Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Our Fearless Leader

You may not know this (how on earth would they know, you haven't blogged in months) but over the summer I have been a run leader for RTS's half marathon clinic. My 2hr 1/2 marathon group was a small, tight knit group. After running in the Kelowna 1/2, we have continued to run together. We have become good friends and enjoy our time together.

When I am not running with the Running Room bunch, I am running with Neal and "Ginny". Neal is recovering from a recent injury and as a result, our runs together have been slow (~9 min/mile) and short (4 miles).

So between these two running groups, I am not doing much running with just the PBGs.

That doesn't mean that life isn't complicated or challenging, though.

My new job is challenging. It would be easier if my bosses just told me what they wanted me to do and then let me spend my time wallowing in details. But no,... they want me to take the lead. They want me to Design and Plan and Direct and Decide!

I have a suspicion, however, that it isn't just my bosses who want me to lead. I feel the delicate influence of the PBGs.

  • They first got me doing rotations in church school
  • Then the big call to lead the boys' group
  • Then a stint helping with church Stewardship and all the phoning (shudder) that required
  • Next, 1/2 marathon clinic run leader

Do you know what my Running Room group likes to call me?

Our Fearless Leader. With all the work I have done recently on the leader part, now all that's left is to work on the fearless part.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Dig Deep

As near as I can recollect†, I was running pretty hard and not feeling very good about it. I was in the middle of my marathon training and my notes say that I ran "19 long miles/ 30.5Km". The PBGs', in their various ways suggested that I "Dig deep". And, as is usually the case, the dig deep message applied to other areas besides my aching calves.

They said, "Dig deep in your running for that is the only way to improve your conditioning and attain your goals"

"Dig deep in your quest" to listen to the needs of others around you and respond in a Christian way. The surface is there for scratching because most of the truly pivotal stuff is not displayed on the surface.

"Dig deep in your personal relationships" for you never know what lies beneath the layers you are already familiar with.

"Dig deep into spirituality" for there will always be depths that have never been plumbed and mystery waiting to be enlightened.

†Originally experienced July 10, 2004 so these thoughts are not as freshly squeezed as they aught to be. It had great punch when I lived it but may seem more like pressed leaves in retrospect.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Must Be Weird to Care

It must be near Hallowe'en or something†. On my run I saw 4 black cats. I think it could have been a witches convention in Mill Woods or something. And I am not talking seeing the same black cat 4 times or over a large span of time. I saw 3 of these cats on the same fence. Pretty weird, eh?

But that isn't what I was going to talk about. Half way through my run I saw a young mom sitting on the curb with a small toddler in her lap. Her head was covered with a hood and she seemed to be rocking the child back and forth. It seemed to me that she was in distress. I even thought I heard her crying.

Indecisively, I stood across the street, catching my breath from some hard running. Should I approach and offer help? Is she really in distress or was I just imagining it?

"Are you ok?" I asked her.

Apparently she must have been just playing a silly game with her toddler. She looked at me as if I had a banana sprouting from my ear. She thought I was on crack or something. "Get away from me you loser," was written all over her face.

Is it so wrong to care? To take an interest in someone else's emotional state? Is it that unusual to notice someone's pain and reach out?

At the time, her reaction didn't bother me, but I did have the presence of mind to say, "Don't look at me like I am weird. I'm not weird." It didn't really change her opinion of me. But I was glad that I stood up for my supposed kind deed.

What would you, dear reader, have done? Would you risk looking the fool? Would you go out on a limb? Even if it was likely that you would be rebuffed? If she really was in need, what would I have done then?

Don't be shy. Let your 'higher right' speak out. Say what you feel needs to be said.

Or, just leave a comment if you want to.

† Actually, this post has been in my drafts since mid September. I did imagine a witch convention at that time however.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Here are my results from the What's my footprint quiz on the Earth Day Network




Thanks to my friend David (CIV handle Croxis) over at Paradigm Shifter for the link.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Soap Box Derby: Huge Lead

Didn't I tell you it was a huge lead? Eat my dust, red wagon! Posted by Hello

Soap Box Derby: They’re Off!

And they’re off! The hill is fairly steep, but the start is still slow. The dragon car has a huge lead. Posted by Hello

Soap Box Derby: First Race

First big race. Red wagon doesn't look TOO fast. Cross your fingers! Posted by Hello

Soap Box Derby: Father and Son

Father and son together Posted by Hello

Soap Box Derby: Lined up to race

Lined up and ready to race Posted by Hello

Soap Box Workshop: Finishing touches

Mom and dad put on finishing touches.White under coat and black top coat. Mom did a wonderful job with flames and dragon. Bear in mind that the race is only 12 hours away! Posted by Hello

Soap Box Workshop: Undercoat

Sister helps out too. She is painting the undercoat and Dad attaches the seat belt hooks. Posted by Hello

Soap Box Workshop: Seat Belt

The rules say you have to have a lap belt and a shoulder belt. But how do we attach them? Will this be sufficient for the inspection? AAaaaahh! The race is TOMORROW! Posted by Hello

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Old Haunts

I recently returned for a run in my old training ground.

I have nicknamed my usual runs, and the route in question is called 'Alley-8'. As you may know if you have looked at my running log, Alley-8 used to be my most common route and many of the entries in the PBGs' Path were 'born' while running this route.

Anyway, on my return to Alley-8, I ran into 'the man in Green', who recognized me and told me that he wondered where I had been. I had to slow down to talk to him (good thing, because I was running sub 4:30 min/km and probably about to have a heart attack) and we had a good, but short, conversation about running and injuries.

I also ran by Hunter's house. There have been some changes in his yard and I am unsure wheather he even lives there anymore. As I started this entry, I did a google search of my own site and on a whim, I did a search for Hunter.

Ah, the good old days of running and PBGing (if you will permit my verbification :-) ). Recently, running has become more about fastness than about spirituality. Concerns for Hunter have been replaced with concerns for minutes-per-kilometers. All about the next marathon. All about, well, me.

Sad, sad, sad.

The distractions have run their course. Even my blog stands neglected.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

On the Soap Box

Well, I have been AFK (for my non-chat savvy friends, Away From Keyboard) for some time now.

But I have a good excuse. Well, not for being AWOL (for the non military, Absent WithOut Leave) from my blog (perhaps that should be Absent From Blog or just Abandoned By Blogger) it isn't that good an excuse. But it will explain some of my absence.

I have been out in my garage with my 13 year old son making a Soap Box Derby racer. Our City is having a Centennial celebration this year and the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues hosted a Derby. I started building the car pretty late and, therefore, had to spend a lot of time in the garage cursing and many more hours haunting the local hardware stores. Pretty much all my free time has gone into either running a marathon or building a racer lately.

Today was race day and my whole family was pumped. I won't go into all the details here (unless some one asks :-) ) but we had a great day of racing. We won the first 3 of our heats and could have won the 4th if we didn't go off course and hit a pylon or two. Oh well. Our racer worked pretty well but I did have to make a few fix-ups during the race. Susan asked me to post pictures, and I promise I will, but I have to get the developed first (for the techies, that means I go to a store, pay money, wait 1 1/2 hrs, and THEN scan the pictures into my computer! No digital camera here in the Canadian wastes.) I can't wait to see what people captured of the race.

Oh, and I owe you a Marathon race report as well.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Off to work I go

Well, I finally landed a job. I will be working as a programmer using a programming 'language' called LabView for an electronics company that makes sensing equipment. This job will be using real-time programming in a language I don't have any experience in, so I feel lucky to have landed it.

It is also an interesting company that seems to be doing quite well. It has a very good recent track record.

I guess my Parachute book pegged it right. After 4 1/2 months of looking for suitable work using the internet job boards, I finally got my job... through a friend.

So if you are waiting for a great job opportunity to be posted on Monster or some other internet job board, that is JUST right for you, remember that thousands of other people will see that opportunity too and potential employers will have to wade through 1000s of resumes to find that pearl in all the yucky oysters.

If you are that pearl, that's great, but take it from this clam, networking is much more fruitful.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

PBGs and the UnderBlog

Thank You Susan for recommending The PBGs Path to "Celebrating the Underblog 2004" list.

