Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas

Not a whole lot to say today. Just a simple Merry Christmas. I hope that you were able to find time to remember Jesus in the celebration of His birthday.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Samuel Moon 1922-2011

For those of you who are unaware, I am the namesake of Edward Samuel Moon, a professor at Knox college in Galesburg, Illinois. Dr. Moon had a great impact on my parents in the early 1960s. So much so that a decade later, while driving from somewhere to somewhere else in their green VW microbus, tossing about names for their first born son, my father tsuggested name of Sam Moon and the rest is history.

I do not recall meeting the gentleman, though apparently I did at a young age, and though we did speak a few times via  email, I cannot say that I knew him. No, my impression of Sam Moon comes from stories told by my mother and from the few interactions that we had. Sadly the bond that connected he and I was only a common name. From the stories I have heard and accounts I have read, he was a good man, loving father, attentive husband, insightful professor and inspiring mentor. But truly, I cannot say that I knew him.

In fact, if he and I had not shared a name, Dr. Edward Sam Moon would have passed into history with hardly a blink on my part, like many other of my father's professors. We shared only a name and yet there is a heaviness I feel at his passing. We shared a common bond in our name and now I alone am Samuel Moon.

A name is a strange thing, I might have been named any of a thousand names and I would still be me. But I was not given any name, my name was as carefully chosen as were the names of my children. Debated, considered and deliberately given for the meanings attached to that name by the individuals who bore it before me. I have given new meaning to the name, "Sam", for better or worse. Others who know me now associate different meaning with the name. To my father and mother and those who knew Sam Moon, the name evoked deep admiration, love and respect. It is my hope that when I leave this life, the name of Samuel Moon Christensen will have made such a positive impression on those I meet as the name of Dr. Edward Sam Moon did.

If by chance, any of Sam Moon's relatives should pass by this site, I would like to offer my sincere sympathies. While I did not have the pleasure of knowing Dr. Sam Moon, my earliest memories of the man behind the name evoke pride. He made a deep impression on my parents and challenged those whom they ran with in college to become more than they were or even aspired to be and I am glad to have carried his name.

The following was taken from the Konx College website.

Samuel Moon, William G. Simonds Professor Emeritus of English at Knox College, died on Saturday, September 10, 2011, at his home in Cortland, New York. He was 89.
A graveside service will be held at a later date in Exeter, Ontario, Canada where his ashes will be buried next to his late wife, Doris. Moon's son, Peter S. Moon, is a 1976 Knox graduate.
A member of the Knox faculty from 1953 to 1984, Moon earned bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Michigan. He served in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II.

Moon was chair of the English Department at Knox and in the 1960s was instrumental in establishing the College's highly regarded creative writing program.
"Sam was very staid, very modest, but he was a pioneer in the teaching of creative writing, and he had a significant impact on Knox," said Robin Metz, Philip Sidney Post Post Professor of English and Moon's long-time colleague.
Moon also published many of his own poems in such prestigious journals as Poetry and Atlantic Monthly. He was also a noted literary critic whose non-fiction publications included the anthology "One Act: Eleven Short Plays of the Modern Theatre," and "Tall Sheep," an oral history of Harry Goulding's Trading Post in Monument Valley, Utah, which served as the location for a number of Western films.
Early in his Knox career, Moon also wrote "A Knox College Manual of Style" for use in the English department. According to Moon, "style" is larger than spelling, grammar, punctuation and footnotes. In a 1962 campus lecture, Moon described style as "an unending process" aimed at achieving wisdom.
Style is a ubiquitous fact of life. No man escapes working in one medium or another. No man avoids forming attitudes and values. No man is without some kind of style. No man lacks a mask -- a public face -- worthy or unworthy of his possibilities. We must discriminate in these matters. We must ask ourselves what we can do, where we can go with the styles we have...
While it would be disastrous for us to embrace our culture wholly and uncritically, it would be equally disastrous for us to cut ourselves adrift from it...
In that unending process which is style, the ultimate goal, attained only rarely, by men of the greatest genius but the goal toward which we all may struggle, is the style of wisdom.
-- Samuel Moon, Mortar Board Convocation, Knox College, March 1962

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Life with a side of stickers

Every now and again over the course of our life, we run into a patch of stickers. I speak both figuratively and literally. Yesterday after work, I ran into a literal patch of stickers, goat heads to be specific.

