Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Rejoice! Rejoice! O Come Immanuel

As we come closer to Christmas Eve I am reminded of a hymn we sang in church this past Sunday.

Indeed, the song hasn’t really left me except for the moment I was singing “It’s Wonderful Neighbourhood” in response to how cold it was yesterday (I had to – in the face of such cruel adversity it’s a frivolous means of creating some cheer).

The hymn has such a memorable tune that beckons to be whistled. Of course, a certain power is found in the refrain:

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

I recall while singing it to finding the baritones notes and the parsing in the last words, “come to thee, O Is-ra-el.” In the instant my spirit was lifted up.

There is a history to the composition of this hymn, which unfortunately I currently cannot afford to research (perhaps later).

However, whether there is bearing to the following Scripture, Philippians 4:4-7, I do find a parallel in these words:

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Advent is of course a time of waiting. We are encouraged to not draw faint in our hopes for the return of our LORD. Paul writes that we should take heart that through good year and bad, God is willing and able to hear your prayers. He is near. He will save you through the Christ Jesus. He will come to thee.

In this year I have had both portions of good and bad. It seems when you do an accounting of progress, the bad scrapes tend to have prominence. Oh well: a failed relationship and a loss of a parent. Perhaps I did not re-create as much as I wanted, either. My body is breaking down in places I would rather it did not. On the other side of the balance sheet some of my friendships have strengthened and I feel a greater confidence in myself through my involvement in my local church. In spite of everything, I can declare I feel my understanding of God has grown. I am inclined to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit more often, which means I am more cognizant of it in my daily walk. Therefore, the words, Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to thee, O Israel, has more pertinence.

I hope you who read this can say the same of your relationship with the LORD. If not, take heart and be encouraged, for He is near.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Immanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.¶

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.¶


O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.¶


O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.¶


O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.¶


O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.¶


O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.¶


O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Immanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.¶


Monday, December 22, 2008

A Joke PM Stephen Harper Might Know

Here’s a joke Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper might know:

A mathematician, an accountant and an economist apply for the same job.

The interviewer calls in the mathematician and asks, “What does two plus two equal?” The mathematician replies “Four.” The interviewer asks, “Four exactly?” The mathematician looks incredulously and says, “Yes, four, exactly.”

Then the interviewer calls in the accountant and asks the same question, “What does two plus two equal?” the accountant says, “On average, four – give or take ten percent, but on average, four.”

The interviewer calls in the economist and poses the same question, “What does two plus two equal?” The economist gets up, locks the door, closes the window shade, sits down next to the interviewer and says, “What do you want it to equal?”

(if you didn’t know, Mr Harper is an economist)


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Don't Run For Trains Anymore

So, isn’t this about the tenth inch of snow received in the last week?


Like much of the rest of the Prairies this week Calgary has been socked into a cold front that has seen temperatures falling into the minus twenties. I don’t usually complain about the weather. Being a flatlander I have grown up to understand that the weather we have is a fait accompli. You just have to work around it. Yet, today as I was waiting for the walk light to change at 9th Avenue SW and 11th Street SE in Calgary, for what seemed like forever, the seeds of a complaint were starting to form. The northwest wind was blowing snow around me, and it didn’t seem to matter that I had my back turned toward it, I was cold. Streams of traffic were going by, and I began to wonder if there wasn’t some controller with his finger on the button dictating when the walk light would change who was taking delight in our cold huddled group on the corner.


I was on my way to catch the downtown train that runs through the core. In doing this routine for some time I have observed many people doing the same thing as me. Each approaches the event of riding to work a bit differently. There are those who stare off through the windows lost n in some iPod-filled acre of their existence, deliberately avoiding the gaze of other riders. There are those who can read a book while walking down the street or hitting the exit button on the train without having to re-read a paragraph. There are those who refuse to sit. Instead they crowd near the doors. Perhaps they are afraid of not being able to get off the train.


There is much diversity to be found in the ridership on the C-train. People from Eastern Africa, who have adapted well to our culture, but still find warm days to be cold and wear parkas. There are the Sikhs who come into the downtown from the northeast at the end of the day. They make up the component that clean the office towers. They wear the preferred costume of their homelands, saris and gold jewellery, and tell each other funny stories in Punjabi, and laugh. Remarkable are the old women who we think would want to be at home wit their feet up instead of cleaning. These are just a few of the cultures I have observed.


There are the homeless too. On the really cold days they ride the downtown train that is free so they can stay warm. Several days ago a small group were congregated in the back of the lead car. These few were addicts.

The precursor of their presence was the unpleasant acidic odour of too much booze mixed with other toxins and sweat, and hardly any taken showers.


I walk by the transit newspaper hawkers everyday. One in particular interests me. Everyday, regardless of weather, at the same spot he is there handing out the free tabloid. He talks to himself incessantly. It’s not a mumble. I often wonder what the conversation is about. He has a colleague whose role is “environmental.” His job is to scour the train cars for discarded newspapers. When he is done he takes a seat and nods his head to a rhythm only he understands. Then at the right moment before the train departs the depot, and how he knows when to leave I don’t understand, he gets up and leaves the car.


