Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Perfect Christmas

The Perfect Christmas
By: Peter Last


            The boy tried to scream through the gag, but no sound came out. The action allowed the rag to sink further down his throat, and his attempt to scream broke off in a fit of coughing. Even if he had been able to scream, he knew that no help would come. His father was off on another business trip, and his younger sister was staying at their grandparent’s house. He was utterly alone in this plight.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas

To whoever reads this:
This is the Christmas season and I am tired of hearing...well you'll figure it out. Hope you enjoy this post.


            “Happy Holidays!” “Season’s Greetings!”
            These greetings/good-byes makes me sick. Not physical, vomiting sick, rather it just irritates the heck out of me. Not too long ago people were saying “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year,” but now these two, traditional greetings have been the extremely secular, very pathetic versions of “Happy Holidays” and “Season Greetings.” Why do I have such a strong feelings about these two holiday greetings? The disgust I feel is not against the actual greetings but against what they symbolize, an increasingly secularized Christmas holiday.
            The first Christmas was prefect; everyone who participated was there to worship Christ. Nowadays, however, the holiday seems to be more about presents than Jesus and if anyone is worshiped, it is probably Santa Claus. This transformation came about through a series of events, some of which may not have been badly intended but that ended up polluting the Christmas spirit. The most important of these events was the invention of Santa Claus. I’ve heard several stories concerning the original man, St. Nicholas, and I don’t know which one is true, but they all have one important aspect: giving selflessly to people who are in need. Obviously St. Nicholas was not a bad man nor was honoring him as a saint necessarily a bad idea; however, with him came the tradition of gift giving. This practice is not a bad one, in fact I myself like it, but it has been corrupted. Instead of gift giving, people now seem to teach gift getting making the Christmas holiday one of selfishness and greed. As an added bonus, the greed of Christmas was accompanied by a minimization of the focus of Jesus.
            Due to the secularization of the Christmas holiday, some Christians (the ones not blinded by their greed) complain that a holiday bearing Christ’s name has so little to do with Him. Well, I believe that they won’t have to complain about that much longer. All that has to be done is to change the name of the holiday. If you think that I am going off the deep end with this theory, consider the now popular greetings “Happy Holidays” and “Season Greetings.” I could type them again, but I don’t think that I saw a “Christmas” anywhere in them. Which is perfect because when we change the name of the holiday to “Santa Day” we can still use the same lame, expressionless greetings that we are using now. Which brings up an interesting question; seeming as though seculars have succeeded in making Christmas pretty much not at all about Jesus, why would they want to change the name? Why not leave Christians happy by letting them keep their Christ-centered name and nothing else? First, it is because the very mention of Christ even when followed by a “mas” reminds them of what they do not have. The other reason is more about the ease with which they will be able to bring about the change. How many people, Christian or otherwise, do you suppose would put up a fight against the name change as long as they were able to keep their presents?
            So what can we do about this problem, the secularization of Jesus’ birthday celebration? One option is to find the people that started this Happy Holiday nonsense and beat them senseless. Of course this would be illegal and sinful, so that idea is useless to Christians. Another idea is to burn every Happy Holiday and Season’s Greeting sign that you find. Of course this is also illegal and sinful, so is not of much use to us. I actuality, the only recourse that we have to save Christmas is to celebrate it ourselves. Perhaps other people will see us and decide to celebrate it for real as well, but probably not. For heaven’s sake, we can’t even get the majority of Christians to celebrate it for real! Christmas isn’t a lost cause, and shouldn’t be given up on. Christians should celebrate it and honor God through it. They can give gifts in honor of God’s gift to us as long as they don’t worship the gifts more than Jesus. They can worship God through Christmas and, if it is God’s will that such a thing should happen, others will notice them and follow suit. Faith in and obedience to God is the only things that can save Christmas.
            We can’t save Christmas through political means, nor by protests or demonstrations. The only way that Christmas can be saved is with God’s help. Do I think that it will be saved from the rampant secularization that it is undergoing? No, I really don’t but the only way that we can know for certain is to try and save it. After all, God did not tell us to go out and conquer the whole world. He didn’t tell us to only fight battles that we know that we can win. Instead, He told us to be good stewards of what He has given us, and if we do that, even if Christmas is lost, we will have won. So to end this holiday post, I say “Merry Christmas” to all of you staunch Christians out there. And to everyone else who likes to say “Happy Holidays” I will say “MERRY CHRISTMAS!”


Hope that you enjoyed this post. And if you didn't, well maybe the next one will be more to your liking.

Sincerely,
Peter Last

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Finals

To whoever reads this:
My last post was a little over a week ago. I don't have anything new because I'm currently studying for and taking finals. It does suck, but the week is almost over. I should be able to post something new by Saturday or Sunday. Thank you for reading my blog.

Sincerely,
Peter Last

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Protect Your Apples! a parable by Peter Last

To whoever reads this:
Have fun reading this one.


DISCLAIMER: This is a true story, and all of the events that take place in it are true; however, certain activities, the names of the people involved, the genders of the people involved, the ages of people involved the dates on which said activities occurred, and the titles of certain holidays have been changed (or have they?) to protect the innocent. There may also be some other things changed that I forgot to mention.

