Strainite Sample

Crackles were heard as the fire burned. The wind softly swept the dry sea of sand. It was as if the deserts were eager to whisper out its secrets. The fire’s glow of orange and red diffused amongst the rock and sands of the desert. The entrance to the mine was covered in broken wooden beams and large gray stones. The weakened and aged wood had carvings that were glistened in the warm light. The campsite had been peaceful as many tents were left vacant. “Good riddance. Such greedy jerks, they should’ve worked in banking.”

“Don’t be so bitter, Henry,” a woman spoke while she was gathering up the contents of her backpack. “Aren’t you at least interested in finding things of value?”

“Yes, but there’s more value than gold and silver. Shane, aren’t you interested in what in the world or… other world, this place is?”

“Some curiosity, but I’m here for the journey. The adventure! Also to spend time with good friends.”

“If you find some, let-“ Henry spoke shortly before Shane’s fist made an impact. “Ow,” Henry reacted and turned to look at Shane wearing her readied equipment. “Where are you going?”

“Down, you know, there,” Shane pointed towards the entrance of the mines while she adjusted her headlamp.

“Can’t we just rest?”

“You can!” exclaimed the excited woman as she ran into the mine. Henry quickly grabbed a lantern and ran after her. Upon entering, the old wooden beams shattered and the entrance collapsed. Henry was trapped, stuck in a room of supplies and strange artifacts. An old painting of a king and his court appeared to be mocking him from the corner.

“Greetings,” spoke an unseen voice.

“Who said that?!” Henry exclaimed as he scanned the room. His eyes focused on a silver sword with a golden serpent wrapped around it. “The sword?”

“Sword?! How rude, ignorant even, I am no sword.”

“Then what?”

“Oh, yes… The painting… The left eye,” the voice speaks as Henry stands gazing at the painting.

“That one?” Henry asks as he points at the king.

“Not His Highness, the eye of the loyal knight,” spoke the voice. “Come, release me. I’ll show you what you seek.”

Henry leaned over to the painting. There was a gem embedded into the knight’s eye. He placed his fingers around the gem and pulled. The eye didn’t budge. As the voice urged him further, Henry placed his feet against the wall and pulled again. The eye in the painting had come loose, as did Henry’s feet. As he fell, his foot kicked the lantern. The room went dark.

Henry laid in the sand. Shane helped him back on his feet. His vision was blurred. He saw the orange glow of the campfire. His left eye had felt different. The jewel was lodged into it. He rubbed it in confusion but remained very content and calm. A woman spoke, “Henry, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing… It’s… absolutely beautiful.”

Life is Strange Review

Dontnod went with their strengths instead of attempting for a AAA mass appeal and we’re all better for it.

The area of Arcadia Bay is vibrant and colorful. Everything has a hand drawn look that pops with personality and details. I had found myself using the PlayStation 4’s Share button more than Max uses her Polaroid camera. The accompanying soundtrack just brings the feeling even closer. The choice of Syd Matter’s songs such as Obstacles and To All of You give a very soft backdrop that you can lay back on and explore to. 

Life is Strange deals with many hard issues. At times it could seen like too much in this small little school. But many of these issues are what people deal with. Teenagers melodrama added on to that. I was surprised to see grounded representations of topics such as religion, love, jealous, status and abuse.

Winter Getaway Notes #photoshop

#nofilter – The Gospel According to Instagram
Alexander Truong

You guys are pretty in touch with reality, right?

Technology has gotten pretty nuts in the last few years. I used to have to head home, sit at a desktop to crack open a program to edit photos. Nowadays we could do it right from our phones. Before anyone sees the picture it could be completely different. Originals don’t exist, final results are the only things that matter. Instant truth-fixers. Our new photoshopped reality is “beautiful” or rather… The real world is much more beautiful.

Photoshop was pretty awesome when it came out. Still is. It used to be that you had to physically change photos with actual brushes and tools. In 1988, this guy, Thomas Knoll, published the first version of it. Wow, that’s almost as old as me. It changed things because it let you do it all digitally. Being able to make changes quickly and undo changes cleanly. It was a breakthrough. Now it’s everywhere. In thousands of computers, even in our pockets. Well. it’s become a verb. Not all instances of photo editing are even in photoshop anymore.
Through it, you could highlight, hide, or even add things.  It’s much different than filtering. With filters, you will makes changes to the whole thing. The whole picture would change with any changes with filters. Not messing with the finer details. Ever read, hah read, the book “Where’s Waldo?”. Those books had so much going on in each image that it made the finding of objects challenging. It was awesome to see the small little details in the pictures. All the care and work that went into it.