Lastly, there are people who being a half a block from the terminus run for the trains. I emphasize the plural here. It’s important. I can understand if there is only one train visible, and you’re anxious about being late for work that one would run for the train. But two trains, that baffles me. With two you have a 50-50 chance of arriving at your destination either on time or a little later. I watched a young gal wearing some boutique high heel boot darting across the road, stopping traffic, so she could catch her train. Once again, two trains in, what is the rush. Would it had been worth it had she slipped on some ice and fell, maybe injuring an arm?


I don’t run for trains anymore. Either I am getting lazy or old and lazy. The difference being that my knees complain too long afterward to justify the effort, and thus I am old. In contrast I have time for trains. I will hang back to watch a freight pass in front of me giving me the pleasure of wondering where each come has came from, what’s in it and where is it going. Life is too short to not take notice of life’s delights.


Stay warm.




Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Three things which do not come back

William Barclay writes on Romans 12: 9-13 with emphasis on the verse 11: “Seize your opportunities” (NSRV) also trans. as “Never be lacking zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.” (NIV):


“In a section so filed with practical advice, it is more likely that Paul was saying to his people: ‘Seize your opportunities as they come.’ Life presents with all kinds of opportunities – the opportunity to learn something new or to cut out something wrong; the opportunity to speak a word of encouragement or of warning; the opportunity to help or comfort. One of the tragedies of life is that we so often fail to grasp these opportunities when they come. There are three things which do not come back – the spent arrow, the spoken word and the lost opportunity. (my italics)”


Source: Barclay, William. The New Daily Study Bible. The Letter to the Romans, c 1975, 2002, p 195.




Tuesday, November 11, 2008

This morning I participated in Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Canadian Pacific Railway headquarters in Calgary (Alberta). "In the decades before the Second World War, the Canadian Pacific Railway, with its headquarters in Montreal, Quebec, was the largest transportation company in the world. Source: The Role of the CPR Ships in
World War II
. Besides providing human resources to the armed effort of both wars, it also contributed its rolling stock and pioneered trans-Atlantic Bomber Ferry Services. Many of the bigger rail yards were converted to factories making munitions, artillery and tanks.

The service held today was small, but well-attended, and dignified. I waited until the service was over to take some of these images.

After this morning's Remembrance Day service I walked uptown (south) to Union Cemetery. There is a small Cenotaph there with some graves of servicemen. By looking at the dates, it is an assumption on my part to believe most died of wounds received during World War One. although there are a few that pre-date Armistice Day.

As I was approaching these grounds i noticed a young soldier in cammo fatigues come into the site from the other side. He looked for a few minutes for a what seemed to be a particular grave. Having found it he squatted and remained looking at it for while. My curiosity so much wanted to know more, however I did not approach him. Instead I took off my hat, and did my best to walk quietly around his position. Shortly afterwards, he acknowledged me, got into a car and left. I spent some more time in the immediate area taking photographs.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Another War

It has become cliché to note that the First World War, “The Great War,” was supposed to be the war that ended all wars.

Of course that was not true. There have been many conflagrations since November 11, 1918. Being a child of the Sixties, by the time I was getting old enough to understand my environment in early grade school, Hollywood was purporting the Second World War with stories of heroics, and honour and glory like so many writers have through the ages when retelling history. The only difference is that most of what I was learning was coming though a lens and a tube. There was no brutality to war. John Wayne may have died in one flick, but he was back again next year in another movie. I don’t want to go all rock-hard on Hollywood. It has given me some great entertainment over the years. However, that place and particularly the industry that made it famous, is the last place one goes to find truth.


Yes, war was always candy-coated until now. More modern films are shredding that treatment to offer the brutality of what war is really about. That is not say truth-telling has become the banner. No, most people would find that boring or indigestible. Even a film like Passchendale, noted to be historically accurate in its making, eventually boils down to being a piece of fiction; a love story, based on real events. However, what it and its kind depict is that war is hell. Those who fight it are not thinking about glory for empire. They are fighting to kill the enemy; to make it out alive with as many buddies as possible.


I grew up wanting to soldier. I never did, and perhaps to God I am thankful. Not to say I don’t believe in honouring those that do. Tomorrow will find me at one of the Remembrance Services being held in Calgary. I sometimes used to think that I once was (as if I had another life) a soldier; that I had experienced battle. However, with the knowledge I have accumulated through the years of reading and investigating I am more inclined to have great empathy with our warriors of old and present. Knowing the harshness of war, and what it leaves behind n its wake, I cannot be convinced that war is good. War is a complete failure to argue with reason toward resolving wrongs. I know the Books of Moses are filled with wars and battles purported by the Israelites. Were they necessary? Were they just? Yet, we are not Bronze-aged tribes. We are far removed and have different philosophies and understandings towards reconciliation. But we still fight.


Like so many Canadians I would prefer that we would have peace; that our troops would be deployed to be peacekeepers. Nevertheless, I would not advocate for stripping them of their ability to make war. That’s what happened in the Seventies with the governments of the day. Until there is such a time where our nation should feel no threat from anyone, we need to have a strong military.


Do we need to remain in Afghanistan? My answer may be contradictory to the very argument above, but yes we do. The reason is that until the threat of the Taliban is eliminated or until a time when both Afghanistan and Pakistan have a sound security through all their lands, we are at risk. There is evidence that the Taliban want to carve out control of the region in southern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. It may even be their intent to seize control of Pakistan. If you remember, that country has nuclear munitions. In which case, the world is at risk. A failed state and ability to wage nuclear war for the sake of religious superiority is a bad mix. I trust that our army’s presence in Kandahar is bringing about some good. It would seem the rest of NATO doesn’t want to become bloodied. So we take the hits. I trust that if things get worse we can do something about it too.


