Monday, December 31, 2007

I Don't Particularly Like Getting Shot(s)

Thursday night I started a book, foolishly. My aunt gave me several books by the same author and praising his books. I began one and unfortunately I started getting quite into it. Forty Words for Sorrow by Giles Blunt. I had no idea what to expect when I began it, starting it solely due to the recommendation from my aunt and uncle. It turned out to be a murder mystery, a gruesome one at that. Once began though, I couldn't put it down. At midnight I thought about leaving the remainder for the following day but with only a hundred pages to go I was approaching the climax and so I continued on.
I finished the book a little after one but I was quite wound up so it was closer to two before I fell asleep again. I got up early the following day to go to work. I had a short nap after work and then I began another of his books. History apparently repeats itself for I didn't put the book down until after midnight. The next day I woke up fairly early, 8:20, and this is where my blog actually starts.
Skipping breakfast due to time restraints I headed out to Bowness Travel Clinic for nine to get some shots before my trip. The two important facts to remember are my sleep deficit and my lack of breakfast.
Eventually I found myself sitting in a chair waiting for with the nurse who was to administer my shots. She asked me if I've ever passed out after a having a shot.
I remember getting my Hepatitis B shots in grade six. It was a series of three shots and after each one I always had to stick around afterwards with my head between my knees while I waited for the faint feeling to end. The plus side was being in the room listening to the other kids get their shots.
Nurse. "Are you ready now?"
Deana "Um... Are you sure it won't hurt?"
Nurse "You'll barely feel a thing. Are you ready?"
Deana "OK." Brief pause. "NO WAIT! I'm not ready. OK, I'm ready. NO!"
Nurse "Just breathe deep, you'll be alright."
Deana, hyperventilating, "OK I'm ready."
Nurse "It's done."
Deana "Oh."

I thought back to a Saturday morning when I was thirteen. Another day started without breakfast or enough sleep. My mom and I brought my dog to the vet for a booster shot. I stood in the small, stuffy room while the vet prepped the needle. I watched as he waved the needle around carelessy and the room grew warmer and warmer. Shortly afterwards the vet asked if I was feeling OK. I looked up to see my mom and the vet looking down at me lying on the floor.
I remember watching the climatic scene of Requiem for a Dream. I remember trying to deny to the people I watched it with that I had actually fainted but why else was I suddenly resting my head on my cousin's shoulder and twitching?
I remember going to get stitches in my pinkie finger after an accident at work. Despite the freezing I could feel the needle prodding inside my finger. I remember feeling lightheaded and the room growing warm. I remember the nurse asking me what happened. I mumbled "I think I passed out."
Saturday morning I sat in the chair and replied to the nurse, "I have passed out after having a shot before."
I don't like needles but I'm not afraid of them. The nurse gave me the two shots and they were probably the gentlest that I've ever had. I thought that I was probably fine this time. I didn't feel bad at all, for at least five seconds. Then as the nurse was explaining some things to me I felt the room grow stuffy and my head get light. I suddenly had a rush of strange dreams and then the nurse was snapping and asking if I was back. I nodded yes and she put my feet up and gave me an ice pack to put behind my neck.
I felt a little bit better and thought about sitting up but then I think I might have fainted again. I felt better and put my feet down, then later put them up again. The nurse went to give some other people their shots. It was over an hour before I felt well enough to get up to go. Miraculously, I managed to not faint when I paid the $300. bill.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

One Fine Morning

The homeowners of the house we're building have started putting the push on for an occupation date. The builder made a surprising promise of June 1st so now the tradesmen (us) are really feeling the pressure to get things done. What's more, one of my coworkers quit/was fired, another will be taking time off in late January for a honeymoon, and my boss will be taking time off to get an operation. So I didn't choose the best time to give my notice.
If I had no other options, I could choose to make carpentry my career and I could enjoy it. There are definitely things that I like doing with my job, and there are plenty of challenges to make the days more interesting but I've always had a nagging doubt that it wasn't really for me. Compound that with the fact that the dusty environment aggravates my asthma and I really wonder how long I should carry on swinging a hammer. So when the option of a extended South American road trip came up, I really had no choice but to accept.
Here's the plan. I work through January 2008 and then drive to Vancouver leaving my car at my mom's. I fly with my friend Luis to Brazil, attend a friend's wedding and then make our way North by land, perhaps with a dip into Argentina first, visiting as many interesting sites along the way as possible. I will work this summer; I'm hoping to find some sort of job that involves physical activity, interaction with good people, and the possibility of making big money. In the fall I plan on, though I haven't yet applied, attending university. The problem now lies with what courses I should take. And this question, hard enough already, poses another question somewhat more difficult. If I'm quitting carpentry to go to university, it means that I believe there to be a more satisfying life road to travel even though I don't know what it is. The question then, "Is there a career for me where I won't have constant doubts as to whether or not I should be doing something else?" I am wondering if I'm suffering from youthful idealism. Perhaps no matter what I do I will have these nagging doubts. I just feel that I should be able to find a career that I can be passionate about. Is that naive?
So, off to South America I run. Perhaps I can find some sort of epiphany on the foreign roads. In any case, it should be fun.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I'm About to Lose My Worried Mind

I never entered so I can't really complain about not winning, but I sure would have loved to won Q-107's prize of tickets to Led Zeppelin's reunion concert in London on Monday. I confess that at first I didn't appreciate Led Zeppelin all that much. I instantly liked Going to California but on their other songs I didn't like Plant's singing. However, I've since come to my senses and now Led Zeppelin is my second favourite band, in times of honestly perhaps my favourite band. I also consider Robert Plant to be the most talented rock singer that I've heard.
Some of their great songs include, Going to California, Good Times Bad Times, Babe I'm Going to Leave You, Dazed and Confused, Your Time is Going to Come, How Many More Times, Whole Lotta Love, What is and What Should Never Be, The Lemon Song, Thank You, Heartbreaker, Living Loving Maid (Alimony alimony paying your bills, when your conscience hits you knock it back with pills), Ramble On, Immigrant Song, Friends, Since I've Been Loving You, Gallows Pull, Bron-Y-Aur-Stomp, Black Dog, Rock and Roll, Battle of Evermore, Stairway to Heaven, Misty Mountain Hop, When the Levee Breaks, D'yer Maker, The Crunge, Dancing Days, No Quarter, The Ocean, Kashmir, In My Time of Dying, Trampled under Foot, and several other songs that I didn't get around to listing.
I don't know if the members of Led Zeppelin had terrible luck with unfaithful girlfriends or if there was merely one spectacular split that became the fodder for almost every other song that thy wrote because most of their material deals with how women mistreat them. I think that if I ever experience a tragic breakup, especially if I'm wronged, I will listen to Led Zeppelin for a year straight. I might just do it anyhow; they're that good that I don't want to wait until some girl breaks my heart.
Although I didn't get to go to the concert, I can take consolation in the fact that the radio station has been playing more than the usual amount of Led Zeppelin. I woke up this morning to In My Time of Dying and before noon I had also heard Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, The Song Remains The Same, Misty Mountain Hop, Kashmir, Whole Lotta Love, and Rock And Roll.
I imagine that those who don't like Led Zeppelin will not like this blog and are probably deaf or something. Really I don't understand how anyone couldn't enjoy Led Zeppelin.
People who care to leave comments could name their favourite Led Zeppelin song and if they don't like Led Zeppelin they could name what songs they do like.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Musician 1. "Can you play the Hallelujah Chorus?"

Musician 2. "I think I can Handel it!"
That's an old, widely under appreciated joke from Peanuts that even I was too embarrassed to tell last night despite the many opportune times that arose to tell it. I went with some friends to see Handel's Messiah performed by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic Chorus and four soloist that you likely haven't heard of but are nonetheless extremely talented.
The performance took place at the Jack Singer Concert Hall, and it was my first time there. I certainly saw a different side to Calgary. The redneck side of Calgary is of course blatantly obvious, especially during Stampede as is the greedy oil industry side. Never before had I seen its cultural side so clearly. It was quite refreshing.
We were seated almost at the very back of the highest balcony yet the acoustics were such that it didn't matter too much. It would have been nice to be able to see the performers better yet I stilled enjoyed it immensely and I was close enough to observe several things that I enjoyed.
For one thing, I really enjoyed watching the Conductor. Ivars Taurins certainly gets involved in the music. I think I could have watched him the whole time and not be bored. Meghan said she actually saw him jump. I missed it but I don't doubt it for a second. I also enjoyed watching the counter tenor sing. It was strange to see a man singing yet in the high notes he sounded like a woman. I never knew that someone could have such a powerful falsetto with such an amazing range. But then again, I never listened to much of the Bee Gees. I liked how after each of the three parts the Conductor and Concertmaster, the first violinist, shook hands. I also liked how the Concertmaster's name is Cenek Vrba. I don't think there could be a more stereotypical name for a virtuoso violinist. There was another portly violinist that I enjoyed watching as well. With his long beard, and white hair he looked like I think professional classical musicians should look.
However, I think that my favourite person to watch was the oboist. He also had white hair and a moustache. He had a bit of a comb over but the tuft of hair that should be combed over was drifting off to the side in a rakish sort of Einstein-ish, eccentric genius look. He probably had at least as many bars of rest as actually playing time and while not playing it looked as though he was drifting off to sleep or would become otherwise engaged in activities that normally would be reserved for offstage. For example, I saw him checking his fingernails. I imagined in my head that all of the other members would be annoyed at him and always hoping that he would give some reason to be ejected from the symphony yet he happened to be such a musical genius, such an oboe virtuoso that he position was always guaranteed despite his offbeat mannerisms.
All in all it was definitely worthwhile. I would like to go to performances much more regularly and would encourage others to do so as well.