Software like this is powerful. This type of power lets us decide what parts are good or bad. We edit our pictures for various reasons. To erase our flaws is a big one. We can find something wrong with us visually and could change it now. Just pull up the app and blip. boop. Done.

Power of Controlling “Truths”:
Handling representations are dangerous. When I was around twelve or thirteen, I remember when I was. Actually I don’t. Not much of it anyway. This here lies in my own issue. I had lied to myself so much in my younger years because I thought I could redefine myself. “Photoshop” my past. Now I don’t know what’s real or not in those years. How I saw things was that if you controlled truth, what people thought really was and happened. Then you could have the power to control. Being manipulative. I was a jerk. I was shady. I was a horrible person. I’m just scared to think what happened back then. I royally screwed myself up. God found me and cleaned me back to the original state. As in John 8 (ESV):

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jesus set me free from lies and deceit with his truth. But it also freed me from even thinking I could “fix up” or manipulate anything into anything. I just lied to myself. I’ve learned that no one really believes your lies as much as you do. It will ruin you from the inside out and shackle you. Only the truth will set you free from that. The most devious lies will come in small doses. Some details may change then, it changes the whole picture.

Trying to Fit it Ourselves:
Looking at the photos we take, editing looks tempting. We will try to fix things that don’t need fixing or bring us to points where we are just in ruins.  Stuck in our sins, we don’t know what we’re doing. Our sinful state gave us the wrong perspective on life. A wrong vantage that leads us to making the wrong “fixes”. Because we didn’t know what we were doing, we can mess with our own image. But:

10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

As it is said in Ephesians 2 (NLT). What ends up happening is that you control what your followers see. But those could be utter lies that you are telling. Why tell a fake life only to get reactions out of people? A life filled with truth and beauty that you actually live in and get to experience is much better than a photoshopped photo. If you think you could redefine your life by lies, you are a mistaken.

Restoring the Original:
But God could fix everything back to what it should be. He always has an original copy that He is calling us back to. This is like the revert button on Photoshop. Such as it says in 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 (ESV):

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

We are washed. We are cleaned. We are back to the original that God designed us to be. Paul writes to the Romans (in chapter 12)(ESV):

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

We cannot conform to the sense of beauty of the world in it’s photoshopped and edited splendor that we can’t hope to ever achieve in reality. We can achieve God’s reality, the real reality, through Christ’s grace. His renewal of our mind. In this sense, we have to see the world for what God sees it is. Also since it comes from Him, of course he is the one who knows how it is supposed to be. He is the one that could bring us back to the original design, the original picture of us and the created world we live in.

Tying back to #nofilter:

We are God’s masterpiece. God created our world and it is beautiful. No filters or photoshop edits will make it better than it is. We might actually cause ourselves to miss out on the details. With the lense of truth,  that is pretty much like a set of glasses. We can see life and the world for what it really is and love it for what it is instead of weighing it with our expectations. Rather than hiding and obscuring the details, let’s appreciate them.

A Cancer We Just Love: Facting out from Our Fiction

This thought came across my mind in recent discussions about movies. A movie that came up in many discussion was Interstellar. Long discussions over ideas of time, gravity, philosophy and the enjoyable story that accompanied the ideas. Anyhow, many complaints that I have seen from this movie in particular, as well as many others is that, it gets many scientific facts and details wrong which mess with the enjoyment of people on fictional works. But that leads to the whole idea and thought I want to talk about, or rather… let’s frame it as a question: Why do we trust fiction writers and authors to know what they’re talking about?

Why do we trust fiction writers and authors to know what they’re talking about? 

Let’s step back for a bit. Fiction is an imaginary tale that is rooted from the creativity of writers, artists, and visionaries. They are like lies, they must contain enough truth to be believable. Then carried out from there. Authors are not experts in many fields that they write screenplays and stories for. They may have a lot but that’s through research and study but there takes a substantial bigger amount of dedication to understand a discipline. In fact, I feel a bit embarrassed for even having to point that out. As humans, we write what we know. What we learn, what we can see, then we hodge-podge it together to make new ideas then write from that, thus what we can imagine. Even so human imagination has it’s limits, never forget that a Unicorn is just a horse with a horn in the middle of its head. Such a crude remark about imagination, but I think my point was given.

So why does this matter? Why do I care? It’s because we’re trusting detailed and intricate information from people that are telling a story, not educating us. It’s not the point of the situation. It’s not telling how to view things in our world necessarily but that is what happens. Entertainment can cause our perceptions of reality to change. That’s the big problem here. We start thinking certain ways. The scientific facts in Science Fiction stories is one thing but when you start going into more regular social, economics, everyman things. It becomes questionable. People can sit back and write slice of life stories that are engaging and fun but that does not mean the events in it are realistic or true to life. Entertainment is Entertainment not a Lesson Plan.

