Work in Progress

Baseball, Seminary, Wrestling, and the Dreams and Days of one Mike Work's Angeles experience

Sunday, October 30, 2005

How I love and loathe my local newspaper...

Today's LA Times featured several articles that piqued my interest and were worth a read, such as this piece on MS-13, and the unforeseen consequences of deportations, which have actually spread the gang's reach across international borders.

I also appreciated Steve Lopez' article on Skid Row, part of a series on Life on the Streets, complete with contact information for people serving the people who, for lack of another word, live there. Finally, a piece on employment and career possibilities for people living with mental illnesses will make the long-term reference file, especially pertinent if i'm working in any sort of rehabilitative/restorative capacity, be it through ngos/nonprofits, social service agencies, or living as a pastoral person in a church family.

And then there was Plaschke taking his usual potshots at fired Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta, leaving me groaning and rolling my eyes.

This is why i get my baseball news from the blogosphere...and have linked up my preferred sites to the right. Rob McMillin's coverage of the situation (and dissection of Plaschke's column) and Jon Weisman's three-piece band would be Work's recommended reads.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Back on the Bike

Just got back from South Pasadena, where i stopped by a bike shop to get a new tire, as well as some new bolts to replace the ones i'd stripped. Having the bike again will cut about 12 minutes of my commute each way, which is both good and bad.

More later on the 'without wheels' experience that has been LA.


Answering phones has been a bit more frustrating than usual this afternoon, largely because my tongue keeps getting in the way when i try to speak. As such, the words either die before they reach my lips, or they just slur into one large dither, to which the only plausible response is that series of words that always peeves me.

'what did you say?'

And my temper keeps flaring up, with the internal 'what, you didn't get that?.'
'Well, no, Mike, there wasn't any 'that' to get...'

Not sure if it can be heard in my voice (slow, loud, clear, deliberate ... and condescending?), but it's got to impact the facials. Good thing we don't have videophones!

All that said, i could really use some tongue coordination right about now...

Thursday, October 27, 2005


The Times recently ran a profile on David Scholer, a Fuller professor who I took a New Testament class (Acts-Revelation) with in my first quarter here, two years ago. Great piece on a tremendous person, a man who loves his work, his students, and his wife, and a guy who i deeply respect.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

They're Singing in Chicago

Congratulations to the Chicago White Sox for capping a sweep of the Houston Astros tonight, clinching their first World Series victory since 1917. One year after Boston won their first series in eighty-six years, Chicago celebrates their first in eighty-eight. So Cubs fans, there's hope for you yet.

Lowlight Job Tasks

With every major steady job I've had in my life, there's been one thing which I just couldn't stand.

Working at the Trade Center, which was more or less the de facto job for eleven years: mopping through urine-soaked bathrooms laced with vomit and sawdust at 2 am after concerts. self-explanatory enough.

Clemson Equipment Room: striping helmets. it was just tedious, and i saw my attention to detail dovetail into perfectionism on a regular basis. and when a redshirt scuffed up his helmet under the bench...oh, the loathing. plus the fact that we were to do this on our own time, outside of work hours.

Fuller Security and Parking: writing tickets. i just don't like doing it, especially since i got 'those tickets' several times in college, most irritatingly when i stopped by my dorm to change shirts and take out my contacts on the way to watch the ncaa basketball finals. walk outside, and there's a nice lovely ticket on the windshield. that'll be $15.

so last night was one of the few times when i was actually glad to give a ticket or two. a student was parked in a faculty spot, grounds for a citation. when he drove out, i was still patrolling outside, and we talked for a few; this was the only lot he knew, and all student spaces were full that evening. hence the illegal parking job. afterwards, i had no problem issuing tickets to those in student parking without a sticker, since they'd taken a space that this fellow could have used, theoretically speaking. that domino rally thing, you know?

Open Mouth, Spit Out Liquid

Just threw out the remains of the worst cup of coffee i've EVER prepared.

Well, that's apart from the times when grounds seep into the pot and wound up in my cup, so we'll add the qualifier: worst cup of 'instant' coffee i've EVER prepared.

Can't screw up instant coffee, you say? Oh, it's possible. All that needs to happen is for the heater inside the water dispenser to malfunction, leaving you with lukewarm coffee that doesn't do anything, and won't last five minutes, let alone a two hour writing session.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Give a Shirt

Of immediate interest to those in the Pasadena area, as well as folks in Madison, WI, Gainesville, FL, and Shepherdsville, KY, a fellow Fuller student is involved with Give a Shirt, a ground level effort to collect clothing from people who have stuff they don't wear and redistribute it. Donations go to people who, simply put, need clothes.

