Ziphen Central

Seeking Wisdom and Sublimity

An open letter to passport stampers everywhere

Dear passport stamper person,

Let me begin by thanking you for your service. I’m sure you serve an important role in the immigration office, making sure that only legitimate travelers are allowed into your country, and that terrorists and suchlike are denied. I also am aware that your job is not necessarily a pleasant one, and that you would probably much rather be at home watching TV at 11 PM instead of stamping passports. So please accept my sincere gratitude for your efforts.

However, I do have a minor complaint. Are you aware that my U.S. passport features 17 pages for you to stamp visas on? I certainly don’t expect you to count them like I just did, but I can’t help but notice that, every time you stamp my passport, you always add your stamp somewhere in the first few spreads, which have been stamped many times before. It’s almost as if, instead of looking for a blank space to stamp on, you are looking for the very spot in my passport that is so overstamped, that no one could possibly spot, much less read, a new stamp! Every time is the same, continuing the vicious cycle.

I know this is an insignificant grievance, but when I look through my passport and see whole blank pages, just longing for someone to stamp on them, I can’t help but wonder what you were thinking when I handed you my passport and you thumbed through it. All I ask is that you look more carefully next time, and give some love to the lonely back pages of my passport before it expires.

Sincerely,

Mashkioya, world traveler

Posted on 9 December 2015 by Mashkioya
Filed under: miscellany,travel

Stop the U.S. Imperialists from sneaking into your house!

So, today I happened to be browsing a North Korean website—that’s totally normal, right? Well, the truth is, I don’t do this often, since North Korean websites generally serve up an uninteresting array of news related to what Kim Jeong-eun is up to, and how awful South Korea and America are. But this time I was surprised to see a button labeled “Game”—not only did it promise something more interesting, but they used an English word that South Korea has adopted, but which I would expect the northern comrades to avoid. At any rate, I was ready to play some North Korean computer games!

Not all of them would load (North Korean servers aren’t known for their speedy page delivery), but I got a few to fire up. First I played a geography game with a map of the Korean peninsula, the goal being to recognise each province and major city by its shape, and then stick it in the proper place on the map. I didn’t do too bad, despite my very limited knowledge of Korean geography! (keep reading)

Posted on 6 November 2015 by Mashkioya
Filed under: Korean,miscellany,politics

Goodwin Cemetery

leroyI like cemeteries. Call me morbid if you like, but there’s nothing like strolling past headstones and trying to decipher worn epitaphs to put things into perspective and remind me of my mortality. As I look at people’s names and the dates of their birth and death, I can’t help but wonder about what went in-between, and the circumstances surrounding their deaths. What happened to the two teenage brothers buried near their parents, who died within days of each other? One hundred and fifty years ago, who were the mourning people who gathered around when a woman was laid to rest below this stone vault?

On New Year’s Day I visited a cemetery that I had passed many times before as I walked to and from work. It’s located just beside one of the major highways through town, and unless commuters are particularly unobservant, I’m sure many of them see it every day. And although now it’s in a busy suburban area, it harks back to a simpler time, when the highway was just a dirt road, and the city was only a small town in the former Cherokee territory.

Although this cemetery has been kept up, mowed around, and so forth, time has certainly taken its toll. The oldest grave, from 1837, is missing the original stone, and many of the headstones lie broken and fallen despite being the last relic and often glorious monument to the person lying beneath. (keep reading)

Posted on 21 January 2014 by Mashkioya
Filed under: miscellany

I Have Such a Great Life

I do a lot of thinking, and this evening as I walked home from work this thought dawned on me: Life is great! I often ponder how I can improve myself and make life better, more efficient, and more effective, but this evening I’ve just been thinking about all the blessings God has sent my way. The Lord has been mindful of me! Here’s a few of the things I came up with:

  • I have parents who love me and take care of me even though I’m far, far away.
  • I have a great sister who is good at making bread, taking on responsibilities, and hiking mountains.
  • I have wonderful friends who encourage me, challenge me, and stir me up to love and good works.
  • I’m a part of a loving congregation of saints who encourage me and pray for my ministry.
  • I get to work with Christians every day.
  • My job is to help people learn God’s truth, and I even get paid for it!
  • God keeps giving me opportunities to teach the good message and preach His Word.
  • I live in a place where multiple languages are spoken, and I have lots of language-learning opportunities.
  • I have enough money for food, and even to splurge on ice cream.
  • I have running water, electricity, and Internet.
  • I have a dishwasher.
  • I have an apartment that I can afford, and I can use it to be hospitable.
  • I’m getting to host interns in my apartment this summer.
  • I get to terrorize squirrels, watch chipmunks, and wait for blackberries to ripen.
  • I have birds that visit my bird feeder all the time.
  • I can walk to work every day.
  • I get to travel a lot, and through my travels I’ve gained a sort of international perspective.
  • I’m a child of God.
  • I can sing for joy, because I’m redeemed!

What’s on your list?

Posted on 28 June 2013 by Mashkioya
Filed under: miscellany

How to Not Look Like an American Tourist in Europe

My sister on a Belgian parkbench

I don’t really like being a tourist. At least I try to avoid the term, even if I am travelling and taking pictures of commonly visited sights in foreign countries. I guess the main thing is that I want to experience the culture more, speak the language, and get deeper than the superficial experience enjoyed by most other tourists. So when I went to Europe, I naturally wanted to try to blend in as much as I could. I did some preparation before the trip, but much of what I now know I discovered in my travels. If you are planning to go to Europe and you too want to avoid looking like a tourist, this post is for you! Here are some things that I’ve learned: (keep reading)

Posted on 23 March 2013 by Mashkioya
Filed under: Europe,French,miscellany,wisdom

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