Thursday, August 31, 2006

It's in the Numbers

Those of you who regularly read my blog probably noticed that in June I added a counter. I thought long and hard about doing it - I didn't want to start writing things to purposely bring people in. However, at the time I thought that only a couple of friends ever read my blog and thought it was silly to not talk about work or not mention my real name, etc. I wanted to test out that theory.

Why do I bring it up now? Well, the other day I pass 1000 hits.

Things that I've learned over the last three months of having the counter:

- Either a) other people are reading it, or b) I have very, very bored friends.
- Giving a marketing person statistics just makes them want more statistics.
- Including the words Clay Aiken will bring stampeding hordes of angry Claymates. Enjoy life people!!
- I assumed taking my blog from continual light and fluffy to including more serious content would drive people away. Nope. Actually, (well, other than mentioning Clay) the most new people come for discussions of prayer and other "faith" topics.
- A lot of people come to my blog from Spanish blogs, which puzzles me. I think there are a lot of bored people in the world clicking on "next blog" endlessly.
- Beating on Oprah makes you VERY popular.

Anyhow. I'm trying to ignore the statistics for the aforementioned reasons. I want to write thoughts and observations that are important to me and don't really care if people read them or not.

But I would like to give a wave to all the interesting people who seem to be stopping by this little corner of cyberspace.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Happy Birthday to...


Yes, after nearly a full month of partying, it's finally my birthday. Things kicked off at the beginning of the month with Janet bringing lots of presents with her when we went up to Soulfest. I'm now all set for England with a fabulous travel purse, little compass, water bottle, etc.

Then, this last weekend that gang had a great party for me. This morning (in my general morning state) I had to figure out why there was a stack of cardboard boxes waiting for me (evidently, Amazon really loves me). Goodies from the 'rents, Bry and my friend Lisa.

For some reason I'm bothered by my age this birthday. It's starting to feel like my biological age doesn't reflect how I feel or who I am. I feel... say... 28. It's kind of weird.

In keeping with my new birthday tradition, I had to get my car inspected this morning. Also in keeping with tradition, it flunked. This time it was a brake light. I paid $8 to get the brake light fixed and now I have a shiny new inspection sticker. Perhaps next year I can schedule a dentist visit on my birthday too.

For those keeping track at home, my uber-reliable Corolla has had the following in the last month:
- flat tire $90
- oil change $33
- new gas cap $20
- new valves $316
- new brake light $8
- annual inspection $29
That's a grand total of $525 in a month when I'm trying to save for England!

So, in conclusion, birthdays are much more fun when you're a kid and you just eat sweets until you're nauseous.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Random Photos

Downloaded a card with pictures from the last few weeks tonight.

Flowers in a friend's backyard.

Public Art

Cars, bleh!

So, I've been driving around with my check engine light on for a couple of months. I know, I know.... kind of stupid. But I was sure I knew what it was. The gas cap kept getting loose and I always figured that this was the time it would stay tight. Now you can dig out the definition of insanity and send me away somewhere.

I finally took it in this morning. $100 just to hook up a computer to it. Yikes. Turns out it wasn't the gas cap and was a valve that wasn't circulating the fumes correctly.

All this is to say that there are far too many parts on a car, and therefore far too many things that can go wrong.

Time to get a bicycle or something.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Subtitle: Let the parties begin!

So, this week is my birthday. Specifically, Wednesday is my birthday. Last night the gang had a great birthday bash for me. Lots of food and fun and laughter. It struck me coming home how blessed I am. We were playing Apples to Apples and it was neat to realize how well I've gotten to know people over the last year. Of course, they might not say the same, since I put down Giant Squid for "feminine" and Marriage for "awkward" (I did know my audience though, as Marriage did win that round!).

And, for once, I didn't even pick up a camera. Just enjoyed the night and let others take the pictures.

It's great to have friends who can take some of the sting out of getting older!!

