Thursday, May 31, 2012

Haiku Ninja

Hello, avid readers and Almondo. Today I present you with the wonder that is the haiku.

AUDIENCE: YAY!

I have always been fond of the humble haiku. Can you blame me? They are probably the most succinct form of poetry available. Easy to make, but difficult to master, the haiku provides a short literary challenge to any writer willing to test themselves.

What is the haiku? Thank you for asking! The haiku is a poem of three lines. The first line contains five syllables, the second contains seven syllables, and the third line contains five syllables again. Basically, they look like this:

Five, seven, then five
syllables mark a haiku
aren't they lovely?

If you followed my previous blog, you must know my adoration for these simple forms of art. I like to call myself  Haiku Ninja, Master of Haikuism. That's the highest rank you know. The ranks are

Sandal Scraper
An00bis
Onigiri
Cherry Blossom
Kappa
Haiku Samurai
Haiku Ninja

Right now, you are all Sandal Scrapers, and scrapers you shall remain if you do not choose to embrace the haiku! Call me sensei, please. If you follow my ways, you may reach the level of Kappa. But honestly, you probably should aim higher than Kappa. Nobody likes a humanoid turtle who peeks up girl's skirts.

Japan mythos is kind of . . . well, erm. . .

Yeah.

For your edumication, I will make up some haikus for you. Please, read on with adoration.

Final Fantasy XIII-2

Noel has finally
changed his horrific sack pants
he now wears tutus

Jello
I stare at my plate
watch it jiggle, shake, and bend
And then I think, "Why?"

The Mall
I buy some clothes
I sit down and watch people
I am very bored.

Orange
Nothing rhymes with you.
I will buy the dictionary
and create "Florange".

Final Fantasy XIII-2-2
Noel lost his tutu.
Thank the Lord that it's done with,
but now he wears kilts.

My Diamond Sword
You cannot afford
my diamond sword. If you could
I have a patent.

Love
When your stomach flops
and the world shakes and rotates
Love has come for you

Love II

When your stomach flops
and the world shakes and rotates
you might have the flu.

Toaster
Stare at the toaster
wait wait wait wait for the bread
POP! AH!  SO STARTLING!

Novel
I love you but please
could you write yourself a bit?
I need a small break

Homework
Why why why why why
why why why why why why why
why aren't you done?

Final Fantasy XIII-2-3
Noel lost all his kilts
They were tossed upon a fire
He cries. And we laugh.

And there you have it. These are the skills of a haiku ninja. If you wish to obtain my massive skills, you must receive proper training. Write a haiku everyday, and someday you will be almost as good as me. Let us start your epic journey today. Respond to this blog post in haiku form and I will up your rank from Sandal Scraper to An00bis. I look forward to being your sensei.

No go read some manga. You have some studying to do.

Your sensei,

Esther

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Random Collaboration of Things

I'm just going to dive right in: have you ever wanted something so much, yet did not know if you should have it, or if you knew that you should, how to even go about attaining it? I certainly have. Sometimes it seems like the thing which we want the most is often that which brings us the greatest sorrow or pain. Pain isn't always a bad thing; it can shape us and define us to become more than we currently are. On the other hand, however, it can cut us to the wick and destroy us, body and soul. Pain is a cruel master, so I strive to find the good in a situation. It's easy to look at something and see only the negative aspects. It is much harder to look and see the sacrifice behind an action or to see the love behind a choice. Sometimes what is best for us is what hurts the most. We can't run from the pain; we can't shirk it, hoping that it will go away. Pain is real. Pain is deep. It is a teacher, but we can choose to live without it mastering us. I have known so many people who have felt pain and lived as though their life where over - it was because they let it be. I have also met people who have let the pain teach them and then have moved on. They don't abide in the pain because they choose to move past it. Often, this means forgiveness. To the saying, "I'm sorry", we often reply, "It's okay." That has got to be the most messed us statement in history. You are seriously telling them that the pain that they caused you is excuseable and OKAY. Do you really think that it is okay for someone to hurt you? Responding this way is like offering them the option to do it again! I find this really bizarre. A much better respone is "I forgive you." These words are not often spoken in our life today, because we choose to live in bitterness. By saying "I forgive you", you are not saying that the action was right, but are saying that you recognize that Jesus has already died for the action that they did wrongly. It is choosing to live in freedom. Don't place blame on others, because it will hurt you both. Forgive when it would be easier to walk away. Deal with the issues that you would rather push behind you into a corner and ignore forever. If you do this, then you will be able to live life much more fully. I want that for each and every one of you. Now, onto a lighter topic: the promised wedding pictures! I don't have very many pictures, there wasn't time to take them; but here are what I have.
We had fabulous rooms at the Homewood Suites. I would recommend this hotel to anyone!
They are about to cut the cake!
I love it when couples feed each other the cake and don't smash it in each other's face. =)
Here was my dress for the evening. I decided to go classic in black.
My sister did a fabulous job on my hair. I loved the way that it turned out!
Well, there you have it: my "insightful" post and the wedding pictures that you all requested. I hope that you enjoyed the pictures, although few! Blessings, Hannah

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review

Hello my friends! Recently, I just finished playing Final Fantasy XIII-2, the sequel to the promising but ill-carried out Final Fantasy XIII. If you read my other blog at all, you'll know that I found FF XIII to be rather disappointing. Still, I looked for the sequel to redeem itself. Did it?

Final Fantasy XIII-2
Genre: RPG
Pros: Beautiful graphics; exciting gameplay, plenty of sidequests, good monster catching system, manages to pull off time travel in a fun way; replay value
Cons: Poorly developed characters fail to give story emotion depth, side quests almost impossible without manual, frustrating ending, gathering some materials for leveling too difficult; Snow is in it.


Final Fantasy XIII-2 takes place after its predecessor ended, of course. After people left Cocoon to live on Gran Pulse, things have gotten pretty quiet. Serah is pretty content too: she's getting married to her fiance, she has a good teacher job, and everybody loves her.

The only bad thing is that her sister Lightning has gone missing, but she is the only one who noticed. Everyone else thinks that Lightning died fighting on Cocoon, but Serah is positve that Lightning had given Snow and Serah her blessing -- a memory only she remembers. Snow believes her eventually and he leaves her to find Lightning.

Turns out Lightning has been chosen by the goddess Etro to kick evil's butt, so she is in  place that is rather inaccessable because its inbetween time and space or something like that. So she sends Noel, a young man with a beautiful face but hideous pants, to get Serah and bring her back to Lightning. Noel comes from a future he is determined to make sure never happens -- via time travel! And Serah wants to find Lightning -- via time travel! So they hook up and ultimately try to save the world.

Plot

This may sound kind of convuluted, but XIII-2 does a very good job with the whole time travel thing. Even though you are going through dozens of different time periods, they all link together in a believable way. However, time travel has never made for a very . . . tangible story line. Since anything can happen and technically be reversed, you can't get attached to anything. Because it tries so hard to keep time straight, the actual plot is actually very simple and lacks any real development. However, I like the plot more than XIII more because XIII-2 is not deliberately trying to confuse you. Barely any references to L'cie, Fal Cie, Cieth or any other "CIE" here.

The simplicity is what makes it work. Honestly if the plot were any more complicated, it would die.

You will feel cheated with the ending. There are fragments that are scattered throughout the game, and if you collect them all, you'll get a better ending, but only after you beat the main story line. Which means you'll have to watch the "bad" ending and just might be yelling at your TV at the humanity of it all.

Characters
Characters are one of this game's downfalls. There isn't much character development, probably because the game can be completed in many different orders because of time travel. If an aspect of character development were one thing in one era, but different when you go to a different place,  there would be continuity issues. Still, it's disappointing. It's hard to cheer for characters you don't care for much. The strongest characters in the game are Noel and Caius, the latter being the villain of the game. Noel and Caius have a backstory that is revealed and has good emotion. I actually began to like Caius because he was only fueled by his love for a single girl, and I'm not spoiling this because it is obvious from the beginning.
Serah is adorable and strong-willed, but that is about it. She doesn't grow like Lightning did in the previous game. I like her, but she is pretty 2-dimensional.

