Michael J. Thom Father. Nerd. Race fan. Musician.

27Aug/09

Passions

Author’s Note: To those of you looking for information regarding the discontinued NBC soap opera, you will be dismayed. Furthermore, this post will not deal with Dictionary.com’s first five definitions for the word “passion,” three of which deal with “sexual desire.” Sorry to disappoint.

Editor’s Note: This post is long. Also, it is a relatively “personal” post, instead of the usual commentary on life in general or specific things in society of interest. If you’re not interested in reading something personal, just move along…

Producer’s Note: Yes, the Author and Editor are one-and-the-same. Or is that two-and-the-same?

Why is it often so hard to figure out what you truly enjoy doing the most? I’ve never been a big fan of the career aptitude tests some high school students take to help guide the college major selection; I’ve always believed that an individual will know what is right for them to pursue, whether as a college major or a career.

I must admit I’m having a little trouble with this myself, though.

Most people know me as a music guy. I play trombone. (Or, if you know me from church, perhaps you know me as that drummer who plays some guitar on the side.) “So where are you teaching now?” I get asked by old friends and acquaintances, those who knew me during my tenure as a music education major at Ball State. Though I appreciate the conversations, I hate having to answer that question, largely because I don’t have one, “perfect” answer.

Brief aside: I don’t think it’s right that we, as a society, put so much importance on our jobs that when we meet someone it seems the only important things to find out are “what’s your name?” and “what do you do?” Nonetheless, this is the world we live in…

I am set to start working on Tuesday, September 8th, as a substitute teacher in Lawrence Township schools. I am thankful for a job (albeit a “full-time” job at “part-time” wages), but it’s not my life’s dream. I don’t take any particular joy or pleasure in teaching, especially middle-school kids (which is where I will be). It’s not my strongest suit. So I find myself daydreaming about, applying for, and occasionally even interviewing for other jobs (especially ones that are actually full-time and salaried!).

The problem is, as I sit there thinking, I cannot seem to settle on one or two main things I enjoy doing, things I am passionate about. Dictionary.com’s sixth definition for “passion” is as follows:

a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything: a passion for music.

I have too many things that I have some level of fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for. I’m struggling to “limit” myself by choosing just one as a career and relegating the others to the “hobby” category (and, in reality, doing away with some entirely for lack of time and/or funding). Here I will hash out a few ideas.

Music

Music has always been an important part of my life. I love listening to music of all kinds. I enjoy making music, whether playing trombone, playing drums, playing guitar, playing bass, singing, or even arranging music. I do enjoy teaching music, particularly being in front of an ensemble and making music through the players in front of me (again, why I would enjoy high school/college over middle school).

I’m just not sure that it is something to do professionally, full-time. I have said since finishing high school that if I could get a full-time orchestra gig, playing with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, or the Cincinnati Symphony, or Cleveland, etc., I would love that. To get paid to play my trombone is awesome. (I am fortunate enough to be playing with the Muncie Symphony Orchestra “full time” this year, but the MSO’s full-time is still very part-time.) The reality is that it is very unlikely that I will ever win a full-time orchestra audition, so I cannot bank on this.

Computers

Literally as long as I can remember, I have been using computers. 8088, 286, 386, 486, Pentium, PII, PIII, Celeron, Centrino, AMD, Motorola (PowerPC) Mac, and Intel Mac, I’ve had them all and used them all. I installed an internal modem with my dad and my grandpa (his dad) when I was probably 8 years old. And yes, I helped, because I wanted to jump ahead to set the jumpers (yes, those) before my grandpa was ready to move to that step. (I recall this because of his reaction, which taught me a small but important lesson: “One problem at a time.” I don’t always remember this lesson very well…)

But what to do with my computer skills? Many friends and family know me as the go-to guy when it comes to fixing/building computers. And yet, lacking any formal certification or training, I’m not terribly marketable to potential employers who want someone with “proven” computer chops.

I have had some good friends of mine suggest I start my own computer-repair business, starting by just putting fliers on mailboxes and going door-to-door in area neighborhoods. This may in fact be a terrific idea, but I’m terrified of 1) not making it financially, especially as I’m building [and I don’t have enough in savings to truly invest in a start-up project], and 2) the notion that, even in that arena, no one will trust my abilities and knowledge because of my lack of certification: why would they pay me to fix their computers when they could pay someone from the Geek Squad to do it? (And trust me, I have about a million answers to that, but that’s not the point here… and no offense to any Geek Squad employees reading this; I’m sure you’re all lovely people.)

Politics

“What? Michael can’t even read!” Yes, politics. There are times that I get very deep into reading, listening, and learning about current events and issues and historical events and issues, and at these times I feel that I would love to be involved on some level in politics and current events. That might be as intense as actually running for some local office. That might be as far from that as just writing and commenting about issues. As anyone who truly knows me can attest, I am very opinionated. I wish I had the time (the “reason”) to spend truly becoming knowledgeable about issues. If I did, I would love to use that knowledge to help make a difference.