Do you know of (or run) a quality blog that deserves a bit of extra attention? What blog/s do you read that you wish others knew about?

Susan added a comment linking my site and added a quote from my Introduction to the PBGs page. On her Sister's page, she also describes what the underblog list is about.

So far I have only had one hit from the underblog list, but since my page is way down the page (on page 8!), it is surprising that anyone even looked down that far.

I guess I need to consider updating my blog more regularly if I am actually going to have visitors.

Sorta like keeping a clean house. If nobody is coming, what is the point of cleaning up? But when someone does come, you spend the whole time of their vist bustling around cleaning dishes and moving stacks of magazines.

Hmmm. My dishes are done, but the house IS a mess. Posting will have to come later, I guess <Grin>

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Shy Away

I think my comments are working properly. Then again, I haven't exactly been flooded with comments lately. Susan Prince of Sisters' emailed me to say that she couldn't open the comment window by clicking the comment link below. It works for me and I have received comments from Ron and Mike among others.

Is there anyone else who can't make a comment?

Leave a comment below...

No, wait, that won't work. Um..

Alas, I will have to for-go my usual shyness and paranoia and release my email address so you can contact me that way. I guess it is time to dive into the deep end of the blog-o-pool and start standing by my words.

I can be reached at TerminalMan90_AT_gmail_DOTcom

Susan says she has JavaScript turned on and thinks that the Haloscan popup isn't being suppressed by a popup suppressor. Anybody have another idea about what might be going wrong on her end?

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Caution: Stats may be Habit Forming

I admit it. I am a stats junky.

I haven't started a 12 step program yet, but I admit that I have a compulsion to check my website stats at least 4 times a day. I just can't resist the temptation to see how many new visitors I have. I love to see what posts are getting the hits. I want to know who I am drawing in with what.

Call me vain.

There is no question about it Holmes. Curiosity killed this cat.

But I am sometimes at a loss to figure out what people where really looking for from the search terms they type in. What do you think the person who typed in "Rat Food" was looking for? I can tell that they didn't find discount rat pellets or weed rat stew recipes on The PBGs' Path.

Some of you might be asking yourself, "Why was TM90 posting about Rat Food anyway?".

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Mission with the Works Please

Mike posts on Waving or Drowning? (which, BTW, is a poem I love and wrote an essay about at university. The poem is "Not Waving But Drowning" by Steve Smith.) about Works and their importance to Spirituality.

We do not do the work. On that I agree with you. I do think we have the responsibility to "prepare the soil". In our little tribe we talk about doing our part so God can do His part. He makes all this available to us, but we are responsible for working with God in this formation.

The PBGs really agree with this post. Works are as important as faith. You cannot control God nor can you "push the plan". On the other hand, God doesn't make all the decisions either. If you are unwilling to play the part cast by God for you, the plan is altered irrevocably. That doesn't mean it is ruined, just changed. When you work with God instead of against God, things go in the right direction. When you work against God, good things still happen, but I suspect they are not as grand as the were meant to be.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Chicken and Egg Question

Okay, so I have been giving Faith and Salvation a lot of thought lately. And, sure enough, at church today, that seemed to be the focus of the sermon. The PBGs are relentless.

Or maybe that is just me.

Briefly, the reading today was about Jesus eating with the Pharisee, Simon. Along comes a woman of 'low social standing' who crys on Jesus' feet, drys them with her hair and anoints them with perfume from an alabaster jar (Luke 7:36-50) (not to be confused with Mary and the Alabaster jar).

Listening to the viewpoint of our Minister, I heard that God's grace is given to all. I asked him after the service my "Chicken and the Egg question." I said, "Which comes first, Faith or Salvation (i.e. the grace of God)?"

He said that in his opinion we didn't have to do anything special to earn God's grace, it is available to anyone who is willing to accept it. I expect that means he doesn't think too highly of the concept original sin then either.

Humming Bird Nest

Here is a series of pictures depicting the birth of a humming bird. Thank you Mom for the link.

This is truly amazing! Be sure to click on NEXT PAGE at the bottom of each page...there are four pages. Adults and children will find this very interesting. Enjoy!!!

This lady found a humming bird nest and got pictures all the way from the egg to leaving the nest. Took 24 days from birth to flight. Very neat and good pictures.
Humming Bird Nest

I was told to share it with the grandkids and kids, which I did, and I also thought I would share it with the PBGers too.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Scam Report: Bernard Haldane Associates

This report, due to circumstances, must remain a Buyer Beware report.

I simply don't have enough information to prove any wrong doing by the company Bernard Haldane. All I have is a very bad taste in my mouth from the bait dangled before me.

I received and invitation to an 'interview':

We have had the opportunity to screen your resume on [websiteName] and upon review would like to invite you in for a consultation meeting/career evaluation

Right away, I thought, "This is some head hunter," so I was already on my guard. So I googled the company up and investigated their career change form (the one that offered a report). After three pages of forms, they referred me to the local Bernard Haldane office.

Okay, so I phoned the number from the original email. The lady asked me to set up an appointment, and, wanting to practices my new-found phoning skills, I proceeded to ask what I could expect to get out of the consultation. I was surprised when the woman's hackles went up.

Her abrupt change of tone rang warning bells and I pushed a bit harder for more information. She said that "if I didn't already know what kind of service they were offering, then perhaps the consultation wasn't for me."

What? Now who was sounding out-right rude?

So I canceled the interview.

And did some more research.

I was surprised to locate at least 12 different web addresses that hit on a google on company's name. The sites were all variations on haldane or jobhunter. The websites vary from very professional-looking to clunky and old-school. The hype level is high but actual company information is sparse. My first visit to the highest hit was professional and stated that this 50+ year old company has offices in North America, Europe and the UAE.

What I didn't see on my first exploration was that there are other people complaining about or suing this company. One guy said that the company are members of the US BBB but that he had found 500 complaints about this company.

My search of the Canadian BBB also found a lawsuit from 2002.

Like I said, I don't have any proof that this is a bad company, but I certainly don't regret canceling my appointment with them. I don't need practice saying no to high pressure sales and a fee of excess of $1300

[edit] This post has languished as a 'draft' post for more than a month now. It is time to post it and move on.

On digging a bit deeper, I have found a little bit more information about this company.

  • I found a transcript of a W-Five program about the practices of this company.
  • I found a reference to the original company in the latest copy of What colour is your Parachute?, 2004: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters & Career-Changers by Richard Nelson Bolles.

Mr. Bolles states that Bernard Haldane, the founder of this company was a brilliant man who started a job placement company just after the second world war. Haldane sold the company about a decade ago and it has grown exponentially to 90 locations. Mr. Bolles couldn't recommend the new company services either.

So I leave it to you. If you are desperate enough, perhaps you want to spend $3,000 to $7,000 getting a spruced up resume and some job search pointers. Apparently, this is the only service they provide and there is no guarantee that you will be successful landing that perfect job.

Or you can pick up a copy of Parachute for $17.00 and it will give you the skinny on how you REALLY can get the job of your dreams. The choice is yours.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Strength training

I'm on a roll tonight. Here is another link from a link. Thanks to TNT18 for the running related PBGish link.

Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM)

This story also has the elements of obedience, fear and recognition of our sinful nature. But it seem much more gentle somehow. Less focused on guilt and self loathing. More about building me up than tearing me down. I may be a lonely guilty sinner now, but with hope, faith, and the love of God, I can become more Christ like and fulfill my destiny.

Sin and the Homosexual

Following the links on the International Weblogger's Day (June 9) lead me to the Innovators for Christ site. While I have yet to discover a post that seems remotely innovative to me, I did discover a post that touches on some of the things Ron Shanks and I have been discussing, dealing with homosexuality (in this case ordination of homosexuals) and recent changes in the USA.

