Christmas 2017: First on our own, first in Raleigh

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I wanted to share a bit about my wife’s and my first Christmas in Raleigh, and our first Christmas just on our own! We were fortunate to have a break spanning from the evening of Friday, December 22nd through Tuesday December 26th.

On Friday night, we spent the evening with two of our best friends’ place in town, having dinner and talking about a multitude of topics, not limited to the NFL and Colin Kaepernick, what our Saturday routine is, and best names for potential future generations of our families. Rebecca made some great buffalo chicken dip and some bacon wrapped sausage links – perfect holiday food: excellent in taste, minimal in being healthy.

The Eve of Christmas Eve

Our Saturday was pretty laid back – we had a slow morning and went to an early lunch at a highly recommended barbecue place in town called Clyde Coopers BBQ. And boy, was it a great experience (we tried the ribs if you’re curious).

Not only was it a delicious meal, it was one of pretty large portions that we had about half the food we had to take home. Add to that it was very reasonably priced – I think we have found a regular place to frequent. Especially because from where we live it is just about 10 minutes away.

Coming back home, we watched a few episodes of Fuller House’s latter half of Season 3, which just dropped on Netflix this weekend. Becca then went on to make some snacks to munch on for the rest of the break, as pictured here! (Needless to say, she’s great at this – which comes at no surprise if you’ve seen my size.)

Then in the evening, we got to go enjoy a local Christmas light show! It was way too short to drive through in relation to the 45 minute wait it took us in a car line to enter in, but we’re still glad we went, to give us something in the vein of a Christmas tradition to do. And the lights we did see set up was impressive and looked great!

(Okay, I’m going to keep it simple and list what we did because this could get much longer than is necessary.)

Christmas Eve

  • Christmas Eve service morning at Vision Church
  • Qdoba for lunch – used a BOGO coupon because we’re cheap like that
  • Christmas Eve at Vintage Church
  • Watched Jingled All The Way for the first time!
  • Watched Collider’s Star Wars Championship broadcast
  • Lost twice at HQ Trivia

Christmas Day 2017

  • Farmers Casserole for Breakfast
  • Played a game of monopoly online
  • Opening gifts
  • Played monopoly again with my brother
  • Prepared and had lunch
  • Took a nap
  • Watched a couple of more episodes of Fuller House
  • Continued my ongoing reading of Superman graphic novel “Up, Up and Away”, and started on “Ready Player One”, a gift from my in laws!
  • Lost twice at HQ Trivia

Boxing Day 2017

  • Had more of Farmers Casserole for breakfast
  • Watched Rogue One
  • Had Clyde Cooper’s BBQ leftovers
  • Watched Becca play a few rounds of Battlefront while listening to my backlog of Giant Bombcast podcast episodes
  • Lost twice at HQ trivia

At this point of the break on the evening of the 26th, I am finishing up on this post. I’m hoping that those of you reading this have had a good Christmas break, whether it be with celebration and a lot of family, or a more simple one or one without many loved ones around.

Finally, I would only urge to skeptics of this season (as someone who is often a skeptic of it myself) that you would consider Christ primarily as you investigate why Christmas exists. Thanks for taking the time to read this!

Habit forming is hard and just one take on The Last Jedi

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This is my second post after a long time trying to get back in the practice of blogging regularly. I won’t lie, it is hard to get back in the habit of doing it when not having done it for a while. However, I have previously enjoyed writing if even just for helping my own thinking, and so I want to do this again to refine my own critical thinking and analytical skills. Also, I hope for it to be a constructive way to share some of my interests and fandoms and be a more thoughtful consumer of the media all around us.

This past weekend, on Saturday morning specifically, my wife and I got to go watch Star Wars: The Last Jedi on its opening weekend. However, we hadn’t planned to go watch it well in advance, and ended up having to scrounge for what’s left in terms of seats for what was a very packed weekend. Not to mention we try to go to a very popular theater in our city Raleigh, the Cinemark Raleigh Grande. As a result we found ourselves in the second row from the front – in those rows that people usually try to avoid.

Boy, was it kind of overwhelming to watch the two and a half hour long movie that close. I will abstain from sharing any spoilers or even much thoughts or opinions, because honestly I think I would like to watch it again before I definitely decide how I land in terms of an overall take. But on an initial level, I was glad to go watch it – and budget allowing, I’d like to watch it again soon. The only thing I do want to share from the movie is that Porgs are adorable (pictured above)!