            This is a story about Christmas break two years ago. I was 27 back then. In case you were wondering, yes I discovered the fountain of youth. I was going to visit my sister, Ellen, at her dwelling about seven hours from anywhere. She lived in the middle of Texas. I was visiting her because I had been hearing about their biennial strawberry food fight and wanted to see what it was all about. (Spoiler Alert: All that it is, is a lot of people throwing fruit at each other) I had a potential week of vacation from my job with an interior design company call Inter Iordes Igncom Pany so I decided to take a few days off from the InterIor desIgn comPany to go see the festival. (If you still haven’t figured out how I came up with this incredible name from the company…it’s Italian)
            So I requested off and traveled to The Middle of Nowhere, Texas and got ready to throw strawberries at people. I forgot to mention that about a week before I left, Ellen called me and told me about this creepy guy that she knew.  His name was Aaron and apparently she had told him a lot about me. She said that Aaron really wanted to be my friend. I was like, “He doesn’t even know whether I’m fat and lazy. Or if my attitude stinks. (Which it does)” Well, from what my sister told me, it sounded more like Aaron wanted to steal my apples than anything else. Oh, I forgot to tell you about my apples. Well forget about it. I have apples and he wanted to steal them. That’s all the explanation this story needs. And should you want a better explanation, well too bad; it’s a secret.
            Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, so after having been warned about Aaron, I packed my suitcases and headed for Texas. It took forever and a day to get to her house, but that’s because it takes that long to get anywhere in Texas. The trip was long and boring except for that one time when I lost control of and almost ran into…well empty space. I hit the empty space next to it instead. And then there was the time that the suicidal possum jumped in front of my car, but that wasn’t too interesting. It just kind of went BUMP. Though it WILL be interesting trying to clean it out of the underbelly of my car. Other than that, I got to Ellen’s house without any mishaps.
            I spent the night at Ellen’s house and the next day was the festival. We had agreed to not tell Aaron that I was in town, and that worked for a while. The festival happened, and everything was going great until two of Ellen’s smart aleck friends, who had been on the opposite team in the strawberry fight, got angry, because they had lost. One of them texted Aaron to tell him that I was in town. Well, you can imagine that I was less than pleased by the text, but I was prepared to deal with the situation calmly. After freaking out and running around like a chicken with its head chopped off for a while, I began to prepare for the inevitable meeting. The only thing that I was really worried about was my apples, so I took precautions to ensure that they wouldn’t be stolen.
            By the way, before you condemn me for judging Aaron, let me say that it was not a stereotype. He had been stealing apples from one of Ellen’s friends for quite a while now. Simply using history as my guide, I locked my apples up.
            Getting back to the story, I was prepared to meet the creepy Aaron, and none too soon. No sooner had I stuffed all twelve bushels of apples under the kitchen carpet than I heard a knock at the door. It was Aaron, and he wasn’t creepy at all. Apparently Ellen already had a bad opinion of him and that factored into her perception of him. Aaron and I hit it off immediately, and we spent the rest of the day together. Actually, we didn’t hit it off, and we didn’t spend a lot of time together, but I thought it would be nice if I said that we did. Although I was telling the truth when I said that he wasn’t creepy. We weren’t best friends when he left, but on the other hand we left on good terms. Although I still am trying to pay off that hospital bill that I accrued for him. Oh, and he was probably steamed about his car. And his coat. Another thing that I will say about Aaron is that he sure is stupid. I told him that the lump under the kitchen carpet was the wood floor’s mole. The next day I left and never plan to see Aaron again.
            I was thinking about this particular event in my life, and decided that there was a good life lesson here. Actually I needed something to write in my blog and this was the first thing that jumped into my mind. (STRAWBERRY FIGHT! Followed closely by SQUIRREL!) The life lesson explanation sounds better, so I’ll go with it. You see, before I ever met Aaron, Ellen told me that he was creepy, and I believed her. Well, when I actually met Aaron, he wasn’t creepy at all but seemed like a decent guy. So life lesson part one is, “Just because you hear it doesn’t mean it’s true.” On the other hand, Aaron also didn’t seem like the type of guy that would steal apples, but I know for a fact that he has done it before. So life lesson part two is, “Just because you see it doesn’t mean it’s true.” Take these two parts, put them together, modify them a bit, but them in a plastic container in the refrigerator overnight, reheat them on 350o for 15 minutes, run them through the blender, put them in a bowl, garnish them with parsley, and serve with chocolate milk and you get a very true saying that I was told by a very smart man, a saying that I live my life by.

“Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see.”


Thank you for reading my blog. Hope that it taught you something.

Sincerely,
Peter Last

Friday, November 19, 2010

Public Giving

To whoever reads this:
I wrote this shortly after reading about the event that I mention in the post. This event made me think about the state of giving in our country and how it needs to change. Hope that the following is an inspiration to you.



            If you watch any daytime television shows like Oprah, well, quite frankly you could find a better use for your time. However, everyone stumbles at one time or another, so if you happen to fall into the aforementioned category, there’s hope. Anyway, since I’m about to comment on Oprah’s show, it can be easily deduced that I, sad as it is, have seen it for a very small amount of time. So yes, I have at least a vague idea of what I am writing about.
            If you’ve seen Oprah for very long at all, you probably know that she is constantly giving things away and, a lot of times, has people on the show who are donating large amounts of money to various causes. One of the latest of these contributions was from Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook. He donated $100 million dollars to the troubled school system of Newark. Now before I go any further, let me say that I have the highest respect for people who donate their own resources. In no way am I deriding the act of giving, just the way in which it is done.
            A billionaire is donating a lot of money to a school system that is in trouble. This donation will probably help a lot of people, so what problem could I possibly have with it? As I said, the donation is not the problem, but the way in which it was given. Here is the issue that I have with the method of donation. I am not a person who reads a lot of news or is very informed on current events, yet even I know about the donation, so obviously it was done in a very public fashion.
So what is the issue? Lots of people make public donations; it helps people and, quite frankly, is good for their publicity. If earthly rewards are all that Mark Zuckerberg is looking for, there was nothing wrong with the way that he donated. People will look at him in a better light. They can say, “Look at him! He donated $100 million to help American school children!” That will be Mr. Zuckerberg’s reward. But I would put forth the theory that there is a much larger and better reward that you can receive from giving, one that Mr. Zuckerberg is missing out on because he chose to take the earthly reward.