And that my friends, is a classic example on how one concludes a blog quickly due to dwindling interest in said blog.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


For whatever reason I haven't felt the urge to blog for awhile. I had a few ideas for blog subjects but they didn't catch my imagination the way I hoped and so I didn't even bother trying to write. Now I begin, without a clear objective in mind; this means there is a very real danger of writing a lousy blog. I feel forced however, due to the constant demands from my enormous fan base. Or something.
Tonight I went to the mall for the first time in a long time. And it sucked. If there's anything depressing, it's going to the mall before Christmas. I don't know if the mall planers purposely set out to showcase everything that is wrong with the North American consumerist attitude or whether it just happened but I have quite a few complaints.
First let me justify my reason for going to the mall. I went with a friend to look for a wedding gift. Unfortunately everything on the registry in our price range was taken except for a wok. Now I'm sure that a wok is an excellent thing to have but I really don't want to buy such a lame gift. So we looked for something else.
Back to my blog though. Does anyone else notice how much of the stuff for sale is absolute garbage? Example: I saw a hand held game of poker. Pretty common except for the fact that this particular version had about six attachments so that several people can play simultaneously. Granted there are a few situations where this would be preferable to actual cards but this situations are definitely limited. I imagine that people buy this gift without any thought to how useful the game is. So many of the products cater to this type of mindless consumerism. Merely package the product well and convince the consumer that it's a good idea.
Or the toy store. Don't even get me started here. Does every single toy really need to be battery operated? Not only are batteries a huge strain on the environment with the dangerous chemicals and energy inefficiency, they take all the imagination out of a toy. Previously the toy would encourage a child to his his imagination but now that's no longer necessary with toys making sound effects, moving, and lighting up. And once the battery is dead the toy sucks. I don't even think that these toys are more fun.
The other big problem I have with the toys of today is that so many are based on popular movies, tv shows and video games. Once again, imagination is put aside because kids can reenact their favourite movie without even thinking. Instead of the customer thinking, "will this toy be fun?" he can think, "Oh! it's a Sponge Bob doll that says six different things, Jane loves Sponge Bob, I'll buy it." forgetting the fact that a talking doll is fun for five minutes and then it is garbage. Toxic, non-biodegradable garbage.
The only thing that I saw that seemed somewhat worthwhile was that massage chair I tried out. INCREDIBLE. I want one so bad.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sometimes I Just Don't Have Anything to Blog About.

It seems as though I'm going through a bit of dry spell with blogging lately. Unusually, I don't have anything hysterically funny or amazingly profound to blog about. I decided instead to zip back through my old blog archives and find something that many of you probably haven't read. So here it is, although I'm not angry anymore. This was just one of those things that seems to happen to me will unfortunate regularity.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Seems Altogether Tame, Almost Noble

Fairly late in the evening last night I overheard Kevin ask Calvin and Clement if they wanted to play a game.
"Are you guys playing Boggle?" I asked hopefully. Boggle has been the game of choice around Chateau Rockingham and I can always be suckered into a game, not matter what the time.
My hopes were dashed though, Kevin had a new game that none of us, him included, had played before; Gnostica. Gnostica is a strategy game similar to Risk in that the players compete to win territory. The main difference is that the territories are made up of playing cards. The thing that struck me is that instead of using regular playing cards Gnostica requires a deck of Tarot cards.
I wasn't too sure how I felt morally about playing with Tarot cards. I decided to join in the game though, and to later carefully consider the consequence of playing a potentially satanic game.
The rules were explained and the cards dealt out. I picked up my cards with misgivings about touching them. I know it's a knee-jerk reaction from growing up being taught to stay away from games of divination such as Ouija Board and Tarot cards but on the other hand maybe there was good reason for my caution. Calvin was talking about how the cards were invented for playing games, just like a regular deck of cards, rather then forecasting the future so it makes sense if there's no harm in them.
I felt slightly better as I rifled through my cards until I discovered that I held the devil card. I didn't like this revelation because it somewhat confirmed my fears and because the devil is ugly. I changed my mind slightly however, once we began playing and I realized that the devil is a strong card to have. I was even happier once devil pictured on the card started speaking words of advice. I later realized that the advice was only mediocre but even so the devil was good for my self esteem. Until he told me, I never realized how great a person I am and how I'm far too humble.
The game progressed but not quickly enough. I soon realized that the game was evil, robbing me of much needed sleep. We continued on until after 12:00am sometime when I finally declared a pause. Still feeling nervous about the whole Tarot deck I headed downstairs to brush my teeth. I decided to closely examine myself in the mirror for signs of possession. I didn't notice anything, likely because my face now failed to cast a reflection, it's probably unrelated.
On a serious note, I'm still not sure whether I'd want to play with the Tarot deck again, despite Gnostica being a a fun game. It would take less than a minute and I'd be interested in your opinion. I humbly request that you simply post "play" or "don't play" as a comment.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Online Prospecting

I have been accused, justly perhaps, of having a large percentage of blogs being focused on my being single. After hearing this accusation I decided to abstain from writing any more blogs on this subject but today I am going to rescind that decision, but for a great reason.
Yesterday I was reading a blog that I enjoy when a banner ad caught my eye. It was for an online dating site, common enough to be sure but this one is caters to certain people. There are many examples of niche market dating sites. There are sites that are religion specific, or that are for those who share similar interests but the site I discovered yesterday focused on, in my opinion, the two most important characteristics: wealth and looks. is "The premier dating site for rich, wealthy, and beautiful singles." Finally the site I've been waiting for. Now I will really not be writing any more blogs about being single because those days are numbered.
I immediately created an account. The problem lay with what my profile name should be. Something that should leap out, I tried "God'sgifttowomen" but it was taken so I went with shallowandarrogant. Actually I did none of these things.
There are four options for people setting up accounts. "I am seeking a: [sic] Wealthy Men, Attractive Men, Wealthy Females, Attractive Females." However, there was no category for "seeking a wealthy and attractive female," so why should I even waste my time?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Measure of a Man

I don't recall the exact circumstances, but it must have been over a month ago that I shaved my beard while neglecting the upper lip. I do know that it was supposed to be a joke. Moustaches are always funny when found on the faces of those under 30. I got a lot of laughs but of course a lot of people didn't know it was a joke and merely assumed that I have no style. Not that they're wrong, but I do know that my moustache is not exactly stylish.
At first I thought that a week would be the appropriate amount of time for this particular joke. However, I also thought that it might come in handy at Halloween should I need it for a costume. Well Halloween is almost over, I didn't actually go to any costume party and now I don't have an excuse for my moustache. So I should shave it. However, I don't want to. Maybe it's like some strange variation of the Stockholm Syndrome where I've a misplaced loyalty.
This blog sucks but my moustache is AWESOME!!!
I just don't feel like writing more.
I did serendipitously discover this sweet link which doesn't do much for my motivation for shaving.
Sweet Link

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Baby You Can Drive My Car

The problem with owning a new vehicle is that they let you know when something is wrong. I remember with my '79 van if I heard it making a noise that seemed unnatural I would "fix" it by turning up the radio. If it made an unnatural smell I would buy an air freshener, but my new car prohibits this brand of mechanics with a "maintenance required" light and other various warning lights. For a while now both the maintenance required and the airbag light were on so I decided to take my car in for repairs.
Since I'm working down South I decided to book an appointment at Calgary Honda since it's about five minutes from the house we're working on. I chose to take my car to a Honda dealership mainly because I like spending too much money. I told my boss of Thursday that I might be a little late on Friday since I would have to take the shuttle to work after dropping off my car. He said that if it looked like the shuttle would be quite late I should just phone him for a ride instead.
Yesterday I went to drop off my car. I arrived only fifteen minutes after it opened to discover that it was already quite busy. I stood in line and was asked my destination by one of the shuttle drivers. I told her, unsure of the exact address, that it was really close, just off Canyon Meadows Drive. She told me that I would be going with her.
After waiting in line for quite some time I finally headed out to the shuttle. I was the last of six to enter. The shuttle driver told me that I would be the last to get dropped off. I was disappointed since I was so close. We started driving and I was dismayed to see that we were heading North although my destination lay South.
We drove further and further North. I noticed that there would no longer be chance of my arriving on time. Later I watched 7:30, my start time, roll past. Still we headed North. Finally, just a short distance from downtown, we dropped off the first two of the passengers.
We then headed further North and my thoughts began to grow a little dark. "Why should I have to come this whole way when I was so close to start with?" I began speculating. Since I was the last to enter the shuttle I might have been automatically destined to be the last to get dropped off. I then realized that the answer was probably more sinister. I decided that I was looked down on for having such an ambitious moustache. Now I was used to people looking down on me due to my facial hair but it was another thing entirely to suffer outright prejudice because of it. I made a resolution that I would complain, though not mentioning my suspected prejudice, and try to get a discount on my bill. It could be the metaphorical silver lining.
We continued Northbound on Deerfoot. I noticed that we were now further North than where I started in the morning. Discouraged, I tried not to think about how late I now was. We finally dropped off the last person and headed back to Deerfoot Trail. Stunned I noticed that she turned northbound! I asked her where we were headed and that's when I realized what had happened. Although I meant to say Canyon Meadows Drive, I had actually said Country Hills Boulevard, a minor slip of the tongue that is geographically a major error. I arrived at work just before 9:00, over an hour and a half since I got in the shuttle.
I left the car dealership that afternoon, $1000.00 lighter. They had run the diagnostic on the airbag system but no problems came up so they merely reset the light. Total cost to tell me that nothing was wrong, $105. I remember when I was sixteen listening to adults talk about how teenagers never know how expensive cars are until they buy one. I resolved from that point on to anticipate losing large amounts of money when I finally did buy a car. I bought my first vehicle over four years ago but I'm still constantly surprised how much they cost. Now though I have a nice car, in great running condition, and a clean interior so all I need is a hot girl to drive around with me. I mean that's pretty much the purpose of owning a car, isn't it?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Keeping an eye on the world going by my window.