Entertainment is Entertainment not a Lesson Plan.

My point being is personal relationships and living life. Many criticism have shown up for this for Disney movies and stories. “Don’t wait for Prince Charming!”. Stuff like that. It’s much easier to say that about fairy tales but what about stuff like just regular stories that happen in modern times. They shape characters and people we expect to see in real life. Especially if we start consuming in early ages. If we do, it grows in us like a cancer. We love it though. We embrace it. We use it to build the types of people we would prefer to spend time around. Even the people we desire to become romantically involved with. That’s one of the easiest ones to talk about because we all deal with it. We have our types. Why? Where does that come from? Our first love? Hardly, many times we have such ideas for those things before. It’s easier to see what it’s built from nowadays because the ubiquitous nature of entertainment. I’m not talking just movies  or books. But from everything. Everything we take in from outside out of circles. This shapes us. We trust that they have it right. But they’re just stories. Stories and plots are their focus, their facts may be wrong on life, just like in Science Fiction. We wrap our lives and expectations of life without knowing that because we trust they know what they’re talking about.

Entertainment Obsession

For a long time now I have had quite a few frustrations, and rage, at our entertainment focused society that also is increasingly fearful of pain.

Herein lies a large portion of idiotic behaviors that I had also been much acustomed to. Everything in this first world culture seems to be just that of feel good recreation. It’s not strange  to toss something aside just because it is not fun. I may be speaking of out term since my occupation does reside in a place of business that is wholly reliant of entertainment. But there have been quite a handful of games that have given me substational insight and growth while being boring.

But alas we chase recreation for too much. Have a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life! Have fun with your friends! Fun! Happy! Joy! Fun, fun!

So, may I dare to say. Entertainment has become an idol. Hard one to see at that. Even now as I am writing this, I am listening to music through my phone. Smart Phones. My all the information we have our hands on. We use it for entertainment. Thrills we seek on that. Even further, many of us feel entitled to being entertained. Class must be fun. Work must be fun. Church must be fun. Complain about free downloads and samples. Hey if I don’t get it from you, I’ll just pirate it after all…

This whole thing is so ridiculous but I cannot escape it. Like a snare with venomous fangs that numb our pains with feel good feelings. Why this prison is quite comfy, thank you very much.

Oh. So should we just force things to be boring? No. Clear opposition? I’ve never subscribed to living a life comprised of polarized reactions. It does not promise freedom either. I am not suggesting such asceticism of depriving. Deprivation for its own sake is just as silly.

This is mainly just a rant but it’s not Fun anymore.

Thanks to God notes

As Thanksgiving is coming up, we have a lot to be thankful for. We get to do cool stuff, have cool stuff, clothes on our backs, roofs over our heads. All these things were actually from God.

In Colossians, it is said:

6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. Col 2

Our gratitude should be directed towards God. He is the center of creation where all things we know and love and even hate were made for and from. Earlier in Colossians, Paul wrote:

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.  Col 1


It is also mentioned in Nehemiah:

6 “You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. Neh 9


As God is the creator of all things.  We just make the most of what we can do with our limitations. All that we make are remixes and rearrangements of His creation. The cool stuff we do? We’re able to do that because of God. Like for example, you can go to a restaurant and have an awesome meal. You’d give thanks to the cook. But don’t forget the farmer. But even further than that, God had grown the food that farmer tended to and created the world where the farmer and cook could work.

God has got you covered:


25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6


So why wouldn’t we be thankful? He has given us everything we have and will have. He has given us life and living. We’re able to seek out awesome crazy stuff because it exists. If it exists, He made it. All we can do is remix.

As we’re heading into the Christmas season, we’re reminded that Christ has come to dwell among us and teach us. He visited us. He died for our sings. The things we have to be thankful to God are countless. So in these days following, my hope is that you’re reminded of every good thing that God has done for you, which is the source of every good thing. If you are truly thankful, then you are thankful to God.

Christmas 2013 Message Notes

Message for December 22, 2013: Alexander Truong

Favorite Christmas Gift:

What is your favorite gift that you had ever received on Christmas?

–pause and listen to answers-

Back in 1997-Wow, that’s older than many of you guys-, I received my favorite worldly Christmas gift of all time. I still have it here. It was Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for the Playstation One. However, my favorite gift? We’ll get to that.

What is a gift? (Ephesians 2)

Christmas is only a few days away. It’s about Jesus Christ, right? Sometimes it’s so easy to forget when in the mix of busyness and stress of our Cultural Christmas.

Many things in our culture are based around doing things. Working to earn things. Take a look at Reward programs, you have to spend money to receive gifts and rewards. This has really been messing with our idea of what a “gift” is.

