December 31, 2005

Fatherhood emotions

It is a commonly known psychological fact that one of the hardest persons to know is oneself. Why do you think self-help and self-discovery books are so popular. If we can all find the buddha in ourselves, we'd be much better off... Etc, etc, etc. Where I was going with this was an observation I have made about myself. I am realizing that with the birth of Priya, I am getting more and more 'emotional'. That, in the sense, that I hit emotional highs and lows more quickly, and feelings are more sharply defined. Women, are probably more used to feeling this way, but to me it is a strange new way of being. Now I don't know if I was always like this, but never realized it, or if this is something new. Aha... now the opening of this paragraph makes sense. :-)

My latest weepy moment was while watching King Kong. For crying out loud... As I was going to complete that sentence, I was struck by the irony of it. Anyway. For crying out loud, falling apes from tall buildings should not normally cause emotional swellings in me. Maybe it was the background score, maybe it was felt loneliness of both the characters (wait.. can an ape be a "character"?), or
whatever... But throughout the movie I was feeling tuggings on my heartstrings.

So last day of 2005. I feel obliged to summarize it. Does "a lot happened" do an adequate job? The biggest event of all, of course, was the birth of Priya. Most others are corollaries of that. There, that should do it.

Oh. I had to show this picture. Here's Priya surrounded by Christmas gifts. Most of those are actually hers. Can we say doting grandparents? :-)

December 27, 2005

I want world peace

Ok. That would be nice, but I had nothing else that came up as a title. This is one of those posts where there are no pressing thoughts on my mind. I had taken three weeks of vacation time when Priya was born, so I ran out of time at the end of the year. I had to come into work today, and I am one of five people in the entire building. I can feel illness coming on me, so I will take tomorrow as a sick day, and Thursday and Friday are company holidays. So I just have to get through today.

It was a great first Christmas with Priya. She got lots of clothes and lots of toys. I suspect as she grows older, her preference may skew towards lots of clothes, but there should be an intermediate step of lots of dolls, and other assorted mini-human figurines.

My two favorite gifts were a nice leather jacket from my in-laws, and a DC-to-AC inverter from Tish. This little gadget plugs into a car power outlet, and you can plug any AC device on the other end (upto 95W). I wanted one because I often run out of battery power on long airplane rides, and American has 12V power outlets under their seats. Very nifty little thing.

Oh, and we bought a Dyson vacuum cleaner a few days ago from Amazon. The one we had that we got as a wedding shower gift was getting to be so loud that we were violating village noise ordinances. For those who are interested, I can post later on how the Dyson shapes up given all its hype.


WOW! That's the only word that can describe this machine. You would imagine we never vacuumed our house in all these years. The first test run of the Dyson was in Priya's room. The carpet is less than a year old and we try to keep it pretty clean - no shoes, etc. It's also vacuumed regularly. But when the Dyson had a go at it, the stuff that got collected was just amazing - and pretty disgusting. I can't believe Priya was crawling around in all that filth. So, big thumbs up! By the way, we're not that hoity-toity. This $460 vacuum was purchased refurbished from Amazon for about half that price. If this thing lasts for a few years and keeps performing like it did, it will be well worth that price.

December 19, 2005

It's tough, and some won't make it

Yesterday we saw March of the Penguins. OK. The story goes like this: The penguins start a 70 mile journey to their breeding grounds - some don't survive the journey. They reach the grounds, and find partners. The females lay an egg. These eggs are then transferred to the males. During this process, some eggs don't make it. Then the males hang out for a few months, while the females head back to the ocean to feed. While the females are feeding, some females will be eaten by predators and won't make it back. Meanwhile, the males are in the middle of a brutal winter. As it turns out, some won't survive winter. The eggs hatch, and the chicks appear. Some chicks are caught out in the cold, and yup - don't survive. Of the ones that make it, some will get picked off by gulls.

Can you detect a familar pattern? I'm not kidding. After the third "some won't make it moment" we were predicting the parts in the script when the next one would come. It's an interesting movie in the sense it inspires awe in God's creations, and thankfulness that he decided to give us a little more purpose for our lives.