Matthew 6:2-4 says, 2“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (NIV)

            When he decided to donate his money, Mr. Zuckerberg had two options. He could do it publicly and receive an earthly reward, or he could have done it secretly and received a heavenly reward. He chose the former option, and so lost out on the better reward. There is one other issue that I would take with all of the hype surrounding Mr. Zuckerberg’s donation. Sure, he gave $100 million, but what is that to a billionaire? Let me clarify that I strongly believe that Mr. Zuckerberg’s money is his own, and that he has the right to do whatever he wants with it, but I will ask the question, “Is he giving enough?”

            Luke 12:47-48 says, “47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

          The statement, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded,” doesn’t mean that someone who is rich should give a “lot” of money. Rather, it means that people, no matter how much they earn, should give so much that they have to sacrifice other things, or, as I have heard it said, “they should give until it hurts.” Obviously this means that people with more money will give more than those who were not given so much; however, the gift of each of them will be seen as equal in God’s sight. “Man looks at the outward appearance (how much is given) but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:8 NIV)
            All of this being said, what are the normal people of the world supposed to do? With rich people giving a million here and twenty million there, our gifts of twenty, thirty, forty dollars don’t seem significant at all. But this doesn’t mean that you should stop giving! Remember that God considers your smaller gifts that you have to sacrifice to give to be more important than a million dollar gift for which no sacrifice is required. So continue (or start) to give and God will use what you give to accomplish His purposes. Oh, and one last thing, give and sacrifice in silence. In this way you will lay up for yourself treasure in heaven.


Hope that you have enjoyed this latest installment of my blog. Thank you again for reading.

Sincerely,
Peter Last

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pencil Sharpeners

To whoever reads this:

Hope that you enjoy this, my latest post. It is sort of funny, but also has a very valid point to it.


            You know what is enjoyable? Find something ordinary, something that you see every day and probably dismiss as normal every time that you see it. Once you have an object, analyze it and see what it does, why it is useful. (If the answer to these questions is “nothing” and “it’s not” respectively, you should seriously consider having a garage sale) This helps you realize what mundane and ordinary things there are that are never really noticed but are an indispensible part of our lives. These are the things that no one notices until they are gone. After this, you can take what you have learned and apply it, more generally, to life. (Granted if you actually do this, you have no life just like me, and should consider, oh I don’t know, GETTING A LIFE) Just kidding. Actually these types of things just come to me. Just like the other day when I happened to think about pencil sharpeners.
            I was just walking along thinking about things, I’m not really sure what anymore, when suddenly my mind shouted “Pencil sharpeners!” at me. For the record some people would probably say that I have ADD, but I just call it “an incredible ability to jump directly from one train of thought to another when I am multitasking.” Anyway, for whatever reason my brain decided that pencil sharpeners were an interesting topic, so I spent a few seconds to consider them. (A few seconds was all the time I had until my mind shouted “Squirrel!” when one of them ran by. Which makes me wonder if a pencil sharpener didn’t run by to make me think of it)
            What do pencil sharpeners do? Well, for anyone who can put 2 and 2 together and come up with any answer between 1 and 5, the obvious answer is that they sharpen pencils. But you never really think about the pencil sharpener. Why? You might (if you’re kind of ‘out there’) think about pencils, because they mark on paper. If you need to write something, you need a pencil, and every time you see a pencil mark on a piece of paper, it is a reminder of the pencil that made it. On the other hand, pencil sharpeners are noticed hardly ever. This is because they don’t directly produce anything fantastic or memorable. (Seriously, how many times have you looked at a pencil and though to yourself, “Now that is one finely sharpened pencil! What a good job that sharpener did.”) Instead, sharpeners are a support to pencils, the object that makes the impression.
            Pencil sharpeners don’t directly create anything important, consequently, they are not very memorable, but what would happen if they suddenly all went missing. (It means that they probably all ended up in Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s building and that Perry the Platypus will have to go stop his evil, pencil sharpener scheme. If you don’t get this joke you obviously don’t watch too much Disney Channel) If all of the pencil sharpeners in the world went missing, there would be nothing to sharpen the pencils, consequently, people couldn’t use the pencils to pen, oops! I mean pencil, immortal words like those of famous poets whose words often make me want to throw up, kill myself, go to sleep, or do any combination of these. The point is, that even though it is never noticed until it is missing, the pencil sharpener is a very important device, one that it would be a pain to live without.
            So what was the point of the past few paragraphs?  We can apply the principles of the pencil sharpener to real life. There are people who are the pencils of the world. They are very noticeable and do great things; people like sports stars, political leaders, and movie actors. But at the same time, behind each of those pencils there is a whole host of pencil sharpeners preparing them to do great things. So what can we take from this? First, that someone has to be the pencil sharpener and if that happens to be you, you should be content with your role in life and not seek glory. More importantly, we should learn that for those who are the pencils of life, we should recognize that the people who support them don’t get a lot of recognition, and should make a point of giving them recognition whenever possible. (This is a good move because, besides being a nice thing to do, it also decreases the chances of them really screwing you up by something that they do or don’t do)

Thank you again for reading my blog.

Sincerely,
Peter Last

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I am Busy

To whoever reads this:

I am currently very busy with my classes. This is why I have had a new post in a while. I'm going to try to write one and have it posted by Friday. Thank you for reading my blog.

Sincerely,
Peter Last

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon

To whoever reads this:
The following is a review of the movie How to Train Your Dragon, recently released on DVD.




