Dances with places...

I want to be this man some day. Or at least travel the world, thoroughly.

"Daddy, what are those airplanes doing?"

This is why I get a little nervous flying near Piper aircraft... they can't see below them!



Just the start of an article I was reading and I couldn't take any more:

UNICEF UK released its third report on child poverty this week. As part of the End Child Exploitation (ECE) campaign, the report centred on some rather brutal statistics. There are 352 million children between the ages of five and seventeen engaged in some sort of work. One in twelve work in the worst types of child labour...hazardous and unhealthy conditions, child soldiers, sex trade workers. In Africa almost half of the children between five and fourteen are employed.

352 million CHILDREN. That's more than the entire population of the US.


Someone stop the world, I want off. Earth is just too much to handle sometimes.

re: Missile Defense

Prime Minister Paul Martin has done the right thing. By refusing to sign on politically to George W. Bush's missile defence scheme, he has opened himself up to charges of flip-floppery. But this time, the flip-flop has a point.

The point is not just that most Canadians don't want to join missile defence (although for a minority government, that should be reason enough). Nor is it the fact that, so far, the Americans haven't been able to make it work.

The real point of refusing to join missile defence is to do exactly that which so irritates Bush: It is to distance Canada politically from the current U.S. administration.

This, I suspect, is why a slim majority of Canadians (54 per cent in the Toronto Star's most recent EKOS poll) oppose the U.S. plan.

It's not so much that they resist the idea of using missiles to shoot down missiles. Technically, the scheme is simply a more expensive, if less accurate, form of high-altitude anti-aircraft fire.

Rather, it is that they don't trust Bush. The polls show that, too. A solid chunk of Canadians think the current U.S. president is the gravest threat to world peace.

For a long time, Martin didn't understand this. He, like other solid-citizen members of the Liberal right wing, saw missile defence as just one of those crazy things the Americans like to do.

To Martin and other so-called hard-headed realists, the calculus was simple: If Bush had ants in his pants about rogue missiles devastating the U.S. heartland, then it was simplest to humour him.

Canada would accommodate the U.S. president's eccentricities. In return, Americans would buy Canadian two-by-four lumber.

As long as the U.S. wasn't asking Ottawa for money (which it wasn't), the scheme would be costless. Indeed, for the hard heads, the fact that missile defence didn't work was almost a plus.

At least there would be little danger of Bush inadvertently starting a world war.

In normal times, this calculus might have made sense.

But a good many Canadians understand that these are not normal times. The trauma of 9/11 has so unhinged the American public that far too many have forgotten who they are and what they once stood for.

What they once stood for was a chippy kind of individualism subsumed into a robust, if occasionally maddeningly corrupt, democracy.

They didn't always pay attention, but when they did their hearts were, more often than not, in the right place.

The Americans of those not-too-distant days would never have stood long for a regime that curtailed civil liberties at home, squandered soldiers' lives in pointless adventures abroad and, as a matter of public policy, engaged in the barbaric torture of prisoners.

They never would have re-elected someone like George W. Bush.

The Americans of these days are different. They support torture, the erosion of their own rights, pointless wars and Bush.

Americans ask: Wouldn't you have done the same if Toronto had been attacked? And perhaps we would have. That, however, would not have made it right.

Nor have America's actions been right. The U.S. is on the wrong, wrong track. This is difficult for Canadians. We cannot disengage geographically. We do not wish to disengage economically.

Most Canadians have American friends. A considerable number have American relatives. In spite of all the talk in fashionable circles about Canada's deplorable anti-Americanism, I suspect few here wish the U.S. ill.

But sometimes, when your friends go nuts, you have to quietly but politely draw back. Advise them to seek professional help; offer any practical assistance you can.

But don't encourage their frenzy. It will not help. It will only make them worse.

-Thomas Walkom (link in title)

From J Darcy of the Cleveland Plain Dealer



Just got some news from Slashdot that Battlestar Galactica has been signed for a second season of twenty episodes, starting this summer! Hurrah!! Life is good!


Oh boy am I sore. I had my wisdom teeth removed a couple of days ago, and now I'm feeling it.
They removed one on the right side, which came out very easily, then the upper and lower teeth on the left. Those ones weren't so easy, it seems. The lower one came out in about half an hour, but it took them another 45 minutes to get the top one out because it was so high up in my jawbone. Now the left side of my face has the droopy-dog look going on. Wonderful.
I took yesterday off work to recover, and was glad I did. I picked up Tim from the train station in the afternoon, and we went out for a walk for a little less than an hour. By the time I was driving him back to his place, I was absolutely exhausted and I was getting a headache. I think the headache may be because of some residual bleeding that's going on with these teeth, and the fact that I can barely eat anything at all.
I was supposed to work this morning, but I decided I'd probably be better off with some extra sleep. I told my boss that I'd take the morning off and try to make it for the afternoon, and she was just fine with that. (Have I mentioned that I really like my boss?) So I'm due into work this afternoon, and I'm debating whether I should take the morning off again tomorrow, if only to get the extra sleep. I'm still pretty tender on both sides, and I'm terrified to put my tongue near where the stitches are! Well, that's enough whining...

