I absolutely love this photo of Goat Creek Trail by Dave King and have been captivated by it since he posted it to Flickr. It’s a composite image of two shots from his Android. What a spectacular image. Check it out full screen on black for an even more dramatic effect. Here is another amazing wide screen shot of the Bow River.
I hope everyone had a great Christmas. After a daring battery run to Walmart on Saturday morning, we met up with the Sieberts for coffee/tea and to exchange gifts and Christmas cheer. After that we headed out to Warman to Lee and Brittany’s place for Christmas Eve dinner to open gifts. Wendy talked about the evening over at her blog but I was got some great gifts from Lee and Brittany including some DVDs and When the Gods Changed by Peter C. Newman, an iPad from Wendy, a Denver Broncos hat from Oliver, some big bear head slippers from the dogs, the Steve Jobs biography from Mark, along with a stocking full of fun stuff. Oh right, Wendy gave Mark, Oliver, and myself a Snuggie for Christmas. We aren’t happy about it.
On Christmas we went over to the Reimers where I got a really cool book by Gloria’s great uncle Heinz Guderian who was a Panzer commander and later became the Chief of the General Staff during WWII. He wrote several important books on armoured tactics and I was thrilled to get a copy of one. It also confirms my belief that if Gloria hadn’t married Jerry, she would be leading a war against a rival country. Kristy gave me a gift certificate for Indigo! instead of trying to figure out what to get me. Instead of getting a book to read, I went to Indigo! today and got a big one to write in. While we were there, we walked over to Best Buy and looked at iPad cases. We found one that works for now but I am planning to add a keyboard in the future but they were all out of stock.
Tonight we are chilling out, listening to Moxy Fruvous while taking down the Christmas tree and decorations. In a couple of hours we will be ready for New Years.
Canadian author F.S. Michaels has won America’s prestigious 2011 George Orwell Award for the non-fiction debut MONOCULTURE: HOW ONE STORY IS CHANGING EVERYTHING (Red Clover Press, May 2011). Published by Red Clover, a new Canadian independent press, MONOCULTURE has been described as “a provocative investigation of the dominant story of our time.”
ABOUT THE AWARD
The annual George Orwell Award, established in 1975 and given by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), recognizes authors who have made an outstanding contribution to the critical analysis of public discourse. Past recipients include author Michael Pollan (In Defense of Food), Amy Goodman (co-founder, executive producer, and host of the award-winning national daily news program Democracy Now!), Pulitzer Prize-winner Charlie Savage, television host Jon Stewart and the “Daily Show” cast, economist Juliet B. Schor, linguist Noam Chomsky, and cultural critic Neil Postman.
Congratulations! It is on my soon to be published list of my best reads of 2011. If you haven’t read it yet, you really need to. The book changed how I look at much of the world around me.
I don’t talk much about religion here any longer but I am Free Methodist and I do have an interest in how the denomination does. Over the years I have been a member of a couple of committees and working groups and have developed a respect for our Bishop and the national leadership team. Connected to that Jared Siebert has moved from the mecca of Free Methodism and HQ in Mississauga (formerly referred to as the Regina of Ontario on this blog) to Saskatoon. It’s great to have Jared, Katherine and their kids here and we had a fun Thanksgiving with them at the lake.
In addition to Jared having me come over with chainsaw to cut a forest down in front of his bay window (seriously, why do people plant/weed things in front of windows?), he asked me to spent a morning at The Two Twenty working out a communication plan for him and his role as church development within the denomination. We are still rolling it out (actually Jared is rolling it out, I just tell him what to do and criticize his execution of it) and once we get it going, I’ll do a post on why we chose the way we did. In doing some work on it I asked some friends what their denomination does for internal communications and the consensus was that they don’t really. Money and time are the two biggest things to overcome.
While I won’t get into specifics, when we were talking about what he wanted to do, I was amazed how easy technology that has come out in the last year and is essentially free is making it easy to do it. One of the things we were talking about is going to take Jared (or his helper monkey) three minutes to do with some free software. A decade ago it would have needed $10,000 of equipment. When I do post what we are doing and why, you will be appalled/surprised at where we got our inspiration from.