There are two basic principals at the root of this problem.
  1. The inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures: You have to believe that what Paul wrote to the Romans in chapter 1 verses 26 and 27 is false. You have to be able to read that and justify unnatural and indecent behavior in your ordained leadership.
  2. You have to be able to justify unrepentant sinners as qualified to lead believers in a life committed to repentance. I don't think that homosexuality is worse than any other sin. The type of sin is not the issue to me. If Mr. Robinson stood before the church and said "I steal all my food from the grocery store because I love the rush I get from it, and I don't intend to stop". People would be outraged and Robinson would be run out of the church.
How and when, did the sin of homosexuality receive amnesty?

This sound very much like what Ron has to say. Very succinctly put. Gets right to the nub of the issue. Even uses the same Bible quotation Ron gave me. If I had more faith in the infallibility of the Bible, I would have to change my mind about the ordination of ministers too.

On the other hand, if Ron is right that I am an Idoliter et al, then I wouldn't be suitable as a minister either. Case-in-point, all humans are sinners so no-one should have amnesty. Therefore, nobody has the right to represent God as a minister.

Except for God's grace.

So why should we single out the Homosexual sinner? Or the one who steals his groceries for that matter?

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

PBG Disciple

Alas, my 'session' with the PBGs didn't help me much. My thoughts kept coming back to my conversation with my blog friend, Ron. It did seem to confirm the importance of faith in all of this. I also got the feeling that I am being a bit stubborn and that I really need to ground my decisions with additional Bible reading.

That can't be a bad thing.

I have some quick things to say about Ron's latest (and last? I think not!) post.

  1. I did not mean to imply that I didn't believe in God or that God didn't create the universe. On the other hand, I don't think that God created the earth in 6 literal days. I see this creation story as a metaphor only. Ron won't like that, but that is tough.
  2. I did not mean to imply that I think the Bible is false, just that it isn't infallible.
  3. I only tried to take the Bible out of the conversation regarding faith because I wanted to hear what Ron felt about faith, not what was written in the Bible. He has quoted the Bible enough and I wanted to get past that to what he felt. More on this later in this post
  4. I don't want to argue about evolution either. We have differing opinions about it; enough said.

Based on your (presumed by me) assumptions about me, Ron, you have lumped me in with other Bible haters. Ron, I am surprised by you. I would have thought it was apparent to you that I am ready to read the Bible with you and see what I could get from it. I am just not ready to see it as a tautology. I am not ready to accept a 10,000 year old earth because the Bible is from God and God doesn't lie. As you know, the Bible is a valuable repository of useful social guidelines. I even accept that the Prophets were influenced by a direct connection to God in some way I can't fathom. Just because I can't fathom that process does not mean it isn't possible. On the other hand, have you read the description of Ezekial's vision? It sound like he was tripping out on magic mushrooms! I am positive there is a metaphoric meaning to this vision, but I don't know what it is.

You spoke at length of conscience. I wasn't clear on what you were getting at, however. Were you trying to imply that conscience and soul are somehow linked or words for the same thing? Surely a soul is more than just a persons conscience? Anyway, the difference between our positions seems to be that you see conscience as a trait or fundamental and I see it as a set of learned behaviors. I see it as a learned behavior. There certainly seem to be people who never developed a conscience due to improper upbringing. I see conscience as a creation of society that is transmitted to an individual. It is a fabric of rules that allow us to co-exist without falling into anarchy. It is taught to a child by his/her parents to assure their survival and procreation in society. Having said that, I have no intention of our discussion wandering into the realm of Social Darwinism. Let us press on.

...when you start to question one part of scripture, the whole things starts to unravel pretty quickly.

If it was my intention to discredit the Bible, unraveling it would be my goal. That, however, is not my purpose. My point is that making allowance for poetic license, imagery, metaphor or other elements of story telling doesn't diminish the power of the content of the Bible, but is certainly changes what you believe the document is telling you.

If you find a quote in the bible that says that women are property and you believe the Bible is Gods final (unchanging) word, and you believe that God must be followed at all cost, then By God, women shouldn't be allowed to vote (among other things). I can see why Bible literalists are tying themselves in knots trying to get everyone to see that the 'progress' we have made in so many equality issues have being a denial of Gods Holy Word.

But we have been around that merry-go-round before too. I am running low on bullets too.

Yet there is no great appeal for you to accept that grace, because you don't want to be motivated by fear. Solomon reminds us repeatedly, that "fear is the beginning of wisdom", and Heb 10:31 says, "It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Tim, God means business when it comes to sin. You don't want to be motivated by fear, but you should be. We all should. We should tremble at the thought of standing before a Holy God. Even if there is only a chance of it being true, you should tremble at the thought. No, it's not pretty. But that is where wisdom, and repentance begin. Faith will follow - God will reveal himself to you as you take those small steps of faith. But you must humble yourself first.

I realize there is a chance that it is true. I am not ready to swallow the pill whole. I am an analyzer. I pick things apart to see how they work. For me, the pieces just don't fit together. I think that Ron is saying here that he attains faith through his fear of God. I have come a long way into faith. My entry into faith has not been through fear but through purpose. Through action. I strive for community, to become a part of a grand whole. I want to be the hands of God, to act on His behalf. It is my belief that a God who loves me would not want me to quake in fear. A God who is all powerful would not set up a system were only the fearful would survive. That kind of creation makes no sense to me. I don't believe in a God who will punish my bad behavior with eternal suffering. That does not seem all powerful to me. Fear is a base human emotion. Love is a complex set of emotions and actions that defies attempts to describe it.

God is love.

God is NOT fear.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Scam Report: Tickle update

I found this little bit of speculation on the Motley Fool site. Google's Billion-Dollar Shopping List [Commentary] June 3, 2004: "Perhaps Tickle was Monster's most interesting acquisition"

Apparently Google's IPO may spur it to buy Monster who recently purchased Tickle in May. So say the Motley Fools.

I guess it is all about who has the eye-balls. Amazon, Ebay, Google, Monster are all recognizable to most web-surfers. Other companies like Double-Click, most gambling sites, Blind Date, Lava Life (and other various dating sites) are infamous (but still well known) sites. If the reputable companies buy up all the Tickles, hopefully the amount of spam on our favorite websites will decrease.

Or maybe it will quadruple!

A Matter Of Focus (the sequel)

Some of my other readers have mentioned that I seem to have lost my original focus on the PBGs' Path lately. True. But then again, the PBGs have already indicated that my blog is a distraction anyway and that I will get from it only things I can expect from any human distraction.

On the other hand, I tried to do some PBGish meditation on my most run yesterday and it was disappointingly unenlightening.

I did come home feeling blessed with riches.

... and I came home hot, sweaty, sticky and tired.

I have a long solo run tomorrow (13 miler). I'll try to meditate again tomorrow and report back.

No Brainer Reward

Ron Shanks and I have talked about the requirements of salvation in our on-going discussion. What I meant when I said we hadn't discussed Salvation is that I haven't told him yet that I don't believe there is a heaven or a need for salvation (Feel free to check the chart; it isn't in there).

I know from my handy chart that Ron's faith in the Bible (hmm, perhaps faith is the wrong word here?) means that he has no choice but to believe that there is a heaven and a hell. It also means that he believes that God created the earth in 6 (presumably standard) days, that humans were co-existent with dinosaurs, that the age of the universe is under 10,000 years and other interesting tidbits.

But lest we get sidetracked, we were talking about Heaven or more succinctly, Salvation. I am more of a scientist than a theologian. I understand the principles of carbon dating, asteroid impacts, fossilization, speed of light, plate tectonics, rocketry, and a host of other scientific disciplines that call into question the infallible "truths" of the Bible. If there is a heaven out there, beyond the clouds, why hasn't the space shuttle discovered it? Behind the moon? Beyond the furthest unmanned probe? Is it in some other Galaxy? Probably not. Some other Godly dimension? Possibly.

I can't prove there is no heaven. But nobody can prove there is one either. I know, Ron, you will say, "Do you want to spend eternity in hell wishing you had seen that your pride was blinding you to the Truth". Ultimately, that is my choice (at least we agree on that, no matter how much it grieves him).

Then again, I never thought I would join a Christian church and read the Bible.

Look Ma, no hands!

Ron, here is the hard question: What is it that gives you faith that you will rise to Heaven (bodily or just your 'soul') when the final judgment comes? (And don't say the Bible, `cause that just redirects the question) I am talking about your own personal experience.