Law Enforcement

Yeah yeah, it’s dangerous. But what kind of a man am I if I am more concerned with my own physical safety than the safety of others? I enjoy a certain level of risk in most things I do, so that wouldn’t bother me. I am respectfully aware of danger, though, not recklessly unsafe. I am also very alert, perceptive, vigilant, aware of my surroundings at all times, and I would love to use these traits to help protect and serve others.

Some may know that I already have gone as far through the application process at Fishers PD as they would let me (about halfway, I finished 37 of 68 when they took the top 34 to the next level). I am just about to start the same process with Indianapolis Metro PD. Fully aware that IMPD is statistically a more dangerous jurisdiction than FPD, I still want a foot in the door to the world of law enforcement. (And let’s be honest, despite the increased crime rate in Indy versus Fishers, only six IPD/IMPD officers have died in the line of duty since I was born over 23 years ago; with all due respect to the deceased, that’s not that terrible.)

Summary

These are just the main four areas that come to mind as I am writing this. If I had to pick just one of even those four to focus on, it would be very difficult – a near-tie between law enforcement and computers. Computers I have more experience and direct knowledge about, but I feel that I have a great aptitude toward both; I probably would receive more direct pleasure from law enforcement. See my quandary?

I enjoy serving people. I think that is apparent in what I’ve already written as well as in what I didn’t write about: my recent history, college experience, and full-time employment with a church last year. I’m just trying to find the best way to use the gifts God has given me to serve Him by serving His people. This should be a happy experience, and it mostly is, I’m just struggling to find the best fit for me. The job market isn’t helping much, to be sure, but ultimately it is up to me to make an opportunity for employment.

31May/09

Fourteen Days

In fourteen days, I will be married. So unbelievable. It wasn’t that long ago that I thought marriage was for all those “grown-ups” who were done being young and having fun but wanted to raise kids.

Alas, here we are.  After a near-two-year-long engagement, Natalie and I are getting married in weeks’ time, in Indy.  I cannot wait – both for the ceremony itself and the beginning of the marriage.  (Additionally, I’m just ready to “move on” to a new chapter of my life.)

Natalie and I have both grown so much the past few years, and I am certain now that we are ready to get married.  Two years ago when I proposed, I knew we weren’t yet ready to get married right then, but I was confident that we would be, and confident that it was Natalie I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, share everything with, and, yes, raise children with.  But I’m happy to say the Lord has worked in us in so many ways, through several important people, particularly over the last two years.

I’m also very much looking forward to becoming an official resident of Fishers.  Don’t get me wrong – Muncie’s been great to me the last five years.  In fact, I actually have grown quite accustomed to the “small town” feel (yes, people from truly small towns: it’s a “small town” compared to what I grew up in).  I feel that I have made as much of my home as possible, particularly in the past three years since I moved into my house off campus.

But I really like the Town of Fishers. It’s located just across the county line from where I grew up (we lived literally six blocks due south of Fishers), so it’s pretty familiar. Our apartment seems nice and quite large, and I cannot wait to set up our home.

I move in six days; I have already packed most of my stuff. These next six days cannot pass quickly enough!

Tagged as: , , 2 Comments
5Aug/08

Evansville’s Best-Kept Secret

Last night, during a break from the National Student Conference (hosted by the NACCM), the rest of the Christian Campus House staff and I joined a couple other guys from the conference and drove through Evansville a bit to go to a restaurant.  It was a Greek restaurant called Acropolis, and it was absolutely amazing.  Apparently, the two other guys who went with us ate there last year as well, and, upon entering the restaurant last year, the owner greeted them at the door and said, "let me cook for you tonight!"  Well, long story short, this year they asked if we could do the same thing, and this is what happened.  We ordered drinks, and the waitress (the same one they had last year!) called Doros, the owner, and he told her what all to have the chefs prepare for us.  For $20 a person plus drinks, we had probably 4 appetizers, salad, and 3 entrees plus desert, served "family-style" for the 5 of us to share.  It was absolutely astounding, and the service was fantastic.  Mind you, I had never eaten Greek food before, but the stuffed mushrooms were the only thing I didn't try (I'm definitely not a fan of mushrooms).  I tried everything else, and liked everything else, with the exception of the cucumber sauce - but I'm pretty sure that was me, not the restaurant.

Then, after a bit, Doros arrived (he had been running some errands) and joined us for probably 10 minutes.  It turns out he has a young son who was very sick during the conference last year, and the guys we were with heard about this and told him and the waitress that they'd pray for his son.  Well, his son (who was around a year old at the time) was in a coma for four days, but suddenly came out of it and is 100% healthy now.  He said they were "blessed."  What an amazing picture of the power of prayer.  Surely our two new friends weren't the only people praying for Doros's son, but how cool that was for them to be able to ask about him and hear such a great report.