The previous renters did not care properly for the yard and as a result, I was met with a bumper crop of stickers along the side of our house. This was not a terrible thing, in fact I rather enjoyed the hour that it took to pull up those little demons. I wore thick leather gloves, but in the process of prying up the larger plants, I still got stuck quite a few times and this morning, my knuckles are full of holes, stiff and swollen.

The pain, though little more than an annoyance, got me to thinking about the figurative stickers in our lives. Whether we planted them, they were the result of carelessness or neglect, or someone else tossed them maliciously into our yard, we all have stickers that poke us and make us less useful and attractive (not physically) than we ought to be.

I really enjoyed pulling out those stickers yesterday. I hate stickers and relished the idea of getting them out of my lawn (even though the lawn is currently dead). This morning I went outside early to see the results of my labor and at work, as I bend my achy fingers, I am reminded that I am well on my way to having a lush green lawn that we will be able to tiptoe barefoot across.

I am less eager to pull the stickers in my life, I fear the pain that will come from pulling them and have actually grow rather comfortable with having them in my life. They keep others from getting to close and though they are painful and unsightly, they are mine.

My God is less impressed with my stickers and has offered to help me pull them. I think that I need to start dealing with my figurative stickers in the same way that I did my physical ones. Put on the thick gloves, and start pulling.

Monday, August 22, 2011

She Said No

Well I asked Kerri... she said no.

The pantry will not contain pants, nor will it be called the foodtry. The laundry however will at times contain pants... but at no time and under no circumstances will my lawnmower be stored in the laundry room.

So, here's the deal. Make no mistake, Let me be perfectly clear. The English language is fundamentally broken and needs to undergo a comprehensive overhaul. I will introduce a sweeping "and largely unintelligible" plan after the Labor day weekend. It wont be easy, but my proposal will be shovel ready and will win the future.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Photos of the new Abode

A new look to the blog today, to commemorate the moving into our new house. I should really sign off and go move our stuff in. Lots of painting, raking and scrubbing to be had in our future. I sure am looking forward to turning the new place into our place. I will miss sitting on the the front porch sipping coffee and talking to passers by at the old house though. We will have to come up with a solution for that here.

A few of you out of towners have asked to see the new house. Here are a few pictures. I don't have any outside shots here, but will post some later.

Standing in the dining room looking into the living area. Out to the left is the sunroom and behind the fireplace is the den... my den, no TV, the den will be a quiet reading and working area. At least that is the idea.

From the previous shot, standing at the fireplace looking towards the dining area. The kitchen is behind the counter and the doorway leads to bath and bedrooms. We have two bathrooms! Woo hoo! 

Another shot of the living area looking towards the front door and more bath and bedrooms. That fan is too low for my forehead, it told me so just the other day.

The kitchen with red counter tops. Through the door is the laundry room and pantry. Why is it called a pantry, you don't store pants in there... do you? Maybe I'll be the first one to do so, I'll ask Kerri if I can tonight. Otherwise, I think we will call it a foodtry, or maybe a cantry. Come to think of it, maybe Kerri will let me keep the lawnmower in the lawndry room! I'll ask her about that this evening too. This photo was taken before the roosters invaded.

Another kitchen shot. Notice the tiny fridge under the counter! That is where we will store coffee beans and popcorn. Sarah's science project showed us that the best place to store popcorn is in the freezer... Now you know.

We can wait to move in and have you all over for dinner and games. I'd better get moving.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Welcome Home

Welcome home to us, not to you. Not yet anyway. We signed our lives away to the mortgage company on Tuesday, and just heard today that the seller, who has moved out of town, signed her side of the documents and we officially own a mortgage which allows us to live in a bank owned home for the next thirty years.