From a movies perspective, this wasn't a very good weekend. There wasn't much in the store that we hadn't seen. The other movie we saw was "40-Year-Old Virgin". What a complete waste of time. The reason this guy hadn't seen any action wasn't because of any personal choices - but because he was a complete idiot. I mean the classic village idiot kind.

Anyone seen any good movies lately?

December 13, 2005

More commentary on death

I always go through internal queasiness whenever there is a high-profile death penalty case. I guess not having very solid opinions on the death penalty generates that uneasiness. If I were the victim of a heinous crime, I would probably think differently, but looking at it from the outside, it's hard for me to imagine how justice works from a supernatural perspective. I guess I understand in my head the idea of there being consequences to action, etc. But do those consequences lead to the final act of taking life? If we were all sinners deserving the full wrath of God, but he relented from not pouring out his wrath so that we could actually discover grace, and so be saved, should not that same principle apply for human justice? After all, our deserving the wrath of God is based on divine justice. I don't know. It's like the old movie line: God will judge what you have done; my job is just to make sure you meet him soon. This concept of non-grace leads to very a-theistic thinking. If God, and the people who follow him, can't give grace, then I want to have nothing to do with him or his people... Stuff like that. Remember the poem that Timothy McVeigh left as his last words? I was deeply affected by the sheer arrogance in it - man raising his fist to heaven and saying I don't need you. Here... I'll quote it:

(William Ernest Henley. 1849-–1903)

OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

See what I mean? When you think there is only you, then it's a pretty depressing life. I'm not actually sure where I am going with this. I guess I'm just trying to figure out in my own mind how justice works, and how it relates to mercy and grace.

December 09, 2005

Commute from Hell

OK. So this is my commute every day. It's a little over 60 miles each way. I know. Crazy, right? But most days it's not bad. I go in most days in a vanpool, so the driving is shared, and it's not as stressful. Along with the fact that I travel quite a bit (and so am not in the office), I have managed to survive the commutes.

Then came along, December 8, 2005. The first big snow storm of the season. 40 of the 60 mile expressway is under construction. I left office at 3:30p. Want to guess how long it took me to get home? Go on. Don't read further, but think of a number. 5 hours? Nope. 7 hours? Nope. 8 hours? Nope. 9 hours? Yeap. Can you believe it? Nine hours! I would be hopping mad if I didn't think this was a story out of some parallel universe. It beats the one time a friend of mine and I took six hours driving around the Peripherique in Paris trying to find our hotel. Boy, that's almost a story worth telling. But back to this commute. Here I was just trying to get home. There are really no good explanations why it took so long. No accidents, no spin-outs... Just people driving 5 miles/hour. If it wasn't so cold, it might have made a nice walk home. The things we do to put food on the table...

December 05, 2005

The Sens in all their glory

Our first official family pic

OK check this out. Any family resemblances? :-)

December 01, 2005

Parting here and gone

We had such a good time with my family. Parting was very difficult, but that's how it goes. Here are some pictures from the week.

Priya Getting Dedicated

Four Generations

Priya with mom, dad, brother, and aunt

Priya with grandma

November 28, 2005

Sad parting coming up

My parents and my brother have been visiting with us this last week. This is the first time that they got to see Priya. Grandma and Priya are now getting along famously. I think it will be a very difficult parting.

I have enjoyed catching up with my brother. It's been a lot of fun talking about the old days and all the shared memories.

This past Sunday we also dedicated Priya. She did pretty good being up on stage - after all, she's a Sen! We were very touched by the number of people that joined us. It was a great testimony to both Tish's family and mine. We didn't get any pictures, but I'll try to get some captures off the video.