The brutality of another war continues. It’s another war that nobody wants. So were the last big ones. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain tried to negotiate with Adolph Hitler to keep his empire out of that war. The United States of America tried to delay entry into the Second World War until it was forced to by Japan. We know of the atrocities that occurred on both sides. What if the Allies never formed, and Germany and Japan were allowed to cut a swath of the world for their own. What would this Earth be like today? Certainly the Taliban are not like what hose world powers were like then. Still, it’s the principle that people are being hurt and oppressed. Are we to stand by and allow that to continue unchecked? What if it was us? Would we not welcome help? I maintain I want peace, but believe in limited and justifiable use of force to get it. Standing up for the oppressed and resisting evil seems t be okay with me. God forgive us all.





Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Excerpt from "The Case for Partisanship"

Is polarization along political lines healthy for how a nation is governed? I used to wonder why watching the Parliamentary Channel of Question Period sometimes the Opposition Party just didn’t agree with the government on what was overall good legislation. Why, I would ask, is it necessary to resort to catcalling and buffoonery? Why not more cooperation? There was time in American politics when there was more cooperation, and sometime the blending of party lines. This actually caused more harm on forming internal policies, according to Matthew Yglesias, author of "The Case for Partisanship," (The Atlantic, April 2008). Opposition parties are task to oppose the government, and to show to their constituents that they represent their concerns.


That said, what usually causes the rise of new [political] parties, or the loosening and confusion of existing ones, is the emergence of new social conflicts that are so overwhelmingly important that they strain the existing coalitions, scrambling party position on everything else. Despite the ferocious rhetoric, the new issues of recent years – primarily related to sex and religion – haven’t been controversial enough to disturb the existing [Republican and Democratic] alignment. Perhaps religion will one day do that, causing the depolarization of the parties along economic and foreign-policy lines, or the rise of a viable party in some states. But of course, this cure for polarized parties would be worse than the disease. Strong clashes between coherent parties aren’t a sign that the country is flying apart – they mean we’re getting along better than we think.


As it applies to Canadian politics what we experienced in the last session of Parliament was not dysfunction as claimed by the Conservative government. The polarization between the said party and its primary opposition was operating as expected. There probably was a lack of willingness to compromise and give up control by Stephen Harper. There probably was internal conflict within the Liberal Party. Yet, the government of the land was working. Therefore, it can be reasonably argued Prime Minister Harper violated the public trust to call a federal election, despite having created a law for fixed election dates, on the above premise. I maintain the position, that the Canadian action group Democracy Watch is pursuing through the Federal Court, that the current government is illegitimate. It knowingly broke the law for opportunistic reasons. If it believes it can do so without penalty, it will certainly try to do so again.




Friday, October 31, 2008

All Saints Day & Barack Obama

Here it is the morning of the October 31, 2008. Making my way into work today my observations were how the sun was hanging on from getting out of the covers. The scud clouds that were overhead and acting as a backdrop to downtown towers and the light emerging from the dawn made a great image. Some images are to be taken and some are to be gathered in the mind and contemplated. Such it was this morning.


Of course, today is Hallowed Eves Day, which is the eve of All Saints Day. Hallow is an archaic term defined as a saint or holy person; one accorded respect. Hey, so what about All Saint’s Day? I don’t think there will be any news stories about it. I guess being good is not as much fun, huh?


However, I do remember the fun I would have as a kid collecting candy as I went door-to-door on a night like tonight.

We didn’t have much money, so costumes were always homemade. But, I always will remember that it snowed on October 31st. It was cold and it snowed.

I also this morning saw a number of costumed people going to work. The fun stuff I don’t mind, but I have a little problem with those that tweak on death and sorcerers. I suppose it wasn’t such a big deal to me when I didn’t have wisdom. For most people, it is just like that, they don’t know you don’t test with that part of the spiritual world. But, there are those who practice the occult, and today is their day. I saw a Wicca on the news last night, and she couldn’t be happier to see all the little witches and goblins getting dressed up for her day.


Looking ahead, we have the Big Event down below the 49 on Tuesday. I don’t know how you feel about John McCain; I suspect he is a good man, but I think he is hooped and pooped as far as this contest is concerned. He is going to take one for his party, although this will be his last political race. Sarah Palin will probably make a comeback, and with some experience maybe even get some traction for another nomination to the Executive. It just will be awhile.


Do I believe Barack Obama is the right man for this time? Yes. I believe that the footsteps through Selma have led to the moment where he will be made President. I believe George Bush had to precede him to make this happen. The idiocy of the previous administration was necessary to light an interest in democracy again; to help refuel the focus of a nation that has been led astray.


It is possible that the United States is on fumes as a world power. It’s not my prediction. Others like Gwynn Dyer stated so over four years ago. A malaise of complacency and moral decay has come over them (I think we have it in Canada too). There is no pioneering spirit in the Americas these days. We govern ourselves on what the other guy thinks – not all of us – rather than blazing a trail into new territory. Our politicos do much to appease the powerful and pay lip service to the other classes. We revel in our filth and call it culture.


Meanwhile China and India are definitely ascending by population and resources as world powers. They have the drive to succeed. Are they better than us? I am not comfortable to say one way or another to answer that question.