We are ecstatic and hope to move in by this weekend. Give us a few weekends to unpack and get settled and then, if you are on our short list of friends we may just invite you over for dinner.

Don't get offended if you don't get an invitation right away. With school starting up, things are pretty hectic at the Christensen house. (I can say that now. We actually have a house).

Monday, August 15, 2011

To Close or not to Close...

Two months doesn't seem like to incredibly long a time, does it? Well, it turns out that the answer depends entirely on what you are waiting for in those two months.

In June we decided that it was time to upgrade our housing situation from the one bathroom cottage we purchased back in 2006 and look for a second bathroom and a house to go with it. This process has made the last two months seem like a mere ten minutes... underwater, without oxygen.

Oh well, I hope that we have learned a little about patience and waiting on God's time. Waiting is hard, really hard. I think I understand how King Saul could justify not waiting for Samuel to come and offer the burnt offering in 1 Samuel 13. I am not saying that Saul was right or justified, I just understand how aggravating waiting can be. God's timing and our timing are not always the same. In my selfishness, I want things now, God doesn't always bend to my selfishness, though I think that He does indulge me more often than I am willing to admit.

When God makes or asks us to wait, I have found that I am ok with it, as long as I know the reason for the waiting or at least can see some point to it. In waiting for this house, I have not seen God's plan. For some reason, He has not chosen to show us why we have waited. He may never and we may never know, we may not need to. But through the relatively insignificant trails and aggravation of waiting for a home sale to occur, I think I have developed a better understanding of why we serve the Living God. He does not answer to me and life is not always rosy and pleasant, but that is not why we serve Him. No, just as I do not love my children because of what they do for me, I need to understand that God does not love me because of my actions and I should not love Him because of what He can do for me. He is an amazingly merciful God who gave His Son in order to adopt me into His family. That is pretty awe inspiring.

I wonder if we need to alter our prayers, where we thank Him for all that He has done, and maybe we should thank Him that He is. He is not named, "I DOES", he is "I AM". And so, maybe, after it is all said and done, I should stop focusing on what is going on in my life and start focusing on who He is, regardless of what is or is not happening. Waiting is still aggravating, but the only thing that focusing on the waiting did was to sap my time and energy from investing in my kids and wife. In the future, instead of constantly checking the email and waiting for the phone call, I think that I will play a board game with the family, read to my daughter, or maybe even take a spin at Mario Carts on the Wii with my son, and not waste the waiting time.

With all of that said, today, after a series of setbacks and extensions, eleven o'clock this morning was supposed to be our closing time. At the last minute, it was pushed back and once again we find ourselves waiting. just waiting, like Dr. Seuss in the book, "Oh the Places You Will Go". And so, today, maybe tomorrow or possibly the next day, we will close on the sale of our current house and hopefully on the same day, we will be able to complete the purchase of the new one. Maybe, but regardless, I am going to spend my waiting time more effectively.

I am a little curious, after we are done waiting for our house to sell and waiting to purchase the new one. What we will wait for next. Maybe the repair man, the auto mechanic, or maybe even the insurance adjustor! Aughh, now I am just scaring myself. Oh well, waiting is bound to happen, I hope that I can learn to wait better.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A tale of Rot and Rejoicing

John Wesley, the great theologian and poor chooser of a wife, once said, "Love is rot".
While I could not disagree more, rot is a good description of our bathroom floor. We had the inspection of our home and they found that we have termites, a leaky faucet and toilet and a rotten subfloor under our commode.

I am in the process of fixing everything on the list for our house which will close on the fifth of July. We are very excited about that.

Meanwhile, we have found, made an offer on and had the offer accepted on a new abode for the Christensen clan!

We are very excited about the possibility of moving into this new place. The new home is over twice as large as our current house, has two bathrooms, three really large bedrooms, a den, a large sunroom, two fire places, four large pecan trees, a sprinkler system, and a two room shop outback.