There are cool side characters too. Hope and Alyssa were an awesome duo, and had interesting character quirks.

Snow was included in this game and because of that I hate the game more. Snow might just be the worst FF character in the history of FF characters. He is obnoxious and cliche, and I hate his voice-actor. He treats his fiance like a younger sister, rather than a lover. To make it worse, he treats her like she can't do anything of value. I loathe him to death. There is no chemistry between the two. Final Fantasy VIII this is not.

Music
I miss Nobou. Still, the track of this game is pretty good. Not a memorable track in the game, but the ambiance is good enough. The song played while fighting the giant Flan was so ridiculous it made me laugh, but it was the only bad song in the bunch.

Gameplay
The game keeps the fighting system like its predecessor, except more polished. So that means it is awesome. Leveling up is a lot easier than in the previous game.

 If you've always wanted to be a Pokemon master like me, this game is a dream come true. You can capture monsters, train them, and use them in battle. For the first time you can have a chocobo consistently fight at your side, valiantly "KWEH"-ing as he stabs your enemies through the heart with his perfectly manicured talons. Or maybe you want a giant robot? Or a giant cactar? Or a tonberry? You must have them. Sometimes the materials you need to make your creatures grow are too difficult to obtain, which is frustrating.

You'll spend a lot of time capturing and training monsters, but that isn't all the game has to offer. Besides the main story line, there are also plenty of sidequests. But unfortunately, most of them are fetch quests, and you get tired of stealing the Jewel of Thadmus off the Cliff of Eternity after a while. Or fetching a watch. (Seriously? A watch?!) Most quests have you go look for an item, but do not give you directions, so you bumble about in search of them. The bad thing is that the items are often in DIFFERENT TIME PERIODS, so not only do you have to search ground, you have to search time. Not having a manual will make the task almost impossible.

There is also a place called Serendipity where you can gamble and race that Chocobo you have been training all this time. Chocobo races are awesome, and a good call back to VII.

You can also reset levels and beat them over, which unlocks alternate endings to the game. These endings are fun, but honestly unsatisfying.

OVERALL
FF XIII-2 improves on its predecessor in every way. The characters are less obnoxious, but they don't develop much at all. Snow is so annoying I want to shoot him. Noel is a sexy beast though, and kind of reduces the Snow thing. Caius in all his purple and feathery glory will kind of melt your heart and then stab it with his Soul Calibur-esque sword. Gameplay is much improved, but monotonous side quests are detrimental. The ending will make you sad for many reasons. I won't gives spoilers.

I still continue to play the game, collecting my fragments. I need to get some money so I can get a downloadable outfit for Noel. His pants make me sad.



NOEL: Whaddid you say 'bout my pants?

Nothing, Noel. Go back to being eye candy.

NOEL: Mm'kay.
*sighs* He needs a woman.

FINAL SCORE

8.5/10

Monday, May 28, 2012

Texas, Life, and Words

Good afternoon Everyone! I'm sorry that it has taken me so long to post... =( I was busy traveling on Saturday, went to the rehersal, and then to the wedding yesterday. I love weddings. My cousin's wedding was one of the most beautiful weddings that I have ever been to. The bride was simply radiant. Texas is a lovely state. The people are friendly; the weather is fabulously hot; I have family here. If you haven't been to Texas before, you should go sometime.

So, have you ever noticed how beautiful life truly is? I love life. Life is a gloriously fabulous thing (I despise the word "thing", though I could not find another word for it). Every sunrise is a gift. Every sunset is unique. The sound of wind rustling in the trees in refreshing. The falling of rain is renewing. Life is a gift, and I hope that you learn to appreciate it fully.

I received a few comments on my first post regarding my "list of words". Here are a few more of my favorites:

Red flowers. Psychology. Texas. Weddings. Trampolines. Energy. Meaningful conversations. Caring. Psalms. The color of champagne. Crystals. Radiance. Maps. Seeing family. Finding things that are lost. My necklace. Carmel macchiato creamer. Brunches. Elegant decor. Cousins. The end of long car rides.

Sorry that this is such a short post! I will try to post a few wedding pictures soon! I am off to spend some more time with my rarely-seen family...

Blessings,
Hannah

Friday, May 25, 2012

World Building with Esther

As a wee lass, my worst subject was geography. My worst subject still might be geography. I am just so scatter-brained that the images in my head just can't stay still long enough to form a map. My mom once asked me where Pakistan was on the map. I pointed to a general area on the map and waved my hand around in a wide circle.

"It's heeeeeere," I said.

I was kind of right. I know I pointed to at least "stan". 

So how does this  tie in to everything? Well, currently I'm working on a fantasy novel. It's set in an alternate universe, so I have to make that universe. I don't mind making races and languages and cultures and stuff like that, but ask me to make a map and I freak out. Anyway, I'm working on a continent that looks kind of like Europe and even has a western peninsula that resembles Spain. Except it isn't spain. It's Sain.

Ha ha, joking. I haven't named that one yet. I just decided to make a random map and assign countries to it. Of course, I had a general idea. I knew I wanted Katania behind a set of mountains, and Balta needed to be close but seperated from Katania by a buffer country. Besides that, I was lost. This is my map so far.


I can't draw, okay? Those triangles are moutains by the way. And that blue bladder shaped one is Balta. The tiny land-locked one is New Valamir. The one under New Valamir is Bandet. The tan one is The Outlands. (You don't want to go there) And that purple one is Adlin. The one next to Adlin is Maritha. The green lands are unclaimed territory.

Honestly, when one of your countries looks like a bladder, you can't be doing a very good job. Still, this is probably a good approximation of what the continent looks like.

I am also working on the history of this place.

It stinks. But the creation myth is fun. Before the continent was full of little countries, it used to be one mega-country called Valamir.


But you know, spit happens. I won't bore you with the details. Basically, the demon of death possessed the king of Valamir and screwed things up. It's kind of hard to stay one country when dead things pop out of the ground and start killing things. But don't worry, the demon was sealed up, but not before kind of destroying a section of the continent. (The Outlands) You may be wondering why there are islands on the previous map and not the other.

Because I like islands and wanted some.

Being a god is kind of nice.

I started making the gods too. It's hard to make gods. At first it was easy, but I want at least a dozen of them. So if you think of something a god can be a god of, please tell me. Ooh, the goddess of fire. I'll name her Pyra. That was easy and not cliche at all. My gods started having conversations with each other of their own will. It was kind of funny. The goddess of battle was getting on the goddess of wind for being a snob. I like making deities because I like making characters.

I am using a basic computer programming software called Scratch to make an interactive map right now. I mean, who doesn't like interactive things?

Anyway, I will stop boring you. I just thought I would show you what I am working on creatively right now. I have never made a world before so I'm enjoying myself. Wish me luck while I begin to outline my novel! Maybe I'll tell you about it later.

I'm sitting in my tree house right now. (It's my writing spot) My fungus buddy Fishwern is staring me down because he wants to be introduced. Fishwern has been sitting next to me while I've been writing this whole time. I should show him to you.

Aw, he's so happy to see you. Say goodbye, Fishwern.

FISHWERN: GoOoOd . . . Byeeee.

HOLY CRUD HE TALKS!

With love,

Esther P.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Interview With a Clampire (Actually, it's me)

In case you were wondering, a clampire is a mixture of a vampire and a clam.

And I would totally read a novel with Interview With a Clampire as the title. Because you know, clams and vampires are probably the coolest thing since that pirate ninja I found in my basement. (The pirate ninja makes shuriken, which frankly are of low quality because he makes them from the bones of dead rats) Anyway, I don't have a clampire to interview, so I guess I kind of lied.