Everything has to be earned or worked for now. I know I had issues with that in this culture. Having to go to all these Christmas events lately, everyone doing White Elephants or Gift Exchanges. Your ticket for entry to them is a gift. Giving a gift to get a gift. Being a good boy or girl for Santa to reward you with a gift. Doesn’t it feel weird if you get a gift when there’s nothing you’re giving? Or how about when you give and don’t get? It’s so tempting to be so boastful in that situation. In Ephesians 2, Paul speaks of the Gift of God is not earned. It said as such in verses eight to ten:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

For the gift that was brought forth through Christ was a gift. Totally not earned. We did nothing to earn a way out of Sin and our separation from God. In fact, many things we can imagine that would be paths to Salvation would have been from our personal efforts. Even the many scholars who had known the scriptures didn’t expect the messiah to come yet. The wisemen / three kings didn’t come until they saw the star and Jesus was already born for some time.

Home for / since Christmas (Luke 2)

Jesus arriving in such a humble way was hardly on anyone’s wish list. What God gave us two thousand years ago was a gift. In the Gospel according to Luke Chapter Two, it is written:

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,  and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Jesus entered into the world that He created in very humble way. Even shepherds were the ones to greet him. Not kings or wealthy. The truth is we are rich living in America, but we do face financial, scheduling and social difficulties. Much like the Shepherds. Back then the jobs did suck, they were still working and making a living. Joseph was a Carpenter. These are the common everyday guys, even today we have these types. They’re us. Jesus was there with us. He joined us where we were to reach us.ddf

A Fellowship We Need (Isaiah 7)

Going back to the Castlevania game that I received in Christmas 1997. I had asked for the title but I did not know that it would lead to anything more than just a fun game to play. I believe, in hindsight, that a move like this was necessary to reach me. God used something within my “own little world” (of Video Games) to reach me.

That gift given to me to has immense value and is incredibly rare. It had helped lead to me to the great gift of Christ. That game had actually taught me my first Bible verse: Matthew 16:26. Little did I know that it would be another ten years until I realized how God used it to guide me.

Likewise, Jesus was into our world to reach and be with us. It was written in Isaiah 7:

10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, 11 “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” 12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” 13 And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

For the name Immanuel means “God is with us”. Quite literal with the arrival of Jesus. But it wasn’t easy to accept or believe it. “Is this it?” can be said. “-Just some baby born in a manger by some teenagers. This is our savior? Our messiah? Where’s our rich warrior king?”-. The Jews had been so far long without an empire that was so desired. They were looking for a different type of King. They wanted something so badly that they had imagined it would be something else. This was not the God of their Wish Lists. But this is the God we all needed. To reach us in our world. If he didn’t would we even know him? With this we have a relation with God because he visited us on Christmas. God came and became a man to live with us. To be close to us. To die for us. Talk about not being able to earn a gift. God’s gift to us was Himself living with us in this world and departing so that we may join in part. God’s family is home for Christmas, or rather… Since Christmas. Immanuel indeed.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Twinkle Twinkle Thoughts

It was night and I was out with some friends on a trip to Tahoe. It was nighttime and I was hanging around on the back porch. The lights were off and the stars lit up the sky. It was beautiful.

Staring at the stars something came to me. I heard lots of people say it makes them feel so small, but sure there was a part of that but I also saw something else. Perhaps it had to do with a current emotional conflict I had been dealing with for a bit recently. I saw constellations.

I had noticed a constellation. I think it was the Big Spoon or something, it was like the Dippers but in a different area. The lower left star was dimmer than the rest of the stars near it. If it’s too dim, it is unseen. If it is unseen, it isn’t there. People wouldn’t put it into any constellations. This causes the shape to change. From a lopsided almost square rectangle to a triangle. Triangles suck. THat’s because that’s not the complete truth. The star is there. Then I thought of all the night skies I’ve seen from the cities and places I’m more commonly present in. I can hardly see the stars there. The lighting mess of the cities just hid the truth. Hide what true things are.

I guess all of this is just very cliché, but it’s just that lost in the mess we can fade away and not be where we should be in our roles. We could hide away due to the troubles of our lives. But we’re needed somewhere. Whether it be with our friends or family or at our particular place at work. If we’re not there, the constellation changes. If we’re somewhere else, we’ll add another star to that constellation. I mean, I should know and find myself doing such things already due to living my life with Christ as my Lord. Especially with passages such as Romans 12 coming to mind. It was a reminder. A poke at that thought. When I stared up at those skies a few nights ago.

Note: I don’t really think triangles suck. Just kept the line like that for impact. Triangles are kinda cool. Triangles were not harmed in the writing of this blog.