November 11, 2005

Babies are not meant to be eaten

Tish was at Babies 'R Us this afternoon returning a car seat. As she was talking to the lady behind the counter, she heard Priya scream. Looking down quickly, she saw a two year old with Priya's hand in her mouth biting down on Priya's fingers. There were four teeth marks on her middle finger, and the kid had broken skin. Blood was coming out. Poor Priya was screaming in pain and, probably more so, in shock. The mom of the girl seemed to be a teenage mom who acted like she could care less. Just thinking about it makes my blood start to boil.

In other news, I heard back from the doctor's office today regarding my heart scan. They give you a "score" based on how bad the blockage is. The score ranges from 0 (no blockage) to 400 (don't bother coming in - we are arranging for your funeral). Soooooo... four years of high cholesterol numbers.. and my score turns out to be... 0. This was the miracle I was hoping for! That makes me feel so blessed - now I just gotta get my numbers down. But at least I don't have to worry that I'm gonna drop dead any day. God is good.

November 08, 2005

Boys like notes too

I am currently reading "She Calls Me Daddy" which I would recommend to any father with a daughter. I just finished a part where Wolgemuth talks about how it's so great to write out little notes for your girl (from either mom or dad), and leave 'em in places for her to find, or pack 'em away in lunch boxes, for example. He then goes on to say that you should never send notes for little boys. He doesn't explain why, but says, trust me on this - don't send notes for boys. Hmmm... does anyone know why he is saying that? The only obvious thing that jumps out to me is that boys will get teased. Maybe I'm missing something.

Anyway, why did I think of this? As I was putting away my lunch box at work this morning, I opened it up to get my packet of oatmeal out. There in the corner was a little note with my name on it. It was Tish's writing. Inside was a cute little lovey, dovey note she had written. Well, I certainly enjoyed getting that note!!

In other news, Priya is now seven months old. As anyone with kids will tell you, man time flies. My parents are coming in a couple of weeks, and we have her dedication planned for Nov. 27th. I guess I have only a few more weeks of exclusive claim on her. After that, I'll have to share her with the Lord. :-)

November 04, 2005

Some clues

Consider the following symptoms: Fatigue, slight weight gain (usually less than 10 pounds and mostly fluid), intolerance to cold, slight memory loss, high LDL level. Sounds pretty generic huh? Well, as it happens, these are the symptoms of hypothyroidism - an underfunctioning thyroid. That is what the doctor's office told me I had from the blood work that came back. So I did some research...

Next to diet, hypothyroidism is the second most common reason for high cholesterol. Basically, the thyroid gland regulates body metabolism. With the thyroid level low, the body's ability to use cholesterol goes down, and hence the accumulation of excessive cholesterol.

My thyroid level was 30 times off than what it needs to be. Being a person who likes to think in terms of cause and effect, this is good news (yea... if news like this can be considered good). Now I know that it wasn't anything I was doing to make my cholesterol levels that high. My glandular system just decided that the wage and benefit structure wasn't good enough, and have called in a strike. We are currently in negotiations.

November 01, 2005

Thoughts on mortality

Nothing like a nice friendly visit to the family doctor to cheer you up. For years I have been aware of a silent bomb ticking inside me. A few years ago I got the rather surprising news that I was more American than I had realized - I was carrying elevated levels of cholesterol. At that time I wrote it off to years of life as a poor student - too much pizza and fast food. Through diet, my numbers came down. Then a few months ago, I visited the health fair at work, and lo and behold - high numbers back again. Dizzyingly high in fact. The walking dead kind. The nurse who did my test didn't even know what to say to me kind.

So now some perspective. As far as I know, I don't have any family history of heart disease. Cancer, yeah. Heart disease - no. Well.. maybe everyone died of cancer sooner than they would have of heart disease. Who knows. And it's not like I am eating KFC every day (I haven't had any in years). Same goes for most kinds of fast food. So it's gotta be genetic in nature. Great. Tiny little buggers I can't even see are wreaking havoc on me.

Anyway, so I came away with a prescription to keep the Pfizer company solvent for a few more years. I also had a heart scan, the results of which are due in a few days. Good afternoon, Mr. Sen - you'll be happy to know that we have scheduled you early for your 100,000 mile tuneup.