Neenar neenar!

But look, something else interesting! It's me!

AUDIENCE: (silence)

Oh come on! I'm interesting! I do things! Often! So anyway, I took the difficult position of asking myself questions. Today's interview theme is "general"! Which means the questions are general. You know, like favorite color or how many toes you have.

I have nine toes! I don't know where the other went!

Anyway, here we go.

What's your favorite color?

Probably lime green and purple, or the combination of the two. I'm also fond of red because it's the color of romance and Twizzlers.

What do you do when you're happy? 

I sing loudly when I'm happy. And I usually make up songs about the things I'm happy about. Like today, we went to DQ and I got a free dilly bar with my kid's meal. (HEY! I'm a kid) I was soooooo happy!

See how happy I am? I love ice cream!

Right . . . . So --

Want to hear my song?

Okay.

You're all jealous of my Dilly bar
You're all jealous of my Dilly bar
Went and ordered all by myself
and they pulled the bar from the Dilly bar shelf.

YAY!

That was beautiful. So, what foods do you like?

Dilly bars! Yay! I also like ice cream in general. I like sandwiches, and lasagna, and pizza, and cheese. There is something comforting about about cheese, don't you think?

What is your favorite song?

"Prayer of the Refugee" by Rise Against, "Shake It Out" by Florence + Machine, and "Only the Good Die Young" by Billy Joel are my favorites right now.

What thing really grosses you out?

Dirty hair really grosses me out. I can't stand it. I mean, I'm a hair person. One of the first things I look for in a guy is his hair. I can't run my fingers through dirty hair.

What thing really creeps you out?

Jello. I just take one look at it and think, why?

What was the strangest thing you have ever done?

I raced another person in an epic challenge to take a picture of the elusive "goose" first. I won, ha ha.You had to be there.

Have you ever been kicked out of something?

I've been kicked off of a golf course for posing on it with other friends. I have also been kicked out of a hotel buffet bar for stealing whipped cream to smear on my face. (Same day)

What do you find attractive in a guy?

The single most attractive thing I find in a guy is his sense of humor. I don't care about looks so much so long as he can make me laugh, and laugh with me. I also like guys who genuinely like children. Physically, I like broad shoulders a lot. And I like well muscled arms. And good hair, as mentioned above.

What's the most boring thing to you?

Shaving my legs. Painting my nails. Talking about politics. I also find doing my hair really boring.

Was this fun?

Totally!

Oh hey! I found my tenth toe!

With love,

Esther Perisho









The Dare to be More

"Care more than some think is wise;
Risk more than some think is safe;
Dream more than some think is practical;
Expect more than some think is possible,"
~ The Missionary Heart

Before we continue, let's get one think straight: I'm not this super awesome, special person. Just because I dare to believe that I can make a difference in this world, it doesn't mean that I am any different from you. I've heard a lot of times that "You are doing such a great thing! Keep it up! I know that you will make a difference." (Note* to those of you who have something similar to this, I don't mind at all - I'm just using it as an example. It is in no way a criticism of you or your comments - because I love them all and they do make my day!) I don't say the things that I do because I want you to tell me that I am doing a great job; I say them because I want to inspire you to have the same passion to go beyond modern expectations and beliefs. I want all of you to make a difference in your world. That is why I say these things.

Now that that is settled, let's continue. The quote above is one that I really, really like. Let's dissect it a bit (yes, I am one of those people who didn't mind biology): "Care more than some think is wise." When you care for anything, you are setting yourself up to possibly be hurt. It is a chance that you take. Some people are reserved, scarred from the pain of past hurts. It is logical to care so much that you could be hurt? Not at all. Our society has been structured in such a way as to place the mindset in each of us to avoid pain as much as possible. Caring always brings a risk, but it is a risk that must be taken. If that risk means that someone comes to know the love of Christ, then it is a risk worth taking. Jesus cared for the least, how can we say that we will not do the same? Here is a quote by C.S. Lewis that I simply adore:

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable."
~ C.S. Lewis

"Risk more than some think is safe." There will always be someone who thinks that what you are doing isn't safe - and maybe it isn't. Before I went to Ethiopia, my Grandma strongly wished that I would not go (she eventually changed her mind); she didn't think that it was safe. In reality, what lasting change has ever been made without risk? It involves stepping from the known into the unknown (George Shinn). I've had many people tell me that the path that I am on isn't safe (the rescue and restoration of human trafficking victims). By the world's standards, it isn't. But that is a risk that I have to take, because I have been called to do this by Someone who is bigger than the risk involved.

"Dream more than some think is practical." I am a dreamer. I love to dream. I have lots of dreams - big dreams. Anyone who is a dreamer knows that many people consider them to be absolutely strange. Dreams allow us to be more than we currently are. They allow us to go places that we have never been. They inspire us to make a difference. Dreams aren't practical, but they are the fuel for making a difference in the world. As so many people have stated in the past, "It all started with a dream."

"Expect more than some think is possible." Oh boy, isn't this the epoch of life? Someone says that they can do something, another person replies that the other can't, and so they set out to prove the other wrong. One expects more than the other thinks is possible. The same is often true for you and me. Maybe you think that you won't do well on your test, but I think that you will because I believe in you. I am expecting more than you think is possible. The same is true all through life. People are going to tell you that you will fail. However, I dare to believe that success is achievable. Just because it has never been done before, doesn't mean that it can't be done. If people believed this then we wouldn't have many of the inventions that we have today. The inventions succeeded because their inventor expected more than other people, as so they were willing to try what was thought to be impossible or absurd. We can do the same.

So care a lot, live beyond the realm of modern safety boundaries, dream big, and expect the impossible. Because, you never know, it just might change the world.

Blessings,
Hannah

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Impact of Time

Oh dear! It's Tuesday already. I'm elated, as I finished my finals today, but I am also amazed at how fast time flies. There is so much left to do this week! I have to finish up my 180 days of school, clean the house, go to work, and pack for my trip (I'm leaving for Texas on Friday!!) - all among a million other little things. Have you ever noticed that there is so much to do, yet so little time to do it? When I was little, my parents always used to tell me how fast the day went by. I never believed them until I was about thirteen and a half...then it hit me. BAM!!! Time flies. I quite often tell my best friend that my life never stops moving and that it is traveling way too fast. It seems like only a short while ago that my youngest sister was born...she's nine now. In my life experience, I have found that many people hold onto things that are pointless and temporary. If we only have a short time on earth, do we really need to be wasting time doing things that don't matter? While I like to take a break and relax, I do not find that it is beneficial, or even enjoyable, to waste my teenage and soon-to-be college years. If I spend eight years on my life on me, then I just lost eight years of my life that I will never get back. Most people live to be around eighty years old...so in that case, I just lost 10% of my life. Yikes! As some of you may have already figured out, I am a big avocate for living life to the fullest. As I've said in earlier posts, I don't want to reach the end of my life, look back, and realize that I missed out big time. I want to love passionately, to live deliberately, and to dream daringly. I want to go beyond the expectations of my generation. Let's face it: adults don't expect much from us. Frankly, we deserve that. If all that we are going to do with our teenage and college years is party, get high on drugs, drink, and have sex, then we definitely deserve the lack of expectations with which we are labeled. However, I believe in changing this. I believe in changing the world.

Wow. I know - big statement, one that is used way too much. It seems like everyone nowadays is talking about changing the world. However, I have seen very few people actually do it. I don't want people to look at me and see a hypocrite. If I say that I want to change the world, then I need to actually do it. Jesus only spent thirty-three years on earth in human form, but look at what He did. He changed the world. Because He did it, I know that He can use you and me to make a difference. It isn't some crazy hard thing that you have to wait to do until you are older. A school lunch is like what? $2.50? That isn't much at all, but buying someone else's lunch will change their life forever. Yes, forever. Every action that you make has an impact - positive or negative - upon someone else. I can't change the whole world, but I can certainly change someone's world. I'm not going to live forever, so I want to use the short time that I have on earth to leave it a better place tomorrow that I found it yesterday.