A couple of weeks ago I realized that I hadn’t taken any vacation days in 2011. I have three weeks and over a week of flex time to use so I decided to take some this fall. With Mark playing Kinsmen Football, I can’t really get away or he doesn’t get to practice so instead of getting to the cabin, I stayed in Saskatoon. The plan is to go to the cabin this weekend for Thanksgiving. Arlington Beach does a huge fall/Thanksgiving supper which is great and we’ll eat well out there.
The week started with hanging out with Jared and Kathy Siebert who moved out from the GTA. Having a denominational stooge around is occasionally useful and it will be fun to have Jared, Kathy and their kids in Saskatoon. Somewhere in our conversations with them Jared said that he wanted to clear out some trees around his house so on Monday I went logging. I took over our chainsaw and we cut and cut and cut and we were still cutting the same horrible tree. It had about 50 large branches coming from the ground and I think it was regenerating itself as fast as we were cutting it. When we were about halfway done, Wendy and Kathy came out and said there was a lot more light coming in the bay window (why do people plant trees in front of bay windows?) We also managed to cut down two cedars that were a couple of stories tall. Both went down pretty much as we intended which kind of freaked us out. I honestly figured, Jared, myself, or a tree would be going through a window. In honour of my new skill I am growing a lumberjack beard and am wearing more plaid.
I also managed to chat with Cam Broten. Most of it was off the record but it was also a good discussion on the issues in my own riding. While Cam has been campaigning pretty hard for a while, I haven’t seen any signs of the Saskatchewan Party candidate in my travels. Campaigns matter but I can’t see this riding going to the Saskatchewan Party.
The highlight of Mark’s week was practicing with the Saskatoon Hilltops on Thursday night. Mark came home bloodied, bruised, muddy and in a bit of pain but really enjoyed himself. The Hilltops ran them through the same drills they ran with the Hilltop coaches and players giving tips and yelling encouragement. To be honest Mark was relieved. As a 4’10” receiver, he was at a loss on how to get open against a 5’10 defensive back who is taller, stronger, and faster than he is. The most important thing he learned was the intensity that the Hilltops practice with. I remembered how cool it was when a Saskatchewan Blade would come to my hockey practice but actually practicing with the Hilltops on their field was amazing for all the kids.
We are headed out to the cabin on Saturday after Mark’s football game in Martinsville. He is done at 3:00 p.m. and I hope to be on the road by 4:00 p.m. and be at Arlington Beach for a late supper time. Lee and Brittney are coming up on Sunday for the big Thanksgiving dinner with family, the Sieberts and about 300 other people. Wendy doesn’t have to cook, I don’t have to do dishes so we all win. I bought Mark a great flashlight and a headlamp this week with the intention that him and I are going to go for a late night hike. If I don’t post here at all next week, there is a chance I was eaten and killed. Check with Wendy. I am back to work on Tuesday. Not that motivated to be back but I have another couple of weeks to take before the end of 2011.
Ten years ago today I published my first post on this site. I wasn’t sure if this blogging thing was going to last but since then I have posted more then 11,000 times to the site and the traffic has grown quite a bit. There hasn’t been many changes to the site. It was first powered by Blogger, then Blogger Pro, and then back to plain Blogger again after Google purchased it. After 8000 posts, I moved the site to WordPress.
I started to post here because Andrew Careaga wrote a book called e-vangelism back in the early days of the interweb and he published a newsletter that talked about technology and faith. I never read the book (sorry Andrew) but I did read the newsletter. In it he talked about Blogger and how you could use it to keep a church website updated. That is how I discovered Blogger and the rest has been history. When I started blogging, there was Andrew Jones, Rudy Carrasco and myself blogging about the church and theological issues. Other than them I learned a lot from Doc Searls, AKMA, Jason Kottke, Caterina Fake, Jeneanne Sessum, and Rebecca Blood.
I am not really sure why I keep posting here. There never was a plan behind it. I had no ambitions to be a thought leader, create a movement, make money, or achieve fame. What I wanted was a place to explore ideas, keep track of interesting things and later on, share things with friends. Hopefully I have done that.
I have also made some enemies. One city councillor continues to block me on Twitter and called me an “first class asshole” over some comments I made last summer, one prominent Christian leader threatened to sue over comments, I think it’s a contributing factor for why my dad and I haven’t talked in eight years and more than one former colleague has questioned my Christianity over my more liberal views. Still the site has brought more joy than angst so it’s all good.