I simply refuse to make that faith leap with only fear of death pushing me. <--- serious here Ron. Or the threat of eternal damnation. Or any other fear tactic. If it is simply a choice between reward and punishment, it is a no-brainer to pick the reward, but it doesn't help me with faith. Am I being clear here?

Discalmer: Ron and I both have a habit of being flippant without warning. This has got to stop. But it won't, so don't hold your breath, dear reader.

Congratulations Mo

WaHOOO! Mo just got the word that she will be working for the City during the Municipal Election campaign as a researcher. Her position is officially a Clerk II but she tells me that she will be doing more researching and phone answering than typing.

It is a full time position with every second Monday off. The position goes for 6 months.

If you know Mo, you will know that she is both excited and fretting the details of becoming a full time employee.

I get to to be "Mister Mom" for at least the month of June. I plan to continue to look for work, but Mo's job will take away a lot of the money pressures we have been dealing with. My EI premiums won't last forever, after all.

Monday, May 31, 2004

Marathon Training Commences

I got the word from on high. Today is the start of my Marathon training for the Edmonton Marathon in August.

No, not that far on high, just from Neal. We start our first training run of 4 miles tonight. He will be celebrating the event with some new shoes. If you want to check on our progress, I will be setting up a countdown clock here. I doubt that I will be posting training comments or anything else there, so no need to bookmark that page.

Our training program is 12 weeks and Larry, Neal and I all have a pretty good base. Larry is running 24 Miles a week and Neal and I are running 27 miles. Our longest run will be 23 miles! Yikes.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Word Fails Me

Ron Shank and I are making progress of sorts. We have taken our discussion about things religious off the public stage into email and chat.

Ron and I are surprisingly similar. There are, however, things that we strongly believe that differ. Here is a brief summary.

Bible is InfallibleYesNo
Bible is ValuableYesYes
homosexuality is an AbominationYesNo†
There's more to Christianity than being a Good PersonYesYes
Promiscuous behavior can be physically harmfulYes‡Yes
Promiscuous behavior is a Mortal SinYesYes
Homosexuals should be allowed to MarryNoYes*
Marriage would 'Save' HomosexualsNoYes


I haven't passed this table before Ron yet, but I think I have captured his intentions in the table. If he disagrees, or wants other qualifiers, I will update this post.
†  God and the Bible would seem to disagree with me on this point.
‡  perhaps Ron would say that unrepentant promiscuity is always dangerous to your salvation
*  I do not think marriage must be supported by churches; I would be satisfied by a secular service that had some legal weight. If they wish to profess their commitment to God, that is up to them, naturally.

Ron and I have yet to discuss Salvation. I suspect that my beliefs as listed above preclude me from Salvation. Then again, it has been pointed out that I am an idolater, thief, adulterer, liar and a murder.

I probably wasn't going to Heaven anyway.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Intolerant Reply

Note: Look here for the entire spectrum of belief in this issue.

No, Ron, you have it wrong. I wasn't saying that you were intolerant. I was implying that your interpretation of God and the messages you take from the Bible as being intolerant.

I looked at the links you suggested in your post. I particularly liked the flash presentation. The concepts in that presentation have been laid out by you in your blog again and again. This presentation sums up your position quite well.

Here are some highlights:

He will punish all liars, the lustful, adulterers, idolaters, and blasphemers (Revelations 21:8). The place of eternal punishment is Hell.

This comes after some explanation of what God considers a lie, lustful, adultery, and idolatry, which, of course includes nearly every action we, as human beings, take. It then goes on to say that:

God does not want you to perish. He is rich in Mercy and compassion, and has provided a way for you to be forgiven.

God expects an almost impossibly high standard (well, god-like, actually) and then gives you an easy out. Sounds a lot like a used car salesman to me. ("Just $19.95 three times a week buys you all this!"). The presentation goes on to say that if you simply say the magic words (and to its credit, it says the intention behind the words is more important than the words themselves) that all will be right again. Oh and read the bible. That's important too.

So God is willing to pay your bail as long as you admit that you are worthless and useless.

God is offering it to you as proof of His love for you.

This portrait of God, to me, implies that God has very little respect for his creation. He knows that we are filthy as hell and expects us to be darling little angels and promises to throw us into the fiery furnace for eternity if we don't relent and become his puppets.

If Ron and the people of his faith are right, then many of us are in mortal danger because:

No one comes to the Father except through me.

All must come to God through Ron's faith. God has no tolerance for slackers. God does not take gays. God does not take Muslims. God certainly doesn't take Jews (because they don't except Jesus). God is so intolerant that He is only willing to give you a chance if you dangle on His strings. But if not, it's the rubbish tip for you.

I am not at either extreme in my stance. I have no solid answers. I don't know if homosexuality is biological or not. I don't know if sexual orientation can be changed. It, like handedness, can probably be changed if your 'treatments' are extreme enough (with questionable humanity, I might add). I just don't believe that homosexuals are any more evil than heterosexuals.

I am sorry Ron. I just can't buy that. It is your interpretation of how God works that I find intolerant.

Ron 'knows' he has solid answers because he believes that the bible is THE TRUTH. Even if that is the case, the bible is still open to interpretation. Those who choose to interpret it one way and deny all other interpretations have solid answers. But they do come off sounding intolerant.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Love Each Other

Intolerance (n-tlr-ns)

\In*tol"er*ance\, n. ...

  • The quality of being intolerant; refusal to allow to others the enjoyment of their opinions, chosen modes of worship, and the like; want of patience and forbearance; illiberality; bigotry; as, intolerance shown toward a religious sect.

In response to Ron Shank's post on Same Sex marriges in the State of Massachusetts.

In another post, Ron accuses this nice couple (and I say couple because that is what I believe they are) of calling the wrath of God down on the entire USA.

I don't believe this man needs any help at all from them in accomplishing that.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Past, Present, Future

Nothing is gained by dwelling in the past; who knows what the future holds; I think I can deal with the present. So 'Happy Birthday' to me.

Seattle Marathon Picture

I am experimenting with a new picture posting product called Hello. I think I will be able to start sprucing up my blog with some small graphics. The only trouble might be the automatic sizing that happens when you upload a picture. I hope I can work this out. Until then, here is a picture you may or may not have seen before:

Me in the 2003 Seattle Marathon Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Inspiration by TNT18

For the runners (new and old) in the crowd, join Phillip Martin in his preparations for:
Fall 2004 Marathon Season. I've Rejoined the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training and hope to raise $2000 and complete my 3rd Chicago Marathon.

on his new blog TNT18

I encourage others to take fitness into their own hands and dare to dream big. Don't kid yourself, every marathon is a struggle. But it is the challenge that makes all the effort worthwhile.

I have completed three now and I am about to gear up for the Edmonton Marathon in August.

Now all I have to do is find money for new shoes and the entry fee.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Senseless Death

I have been reading Nikki P's journal for some time now. She is a spirited lady who always tells it, if not how it really is, exactly the way she sees it. With Passion. While I don't always agree with her outlook, I always respect her ability to cut to the heart of any issue.

She gives a long list of personal aquaintances, in the link above, who have been killed senselessly by gun-toting 'morons'. In my opinion these people have no business owning guns. In fact, the number of people with guns is at the heart of the problem. But I digress...

Nikki goes on to say that what we need is more prayer and "more time [dedicated] to Jehovah". Amen.

But what strikes me as ironic is this part:

In 2001, a co-worker of mine was shot and killed....because someone didn't like the way he drove.


I wish people didn't care about the things that didn't matter. I wish that people would think more and act less. I wish that people would learn to rely on and trust in God more than material things and pride.

I respect her stance on this, but Nikki is also quick tempered and often posts rants about bad drivers and other blatant acts of 'stupidity'.

If she is going to preach lessons of tolerance, perhaps she should re-read her own journal and grab a little tolerance herself.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Note To Self

What every mother wants (well, the mother in this household, anyway). Chocolate, Bar None.