I just got some news in regards to getting an LCD projector for my church - $500 cheaper than a previous offer.

{20 minute delay}

The fellow from that company just called me! Seems like a really nice guy, he offered a number of suggestions for the computer that we would use for the projector, and some other stuff that he might be able to get for us. He runs the business out of his home, and focusses on helping churches move into 'now' in regards to technology... just my kind of guy! Here is his website.


'Iran denies rumors it has arrested bin Laden'

Wouldn't that be a kick in the nuts, if the so-called terrorist sponsoring nation who's at odds with the Shrub over nuclear weapons were to collect the $25 million bounty for bin Laden after arresting him. I can just see the begrudging handshakes as they hand him over!


Finally a church that gets it!

Christ didn't turn people away because they were different from the "norm". My church doesn't and neither does the United Church of Christ in the US. This is the church that made some major waves in the media, exposing the conservative trend in the major US networks. Here's the ad that was so "controversial". (it's right after the flash intro on the main page of the site)

I just finished reading Blue Like Jazz, and it talks a lot about how some churches are under the impression that God hates homosexuals, and Democrats or liberals. The truth of the matter is that God loves each and every one of us, regardless of who we are or what we do. Whether you believe certain things are sins or not, or whether you're right or not, God still loves you. Unconditional love is just that; completely unconditional. I suppose thinking that you're right and the other group is wrong gives you a sort of superiority (or the illusion of it) that Christians are not supposed to have (and don't get me wrong, I'm just as guilty of it... I think right-wingers and anti-gay folks are completely off their rockers). We're all supposed to be humble. Humble to eachother, and humble to our God. We're also supposed to love eachother as we love our God... unconditionally. When you withhold that love, you are creating division among us all. If you accept people as they are, really accept them, those people are more likely to see your point of view. This isn't supposed to be a tactic to get "sinful people" to convert their ways and be just like us. It's just how we're supposed to be. We're supposed to love people for who they are. If they want to change, we should still love them. Just like a parent loves their child no matter what life choices they make, we should love everyone else regardless of everything!

So, now I'm going to get off my soapbox...

Did I mention that I think I've felt a call towards some sort of ministry in the church? Yup... so, maybe someday (if it's what God intends) you'll be calling Rev. Guido. God makes some interesting choices in this world, so I can't say that I'd be surprised if that's what he's saying to me...
God bless you all.

PS - I really like the UCC's slogan: "God is still speaking," ("Never put a period where God intended a comma") I'd like to convince my church to put out an ad similar to this one as a show of support for our brothers and sisters in Christ.


MPAA vs. An Army of Mice

As a continuation of my post about the MPAA, another site calling themselves "The MPAA vs An Army of Mice" has smacked back at the buggers! This image is a variation on what the MPAA had posted on LokiTorrent the other day. I love it!


Why doesn't the MPAA realise that if they worked with the Internet, they could get right back to charging unreasonable prices for the drivel that they put out, but online! Seriously, look at the success of Napster, and iTunes, and how people thought that it would never work. True, people still download music for free, but other people (people who fear "The Man", no doubt...), droves of people have joined up with Napster and iTunes! I bet if we had iFilms, or an equally crappy version of Napster (blech), people again would jump in on it! I suppose people feel good about following the will of the government... but I suppose the MPAA will continue to ignore the advantages of technology just like they're avoiding moving from crappy film cinema projectors to sensible video disc projectors for theatres. Stupid, non-forward thinking, greedy people.


"...but Clinton got a BJ!"

Well, it looks like we've got some impeachment material. I'm not sure whether to be happy or sad. If Bush is impeached, that means Cheney is in charge, right? Now, that scares the heck out of me.
I can't say I'm surprised the the government would try to plant journalists... but I'll bet you the media will just let this one pass. Even "left wing" CNN (thanks Mr. O'Reilly). Yup, way to go...

I'm turning into such a cynic...

What I learned today

I learned that I don't have to pay $300/month in insurance after I get my own apartment.

I also learned {edit: from my girlfriend, Meg (sorry, Meg, I meant to give you credit)} that butter and cheese have fire-retardant chemicals in them. Whodathunkit? So next time you have to put out a fire... grab the old cheese grater and get grating! Or perhaps, chuck a pound of butter at it?