Having heard from a source inside China I would say that tiger is willing sacrifice a lot to get where it wants to be. A new world is being carved out as they catch up in a hurry. They have been so hunkered down under the shackles of Mao that what they are experiencing is like emerging from watery depths to gasp for a huge breathe. Greed and corruption dominate. Human rights and the environment are being thrown away. China has never known democracy. It has always been ruled by emperors of some kind. Presently, the Communist’s have succeeded in becoming the ruling class, and will likely play that role for some time to come. Their device will always be fear.  


India aspires for power because it sees itself as a great nation. It has shed the yoke of colonialism, while still maintaining itself as a stable democratic state. It certainly has the can-do attitude and doesn’t lack resources.


These are the countries that the United States needs to compete with, and they are going to need a person who can grasp that and not engage n war to get results. They are going to need a negotiator. I think its Obama.





Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cellphone use and the driving issue


Read this on the Cbc.ca news blog:


The alarming prevalence of cell phone use EVERYWHERE indicates to me that we've lost our ability to be comfortable with our own thoughts and that we've confused blabbin' with communicating.

Technology vendors haven't had much trouble convincing us that we gotta be yakkiing or txting all the time to prevent those nasty, free-thinking little ideas from coming into our heads. Things like, oh, how much environmental burden these damn little things add to the planet, considering they are designed to be obsolete and disposable within a year or two.. It was very considerate of them to design phones that allow us to take pictures of those things we are too busy yapping on the phone to pause and appreciate in the present. And for those few moments when there might not be someone one the other end, there's always games and ringtones to fiddle with to keep us totally focused on their product. Gotta give cell phone marketing staff their due.

Why does talking on the cell phone become more important that talking with the people we're with? How many times have you see three kids walking thru the mall together all yakkin' on the phone to somebody else?

How did we suddenly come to have so much to say? We weren't all sticking around the house using the land line phone before cellphones. Is all of this conversation meaningful or is it just another vehicle for superficial gossipy drama? If all this talk never took place would anybody's life be irreparably damaged? My guess is NOT. The cell phone has not made the world a better, happier, more peaceful place.

For sure we should not be using cell phones while we drive. We should use them as little a possible. Make the effort to go visit in person, it's really quite nice.
Rant's over, thanks.”


I need to add nothing more.



Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Originally uploaded by Ryan Brenizer
Over on Flickr, my man Ryan Brenzier who is a commercial photographer, took this photograph on Saturday night.
He was at a wedding and things got exciting. i so like the intensity of the expression of the two dancers, and with Ryan's permission, wanted to share this image with you.

Isn't it great?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Linda and Banff

Yesterday, October 4, was spent with my sister, Linda, in Banff. As she doesn't drive, and has little means to get there herself, Banff was a very different experience. Together we have been to Canmore; that was a couple of years ago, but we did not tour around much. This time as tour operator I made sure she saw it all.

We left Calgary around 9:30 AM. Stopped in Canmore for a stretch, a muffin and a coffee at Beamers. Arrived at the Banff gate around 11 AM. I immediately took Sister to the Lake Minnewanka area; pointed out the Bankhead where GGEH and I climbed the Level C Cirque several years ago. We proceeded to the dam itself and just beyond we found a lookout to get out and take some pictures. Here we bumped into a couple were from Ontario. Linda pressed for where they were from, and to her delight found they wer from Windsor. She had lived in that city for fifteen years. From an additional query she discovered the woman had lived but a block away from her at one time. This delighted Linda to the point where she was still musing about it some eight hours later.

We next travelled over to Two Jack lake. this was a new experience for me. I had some pleasure in capturing some images of Mt. Rundle from a new perspective.

Linda was most fascinated with the Cascade Falls. She asked how wide do you think the stream that fed the falls would be. What heights do you think that is. All good questions that wasn't able to answer. She wanted to make sure that she was able to get a photograph of it. So as we concluded the Lake Minnewanka Loop we came to a spot where I was able to pulll off the road and get a couple of snaps for her from my side ofthe vehicle.

We proceeded through the townsite and I took Linda to Bow Falls. The value of my stock as a brother increased dramatically at that point. I encouraged Linda to take her time getting photographs and just enjoying the scene. I went up the trail that rises above the falls for images. While doing so I encountered a couple of gals who were taking pictures of each other. I asked if they wanted a picture together, and they agreed to allow me to do so. What was neat about this experience was their camera. Although it was just a consumer P&S, it had a neat feature that I am sure is built on face-recognition software. As I set up the shot, two little squares started to immediately line up on their faces so they'd be in focus. I took the snap and gave it back to them. However, I forgot to find out what brand of camera it was I'd used. Darn. I could see how important this camera would be for teenagers (these gals were in their twenties).

Shortly after this event I encounter some older people who were going a little mor eitme to get down the steps. As I patiently followed them I was noticed. One of the party remarked that I could around if I wanted I said it was okay, I was in no rush. I said to her that patience is a virtue. She then added, "that Women have little and Men have none." I had never heard that before. I was amused. I guess that puts me into good stead. Somedays I can out wait grass growing.

I took Linda up to the Banff Springs Hotel. this was new to me as well. But, there really wasn't a place that we could stop and get out. It was a wash in people and busy-ness. It was about then that it started to rain too. So we sort of just cruised by the hotel. Quite an impressive structure.