Note: In case you couldn't tell, I'm big on the whole challenge-you-and-me-to-be-a-better-person thing. =)

So, I want to let Christ use me to make a difference. I want Him to work through you too. Because, maybe, just maybe, if you and I separate ourselves from the world and from the low expectations of us, we could make an eternal difference in the Kingdom of God.

Blessings,
Hannah

Monday, May 21, 2012

A McDonalds Experience

I know what you're thinking: that I found a sloth toe in my McDonald's french fry. However, I did not find a sloth toe, so rejoice! I just had a humorous encounter with a group of teenage boys. I know what you're thinking: I blinded them with my beauty and they had to flee. No, this is not the case. I know what you're thinking: you think I'm going to say "I know what you're thinking" again sometime in this post. The answer is no.

McDonald's is a special little place where both the rich and the poor can coincide in glorious brotherhood. McDonald's is the glue that holds us together (well, the sticky residue on the McDonald's tables is what holds us together) . It is no surprise then that I would meet a lot of . . . different people at the McDonald's. Today's special encounter was two teenage boys that might be some of the most unintelligent people I have ever seen.

I don't like to be judgmental of people, but frankly, these guys had it coming. Allow me to bequeath my story upon your face, so that you may create your own judgment.

It was the end of my choir picnic at a special park called Deming, and my family was all hungry. So we went to a McDonald's. After parking the van I noticed two teenage boys milling in front of the entrance. One boy was tall and skinny, wore earrings, and talked like a Jersey Shore girl. Let's call him Toolio. The other guy was short with dark hair, so let's call him Quinnious. So, we bypassed Toolio and Quinnious and entered the building. After sitting down, they walked into the general area and stood there for a bit. They looked blank, then Quinnious smiled and pointed to a machine attached to the wall.

"Dude, like, there it is," Quinnious said. He was pointing at one of those computers where you sign up for a job at McDonald's. They grinned and walked up to it. They pushed the button to turn it on.

"Dude, it isn't like, turning on," Quinnious said.

"Dude, oooh noo," Toolio said. The right thing would go and tell the manager.

So they began punching and kicking the computer.

My brother and I were snickering at this point, but I was trying to not make eye contact so all I heard was clunk! clunk!

Finally, Quinnious went and got the manager. I think he might have been the smarter of the two.

"Dude, your sign up thingy isn't on," Toolio said. 

"That's because it's broken," Mortimer (the manager) said.

"NoOoOoOoOoOoO!" Toolio said.

Yes, Toolio just had a Luke Skywalker moment, except Toolio's "no" was probably about twice as long.

Quinnious said something about wanting a job, and the manager told him that spots were available. They chit-chatted for a moment, the manager obviously wary of doing so, having other things to do. Finally, Quinnious doth quoth,

"Does Kelly work here?" Quinnious asked.

"Yes." Mortimer answered.

"NoOoO! Like, ugh! I mean -- I mean -- Kelly? Like, noOoOo! Ugh! Ugh!" Toolio said.

I'm serious.

I'm not quite sure why these boys talked like uneducated and very prissy females, but they did. My brother and I were trying so hard to contain ourselves, the manager noticed. Finally, they just sat down and drank soda. They had no intention of leaving or anything. I mean, McDonald's is okay, but why the heck would you want to hang out there for hours on end? Finally, we left. The last thing we ever heard Toolio say was
"Oh Naaaaaah! Daaaaaaah!"

Never before had I met a person with such a small vocabulary. We are still quoting that final line because it was so hilarious. We say it whenever we get really mad.

I had trouble believing that these guys were real. The way they moved, the way they behaved, it was surreal. Either they were really stupid, or they were determined to put on a show for us. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. 

I know what you're thinking: I'm not giving them the benefit of the doubt.

You're right.

With love,

Esther

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Clean It Up, Pack It Up, Move It Out

I spent 49 hours this past week organizing and administering my youth group garage sale (with the help of a friend and the fabulous youth leaders). Let me tell you, that is a long, long time to spend on a garage sale in one week. That doesn't even count the time that I spent during the month before to prep everything before garage sale week. I'm sure that you all are asking, "Why in the world is she talking about this? I have no desire to listen to her talk about how long she spent organizing something that has nothing to do with me." If you are saying this, then I am right with you. I wouldn't want to listen to it either. However, after a week of sorting through people's donations (our youth group is the always a mission fundraiser and so we get tons of donations, which we do ask for), I learned a few things. First, people have a lot of junk. I mean do you really have to give me the  old jeans that you had that were covered in paint? Or the ash tray with cigarette butts still in it? I do not need those things. There were so many things that came in that I was like "Someone seriously bought that??" We are such a materialistic society, and so we often buy the "next new thing". It is a serious downfall of the American people. Secondly, I learned that people don't always do what you want them to do. I am one of those people who, when given a task, likes to get it done and move on. Some people, however, like to take their sweet little time, filled with breaks, before completing a task. Lastly, and most important, we all have things to "clean out". One lady told me, "I really purged this year. I went through everything. I started back at Christmas time going through every closet, etc." Our own lives are often so cluttered that sometimes we can barely see the "floor" of our life. So often we fill our lives so full with friends, family, school, work, vacation, and outings that we barely have space to maneuver through the room. Our treasures should not be all the stuff that we fill our lives with, but rather the hope of eternal life. So many times, Jesus reiterates the fact that we are not to set our hearts on earthly treasures that will not last, but to place them on things that will last for eternity:

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
~ Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)

"As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty. nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, this storing us treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life."
~ 1 Timothy 6: 17-19 (ESV)

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;"
~ 2 Corinthians 4: 7-9 (ESV)

So what is keeping you from living radically for God? What do you need to clean out in your life in order to get closer to God? I know that I have things to work on and, because you are also human, I am sure that you do to - we just have to desire God more than our things in order to find them. So I encourage you to place your treasure in places where it will not be broken or stolen - or end up in a garage sale. 

Blessings, 
Hannah

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Esther's Biggest Pet Peeves

You know, when I say "biggest pet peeves" I imagine a really fat peeve, which is a pet of mine with a long, cylindrical body and wiry googly eyes. Maybe I'll show it to you later. Anyway, I'm not talking about my pet peeve, which is awesome, but rather some of my many pet peeves, which are things that annoy me.

Now, I must say that I am a very calm person. I can take most things in stride, you know. Like, if if someone scribbled on my locker in blood "YoUr NeXt", I would totally be fine with it. However, upon noticing that the assailant spelled "your" instead of "you're" I would get so angry oh my goodness why THE HECK WOULD YOU DO THAT?

*Cough*

But hey, I'm good. I don't have rage issues or anything. So here are some things that annoy me just a little bit, because I'm not some rage monster.

When people are driving and they throw their cigarette butts out the window, I get annoyed.

So let's say you're driving in your car, and you take one final, glorious draw from that cigarette. Your car is filled with the thick fumes of your smoke, practically teeming with it. That's perfectly fine with you though. However, you look at that cigarette butt in your hand and you panic! What are you going to do with it? It's just so large and space consuming! If you keep it in your car, then there will be no room for your beer or goat cheese! Or your beer! So you casually roll down your window and flick your dead cigarette out of it.

"Thanks for the good times," you say.

This makes me rage for so many reasons. First, if you are content with yourself about forcing people to breathe your smoke, the least you can do is make sure that those cigarettes don't bother anyone else in any other way. But instead, these glorious people do their best to make sure that these cigarette butts land in everything. You walk on the side walk and you see the stubs stuffed in the sidewalk cracks. You see them in the flower beds. You see them in lakes. Lakes! Think about the ducks! Those adorable fools will devour anything! Do you really want our planet's ducks to eat concentrated carcinogens?

Poor ducks.