But that’s all for this blog post – I want to focus on a small, simple goal when it comes to blog post length so that I can do it in a sustainable way. I hope that with time I will have opportunities to write in a deeper, more detailed manner. Thanks for taking the time to read this, and hope you will have a good holiday season if you don’t come across any post of mine in the upcoming week or so!

Going to practice blogging regularly again

Have a domain with my own name, but if I don’t put it to use, who else is to blame?


In the last few years, I have been more reliant on social media spaces like Twitter and Instagram to share thoughts, opinions and thinly veiled rants about various topics I had been interested in. They do have their value, and I don’t plan on abandoning them to share exclusively on my blog. I hope that with the new year on the horizon, this would be a place for me to refocus and revitalize something I used to enjoy doing on the regular.

If there is any of you reading this, I appreciate you checking in and having the interest to do so, if even only of curious to see if I said something controversial or cringe worthy (been guilty of both previously). It shows there’s some level of rapport between you and I and I’m grateful for that – thank you!

Expect my personal topics of interest to come up – DC Comics, hip hop, video games, my community among others. I also encourage you to share your thoughts my way if you’d like. Catch you in the next one.

An Update on Extra Life 2016

Some of you will remember that in early November 2016 my wife Becca and I participated in Extra Life, a fundraising movement supporting Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals through a 24 hour video gaming marathon(!) that many video game fans like us participated in. Let me tell you as an avid video game fan, even for me 24 hours was brutal – you can ask Becca – I got so burnt out that day that I didn’t really return to my Xbox to play until almost 3 months later!

Specifically, Becca and I were able to raise $500 for our local CMN Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky – Norton Children’s Hospital through the sponsors of our effort. It may not seem like much on its own, but as a whole community effort Extra Life was able to garner over $9.1 million last year to help support local children’s hospitals nationwide. That’s nothing to scoff at! In fact the fundraising Extra Life team I was part of, team Giant Bomb, ended up being one of the top 5 teams in terms of funds raised in 2016!


The folks at Extra Life were kind enough to send me an Extra Life medal for raising $500, but I want to make sure I give credit to the few supported who helped up reach our milestone – we couldn’t have raised together what we did without your generosity.

Please know that however little or much you have helped with, its people like you that made Extra Life 2016 a resounding success to support family of sick children. While some mock or don’t value the merit of a video game based charitable fundraiser, I hope those of your friends and loved ones reading this will be inspired and proud of the part you played to help heal kids with Extra Life.


Me thinking of the scoffers after seeing how much Extra Life raised in 2016. (GIF: Jeff Gerstmann of and aka



Thoughts on #MuslimBan by an immigrant Christian

As an immigrant from Saudi Arabia and my native country India, I was a green card holder from 2006-2016 before I became a US citizen. To think of other fellow immigrants that may be restricted in traveling or immigrating due to their religious affiliation (or nation of origin motivated by it) is infuriating.

Times like these, it is clear that I stand in solidarity more with Muslims in America than many of my fellow Christians here. This is a solidarity that is built on my experiences as an immigrant myself and on my lifetime of relationships and experiences with Muslims across India, Saudi Arabia and here in the US. Teachers, best friends growing up, classmates, family friends, coworkers of parents, neighbors – there’s so much that my family and I have benefited from people who identify as Muslims.

Not to mention, to be against Muslims is often code to be anti-ethnic minority (targeting those of Middle Eastern and South Asian origin). I’ve been assumed to be a Muslim before – want to take a guess why? 🤔

If your first response to my thoughts so far is “but ISIS”, I’d wonder if you truly know what many Muslims feel about this. This is painful reality for Muslims to come to terms with before all others. And yet, to be honest, I’ve seen far more Muslims struggle with the problem of violent radicalization than (white) Christians with radical racism.

Have skepticism about Islam being a religion of peace, fellow Christian? What about others’ skepticism of Christianity being a religion of equality based on the history of the church endorsing colonialism and slavery of people of color? My point being we all got skeletons in our closets and it’s not so clear cut, real talk.

I don’t have to theologically align with Islam to affirm Muslim people as humans worthy of any and all freedoms that I enjoy being a Christian. You don’t either.