Friday, August 25, 2006

I :heart: Louie

I've spent much of the last couple of days trying to wrap my head around concepts and respond to the challenges in what I'm reading and studying (see Willard's "Religious Evasion" section for lots of this). I've also been distracted by some stresses at work and some discouragements with another group.

Today at lunch I decided to just get away. It was raining, so it made no sense at all to leave my nice dry office, but I went instead.

As soon as I got in the car, I knew I made the right decision. In the CD player is Louie Giglio's "I Talked to God Today" series. I'm only on CD 2, but it goes through what prayer is supposed to be about and how the Lord's Prayer is supposed to serve as a model for us. There is something comforting about this series - the way he explains God's heart for communion with us. Somehow he can take something I already know, but make it fresh and new again.

As I was driving I was thinking how grateful I am for people like Louie who use their gifts in such remarkable ways.

If you've never heard Louie speak, you're missing something major.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dear Chris Tomlin

Dear Chris,

While you know I adore you and will buy anything you put out simply because your name is on it, I have to ask you about your new album. Most specifically, I'd like to discuss the name with you. See the Morning. I'm sure there's some deep theological thought behind the name. Or perhaps it came to Louis Giglio in a dream. Mostly, it seems to be some kind of a challenge to me. If you scroll down a bit you'll see my entry from earlier this week about how I feel about mornings. Essentially, I don't do them. Technically I'm at my desk and appearing alert, but we all know that asking questions too early will only lead to trouble.

So, I'm not too keen on buying a CD called "See the Morning". Not to mention the accompanying t-shirts and other merchandise. I guess I could add a question mark, since I appear to lose most of my mornings.

In summary, perhaps before the next album we can have a quick chat about these things. Arriving was a very nice title, as were your previous album titles.

Call me.


PS - Can we get some tour action up here in the north???

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Dear Calgary Police

Dear Calgary Police,

Having recently read an article on your new practice of arresting those praying and preaching on street corners, I brought up the subject up with my church Bible study. We are very interested in discussing the issue further with you.

First of all, to put your mind at ease, we don't meet in Calgary, so no need to arrest us for reckless study of the Bible or public prayer.

What interests us is the decision of the police force to start enforcing the Sermon on the Mount as law in Calgary, as demonstrated by the recent arrest for praying on street corners, as referenced in Matthew 6:5. We are hoping to learn more about your future intentions in this regard. So, first, a few questions:

- Will you be arresting all philanthropists who receive credit for their gifts (Matthew 6:2) or only those who ACTUALLY use trumpets?
- Will you be arresting those who let their left hand know what their right hand is doing (Mattthew 6:3)? If so, how will you determine this? We had some questions on this passage and would appreciate your clarification.
- Will you be arresting those who babble while praying (Matthew 6:7)? Exactly what is your threshold for babbling? This seems a little subjective. What about flowery language?
- We haven't gotten up to the fasting passage yet (Matthew 6:16-18), but would love to know your thoughts. Will you be arresting everyone looking somber and testing their blood sugar to determine if their fasting? Are you developing a breathalyzer test for this?
- Moving to earlier passages, will you be enforcing the commands on anger and lust? Do you have enough officers to arrest all those shouting insults at each other? What about gossip and other talk that would harm someone's reputation? Will your colleagues in Edmonton be enforcing this in the provincial legislature? As far as the lust passage, do you have a special threshold for this? I think that perhaps using something like wolf whistling as a threshold could threaten the construction industry.
- Do you have enough room in your jails to enforce the divorce section?

This is just a start. There are many more questions. Passages on turning the other cheek, not worrying and storing up your treasures in Heaven all seem a little subjective to try enforcing.

While we applaud an idea of basing laws on a Biblical basis, we think you may have missed the overall idea that Jesus is saying the Sermon on the Mount isn't just about the law. I know, I know. A hard concept for police officers.

If you require any further clarification, I would suggest the following:

- read Matthew 5-7
- pray about it, specifically asking for wisdom and clarity

If this is not enough, you'd be welcome at our Bible study. Send me an email and I'll be happy to provide directions. I'd offer to pray for you, but I don't want to be seen as a troublemaker.