Love Handles

I demand that each and every one of you (yes, both of you) listen to this song by Keller Williams right now. It makes me smile, and I like the message... if there's a message there.

Love Handles by Keller Williams

I'm packing love
I got it hanging off of me
It comes from above
I keep it down inside of me
It comes in different shapes and sizes
Lack of willpower, compromises
Lack of exercises
I'm packing love

So if you a hand hold
Baby you can take hold
Of my love handles (x2)
If you need to get your love on
Baby you can grab on
To my love handles (x2)

I'm packing love
I dont think its a bad thing
Well it keeps me warm in the winter
It makes me sweat in the spring
Its a double chin, love
I have grown to accept it
I love the sweet taste of sweet tasting love
Its so easy to digest it

So if you a hand hold
Baby you can take hold
Of my love handles (x2)
If you need to get your love on
Baby you can grab on
To my love handles (x2)

Well the man on the TV tells me
I got so much love I could stand to lose some
So I change the channel
How could I survive
Without the sweet taste of love?
Up the river without a paddle

I'm packing the love
I got enough to go around
I've got so much in the country
I don't ever have to go to town

It comes in different shapes and sizes
Lack of willpower compromises
Lack of exercises
I'm packing the love

So if you need a hand hold
Baby you can take hold
Of my love handles
My love handles

If you need to get your love on
Baby you can grab on
To my love handles
My love handles
More of me to love

PS - if anyone wants to buy me any/all of his CDs, I will be mucho happy with you! :) Any man who offers free MP3s on his website is "A-OK" in my book!

"Oprah Can Kiss My Ass" and some more interesting links...

All I've got is some links today.

This blog in itself is priceless, but the comments afterwards are even better. Enjoy! :) (click the title for the link... that's how these things work, apparently)

This one's not so fun... it's terrifying, actually.

Blue Like Jazz

I borrowed this book by Donald Miller from my buddy, Tim, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Here're a couple of quotes that stood out for various reasons.

...they may have been yelled at by a teacher in a Christian school, abused by a minister, or browbeaten by a Christian parent. To them, the term Christianity meant something that no Christian I know would defend. By fortifying the term, I am only making them more and more angry. I won’t do it. Stop ten people on the street and ask them what they think of when they hear the word Christianity and they will give you ten different answers. How can I defend a term that means ten different things to ten different people? I told the radio show host that I would rather talk about Jesus and how I came to believe that Jesus exists and that he likes me.

War metaphor. The churches I attended would embrace war metaphor. They would talk about how we are in a battle, and I agreed with them, only they wouldn't clarify that we were battling poverty and hate and injustice and pride and the powers of darkness. They left us thinking that our war was against liberals and homosexuals. Their teaching would have me believe I was the good person in the world and the liberals were the bad people in the world. Jesus taught that we are all bad and He is good, and He wants to rescue us because there is a war going on and we are hostages in that war. The truth is we are supposed to love the hippies, the liberals, and even the Democrats, and that god wants ust to hink of them as more imporatant than ourselves. Anything short of this is not true to the teachings of Jesus.

From Polaroids by Donald Miller:

What great gravity is this that drew my sould toward yours? What great force, that though I went falsely, went kicking, went disguising myself to earn your love, also disguised, to earn your keeping, your resting, your staying, your will fleshed into mine, rasped by a slowly revealed truth, the barter of my soul, the soul that I fear, the soul that I loathe, the soul that: if you will love, I will love. I will redeem you, if you will redeem me? Is this our purpose, you and I together to pacify each other, to lead each other toward the lie that we are good, that we are noble, that we need not redemtion, save the one that you and I invented of our own clay?
I am not scared of you, my love, I am scared of me.

God risked Himself on me. I will risk myself on you. And together, we will learn to love, and perhaps then, and only then, understand this gravity that drew Him, unto us.

... and it gets better... but you'll have to read the book to find out!

I can't find the original quote, so I'm taking another from Blue Like Jazz by Ravi Zacharias

A writer I like named Ravi Zacharias says that the heart desires wonder and magic. he says technology is what man uses to supplant the desire for wonder. Ravi Zacharias says that what the heart is really longing to do is worship, to stand in awe of a God we don't understand and can't explain.
That one really hits home for me, being a tech-geek. I feel ashamed of myself. I know that I sometimes buy things that I don't really need just because I think they're cool.


Cool VR Panoramas

Found this one on boingboing.net. It's site that has a number of panoramas, my favourites being the ones from the moon... let me tell you, it really feels like you're there looking around. I've always looked at pictures from the Apollo missions, but this is the first time they've felt real. Do yourself a favour and check these out! You'll need Quicktime to use them. (the link provided gives you the version without the stupid iTunes crap)


Roll with it...

