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.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

An Evening with the Jusses

My friends Malcolm and Ginny have been quite busy this summer. In the past we have done a lot of camping and hiking together. But, there schedules have taken them away from Calgary to family events on both coasts. Hence, we haven't seen much of each other.

A couple of weeks ago I read a review of a Pakistani restaurant called The Village in northeast Calgary. The place got high marks from the reviewer. Knowing that Mal likes a little heat with his food I suggested we meet there soon, and we picked tonight to be the one. Ginny came along too.

fish appetizers, butter chicken, nan, nehari and vegetables we had a enjoyable visit catching up on each others lives. The food was good, and I would recommend going back (just watch out for the chairs).

After our courses and paying the bill we retired to Mal and Ginny's home for some ice cream, cookies and juice. We looked over pictures they had taken while out on Vancouver Island, and shared a few more stories. It was a splendid time.

I love my friends, and it was so good to see them again. They will be busy for a little while longer. Hopefully, there will still be time to get in a hike together before the snow flies.

Happy anniversary, guys!



While on the trail on Saturday my friend Ruby and I were talking about punctuality.

She expressed her dissatisfaction about people who are late for appointments. I admitted to having chronic condition for not being prompt. It is a real concern for me too. Even though I live downtown, and relatively close to work, ever since we relocated to another part of the core I have been coming late. Now my boss isn’t the kind of guy who stands at the door with a watch. He prefers that I treat him and the others I work with as adults, and be respectful of their needs. Secondly, he asks that I do my work and have it done in the eight hours that I am his. This part I do, even if I cannot get my butt over the threshold by eight A.M.

Okay, so with the conversation Ruby and I had fresh in my mind, and knowing I didn’t have to be at work until eight-thirty Monday morning, I managed to arrive at the office by eight-fifteen. Yaay! However, what gains were made today were lost today. I have only myself to blame as I stayed up far to late to get an adequate sleep. My sorry butt crossed the threshold at eight-fifteen. And I am kind of bummed by that fact. Because the solution is obvious: get to bed sooner and leave home sooner too.

I am keen to be respectful to others. If being late is hampering others from being there best at work, then that is not right. So I have some work to do.


Saturday, August 09, 2008

1 Day Hiking In...

One day hiking in the Rocky Mountains is better...

...than one week in Las Vegas, baby.

Spent all day, August 9, travelling to Moraine Lake in the Banff National Park, and then hitting the trail to Eiffel Lake in The Valley of the Ten Peaks. We had a wonderful time. More details of the hike will be forthcoming in the days ahead at
God's Green Earth Hikers.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Time to Say Good-bye

I have been listening to a CD of Sarah Brightman Greatest Hits that was given to me as a Christmas gift. Of the all the songs I like the most the one you are about to watch en duo with Andrea Bocelli is it. When Mr. Bocelli begins his part and Sarah comes and rests her head on his shoulder; alas, say goodnight Lewis. I mean I don't want to sound like a starry eyed-schoolgirl, but with that voice and mane-framed face, I melt, I fry like an egg on the Death Valley Highway.


BBC: Wing-walking couple are married

Why can't I find more stories like this on the CBC?

A couple have exchanged their wedding vows 1,000ft (305m) above the Gloucestershire countryside.

Groom Darren McWalters, 24, stood on the top wing of a biplane,
while his bride, Katie Hodgson, 23, stood on the wing of another plane.

The vicar flew ahead on a third aircraft while guests of the
couple, from Lancashire, heard their vows exchanged over speakers at an

Well, I guess the first reason would be because it didn't involve anyone from Great Britain. Perhaps its because the CBC is dedicated to straight news. I dunno. but follow the link and enjoy of some good news for a change.

Monday, August 04, 2008

I Am A Stranger Here

Back in the day at King George School all the classes would gather on Friday mornings in the gymnasium for singing songs and watching some play performed by our peers. We had a name for it that I have forgotten. I remember one event involving my Grade Six class led by our teacher Ms. (Leona) Friesen. The idea was that we would learn and rehearse to sing "I Am A Stranger Here" by the .

I Am A Stranger Here

Verse 1
Well I’m a stranger here in this place called Earth
And I was sent down here to discover the worth
Of your little blue planet third from the sun
Come on and show me what you’ve done

This was in the early 1970's just about when Watergate broke in the media everywhere. Not that the two were connected, but it was a time when people started to question their governments on what they were doing. We hadn't really taken a look at how were treating the world as we are now doing, but there was a undercurrent of distrust and criticism as epitomized in this song.

As it is when it comes to rehearsals there is a lot of repetition. Everyone has to learn their parts (I don't remember mine), and I imagine there was a lot of waiting for other people to get up to speed. But, the unfortunate victim of this exercise was the song. I came to hate it. I would cringe when I heard it on the radio. I think my brain has selectively deleted the incident of singing it en mass that eventual Friday morning. Even the mention of the group that composed it, the Five Man Electrical Band, gives me chills. That's most unfortunate too. Because now after all these years I found it they were a Canadian group that did well on the American charts. Their best known hit was "Signs."

Verse 1
And the sign said long haired freaky people need not apply
So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why
He said you look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you'll do
So I took off my hat I said imagine that, huh, me working for you



Sign Sign everywhere a sign
Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign

Now that's just a sample of a great song. It sold 1.3 million 45 rpm records in its day. It had a great melody and a good hook. You could not help but singing along. But, I never bought the single or its album or anything that had to do with this band all because of the I Am A Stranger Here incident.