The last day of my first season tree planting was a helicopter block. To be more accurate there were a few cut blocks being planted that day and I was selected, along with two other guys, to plant three small, connected blocks. My foreman informed us that we had to "pound" that day because it was essential that we were finished by the time the helicopter returned to pick us up.
Well we pounded that day. I remember being glad coming back to the tree cache for my last bag up with plenty of time to spare before the helicopter was due to arrive. However, when I got back to the cache I discovered Lee and Byron, the guys planting with me, lounging around with all the trees gone. They had finished off the last of the trees while I was gone.
There is no surer recipe for good memories than being stuck out on the block with nothing to do. Lee and I napped a bit while making jokes about Byron who for no apparent reason began digging a hole. We asked him what he was doing and he replied, "making a trap." We made jokes about how the trap would cause the checker to break an ankle and spitefully fail the block. Seeing the mickey mouse quality of the trap we made jokes about the futility of the enterprise. We laughed as he carefully covered the hole, about 18" deep I suppose, with branches, leaves and dirt.
Tired from his exertions Byron also napped while waiting for the helicopter. We had a long wait though. Eventually we woke up and started milling about. Lee fell in Byron's trap. Byron and I laughed at him, though Byron laughed longer after all the ribbing he endured.
We then, betraying our boredom, began to replant our trees. Lee let us rookies into a glorious secret.
"It doesn't matter if you swear in the woods!"
"Who the @$%# planted this #!@^ tree at the @#%* bottom of the @$% mound!???"
"This @#%^ tree is #$^#$!"
"You're an @!##%"
"Your trees are !@##@ and your @#%#@ face is @#%# ass @#$@# and ##%#$@ you @$#$ big #@$#%$#.
It was good fun and I learned that swearing well either requires practice or is a talent that I lack. We headed back to the cache and I fell into Byron's trap. Byron laughed best.
Finally, after several hours we heard the chopper and got ready to hook up the sling of garbage boxes to the helicopter. We then walked to the other block, fording a creek via beaver dam and stopping to plant my last tree of the season, (upside down) where we would be flown out, along with the rest of the camp, back to the trucks. (Only to discover that, of course, the season wasn't done and we had several hundred more trees to plant.)
While napping back on the block I remember waking, thinking that I heard the helicopter coming. I mentioned it to Lee but realized it was just my imagination. Lee later remarked enviously that I was asleep and snoring again in less than a minute. He was a light sleeper and always had trouble falling asleep.
It is nice to be able to sleep anywhere and anytime. Several times I've fallen asleep on a airplane while still taxiing, waking up a while later to people enjoying snacks and drinks that have already been brought around. Hard beds, springy beds, no beds, it doesn't matter so much to me.
It's also a curse though. I fall asleep when I don't want to. I remember desperately trying to stay awake at a funeral, but failing. Or my cousin Arend telling of the time in church the pastor finished praying and everyone's head lifted, except mine. They spirit was willing but they flesh is weak.
I always feel bad for Peter, James and John when Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, comes back to them and disappointedly asks them if they couldn't keep watch for one hour. I know that I would have done no better.

(I know there's a really awkward segue in this blog but that's the way it's gotta be and I don't feel like explaining the reasons behind it.)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

My Fashion Is Just Too Far Ahead of It's Time

As I stepped out of the house today a question came to mind. I was wearing my army pants, ratty brown shoes with masking taped laces, a hoody, a rough looking leather jacket and of course my handlebar moustache. I then wondered what fashion category I fell into. If you were to group me, with what individuals would I fit best? That's when it hit me, I looked homeless.
However, driving home today I was at a red light and I glanced over to the car next to me. I made eye contact with the passenger of the car and he gave a friendly nod. I nodded back and then he smiled and mouthed, "Nice moustache!" I laughed, twirled the tips, gave him the thumbs up and then drove off. Maybe I'll never shave that sucker.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Across the Universe

Two hands. After tonight that's what I need to count the movies that I've seen this year. James Bond: Casino Royale, (x2) The Bourne Ultimatum, The Ringer, Live Free or Die Hard and last night, Across the Universe. There may be one or two more, but I don't think so. In any case, I would definitely put Across the Universe in my top five of the year.
I did enjoy the movie. Now those who know me probably could have expected one of two knee jerk reactions, either I'll love the movie because of all the Beatles songs and references, or I'll hate it because of all the Beatles covers that don't measure up to the glorious originals. Actually I fell somewhere in between. I definitely liked the movie, and the songs were quite well done. I didn't like all the versions, Helter Skelter stuck out as one I really didn't enjoy, but for the most part the considerable vocal talents of the cast made for excellent cover versions. I felt that the story lacked and was carried by the music, but of course I would rate Beatles music as the highlight of the movie. Despite my considerable bias, I think that the story was weak, undoubtedly written to fit the music instead of the other way around.
A cool thing happened because of the movie; I rediscovered how amazing the Beatles catalogue actually is. The cliché states that familiarity breeds contempt and I am very familiar with Beatles songs. For this reason I don't generally put on a lot of Beatles cds, I've heard them too many times before. However, last night and this morning I've been playing all my albums and really enjoying a rediscovered love of the GREATEST BAND EVER period.
I had a hard time watching the movie and trying not to sing along, although I was generally successful. I also had a hard time trying not to fall for whichever girl was singing, I was generally unsuccessful. During the credits they played Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds and I was tempted to start singing along in an attempt to get the audience to all sing it. I wimped out though, I don't know if everyone could be counted on to love the music as much as I do. Perhaps on opening night it would have worked. I might put the soundtrack on my Christmas wish list although generally I don't have to because when it comes to me and Beatles stuff, people already know.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Some Lessons Are Best Not Learned the Hard Way

Ten good reasons to be careful when using a table saw.
1. Left thumb
2. Left index finger
3. Left middle finger
4. Left ring finger
5. Left pinkie
6. Right thumb
7. Right index finger
8. Right middle finger
9. Right ring finger
10. Picking your nose. (Who uses their right pinkie anyhow?)
Today I was using the table saw to make a jig. I wanted to cut a hole in the middle of a piece of plywood so I lowered the blade all the way, put the plywood in place, and began to raise the blade. I have a strong love of my hands and therefore a healthy fear of saws. What I didn't know was that this saw was the one that my boss lost his pinkie on. This saw has a taste for blood.
The wood must have bound because the saw spit the wood out crashing into the door behind me. Heart racing and fingers throbbing from the bruising that they received I tried to collect my thoughts. I then looked down and noticed blood liberally dripping from my fingers. It only took a cursory inspection to realize that I had been mistaken and that my fingers, not bruised, had made contact with the blade. Luckily for me the blade was only about 1/16" higher than the wood so the cuts weren't deep. On my index finger I got a small cut by the nail, a deeper gouge on the tip and then a little bit shaved off the bottom. My middle finger had a section of nail sliced off, taking a little skin for company. My ring finger was slightly bruised. They're sore now, but I'm not complaining. It could have been devastatingly worse. I should be fully healed in a week or so with no lasting side effects save for a healthier respect for the tools I use. It was amazing to feel the adrenaline though, I think I could have done a four minute mile an hour and a half after the incident.
I wanted to take a picture to post on my blog but unfortunately I couldn't find my camera and then when I did find it it didn't work. It could have something to do with the fact that I found it the pocket of my freshly washed pants.