            Amongst the cesspool of perversion, bad language, sexual immorality, and gratuitous violence that we call movies, there emerges a ray of sunshine. Not surprisingly, this ray came from Disney, where many good movies come from these days. But the newest Pixar film isn’t what I’m talking about. No, I’m referring to the film How to Train Your Dragon created by DreamWorks.
            The movie is about the Vikings of a village, the dragons that raid that village, and how they have been fighting each other since the Vikings first founded the village. It tells the story of Hiccup, a young Viking boy who is not suited for fighting and killing dragons like all of the rest of the village is. It isn’t giving away too much of the movie to say that Hiccup finds an injured dragon and nurses it back to health. The movie is about how the boy and the dragon learn about each other.
            There are several things that make this movie very good, not only for the children that it was obviously aimed at, but also for more mature viewers. First of all, is has only a PG rating with very little offensive material in it at all. A few rude jokes spot the film, but with no foul language, no sexual themes, and very cartoon like violence, it is fit for all ages. There is a lot of physical humor in the movie making it great for younger audiences, but it also contains jokes that only older people will get.
            Another plus for the movie is its plot. The story that is told in the film is well told, the characters are developed well, and even the setting contributes to the excellent quality of the movie. The story line is not flimsy like those of many cartoons made for kids. Instead, it has all of the characteristics of a solid story. Perhaps even more phenomenal was the development of the characters in the movie. They are not simply colors on the screen that happen to be moving around and saying things. Instead, each person in the movie has a unique attitude making them likeable. Even the people that I wanted to hate, I found it hard to do so because I could sympathize with them.
            All in all, the movie How to Train Your Dragon is a good film to get and watch as a family. I highly recommend it for any age, and I would strongly encourage everyone to watch it.


I hope that you enjoyed this latest post on my blog. As as always, thank you for reading.

Sincerely,
Peter Last

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sammy Jr. Rataloni- A modern parable

To whoever reads this:
The following is a modern knockoff and mishmash of two of Jesus' parables. Obviously I don't take credit for their content since I didn't really come up with them. I did, however, embellish them a bit to make them funnier.


            Sammy Jr. was a good little baby rat. He was born on the 5th of August, 2010 to his loving parents, Sammy Sr. and Jenny Rataloni. He was such a cute baby rat, the first child of his parents. That wasn’t incredibly special, though because his ten siblings followed a few minutes later. The Rataloni’s were very proud of their children.
            Sammy Sr. and Jenny loved all of their children. Even when rats in love with the environment told them that having a family of eleven was irresponsible, unsustainable, and would kill the world, they would not change their minds.
            “Destroy the world?” Sammy Sr. asked one particular rat. “Don’t you think that you’re overreacting just a bit?”
            Jenny simply noted that this rat didn’t have a spouse and died that way only a few days later. Some said that this was due to a broken heart, that the poor creature never found the love of his life. The condition of his body prompted an investigation; however, and it was found that he had been trampled to death by a buffalo that he had tried to stop from destroying the natural environment.
            The Rataloni children grew up very quickly. In no time at all, they were walking and all wanted to play sports.
            “I’m proud of you, kids,” Sammy Sr. told his children. Jenny simply looked on with a worried expression as he paid for all of the sports equipment.
            All too soon, the little rats were old enough to get their drivers licenses.
            “I’m proud of you kids,” Sammy Sr. said to his children. “I’m going to buy you all a new car!” Jenny watched with a worried expression as her children roared out of the driveway in their new rides.
            When the children started to bring home girlfriends and boyfriends, Sammy Sr. was proud of his sons.
            “Way to go boys! Go get those cute, little girl rats,” he said. On the other hand, he scared off all of the boyfriends of his little girls with a shot gun. Jenny thought that he had a bit of a double standard.
            Then it was time for the children to go to college and get an education.
            “Oh, my gosh! Why did I have so many children!” Sammy Sr. groaned. “This tuition bill is going to kill me!” Jenny simply smiled as she thought about all of the well-educated children that she would have to take care of her in her old age.
            “But I don’t want to go to college, dad!” Sammy Jr. whined. “It’s too much work. Besides, I’ll never use that stuff in real life.”
            “What are you going to do to support yourself?” Sammy Sr. asked. “You aren’t planning on working at a fast food restaurant all of your life, are you?”
            “Of course not, dad, I’m smarter than that,” Sammy said in a self-righteous tone. “I’m two months old now; I’m not a kid anymore. I was going to wait until you die and then live off of your inheritance.”
            “That’s just a little cold,” Sammy Sr. said. “What are you going to do until I die?”
            “Well, I was thinking about that,” Sammy Jr. said. “Could you give me my inheritance now? That way I wouldn’t have to work until you died.”
            “I still think that it’s a little cold, but sure,” Sammy Sr. agreed. “Here, I’ll write you a check.”
            With his check in hand, Sammy Jr. drove out of town. He was already making plans about what he would do with his money.
            “First I’ll use this money to buy a nice house,” he said to himself. “Then I’ll use my money to buy friends. Some really big parties should do the trick. After a few weeks of extravagant living, my money will be all gone, and I will be stuck, living in a dump and working for a fast food franchise. And the only food that I’ll have will be pig swill. Maybe I can steal some of that fast food, but that’s just as bad. After I live in misery for a while, I’m sure I will think of something to do.”
            Sammy Jr. drove all day before stopping in a town as the sun was setting. Quickly he started to look for a place to stay and found a likely looking trailer park. His first stop was the dumpster to look through the ‘trailer trash’ for dinner. After eating his fill, he found a nice trailer that had a convenient hole through which he could gain access to the underside of the structure. Quickly he tore a hole through the trailer’s insulation and crawled up in among the pipes and wires. He saw some green, blue, and red strings.
            “And this place comes with candy, too!” he exclaimed. “I recognize this stuff from when dad use to bring it home.”
            Immediately he started to gnaw on the colored strings. It didn’t taste like candy, more like plastic, but Sammy Jr. kept gnawing. Suddenly the plastic taste ended and a metallic one replaced it.
            “Oh crud, I think that I’m actually chewing on…”
            There was a brief flash lighting up the underbelly of the trailer, then blackness.