Linda had been talking about riding the Sulphur Mountain gondola all week leading up to this day. That was our next destination. On the way i showed her the RimRock, and told her about the Upper Hot Springs. We got to the parking lot of the Gondola, whereupon she had an ephiany. Seeing one gondola lurch and do a swing on the cable convinced her on the spot she would not beable to ride on it. She said it looked too frightening and unstable. Hey, that's okay. I probably would have enjoyed the ride myself, but i don't even do the Midway at Stampede. We then had to decide what was next on the list.

Cave and Basin. I had never understood until we toured it that this is where the whole concepts of Canada's national parks began. After the hot springs were discovered in the late 1800's everybody wanted in the action. Concern for the protection of the source of the water drove the federal government's decision to nationalize it, which led to the idea of a public park and a tourist destination for the Canadian Pacific Railway to promote.

Linda at first seemed a little daunted by the approach of the exhibit on account that it was a bit of a climb to get there. She was getting a bit tired. But she tackled it like a good trooper. Once inside she was really intrigued by the whole complex. We toured the cave and spent some time on the deck of what was the original bathing pool.I located the Basin and had Linda join me to admire the colours and the bubbles of the gas rising through the water. I found the "stink" of the sulphur a little much. I was also a little nervous by the proximity of the little children being taken through the Basin area by their parents. There is no guardrail or other kind of protection other than a parents hand that would have stopped a child from falling in. while nothing happened it left me feeling uneasy. I had to leave. Linda was a little more outspoken to parents about the situation than I was. I repeat, I had to leave.Overall , Linda said she really enjoyed the tour.

We decided to help the local economy next by doing some shopping. I generally don't do retail in Banff (well, where can you do wholesale for that matter?) There is not much I cannot get in Banff that I cannot get anywhere else. Except, good rocks and gemstones. I hardly ever pass through the town with out checking out Canada Rock & Gems on Main Street. This time there was anew player on the street, Rock, Paper and Silver. I checked them out too. I thought about getting a ring. I normally don't where rings. But it was intriguing for a moment. Looking a the selection I couldn't decide what was appropriate: an index or pinky ring. The selection in each store was expensive, and I'll just say that was what convinced me to not proceed. I thought about getting a rock to display in my living room, but I reminded myself I hadn't dusted in weeks. So I didn't need another object'd art to collect more dust (for the moment). It doesn't need to be this difficult I said to myself. Let's shop for something that's less controversial. I headed over to Welch's Candy Shoppe.

Oh yes, much easier. Some taffy, some maple syrup, some licroice and can I have some of those sherbert hard candies too? I will not report how much I spent, except to say less than a pinky ring.

I had sent Linda in a different direction. Pointing out some places she may want to try. When we met uup at the car a shortwhile later, she had picked up a few t-shirts for a friend and his wife.

We were now ready to wrap up our visit to Banff. One of the most important reason for Siset and i to come here was not to be tourists. Each year we try to get together a week before Thanksgiving and spend time as a family. She recognizes that I have friends who usually invite me out on Thanksgiving Day. She wants me to enjoy that time (ain't she an angel?). So our time together in advance compensates for actually being away on T-Day. We always try to find an interesting place to have our Thanksgiving meal. It hasn't always worked out. One time Linda picked a restaurant that turned out to be a poolside lounge in Motel Village in Calgary. I would count that as our worst experience.

This day we chose Bumpers. We arrived early without a reservation, and enjoyed a booth. We gave thanks to God for a wonderful year together as a family, and thanked Him for the fellowship we had been able to experience in Banff. We placed our orders (our waiter was quite congenial); I had the Mountain Stew and Linda had a burger. I highly recommend the stew. Not many restaurants serve a stew -- the Montana's chain does in Calgary. I can heartily say that Bumper's stew beats 'em all. It's made with a red wine sauce tha tgives it a bold flavlour. the menu says there soem exotic spices added to the dish. But, its not spicy, just flavourful and in a subtle way. There is a salad bar that is included with each meal. I think it alone was probably enough. I don't think Weight Watchers would have given their seal to the combo. The coffee is good. We didn't need dessert.

We left Banff around 6:45 PM.

I have to state my gratitude to Dick and Ruby Klumpenhower for lending us their Dodge Caravan for the trip. It really made a difference. Linda was comfortable; not something she finds with my smaller Saturn car. The back end gave us plenty of room to bring along her walker. I also enjoyed using the van's cruise control on the return leg of the trip. I was really impressed how the program governs going up and down hills. i will definitely want to have that on my next car. We got back into Calgary around 7:45 - 8 PM. We had a great day.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Weekend Recap: Sept. 27-28

Saturday morning found me scurrying about getting equipment and food ready for a hike with God’s Green Earth Hikers. Our destination was Larch Valley-Sentinel Pass west of Lake Louise in the Banff National Park. While the weather was mild in Calgary, and the Banff forecast was broken cloud and mid-teen temperatures, by the time we arrived at the Moraine Lake parking lot, it was a different story. A cold gray sky with traces of snow whipped around by a brisk wind was how we were greeted when we stepped out of the van. Unpleasant as it was we were not deterred. Being that this was the last weekend of September, and probably the best time of the year to see the golden colours of the larches at the higher elevations, we were a few in a throng of many who were there for the same reason. We hit the trail.

