The Life of Philip

as seen through a blog

Of Building and Digging

14.Jun.10 at 19:01
Ah, summer seems to be arriving! The weather has been warm and sunny almost all of the past week, which means that we can continue work at the building site for my brother's house. I told some people before I left a bit about what I would be doing, but now that I am here I can explain it better.

The Theory of Relativity Whilst Traveling

9.Jun.10 at 20:38
Whenever I travel I notice some odd things happen with time. It happened again this trip and as I was thinking about it I realized it has similarities to Einstein's Theory of Relativity which says something about how time goes slower when one travels at faster speeds. Well, this theory has to do with how perceived time progresses at two different speeds during travel.

First Few Mongolian Photos

9.Jun.10 at 16:15
I won't be posting all my photos here, but thought I'd give you a taste. Here are a few of the shots I've taken over the past few days of being here.

Coming to Mongolia

8.Jun.10 at 16:42
Before I left, many people asked me if I would be writing about my time in Mongolia and the Philippines this summer. I don't think I'm very good at writing compelling updates about my travels or taking the time to regale you with stories, but I will try to highlight some things for you. Besides, I'm uploading some stuff for work and with the slow Internet connection speeds here I have some spare time while I wait.

So I've arrived safely in Mongolia after a stopover in Vancouver, BC to visit some friends. It rained in Eugene, it rained in Seattle, and it rained in Vancouver. Okay Cascadia, I'm peacing out for a bit until you sort out your summer plans, be back in a couple months! However, day three in Mongolia and there is snow on the hills up where my brother is building his house. In case you forgot your geography, Mongolia is in the northern hemisphere: it's summer.

But I get ahead of myself, my brother lives in Erdenet, the second largest city in Mongolia, situated in the north a couple hours from Russia. My parents and I flew in to the capital city of Ulaanbaatar (yes, with five a's). My brother picked us up and we continued our journey with a five hour drive through the wide open landscape of Mongolia. I wish I could show you pictures, but they are still on my camera and like I said, Internet is slow here. The road we took is the best road through Mongolia they say, and it winds north through a landscape of hill ranges that are for the most part barren of trees. There were a few roadside villages and the surrounding countryside was dotted with gers (yurts) and livestock. The only fences were around individual plots of land a couple acres large: the animals have all the room to roam they need.

While the weather has been wet and cold, we're here to help my brother build his house. It's a waiting game right now with small preparations while we wait for the sun to come out and dry the land so we can work.

Christmanzukkah

25.Dec.09 at 09:40
"Merry Christmas!"

"Happy Hanukkah!"

"Happy Holidays!"

"Joyous Kwanzaa!"

I recently had to write a Christmas Holiday e-card for the company I work for. One of the stipulations of the design, was that I had to use the phrase Happy Holidays. I could not use Merry Christmas because we needed to be politically correct and not offend any customers. Our customer service staff ends their phone conversation with the same two words. While I can understand this stance for a corporation which is the face of many people, and not just one, the movement towards politically correct greetings in December is ridiculous.

When someone greets me, I would like them to say what is meaningful to them*. Alternatively, saying what is meaningful to me in a gesture of understanding and unity would be pleasant as well. However, using a generic term to cover all religious holidays so as to be all-inclusive is bland. I'm a Christian, so I celebrate Christmas. I will say "Merry Christmas" because it is what I believe in, it is what I am passionate about. I'm not saying, "This entire month is dedicated to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ the Messiah, so believe and be saved... heathen!" I'm saying, "Merry Christmas, be happy, share in my excitement, enjoy the day off!"

I want people to speak what is true. Communicate, be honest. It would be fake and small to greet with a cop-out and compromise. I don't celebrate Hanukkah and Kwanzaa (and chances are neither do you) so why are you telling me to celebrate them both, plus Christmas, with Happy Holidays? I have no problem with people celebrating those other holidays, but I don't so I'll stick with the one I do: Christmas.

Merry Christmas.

Baristas

18.Dec.09 at 14:43
I think baristas may just have the best service industry jobs in the world. Are there any other jobs better positioned to turn someone's day around for the better?

Perhaps it was the caffeine hitting my system from the chai I had purchased from the two friendly, upbeat baristas at Starbucks, but the cute girl at Allaan Brothers who helped me pick out tea to give as a white elephant gift exchange definitely seemed to be what made my night (not only did she offer suggestions with reasons, but also drew a festive Christmas tree on the bag for me.)

Think about it, who better is there than a barista to be able to brighten someone's day? The banter can be light, jovial, and cut off before any awkwardness arises between two strangers with nothing more apparently in common than a beverage. People like to be noticed, especially in places where there is not much reason to be. You go to a cafe to purchase a drink, meet someone else, or sit alone and read. The barista is there to facilitate the transaction. For them to take full notice of you causes those warm fuzzy  feelings of someone noticing and caring: it's really not in their job description (though I think some business realize the perks and search these personalities out).

As a waiter, your interaction is much more drawn out. The length of time someone is at a table you wait upon may allow the relationship to deepen, yet because of the continual mode of serving, it is difficult to do more than make repeated small-talk. Close repetitious instances of small-talk are difficult and awkward. A barista has the advantage of time elapsing between meetings and small-talk, allowing for it to be natural to ask "How are you?" upon each instance. Slowly, personal details will be revealed and a regular patron may find themselves in a natural friendship.

While a waiter also has more opportunities to add those "little touches" to create a great experience, the delicacy needed to not appear a suck-up is difficult to achieve. A barista has one chance, and doing it once per one small visit magnifies its significance.

Once a restaurant is slow, and a friendship is established, a waiter may have the advantage in deep conversation; however, I do not view that in the same light as a brightening a day. I may enjoy the friendship of a waiter after a friendship has formed, but it is the almost inconsequential few minutes with a barista that can really make me smile as I walk away - because of their friendliness and charm to a stranger who just wants his coffee.

It is this possibility that makes me want to take up a part-time job as a barista. To be the guy behind that someone always hopes is behind the counter because he brightens their morning as they gear up for another work day, or gives encouragement as final exams loom.

And couldn't it, therefore, be said that it is a very important job for Christians to hold? While we must take care of the widows and orphans, let us also put ourselves in a position to bring some love into people's day-to-day lives. My previous pastor made it a point to get to know the baristas' names at his local coffee shop; I would love to see the reverse position intentionally taken too - not for extra tips or job security, but simply to bless people - to show them kindness and love. Which, I believe, is what Christians are called to do.

I want to be a barista. They have the best job in the world: loving people.

One Way Street

2.Dec.09 at 21:32
No One Way Relationships

← Revise Redefine Release →

A relationship, friendship or otherwise, is not a one way street. Any relationship that is uni-directional is bound to fail. To me, there are only three options to rectify these circumstances. You can fix it, you can call yourselves acquaintances, or you can let it go completely.

A true relationship cannot be forced. Both parties must relate to one another. One cannot make another relate to oneself. If the other party does not want to communicate and have a two-way relationship, you must decide if you will redefine the relationship, or leave it and walk away.

If you do not do this, you will be left drained and frustrated. Possibly even angry towards the other party who may indeed have good reasons for closing their end of the street. That will only exacerbate the situation. By redefining or releasing, I believe there may actually be a chance of reopening the other lane at a later time.
^ something else ^