From the article:

And it's not enough to just drop subtle hints ... we must provide our children (and our mates) with all the information they'll need to properly show their appreciation for the wonderful job we mothers do: We must give them recipes. Chocolate ones. With this in mind, I feel it is my public duty to share with you some of my personal favourites - all eminently suitable for Mother's Day, and all easy enough for even a dad [emphasis added] to help make.

Well, I for one know my way around the kitchen. And I have also received some not-so-subtle hints from Mo too.

Chocolate, must buy chocolate!

Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death

The internet is a weird and amazing place. I was just listening to a CD I picked up at the local Folk Festival many years ago. There is a song about "The Movie With The World's Worst Title".
Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death  (also known as Piranha Women of the Avocado Jungle of Death  as popularized by song writer, Christine Lavin

I thought Christine's version of the story (see second link) was funny, but apparently the actual movie (yes, there IS an actual movie with this name) is even funnier. I haven't actually seen the movie, but all the accounts of it I found say it is hilarious. The first link above has some snapshots, audio clips and one video clip. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004


Well, I read Rebecca Blood's book The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your Blog. I like the book and I like the Author's style too. I think, however, I am not interested in maintaining a "filter" style blog.

I tend to be too conservative. I stick pretty close to my own corner of the internet. I read a few blogs on a regular basis, but I limit my time to explore. I like to link to interesting articles, but it takes such a long time for me to compose decent remarks (I am pretty fussy) that I don't even do that often.

The PBGs' path was originally an expose of my experiences in running.

Things have drifted a bit recently. I am focusing more and more on the process of blogging and attracting attention and less and less on the important matter of my spiritual growth. The PBGs have told me time and again that the web stuff is simply a distraction.

So if you'll excuse me, I have a job to go search for.

On the other hand, I still like blogging. Maybe I'll get one of those sites that allows you to divide your posts into categories. That way, I can have PBGish thoughts and web-linky thought and keep them separate.

Tell me what you think. If you know how they do that, leave me a comment.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Give us this Day...

On my lunch break, I took a stroll around the building. With the wierd weather this year, I wanted to enjoy the lack of wind and sunny skies. Nice and warm.

On a whim, I sub-verbalized a "prayer" of thanks giving to God for giving me so much in my life.

Of course, God didn't make a sunny day just for my pleasure. She would have made it sunny anyway. But God also brought me to the point where I was able to be glad to experience the day.

Those of you who are parents will probably understand that we give to our children not because we need their praise. We don't feed, clothe, bathe, shelter, ..., (we don't want to be here all night) them because we want them to make us cute little statues in school. We do it because we love them unconditionally. We forgive their mistakes. We love them because of their imperfections.

God's love it like that too.

That helps me feel more comfortable about thanking God. God doesn't demand my thanks. Every parent knows that a child's 'debt' is not repaid by strips of burlap, glue, tissue paper and pipe-cleaners. It is repaid with a look, a touch, a smile and just the fact that they are who they are.

That they are growing to be who they are destined to be.

So in your life, do your best to make your God proud of you. Not for his praise. Not as a repayment of the goodness you have received. Not even for the praise you might receive from God's other children. But simply because it is the right thing to do.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Pressure to Change

6.4 Km, 30:27.36, Sunny 3°C, light wind

Ran by myself today on Neal's School route. I pushed myself much harder than I would have prior to running with Neal (approx. 7 min & 37 sec per mile!).

I guess in a way, I am pushing myself to be a better Christian too. My friends down south would probably say that I am getting a healthy shove from God too. Can't deny that. It would be tough to pull this old camel through a particularly tiny needle eye without some spiritual assistance.

Looking back on my spiritual quest, I am amazed. When I look back on my marathoning path I am equally amazed. I wouldn't say I was in bad shape before I started running. It is just that I am in so much better shape now.

Then there is my quest to be a good group leader. There are loads of a few skills I don't posses that are necessary for being a good leader:

  • planning skills
  • organization skills
  • ability to call people on the phone (remember my phone phobia?)
  • administrative experience

Well I guess I have a bit of all of those skills. Pushing myself to do these things is what makes me stronger in these areas. God's support helps me to face what I would ordinarily shy away from. Having a Godly purpose makes the doing easier and the 'pain' worth it.

Heck even the pain doesn't seem all that awful.

One final note. I am under immense pressure and stress. But my attitude is still relatively positive. Thank you everyone, Mo especially, for your support

[editor note: I want to bring the running back to the PBGs' Path by listing the run stats at the top like my earlier posts.]

Friday, April 16, 2004

Unclean Spirit

I learn more from preparing for a Sunday School Rotation than any other time.

Parable of the Empty House -- taken from Jesus Christ and the Christian Life: Vignettes of Truth

When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but it finds none. Then it says, "I will return to my house from which I came." And when it comes it finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.

Matthew 12:43-45

Here, vividly if grimly, is dramatized the peril of the uncommitted life, of one who may have had a genuine religious experience of forgiveness and deliverance but who does not follow it up with the positive acts and discipline of discipleship. The cleaned house needs to be occupied by the Holy Spirit.

I think this is an answer to the discussion I had recently about why "just being a good person" isn't enough. If your house is empty, who knows what will take up residence. If you do not know where you stand, you open yourself to drifting without purpose and conviction. Who knows what 'demons' will 'possess' you. Drug addictions, workaholism, sex addition, depression,... there are lots of demons we employ when our lives are empty and without purpose.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Between a Bunny and a Hard Place

Tonight, Mo and I read an article in the paper about Easter becoming too commercialized. This all-too-familiar rant appears for almost every holiday season now. It is almost as predictable as the changing of the seasons. While I agree with the sentiment, it has definitely lost a lot of its bite for me.

But it did get me thinking.

Having recently been to the Passion of the Christ, the contrast between Bunnies and Blood is very much at the forefront of my mind.

On one hand there are those who want to shock you into believing. They want you to believe that God will be angry with you if you don't acknowledge that Jesus died a horrible death on the cross because we are intrinsically sinful from birth:

BBC news reported at the end of March on a mock crucifixion, complete with fake blood and gore that shocked shoppers and bystanders in the town of Reading.

Here is another article about the same story in the Guardian:Gory crucifixion makes town's shoppers cross

And on the other hand, there are whole stores set up to sell us Jesus' merchandise:

Devine Treasures is a store that is having a sale on Easter paraphenalia. I checked out the rest of their site and found a plethora of religious items for sale. Crosses, plaques, plates, crucifixes, statues, angles, music boxes etc. Why don't they set up a temple, get some money changers and sell some indugences as well?

It is the Golden Calf that we pay homage to, not God or Jesus.

So it isn't just secular society that is selling Jesus down the Via Dolorosa.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Not your Every-Day Rat food!

I just couldn't resist quoting this little gem from Ms. Frizzle's blog:
You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.

-Anne Lamott

While I am not big on hating anybody, I am moved to think about who my 'created' gods, the PBGs, hate. LOL.

I also got a giggle from her lab rat story about infrequent blog posters. I hope the PBGs Path is on the Frizz's visitation list.

Internet Hand of God

I have knowingly put my hand into a hornets nest. My post Yes, but am I a Christian? has attracted attention from the USA bible belt. No fur has flown yet, but I fully expect that someone will see my attitude as blasphemous.

I assure you that my intent is far from blasphemy. When I use the term "Pop Bottle Gods" or PBGs it is really a placeholder for the God we all hold so dear. Due to my past non-involvement with organized religion, my PBGs were an access point that I found less threatening and more palatable during my spiritual awakening. They (the PBGs) allowed me to have a dialog with the divine that would not be possible in any other way. Through this conversation, I have become more involved with our church (through the grace of God) and I have far less discomfort with the term "God".

As I have written elsewhere, I have a knee-jerk reaction to the word "jesus" (lower case 'j' intentional). I continue to have associations between jesus and evangelical-born-again-Christians. The negative connotation stems from the secular world's general disdain of all things religious. It also stems from the witness attempts by groups such as the Mormons (more formally The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), Jehovah's witness, and others.

Now that my own attitudes toward my own spirituality have changed, I am less dismissive of these witness attempts. I am less vulnerable because I am more comfortable with my own faith. More importantly, I am more able to discuss intelligently with witnessers the merits of their position. Sometimes I can even leave them with thoughts about their own beliefs.