There has been a lot of friends made as well. Too many to list but thanks for the emails, comments, tweets, and time spent together over the last decade. Hopefully there is an interesting link or two in the future. Of course with entire companies moving from the open web to closed Facebook, I am now quite a bit behind the times but that’s the story of my life.
Not sure what the future brings. I am writing a weekly column now at The StarPhoenix so some of my longer (and better written pieces) will be posted there. I’ll still be posting links, sports (including my scheme to purchase the L.A. Dodgers) and some photos as well.
Thanks to everyone who reads this rather odd collection of links, rants, and articles. You have been the ones that have made this so much fun.
I attended a funeral for a long time resident of the Salvation Army Community Services today. He stayed with us for several years after the death of his wife and the alienation from his children. During the funeral today, the priest mentioned his time at the Salvation Army several times and each time he would mention it, I found myself thinking of our time together.
At the funeral there were some residents of the nursing home, not all of them were even aware what was going on and who Andy was and there were four of us from the Salvation Army and that was it. Now he was buried earlier and four other staff and officers attended that service and that’s it, eight of us over two services. No one else.
It struck me because if you wanted a visualization of the Salvation Army’s vision, that would be part of it. When there is no one else, we will be there and we were there a lot for Andy. At the same time Andy just didn’t take from us, he gave back in terms of friendship.
He never talked much and could never remember our names. He wouldn’t even try. He never called me Jordon but rather Susan, Joe, Frank, Peggy, or Patty. Apparently he wasn’t big on gender differentiation either. He remembered my co-worker Vi’s name and when he was a little ticked at her, he called her Viv. Not sure why but it made us laugh. While he never got my name right, we would hug me once a month and tell he that he thought we were going a good job. Getting hugged freaked me out but I appreciated the sentiment. He also said it like it was. One day he came down and said, “Give me a bucket, I just s— myself” and there was a trail coming all the way from his room and down the stairs. At least he offered to clean up after himself (our janitor took care of it). Another time a highly intoxicated man had some in and immediately passed out in the lobby, splitting open his head. He was almost bleeding out and there was paramedics and blood everywhere. As someone came in and asked what happened, Andy replied, “I told him not to mess with me” and didn’t crack a smile. Perhaps my favorite thing Andy ever said to me was he walked up to the front desk and simply said, “Damn Blue Jays. No pitching at all this year” and wondered off.
Andy was fiercely independent but he let the staff close enough to care for him and also for us to see a bit of his life as well. I’ll really miss him. As the priest said, Andy had a hard life but there was some good times as well. I’m glad I was there to see some of them. I am not sure what all of the ups and downs of his life were but I am quite sure the time spent with us was good for him.
During the service I kept thinking that Andy brought out the best in all of us. I can’t think of Andy without hearing my co-workers joking with him, fussing a little bit over him, or just chatting with him. It’s rumored that I may have shed a tear in the service thinking about all of it.
Of course since I have been rather sappy, I’ll spoil all of it for you with this story. One really funny part of the funeral was when the chaplain at the Sherbrooke Community Centre acknowledged that there was people there from the Salvation Army and a women said, “I’ve already given them money, I’m out of here” and stormed out of the funeral. One more really funny memory to cap of his life.
I turned 37 today. Not much of a milestone but it was an enjoyable day. I fell asleep on the sofa last night so I woke up early to the family and a really sore neck. After some stretching and straining I got up and opened some presents. Mark gave me a 70-210mm Sigma lens for my camera and a Lowepro Exchange Messenger camera bag while Oliver gave me a DSLR for Dummies book and a new camera strap.
Wendy gave me a mini Denver Broncos helmet, some new in ear headphones and some upgraded noise cancelling headphones while Hutch and Maggi got me an iTunes card so I could get some music. The helmet made it’s way to my office and Oliver isn’t pleased. He sees an Oliver sized helmet and doesn’t understand why there isn’t a football game breaking out.
While the Broncos helmet was pretty cool, our timing was odd with the negotiations breaking down between the owners and the players. For NFL addicts around the world, it gives new meaning to the Day of Rage.
Keeping with the audio theme, Lee gave me a Best Buy gift card and I picked up some iHome Rechargeable Mini Speakers which will be making a trip to Toronto with me in a couple of weeks (as will the noise cancelling headphones).
To celebrate, the family took me out to Alexander’s Restaurant for supper with Michaela and Taylah. Michaela decided that since we share three hugs a year (our birthdays and on Christmas), we must be family. I am not so sure. We just became Facebook friends last year.