And it's all because people get lazy and dump their trash for someone else to deal with. Congratulations on discovering that if you don't see your trash, it isn't really there.

When I have to decipher text messages, I feel unhip, and so I get annoyed.Hey! how r u? I luv u! TTLY!

Um, hey. I don't know how "u" is, but it's probably fine. It's a cool letter. And I don't know why you luv "u" because I don't think letters need to wear that popular diaper brand. And why do you want to Take Tally's Little Yak? I like yaks. . .

I guess I'm not with the times, but sometimes I'm sure people text me bizarre acronyms just to josh me. (I said josh! See, I'm hip!) If I don't what you are saying, I'm afraid I can't communicate with you. And then you'll have to reiterate and that just wastes more time than typing the word in the first place. Or, what I am more likely to do if I don't understand your text, I'll just say
lol

Because I'm pretty sure lol means "I have nothing to say to that, but I feel obligated to comment".

So text it right the first time.

So I don't have to lol at you.

I don't want to have to do that.

When parents don't let their kids be kids, I feel pity for the child, and then I get annoyedI volunteer at the library, occasionally in the young people's section, so I run into a lot of parents. Now, I see a lot of good parents, and I see a lot of parents that need to practice their craft. I was manning a sign up table for the summer reading club, and a parent came up to join. Her son ran up with books from the children's section. He couldn't have been more than seven.

"He scored really well on that one reading test that nobody cares about because kids learn at different speeds," she said. Okay, maybe that wasn't what she said. But that's how I interpreted it. "He reads chapter books."

"That's great," I said.

Then she saw the books in her son's hand and said

"You are too old to read those! Go get a bigger book! You can do better!"

First, reading isn't a sport. Second, if your child has found a book he actually wants to read, you better let him doing it. Forcing him to read something he doesn't like will only make him hate reading. Instead of trying to prove how talented and grown up he is, let him be himself.

And, I still read little kid books. Who doesn't love Henry and Mudge?

When people don't bathe their elephants and then let them go play in the bubblegum field, I get annoyed.

. . . Just . . . why?

When people decide to simply loathe music only because it is popular, I shake my head and try to remind myself that we are only human. And I get annoyed.

I see posts on Facebook that Justin Bieber should die because his music is so bad. I would never wish death on anyone, not even in a joking way. But for people to say those kinds of things is just pathetic. Yes, Justin Bieber should die because he plays awful music that you must listen to all the time.

Wait, you don't have to listen to it?

Then why are you talking about it? Because you are unique for hating Justin Bieber, and you must talk about it? Sorry, if you want to prove your individuality, hating on a popular music star isn't going to get you far. Not to mention, if you are hating on him just to sound different, you aren't sounding very different because so many people are trying to sound different in the same way.

Complicated, but true.

Quick, go hate on Twilight even though you've never read it! Go!

And please, don't read Twilight. I hate Bella Swan even more than I hate Katniss Everdeen

________

There are some of my pet peeves. Honestly, it was hard to think of them. I guess most things don't annoy me. Oh well.

Maybe next time I'll just write about peeves.



Or not.

Is it melting?

Hugglebunches!

Esther P.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Life of Purpose

"I expect to pass through this life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can to to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again."                                                                                 ~William Penn 
I adore quotes. I really do. I find them to be inspiring, thought-provoking, and challenging. They bring the thoughts of another into your life. I have heard the quote above before,  but only recently found it again and began to really think about it. We only live on this earth once, so why do we waste it? I have found that many people (particularly those from 12-25) live life only for the moment. They often decide that a life of drunkenness, partying, and one-night-stands is "truly living". I beg to differ. In my experience, I have found that life is only truly lived when we are living for Christ. There is so much more fulfillment in living life according to His Word, rather than living for Friday night. As I've said in a previous post, I don't want to come to the end of my life and find that I have never truly lived. I want to spend each and every moment of every day radically and passionately for my Savior. I want to live a life that has a purpose. I don't want to be one of those people who wander aimlessly through life, looking for moments of pleasure here and there. I know where I am spending eternity, but I don't want to just sit back and do nothing until I get there. As William Penn said, I want to bless others. It is easy to see an injustice and think that someone else will do it, or to neglect it because others are there (technically called the bystander effect). So I have a challenge for you all, and if you decide to take it, I would love for you to leave a comment telling me about it. =) Here it is: I want you to go out of your way to bless someone this week. I know, you are probably like, "Wow. Hannah, I just don't know if I can do that. I mean, it takes a lot of effort for me to go help that elderly lady with her groceries or to take out the trash for my parents. You are asking a lot there, I'm just not sure that I can commit to a five minute responsibility." I'm going to be taking my own challenge as well. I don't want to "defer or neglect" an opportunity to bless someone else. I want to make a difference in the lives of others and maybe, just maybe, I can do that by doing something even as simple as helping with dinner when I am not asked to do so. We only have one earthly life to bless others and reach out to them, so let's do it with vigor and passion. I want to leave a legacy of love, peace, and blessing everywhere that I go. Because if we do this, then we can make a difference in the world that will have an eternal impact.

Blessings,
Hannah

Monday, May 14, 2012

In Which I Slap Reading Material in Your Face

Hi guys! I just got done writing a research paper and I'm not tired at all!

*Twitch*

Anyway, I realized with much horror that I still have a lot of work to get done today, but I know I must post something because it is my day. My day, I tell you! So first, here is a picture of a picture of a grapefruit I drew on because I was growing desperate from staring at my computer screen writing about the Civil War all day.

Yes, I know, it's beautiful. I like to sharpee on things. Except shoes. I mean, why would you buy an expensive pair of shoes just to scribble all over them? Buy a cheap pair of shoes and do it, you snobby rich person.

*cough*

Lessee. . . oh yes! I'm going to share a poem I wrote with you guys. Some of you may have read it before, but then there are people who haven't read it. This is for them.

AUDIENCE: I didn't know you were a poet, Esther!

Oh, I'm not Belmonte, but I try occasionally. Poetry is definitely not my genre. My thoughts are too scattered and vague to fit into a few succinct lines. But here is a poem titled, "Writ on The Eve of My 18th Birthday".

AUDIENCE: I thought you were seventeen!

I am, I am! I'm looking into the FUTURE! I am magical!

It was actually an assignment for school. I was supposed to write an introspective poem about myself, and it came out okay. Here it is!
__

Writ on the Eve of My 18th Birthday
It is the eve of my eighteenth birthday.
             You cannot call me a child.
 I cannot call myself an adult.
Every day I look in the mirror to see if something’s different
and instead I see the same face unchanged since
I was ten:
Cheeks plump
 like fresh yeast rolls
My eyes reflecting every emotion I feel
I notice creases that will deepen as I age and
I know I’ll wear them like a badge of honor.
Sixty years from now
I challenge you with my skin like a crumpled blanket
to tell me that I have not lived.
It is the eve of my eighteenth birthday
and I am sitting
            waiting
                thinking about how my life will unravel
I’m the cliff in the face of the storm and
who knows how the water and wind
will erode me.
Terrified to think about it
Too many ifs and whys and too many questions--
Too many!
I don’t want to think what the answers will be.
Give me a machine that will coat
time with ice.
Give me a precious moment so
I can stop working for the future
I want to breathe for a second and stop worrying.
My friends say I’m smart, that I’ll do “well”.
I just can’t stop thinking about
my inevitable failures.
I’ll just have to tell myself that failure is
a stranger you should meet
but not embrace and
just keep my stride, past the ruins
of defeat.
18 years and I haven’t been in love.
The fact is like an itch on the back of my neck
I go for days without thinking about it
but then something makes me itch again.
But I won’t scratch
No scratching!
12-year old girls tell me that it’s weird that I haven’t
kissed a boy or held hands.
Ha:
I think it’s weird that that same girl says she’s Juliet and he’s Romeo
and she can’t say “I love you” and mean it.
Star cross’d lovers? Forsooth, I think not. I will persevere.
I will wait until I can love for the sake of loving
instead of loving for the sake of appearing to love.
There’s a difference
I know it.
But still, sometimes I wish a boy would walk by
me and take a second look because I
want to be worth seeing.
I am not immune to the hypocrisy of youth.
18 years and still know so little
 I have learned much
but what I know is the beam of the flashlight
in a dark room.
I still have much to observe and hear and breathe in
I’m excited and terrified and wary
but I’ll keep moving and succeed because
others have done so with less.
I have much more than I see tangible
(you do, too)
I’ll jump on my airship
and fly past the sky and the Milkyway
and become myself.
It is the eve of my eighteenth birthday.
I’m terrified,
          I am na├»ve,
                  I am shaken
   and I’m ready.