Monday, October 1, 2007

And So It Ends

Since I began blogging there have been a variety of subjects that I have broached on multiple occasions. There were the indecisiveness blogs (I'm ready to write another of those), the pacifism blogs, and of course the blogs about my internet friendship with Karen Gomyo, professional violinist.
I must admit, the first blog I wrote about her, the tragic romance story is one of my all time favourite blogs. However, I did try reading it to my mom and failed, I was too embarrassed and Lisa had to read the last part. I couldn't quite vocalize the whole "angels flying down" or whatever part. It was a little too over the top, to employ generous understatement.
I really liked some of the other blogs of the same subject. For one thing, I always found them very easy to write and satisfying afterwards. A conclusion of mine, based on no actual evidence, is that they were among my readers' favourites as well. Well this shall be the last blog on the subject because it's all over.
I think things first started going downhill after she left myspace. I think that my first blog was actually quite prescient because the story played out very similarly to real life except for a few minor details. In real life there was no meeting for coffee, blossoming romance, new found passion in her playing, no late night phone calls, nor a trip to Paris, no wondering on how things can continue and the cellist with perfect pitch finally ending things was actually just me, writing too many emails that were too akin to creepy, stalker emails.
In the end, each party involved, her, myself, the police and the judge, decided that it would be for the best if I stopped contacting her, maintain a 750m perimeter from her at all times and attend counseling. So I guess that's that.
I read once that people generally date and marry those of a similar level of attractiveness. I guess that most people automatically pursue those of a similar standing as themselves. Maybe I need to learn to do this because I obviously was way out of my league. But that's OK, I learned from my mistake. No more professional musicians for this guy. What's more, in a serendipitous stroke of luck I stumbled across Jessica Simpson's email address and I think that armed with my new knowledge and awesome moustache I should have a pretty good chance.
On a totally unrelated subject, does anyone want to buy a half carat, VVS1-VVS2 diamond solitaire ring?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lake of Fire? No, Hell is Cold and Wet.

Today I fulfilled an obligation that I had agreed to a while ago. Gaylene had asked if I would be a linesman at one of her soccer games. (In return for dinner and beer, I'm not so altruistic.) The game started at six but I was to show up early and I didn't really fancy the drive to another quadrant of the city in rush hour traffic. I decided to take my bike and I was glad that I did for I was able to speed past traffic stuck at a standstill.
I arrived at the game in good time. Before the game even started I put on my sweater for there was a cool breeze blowing. After maybe twenty minutes or so, the first few drops of rain began to fall. The wind picked up a little bit and then it was even colder. A while later it began to rain in earnest and that's when I began to hope that the ref would call the game. I saw two lightning strikes, fairly close by, but our ref was a trooper and the game kept on.
Thankfully the rain let up and it was only chilly because I never got completely soaked. As the game drew to a close though the clouds burst forth with a drenching downpour. I got on my bike and started for home, about a thirty minute ride. Less than a block into the ride I was freezing, my hands feeling as if they were submerged in ice water. It was pretty miserable to be sure, but I wasn't too bothered for I was mentally armed, I have memories of enduring for far longer in far more miserable conditions. I used to tree plant.
For many Americans, July 4th 2002 was a glorious holiday, with fireworks, parties and friends. For employees of Hi-Rise Contracting, July 4th 2002 will forever be remembered as Hell Day.
We woke up early that day. There was a long drive and since we were taking a helicopter the last few kilometers we couldn't be late. Part way through the drive though the trailer with the tree boxes got a flat. It was a typical tree planting flat, the whole tire disintegrated. In typical tree planting fashion, the spare was also flat, perhaps in worse condition than the tire that had just given up. We got out and started doubling up the boxes, twice as many trees in each. Loading the boxes precariously onto the roof rack of the van we continued our merry way. We went to meet the chopper but when we arrived at the staging area it wasn't there. I can't remember exactly how it went from there, I know that we had to go to the other crew's block for a bit and then to another block where we left Clint and Justus to plant. We returned to the staging area, now a couple hours later than the time we were supposed to fly out at. Our radio consistently was calling, "Heli-Bob, do you copy?" with only silence for reply. It wasn't just do to the fact that the pilot's name was Lin, not Bob. He was nowhere to be found. Finally our foreman spoke those sweet words that I'd been secretly hoping to hear for a couple hours, "Alright, let's go home." I swear, it was less than a minute later and our radio blared, "Hi-Rise planting, do you copy?" Heli-Lin had arrived.
We did copy, and it was off to work we went. The helicopter ungraciously deposited us on the side of a a mountain, not too far below the tree line. The cut block was heavily overgrown and the leaves of the undergrowth were quite wet. Although it wasn't raining, it only took about five minutes of walking through the brush before I was completely soaked. I didn't have rain gear, actually I did but it was back at camp. I naively assumed that if I got wet and cold I would just plant faster to warm up. How foolish I was. So there was I, wearing nothing more than a light shirt, the cold, wet fabric plastered to my skin. I had essentially no protection from the elements.
I have planted trees in May, June, July and August and I have planted in snow in each of those months. The mountains have a scornful disregard for what summer weather should be. On this day there was no snow, but there was rain and later wind. A brisk breeze in two degree weather while soaking wet on the side of a mountain while planting trees is about as unappealing picture as I can imagine and that was my life for at least eight hours. I had never ever been so cold before, and have never been so cold since. I've waited for buses in minus forty weather and it wasn't even close to how miserable I felt that day. I had a sweater but I put it under the cache tarp because I wanted something dry to wear for the two hour ride home. Since we started later, the helicopter was due to come later. I kept on planting, with fingers so cold that they would just buckle the instant I tried to put a tree into the ground. The day dragged on and on, each minute more miserable than the rest. I turned on to autopilot, plant tree, walk, plant tree, don't commit suicide, plant tree.
I remember how happy I was checking my watch and realizing that I should finish up my trees because the helicopter would arrive soon. FINALLY!!! I arrived to find the cache all cleaned up and ready to be slung out by the helicopter. My "dry" sweater, previously sequestered under the cache tarp lay sitting in the mud, exposed to the rain. Luckily I arrived in time and it wasn't too wet. I think there was a bit of an argument about who had the unenviable task of hooking the sling to the helicopter. The wind from a helicopter hovering overhead is intense and wind against a wet body sucks heat away in a flash. This was one time I was happy to be a rookie, hooking up helicopters is a responsibility reserved for the veteran planters.
The helicopter arrived and I gratefully took the flight back to the road. There was no warm truck waiting there like I had been dreaming of for the last several hours. The truck finally arrived and we headed back to the other block to pick up Justus and Clint. We had too leave the warm truck because, predictably, the quad was hopelessly stuck. Getting vehicles unstuck is a trademark planting pastime and I understand that Justus and Clint had spent a good portion of the day doing just that.
We arrived back at camp at around nine, if my memory serves me correctly. It was, the most physically miserable day of my life. Nothing else even comes close. It was a bad day all around. Clint and Justus had been digging out stuck truck, we had frozen our asses on the side of a mountain as had the other crew planting another block, though not a helicopter fly-in. Adeit, always a bit of a sissy in the cold, had actually collapsed from hypothermia at the side of his piece. He was raced back to the trucks on the back of a quad while being held in place by John, aka Spaceman. (He was far-out, smoked a lot of pot even by planter standards.) Adeit received some good natured ribbing about having the lovely Sara as a "nurse" on the ride to the hospital. If he had collapsed on his piece though, he likely wouldn't have survived. If I had collapsed, and I think I must have been close, I would have died. The only radio we had was good for ten kilometers. The nearest road was ten kilometers away and there certainly wasn't anybody sitting there waiting for out distress cry.
I've had other miserable days planting, not quite so bad, but far worse than anything I've experienced anywhere else. For those miserable days I came up with a mantra that I would repeat in my head over and over. "This too shall pass." I knew that at the end of every bad day was a meal and a warm bed. I just had to make it through the day.
Today, although my hands were as cold as they have ever been, I didn't even need the mantra. I save it for really bad days, the type that occur with startling regularity while planting.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds...

On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending Brian and Rochelle's wedding. (I know that there are a lot of girls out there who had their eyes on Brian but it's too late now and if you're willing to settle then I'm willing to play second fiddle.) There's a bit of an unwritten rule that masculine guys shouldn't like weddings so sometimes I pretend that I don't really like them but really I do, in a "thank God it's not me" sort of way.
Colour me a hopeless romantic but I love the idea of two lives becoming one, the symbolism of marriage, the reception with friends and family and if they're good, the speeches. (A bad speech though, is, I agree, horrible.) One of my favourite parts of the wedding is when the bride enters, everyone stands, the groom stands at the front with a foolish look of love, awe, joy, maybe a bit of fear, and the dad walks his daughter down the isle trying to hold back the tears. Beautiful.
I was thinking about weddings a lot on Sunday and in my head I started composing this blog. I didn't have time to write it though so I started this evening but the only thin I really remember is the joke about playing second fiddle so unfortunately this blog kinda sucks. I will do better next time I promise.
(Lately while analyzing the quality of my most recent blogs I've been wondering if my blog's entered what historians will eventually dub, "Ed's Declining Phase.")

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Car Whoas!