After all, I have just as much to learn from these children of our common God as they do from me. The details of their beliefs are different from mine. But that doesn't make them less human, nor does it make them less my neighbors in God.

Join the discussion! I now have my TrackBack thingy working.

Thank you Ron Shank for your prayers and your plea to potential "blaster" to hold back. I am indeed, as you say, "called by God". I do not know where God leads me, but I do know the place I go will be far grander than the place I would have gone with out Him/Her.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Yes, but am I a Christian?

On one of my blogrolled sites, Susan says Is He a Christian? From her description I am not at all sure that I would qualify as a Christian. So I left her a comment to see what she thinks. I hope she responds either on her site or mine.

Susan, if you are reading this, check out my PBGs introduction page. My journey has been pretty non-standard to this point and I wonder what you think of it.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Spam Report: Is It A Stroke?

Do you get emails from friends and relatives that say, "Pass this on to everyone in your address book"? Most of my acquaintances know that I don't respond to these and I usually don't forward them either.

But when I do get them, I don't just delete them. I am usually a little more proactive about the "spam" I receive. I like to inform myself about the messages I am sent. (Hence my "Spam Report" series) Then, if I find something dangerous or interesting, I send a reply to the person who sent me the email. Sometimes I tell them they are propagating a hoax. Sometime I tell them that they have been tricked.

To my surprise, the latest "pass it on" email I received from my brother contains valid advice that is based on fact rather than fiction! The email concerns three warning signs of stroke:

  • ask the individual to smile.
  • ask him or her to raise both arms
  • ask the person to speak a simple sentence

You can read more about it here

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Spam Report: $25 Million for nothing

This spam yells at you "We're giving away up to $25,000,000!*" and the 'fine' print says:
*No purchase necessary. See for official rules, odds and prize information. Promotion ends 3/31/04. Open to US and Canadian residents (excluding Quebec) age 13 and over. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. Annual Grand Prize winner's odds of winning $25 million are 1:250. Annual Grand Prize paid in equal annual installments over 40 years without interest.

Come on people. Use your heads.

If your math skills aren't very strong, let me help. $25 Million for ONE person over 40 years would be over $600,000 a year. This is a 'no purchase necessary' contest. For the odds to be 1:250 that would mean that

  1. there are a maximum of 250 players in the contest and one prize of $25,000,000 (over 40 years)
  2. there are less than 250 players in the contest and multiple multi-million-dollar prizes
  3. They intentionally misrepresenting your chances of winning anything as the chances of winning the big prize
  4. There isn't really a contest at all and they just want your email/contact information

Think it through.

Remember, this is an unsolicited email received from a company that only asks for your email address. It has likely been sent to 25 million email boxes. On with the test:

Which is the most likely? What product do you think they are selling? How many units would they have to sell in order to be able to pay out $25,000,000 over 40 years? All contests are intended to increase sales. Businesses are willing to take a 10% hit for 'advertising'. $250,000,000 in sales??? Must be a huge company. In business for 40 years? Must be a well known company.

But wait,...

...there isn't any logos! What are they hiding? No identity. No known products.

No Thanks!

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Bible: Chapter and Verse

This site shows bible quotations, chapter and verse in 30 odd different bible versions. Free reference like without the advertisments. Take a peak: PHIL 4:12

I found this on Dave's Supergalactic Megafantastic Blog-o-rama. The quote seemed appropriate for my current situation too:

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Spam Report: Not Tickle-ish

As part of my on-going service, I would like to provide you with a report on a questionable banner ad you might have encountered in your e-travels.

Tickle is primarily a match making site or on-line dating site. But there are banner ads you may have encountered that are for various tests you can take.

The test that caught my eye was an I.Q. test. You know the one, it has a picture of Einstein on it or some colourful I.Q. test blocks. If you are curious, you click through. You are then brought to a 2 page I.Q. test which promises to tell you great things about your intelligence profile and even what careers that you would be suitable for. And it is "developed by PhDs" and "PhD certified"

Great. I'm in.

So I start answering the test questions. It takes a significant amount of time. Some of the questions are really easy, and others are quite tricky. After the second page, I am interested  in what my report will be. It seems like a valid test.

But at this point, I know something that you might not be aware of. I have encountered tickle before. I know that it is a match-making site. I have seen the popup ads for tickle at one of the sites I visit all the time. I have seen them enough to know how persistent they are.

I am also wary of dating sites because of a spam email I received, got curious about and investigated. This spam mail dating site was an email and personal information collection scheme!

Anyway, back to the test... Sure enough, after the final page of the I.Q. test, there is a screen that basically says, "Register on our site and we will give you the results of your test."


Grumble, grumble, ... waste my time ..., should never have clicked,...

Okay, so I want my results. I know that my name will go into the tickle dating database (They don't actually tell you that it is a dating database at this point). I have an extra (free) email that I am willing to sacrifice so I made up a name and some other contact details and filled in the fields.

The next screen tells me the I.Q. results (134, not that I am bragging) and then offers to sell me the full results from an "actual PhD" for $9.95 (Access to the dating site is 'free', test results $9.95)!

I just thought I would try and save you the trouble of going through this test, getting your contact information stolen and have you tempted to pay for a useless report in the bargain.

Talk about sophisticated scheme, eh?

SO... be wary! There are lots of offers out there. Some are very sophisticated and it may seem like you are getting great value for a small price. But you have no idea what they will deliver. Consider the cost AND the benefit. Your personal information is very valuable. Don't provide it on a whim. It doesn't cost much to make a web page LOOK like it is backed by a reputable company.

[Edit] There are others who have been burned by not being wary of enrollment schemes like Tickle's IQ test. Note: I hesitate to link to the It appears to be a low maintenance site designed to attract click-through advertisement. There does not seem to be ANY filtering of content posted by visitors. Consumer-Beware with anything you read on this site. It does add some anecdotal evidence, however, allowing the reader to assess other people's experiences.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Spam Report: Administration Masquerade

I got a notification in my email from warning about hackers masquerading as 'admins'. I am glad that they notified me about this particular dodge. The attachment is, no doubt, a virus or some other malicious program.

The twist that makes it notable is that the file is zipped and has a password. That means that the content is encrypted. Email and virus scanners, therefore, cannot scan the content of these files and must skip them.

That means, dear reader, that YOU are your own worst enemy. If you are unwary, you put in the password, decrypt the virus and run the program, thinking it has already been scanned. IT HAS NOT BEEN SCANNED!

Don't be fooled.

Most, if not all, reputable services will NOT send you an attachment with executable code.

Exploits are changing quickly. Be wary of anything that seems suspicious. If you are not sure about something, ask someone you trust about it. You can also do what I do when I get something fishy in my email. Use a search engine to see if other people have encountered the same thing. More than likely, others have had your problem and can offer additional information.

For your reference, here is the text of the fake message.

   Dear user of,

   We warn you about some attacks on your e-mail 
   account. Your computer may contain viruses, in 
   order to keep your computer and e-mail account 
   safe, please, follow the instructions.

   For more information see the attached file.  For 
   security reasons attached file is password 
   protected.  The password is \"52335\".

   The team

   Attachment 1 
   Type: application/octet-stream
   Encoding: base64 Download 

I find the most scary thing about this hoax is how friendly and personal it seems. It comes from a site I trust and seems to be directed right at me. The level of psychology that spammers are using is increasing. It could be that it is only a matter of time before I am fooled too.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Running Record

Okay, so I have decided to bear my sole (take off my running shoes?) and let you have a peek at my running log. I have been keeping track of my running progress on for almost 2 years now. The site only shows you a monthly view of my running, not the more in-depth statistics it provides me. If you are a runner who is still using an old paper log (or an old calendar like I did at the start), perhaps it is time to upgrade and use an on-line log. On the other hand, if the site or the net goes down, you may lose access to your log (don't laugh, it happened to me once).

I guess I just like to live dangerously.