A Few Days Later

            The stink had started as nothing. At first it was easy to ignore, but it grew steadily until it was too much to bear.
            “Peter, was that you?!” my brother asked. I looked up from my dinner and looked at him with a puzzled look. “Was what me?”
            Now before you wonder how I could possibly not smell an unbearable stench, let me say that God has blessed me with an incredibly bad sense of smell. Most people may not look at this as a blessing, but hey, if your aspiration is to be a sewage pipe repairman, a bad sense of smell is a good thing.
            “That ungodly stench,” my brother said. “Don’t you smell it?”
            “Nope, don’t smell a thing,” I said and went back to eating dinner. I finished and looked over at my brother; he was looking a bit green.
            “Are you feeling all right?” I asked. “Because if you aren’t, I’ll eat the rest of your food for you.”
            “Here, It’s all yours,” my brother said and pushed his plate toward me.

A Few Hours Later

            “Peter, is that you?” my sister asked. Her nose was wrinkled, so I had a good idea what she was asking about.
            “No, not me,” I answered. “If you’re referring to that ungodly smell, I have no idea what it is.”
            “It smells kind of like sewage to me,” my sister said. “What do you think that it smells like?”
            “Oh, I can’t smell anything,” I answered and left the room. My sister hasn’t asked me anything since. I don’t know why.

Later On

            The other people in my house decided that the stench was probably coming from the tub drain in the master bedroom. The next day and a half were spent pouring chemicals down the drain, using drain snakes on it, and using a plunger on it. Nothing worked and the stench continued to grow. Finally, my sister realized that the smell was not coming from the tub drain but from under the tub itself. She also recalled having heard a faint car door slam followed by scratching under the house a few days prior. These clues, plus the fact that the stench smelled a lot like dead fish lead us to believe that smell might be from a dead animal under the house.
            The smell was bad by now. Even I, with my horrible sense of smell, could smell it clearly. So on October 24th 2010, I and my brother went outside to find the source of the stink. We removed the skirt from the trailer and looked underneath. The shredded insulation assured us that an animal had been there, we just had to find it. Which wasn’t very hard; we just followed our noses. Literally.
            Of course that didn’t mean that it was comfortable. The trailer only has about two feet of space under it, so we had to lie on our backs and slide underneath to look for the dead animal. Dust fell in our eyes and the stench was terrible. After a bit of searching, my brother was able to locate an odd lump in the insulation. We quickly determined that it was the dead animal.
            “Hand me your pocket knife,” he said.
            “Why mine?” I asked.
            “Because I don’t want dead animal guts on mine,” he answered.
            “Oh, that makes sense,” I said and handed him my knife.
            We knew that we were correct about the animal location as soon as my brother started to cut. The animal dripping, yes dripping, out of the cut in the insulation was a giveaway. We placed a plastic bag underneath the animal and continued to cut away the insulation until the rotting carcass fell into the bag. I took the bag, tied it up, and put it out by the curb. I never saw it after that. The next night we had some sort of gumbo, but my sister wouldn’t tell me what kind of meat it had in it. Either way, it was really good!
            After we had gotten rid of the dead rat, I and my brother repaired the damage to the insulation and put the skirt back on the trailer. By now the house is back to smelling normal and my room is back to being the worst smelling room in the house.
                So what was the point of this long story? Actually there are a few of them since I never believed in telling a story with only one point. First of all, you should not run away from your parents, no matter how old you are. They were given to you by God for a reason, and are a lot smarter than you think. There does come a time in your life when you will no longer have to do everything that they tell you, but remember that they love you. Also they have a lot more experience with life than you do, so you should listen to them.
            Another point of this story is that you should not put something in your mouth before you know what it is. You may think that it is candy, it may look like candy, and the man who sold it to you on the street may have referred to it as ‘candy’, but if you aren’t positive of what it is, don’t eat it. After all, Sammy Sr. probably could have told his son that the wires were not food.
            A third point to the tale is to put out this message: if you are going to die, have the decency to not do it under someone’s house. After a while you will begin to stink, and that is no fun for anyone. It is better to just die in public and get buried like everyone else so that no one has to smell you.
            I’m assuming that you are still waiting for the real point, so here it is. The rat that died under my house was small, especially compared to the house that it was under; nevertheless, it sent its stench throughout all of the rooms. The Bible says in I Corinthians 5: 6-7 says “Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast.” (NIV) This is referring to sin, no matter how small, in a person’s life. Just like the rat and the yeast, sin may start out small, but the result of it is huge and affects everything. So what can we do about it? We need to uproot every sin, every bad habit, everything in our life that is not from God. No matter how small a sin is, even if we say that it is too small to worry about, we must uproot it, or it will spread to the whole person and ruin them completely.


I hope that you enjoyed this post. Thank you for reading my blog.
Sincerely,
Peter Last

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Individual Importance

            I’m sur  that most of us hav  b  n told at on  tim  or anoth r that w  ar  sp cial and that
 v ryon  is important in th ir own way. Y s, w ’v  b  n told that, but how many of us actually b li v  it? How many p opl  ar  th r  in th  world that truly think that th y don’t matt r in th  grand sch m  of things? I m an, l t’s fac  it; som tim s it’s r ally hard to s   th  valu  of som on  who works at a fast food franchis . Sur , th y mak  your food, but if th y w r n’t th r , som on   ls  would do it. Cons qu ntly, th  id a that  v ryon  is important oft n s  ms lik  an untru  clich .
            Th  stat m nt that  v ryon  is important is tru , no matt r how much w  may think oth rwis . To  mphasis this l t’s tak  an  xampl . What if on  of th  k ys on your k yboard wouldn’t work.
L t’s tak  th  l tt r “ ” for this  xampl . Oh wait, you can’t r ad what that l tt r is! W ll, I’ll giv  you a hint, you mak  th  word “man” plural by r placing th  “a” with this l tt r. I’m sur  that you alr ady figur d that out, and I’m also sur  that you can r ad this post  v n without th  l tt r, but what about th  words “b d” and “b d”? Can you t ll what th s  on s say? So you can s   that no matt r how common or s  mingly unimpr ssiv  a p rson is, th y ar  still important and should b  t r at d as such.