I felt good for the first part of the trail. Yet slowly, as the memory of the many switchbacks from our Eiffel Lake hike came back to me, I started to tucker out. I had hoped to stay with the group to go right to the top of Sentinel Pass. The strain of the Thursday evening workout that was still with me, and the disagreeable weather, seemed to work against me, both physically and psychologically. By the time we reached the apex of the Larch Valley I was done. A few others were too. I sort of expected that more might be agreeable to enjoy where we were and turn around. Some of us stayed for pictures and take in the beauty; two of us went back, and the rest continued up the pass. Ruby, Emily and I eventually turned back and went down the mountain. We fully expected that with the others going upward we wouldn’t see them in the parking lot for another hour-and-a-half. We misjudged. They were at the car in forty minutes.

Before leaving the area we detoured to Lake Louise. One of our members had not been there before. We stayed close to the Chalet and posed for a number of pictures. We then travelled down to the Lake Louise village for some coffee and pastries at Laggan’s. After that we headed for home.

Sunday, September 28, was like many other Sundays. Church in the morning: a good worship service followed by the delivery of an excellent sermon by Pastor Curtis Korver. “Delight is taken in many trails of a foolish man, but a straight path is the way of a wise man.” What road are you travelling on? W Immediately after service and fellowship I joined the Veenstras (sans Edith) and the Harkemas for some repose at Starbucks. I went home briefly; picked up some lumber for Linda, and then took n the last hour of Heritage Park with it Train Days concluding that afternoon. Had supper at KFC (there goes the benefit of the workout), and followed that with a prayer service at church.


Weekend Recap - Sept. 25-26

Here is a recap of this past weekend’s events starting with Thursday evening.

I started a fitness class called Adventure Bootcamp that is offered through Calgary Recreation. I had taken this class a couple of years ago and found it to deliver results. It was a vigorous event on Thursday evening led by the same instructor as before. I tried my best. My coordination was off from hers many times. But, in the end I felt that I had worked my whole body. I went home had a soak before retiring for bed

I had Friday off from work. So in the morning I got up later, watched the TV while having breakfast. Boy was I tired from the day before. The workout on Thursday evening left me feeling quite sore in many places. Here I made the mistake of resting. I should have gone for a walk. Later, as my muscles tightened and became increasingly sore I regretted this error.

Friday afternoon found me driving my sister, Linda on a number of errands. She first had an appointment at a Community Health Clinic. It should have been an in-and-out event, but the nurse who regularly attends to my sister had an unusual case ahead of her, which caused her to be delayed. This did set us back. We followed this appointment by having to return to Linda’s home because she had forgotten her wallet. After retrieving it we headed to the northeast Superstore for groceries. Linda and I have taken to splitting her shopping list in two: one for me to get due to being more able (I combine this list with my own), and the other for Sister. I usually take the far side of the store, and we somehow meet in the middle. Shopping at the Canadian Superstore on a Friday afternoon is far easier than on a Saturday at any time. We were able to get home and unload the groceries by four o’clock.

I attended a lecture given by Dr. Stephen Lewis on Friday evening. It was a good talk, and even somewhat entertaining; I am still processing what I learned in combination with reading his book Race Against Time. Hopefully, I will have more to write about later.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Little More Backbone Please

On Sunday Stephen Harper paid a visit to Rideau Hall to receive the Governor-General’s permission to dissolve Parliament and call an election.

It was reported that his reasoning for such a move was that Parliament had become dysfunctional, and legislation was not getting passed. The real truth was more like he knew the poll numbers were in his favour, and his intelligence told him the Liberals were a lesser threat now than at any other time. He may want us to believe that he cannot get a majority government, but I am certain he knows that he could; especially when the Bloc Quebecois are not getting all the warmth and adulation from the people of Belle Province. If these be the facts, then his violation of the Fixed Date Election Law (Harper’s own law tied to the Accountability Act) has been undertaken strictly for strategic motives. In which case, suggests that some subterfuge has been done to get the GeeGee’s nod.

I have no doubt that Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean is a smart woman. As a former television reporter I am sure she has seen much politicking to know a rat when she sees one (I am not calling the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister a rat). For that reason, given that she had the option to inform Mr. Harper to go back and try again, I think she did our country a disservice. Elections are expensive and distracting. Few people really want one right now. Farmers are harvesting right now; if you are a farmer and a candidate too, then something is going to be sacrificed. These are just a few of the reasons I can think of for not holding one right now. Therefore I conclude that Her Excellency the Governor-General could have employed some backbone in refusing Stephen Harper to proceed any further.

Of course, as they say in baseball, “It’s too late but for the bellyache.”



I forgot to mention that I caught Shantel's garter. Lyle took it off her leg with his teeth. Oh, there wasn't much competition. Only a few other single guys and some boys trying get at it.


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Wedding in Regina

It’s been several days since I returned from attending the wedding in Regina. It was a good trip; quite long and I am still tired. But, on the emotional level it was worth it. My cousin Darlene, whose daughter Shantel got married, and I are almost like sister and brother. I lived with her family when I was 5 or 6, and regarded her then as a big sister. It’s a relationship that we continue to foster since reconnecting several years ago. Her parents, due to their age and declining health, were not able to attend. Her younger siblings chose not to attend, leaving outside her immediate family, her younger sister-in-law and older sister as the only family at the wedding. So she said that my coming all the way was really meaningful. That’s enough for me.