It was just over a month ago that I bought my new car. As you may remember, I didn't want to buy a new car but some vandals forced the decision upon me. I ended up with the choice of a cheap and probably fairly reliable Plymouth Acclaim or an expensive but very nice and probably fairly reliable Honda Accord. I bought the Accord, who can argue with heated leather seats? (Many people complimented me on my new car, thus the "Whoas" in the title of the blog.)
The cliché money can't buy happiness is likely due to the fact that with every new purchase the novelty eventually wears off. How long does it for the novelty of a new car to wear off? Just over a month. Now I really like my new car but as nice as it is I've come to the conclusion that I can't afford it. Although it's true that any bank would merrily give me multiple times as much money as I still owe I feel that I can't afford it.
When I owned the Tercel I really didn't have much stress when it came to my car. I knew that if something on it broke, I could have it fixed and not really miss the money that it cost. Now however, I have this debt hanging over my head. I wanted to pay off my car before the year end but I don't think that it's possible unless my roommates decide to cover my part of the rent for the remainder of the year. (If you did guys, I would do all the dishes.) I also realize that I should get some winter tires so there's another several hundred dollars.
It's not only that, I also worry about the car. The airbag light is on (and I would like to think I learned my lesson about ignoring warning lights) so I should probably get that looked at. Now I worry about what the repairs would cost. There's also a little rip on the driver's seat. I rub it every time I get in and out making it worse all the time. I would like to get it fixed before it gets worse but that's no doubt an expensive repair. If I don't fix it though, I worry about the resale value. Actually I fairly regularly worry about the resale value which is stupid with cars because the hard fact is that they depreciate rapidly.
Christmas is also coming and the last couple of years I've spent a fair bit of money on gifts through the World Vision Christmas catalogue. I would like to do the same this year but I don't want to be stressed out about it either. I'd feel bad if I spent less this year just because I'm driving an expensive car especially since I'm earning more.
The other thing is that I realize that the only thing I really like about this car is the cd player. I love listening to music. Don't get me wrong, I like the sunroof, the leather, the keyless entry, and the myriad of other options, but I wouldn't miss them all that much but I worry that the longer I wait the harder it will become to live without them. The question is though, are they worth the extra stress? I think no. As my friend mentioned, you should own your car, and not let it own you. I also think that I am perhaps overly sensitive to being in debt, a trait that bothers me not at all.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Uh oh.

Just last night the painful topic came to the surface again. Cameron had spent a while in New York and learned that his friend is friends with a young, Japanese professional violinist. He wondered whether she was the same violinist, as he put it, whose career I was "following." This of course was a euphemism for "stalking." For those of you who haven't been following my blogs for long enough you might want to catch up with the following post: She's Playing me Like a Violin.
At the conclusion of the blog I wrote how I would be in an everlasting state of turmoil knowing that the moment I gave up hope my next email would arrive. This knowledge would prevent me from ever entirely losing hope because of her history of always surprising me after all hope was lost. Therefore I was stuck in a Catch-22 unable to give up hope that our friendship (a generous use of the word I'll admit) would continue, but needing to give up hope to receive the contact.
Well let me tell you, I was wrong. The last time I heard from her was months ago. I thought that I would go see her perform in Vancouver but I don't know if her concert was canceled or if I imagined it, I can find no news on a concert in Vancouver anytime soon. Her myspace page is gone, I've lost all contact and subsequently all hope. Despite this I've received no word from Ms. Gomyo.
Today for whatever reason, maybe I lied to myself when I said that I've given up hope, I did a search for her on facebook. I did this shortly after she deleted her myspace page but she wasn't there. Today however, I find her. So now I've the dilemma, do I contact her or not? (this question doesn't have to be rhetorical.)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Gardens and Grandmothers

I don't know if I should feel guilty about not writing a blog for a while but I do. I had loads of time this past weekend having taking Friday through Tuesday off. However I didn't get around to writing a blog. I had a great weekend in Kelowna. I went to my Grandparent's house which is always a treat. I arrived to find, unsurprisingly, my Grandpa sitting in a chair reading and even less surprising my Grandma out in the garden.
My Grandparents have a lovely house, situated a block from the beach and overlooking the lake. It also has a huge garden. My Grandma loves gardening and I'm sure it at least partly explains how she is still so lively at her age, somewhere in her early eighties.
I went out to give my grandma a hand clearing out raspberry bushes. She has tons of them and they spread like weeds so she wanted to take some out to help keep her garden looking neat. With a stronger grip, I was better at cutting through the thick stalks but other than that I felt like more of a hindrance than a help. At least by now I know that "just a few more minutes" means about an hour and a half before we go inside. My grandma has a consistent habit of going out to do one little thing, say turn the sprinkler on, and then get distracted by something else and then something else and come in three hours later to her forgotten cup of tea, stone cold.
Although I am not a fan of work generally speaking, there is something nice about working in the garden. The earth is real, alive. There are worms breaking up the soil. There are plants, each one different and interesting. The raspberry bushes with delicious berries just asking to be eaten. Bees fly from flower to flower. It's a partnership with God. A little bit of planting, weeding, watering and then a garden springs up. Life, on countless levels. Plants and soil and insects and birds and humans sharing the same space. Symbiosis of beauty and life, and nourishment. Of course I prefer reading a book to weeding.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

My Drug of Choice.

My first introduction came through youtube. The video begins with a shot of a sound stage, some other cameras and cameramen, and on stage an old man in a cardigan casually playing a few bars of Frére Jacques. He stops playing and offstage you hear someone say, "Alright, stand by. Bach's Chaconne, take one." The old man is motionless for a second, bow poised above the violin and then he starts.
Suddenly the room is filled with music, and I am trapped, bound by simple notes but more than that. Somehow Johann Sebastian Bach managed to put to music the deepest emotions of my soul. D, F, A. Those are the first notes heard but the protective armour of my soul is already breached before the arrival of the next note. It isn't overt virtuosity, but a journey where every note is like the curve of a road that reveals another stunning vista, each more beautiful than the next. The journey continues and then reaches a glorious climax where all the notes climb and build in a whirlwind of sound and emotion rising to heaven, like a prayer of a saint. This moment is sublime, sacrosanct. Any other composer would end there, fully satisfied and justifiably so but Bach isn't half finished.
The music slows, allowing the listener to reflect but before long before thoughts are allowed to wander the music once again takes hold, takes control and reaches deeper still into the soul until there is an unstoppable rush of emotion at the surface with nowhere to go but up in a prayer of thanksgiving. I cannot be an atheist when I listen to this piece.
Why was I up at three am last night. To get my fix. I couldn't go to bed without listening just once more, and then once more again. Multiple listens have not dimmed my enthusiasm. I own three recordings each of which I've listened to dozens of times. At thirteen minutes long I imagine that cumulatively the amount of time I've spent listening to the Chaconne would now be measured in days.
I'm not alone in my opinion of the piece. Johannes Brahms wrote to Clara Shumann with his thoughts,
"On one stave, for a small instrument, the man writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful feelings. If I imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite certain that the excess of excitement and earth-shattering experience would have driven me out of my mind."
Even as I now listen to Rachel Podger's version, I am caught fast by the music. How is it that there is so much beauty in this world of ours? How on earth did Bach managed to write this?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down. (Says the Carpenter)

I woke up coughing, and wishing that I had taken more initiative to see a doctor this weekend. I think that the dust in the air at my work has started to really affect me, I've been having what I assume to be asthma attacks which I've never had before. I just wanted to sleep a little longer. Mornings come all too fast and I'd had a little trouble getting to sleep as well.
Last night, the neighbour's cat kept me up for some time, meowing outside the window. The members in my household, Chateau Rockingham, named him Dexter although we later learned that his real name is Nipper and that he's a she. Dexter was aptly named, her real name Nipper, for last night when I was talking on the phone to my Mom she finally bit me. We had started letting her into our house every once in a while for visits although the habit had fallen to the wayside after she started biting people. First she bit Kevin, then later Calvin, then Lisa and then Kevin again. The second time that she bit Kevin he was suitably punctured that he felt it warranted taking advantage of our Canadian Health Care and then a trip to the clinic.
Of course while Dexter went around biting people I went around making highbrow comments about how to correctly handle cats, I hadn't been bitten, had I? It seemed unbelievable that Dexter could bite so many people, he's such an affectionate cat; really, really affectionate. The thing is that right when he is most affectionate is when he bites, so Kevin told me. Calvin and Lisa corroborated.
Dexter suffered a larger fall from grace when Calvin started complaining how he was kept awake by Dexter meowing at his window at night. He finally convinced Dexter of the fact he wasn't welcome around the Chateau anymore.
With Calvin and Kevin on holidays, I felt fine letting the little rotter in. I stilled enjoyed his company. But then he bit me and I changed my mind a tad. And finally last night I understood, the stupid cat sat meowing outside my window for quite some time.
When I woke up coughing I wasn't really thinking of Dexter. I was thinking of how I wasn't ready to get up yet, and how the mornings are sure staying darker later. I worried through an obligation that today brings, I considered my cough and whether I should just call in sick and go into the walk in I coughed some more wondering if, even though I knew I had a bit more time to rest, if I should get up to get a drink to try and soothe my throat. I rolled over and looked at the clock. 1:57 am. I had only been asleep a few hours.
I got up to get a drink, and thought I should take advantage of the hour by calling my sister, nine time zones away. I had tried calling her yesterday but for whatever reason I couldn't get through. I really miss that girl. To employ tremendous understatement, I'm rather lucky to have her as a sister.
I headed up the stairs and then behind me I heard a meow, Dexter was still in the house, having been locked in the basement. I guess he had been meowing outside my door, not my window. I swear if I find any cat sh!t in the house... I opened the door to let him out but he looked hopefully up the stairs. I bodily threw him into the thankless night. Honestly, the gall of that cat.
I phoned my sister, interrupting her in a staff meeting, thereby realizing that there was no silver lining to my waking up four hours prematurely. And now here I am, blogging my woes to you. It's going to be a rough day. I should get some sleep. Sometimes I absolutely loath Mondays.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Rereading Books is Good for the Soul Part II