Hope that you enjoyed this latest post. As always, thank you for reading my blog.

Sincerely,
Peter Last

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Global Warming: A Satirical Argument

To whoever reads this:
The following is, in my opinion, an effective if not slightly satirical argument concerning global warming. I gave this speech in a competition once, and while the audience thought that it was funny, the judges were less enthusiastic. Perhaps they took it too seriously. I'm not going to tell you what my opinion on the debate is; instead, you can decide for yourself.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

"Bad Lieutenant"

To whoever reads this:
This is a review of the movie "Bad Lieutenant" starring Nicolas Cage.


The movie, “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” is a film following New Orleans police man Terence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage) in the wake of hurricane Katrina. The film delves into the life of Cage’s character, seeing how a back injury that he sustained during the hurricane has affected him several years down the road.
            The first scene of the film shows how Terence injured his back during the hurricane. Within the first several minutes of the movie, you find out that a doctor declared him healthy enough to remain on the police force, but that his back pain has him on pain medication. There is a jump of several years in the movie, and you immediately discover that Terence has turned to illegal drugs to easy his pain and now finds himself addicted to them. To feed his addiction, he takes drugs from people for his own use and raids the police station’s evidence room.
            The action that sets the track for the film is the murder of several people in their own home. The killings, it was assumed, were a result of drugs and drug dealers. Terence is put on the case, and he takes his job very seriously doing whatever is necessary to find the killer.
            There are a multitude of problems, beginning with its R rating. The film is full of bad language and drug use. There is not very much violence in it, but the little that it has is bloody. The film also has sexual content (Terence’s girl friend is a hooker) and disturbing situations. The quality of the movie was not good either. Nicolas Cage was perhaps the best actor in this movie, which is bad considering his acting abilities. The script was poorly written with parts of the movie not appearing to have any bearing on the main story line. The only good thing about the script was that the lines were believable; if only the actors had been better.
The final and most important problem with the movie was its lack of moral compass. Many of the police officers in the film were corrupt like Terence, and the straight ones (like the officer who refused to “take care” of a speeding ticket) were the bad guys. Also, the fact that Terence was trying to bring people to justice for crimes that he himself was committing makes it hard to cheer for him. In fact, with practically all of the characters starting out as bad people, the only one that changed at all was Terence’s drug addict, hooker girl friend who decided to go to rehab, much to his chagrin.
Basically, “Bad Lieutenant” is a movie that shows real life at its worst. There are no heroes, only one person to turn from her evil ways, and no salvation even wanted by the others. The only thing that this movie does is show the utter depravity of men, a task that it preforms very well.

Sincerely,
Peter Last

My First Book is Finally on Track

To whoever reads this:

Good news! My first book is finally on track to get published. Haven't got any specific details from my publisher yet, but my book has been read through, and the company is offering ideas on it. I'm taking this as a good sign. Apparently my original draft was a bit long for a single volume, but that situation has been rectified. I don't have an estimate on why the book will come out yet, but I will post them as soon as I get them.

Sincerely,
Peter Last

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

My Vacation

To whoever reads this:
The following is an account of a real vacation that I had. The details may not be exactly true, but I have tried to preserve the truth (sort of) while making it funny.


My Vacation
By Peter Last

Disclaimer: This account is based on a true event; however, since my memory is not the best, some of the details may not be completely true. Nevertheless, I have done my best to recount the events of the journey in a humorous if not completely authentic manner.