Yours sincerely,


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Do We REALLY Need Mornings?

I'm SOOOO not a morning person. I also rarely drink coffee, which means my eyes are generally glazed over until about 10:30.

This week has been particularly bad. Yesterday I went about my morning routine of getting ready, including making a mug of tea to take to work. As I was stirring the milk and honey in something struck me as a little strange. Took me a minute to realize that I had forgotten the tea bag. Sigh.

This morning I was making my usual morning power smoothie. I was peeling the banana and tossing the pieces into the blender. Except that my aim really isn't too great in the morning and the banana pieces were bouncing off the rim of the blender. Took me a few pieces to realize what was happening. So much for my NBA career.

When those nice nutritionists talk about the dangers of eating fast food breakfasts every day, they clearly haven't factored in the danger of letting me in a kitchen in the morning!!

Who do I need to talk to about getting mornings cancelled??

Monday, August 21, 2006

Proud to be a Canadian???

First, read this article.

Go ahead. I'll still be here when you're done. I'll probably still be fuming, so you have lots of time.

First of all, it's interesting timing because I'm preparing for my Bible study on prayer from the Sermon on the Mount. You know the one. About not praying aloud on street corners and all that.

You never know from a single journalist, but this guy seems to have pretty legit ministry. Finding out you can be arrested on a Canadian street for praying or reading the Bible is a pretty discouraging thing. Six police officers to bring down a preacher who wasn't resisting arrest? The Calgary police force needs to look at it's priorities. And while their at it, the country should take a look at theirs.

All in all, not a good day for Canada.

Quote of the Day

So, I'm doing the switch from PC to Mac and encountering some difficulties (see Friday's entry on technology). The Mac support guy came up this morning and was trying to help, until he realized that the issue was getting the materials off the PC, not getting it on to the Mac. His response?

"Yeah, you're going to need another geek to fix that."

Sure enough, 5 minutes later another "geek" arrived and now I'm up and running.

In other news, it looks like Bry will be coming for a visit. Whoo hoo!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Adventure Photography

Had a great time today exploring/hiking/dragging my camera where it's never been before with some friends.

A couple of pictures for your enjoyment.

Guess what this is...

This was taken at the top of a waterfall. Yes, looking over the top of a waterfall.

This the same waterfall from the bottom. Note the person partway up to show just how huge the waterfall is.

This is just a really cool image I noticed.

Friday, August 18, 2006

In the Name of Progress

Today my beautiful new MacBook arrived at work. It's shiny and pretty and white. It impresses all who see it and generally improves the overall look of my desk.

However, right now that's pretty much all it does. While the IT department promised that they would have it all set up so I could just swap over my ethernet connection and go, it appears they lie. Instead, no program I've started has run properly, no task is completable, and generally I've been completely unproductive today. Rather than install Office, they installed a trial version of Office. Fantastic, except that it can't print. They moved over my work email account, except that they didn't move over my offline files. And now I can't use any of this stuff on the old computer. Apparently they killed it. Hmmm...

I understand in the bigger picture that the new computer will be better. Less downtime. More portability. Less cursing of Microsoft.

However, in the short term it's a pain in the butt!

Bogged Down

Hee.. I almost wrote "Blogged Down", which would be a very interesting condition indeed.

I woke up this morning with a headache thinking about all the details of my life that need to be kept in the air. Nothing earth shattering - finding places to stay in England, ongoing stresses at work, a schedule for the fall that's rapidly filling up, minor car issues and a buildup of little things that always happens when things get busy. None of this is worth any level of stress, but combined it's becoming a distraction to me. Rather than enjoying what I'm doing, I'm always thinking ahead to the next thing on my plate. Yeah, tonight is interesting, but excuse my while I worry about these details about tomorrow.

I know, I know. Completely unproductive. And very much covered in the Sermon on the Mount in the section on not worrying.

