian music is like that, part of it, and also on a microlevel. So to him, there is no one thing that Christian musicians must do, no one way in which they should operate, no one purpose they should have. Rather, the right view is that different callings are part of being the body of Christ. So some are meant to strictly encourage the church (like Cheri Keaggy). That’s cool. Some are very much into infiltrating the world, like Sixpence. That’s cool to him also. As I understand it, he thinks presuming there’s one right way to be a Christian musician is wrong.

Anyway, I’m not totally finished with the book or with my feelings about it.

But a friend remarked to me how I should do something with my life and not just be a programmer. I don’t know. I can understand if someone gets disappointed if I’m a programmer but not on grounds that it’s somehow a less holy calling than being a missionary. If that’s the calling, they’re equally holy or not holy. I don’t know what I want to do with my life, but I’m definitely not going to choose to do something because it’s holier. I don’t think there’s such a thing as a holier profession. If that makes sense.

I’ve been getting increasingly bold in regards to parking. I have yet to buy a parking permit, mainly because I don’t know which one to get. I was going to buy a Residential Lag one, then ride my bike, but I’ve found it’s so much easier to just park near Gates. The A lot in the Med School is the closest one. I’ve been wavering about whether to get a C permit and park in the big structure kind of near Gates. Except one time I tried to park there and there were no spaces free in 4 floors. Crazy.

In the meantime, while I’m being indecisive, I’ve just been parking where I please. Mostly the med school lot. Stern lot when I need to go to Sweet Hall. Lag lot at times. And on occasion, in the Gates lot! That’s pretty bold. Anyway, the other day, I was late for class in Jordan 40, and I went down to the back of TCSeq and parked right on the side of that street that runs back there, the one that goes straight out onto the quad. I parked pretty much on the quad. I mean, really bold. And no tickets. The other day at Stern was close, though. I pulled into Stern to park, but I see one of those gocarts driving around, then parking, and a guy coming out with a clipboard. For writing tickets. So I leave and park at Tresidder. Close call.

I was talking to a friend today and we were having a hilarious conversation. It was funny because we both kind of have minor road rage. I was telling him how I’ve been getting kind of angry lately and it’s scaring me. Like, when I see someone taking up 2 spaces in Stern lot, I get totally angry. I want to deflate his tires or key his door or something. Also, when people flagrantly run a red light (this happens all the time at the Page Mill / El Camino intersection) it makes me angry. Like, yesterday, this car went a full 2 seconds after our light had turned green! I wanted to go follow him and rear end him. I never do this, but it disturbed me that I think this.

Anyway, I found out he does the same things I do – play these little games which are kind of dangerous. Like, we’re on a highway or a two lane road like Alma, and this punk tailgates us and then switches to try to pass us. We both play this game where we speed up so he can’t pass up, and then when we catch up to the car in front of the other car in the other lane, kind of slow down and speed up so he can’t pass, and he’s stuck behind both cars, intermittently switching lanes. If he tailgates us we kind of tap the brake. A dangerous game.

The funny thing is that we both do it the same way, we totally pretend like we don’t even see the other car, just driving along, “doo doo doo…”, seemingly oblivious when we’re actually playing these dangerous games. Eventually the car passes us, and the driver just turns his face and glares, or yells or whatever, and we still pretend to be totally oblivious, just on a nice drive, doo doo doo. I couldn’t believe someone else does that also. What incredible punks we are.

Anyway, my driving irritations disturb me.

More random observations. I bought the Sting CD at Fry’s. The employees at Fry’s remind me a lot of the employees at Miyake. Creepy. Another weird thing was that at the checkout line, there were like 6 Indians working in a row. Old men, old women… really weird. I read an article in the Merc about how the population growth rate is slowing and some other trends. By 2050, there will be more people in India than in China. That is just absolutely stunning to me.

I was looking over the Tau Beta Pi Online Course Guide and some of the comments are hilarious. For example: “Why am I here? Why did I take this class?” Another favorite comment is about a class I’m currently taking, CS 226 (Expert Systems): “Do you want to waste your time? Do you want to learn something about expert systems? If your answers are ‘yes,’ and ‘no,’ then this is your class!” Or about CS 140, the guide itself states “the amount of work cannot be understated.”

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