_____

There is a little chunk of my guts, right there are the page. I hope you enjoyed my guts. Perhaps you even savored them. Thanks for reading this decidedly short post! Hannah and her wonder will make up for me.
Hannah is my friend.

May all your children be fruitful,

Esther P.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Grass is...Greener?

First off, let me just say that Esther's latest post (Driving Myself Crazy) was totally awesome, and if you haven't read it yet, you need to do so. I hope that her writing brings as much laughter to you as it does to me. =)

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be someone other that yourself? I certainly have. Throughout my years of life, I have been a princess, an orphan, a traveler, popular, unpopular, and about a million other things. In case you haven't noticed yet, I have a bit of an imagination. =) When I was younger, I loved to "go" places and "be" different people. Even though I have grown up, I still travel all over the world, into a million situations, through books, and actual travel. While there is nothing wrong with having an imagination (it is part of us, created by God!), there are times that it can become a bit...extreme. Even though it is fun to put yourself in someone else's shoes, to sound cliche, it can lead to ungratefulness. If you spend too much time "in" someone else's life, or in imaginative fantasies, chances are that you will not be very thankful for your own life. Everyone has heard the saying "the grass is always greener on the other side". If you are like me, then you likely roll your eyes every time that you hear this statement. It's like "yeah, yeah, yeah. I know."  It's easy to look at someone else and say, "Her life is so much better than mine. Everything about her is perfect." Or to say, "He totally has it all together. I wish that my life were like his." It's easy to look at someone else and see everything that is good, because that is all that we are looking for (note* it is also easy to look for the bad things and be judgmental of people. Please don't do this either!). It is quite possible that the person who seems to "have it all together" actually feels like their life is falling apart. Maybe it is time that we look beyond our own problems to see that the grass is actually greener on our side. In my travels to Mexico and Ethiopia, I have seen a lot of poverty. I've seen a lot of poverty in the U.S. as well. We have food. We have clothes. We have a bed. We have a family and friends. Many people do not have any of these things. In both of these countries, I visited an orphanage. They didn't have much, but most of all, beyond each other and the caregivers, they didn't have a family. I met people who had watched friends slowly die from AIDS. I have been asked for leftover food because these children were so hungry. I don't know about you, but I don't wake up wondering if there is enough food for breakfast. I don't worry about dying because I drank unclean water. I think that we need to look beyond ourselves and our "problems" (I use quotation marks because our problems are often really insignificant), and see that our life is really good. We are extraordinarily blessed. Because if we lived like this, then maybe we would stop daydreaming about being someone else, and actually take the time to invest into someone who has less than we do.

Blessings,
Hannah

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Driving Myself Crazy (That was a pun! LAUGH)

*Looks up from her desk in the Pentagon*

Oh. Hello there. I was just in the middle of some very important paperwork involving the real details of 9/11. I'm also working on a pocket-sized nuclear reactor. I can make some time you though. I'll just let my sexy, shirtless, and quite male assistant take over my work for a bit. Would you like to get some lunch? I like lunch. Just let me grab my keys and I will drive you to an IHOP.

There is a single fictitious statement in the above paragraph. Can you guess which one it is? If you guessed "I will drive you to IHOP", you were 100 percent correct! My sexy assistant will give you a gift certificate to Bath and Body Works now.

Now, at this point you may be wondering why I would never drive you places. It's simple, really. I'm not very good at driving.

AUDIENCE: Esther! Don't kid yourself! You're great at driving.

That's very kind, audience. But it isn't true. Perhaps sometime in the very distant future, I might accumulate some driving skills. Hopefully this will be before I become a senior citizen, because when that happens I will automatically become a a bad driver anyway.
ASSISTANT: Esther, you know as well as I do that senior citizens can drive perfectly well.

Please, Almoldo, don't interrupt me. As I was saying, whenever I drive I get this deep-set fear that I will

SQUEE!

CRASH!

EXPLOSION!

It's a perfectly rational fear. Perfectly rational. I mean, some people never drive because of this fear. So either I'm brave enough to set foot in a steel juggernaut that can kill me, or I'm stupid enough to set foot in a steel juggernaut that can kill me.

Of course, driving does have its benefits. I get to drive a close approximation to this:



It's a lot of fun driving past vehicles that are a lot smaller than yours. You feel like a human stepping upon the bodies of toads. Still, this doesn't change the fact that at any second I could

SQUEE!

CRASH!

EXPLOSION!

I only have my permit. I could try and get my license, but, um, that probably wouldn't work out so well. I'd be so nervous I would probably drown the tester dude (real term) in my cold sweat.

ALMONDO: You don't sweat very much at all. Your face just gets really, really, really red--

Almondo! Just stay out of this for now. Go straighten your tie or something. As I was saying, after I drowned the tester dude, I would open the window to let some of my sweat out because the van is full of the stuff. And then a bird would fly in and attack me because birds hate me and then I would squee-crash-explosion and everything would go to the deepest bowels of Hades.

In short, I will never be ready to get my license.

It's sad, but I'm willing to accept it. I mean, I can't park straight, and I never remember which way to turn the wheel when I am in reverse. Knowing which way to turn the wheel in reverse gear should be easy, but I actually have to refer to a memory. The memory is that when I was pulling out of a parking lot, somehow I turned the wheel in the right direction on my first try, which made the butt of my van (real term) go to the right. So I refer to that memory whenever I want the butt of my van to go to the right. Yay for inefficiency! When a murderer is trying to get in my car I will have to take several seconds to remember which way my butt is supposed to face. My butt, of all things!

*sigh*

ALMONDO: Esther, you just have to believe in yourself.

You really think so, Almondo?

ALMONDO: Of course. Practice makes perfect. You'll know where to put your butt eventually

*sniff* You're right! I will know! I will know where to put my butt! And if I can do that, then I will eventually learn how to do other things as well! I'm so happy! Thanks Almondo!

ALMONDO: You're welcome.

(ALMONDO straightens his tie)

ALMONDO: Um, can I put on a shirt now? And can I have my Pentagon office back?

Oh. Right. Just let me grab my pudding and I'll be on my way.

ALMONDO: That's my pudding. And how will you leave?

I'll drive, of course! I have confidence.

ALMONDO: Right. Bye.

Bye Almondo! Thanks for everything!

. . .

. . .
. . .

EXPLOSION!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Beauty of Dance


As you may have noticed in my introduction (see the first ever blog post!), I love dancing. It's on the list of words like two or three times. I'm not a gifted dancer or anything. I took some ballet and tap dance lessons when I was about seven, and I have some good friends who are AMAZING dancers that have taught me some steps and moves. Despite the fact that I am not amazing at it, I love to do. Dance is a beautiful, rhythmic art. It is free, flowing and graceful. To dance in the rain is an especially wonderful thing. If you have not done it before, you should. It is refreshing, peaceful, romantic, and inspiring. Here are some of my favorite photographs of dancing: 



Isn't this beautifully graceful?
I totally want to do this someday =)
Who doesn't love Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers?