Books I Read over Winter Break 2016

I am grateful for the winter break I’ve had, and the time to mentally, emotionally and spiritually reset for 2017. I used this time to catch up on some great music albums from the year and read a few books in place of social media and video games (which I still appreciate). Shout out to my parents in law for their generosity hooking me up with Amazon gift cards that have made getting these books affordable! Here are the books in the order I’ve read if you would like to look them up – I’d recommend any of them if you might be interested in the themes they explore.
The Next Evangelicalism by Soong-Chan Rah (Commentary on American Christian evangelicalism as it stands culturally and where it falls short and needs to grow to have any relevance in an increasingly diverse aka non-white country)
The Language of God by Francis Collins (Exploration of the beautiful harmony that exists between faith in God and the pursuit of knowledge through science, coming from the leader of the Human Genome Project and devoted Christian – a refreshing read in light of the many anti-intellectual voices that plague American Christianity)
The Dumbest Kid in Gifted Class by Dan Ryckert (A series of literally unbelievable but completely honest tales from the slightly horrifying yet infinitely amusing life of the Giant Bomb editor from Lawrence, Kansas. Definitely my light read of the break.)
Manhood Restored by Eric Mason (A ministerial guide to manhood, not defined by culture, but by the standard set by Jesus Christ)
Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass (The shortest read of the set, but by far the hardest. Douglass’ memoir is a personal window to an integral part of America’s repugnant story – the evil of American slavery and the struggle of generations of a remarkable people to be free from it. The most heavy takeaway is many of Douglass’ closing reflections on American Christianity as a slave of so-called Christians could very well still apply today.)
The books I got to complete in 2016 prior to winter break in 2016 are Unashamed by Lecrae and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, which have also been deeply meaningful readings and worth looking into if you haven’t read them yet.

Help Heal Kids with Giant Bomb, me and Extra Life 2016!

Donate to our Extra Life fundraiser here:

One of my favorite pastimes since I was a child has been video gaming. In recent years, the number of games I get and the time I put into them has reduced. But I’m still a patron of the art form indirectly, through following video game website Giant Bomb – where Jeff Gerstmann and his crew cover all the video games I can’t play, and talk about them on two hilariously irreverent podcasts, the Giant Bombcast and The Giant Beastcast.

Giant Bomb’s Jeff Gerstmann and Dan Ryckert helped me learn that nothing good can come from playing video games on a roller coaster. Except a video that convinced me never to do the same.

Why am I sharing this? Well, Giant Bomb and its community of fans participate annually in Extra Life, a 24 hour gaming marathon to support Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Specifically, Extra Life participants help bring attention to and raise funds for CMN Hospitals to continue saving and improving the lives of ill children even when parents can’t afford to.

Typically, Giant Bomb sets up two Extra Life fundraisers: one run by the staff during the marathon weekend, and the other by members of its fan community a.k.a Team Giant Bomb throughout the year. Last year, I was a donor supporting the staff’s fundraiser. This year, I am teaming up to help raise funds with Team Giant Bomb (currently the 5th most charitable team of Extra Life 2016). It’s a friendly rivalry to beat the staff and help heal kids!

If you can read the amounts raised in a previous year by the Giant Bomb Staff as well as Team Giant Bomb amidst all the pizza boxes, you’ll see we really want to make a meaningful impact through Extra Life.

A 24 hour video game marathon? How does that help kids? That’s a fair question, and to be honest, just a video game marathon on its own, just like a running or dance marathon, wouldn’t help heal kids. Rather, it is the hope that us marathoners, as well as you, our friends and loved ones, would help bring attention to and give to the fundraising effort, either because you love video games or love saving children (or both!)

And while 24 hour gaming may sound like a dream come true, it is actually the opposite for many – it is a test of mental endurance and in the latter hours a fight to stay awake if you are soloing it. I surely would never entertain doing something like this if it weren’t for a good cause. Tentatively, this year’s marathon is scheduled for November 5th, 2016. I’ll share more details as we run up to this day. If you play games and want to participate in the marathon with me, please let me know ASAP!

Above is the story of Victoria Enmon, a middle school cheerleader and Leukemia patient who was the inspiration behind the Extra Life movement.

My personal fundraising will be directed to support Kosair Children’s Hospital here in my town, Louisville, Kentucky. My fundraising goal is $2000 by the end of this year, and I have have donated 10% towards my goal to kick it off and show that I’m serious about helping heal kids. Every dollar raised will fund critical treatments, healthcare services, pediatric medical equipment, charitable care and more for my local CMN Hospital.

Can you help support my efforts? I would appreciate a gift of any amount. You can make a one-time gift, or choose to make a small reoccurring monthly gift to help my fundraising success. Please donate by going to the link at the end of this post and clicking the Donate button by my name. All donations are collected securely by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. I appreciate your time and consideration!

Share, donate or check progress of my Extra Life 2016 fundraiser:

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