In addition to the grooms’ family and friends, there were friends and some distant relations from around the Smiley district at the wedding, I met some of them and had no difficulty fitting in. Actually, more people at the wedding knew me than I knew them. So it was fun to receive some attention.

One couple and I stayed at the same hotel. I met them over breakfast on Saturday morning. As they sat down next to me I felt prompted to converse with them. I cannot say it was a Holy Spirit moment. But they just seemed to be people whom it was reasonable to expect to be attending a wedding. Indeed, that what I asked, “Here for a wedding?” To which they positively answered, and I probed if it was the same wedding. Their faces lit up and the mention of Shantel and Lyle’s name. Carl, Cathy and I hit it off pretty well. We ended up sharing a table at the reception later that evening. As Carl and I talked I learned that we probably shared the same school bus on those trips to Marengo, Sask. He didn’t remember me, but we were able to share a lot in common.

The wedding ceremony was completed in a Ukrainian Orthodox church. It was steeped in ritual that dates back almost 1,500 years. The priest’s approach included a mixture of informal and formality that made being involved a pleasure. The sacrament of marriage in this faith requires the prayers and rites to be repeated three times for the benefit of each person of the Holy Trinity. It makes for a rich, but a tad long ceremony.

The reception was held three hours later. Each guest was received with bright, festive music and introduced to each member of the wedding party through the reception line. The speeches before the meal were kept short. Each person was given generous helping of Ukrainian food and prime rib. The refreshments came from an open bar (a rarity these days).

I didn’t dance, except once with Darlene; but watching it was quite fun. The music was great. I think I want to get some dance lessons because it looks like a fun environment to be involved.


Friday, September 05, 2008

This Weekend

The sun is just rising as I write, and it looks like it going to be a fine day. However, the folks over at the weather department say its going to be a day marked with rain. Well, I am not sticking around to find out. I am hitting the Trans-Canada in a couple of hours to head down to Regina.

For there's a wedding to attend. My cousin Darlene's youngest daughter is getting married. I feel it's a privilege to attend as I don't know Shantelle all that well. A couple of Christmases ago I travelled to Smiley, Sask. where Darlene and husband, Rodney, live. They're home is just down the road from where Darlene's parents had farmed, and from where I spent nearly a year or more growing up alongside her when I was six years old. Darlene always felt like an older sister to me. So coming back to spend Christmas with her family several years ago was really special to me. It is where I got to meet the grown-up Shantelle for the first time. As I reflect upon it, there was probably a little more drinking on my part that went on than what i would consider normal. However, I remember the time with some fondness.

This trip is a bit of a first. I have been to Regina many times in the past (was there just in January). Yet, I have never driven the Trans-Canada from Calgary to there before. Have never been through Swift Current or Moose Jaw either. I figure the time on the road should be six to seven hours.

While it's a delight to be going to Regina for this wedding, I sure wish I was going there for a football game (i.e., Saskatchewan Roughriders). But, from what I have heard, because they lead the CFL in wins, you cannot even buy a ticket to a home game at Taylor Field (they remaned it MOSAIC Field for a Credit Union, but it will always be Taylor Field to me and the legion of older die-hard Rider fans). Hopefully, I will ahve time to slip by the hallowed grounds and maybe pick up a new t-shirt or some memorbilia to bring home.

Y'all take care. Back on Monday.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Hard to believe how early 5:30 came this morning. The real shocker was waking up to darkness. Gone are the summer days when the sun is up before you are. It was also a bit chilly during my walk to the train this morning.

Getting off the LRT at the Centre Street station I overheard something that was just rude. Its true people tend to crowd around the train doors on the platform. It does make exiting a bit of a challenge. But, there is no situation insurmountable that politeness cannot smooth out. However, as I was making my way onto the platform I overheard a female voice say “Get out of the way!” Then a woman younger and taller passed me on my right. The statement was intended for me; this I was clear in understanding. However, the shock of her rudeness caused me to comment, and I said, “That was rude.” It didn’t even register with her. I was ignored. I have to say I was surprised. I was ready for feedback. I moved onto her right and about ten feet away. She just kept walking. She was wearing blue flip-flops. As I observed her from the other side of the street (we were heading in the same direction) it became apparent she was plugged in to her iPod and tuned out to the world. How sad.


Monday, September 01, 2008

Theresa Andersson

If you haven't heard of Theresa Andersson then i encourage you to check out this New Orleans folk/indie artist. I discovered her music by serendipity when i wnt to the public library to borrow some CDs. I am starting to throw a random artist into the mix just so i get exposed to some new stuff.

Her album Shine was just great. i certainly will look at making a purchase of it in the future. Because of it I wanted to learn some more about her. her website is on Myspace, and it tells a great story about the making of her new album, Hummingbird, Go! in her kitchen. Find out more about her and listen to some of her new music here

Labour Day

Hello September.

Spent the first part of the day around the house dong some cleaning and organizing. I started a couple of weeks ago trying to de-clutter my study. Its amazing what you consider valuable a year ago only to find ts not really needed. I also cleaned the kitchen up a bit.