Mel Gibson´s "The Passion of The Christ"

In Sunday School next week I will be teaching my rotation on the Crucifixion of Christ. Challenging material to discuss with adults, let alone a mixed group of kids from kindergarten to grade 6. I thought I would make God's Eyes with them and somehow tie in all the cross aspects. I haven't fully fleshed out what I am going to do. I just hope I don't wait until the last minute to get things figured out.

While we are on the subject, have you heard about the movie "The Passion of the Christ" by Mel Gibson? I haven't seen it yet, but there is a group of us from my church going. One of the leaders at our church directed us to a news release the United Church of Canada has put out about the concepts in this movie. Here are some links:

The United Church of Canada issues statement on Lent and The Passion of The Christ
Deepening the Dialogue about "The Passion of The Christ"

I am doing more thinking about church this lent than I have done in all the past 40 years.

Wait a minute... 40 days of lent... 40 years old... 40 days in the wilderness... Is there a significance? Nah!

Anyway, like the greater church, my minister also directs my attention away from "Jesus died for our sins on the cross" to "Jesus loved us so much He made the ultimate sacrifice for championing the cause of the oppressed and suffering". He was willing to stand up to an oppressive and unfair social system. It does not seem to matter what identifiable group you are considering, there is always an elite group that takes control. It is the elites who separate, marginalize, put themselves above and apart from, denigrate and impoverish, take advantage of and oppress the masses.

Could Jesus have chosen a bigger red flag to wave at the elites than "The meek shall inherit the Earth"?

Just for the record, I am in no way anti-Semitic.

Your Best Interest

I hate my current work.

I don't like the environment. Our office is scummy. Our focus has changed from 'Science' to 'poker'. I don't feel like I get any respect or positive feedback for the work I do. I sometimes feel that the 'decision makers' above me have lost touch with reality.

Sure there are lots of things about my work that I do like. That is what makes it so hard to look for other work. I don't intend on listing what the good things are... (EDIT: not much point of doing that now is there?)

So I took my troubles to the PBGs. Ok, I'll say it, I prayed to Them... while running, for help. Let me tell you, that is not my way of doing things at all. I am uncomfortable with prayer and I think it is ONLY in the context of running that I could possibly be comfortable with 'voicing' a prayer.

As my run progressed I came to the conclusion that I really didn't want angels sliding down gossamer beams coming to my rescue. I have never had difficulty getting work in the past. I would fluke out and someone would offer me a job and I would accept it. Bang, bang, bang. It did, however seem like a pretty random process. I hardly ever considered if the job I was accepting was the right job for me. Not exactly career planning. Sort of career wandering.

So in the end, I ask Them NOT to help me get a job. "I would like to take a hand in it myself."

Much to my surprise, They agreed that "that would probably be for the best." But, they didn't leave it at that. They also sent me a couple symbols that notified me that their hand would be hidden, but their influence would still be there (and visible if I cared to look). They also said that blessings would be mine should I choose to accept them.

God paints the sky every moment of every day. If I choose to look at the ground, I can keep my world grey and negative. But when I am ready, all I have to do is look skyward to see the wonders placed there for all to see.

EDIT: This post is way overdue. I didn't actually post it until March 23, after I had been looking for work for 3 weeks

Friday, February 27, 2004

Given Up For Lent

I know very little about Lent. Sure I know that it is 40 consecutive days leading up to Good Friday, the 'anniversary' of Jesus' crucifixion. I also know that people 'give up things for lent'. Back in November Flasher Squirrel told me and my marathon travel mates about her various Lenten self denials.

So this year I decided to give up a few things for lent too.

First, I have vowed to give up clutter for lent. How does one give up clutter, you may be asking yourself? Well, I have decided to pick up 100+ things around the house. Every day! This may sound stressful, but you will be relieved to hear that I count picking up a bit of paper as one thing. Putting a dried fork away is another thing. Therefore, doing dishes is a very rewarding activity, indeed.

Just a point of clarification, however. Finding a dish in the living room and putting it near the sink does not count. To count the item has to be put in it's final home. The dish has to be WASHED and DRIED and PUT AWAY before it counts. Therefore, actually collecting and washing dishes is not quite as rewarding as drying and putting away.

I started practicing this Lenten commitment in January just to get a feel for how hard it was going to be to accomplish. The real deal (you know, Lent) started on Ash Wednesday. So far I have logged 110 and 128 things. Today I am up to only 38 things, so I had better get cracking!

Oh, and the other thing I am giving up for lent is having snacks at coffee time. Not healthy things like carrots and apples, but the over priced stuff they sell at the coffee bar. I already drink mostly water, so it is the snacks that have previously been my Waterloo.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Phone Phobia Action

I installed a new gadget to my Blog recently that allows me to see what kind of visitors I am getting. It tells me things like what browsers you are using, what links you are following to get here and what search terms you typed in to get here. Perhaps a bit snoopie of me, but then again, I am bearing my soul here so I want to know who is taking a peek.

One of the interesting things I have noticed in my page stats is how many people are arriving here by searching for varients of two particular key phrases. The first is Sara Freder Fake. On a whim, I subscribed to Sara Freder's 'service' to see what kind of advice she would give me. I made up a name and answered the questions as if I was someone else. It was amusing reading for a while, but there was SO much repetition. After I refused to pay a few times, I decided enough was enough.

On another whim, I decided to see what other people thought of Sara Freder by doing a Google search. I found some very serious people who, after being taken posted that she was a fake and a long list people replying with 'me too'.

Since posting the page linked above, I have received quite a few hits from people who I assume are also coming to the realization that 'she' (if indeed there really IS a Sara) is not what she pretends to be.

The second frequent Google key phrase hit is Phone Phobia. I was quite surprised at the amount of interest this term generated for my little blog. I only mentioned it once in a declarative post that wasn't intended to help anyone else deal with this fear. I can only guess at the reasons people are searching out information about phone phobia:

  • looking for fellow sufferers
  • wondering how common it is
  • searching for testimonials or successful strategies
  • looking for resources for a signifigant other who has this debilitating fear
  • just looking for some hope
  • or some other reason I will never fathom without it being told
Whatever their reasons, they ARE coming. And I thought to myself, "How can I facilitate these visitors and give them something worth come here for?"

The PBGs suggested that I put my money where my mouth is. They said, "you have been spouting off about Action all the time. Get busy buddy!". What? Follow my own advise? Are you crazy?

So They want me to face my own fear of phoning. I procrastinate. I prevaricate, I stall, I rationalize. They charge me to be the leader. The shining example. The call me to go boldy where no Star Treking Phone Phobiast has dared tread before (should that be 'dialed before'?).

If YOU are one of those visitors, please, please, PLEASE leave a comment for me so I can understand why you are coming. You don't have to identify yourself. And now, I have a phone call I have been putting off, so if you will excuse me...

Progress report

  • <DONE! Feb 24> - Phone the Space Sciences Centre Re: Boy's Group field trip
  • <Pending!> - Phone church to get permission sheets and put notice in bulletin
  • <Pending!> - Phone Parents (multiple calls!!)

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

One Step Back

7.6 Km, 38:03.7, Overcast 1°C, 5 km wind

I was thinking about The More, the IS, the cosmic power on my run today. You know, God. The thing that is more that just the reality that surrounds us. That additional thing, that mysterious unexplained factor that keeps us guessing and seeking.

In my thoughts I was questioning again. Is there really a More? After all I have gone through from the beginning days of the PBGs, the Adult Baptism, I still question my faith in God. Is there really more than what I can see and understand with my own senses?

So I take 'One Step back' on my faith journey.

Ok. So. No god here. Just me. That brings me back to one of my original questions, pre PBGs, doesn't it. Why am I here. What purpose is there that keeps me (literally) putting one foot in front of the other? Aha! The answer is right there in front of me. Even if I decide that there is no god (how rash!) I still need to believe that there is some purpose to my existence. It is easier to believe there is something worth living for than it is to live a life not worth living. Having no belief would cause me to despair and eventually I would give up. Hey, I don't like the direction THAT thought train is headed.

So, I step forward again. Ok. Maybe there isn't a god and I should just pretend I believe. If I am going to pull this off, I had better pick something that gives me purpose and that is not easily disproved because that would just leave me One Step Back (or perhaps even more steps back).