            This is the wholly remarkable account of an exciting and somewhat life-threatening trip from my home in Alabama to the frozen wastelands of Wisconsin. For what reason might a person decide that he should leave the comfortable climate of Alabama and enter the land of the polar bear? In truth, if the choice was mine, I might not have made the journey at all; however, the choice was made by my father, and the whole family had to comply with it. The reason for the trip was very simple actually; most of our extended family including the parents of both my mother and father live in or near Wisconsin. Because of these facts, I was determined to pull myself together and cooperate; as you recall, I had no choice in the matter. Since I not only wanted to arrive in Wisconsin intact but also return to Alabama, I began preparations for the trip long before the day that we left. Actually, I thought about preparing for the trip; however, when the night before we left rolled around, I found myself staring at an empty suitcase.
            “Let me see,” I said, trying to put the monumental task of packing into perspective. “We are only going to be gone for a little less than a week, so I shouldn’t need that much luggage.”
            I reached for my list of necessities and began to look through it. At the top it said, “Two dresses.” This should have been my first indication that something was wrong; however, it took until “thirteen blouses” before I began to think that this list might not be correct. My suspicion heightened when I got to “twenty-seven pairs of shoes” but what really tipped me off was when I got to “three tubes of lipstick.” It was at this point that I finally realized that I was looking at my sister’s list. I was slightly embarrassed at my mistake, but more than that I was angry with myself. Now I would have to unpack everything and restart. To this day I still wonder why I had two dresses hanging in my closet ready to be packed.
            “I’m actually glad that that was the wrong list,” I tried to convince myself. “After all, it didn’t have hardly any necessities on it at all.”
            “Make sure that you have enough clothes for the trip,” my mother told me as I was just beginning to repack my suitcase.
            I decided that I should pack the clothes first so that I didn’t forget them and make my mother angry. I glanced down through my list but couldn’t find anything that resembled clothing on it unless you count a football helmet and pads as clothing. I carefully reviewed the list, but somehow I had managed to leave clothes off of it.
            “Well,” I said out loud, “I guess I’ll just have to figure out what to pack right now. Since we’re not even going to be gone for a week, I’m going to need one t-shirt, one pair of pants, one…” I stopped in the middle of my sentence. “I’ve already got a full set of clothes on!” I exclaimed, proud of my observation. “That’s really all of the clothing that need. I guess I’ll pack another shirt in case this one gets dirty, but the rest of my suitcase I can use for important things like movies, my X-Box, my laptop, and stuff like that.”
            With this decision made, I quickly packed the rest of my suitcase and placed it down stairs with all of the others. Looking back, perhaps I should have let mom look at what I had packed. Not that it mattered; she found out very quickly anyway. After the strenuous ordeal of packing, I was ready to go to bed which I did so extra early so that I would be properly rested for my day of inactivity. The entire family woke, or was woken up, early the next morning, and we piled into the two vehicles that we were going to be taking up north, our fifteen passenger van and a five passenger car. Even with twenty seats, the fit was still rather tight because besides the twelve people that our family contains, we had been joined by three significant others. Even so, the ride to Wisconsin was not too brutal, and we only lost three unfortunate souls on the way. Actually, the ride was quite boring and consisted mainly of sitting in an uncomfortable position, eating, sitting in an uncomfortable position, sleeping, and sitting in an uncomfortable position. Sadly the highlight of the trip was counting road signs, an activity which we stopped after we reached 36,743,879,430,217. (This is of course extreme exaggeration used to make a point. The actual number was just over 1 trillion.)
            When we arrived in Wisconsin, I was surprised to find that it was not a frozen wasteland as I had expected it to be and figured that I wasn’t going to be able to make a fortune by selling hot chocolate. On a side note, I never understood why people buy hot chocolate. All that happens when it is heated up is that it melts and makes a mess. Anyway, when we arrived, we made a short stop at the house that the reunion was going to take place in and then headed to the hotel. At the hotel, Dad began to unpack the bags but kept finding random pieces of electrical equipment. The cause of this became obvious when my suitcase was unpacked. Over the course of the trip the top had come open, spewing the contents of the case over the entire vehicle. I guess that’s why there are latches on luggage. Needless to say, mom was not happy when she found out exactly what I had packed.
            “You packed what?” she shouted. “Peter, you are a #*NM#!! boy.” Now before you take this to mean that my mother cursed let me explain what actually happened. I quote her exactly as saying, “Peter, you are a number sign asterisks skull and crossbones bomb number sign exclamation point exclamation point boy.” I took this as a complement until I realized that she was actually very mad at me for the choices I made in packing. Eventually mom cooled down and we carried the luggage up to the hotel rooms. When we got into our rooms, we fell in to the beds and fell asleep almost immediately; riding in a van for thirteen hours is hard work.
            The time spent with our relatives went by very quickly. We had a blast playing pool and talking about various things. Of course nothing can be perfect, so I had to have left my tooth brush at home. I really didn’t mind, but when small animals started to fall down dead when I breathed in their general direction, I realized that I needed to do something. The solution was really quite simple; I chewed a lot of gum. I noticed that after I started to do this, people stopped having important dental appointments whenever I walked into the room.
            The time flew by quickly and all too soon it was time to drive back to Alabama. I figured that the ride back would be more peaceful since we had lost three people on the way up, but it turns out that they had just gone into comas and were awake for the ride back. This time we didn’t count road signs. Instead we played a game called “How many Mt. Dews can you down before you go so ballistic that you snap your seatbelt?” Unfortunately everyone had to go to the bathroom before any seatbelts were broken.
            One other interesting thing occurred just when the trip was almost over. We arrived home safe and sound only to find that we had managed to lock ourselves out of the house. We had an interesting time getting in, but this problem was finally solved when we used a quarter stick of dynamite to blow the back of the house out. After this occurrence, Dad decided to replace the locks on the door so that we could actually get into our own house.
            The trip to Wisconsin was very trying and difficult, yet when we arrived, I found that seeing all of my relatives again was worth all of the trouble. I guess it is only by hard work that anything of worth can be acquired. All things considered, the trip to Wisconsin was definitely worth all of the trouble and hardships, and I am looking forward to going again next year, though this time I’m going to make sure to remember my toothbrush.

All hard work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty.
Proverbs 14:23


Hope that you enjoyed this post. Thanks for reading my blog.

Sincerely,
Peter Last

Friday, October 01, 2010

Flowers and the Bible

            What exactly can we learn from flowers? And for bonus points, who cares what we can learn from them? Christians should give some thought to flowers, not only for their beauty, but also for the things that they can teach us. The Bible uses flowers to teach lessons in several passages of the Bible, so it is obvious that God thought that there was a lot that we could learn from them.
            Matthew 6:28-30 is the passage that most people would think of if the words “flower” and “Bible” were used in connection with each other. These verses state, “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?” The message here is that God pays close attention even to flowers, plants that don’t last for very long. We are worth much more than flowers, so we can deduce that God takes care of us even better than He does the flowers.
            The message of Matthew 6:28-30 is very comforting to Christians; however, it is not the only passage in the Bible about flowers. James 1:10-11 says, “And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a flower in the field. The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.” This passage appears to be very similar to that of Matthew at first glance. They both deal with flowers, how flowers fade away, and how people relate to flowers.
While the above passages may seem very similar, a closer inspection brings out a single important difference between them. While Matthew 6:28-30 tells us how we are better than flowers and so more important than them, James 1:10-11 does the opposite in showing us how we are like flowers. In the same way that flowers “are here today and gone tomorrow,” so also people and their accomplishments will vanish. We are as fleeting in God’s sight as flowers are in ours.
The two passages previously mentioned may seem to contradict each other since one talks about how people are more important than flowers while the other one says that they are like flowers; however, these two ideas are reconciled by a third passage of the Bible. I Peter 1:23-25 says, “For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. As the Scriptures say, ‘People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. But the word of the Lord remains forever.’ And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.” Matthew states that people are more important than flowers while James says that they are like flowers, and I Peter draws these two seemingly opposed viewpoints into harmony. When it states that “people are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades,” it is agreeing that people are like flowers in that they fade away; in the long scheme of things, they are not important. This idea is balanced out by the beginning of the passage. “For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.” So it can be seen that while human life is as fleeting and as unimportant as flowers are, Christians receive their life from the word of God and because of this life, we are more important than the flowers of the field.