My last blog was supposed to be merely an introduction for this, the main theme that I wanted to write, but I felt that it would be too long so I separated them into two. I didn't really like the last blog all that much, but I think I will like this one even less, though for a different reason.
I remember the day after I wrote my blog about parallel parking I was somewhat concerned with something that I wrote. I wrote that I only brag about two things, my blog and my parallel parking. To be absolutely truthful, I brag about a lot of things. However, I always justified it by telling myself that I was doing it as a joke, I'd make a joke about how much faster I bike than Lance Armstrong and the next second I'd make a self deprecating joke and assume that it canceled everything out. Maybe it did, maybe it didn't.
I remember several months ago Brian wrote a comment on my myspace profile. He wrote, "You put the 'Ed' in 'needy.'" I'm not sure if he was just making a joke, or if he was actually making a really perceptive observation, I do desperately need affirmative statements from my friends and family. Mark Twain once said, "I can live two months on a good compliment." I can't. A good compliment serves me for about a day or two and then I start needing another. It's not that I've got a low self esteem, the blog is about my problem with pride; I think I'm great. (There's a perfect example of the sort of bragging jokes that I like to make.)
I remember the first time I heard someone talk about the "five love languages": words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. It took me about half a second to realize that I'm speak the language of words of affirmation.
Once I heard this I assumed that my "neediness" was merely symptomatic of my "love language." After rereading Searching for God Knows What I'm not so sure. Don Miller speculates that humans have a void that should be filled by God but is now empty. A rough analogy would be like Woody from the original Toy Story. At the beginning he is confident of his place in the world. He has Andy's love and so none of his imperfections matter. His pistol is missing, his voice box is a little outdated but it doesn't matter because he's Andy's precious toy. After Buzz comes along he feels the separation of Andy's affection and all of a sudden his world is turned upside down. Now he is self conscious of his inferiority. He has to compare himself to the other toys. He doubt his value.
Like Woody, I know all too well my shortcomings. Unfortunately I can't feel the love of God well enough to get my value from Him. I need to compare myself to others. Perhaps if I'm faster, smarter, funnier, richer, then I can feel as though I have worth. But really it's empty comparisons. I'm not the fastest, smartest, funniest, richest person so I'll never feel fulfilled. What Don's book made me realize is that perhaps I'm dealing with a spiritual problem.
Last weekend I made some comments that I regret. I may have made a few more egotistical "jokes" than normal, fished for compliments a little harder, in other words desperately sought affirmation, not out of low self esteem, but out of pride. For that I am sorry.
I don't mean that I think people who desire words of affirmation are all spiritually bankrupt, just that in my case I became a little bit extreme in my need to hear affirmation and I don't know that it's a coincidence that it happened during a time of summer slacking. My Bible's been gathering dust and my prayers are all too rare, usually a request for forgiveness.
I don't feel that I've expressed myself too well, Don does a better job of explaining the theory. But I won't try and waste anymore words. This isn't the best way to end a blog, so I'll close with a totally unrelated thought. Chopin's nocturnes are sure amazing. I'm listening to a recording right now and I can't think of any better music to play before bed.

Rereading Books is Good for the Soul

I'm currently rereading two books, Philip Yancey's Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference, and Don Miller's Searching for God Knows What. I don't know how many people bother to reread books but I do it fairly regularly; I'm really glad that I did because there's more than a few things that I had forgotten since the first read, and some things that I never even picked up on the first time round.
In Yancey's book on prayer he relates the following story about a tourist observing a Jew praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
The Jew rocks back and forth with closed eyes, beating his breast, sometimes raising his hands. When he finishes, the tourist asks, "What do you pray for?"
The Jew responds, "I pray for righteousness. I pray for the health of my family. I pray for peace in the world, especially in Jerusalem.
"Are the prayers effective?" the tourist asks.
"It's like praying to a wall.

I think that one of the best qualities of Yancey's writing is his honesty in spiritual matters. Anyone who's prayed somewhat regularly to God must understand Jew, and the oftentimes futile feelings that accompany prayer.
In Don Millers book I had forgotten a really cool part where he describes a meeting he had with a man named Ron Post.
"Ron was about to retire from a ministry he had started twenty years before called Northwest Medical Teams. Northwest Medical Teams is an aid organization that sends doctors to volatile regions of the world to help the sick and dying. We met at a coffee shop across town, and I asked Ron... what was the key to his success. To answer the... question, Ron pulled from his pocket a tattered envelope filled with pictures.
For the rest of the meeting the man laid down pictures of people he had met, the first of which was a young Cambodian woman who, at the age of thirteen, was being used a a sex slave to the Khmer Rouge. He told me they had rescued her from captivity and given her a new life filled with the knowledge and love of Christ. As he showed me picture after picture of blind people who, because of a simple surgery, could now see, crippled people who could walk, the starving who had been fe, he told me their names. He knew their names, every one of them. I had asked the man what the key to his successful ministry was, and he told me through his stories the key to his multimillion-dollar ministry was a love of people. Ad I believe nowand will always believe that if we are willing to love people, God will pour out His resources to bless our lives and our efforts.
I think of this meeting with Ron when I consider Christ, who, like Ron, must have a proverbial envelope in His pocket, laying down picture after picture, knowing our names, knowing the number of hairs that grow on our heads, knowing tour stories nd fears and desires. He looks at each of us and feels in His heart the kind of love that would make Him want to come to earth and die so we could be healed, so we could feel the love that is going to make us whole..."
I like that picture of Jesus a lot.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Proverbs 16:18

For the most part I try and maintain a humble attitude. I once worked with a guy who was really egotistical, not only was it annoying, but everybody made jokes behind his back. This is reason enough to guard against pride. I have two exceptions to the rule though. I openly and unashamedly brag about my blog and my parallel parking. (If you think my blog is good, well I parallel park even better.)
This evening I headed over to Brian's house for Brifest and when I pulled up I noticed a parking spot in front of the house, some would say too small, I knew better.
Actually this story could begin several months ago when I headed over to Brian's house for another gathering. That time I also noticed a tight spot in front of his house, added bonus the one car was a classic car. Let me tell you, I parked perfectly. I come by my pride honestly because I really do have a knack for parallel parking. I went inside, ready to bask in the heady glory that such a park deserved. I made a mental note not to mention my park, it would be sweeter if somebody else pointed out my mastery and I could act nonchalant. Unfortunately the evening wore on and the subject never came up. I finally realized I would have to do the regrettable but necessary step of drawing attention to my genius.
I mentioned my park to Rochelle, she had heard rumours (re. me bragging) but had never seen proof of my skills. She went out to take a look, but the one car was gone leaving a huge space behind my car, which now was parked stupidly close to the car in front. I groaned and Brian came over to see what was wrong. I told him and he said, "Oh yeah, I saw your parking job. It was nothing special; look at how small your car is, it's easy to parallel park that thing."
I pulled up today in the rental car, a large sedan. Not only was this spot tighter than even I would normally dare I could prove once and for all that it wasn't the car, it was me that was the source of the great parking jobs. A thought momentarily crossed my mind, "the space isn't physically big enough for this car." I immediately shrugged such foolishness off as I considered the last laugh that I would have over Brian.
I made my approach backing in until I knew there was absolutely no space left behind. Switching to drive I pulled in ahead managing to get about half of the hood of my car behind the car in front, the other half was still in the street. I put it in to reverse, now realizing that I had the attention of my friends who were milling about on the front lawn. I turned the radio off, wanting no distractions, and looked back, it was far tighter than I had expected. Beads of sweat gathered as I considered how much space I had, it was tight, very tight. Brian came over, he wasn't smiling or laughing. He just told me, "You'd better stop and let Janine move her car, you're literally touching both the car in front and behind." I saw that he wasn't joking, I also saw some angry looking faces looking at me. It wasn't hard to guess whose cars I was touching. If looks could kill I wouldn't be writing this blog right now, that's for sure. Janine moved her car, I humbly pulled over to the curb, grateful that at the very least, I had brought the great pacifiers, beer and ice cream.
Normally I'm not very good at reading people's emotions but it wasn't hard this evening to realize that the one girl in particular was not very happy with me. She thought very highly of her Tiburon and not so highly of my parking. I tried to smooth the situation over by making self deprecating jokes. My extraordinary wit (OK, three exceptions) never failed to win anyone over yet... Well, that would have been a true statement yesterday.
I guess I can take solace in the fact that I still write kick-ass blogs.

Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Silver Lining

Somehow I just can't seem to shake this nasty cold that I've got. It sucks because it seems a little better and then all of a sudden it's worse again. Last night I was coughing non stop until the wee hours. It sucked but I can see two benefits to my sickness. The first is that my coughing this morning inspired my roommate to write a great story.
Secondly, I was finally able to get a hold of my insurance company. It's been a real hassle that wasn't helped by the fact that I work during the day. They're giving me more than I expected for my car, it's going to be towed away tomorrow. I got a rental so everything is OK.
Or so I thought. This evening I was taking the plates off my poor little car and I actually felt myself getting a little bit emotional. I like that car more than I thought. It's too nice a car to be sent away to the wreckers. Now I have the problem of finding a new car in the next few days. (My insurance is willing to give me a rental car for five days) It just feels like high stakes gambling. Am I buying a lemon? Who's to know. I just want a cheap car that's fairly reliable; like the one that's being towed away tomorrow.
This blog is mediocre at best. Ironically my absolute favourite blog is the one I wrote about selling my last vehicle. Here it is, to make up for this lousy blog.

Monday, July 16, 2007

On Writing and Fishing (for compliments)

This morning I was thinking that this blog would be about my joyous experience with Alberta Health. A lot of people complain about the state of health care these days. Now as a young and healthy individual perhaps I am not in a good position to comment, but I think that Canada's system is relatively amazing. There aren't too many places in the world that can offer such high quality care for such a trifling amount.
I definitely don't think that the monthly sums are too much to pay, although I would like it if they actually sent me a bill so I could pay instead of having my balance add up without my knowledge.
Aware that they wouldn't forgive or forget my debt, I finally called up Alberta Health to let them know that I was willing to pay if they were willing to send me my bill. After waiting on hold for nearly half an hour listening to the worst sort of elevator music, I finally managed to speak with someone. We had a little difficulty figuring out what address I was under, I've had three since moving here although none received any sort of bill. In any case after a fair amount of work on my part, the $500 bill is on it's way. The question I have is how long would my bill have added up for before they finally tracked me down?
However, I actually changed my mind about the subject of the blog I want to write. I was reading another Bill Bryson book, Neither Here Nor There, and I was reminded of something else that I would like to do with my life. It occurred to me when Bryson was describing how he went into a bookstore and rearranged the books to his advantage. I then thought that it must be such a cool thing to be able to go into a store and and see a book that you wrote for sale.
The problem of my becoming an author is twofold. One, is I don't know for sure whether I have the talent. I am always swinging between two extremes, extremely proud or extremely doubtful of my abilities. Right now I think that I'm mediocre at best, likely because I feel this blog is long and boring. Other times I know that I'm probably good for five or six bestsellers before I succumb to the alcoholism that accompanies genius. A few years later I'll write one more book describing my courageous return to sobriety making it into Oprah's Book Club and earning myself a brief but lucrative career as a guest on daytime TV talk shows. I will then fade into obscurity, hopefully in time for my thirtieth birthday. If I really go far I have the hot celebrity wife and subsequent tawdry divorce.
The second problem is the one of self motivation. Heck I can't even be bothered to finish this blo

Saturday, July 14, 2007

No Official Title, Just an Extraordinary Blog.

Yesterday afternoon all three of my roommates took off for a weekend bicycle trip in Revelstoke. A part of me wanted to go, but the other part was content knowing that I wouldn't be spending 5 hours in a car with Calvin's incessant monologue about bikes. The other bonus was that I would have the house to myself for the entire weekend. I like roommates but the knowledge that I would have the house to myself was quite heady and I had to lie down for a bit.
Later I woke up to a house empty of people but full of possibility. I could, if I were so inclined, shower until all the hot water was gone, play obnoxious music loudly, even on repeat if I were feeling particularly devilish, make a huge mess in the kitchen, melt records in the oven, have people come over... Actually as you can maybe tell by my list, there isn't much difference in levels of freedom between my house with or without roommates, the important thing for this blog is that I sure felt like a teenager who just received his driver's license, a new world of possibilities just opened up. But perhaps a better analogy would be a dog that finally escaped the yard but know has so much freedom that he ends up too scared to do anything but stay in the front yard.
I checked my email, nothing there, so after messing around some more on the computer I headed out onto the deck to read a book, a little disappointed that nobody took my up on my admittedly casual beer drinking invitation. I have a few books that I would like to read but somehow I found myself picking up Notes From a Small Island, a Bill Bryson book that I've already read.
Bill Bryson has to be one of my favourite authors, with his dry humour, his sarcasm, his obscure but fascinating tidbits of information and his effective, and sometimes liberal use of cursing. I like to recommend his books to people but I get nervous in case people realize that my writing style is pretty much just a ripoff of his.
I read the following excerpt last night on my front porch, and found myself laughing out loud. Bill is traveling round England and spends a miserable rainy evening in a quiet town. Heading back to his hotel a car comes by splashing him. He return to his hotel in ill temper to find that he is locked out and soaking wet.

There were two doorbells, and I tried them both but without response. I tried my room key in the door and of course it didn't work. I tried the bells again, leaning on them both for many minutes and growing increasingly angry. When this elicited no satisfaction, I banged on the glass door with the flat of my hand, then with a fist and finally with a stout boot and a touch of frenzy. I believe I may also have filled the quiet streets with shouting.
Eventually the proprietor appeared at the top of some basement stairs, looking surprised. 'I'm so sorry, sir.' he said mildly as he unlocked the door and let me in. 'Have you been out there long?'
Well, I blush to think at how I ranted at the poor man. I used immoderate language. I sounded like Graham Taylor before they led him off and took away his warm-up suit. I accused him and his fellow townspeople of appalling shortages of intelligence and charm. I told him that I had just passed the dreariest evening of my life in this God-forsaken hell-hole of a resort, that I had been soaked to the skin by a carful of young men who between them were ten IQ points short of a moron, that I had walked a mile in wet clothes, and had now spent nearly half an hour shivering in the cold because I had been locked out of my own hotel at nine o'clock in the fucking evening.
'May I remind you,' I went on in a shrill voice 'that two hours ago you said goodbye to me, watched me go out the door and disappear down the street. Did you think I wasn't coming back? That I would sleep in a park and return for my things in the morning? Or is it merely that you are a total imbecile? Please tell me because I would very much like to know.'
The proprietor flinchingly soaked up my abuse, and responded with fluttering hands and a flood of apologies. He offered me a tray of tea and sandwiches, to dry and press my wet clothes, to escort me to my room and turn on my radiator personally. He did everything but fall to my feet and beg me to run him through with a sabre. He positively implored me to let him bring me something warming on a tray.
'I don't want anything but to go to my room and count the minutes until I get out of this fucking dump!' I shouted, perhaps a trifle theatrically but to good effect, and stalked up the stairs to the first floor where I plodded about heatedly in the corridor for some minutes and realized that I didn't have the faintest idea which was my room. There was no number on the key.
I returned to the reception area, now once more in semi-darkness and put my head by the basement door. 'Excuse me, " I said in a small voice, "could you please tell me what room I'm in?'
'Number 27, sir.' came a voice from the darkness.
I stood quite some time without moving. 'Thank you' I said.
'It's quite all right, sir,' came the voice. 'Have a good night.'

I continued reading while thinking about writing this blog. I had intended on writing it last night but my neighbours invited my over to watch Waiting for Guffman so I postponed the blog. I think the blog suffered for it, but ultimately I had a better time and certainly laughed more.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Harry Crack or Crack Potter

I am ashamed to see how long it's been since I last blogged. Let me just say that I've been busy. It might even be true.
I don't know about the rest of you, but I am really looking forward to July 21st when the final Harry Potter book comes out. When I first started reading the stories book three had already been released but since then I've been consistantly reading the lastest books soon after they've been released. None however, have I waited for more anxiously than the one I wait for now, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The reason is that the last book didn't really resolve and furthermore I am extremely curious about the actions of two of the characters, Snape and Dumbledore.
I made thing worse because I decided that in order to prepare for the new release I would reread all of the books. It wasn't a bad idea, but forgetting how fast, easy and addicting they are, I started far too early. I read through all six books in less than two weeks so I already finished them all.

Warning, Book Six spoiler to follow.