These photos have such a dramatic effect
Sometimes, a little fun is needed to brighten the day
Isn't this delightfully romantic?
Let's just say that I want to this someday too. =)
Some people dance in order to avoid the treadmill; some dance for competition; others dance for enjoyment; still others dance for worship. I'm kind of a mix between the latter two categories. I believe that dance can be a form of worship to our King. I'll close for today by leaving you a video. This song is beautiful, and I especially love the chorus: "For You, I sing, I dance...." Dance is part of worship for many people, and it can be used to glorify God. 




Blessings,
Hannah

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My 10 Favorite Video Games -- Part 2

Hello and welcome to the second and final part of my super-special-awesome countdown, spawned from the blackest depths of my perpetual writer's block. Last post, I included some of my favorite games, and while my list of favorites is somewhat protean, I think I did a pretty good job with it. There are so many good games out there, I feel guilty for only listing ten. Enough will my rambling! Commence the countdown music!

COUNTDOWN MUSIC: Uptown girl/she's been living in her uptown world/I bet she's never met a backstreet guy/I bet her momma never told her why--

Ah, the countdown music seems to be broken. I'll have to fix that later. To number five!

NUMBER FIVE: Day of the Tentacle
Genre: Point and click/adventure
Platform: PC
Release Date: 1993

Day of the Tentacle is one of the most hilarious games I've had the pleasure of playing. In it, a mad scientist's pet tentacle drinks toxic waste, causing it to turn into an intelligent and very evil madman (madtentacle?). The only way to solve this dilemma? Time travel, of course! This doesn't work and, after accidentally sending three different teens to three different eras of time, the teens must work and find their way back to the present while also trying to destroy a future in which evil tentacles rule the world.

Makes more sense than the plot of  Waterworld
This game is kind of old. In fact, it debuted a year before I was born. I grew up watching my mom play this game, so it is really close to my heart. This was created when Lucas Arts was the leader in media entertainment, when point and click games were still cool. And they are STILL cool, dagnabit! If you want a laugh and a unique gaming experience, this is an excellent game to choose. The main characters are so funny, you get to make fun of George Washington, and learn the glories of hamster power. Rodent power is the way of the future. We should all just get a bunch of hamster wheels and attach them to generators.

On a side note, it takes me a while to beat these types of games because I have no puzzle skills, and point and clicks are ultimately puzzle games (Unless you are playing Myst. Still trying to figure that one out).

NUMBER FOUR: The Curse of Monkey Island
Genre: Point and click/adventure
Platform: PC
Released: 1997

The Curse of Monkey Island is one of the many installments in the Monkey Island series, and it is the best one. I've played it four times and I still laugh every time I play it. Guybrush Threepwood, pirate extraordinaire, has been lost at sea for a very long time, and is in search of his beloved Elaine. His ship is a bumper car, which has not sunk for some reason while in the MIDDLE OF AN OCEAN. He floats into an epic battle between Pirate Lechuck, undead dude, who is trying in vain to capture Elaine once again. Things get hairy, Guybrush accidentally turns his love into a gold statue, and then she is stolen by pirates.Things get even more fun from there. If you are willing to watch 7 minutes, here is the (very funny) intro.


For a nineties game, the graphics are great, and the art is beautiful. I love the art style, and wish they would have kept it in the future installments. This is probably the best point and click game ever made, so if you play one, pick this one. You don't really need to have played the previous games before it, although it gives relevance. The soundtrack is also really pretty. I never got tired of listening to it.

Also, his name is Guybrush Threepwood.
Why would you not play this game?

NUMBER THREE: Ico

GENRE: Adventure/Rockyoursockawesome/Platform/Puzzler

Released: 2001


Ico is the prequel to Shadow of the Colossus, and it is one of the most beautiful games of all time. It stars a young boy named Ico, who was born with horns. In his village, if a boy is born with horns, he is dubbed a sacrifice and taken to a monumental castle and placed into a sarcophagus that will slowly eats his flesh. Luckily, poor Ico escapes from him tomb and finds a young girl, and together they try to find their way out of the mystic castle. Unfortunately, the girl is not meant to leave the castle, and her mother, the master of the castle, sends strange shadow beings to bring her back. Will Ico be able to protect the girl and also save himself?



One of the cool aspects of the game is that there is practically no dialogue. Barely any words pass between Ico and Yorda (name changes depending on translation) and yet they grow such a powerful bond throughout the game. In addition, Yorda has the athletic ability of a potato. In order to get through the game, you have to manipulate the surroundings to make them suit her so she can get around. Sometimes she just can't climb a ledge, and that's when you can have Ico reach his hand down to her, and call for her to grab his hand. One time, I had a shadow being come and grab Yorda just as she had grabbed Ico's hand, and the drama of wrestling between good and evil was so powerful I was in awe. It manages to be poignant and emotional game with so little. It is truly a masterpiece.

Ico did very poorly in the US. It didn't even make it to 70k units sold before production was killed. I was lucky to find a copy that was not sixty dollars on Ebay, and was thrilled. If you can find it, play it. It's awesome.

NUMBER TWO: Final Fantasy VIII
Genre: RPG
Platform: PS1
Released: 1999

Final Fantasy VIII was yet another game I watched my mother play while I was growing up. After playing twice over myself, I'm content to say that it is my favorite Final Fantasy game. It holds so many firsts for me: my first RPG, my first videogame, my first romance story, my first crush.

Oh yes. My first crush. It was on this guy:

He looks stern because Zell told Squall he looks like a woman.

Yup, Squall Leonhart was my first love. Until I realized that he was actually kind of a jerk and a bit too emo for me, he was my dream boat. I wrote stories that starred main characters with personalities exactly like his. Anyway, enough about my geeky love.

Squall Leonheart is a SEED. I don't know what that stands for, but he's a mercenary that works for a giant organization called a Garden. (HOLY SHNIKE! GARDEN? SEED? I NEVER NOTICED BEFORE) After he gets sent on his first mission, he runs into a headstrong girl named Rinoa (they met previously at a dance) and things kind of go awry after the president he is sent to kidnap turns into an undead zombie.

Final Fantasy will always be fantastical with their plots, but I love FF VIII's plot anyway. It is kind of dark, but it doesn't take itself too seriously like FF VII did. Also, the romance between Rinoa and Squall is flipping awesome, dudes, Flipping awesome. It also has one of my favorite leveling up systems. The graphics are still pretty good, as well. It has a great sound track. "Eye's On Me" is one of my favorite video game songs. The characters are cute, too.

I'm also fond of the fact that this was one of the first times the Final Fantasy series tried to fiddle with character development. FF VII never did this which is why it didn't make it on this list. (I didn't like FF VII's characters anyway)

If you don't mind spoilers and you want to spend a couple of minutes, please watch this video of Rinoa teaching Squall to dance. Yes, this probably set the precedent for all video games with romantic subplots to follow.

NUMBER ONE: Shadow of the Colossus
Genre: Platforming/puzzler/action/awesomesauce
Platform: PS2
Released: 2005

Ha, I bet you didn't see this one coming. What am I saying, of course you did! You know why? Because this game is a majestic, heart-breaking masterpiece. It begins with a nameless boy we call Wander carrying the body of his dead love across a giant bridge. He climbs his way down a tower and places her on the altar. It is quiet. And then the voices of some powerful, ancient force speak to him. Wander wants to bring her to life. They say it's impossible. He says that he must. They tell him that if he wants to revive her, he must defeat sixteen colossi. And with nothing but a sword and his trusty steed Agro, he sets out to do just that.

Hmm, I wonder how I should try to do this.
Like Ico, the magic in SotC is its simplicity. Barely any words are spoken in this game, yet you can infer a story by examining the world around you. Desolate temples, buildings, towers, all abandoned and withered with time, hint that something strange has happened here. The bond between Wander and his horse is touching, and towards the end there is a scene between the two that will melt your heart and make you cry. A lot. A lot of crying. No spoilers though, let's just say it's awesome.

The colossi are as big as buildings, and you have to climb each one of them. YAY! And to think that Wander does this all for just one girl blows your mind.