Hope that you have enjoyed this post.

Sincerely,
Peter Last

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Review of the Movie "Harry Brown"

To whoever reads this:

This is the first review that I have written for a movie. Consequently, the style may be a little bit wrong; however, I think that I get my point across. Anyway, since this is a first, any comments you have are appreciated.

Sincerely,
Peter Last

Review of Harry Brown:



                The movie Harry Brown, (Rated R for strong language, bloody violence, drug use, and sexual content) is a good example of a movie that is too much like real life to be good. It stars Michael Cain as Harry Brown, an older man living in a neighborhood where the senseless violence of the younger generation has created a living nightmare. A few scenes of kids smashing up and burning cars, beating each other up for no reason, and even killing each other drives this point home very well. Early on in the film, a gang kills Harry’s lifelong friend, setting the scene for the rest of the story.
            The death of his friend, and the inability of the police to find and punish the killers was the last straw for Harry, and he decides to take matters into his own hands. The remainder of the movie tells the story of how Harry decides to confront the violence.
            The biggest fault that this movie has is that it has no moral to it. It’s almost as if the writers started telling the story with no specific end in mind, and consequently the movie simply ends. There are no stunning revelations, no look into the morality of right and wrong, no point that can be taken from it; In fact, where other movies have made a strong case for vigilantes fighting crime when the police can’t or won’t, Harry Brown fails because of the character’s motives. Rather than confronting evil for the common good, Harry’s motives were purely those of revenge. Because of this, he is removed from the position of a hero and seen only as a regular person seeking revenge, something that God tells us we should not do. Consequently, it is hard to cheer for Harry and feel good about what he does.
            The one thing that the makers of this movie did well was their choice of actors. Michael Cain did a remarkable job acting as the main character. His portrayal of an elderly man who still has the ability and mettle to look violence in the face was excellent and something that few others could do. The supporting actors and actresses also performed believably in their roles. The result was a movie that felt very real, almost more like a documentary than a movie.
            But not even the acting of Michael Cain and the others could save this movie. With nowhere to go and nothing to build up to, all of their efforts only made very realistic a movie about a world of depraved humans with no source of hope for them. And this is how it ends, with the viewer wondering whether Harry Brown was really better than the people that he was fighting.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Review of "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville

To whoever reads this:

This is a report on the Herman Melville's classic. Enjoy.


            The mind is the most important gift that God gave to mankind. It is what distinguishes us from animals and allows us to choose whether we will accept Jesus as our savior or not. The mind is one of the strongest parts of our body as it can literally determine whether we live or die; however, it is not so strong that it is not susceptible to being damaged or broken. In Moby Dick there are several instances of characters spending too much time on a whaling ship and away from civilization which caused their minds to be injured.
           The first case of a character being mentally injured is when the first whale is killed by the crew of the Pequod, the whaling ship that is the setting of the book. Stubb, the second mate of the ship, killed the whale, so when the beast had been secured to the side of the ship, he had one of the ship’s harpooners cut him a steak from the whale and had the ship’s cook prepare it for him. As he was eating the steak, he was disturbed by the noise of sharks that had gathered to feed on the carcass of the whale. To deal with the troublesome situation, he called the ship’s cook onto the deck and told him to preach to the sharks and tell them to behave in a Christian manner. Stubb obviously did not have all of his mental faculties about him if he actually thought that preaching to the sharks would produce the desired effect.
            Ishmael, the narrator of the book, spent less than a year on the Pequod; however, this was more than enough time to damage him mentally. As Ishmael was narrating the story, he would periodically insert information and thoughts about whales into the text, and it is in these parts of the book that his mental injury becomes evident. He was so enamored with the occupation of whaling that he tried to show what an honorable profession it is. One of the ways that he did this was by claiming that in the story of St. George and the Dragon, St. George was not fighting a dragon but a whale that had been beached. To make this idea even more ludicrous, he proposed that the animal that St. George rode may have been a large seal or seahorse. It is clear that Ishmael was not right in the head to have come up with this idea.
            Ahab, the captain of the Pequod, was influential in the book due to the fact that he was insane. On a previous whaling trip, Ahab had lost his leg to the legendary white whale Moby Dick, and this loss drove him crazy and caused him to go out of his way to kill the whale. In a way, Ahab saw Moby Dick as the embodiment of all that was wrong in his life, and his obsession with killing the beast caused him to lead his ship and crew into harm’s way in order to slay it.
            To some, Moby Dick may just be a book about a demented captain leading his ship on a hunt for a specific whale; however, there are very important lessons to be learned from the story. Though all of the sailors on the Pequod came from different backgrounds, they were all subjected to the same mental torture of separation from civilization, and as a result, the minds of many of them were injured or broken completely. God created in us a need to live in a civilization, and we should not try to defy this need or we will find out that the mind is not so mighty a stronghold that it cannot be overcome.

Thank you for your time and for reading my blog.

Sincerely,
Peter Last