Ok. My writing is merely covering up the fact that I am very scared. Nothing like a growing family to realize how precious life is, and how much you can miss out on. I was sorely tempted to not write this post until after I got my scan results. But I learned a long time ago that it's right to give thanks to the Lord today rather than tomorrow, after grace has been made apparent (or not so apparent).

I feel funny inside. There are moments where I feel peace, and a reassurance from the Lord that my life is in his hands. Then the pendulum swings, and thoughts of doom, and death, and despair peek through. The latter thoughts last less than a second, but it's enough to know that somewhere in the garden of flowers is a dead rat.

So stay tuned. I am going to go look for that rat.

October 24, 2005

Movie Reviews and My Thoughts On Them

I was reading the movie review of "North Country" at Focus On The Family's movie review site for teens. Normally I just read the reviews and move on. This time something struck me about what the reviewer said. As it happens when something strikes me, I let my opinions be known. So I sent off an email to the editors of the magazine. Here's what I wrote:

I have been reading your online movie reviews for many years now because they serve as a valuable guide to the *content* of the movies I am potentially interested in seeing. This is one aspect of your reviews that I value highly. This morning I was reading the review of North Country when I was struck by something. In the closing paragraph, Tom Neven summarizes about the movie with this: "My only wish is that she could have found a way to convince us that life is precious and that respect is essential without simultaneously forcing us to witness such graphic scenes of rape, assault, obscene abuse and grotesque harassment."

This is the first time that I have had the thought of actually questioning the motive, and targeted audience for your reviews. Sin is rampant in this world, and injustice is to be found at every corner. How can a movie that is dealing with the basic corrupt nature of the human heart deal with its matter without showing the reality of how things are? I mean, most Christians don't need to see a movie like North Country to realize that left to themselves, humans are capable of indescribable acts of cruelty, evil and so on. But when a director is confronting head-on the base nature of humans, how can he or she forcible demonstrate the falsity of "people are basically good at heart" philosophy by downplaying the very real issues of 'rape, assault, obscene abuse and grotesque harassment' that happen in our everyday life. It's like saying that Schindlers List would have been a great movie but for all those Jews that got murdered.

I recognize that Plugged In is a service aimed towards teens. And thus, your reviews are targeted towards that audience (and for their parents). But there are several important philosophical issues that arise here. The most fundamental one is whether anyone should be watching a movie like North Country with the content that it has? Can adults watch this movie (and should they be watching such material)? If so, then is this a movie that older teens can watch? These questions are important because in my view, a movie like North Country cannot serve to faithfully convey its message without "forcing" the viewer to confront the issues. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that this movie is the best thing since the Ten Commandments. I'm merely pointing out the inherent flaw in your reviewer's summary. Either no one should be watching this movie because of its content, or if they watch it, they should be ready to witness some very graphic material. Subjective summaries regarding directorial decisions should probably be avoided in reviews.

October 23, 2005


So a couple of days ago I got the BODYLINE DVD (see reason for my excitement in an earlier post). I stuck in into the DVD player. A helpful message appeared that told me the disk was not meant to be played in America (darn Australian disks). But I knew that would happen. I was confident I could find a hack for my Sony DVD player. After hours of searching - no luck. Then I realized. Wait a second. Even if I hacked my player, the output video would still be PAL. No good on a good ol' NTSC Sony TV. Now what do I do? Ahhh technology... There's an answer for everything.

I needed three pieces of software, and my handy dandy HP computer with DVD burner. The first software blocked my computer from recognizing that the DVD was a region 4 DVD. Then I used the second piece of software to burn the movie to my hard disk. Now this movie was still region 4, PAL signal. Now with the third software I changed the header file of the saved DVD movie to make it NTSC and region free. (This is something I didn't even know of before. It is only this header file that makes any given movie region-locked, or NTSC or PAL.) Burn these edited video files to a new DVD, and presto! I have a fully compatible DVD!

I love software.

October 20, 2005

Terrors from the Deep. Also known as singleness.