It is amazing how emotional the process of buying a house can be. We were really disappointed to lose the first house which was on a half acre of land, but now see that the water bill would have probably killed us. After seeing a number of other homes, we were begining to lose hope of finding the perfect place. Kerri fell in love with a second house, but the owners were too proud of it and wanted way to much for it. Finally we have found a really nice place and we are holding our breath to see what the appraisal and inspections will bring.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Falling back and Regrouping

They say that when searching for a house, you should never fall in love with one until it is yours. How that is done, is beyond me, if I did not fall in love with a house, I would not have made an offer on it.

Such was the case with the house mentioned in my previous post. Today however, after having our initial offer rejected, we countered with the highest offer that we felt comfortable giving, and we were outbid. Bummer.

On hearing the news, even though we have been preparing ourselves for it, we were both rather disappointed.

I have heard the phrase, "God has something better for you." a dozen times today and while I am sure that He does, I am not sure that expecting that the "better" that God has im mind will be material is a very good or safe world view. If it is a material "better" then, I cannot wait to see the acreage that is waiting to come on the real-estate market for us here in Carlsbad.

No, I don't know if "better" is always bigger, more, newer or even physically similar or tangible. "Better" is often beyond our comprehension or out of our current line of sight. God's "better" is more comprehensive than the circumstances that we can see. It may address another area of our life or a hidden vice that we have chosen to ignore. Better may be another month or year in our current situation, waiting for circumstances to change, improve, play out, or even crumble to the ground before He is ready to move us forward. Forward to something else that may be a new home or may make us better people through a challenge that will improve our understanding of Him, or draw us closer to Him. Maybe, "Better" is all in the angle you are looking at it. What I see as better for my prospective and what God see from outside of time must be so different.

I really wanted that house, and honestly, a few times this evening, I have questioned why God did not orchestrate us into that address. But He did not, or has not, and may not. As a father, I have seen how "better" for my kids is not always what they see as "better". I must say though that it is much easier to be the father than it is to be the kid. Over the years, I have developed a theology in my head, that assures me that my Savior has my best in mind. Maybe here today, I am seeing another example of when my "better" and God's better are not the same. Sometimes I wonder if God is amused or exasperated by our definition of better? I know in my head that His "better" is the best for me. It has always worked out that way and it always will. I suppose that I need to transfer that knowledge eighteen inches south of my head, to my heart.

In the mean time, we will continue to reside at our current address, in the little house that serves as a base for our big life. At least until it sells! Stop by and see us.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Small Town, Big House?

When we moved to Carlsbad in 2005, we purchased an amazing little three bedroom one bathroom house. We have enjoyed the house immensely, have sipped many cups of coffee on the small porch I built. I rebuilt my motorcycle in the garage and all three kids learned to ride their bikes without training wheels while in this house. While in this house, Kerri earned her Masters degree, I was granted Tenure, Nathan was inducted into National Junior Honors Society, Sarah was chosen for All City Choir and Ruthie has become an accomplished pianist. To make a long paragraph short, we have really enjoyed the last few years in our little green house.

Recently however, Sarah and Ruth have discovered the beauty of long showers and primping and have begun to linger long in front of the bathroom mirror. Throw our niece and nephew into the mix and all that can be said is that we need more bathrooms.

For the last few weeks we have been painting and repairing our little home, which, by the way inspired the name of this blog. Today, after looking at various houses for sale around Carlsbad, we settled on one that both Kerri and I immediately fell in love with. It sits on 1/2 an acre, has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Add in a two car garage, huge laundry room, two living areas, two sheds on the huge back yard, nine large pecan trees and an additional workshop in the backyard, and we were sold.

And so, today, we met with our friend and realtor, Dickie Means and in one fell swoop, we both put our house up for sale and put an offer in on the house in the picture below. There are a few potential snags, which we would appreciate your prayer on. First, in order to buy the new house, our current one needs to sell. Pray for an offer soon on our house. Secondly, the house below is out of our price range. It is also overpriced for the neighborhood and so we have underbid. Pray that the current owners will accept our offer or counter with something close to it.

