Saturday, February 28, 2009

The New Abolitionists

Sacramento is situated midway between Mexico and Canada on I-5, which is one reason why so many slaves move through the city.

I didn't know.  I thought slavery had been eradicated from the world in the 19th century.  I thought the days were long past when parents sold their daughters into brothels, and people were kidnapped and forced to work without pay.  And until tonight, I thought that by far, most of the people in the sex industry were there voluntarily.

Tonight, my church held a human trafficking information night.  The statistics are horrific.  One estimate from the International Labor Organization places the number of human beings enslaved at this moment at 12.3 million.  We saw pictures of a sweatshop that was raided in California fifteen years ago.  Looked like a normal apartment complex.  You couldn't see the barbed wire fence from the street, or for that matter, the people who slept fifteen to a room.

Spreading awareness is only the beginning.  This isn't another issue that will inflame a few people for a moment and then pass from memory.  From everything I've seen, the church is gearing up for a fight.  There are already organizations doing excellent work, and we intend to join them.  Here are a few.

Agape International Missions

Courage to be You

World Hope International

Further information can be found in the State Department's Traffcking in Persons Report 2008, and on the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime website.


Sometimes, I feel old for 25.

In stark contrast to a few years ago, there's only one night a week I can reasonably stay up past midnight - Friday, as you might have guessed - and given the option, I often don't.  I've never been a morning person, and I doubt I ever will be, but I have made it work for some time, now.

I was recently part of a discussion about the difference between health and fitness.  To be healthy, the way we typically think of it, is really just to be not-sick.  To be fit is something else altogether, and I can definitely feel the difference.  I'm not dramatically out of shape, but I'm no athlete, either.  Years behind various desks with very minimal exercise in my off hours have seen to that.  One flight of stairs, and my pulse races.  Ten minutes at Sky High, and I need a breather.

I can feel my friendships changing, maybe maturing.  At least, shifting into a more adult mode; that is to say, more occasional.  I just don't see my friends as much as I did in my early college years.  We're all dividing our time between work, school, and at least one other obligation aside from hangout time.  It's normal, but to me, it still seems like a relatively new normal.

I'm getting a sense that I'm entering a time of my life when expectations on me are rising, because of both my age, and my circumstances.  I'm now on staff at my church.  I'm an "analyst" at my day job.  I have more opportunities to make decisions that carry weight.  For whatever reason, that idea also seems relatively novel.

I'm in that odd stage when others, older co-workers especially, alternately treat me like a peer and a youngster.  I still remind women in their forties of their sons, it turns out.  People my parents' age are just now starting to see what my generation is capable of, and some are pretty impressed.  The usual conversation starts out with how easily we pick up technology, then rounds out with how many of us return home in debt.

I've been described as having an "old soul," but I still have some youthful habits and attitudes.  Through it all, my identity is slowly starting to settle.  It can be difficult to accurately track the process from the inside.  If you've got some insight as to how I've changed in recent years, feel free to chime in.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


To: Dr. Angelo "Skip" Roth

Time: 3:56 am

Urgent?  X

Dr. Skip:

I'm writing you this note in the hope that we can move past our professional differences.  I'd like to think we can both be adults about this, and see the mutual benefits inherent in the situation at hand.

For example, you have frequently expressed concern for the stability of the project's budget.  I have, as you will no doubt notice, implemented what I consider to be an elegant solution which will significantly reduce costs related to the containment area, and security staffing.

I would truly appreciate your feedback, so I've taken the liberty of scheduling a meeting at your house.  This time, I will be setting the agenda.


"Lefty" (Subject 332-A)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lemme tell ya somethin', brother.

Professional wrestling is stupid. I really can't argue with that. But I still find it irresistable.

I am, of course, talking about the fake kind of wrestling: the Hulk Hogan kind, the Stone Cold Steve Austin kind. Fake, however, is an unfair word for what pro wrestlers do. It's not a fight, it's a performance. If you go into the experience expecing that, and if you're willing to play along, it's a whole lot of fun.

As I say that, some of you are wondering what fun there is in watching guys in tights yell into microphones and pretend to wrestle. I can't speak for everyone, but here's what draws me: crazy athleticism.

There are only so many places you can go to see a 300-pound man take off running, leap over the top rope of the wrestling ring - no hands - turn a somersault, and land on the three guys who are standing in their pre-arranged place to break his fall to the cold tile floor.

Many of you have heard me talk about my buddy Drake, who trains with Supreme Pro Wrestling and wrestles as Drake Frost. His finisher - his signature move that usually comes right before the end of the match - is like a ballet move, except you smash your partner to the mat instead of landing gracefully. There's a little spin in there and everything.

One more example. SPW put on a No Rope Lumberjack Match between El Chupacabra and Rik Luxury a year or two ago, in which the ropes were removed from the ring. The "lumberjacks" were two crowds of men, each group friends of one wrestler and hostile to the other, and itching to stomp someone. Luxury was outside of the ring, with his lumberjacks between him and his opponent. El Chupacabra then ran out of the ring onto the shoulders of said lumberjacks, pushing off and tackling Luxury from above.

I still can't figure out why they do it. There guys take some bumps. Drake literally had a handprint on his chest after an SPW show after getting a wicked smack from the Big Ugly. Bones sometimes break. Depending on the match, there may be some blood. It seems like a lot of sacrifice for a little applause, to say nothing of the time spent on training, or driving hours to put on shows in other towns and in other states.

That's the main reason I admire Drake. He's committed. He has an insane dream to actually make it in this industry, and he's making sacrifices to get there. I've never known anyone else willing to work two jobs, then go get dropped on his head by guys bigger than he is in order to get better at his craft. I don't know that I've been that dedicated to anything in my entire life.

So for Drake, and all the guys and girls at SPW, I pray safety and sanity. I pray that God would make sense of their dreams and their drive, and keep them in one piece in the meantime.