Recently, a single friend of mine went out on a date. It didn't go so well, but this isn't about the date. I was talking to a married Christian friend of mine at work about how lucky I felt to be out of the whole dating thing. If something were to happen to Tish, I can't even imagine what it would be like to go back into it (assuming I get some semblance of sanity back). And now with Priya, forget "casual" dating. We've been together almost seven years, but it's still not that long for me to forget all the desires, longings, expectations, dashed hopes, broken hearts, etc. that preceded that. All the encouragements from people on how God is in control of your life, and that you have to seek him first, and that he knows the desires of your heart, and it's all going to be in his time... If you're single, you know what I'm talking about. You know what's interesting? Go back and read Gen 2:18 ("...It is not good for the man to be alone..."). We've all heard it, right. But think about when this was said. God made this determination before the fall. Before sin came in the picture. When man had a perfect union with his creator. And in that state, God decided that it wasn't good for man to be alone. As a side note, think about the strange word "alone". Even in perfect union with God, it was possible for man to feel "aloneness." Anyway, voila! Here comes Eve. Now fast forward to our present desperate times. We are born in sin, separated from the Father, and all that stuff. How much more alone do we feel now? We need that much more grace, and that much more leaning into the Lord.

So anyway, if you're reading this and are married, rejoice in the favor that the Lord has provided. If you're still single, it really is true: it is not good for the man to be alone. But as God made that determination, he also did the providing. Left to himself, Adam only had a choice of the farm animals. And we all know how much fun they can be!

As for me, I pray that I don't ever have to wander those paths again.

October 17, 2005

South Side musings

It is only choice of colleges that made me into a Sox fan. When I got to the Illinois Institue of Technology in the spring of '93, it was hard not to see this big stadium literally across the street (well, across the Dan Ryan). The Sox came into my radar that fall because they went to the division finals against the Blue Jays (and lost). From my room I could see the fireworks every time there was a home run. To me, baseball was a primitive sport with none of the finer nuances and complexities of cricket. So it didn't really matter much who was playing.

These many years later, I now regret not having gone to more games. I didn't have to deal with parking, and student tickets at that time were in the 10 to 20 dollar range for pretty decent seats.

Over the last couple of years, I've tried to make up for that, but ironically every time I buy tickets for the games, I have had to go out of town. So Tish ends up going to see the Yankees, or the Tigers with friends of hers.

So maybe it's a good thing that I ended up at IIT instead of, say, Northwestern. I'd still be a bitter Cubs fan!

Go Sox!

October 14, 2005


I have to say I love Fridays. Especially Friday afternoons. Even more especially Friday afternoons when you've just been paid. Especially, especially when its Friday afternoon, and you've just been paid, and no bills are due. Especially, especially, especially... Well.. You get the picture.

As it turns out, today is just a Friday afternoon.

No major plans for the weekend. Tish is working, so it's going to be a Priya-Papa weekend together. I love spending time with Priya. Other than her expected moments of infantile behavior, she is a great girl.

Time to hit the road. 294 here I come.

October 11, 2005

Days away

Ahhh.. the days on the road. I'm writing this from my nice hotel room in Milwaukee. It's 5.30p and there's not a lot to do. Well... if I were a bad boy, there would be plenty to do, but I've never fancied being much of a bad boy. So I think I'm gonna go watch a movie, get some Subway on the way back and call it a night. Most out of town calls are never the same. It's rare that I have a free evening. Dinner out with customers is usually how it goes. But right now I wish I was home with my family. I mean, I have a pretty nice expense account and I could go to any restaurant I wanted. But how boring is that - eating amazing food all by yourself... I'm happy with Subway and watching the Sox beat the Angels. Well.. first the movie.. I think I'm gonna go see Flight Plan.

October 10, 2005

Rejoice.. If you can.