In the meantime, if you are into praying for miracles, pray that the seven of us currently living in our 1000 sq ft home, will be able to keep this small house clean enough for potential buyers to view. That will be an accomplishment equal to the building the Panama Canal, though hopefully without the Malaria.

With that said, I am off to Maul*Mart to buy plastic silverware, paper plates and other items that will help us in that task. Join with us as we pray for God's will in our next adventure.

The front view of the house, notice all of the shade trees in the front and backyard

The back yard, from about half way back.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Come on man, just hold the stupid door

I am generally not a fan of male bashing. With all of the stupid portrayals of clueless husbands in the media, I get pretty tired of it. And so, I apologize for those of you men who aren't idiots out there. But for those of you who are boneheaded maroons... "come on man, get your act together."

It seems that over the last few weeks, I have been running parallel with a herd of very clueless full grown little boys. I first noticed them at the local movie rental outfit. An older teen was walking in front of us, with his mom close behind him. His head was buried in his smartphone and as he came to the door, without even looking up, he pushed the door and walked in, leaving the door free to swing into his mother face. He repeated this a few feet later as he breeched the inner door. I hope with all my heart that I have not done that to another human being, much less my own mom, but this lady didn't even seem to notice, apparently, she had become acustomed to this type of treatment.

A few days later, I was sitting in the lobby of the hospital, when a nurse wheeled a young lady out the exit. I watched as the husband pulled up in the car, leaned over and unlocked the door from the inside. He watched as the nurse helped the girl out of the chair and into the car. The door had not even closed before he pulled away from the curb. I cannot imagine how loved and cherished that young girl felt.

Just tonight, I ran into another member of the herd. A measly little man walked out of a building followed by his wife. This guy was considerate enough to hold the door until his wife had a hold of it, but he also left her to walk through alone and shortly after that, he Beelined it to his side of the car and left his wife to open her own door.

Now, maybe I am being a bit picky, but really guys, has the pendulum swung so far away from manliness that we cant be bothered to show a little honor to the fairer side of humanity. I know that I am preaching to the choir here, but maybe we need to lead by example and show the clueless among us, how it is done.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A short animation

This is a quick lipsync featuring the voice of Jack Black. We have spent the past semester and a half modeling, rigging and getting this character ready for animating. Here is a preview of what we have done.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dust on the Bulb

Occasionally in life, the sight of a certain object or a sound will transport you back in time to your childhood days. The smell of dust, burning on a 250W light bulb is one such trigger for me. I don't know if the smell reminds me of the old 8mm film projector that my dad would pull out on occasion to show us the films and animations that he made, or if the smell I remember is the actual smell of dust, burning on the 250W light bulb that he used to light the frames as he shot them, one at a time, to create an animated sequence.

This semester I am teaching a class in traditional 2D animation and the light stands we are using are the same ones that my father built and used to make similar films more than thirty years ago. One of the bulbs is an actual bulb that he used so many years ago. My father was the artisan, I am a teacher, he explored the world of light and animation and I try to explain well established principles of the art. Where he spent time breaking rules that he already understood, I spend time keeping kids from breaking the rules so that they will understand why they are there to begin with. As I develop this class, I often find myself wondering how he would have done it or what assignments he might have created to teach a specific concept or technique. I have a blown up picture, taken by my uncle, of my dad with his camera. It reminds me each day, how privileged I am to have had him as a father.