The problem is that now I'm stressed that I'm too stressed. :) Because, if there's anything more productive than worrying, it's worrying that you're worrying too much!!

Supposed to be going on a day trip tomorrow and have been promised a beautiful lake, waterfalls, etc. Should be just what the doctor ordered!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Good Stuff Part II

Yes, I'm still reading Psalm 69. No, it's not that I can only read a few words a day. I've been re-reading and re-reading this passage.

Here's the second piece that really struck me:
6 May those who hope in you
not be disgraced because of me,
O Lord, the LORD Almighty;
may those who seek you
not be put to shame because of me,
O God of Israel.
7 For I endure scorn for your sake,
and shame covers my face.
8 I am a stranger to my brothers,
an alien to my own mother's sons;
9 for zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.
10 When I weep and fast,
I must endure scorn;
11 when I put on sackcloth,
people make sport of me.
12 Those who sit at the gate mock me,
and I am the song of the drunkards.

This really reflects a lot of what I've been feeling for a couple of months now. I expect that non-Christians won't understand my lifestyle or choices, but it really hurts when Christians mock prayer/fasting/other things that are seen as "too zealous". What's wrong with wanting to read the Bible? What's wrong with wanting to spend time in prayer?

I think a lot of Christians want to be "cool" about their faith. Sure they're Christians, but they want to make sure people know that they aren't "one of those" kinds of Christians. Sure, they're Christians, but they still go to all kinds of movies and aren't TOO into the church thing. The Bible's a great book for some moral suggestions, but can't take it too literally.

Why are we so concerned with people not thinking we're too committed or invested? Is keeping one foot in the world some kind of a safety net in case God lets you down?

Everyone has to make their own choices, but I think for Christians to mock those who choose to live a surrendered lifestyle are treading on dangerous ground. That, however, is between them and God. My issue is how to relate to "brothers and sisters in Christ" who seem to think I belong in the loony bin for following the Bible. How do I invest in relationships where I know people feel this way about me?

This Psalm was really comforting to me. Good to know that David felt this same way and that countless others have clung to this scripture before me.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Quote of the Day

From Paul Webb, a sport photojournalist:

Be critical of your own work. Pretend it’s someone else’s and critique it harshly. Trust me, a lot of what everybody produces is junk. If you take your own ego out of it for a minute, and you’re honest about what’s crap, pretty soon you’ll take a real photograph.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Losin' It

I am SO scattered! I realized last night that I have reached higher than my usual level of space cadet. I'm forgetting everything and getting hit with huge waves of sleepiness. I'm getting lots of sleep and good quality sleep, so that doesn't seem to be the problem.

This morning I almost left the house without makeup or brushing my teeth. I brushed my teeth and put on some makeup, but forgot some steps in the process. Then I left the house without my purse.

I think I'm turning into a space cadet!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Go With Your Gut

Two summers ago I bought my first camera that wasn't just a point and shoot. My friend Janet gave me lots of advice and settings and I had great fun experimenting. Last summer I took the plunge into the world of SLRs and have enjoyed the fun of exploring photography.

While up at Soulfest I was hoping to get in a little landscape photography as well. Since that's one of my weakest areas, it's good to do it with someone else who can give you some pointers or critique. I was there with Janet, who is a much better landscape photographer than me.

One night we came home from the days events and it was almost sunset on an overcast day. Sometimes this leads to nothing and sometimes it leads to spectacular sunsets. Betting on the later we grabbed cameras and tripods and headed down to the lake.

No spectacular sunset and Janet chose to sit down on a bench and enjoy the end of the day, since there really wasn't much to photograph. I was determined to get something and spent some time balancing against the edge of the dock, lying on my stomach on the dock and generally pushing myself to find interesting lines and compositions.

Here are two of the photographs from that night. I love the sapphire sky in the first and result of lying on my stomach on the dock in the second.

The lesson - follow my instinct! It was worth the effort to get the pictures in this case.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Things That Bug Me


Yeah, I know. Hummers bug everyone. It's actually not the vehicles that are bugging me these days (though they are very obnoxious - do you really need to advertise that you feel inadequate?). It's the....