I'm a fan, and am rummaging as we speak. I've got all this stuff that I figured i'd grow into, but haven't. These shirts don't fit me, but they'd probably fit someone else, so it's probably a good idea to get it out of this closet and into their hands.

Playing today in class: The Prince of Egypt

Yesterday Chuck V called our attention to one of the themes he sees running throughout the bible, the place and presence of the holy, or where we meet God in our midst, and he suggested that this was one aim of mission.

To illustrate, he put on a clip from the great dreamworks animated film. The runaway prince, Moses, is tending his father-in-law's sheep, and follows a stray into a cave, where he sees this bush inside a mountain, ablaze in white light. And he cannot turn away, meeting someone that can only be described as GOD.

Watching again yesterday, it really struck me that Moses, upon hearing what God was to do in Egypt, could only ask 'who am I to do this?' He, who was raised in Pharaoh's courts, groomed to be a government official, yet who no longer identified himself with that and by that. God's response leaves him in a holy terror, and his reassurance is based on nothing other than God, that 'I will be with you, Moses,' with which he is sent out.

This mind-altering encounter with the God of savage mercy isn't the end point of Moses' story. From here, he returns to Egypt, where those words, 'let my people go,' become his own, and he plays a pivotal role in the national emancipation of a people.

Moses had yearned for this in the past, yet had gone about things all the wrong ways, and had been unable to do anything of positive consequence. Until God showed up, having heard the cry of the people, and moves Moses to engage from an entirely different posture.

The more I read, see, and hear this story, the more I find myself in Moses' position, hearing 'take off your shoes. you are on holy ground,' and everything which follows.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Friday Night Security...

A word for all security guards in the blogosphere:
When you're only a half-hour into your shift, never say 'just another low-key night.'

It won't be.

Pain's Usually a Prerequisite...

The focal point of this afternoon's Chinatown visit: visiting a language school, rather than having acupuncture done as a means to learn about the area's flourishing alternative medicine culture. I decided to go this direction after chatting with my mom this morning.

Her comment (while suppressing laughter, i'd imagine): 'acupuncture's not really something you do just to do; usually you need a reason to do it, some sort of physical problem.'

So we'll wait till my knee flares up again before going under the needles.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Emotional Gauntlet

Been through the wringer over the past few hours, and we haven't even hit 2:00...

Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life; those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.'

It has to be true.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Been two weeks, and much has gone on.

School's quite busy this quarter; taking/auditing five classes, which keeps me reading constantly (yesterday's book: Good News About Injustice, by Gary Haugen, director of IJM, quite helpful). Lots of good stuff, and i especially look forward to Wednesday nights and Friday mornings. Wednesday's an anthropology/cultural change class with Sherwood Lingenfelter, and Friday morning is dedicated to mission to children at risk, taught by Doug McConnell and Dave Scott. All are stellar people, as well as great teachers, and the courses have been great, with immediate as well as long-term value.

Work's been busy, with security, answering phones, tutoring, and now refereeing flag football games providing income streams. Another job practically fell into my hands, completely unexpected, yet i found out today that it fell through, won't happen for the time being. A bit of a bummer, but not devastating.

Tutoring's been loads of fun, and i'm starting to see some of why teaching excited me in the first place: the students.

Life at the Raymond House's been a load of fun, many good laughs and great conversations with my friend Oscar, among other 'mates, over the past few weeks.

Here's an oddity: my body clock seems to have recalibrated with the start of a new quarter. 6.45 every morning, like clockwork. Those of you who've known me long-term know that this is no small feat.

No major crises visible on this coast, although the big 'after school, then what' question is resurfacing. One year later, I'm at peace with the decision not to pursue doctoral studies in the immediate future, yet still unsure whether I'll remain in LA, return to Atlanta, or cross an ocean. Next year's practicum may clear some of this up; the school allows for independently designed practicums, and a vision is beginning to germinate. Could be exciting, yet incredibly daunting.

And I'm still taking off my shoes, realizing that i'm on holy ground.
God is profoundly awe-inspiring, and continues to re-make me for this new world.

Monday, October 03, 2005

First assignment due for my cross-cultural communications class:
Approach one aspect popular american culture as if you were a martian observing it for the first time, and write up your experience and observations.
Something tells me I've got experience with this...