SotC has the best sound track for a game I have ever heard. I actually own it because it is that good.

I won't continue to ramble. How about you buy the game so we can talk about it, okay? I'll love you forever.
_________

And that is the end of my fantabulous countdown! You can relax, it's over! I hope you enjoyed me thrusting my opinions on you. I'll probably do it a lot because I like lists . . . ah, lists.

Hugs to the men and cookies to the girls,

Esther P.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Illogical Justification called "Busyness"

Well, I don't know about you all, but my life is insane. It seems like I always have a million things to do. Between school, college planning, appointments, work, an internship, spending time with family and friends, planning a huge youth group garage sale, church, and everything else in life, it seems like I don't have time to just stop and think. Phew! I'm tired just listing everything that is going on in my life. If you're like me, then you always have something to do, some place to go, or someone to see. While I like being busy (I detest boredom and laziness), sometimes it can be overwhelming.

In Psalms, it says, "Be still and know that I am God." (46:10) Sometimes it feels like I barely have time to just stop and rest, let alone taking the time to spend in silence with God. Sure, I do my devotions every morning before I start my day, but I can't live on just that. I simply can't make it through life relying on 7:00AM "meetings" with God. I need so much more. I NEED to take the time to stop and spend with Christ, my Savior, throughout the day - not just in the morning. I think that it is really funny when people say that they are trying to "make time for God". I mean seriously?? The God of the universe cares for you and loves you beyond description, and you have to schedule Him into your day in order to take any time to spend with Him? Here's a video to help explain what I mean:



See what I mean? (By the way, I love Blimey Cow videos, like the one above, so you will probably see some more in the future - providing that you all like them as well...?) Why in the world do we think that thirty minutes in the morning is good enough? Where did that even come from? I don't know about you, but I think that we need to figure out our priorities. While I do read my Bible every day for around thirty minutes, I'm not content with being a "super-Christian", as is termed in the video. I'm not a super-Christian by any means. It's easy for quiet time to become routine; so I challenge you to step out of your routine and spend time with God because it is a PRIVILEGE not an obligation. These are my views on the subject, but what do you all think? Do you think that we are just fine as we are because life is busy? Or do you think that we need to live for more than thirty minutes per day with our Savior? 

I thought that this saying was funny, and entirely true. 

Blessings,
Hannah

P.S. I know that you all were waiting anxiously for the second half to Esther's post, so I apologize that you must wait another day for it. I hope that this post is sufficient enough to tide you over. =)

Monday, May 7, 2012

My 10 Favorite Video Games

Hey everybody! Allow me to amaze you with my philosophical skills.

Ha ha, just joking. I'm not Hannah. And wasn't her last post pretty? I've read it like three times already. Anyway, I thought I would submit you to something really cool.

My 10 Favorite Video Games! Yay! Huzzah! Hurrah!

I've always considered myself a bit of a geek. I make obscure references to things all the time, although I'm not as extreme as most. I'm just a girl that is fond of the digital media. Throughout the years, I've encountered several video games that I loved, and I thought I would share them with you. My list of favorites changes constantly, so this is just kind of basic list. Let's start with number 10:

NUMBER 34

(oh shoot, my countdown is messed up. One sec)

NUMBER 10: Advance Wars
Platform: GBA
Genre: TBS (Turn based strategy)

I don't know about you, but I simply suck at chess. However, I simply adore the concept of chess and all its little details and strategies. Advance Wars is like chess, except instead of chess, you get people who shoot each other with tiny, adorable guns.

Awwwww!
I found Advance Wars when I was but a wee lass, nine or so, and discovering the glory that is video games. To be fairly honest with you, I was really bad at it, but I loved it to death. I've never been very good at logical reasoning. I'm more of the type of girl who throws a rock at a door until it opens kind of girl. Still, the brilliant gameplay and the cute character design still hold a chunk of my heart, and I play the first and second games from time to time.

HONORABLE MENTION: Fire Emblem, Radiant Dawn

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn is fantastically awesome, but so incredibly difficult at any difficulty besides easy that it is harder to approach than Advance Wars.

NUMBER 9: Yoshi's Island 3
Platform: GBA
Genre: Platforming

I think Yoshi's Island is probably the best 2D platformer ever, with Ratchet and Clank taking the 3D category. I cannot imagine a better set up. In it, you are Yoshi, attempting to rescue a baby Mario from the forces of evil by fighting your way through adorable and crayola-colored landscapes.
And you get to eat giant, sentient flowers. BONUS!
This game is easy enough for a nine year-old to play, but has enough nuances to please someone of any age. I'm also a die-hard Yoshi fan. I mean, he's a dinosaur that poops eggs. I love it.

NUMBER 8: Pokemon Snap
PLATFORM: N64
GENRE: Platforming, I guess.

Some of you might not of heard of Pokemon Snap. It's okay if you haven't. It's actually kind of obscure for a Pokemon game. Basically, it is an on the rail shooter, except instead of shooting things, you are taking pictures of Pokemon that pop out of the grass. It's awesome. In no other condition can you throw an apple at a Charmeleon, knocking it into a pit of lava, which causes it to evolve into Charizard, so you can take pictures of it.


You don't think he'll hold a grudge, do you?
Pokemon Snap is fun because of its surprising depth. There are hundreds of different shots you can take, and all are judged by professor Oak, the best one, you know. Its sound track is pretty relaxing, and there are a lot of different areas to explore. And, it's family friendly. Can't go wrong with that.

HONORABLE MENTION: Pokemon Puzzle League
It's like Tetris on Steroids.


NUMBER 7: Pokemon Gold
Platform: GBA
Genre: Adventure

I've played several generations of Pokemon, but Gold is my favorite. It has a plot, kind of, and this is before all the Pokemon started to look like deformed animal fetuses. It also has Entei, the lame but very pretty flame Pokemon who spawned the weirdest Pokemon movie ever. So we kind of owe it a lot.

HONORABLE MENTION: Pokemon Ruby
Simply because it was prettier and it had Shroomish.


NUMBER 6 (All I can think about is the anime now): Beyond Good and Evil
PLATFORM: PS2
GENRE: Platform, stealth

Didn't I just kill you?
Beyond Good and Evil is awesome in a can. It is set on another world that is being dominated by a mysterious company. Jade, photographer, must investigate the company by sneaking in and taking pictures of incriminating evidence that will prove that the company is up to no good. There are also mind-wiping aliens and a giant talking pig. It's also awesome for its action elements. For the most part, the enemies of the game are much, much stronger than you, so it fares you better to sneak around them instead of fighting. If you do get caught, only reflexes and timing can save you. The voice acting is great, Jade is an awesome main character, and the plot is wonderful. The game didn't do well in stores, so some people don't know about it. Play this game though, seriously.

HONORABLE MENTION: Ratchet and Clank(Any)
Ratchet and Clank is loads of fun no matter which one you play. I just prefer Beyond Good and Evil's gameplay mechanics.

NUMBER FIVE: Final Fantasy IX
PLATFORM: PS
GENRE: RPG

Oh, how I do love this game. Final Fantasy IX is great because it embraces all of fantasy's greatest strong points and meshes them together. It isn't as dark as VII or VIII, and doesn't take itself too seriously. It stars a sky pirate Zidane, who can not rival XII's Balthier by any means, but his monkey tail is pretty cool. The plot emerges after a kidnapping of a princess goes horribly wrong. I mean, kidnapping princess is always good fun, right? I LOVE kidnapping princesses. I do it in between lunch breaks.

The gameplay isn't as good as its predecessors, but its still approachable. It might hold my favorite sound track for a Final Fantasy game. It's also very pretty for a PS game.



Preeeeeeetty.

THE COUNTDOWN CONTINUES SOON! ESTHER NEEDS TO GO TAKE A NAP NOW!

Hugs and Kisses to all of the men, and winks to the girls,

Esther Perisho