Hummer commercials...

Have you seen them? There's two that I've seen.

The first is a woman at the playground with her child. Another child cuts in line and the mother blows off the first mother. So, mother number 1 trades in her minivan for a Hummer so she can crush people on the road.

The second is a man in line in a grocery store. He's buying veggies and tofu. The other man in line (with all meat) makes some derogatory comment. So, man #1 goes and buys a Hummer.

The point is????? If bullies in the playground still bug you, run over them in a tank? If you're a good mother, you'll bully the other women back? If you're a real man you'll destroy the environment?

And here I thought nothing could make me hate Hummers more....

Saturday, August 12, 2006


My very nice neighbor came over earlier this afternoon to let me know that my tire was flat. What? How did that happen? Called the nice AAA people. Guy got here and couldn't get the tire off. So, he had to tow me to a tire place. Nice tire place guys sold me an only slightly overpriced tire.

So much for my Saturday plans!!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Good Stuff, Part I

The other day I was talking to a friend and he pointed out Psalm 69 to me. As “luck” would have it, I’m currently reading through the Psalms and was almost there. Last night I read through the whole thing and it hit me like a bus. Don’t worry, I won’t quote the whole thing.

“Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink into the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
the floods engulf me.
I am worn out calling for help;
my throat is parched.”
~Psalm 69:1-3

I think I’ve mentioned before that my church small group is studying the Sermon on the Mount. The study has been like boot camp for me. Going right back to basics and drilling a whole different mentality into my brain. Think you know what murder is? Look at your anger and contempt for your fellow human beings. Think you know what lying is? Take a look at how you verbally manipulate things. Think you know adultery? How do you look at people? What kind of thoughts do you meditate on.

All of this has been very eye opening, but also just plain tiring. I’m going back over everything I say and everything I think. I’m finding it harder and harder to function in regular culture. I went to buy a sympathy card last night and it was next to impossible. Hope isn’t found in happy memories. Love isn’t the only thing that matters. Who writes this stuff anyway? Mostly I just want to tell the person that I’m sorry for their loss and that I’m praying for them. Does Oprah really write all the sympathy cards?

I think I was most discouraged at Soulfest. Here I am studying this call to the extraordinary life and I go to this place where I expect to be insulated from the world’s culture for a few days. Not so much. It was a carnival of capitalism. Anything’s for sale, at a price. Feel guilty about Africa? Give this table $35. Concerned about abortion? Give that table $20. Relevant even had post-modern Bible story postcards, which were very disturbing. And these were the good ones. The t-shirt shops were horrifying.

What were supposed to be some of the most powerful moments of the weekend were ruined for me by the presence of tv cameras, lights, sound booms and cameras. Is it real when it’s so orchestrated by the PR types? I really don’t know. But I do know that it made me sad.

I know we’re not called to live in a bubble, but right now I’m struggling. Do I become so desensitized that it doesn’t bother me to see and hear things? Do I strive to keep the sensitivity and ache all the time?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Is There A Point??

Last night I was curled up on my couch sorting through hundreds of pictures. I had run through a chunk of stuff on my DVR (good thing too - when I got home from Soulfest it yelled at me because it had run out of space), so I flipped through the channels for some unoffensive background noise. The Contemporary Christian digital music station was playing Amy Grant on a loop, so that wasn't an option.

I stumbled on Project Runway. I remembered how much Janet enjoys it, so I thought I'd give it a chance.

Huh?? What is the point of that show? It was utterly brainless and seemed to be exhalting complete brainlessness. Seriously? People watch this stuff? Diva models and diva designers all judged by equally diva fashion types. I didn't find even a moment of redeeming worth there. That's an hour of my life I won't get back.

On the positive side, Soulfest pictures are on their way.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Not Quite Famous

Lest my recent photo exploits go to my head, my latest assignment is keeping me down to earth. This morning someone came up to me quite excited and asked me to come with her because her next activity involved pulling a dead fish out of a bucket and grossing out a room full of kids. Umm... fun.