The Flying Life

Well, I haven't had much of one in about 6 or 8 months now. I miss flying dearly, and I wish I could be doing it every day! Unfortunately life got in the way. Between all the stuff I've been doing for the church and my business it has been next-to-impossible to get myself booked in to fly. But that may change shortly, or at least I hope so. I stopped by the flight school today to get things going again, and I'll be going again tomorrow to meet my new instructor (#3 or 4... I'm not sure which). Should be fun!

In other news, I'm going to start using my union's benefit plan in the coming weeks. (Did I mention that I'm a union steward at work, but our rep doesn't tell me anything?) Oh joy. I'm going to be losing my wisdom [teeth], which somewhat terrifies me. I know that it's not that big a deal these days, but I'm still not a big fan of pain! The first person who calls me "chippy" or "chipmunk face" will be losing some teeth... probably not their wisdom ones, either!

Speaking of unions, Wal-Mart is in the news again. Looks like their taking their union-busting to another level and decided to close the first unionised Wal-Mart in Canada - in Quebec. They even received bomb-threats at some of the other stores because people are so ticked off! Down with Wal-Mart - scourge of North America. People seem to forget that behind all these low prices are people who are being paid at minimum wage. Sure, Wal-Mart can afford to pay them more, but why would they? If they did that they'd have to raise prices. Well, sorry guys, but that's the price of doing business! I run a business, and we manage to keep our costs down by not hiring anybody. Albeit we're on a much smaller scale, but at least we're not forcing someone to stay in a poverty-level income! Yeah, yeah, you say, they could get another job... If they could get another job, do you think they'd be working at Wal-Mart?
Sometimes I think people might be worse off in a minimum wage job than being unemployed.

And last but not least... Today's reason to shed a tear for the world (article).

Ok, seriously...

Who does the MPAA think they are? They just shut down LokiTorrent - the best BitTorrent site that was left. Do they not understand that they aren't losing money from having people download movies? Stealing would require people to be taking property. I'm sorry, but digital bits don't cost anything to make, nor do they cost anything to download. The problem with their claim is that they are no worse off after someone downloads a movie on the Internet. You might be able to say that they're not getting the money that they would get if I were to buy / rent the film, but that's a big assumption. I don't buy many movies to start with, in fact I've actually started bought more movies since I started downloading since I was able to decide if they were worthwhile to own or not... maybe now I'll just boycott them altogether and buy only used movies at the pawn shop. Perhaps Hollywood will stop putting out the same old garbage that has been coming out for the last few years so people will actually want to buy their movies. I have no problems with paying for something that I think is worthwhile, but I'm not going to pay for crap - I do that enough with my insurance company!



So, life's well. I've been insanely busy for the last few months, and thought I'd share.
Our church's minister left us in July, and I, being the head of the Worship and Music Committee (W&M) , was left to scramble and find supply ministry for every Sunday since then. Thank goodness for our Christian Education worker, Bonnie, who helped out immensely. Between us we managed to keep Sundays going smoothly, and I managed to learn a heck of a lot!

I also ended up as the co-head of the Search Committee, finding a new minister in August. We met every other week so that we could keep up with applications that were coming into the church. The process took until late December / Mid-January to complete, but we've hired a new minister now, who started the past Sunday. And she's great! Last Tuesday after one of our meetings, we went out for wings at a local restaurant and go to know eachother a little better. I'm looking forward to working with her very much.

Also, with the church, I'm still an elder, on the Session, which takes up less time than the others, but still is a commitment that I try to keep up with to the best of my ability.

Interestingly, I got the opportunity to actually lead the church through Advent. Wow, what an experience it is to be up behind the pulpit and preaching! I didn't write the sermons, but it was awesome being able to... relay (?) God's message to the congregation... to be able to teach people something they may not have heard before. Yeah, yeah, it's Christmas stuff, everyone's heard it before. I don't know if that's really true. I learned a few things while I was preparing for the Sundays... I hope other people did as well.

Another fun thing that I've been involved with at the church is trying to convince them that an LCD projector is something that would enhance our services. So, we've been borrowing a projector from our neighbourhood school, and putting the words to prayers, and hymns up on Powerpoint (OpenOffice.org's Slideshow program, actually). It's gone over extremely well, I think.... the trick is going to be in the finances, though it was recently shown to me that there are grants available for this sort of thing. Hopefully that will help it move along. I've really found that the projector enhances our worship because it gets people to get their noses out of their hymnals and bulletins when we're speaking/singing together... it helps to project the sound, and enables folks to really see what's going on in the worship (instead of their knees).

Well, that's about it from the church front. I'll update some more on everything else later on.

God Bless!