This afternoon, we finished up class at 3:45 and most of the students dutifully shuffled off to other things. But one student stayed behind to take pictures of his 48 hand drawn animation frames that we had worked on in class. He was wrapped up in his task and I was busy preparing my lesson for tomorrow, but the smell of the dust sizzling on the top of that 250W bulb, whiffed into my head and knocked invitingly on a door in an older part of my brain. It took me back to when I was a little boy in that big old adobe house with the high ceilings and creaky floors, in Tome. My dad had a large office from which my brother and I were usually banned. A large serape blanket served as the door and when the wind caught hold of its corners in the springtime, we could catch glimpses of the magic as he worked silently behind that heavy curtain. Occasionally we could enter into his sanctuary and watch him create or even create ourselves as he guided us. I still remember how awkwardly my hands felt, compared to his, as I pushed the cutout of a cartoon rocket ship I had drawn across the page. Dad clicked out the frames of an animation that he was helping me build. The result was a simple, somewhat jerky animation of the coyote chasing Roadrunner through space, but it was mine, I had made it, just like my dad. His animations always looked so much smoother and cleaner than mine did, and I was in awe of his amazing skill. He was, as dads tend to be, bigger than life. Sitting by my dad's camera stand or standing over his desk as he spliced film together or shot frame after endless frame of white dots on black card stock, is to this day one of my favorite childhood memories.

Today, I animate using Autodesk Maya, on a set of 24 inch monitors that make HD look blurry. My computer is a quad core Mac powered by four 3.06 GHz Intel processors with more RAM than a single person should have. My computer uses amazingly powerful animation software that incorporates light and dynamics. With a few clicks of a mouse, I can alter time, change the weather and even create living breathing creatures (no... not really, but it sure does look convincing) I bring images to life in ways that would boggle my dads mind.

He passed away in 1983, almost thirty years ago. A year after the original movie, Tron came out, a full two years before Dire Straits ground breaking 3D animated music video "Money for Nothing" came out on MTV. He never saw the computer revolution take hold as it has today. I often wonder what he would have done with the technology if he were still around. Back then, for most of us, we could not even imagine doing what the artists at PIXAR do with computers today. I am privileged to be able to do what I do, here in my little high tech corner of the New Mexico State University Carlsbad campus. But some days, in the midst of my speedy lab computers and expensive software, I still long for those days of still frames, of dust burning on overly bright light bulbs, bulbs that could singe the hair off of your little adolescent arms if you got to close.

Some days I wish that I could pull back that curtain, just one more time and watch his hands coax life out of those little tiny dots or painstakingly splice a frame or two of film into a larger reel. It is strange how the slightest whiff or quickest glimpse can impact you, so many years later.

At least I still have the smell of dust, burning on a 250W light bulb.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Stab at the Art of Carpentry

There are a few very distinct advantages to working as a college instructor. Probably the most obvious one is the time off. This Christmas season, I decided to spend a few days of my break sawing wood into various pieces and attempting to turn it into something that resembles furniture.

Early on in our marriage, I had attempted to build a hutch for our kitchen. The results were... functional. We eventually chopped it up into a set of toyshelves for Nathan. They did not make the cut when we moved back to New Mexico from Texas. I have since successfully built a trash bin for the kitchen and a cabinet for the bathroom that are a little more aesthetically pleasing than that first stab at a hutch.

After a rather stressful semester, trying to apply for tenure at work, this break, I was more than ready to spend my tie out of doors and offline. And so, I decided to try my hand at something a bit more complicated. I am not yet brave enough to start working with "real" wood, oak, cherry or something expensive like that. Everything so far has been made out of white pine, that way, I can mess up without the angst of destroying some really nice wood. Incidentally, I have the issue with paper, I would much rather draw on a napkin than on a three dollar sheet of sketch paper. That probably says something profound about my personality. Maybe I should examine that later... maybe I'll write about my ponderings, on a napkin.

A five foot tall three drawer dresser made of white pine and carpenters glue

Anyhow, the photo above was taken yesterday. Today, after church, I built a schnazzy little door for the lower opening added two wooden dowel hooks on the side to store pants and belts when I retire for the evening and a dowel and small tray on the inside of the cabinet door to hold a cap or lanyard and the contents of my pockets.

Currently the cabinet is sitting alone in the garage waiting for the stain to dry before I move it to the bedroom, where it will take it's predetermined place as real live furniture.

While my work is a far cry from fine art, It sure is satisfying to create something with your own two hands. Typing on a keyboard just doesn't produce the same effect. With that said, I am going to logoff, unplug and go do something useful.