Very few people this side of the big pond will even begin to appreciate how significant today's find was for me. Back in the mid-80s (84 to be precise), there came an Australian mini-series called Bodyline. It was about the 1932-33 Ashes series (OK.. how many people know what that is!). It was the first time that bowlers in cricket deliberately aimed for the body so as to not only make the ball very unplayable, but if need be, cause physical distress to the batter (as a pleasant side effect for the team bowling). Who else but the English could have come up with such a gentlemanly tactic. OK. This post is not about the English and their tactics. Anyways, the mini-series was simply amazing, and I vividly remember watching it every week. It starred in its lead role Hugo Weaving as the captain of the English team Douglas Jardine (that's right, Matrix fans - long before Agent Smith happened, there was still life for Hugo). I have searched for years and years and years for a VHS or DVD of this mini-series. I'm not kidding. I have been looking for the last 13 years. Finally, the DVD was released a couple of months ago in Australia, and it's now on its way to me. It is a region 4 DVD (pop quiz - what are regions?) and I will have to find a hack for my DVD player to make it region free. I can't tell you how excited I am. Yay for me.

October 07, 2005

Joys of Ebay

Ebay has to be the most ingenious invention ever made after the concept of paying money for goods. It's possible to indulge in all sorts of hobbies without having to work too hard for them. For two years I was painstakingly collecting the state quarters from both the Denver and Philadelphia mints (the D ones are especially hard to find in the midwest). Then I found guys on Ebay selling complete collections for about fifty cents a quarter (brand new coins too). What a way to get a complete collection!

People also buy all kinds of stuff I can put on there. I had a five year old VHS-C camcorder that I had no use for (who uses VCRs anway?). The darn thing sold on Ebay for close to $80. I just put on the car radio I had pulled out of the old Escort when I had put in an aftermarket CD player. The tape player was close to being busted on it, though the radio worked. Well, we sold the Escort when we bought the van. So now I have a piece of hardware that I have no use for. Trash it? No way. Up on Ebay it goes. And it's selling! Man... I need to look around the garage more closely...

October 05, 2005

The Daily Grind versus Missionary Living

Picture a family living in the middle of nowhere as "missionaries". That word is sorta strange because it has a lot of connotations. But how is their life defined by? A lot of prayer. A lot of "believing in faith." Needing stuff for daily living. Needing stuff for long-term living. Where is this going to come from? Where is that going to come from? You get the idea... A lot of us would say, 'Man that's a tough way to live.'

Now picture a family with a husband and a wife and their three kids. The husband goes into work every day, and his wife takes care of the kids at home. He has to be at work at 7 every morning, and work till 4. His work is OK, but not terribly stimulating or challenging. But it's how he provides for his family.

Who do you think is more challenged? I would posit that it's the latter family. In my own experience, I find that it's more difficult to be faithful in the everyday grind of life. When one day of the week looks very much like the next. When you have to drag yourself out of bed and go to work regardless of how late you were up the night before ministering to someone. When you live for the weekends and praise God for "hump day."

Nothing against my hypothetical missionary family. These thoughts are meant to be an encouragement for those of us who are employed in the secular world and look to those in "full time ministry" as people on the cutting edge of the gospel. Far from it. God's grace, mercy and enabling is just as active, and sometimes needed in greater capacity for the secular workers. When the daily grind becomes unbearable, we call it a mid-life crisis. But mid-life crises come for people at all points of their life. And that's where it helps knowing the difference between quitting, and pressing on.

October 04, 2005

Had to show this one

I had to follow up with this picture. This shows everything that is good in my life right now.

A simple narrative

Time flies. It doesn't crawl, it doesn't walk, it doesn't jog. The darn thing flies. When I got off the boat, I was a teenager. I hit 30 last year. Whatever happened to time dilation? Oh wait. I have to go faster than the speed of light for that. So why does time contraction work so well then? A great many things have happened, and a great many things have yet to happen.

For right now, I love being a father. I claim what many other men before me have claimed - I was born to be a dad. I was sitting on the porch last night with Priya, and I told her how much joy and happiness she brings into my life. She is an amazing girl, and is already 6 months. Doggone time. Slow down a bit...