Thanks to everyone who emailed, tweeted, and Facebooked today. I appreciated them all.
Not sure why I like this post by Randall Friesen so much but I do.
And I think to myself, Self, it would be good on days like this, to work in a small niche bookstore where few people come and go on any given day, and I am free to help those who come in and maybe dust a little or unpack new books for my benevolent, very wealthy, shop owner and manager who prefers to be elsewhere, and who likes the laid back version of myself and lets me read when the dusting and shelve stocking is done, and after a stressful day of three customers I walk home to my wife and family and in the evening I head out to play in the bowling league I’m a part of with guys I’ve known since birth and who won’t criticize me for only getting one strike the whole evening and instead they buy me one single beer to celebrate with, and we drink it with gusto and with that success puffing up my pride I return home and make love to my wife who is surprised because it’s not Thursday night and I sleep the sleep of the contented man because tomorrow is another busy exciting day.
… or maybe not.
The post made me think of when I want to get away from it all, what do would I want to do? If I was single, I would want to be at sea (which is odd being from Saskatchewan and having no sea legs). Since I am married I tend to think running a small town grocery store is what I would want to retreat to. Perhaps beside a Randall’s bookstore. Someone needs to take advantage of his poor bowling and sell him some coffee during the day.
Update: Randall’s fun response.
I see that both Wendy and Mark have posted about Christmas so I thought I might as well. I won’t describe the day as Wendy did a great job of doing that but I will ad in that it was a lot of fun to have friends and family around.
For my gifts, Wendy and Lee went in and got me a new 32 gb iPod Touch. My iPod Touch was a first generation one and I was quite excited to see the it finally shipping with both a camera and a video camera in it. I don’t have a Blackberry or smartphone but this does a good job of letting me both work and play when I need to. I bought iMovie, and a bunch of 99 cent EA games for it and I am good to go. Wendy also gave me a massive Rambo type knife. I am not sure what I will use it for but there is a small first aid and survival kit in the knife handle. Now that’s a knife.
Oliver gave me a Team Canada Hockey seat cover and steering wheel cover for Hank while Santa brought me a portable external hard drive for my netbook. I have shot several hours of video for my documentary and I really need more hand drive space if I am going to get it done in 2011 (more on that in a later post).
Lee surprised me with a copy of The Pacific on Blu Ray which made no sense since we don’t have a Blu-Ray player. Of course then Mark unwrapped a PS3 that had Madden 11 with it. He also gave me a The Force Unleashed II and gave Mark Call of Duty: World at War. According to Sony VP Kevin Butler, it only does everything. As for our PS2, it will be donated to the Centre’s half-way house where I am sure someone will enjoy playing it in the lounge. He also gave me a new multi-tool set and flashlight.
Speaking of Lee, he was babysitting the boys this summer and Wendy walked in and all three of them were watching Predator. Seriously, he was letting a ten year old and a 2 year old watch Predator and both of them were a little nervous. To prove he learned nothing, there was a copy of Predator in Blu-Ray under the tree for Mark and Oliver. We all had a great laugh over that.
On Christmas Day we went to the Reimers for Christmas dinner. Reimers gave me a nice set of binoculars for use up at the cabin. With North America’s oldest bird sanctuary only a couple of miles north of the cabin, there are a lot of birds flying around. They also gave me Settlers of Catan which sounds like an ideal way to spend an evening with friends. Kristi helped make my Christmas tree a little more Riderish with some Saskatchewan Roughrider tree ornaments and a calendar of stupid quotes. I have a whole year of mocking stupid people ahead of me. The only thing that I didn’t like about the dinner was that Gloria won’t give me the recipe for an amazing green bean casserole she makes. It’s a family secret I am told.
I am not sure any of that was on my Christmas list but it made for a fun day. The only two things that were on my MUST HAVE list were a new zippered wallet (I hate it when I drop my wallet and my cards fall out) and a shaving brush and shaving soap which were in my stocking.
Thanks everyone, it’s been a great couple of days.
The Hedge Society has been re-launched as a group blog. It’s a little blog about a lot of things and I will be posting some of the fun stuff from Jordon Cooper Outfitters over there as well as some of the stuff that may or may not end up here. I’m kind of excited about it because it’s other contributors are some of my favourite people online and I can’t wait to see their contributions. You can also follow Hedge Society on Twitter @hedgesociety