Doros also reported that, a few months ago, Evansville was the host of a baseball tournament of some sort.  Several guys from ESPN came in, and Doros offered to cook for them (he didn't know they were from ESPN until after he had started cooking for them); they essentially got the same awesome deal that we did.  They told him, on their way out, "on the radio tomorrow, we're not going to be talking about baseball, we're going to be talking about this restaurant!"  Truly an amazing place, it is well worth the time and money to enjoy an awesome Greek meal.  And be sure to ask to dine "off the menu," as Doros was so kind to do for us again this year.

Acropolis Authentic Greek Cuisine & Spirits
501 N. Green River Rd.
Evansville, IN 47715
http://www.acropolisevv.com

Tagged as: , No Comments
23Jun/08

Survey: More Americans dropping dogma for spirituality

Read the link: Survey: More Americans dropping dogma for spirituality - USATODAY.com

I can hardly believe some of this.  Well, actually, that's not true.  I believe every word of it; especially being near a college campus for four years, I don't doubt any of this.  I just hate to see it in words, as stats, proof of the lack of teaching that is going on and the compromise that people are willing to make.

Tagged as: , No Comments
30Mar/08

Ultimate Pictionary

I finally got to play a game with some friends tonight who have raved about playing it before.  They call it "Ultimate Pictionary."  While I have no idea where this idea actually originated, it's brilliant.  In short, each player gets a number of scrap pieces of paper (this number is equal to the number of players; 6 players -> 6 pieces of paper for each player per round).  Each player writes something (anything, really: a name, a movie title, a person, a book title, a phrase, anything) on the first piece of paper in the stack.  Everyone then passes their stack (at this point just the first paper has anything on it) to the left.  Now, each player reads this new card and, on the next paper in the stack, draws a representation of what was written on the first paper.  Next, pass the stacks to the left again.  Now, each player looks at the drawing on the top paper (but not at the first paper!), and writes, on the next paper (which is blank), what he or she thinks the drawing is describing.  Play continues like this, alternating back and forth between writing a word-based description and drawing a visual representation of the words.  Ideally, this game is played with an odd number of players, so that by the end of each round, each player has a stack that begins and ends with a set of words - it just finishes off nicely this way.  Regardless of how many players are playing, each round is over when the players all have their own stacks back in their hands.  Each person then goes through their stacks, showing or reading each paper aloud.  There is no scoring and there is no winner; it's just super-fun to see what happens to the original words or phrases.  It's sorta like Pictionary meets telephone.  Please see the following seven frames for an example of how one hilarious round might transpire.

frame 1

frame 2

frame 3

frame 4

frame 5

frame 6

frame 7

Tagged as: , 3 Comments
25Mar/08

A New Apologetic Method

Okay, so it may not actually be totally new.  But it's new to me, and it's new to many modern Christians.  You see, many "classic" Christian apologetics just aren't as applicable to today society and situation.  With the "New Atheists" as prominent as they are, we must adapt and take on new tactics when dealing with these issues.  Dinesh D' Souza spoke this evening at Crossroads Bible College in Indianapolis.  I will blog more on his talk in upcoming days, but here are just a couple of thoughts that he shared with us.

In his mind, Atheism has only recently become as militant as it now is.  In the past, Atheists have sought little more than for removal of Nativities from public places or the dismantling of 10 Commandment replicas from court houses.  However, these days, Atheists are attempting to discredit Christianity.  They try to "make Christians feel like idiots" for believing as we do, as D' Souza put it tonight.  We Christians were taught to defend our beliefs and explain our beliefs by pointing to the Bible.  Quoting Scripture is also recommended.  However, what do you do when somebody inherently disbelieves the Bible and its veracity?  Saying "because it said so" is meaningless when they don't give the Bible any credit to begin with.  Thus, we must become "bilingual," in a sense.  We need to be able to speak secularly with Atheists/secularists.  This is just one tenant of his methodology for dealing with Atheism as it has presented itself in modern society.

More to come soon; right now, I am simply much too tired and it is past my bedtime.  I just want to leave you with one more nugget of knowledge that I gained tonight.  I will perhaps put it in context in a future post, but, for now, know that Heaven is adult Disneyland. 🙂

24Mar/08

Last-Minute Trip to Indy/Test Post

Dinesh D' SouzaWell, I'm heading to Indy in a half-hour.  Mark informed us that Dinesh D' Souza (author of What's So Great About Christianity?, among other books) is speaking at Crossroads Bible College in Indy this evening, so I'll be traveling down there with him to see Dinesh speak.  Should be interesting!  Depending on how the talk goes (and my energy level when we get back), I may blog about it later tonight.

On a slightly geeky side-note, this post is partially just to try out a new method of blogging.  Same service provider (Blogger), but I'm using Microsoft Windows Live Writer (a desktop-based app) to compose and publish from.

Tagged as: No Comments
31Aug/06

Confusion…

Do you ever wonder why God puts certain people in your life? Perhaps they are frustrating, nay, angering, at times. Maybe they force you to think differently about things. Possibly they challenge you directly or in roundabout terms. Other times, these people may be your friends, help you out, make you laugh, or give you some encouragement. But all the while, you just can't figure out the reason for that particular person and the assortment of feelings you have related to them. Anybody know what I'm talking about?

Tagged as: No Comments