In the afternoon I took some recyclables -- mostly paper and milk containers -- to the depot. That took about a half an hour. I also went to the library. I borrowed another a Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child on Thursday. This one was called The Killing Floor. You may recall I wrote about an earlier read called The Hard Way. As much as I agree these are good reads I do have some difficulty with amount of violence that are contained in each book. Child does follow a pattern with his main character. There certainly will be a woman whom Reacher will bed and draw in as an assistant. There will be characters who are evil and who will be killed by him. Reacher will ultimately leave the place and the people to whom the story was central. He moves on to another location and scenario.

It is how easy that Reacher dispatches his victims and how he can justify doing so that is questionable. If he wasn't the hero I would wonder if he wasn't a psychopath. After visiting the library I went for a walk in the nearby neighbourhood.

I spent some time photographing King Edward School, originally built in 1912. It is reminiscent of my old elementary school back home in Saskatoon. I enjoyed the hour to photograph this building because it got me to see something new, and it was sunny and relaxing.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bigotry Has a Face -- It's Somebody I Know

Today I came face to face with bigotry. It’s not the first time I’ve met it. It was just surprising how bold it was in its argument. Yes, it was person I knew – a colleague. For that reason I mention no real names. Instead I will call him Arthur. The conversation began with comments about the Democratic Convention in Denver, where it is presumed that Barack Obama will get the nod to be the Democratic candidate for President. Arthur said that America was not ready for a black Commander-in-Chief (CBC today reported that four persons were arrested in a conspiracy to assassinate Obama at the Convention). Somehow that topic led to discussion on a recent accommodation measure by Calgary city administration to allow ethnics to wear non-traditional clothing in swimming pools (i.e., other than revealing bathing suits). Added to this discussion were disparaging comments about how this allowance will lead to the spread of disease, etc. It had all the markings of cultural entitlement and encroachment.

When all was done, the exchanges made between us left me feeling so angry, with what he said and how I had little to counter his claims. I returned to my workstation and all I could do was stew on my thoughts. For example, I am sure no matter what I could have said it would not have changed his mind. What do you do in a situation like that? Do I continue to waste my time trying to reason with him, to offer Truth? Another thought is that despite how repulsive Arthur’s ideas are I know that I must still show him respect. What irony! He views most people of colour with suspicion; believing they are making his kind a minority; forcing their values on him, and therefore he sees that as a threat. Yet weren't people of colour marginalized for many years by people just like him? Were not Aboriginal people denied citizenship and the right to vote until 1962? To show him any less respect potentially gives an inch to hate, which I won't do.

By lunchtime I had to vent. Even though I had brought a lunch I allowed myself to go out with some other people from the office for Vietnamese soup. In that setting I couldn’t say anything. But, I felt better allowing myself to become involved in other conversation. I also waited. Taking someone from the group aside upon our return to the office I told of what occurred. Considering he was a person of colour I got a receptive hearing. Yet, there is nothing that can be done. Unless the bigot says something hateful directly to someone, which he won't because he wants one day to retire and won't jeopardize his pension, there is nothing that can be done. It feels quite crappy knowing how much I am just going to have to suck it up for a few more years.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Murder in Beltline

This past Monday there was a shooting in my neighbourhood. Literally, it occurred on my back doorstep.

Around 11:30 AM a man, a known criminal in the drug trade, was fatally shot while he was in his car in the back alley behind my building. Somehow before dying he managed to hit the accelerator and drive one block, exit the alleyway, cut across a busy street and smashing into a schoolyard chain-link fence before bringing the car to rest.

All this happened long before I came home from work. For some making that journey also it was a great inconvenience to have to detour around the crime scene. For me, not so much; it provided some new entertainment to watch from my balcony. Don’t get me wrong. I would have rather wished this event had not occurred at all. It highlights that there is crime in my neighbourhood – that’s not news – and it is escalating in its seriousness. As Calgary is growing it is attracting a different criminal element. One that is unsympathetic to the plight of others and possessing a willingness to harm in whatever fashion is most convenient. There have been shootings n Calgary, but most have not been in my neighbourhood. That’s always been someone else’s problem. While it’s disturbing, and has triggered a considerable hue and cry from Calgary citizens, it does not cause me to fear and hide.

There is little doubt in my mind that this is the work of The Enemy. Where there is joy he seeds discouragement. Where there is righteousness he breeds contempt and reaps destruction. Who knows where the soul of Efrem Mehari Kuflom, the slain man, lies today. How he got to be in a situation profitable to Satan is unknown. I suspect he wishes not to be where he is today. God is sovereign; he had a plan for Efrem. Had he only acknowledged and listened, his future might have been different.

I know that sounds arrogant and judgmental, considering I never met the individual. However, God created the World and saw that it was Good. He did not seed the destruction of Efrem. Satan did that. Two invitations were sent out. One was returned unopened.

What are your thoughts?


Thursday, August 14, 2008

I Made It On Time

Even though it’s close to quitting time here at work I am writing to remark on how punctual I was today.

You will recall I wrote about being tardy just a couple of days ago. Last night I made the point of setting the alarm (er…the stereo-timer) to come on at 5:30 AM or about a half-hour earlier than usual. I had Watermelon Slims disc cued to play. And it worked. My goal was to leave home by 7:15 (left at 7:20); and even with waiting on the train for a red light, I was able to walk into work at 7:59. YES!

I know this isn’t a very big issue to most. Many of my friends are already at work at 6:30 AM (I tip my hat to you). But it’s a win to me as I get ready to end this work week. Tomorrow I am away from the job on an earned-day-off (EDO).

Ciao for now.