I like kids one on one. One on 150 is getting a little out of hand.

The good news? It's definitely keeping me humble.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Things I Learned at Soulfest Part III

Sometimes it's okay to wear old lady shoes!

After the first night in the press pit and being on my feet for 6 hours I decided some new footwear might be in order. Janet made fun of my new sandals, but my feet were much happier. And when my feet are happier, all of me is happier.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Things I Learned II

My friends all know how much I like Chris Tomlin. One of the things I was most looking forward to at Soulfest was the chance to see him again.

Looking at the schedule there would be two opportunities. He was performing Saturday evening and he would be doing the "New Song Cafe" on Saturday afternoon. The later was a more unplugged event where the songwriters introduce new songs to worship leaders and talk about how they wrote them. This was followed by a time of worship.

The event was to start at 1:30 pm, so we arrived early to grab a great spot. As it came to 1:30 the other two songwriters (Leeland and Matt Mahar) were both there. Then this guy came in wearing sunglasses. Took me a moment to realize it was Chris.

He looks exactly how I feel first thing in the morning!

Things I Learned II?

Even Chris Tomlin is human.

Things I Learned Part I

I learned lots of interesting and useful things at Soulfest this week. Some require photographic evidence, so I'll save those for when I sort through some of these pictures.

In the meantime.... The first important thing I learned was.... (drumroll)

There is a limit to the stupid things I'll do while holding a camera.

I had started to worry about this one. Especially when some guy grabbed me out of the press pit on Wednesday and led me up the hill full of people telling me what shots he wanted. It wasn't until after all this that he introduced himself and I found out he was official. Um... oops.

Anyhow, on Saturday I learned my limit.


There was something about dangling hundreds of feet above the earth on a bench that kept swaying back and forth, with kids going in the opposite directions yelling "You're going to die!" that was .... disconcerting. Prayer-inducing. It turns out that the combo of heights, unstable objects dangling at a great height and the solid rock face below are a lethal combo.

I got some great landscape pictures from the top of the mountain (coming soon) and heard one good band (Maeve). So not worth the whole "life flashing before my eyes" time going up and back down again.

So, thankfully, now I know that I won't do ANYTHING for a picture.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Trial in the Wilderness

We got back safely to civilization (read - wireless internet access). What was the Panera thinking letting their workers have a picnic? Do you think they'll notice the noseprints on the window?

More to come soon, including the lessons I learned at Soulfest (what a weird environment) and some of the 3000 pictures I took there. What a wild time. And sleep deprived.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Plucked from Obscurity

EEEEEEEEEEE (sorry Bryan)

Last night we were pulled out of the press pit at Soulfest and asked to be official photographers. We got press passes which gave us access to everything. Whoo hoo! Hoping they like our pictures and give us passes for the rest of the weekend.

In other news: Like I could stay off the internet for 5 days. I :heart: Panera.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Home for Recovering Technology Addicts

I'm leaving tomorrow for Soulfest and just checked in with the beautiful inn where we're staying. In asking last minute questions about whether there would be a fridge in the room I confirmed "and you have internet, right?".


They're pretty opposed to modern technology. They see it as a huge concession to have air conditioning (it's supposed to get up to 100 degrees this week). So, no internet.

Then the very nice lady offers that she'd be happy to lock up my cell phone for the week to help me get fully away from society and technology.


Clearly she hasn't seen my backpack with 2 cameras, a laptop, two battery chargers, a portable hard drive, iPod and various cabling that I'm bringing. In fact, I went out and bought a surge protector power strip to bring with.

And, I'm going to live with the Amish. Well, not totally Amish. She did remind me to bring a bathing suit for the beach.

I did a search and the nearest Panera with wi-fi is 25 miles away. Breath in. Breath out. Repeat.

So, I won't be blogging for a couple of days. I should come back with lots of great stories about the concerts and pictures.