Sometimes great intentions can lead to bad ideas. If it was amusing that thirty Grade Sixers of varying abilities to sing should impress a number of teacher and parents (i.e., adults) on that fateful day; if that was the whole idea (because as children we weren't doing the Ebert thing taking note of how skillfully Mrs. Schultz's class performed King Richard III), then it was a bad idea. Such ideas should be thought through for their potential. Yes, I am still angry after all these years. What a shame. Well, it wasn't my idea that we learn the dang song. As I write this maybe it was because there was no benefit in it for me. No one came to watch our class (or me) participate. I got no reward. How many of my classmates had a parent who really cared enough to come on a cold Friday morning to listen? Well, I have gotten far more deeper than I wanted to go when I started this article...

Like many groups of that era, the Five Man Electrical Band are together again. Much older than during their heyday. They are probably worth seeing in concert. Just hope they don't play that song, what's it called again?

Five Man Electrical Band live on The Mike Bullard Show

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Starland County-Drumheller Trip (Aug. 2)

Yesterday I travelled to the Starland County - Drumheller region. I wanted to just get away from the city over this long weekend. Earlier in the year i had anticipated going camping with some friends, and arranged extra days off. It didn't turn out that way. Not wanting the weekend to go to waste without seeing or doing something away from Calgary, I broke through the city limits around three o'clock.

I had travelled through Drumheller on my many trips to or from Saskatoon. It is an interesting area with its "hoodoos," that is columns of soil and aggregate formed and eroded over many, many years. Some are hills with the characteristic bands of sedimentation. I thought an excursion through this area to photograph and learn more about it would be interesting. Perhaps I could stretch it out over several days.

I took the Trans-Canada through Strathmore, a
nd headed north when I turned onto Hwy 21. I detoured on Hwy #584 (Starland County) with the intention of heading over to East Coulee to see the Atlas Mine Historic Site. This was a once active coal mine that closed up operations in the 1980's. It advertised itself on the Internet, and recommends coming later in the day for a tour. None of the shafts are accessible to the public. So its just the above-ground apparatus that is used to teach about how coal mining was done in the area. Once you are in the region it becomes apparent that coal was king here for a number of generations.

Travelling toward East Coulee reveals the great abundance of grain fields in the area. With the sun shining in the vast and near cloudless sky, I was held in wonder of the colours of
the land. Pastures filled with livestock grazing. I stopped to take many pictures. And I did so with reason because I have started a greeting card company that celebrates the Prairies. And what is it called? Well, just look at the title of this journal, and you'll know.

When I started writing this years back, it was never my intent to design and market cards. The idea came about last year when I took nine photographs I had produced between 2005 & 2007, asked a local printer to put the images on an art card format. I was just going to use them for personal correspondence. The reception to the cards as I sent them among friends was positive. It encouraged me to look at the idea further.

I realize that paper cards are being moved out of the market
place by e-cards. It is largely the under fifty age group that is propelling this change in how we communicate during special occasions. Yet, I often hear people say that e-cards are not the same; they don't transfer the emotion as well as paper cards. E-cards are also ephemeral; unless printed, they don't last. There is usually an expiry date on how long you can view them. It has been my experience that when you do print them out, and unless its some high-quality paper, the emotional attachment of a keepsake is absent or lost. So, it maybe that this product is only for a select demographic (nothing wrong with that -- besides there are a lot of 50-80 year olds). I can hope for a bouncing back of the popularity of paper cards. I can also hope for business looking for something unique in attracting customers.

I shot of two rolls of film (yes, film -- until I get my DSLR I will use my p&s and film cameras) yesterday, along with about sixty digital images. Furthermore, I found some time to stop just for myself, and relish the solitude of the countryside with only the wind, birds and the sun to place its countenance upon me.

I did actually go to the town of Drumheller as planned. However, every motel and hotel was full. Plan B, formed on the spot, meant having supper at the Boston Pizza, watching the opening the first quarter of the Stampeders-Roughriders CFL game on the wide screen, and heading along Hwy 10 to do some more photography before coming home. East Coulee is a nice little berg along the Red Deer River. But, due to the hour of the day I never did see the Atlas Mine. Doubling back to Hwy 56, I headed south to Hussar. Once there I crossed over on the #581 to connect with the Trans-Canada. Eventually, I entered the city about 10:30 PM. It was a good day.

Friday, August 01, 2008

That Vegas saying...

Seen today on a blog called Church Signs and Slogans:

What happens in Vegas

Stays in…Your Soul

How I Start My Day

7 c. room-temperature water
1 c. rolled oats
1 tsp brown sugar
1 fruit
1/2 c. of milk
1/8 c. of cream
1 tsp of fresh coffee (ground)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
handful of sunflower seeds
handful of dried cranberries
dash of salt

1 chapter of Scripture

Wake up.
Immediately d
rink 2 c. of room-temperature water.
In a saucer add 1 c. of
room-temperature water, add a dash of salt, and a 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Bring to a slow boil. Immediately add sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and rolled oats. Cook on medium heat. Stir well. Eat one fruit item. Drink another cup of room-temperature water. Monitor oatmeal. When a consistency of pulp, remove from heat and let sit for five minutes. Meanwhile have 2 cups of water boiling. Add coffee ground to a French press coffeemaker. when water has boiled, pour into coffee urn. Let sit for five minutes ,and use press to filter. Pour in pretty coffee cup, adding simultaneously 1/8 c. of cream. consume while warm. Remove oatmeal to pretty bowl, add 1/2 c. of milk and brown sugar. Adjourn to dining table. Say Grace, and consume Breakfast. While (or immediately after) also consume one chapter of Scripture, pray, and meditate on it for the rest of the day.

This is how I start my day (never mind all the duties of getting prettied up for the legions of my fans) ;->