The question on everyone's lips is, "Why did Dumbledore have such faith that Snape was good?" It is obvious that Snape was a double agent, the question is where did his loyalties really lie? If both Dumbledore and Voldemort where convinced that Snape was on their side then obviously Snape managed to fool one of the greatest wizards of all time, but who?
I've a theory though. Maybe neither was fooled. I think that Snape was a true Death Eater working for Voldemort and Dumbledore knew this all along. There have been several times when Dumbledore mentions that love is the strongest magic of all and Voldemort doesn't understand this at all. I think that Dumbledore was trying to use love, in this sense forgiveness, to bring Snape back to the good side. I think that he pretended to trust Snape in order that he could persuade Snape to win Snape over, not through fear but through acceptance.
Dumbledore knew that this would take a while yet he felt that as long as he were around he knew that he could keep Snape in line. That is why when he was lying helpless at the end of book six and Snape showed up he was pleading and fearful. He knew that his experiment had failed and that Snape was still evil.
I think that near the end of this book Harry will be battling Voldemort and Voldemort will manage to disarm him. He will be about to kill Harry and Snape will be convicted all of a sudden due to Dumbledore's previous actions and he will help Harry, changing alliances at the eleventh hour. In this way Dumbledore will be proven correct that love is the most powerful magic. That's just a thought, I'll have to wait until another three long weeks before I can learn for sure what happens. I don't know that I'll make it.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


A wise man that I met a few weeks ago said of life, "It makes you laugh, it makes you weep." The more I learn the more I realize it's true. It's possible to go through life somewhat disengaged. I however, prefer to get swept up in the current of life. There is no time that I realize the power of life more than when I consider the five senses we have to experience life. Each sense can experience profound levels of joy.
Sight, smell , taste, touch, and hearing. Each unlocks new beauty. There is always beauty around, often ignored. Right now I can turn to see the rain fall, the wind blowing softly through the trees. A Chopin record is playing in the background, the taste of my coffee, there are divine gifts surrounding me, waiting only to be noticed.
What better place is there for a Michael Chrichton quote, from The Lost World? Malcolm the mathematician is discussing all sorts of philosophical theories with two young kids and Thorne, an engineer, dismisses them with a wave telling the kids, feel the way the boat moves? That's the sea. That's real.
You smell the salt in the air? You feel the sunlight on your skin?
That's all real. You see all of us together? That's real. Life is
wonderful. It's a gift to be alive, to see the sun and breathe the air.

Life is also a pendulum though, swinging from joy to tragedy with unpredictable swiftness. Each sense, a double edged sword revealing beauty and also cutting to the core of the heart.
Yesterday I learned that a friend died in a car wreck. I never knew her really well, but she came to our house countless times, I can picture her laugh clear as if she were here beside me. Life, it makes you laugh, it makes you weep.

Ecclesiastes 3

A Time for Everything
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Monday, June 4, 2007

She's Playing Me Like a Violin.

I was thinking about blogging about my weekend, it certainly was interesting enough to warrant a blog. I could write about how my alternator gave up outside of Wetaskiwin and how I left it there for the night to attend a wedding. I could write about how we bought parts and went to fix it and my car wasn't there. I could then tell about how we discovered that my car got towed and was impounded. I could tell about how we got to the impound and discovered that two windows on my car had been smashed and there were muddy footprints on the roof, likely explaining the big dent beside the sunroof. I could moan about my stolen cds, cd player, and new wrenches that were supposed to be returned. But I actually have a more tragic story to tell.
For those of you who followed my previous myspace blog you'll be aware of the blog I wrote about Karen Gomyo. (I'll post the relevant excerpt at the end of this blog.) As you may know, I was surprised to receive a reply from Karen who also had a myspace profile.
Now when I wrote the first blog about Karen it was totally tongue in cheek. I had no intention of contacting her, nor did I expect ever think of her again. When I learned that she had a myspace profile I sent her a link to my blog but didn't expect her to read it. Well she did read it and then she wrote me a reply setting into motion an unfortunate chain of events.
The first problem was that I wasn't lying when I wrote that Karen Gomyo is beautiful. Nor was I lying when I said that I find musical women attractive, and Karen is a professional musician. The next problem is that I suffer from the same disease that most guys suffer from, basically if a girl pays attention to me I optimistically think that she's interested. The final problem is that Karen perfectly fits into the category of girl that I always fall for, unattainable.
We kept up a correspondence for a little while and likely she was just kindly sending out a few emails to a fan. I however, feel that she had a more devious plan in place.
The first email that she sent was short, a polite reply to the blog I sent. She ignored my reply and I thought that I had heard the last of her. Then a couple of weeks later, out of the blue, came another email much longer and more personal. I was very surprised. I wrote back but she did not reply; not for a couple more weeks anyhow. I replied but this time I was kept waiting, and waiting. There were no more replies.
A few weeks later I went to write her another email and to my surprise she had deleted her profile. I was quite shocked, this time I knew it was over. I was quite disappointed and not just because I wanted her opinion on some violin recordings that I discussed in one of my blogs.
A week later I received a myspace email from someone named Karen. Her profile was completely blank except for her name, age and location. It was her, or perhaps someone playing a cruel prank on my, giving her opinion on the recordings. She had read my blog, and then created a profile solely to write me. This time I didn't know what to think .
The thing that she managed to do was write me an email just when I had lost all hope that I would hear from her again. I would always got through the same cycle of surprise at an email, hope for another reply, followed by disappointed resignation. Each email that she sent though, would further the reason for hope and those emotions would grow stronger with each cycle.
The problem is that now I see the pattern of receiving an email only after I've given up hope. Now I've lost hope that I'll hear from her again yet I know that it is in this time that she sends an email so I am unable to give up hope. She's got me stuck in an awful limbo. Obviously she is just toying with me for fun. Miss Havisham would be so proud.
The other thing is that I've got so many questions to ask her. "Is there time to sightsee when playing in foreign cities? Do you enjoy traveling so much? Have you visited the John Lennon Memorial in Central Park? Do you have the Stradivarius at your house when not touring or is it locked up? Will you marry me? What does Ex Foulis mean?
Man if she knew what she's done to me.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

In the Darkest Depths of Mordor, I Met a Girl So Fair.

Except for times when I get a little overwhelmed, such as when I read the list I referred to in my last blog, I don't have too much of a problem reconciling a loving God with the all the pain in this world. If I ever do lose my faith I doubt that it will be due to encountering a lot of suffering.
The question. "How can a loving God allow so much pain?" has more than one valid response. For one thing it is a little bit arbitrary to say that God allows too much suffering. We're then setting the standard. Who's to say that God doesn't already prevent worse suffering?
A more convincing argument, I feel, is that we're mistaken when we say God is doing nothing. We want supernatural intervention but God seems to prefer using people to accomplish his will. The Christian theology is that God sent his son to die in order to right all the wrongs on Earth. So we can say that God doesn't prevent suffering the way that we would like, but we can't say that he doesn't do anything about it. He already has started the road to redemption in a most unexpected and amazing manner.
One other thing about pain and suffering is that it can also be seen as an opportunity. If for the sake of this argument you'll let me assume that Christianity is true, then it makes a lot of sense that God will allow some pain to occur. Jesus said that Christians should be recognized by their love for each other, as in helping those in need. Charitable acts are considered one of the best ways to "encounter" God and it also helps those in need so really it's a win win situation. Without any pain there's no way that people could understand their need for God. Helping a suffering person is truly a rewarding experience for all parties involve. I think this is a principle reason that God allows suffering, it enables humans to experience his love and also to demonstrate it. Suffering is a window to grace and love.

This started as an email response to Lowenfels' comment on my previous blog but I thought that I would post it instead because it's a subject that I've thought about blogging about for quite some time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cellphones "Forged in the Fires of Mordor"

Last week I read through the that World Vision sends me and I actually felt somewhat optimistic about the future. There was an article about a boy who through child sponsorship managed to go to school and eventually obtain a university degree. Prior to being sponsored he wasn't even able to attend school. Today however I received a link to Although I haven't checked the authenticity it seems to be a relatively credible source. The point is moot though, the reason I write is due to the pessimism that I'm currently feeling about our future. I became pessimistic after reading project censor's top stories of 2007 but certainly I don't need these stories to feel pessimistic about the condition of our world.
Our global problems are so big. Environmental problems, economic problems, ethical problems, it seems that everything about North American society has a negative impact on the environment and to peoples of the third world. The only comfort that I can find is in putting my trust in a God who seems all to silent.
The way God works really bugs me sometimes. I've got some sincere questions that I'd like answered yet God, if He answers them, does it so quietly or subtly that I don't even understand the answer. He knows this, He's omniscient, so why wouldn't He answer audibly or at least let me know what I need to do to hear Him? When I get into moods like this I start to question my faith and then I start wondering if I'm undergoing a test of faith. I'm stuck in a catch-22 where I can't believe because of God's silence yet I can't give up my faith because I wonder if this silence is a test of my faith.
When it comes to these big problems I know that God desires justice and equality but I can't solve these problems. I can work to a solution but I'm stuck in the position of knowing that I always need to be doing more. S where do I stop? How can I enjoy life while knowing that there is injustice occurring every second of every day? When can I stop and enjoy the gifts God's given me. I read a quote that stated "God gives but He doesn't share" meaning that every good thing comes from God but it's our responsibility to distribute the gifts fairly. If I give everything I have to those with nothing it will be a drop in the ocean of righting injustice.

Personal problem that I'm experiencing: Am I selfish to pray for my sore wrist when today tens of thousands will perish from want? Or more generally speaking, can I prayer for more when my life is so much richer than the majority of the population of Earth?
SERIOUSLY GOD, WE'RE IN NEED OF SOME GUIDANCE HERE. I could write this whole blog in capitals because I am actually really frustrated about this. I'm a little bit tired of the way God communicates PERIOD

For those who are wondering, the title of the blog comes from one of the article that I read today. Apparently a necessary component of cell phones is almost exclusively mined in the Congo and is worth a fortune. For this reason thousands are fighting and dying for access to the mines in DRC and of course needless suffering is happening.