But wait! Now I have purpose. I am on a quest. I am in pursuit of the 'More' that makes life worth living. I can handle that. If what I have discovered in my pursuit of God is anything to judge by, there are loads of things I can learn just by chasing this mysterious God concept.

I step one extra step forward and decide that I believe in the More and use the God concept as my stepping stone to learn more about the mystery that is life and what makes it worth living.

In a word, I choose to follow God.

For more inspiring words about the 'More' concept, look into Marcus J. Borg: The Heart of Christianity. There is other inspiring/challenging/thought provoking stuff in there as well.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Memory Palace

6.8 Km, 36:11.7, Sunny -11°C, calm

I Ran at lunch today and took a trip around the scenic Edmonton river valley. After puffing up a steep hill I took a breather at a bench in Ezio Faraone Park (actually the link shows a view that is virtually from the bench I am about to describe!) This quaint little park is very small and is dedicated to an 33 year old policeman who tragically was killed by two thieves he cornered in an alley.

Anyway, the bench I mentioned looks out over the river valley. On the bench is a memorial plaque remembering a couple who lived near by. The plaque said that they always admired the beautiful view from Ezio Faraone Park. I thought to myself, "Why do people bother putting up memorials like this? The couple are no longer here to appreciate either the view or the plaque."

I mean, after all, there are billions of people on this earth. Everyone thinks they are special and wants to be remembered. What makes this plaque so special?

The PBGs answer, "Well, the couple have surviving relatives, and it helps them remember the departed couple."

"Fine and good,", I respond, "but what does that mean to the rest of us who never knew this couple?" Ever patiently, the PBGs respond, "Lots of people admire this view. Lots of people remember lots of beautiful occasions and people. This memorial helps people revisit those good memories."

As I returned to my running, my thoughts turned to my blogging and to the book I am currently reading:

In this book, Mr. Sterling describes a 'Memory Palace'. This memory palace is a place to store all the accumulated e-stuff its owner collected over a lifetime. You decorate your memory palace like you would an office or a house, keep files, pictures, movies, and other memorablia in it. Actually, it sounds a lot like a blog to me. A very fancy blog with virual reality walls and a lock and key. Probably not a public blog, but who knows, you might invite people 'over' to your memory palace and show them some of your stuff.

I have been thinking it would be nice to have a virtual place to call my own. A place for my memories. A place to remind me of the beautiful views in the world.

With this blog, maybe I already have the start of one.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Consider a Change In Direction

10.5 Miles, 1:40:41, Overcast -23°C, 14 km wind, Wind Chill -32°C

It has been pretty cold with lots of wind; not conducive to running outside.Well, I managed to get two runs in the past 7 days. By myself for a change.

Not that I don't enjoy running with my running buddies... But...

It is hard to meditate when I run with others. As I tried to pick my way through the snow clogged paths and drifted snow, I also ruminated on my career path as well. The City was in the process of clearing the sidewalks, but often a stretch would be cleared and then the driver would double back and head off in another direction. Thus, I would choose what looked like a promising path only to have it abruptly become much more difficult to navigate.

I deliberately chose some questionable paths because they were headed in the direction I wanted to go. Sometimes they were better, sometimes worse than I had expected. At one point I was forced to run on the road and this path seemed quite unsafe.

All in All, it was a hard workout but I reached my destination in one piece with no frostbite.

Wendy Edey is a member of our church. She is also involve with the Hope Foundation of Alberta she has written and posted many articles about hope. She spoke to us in church this Sunday about hope and dispair. She told us that studies have been done that indicate that people usually don't hear good news. Wendy said that people, when told 4 positive things and 1 negative thing, usually remeber the negative thing and not the postive things. She also mentioned that 95% of the news we get is negative. If newspapers devoted an equal amount of space to positive news, there wouldn't be room for the advertising and the paper would be too heavy to carry.

Is there room in your life for some hope?

One of the things that also came out of my run was the idea that I want more than just a realationship with God. My meditation helps me speak with God and God speaks to me through my experiences, but there is more to love than that. The Spirit in me wants to speak to the Spirit in others. We are the expression of God. We are the story tellers. Without us God has no voice, no hands. I filter the God experience through my emotions, senses, life conversation. My expression of God wants to experience your expression of God. They are entirely different. Weather I am speaking to an reformed alcoholic, an Iranian man or a Chinese janitor, I still see the small voice of God within. I take the risk and speak.

The path is hard.

But I have hope that it is worth it.

...and faith

        O Jesus, you have looked into my eyes;
        kindly smiling, you have called out my name.
        On the sand I have abandoned my small boat,
        now with you, I will seek other seas.

Pescador de Hombres, "Fisher of Men." by Cesareo Gabarain

Thursday, January 29, 2004

The Innocent and The Shy

Do you remember when I wrote about the small Voice of God? Well, I met up with the little girl who triggered that small gift of grace on the bus the other day.

She told me that she was singing a bus song. You know, that is what we need more of. Songs for every occasion. Bus songs. Work songs. I love you so much it hurts songs...

Oh wait, perhaps we have too many of those last type already ;)

Anyway, this little girl is just a little bit of a thing and she and her mother are pretty shy. Without the girl, I doubt I would ever have been able to talk to the mother. So her mother recognizes me from the last time we met on the bus and shyly says that the song in question was "The Wheels on the Bus".

Thinking of my OOPBGB list I asked her what her name was. She shyly said it was Divya. Welcome to my OOPBGB list Divya, I hope that you and your mother grow in the spirit and learn to break the silence, take a relational chance and get messy.

If you ride city transit, you will know that there are lots of unspoken rules that everybody follows, like "Don't look at anybody else", "Don't touch anybody else's stuff" and "Never talk to anybody you don't know". I'm tired of these rules and try to break them when ever I can. I LOVE looking at other people and trying to guess what kind of people they are. I have also decided to break the silence too.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

It´s Blog-citing!

All sorts of interesting things in the Blogoshpere. I just added a meta tag for locating my blog source on the planet and discovered who my net-neighbors are. You can click on the GeoURL link below to see who else is freezing their butt off in this nasty cold snap.

I also added myself to blogwise, a site for categorizing web logs by self-attributed keywords and geographic locations. I am not registered yet as they have a backlog of 1200+ pages to view (!). I wouldn't want THAT job.

I got both these ideas from visiting Ms. Frizzle's blog. I haven't looked at it too closely yet, but she seems to be a teacher in a middle school. Guess what, she uses the same template as me! She gets WAY more hits than me. She also seems to post twice a day.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Phone Phobia

Note, I wrote this in my paper journal on Jan 17 but entered it today.

Last night, Mo shared an "Oprah moment" she taped recently. Actually the Oprah segment she taped was about financial security, but she also taped a Dr. Phil show about a woman who has a phone phobia. Mo knows me pretty well, but some of you may be surprised to hear that I also have a phobia about calling people on the telephone.

The guest on Dr. Phil's show doesn't like answering the phone and talking to people. She gets her husband to answer the phone. She never returns calls to friends who call her and leave messages for her. She always worries that she will get bad news when she answers the phone. She rationalizes that if she doesn't talk to people on the phone, she won't jeopardize her relationships with those people. From outside her phobia, it is obvious that she jeopardizes her relationships MORE by NOT answering the phone or returning peoples calls.

MY phobia is using the phone to get information from strangers (and to a minor extent phoning acquaintances who are not expecting my call). I get very flustered, don't know what to say, miss important questions and get the details confused about details because I just want the call to be over. I often feel like I am stuttering too much and that the person on the other end of the phone thinks, "Who is this moron, anyway?"

My anxiousness is usually strongest just before picking up the phone. The mood of the person I am calling is totally unknown. I can't tell if I am interrupting them or catching them at a bad time. I feel like I don't know the proper protocol and feel incredibly stupid.

I have developed some coping mechanisms over the years to mentally prepare myself for calls that just have to be made. I am much better than I was. I often try to get Mo to make calls to the doctor, order pizza, make reservations and the link. If she catches on, sometimes she forces me to do it myself.

Facing the fear is hard. Not using the phone is also hard in the modern world. Each time I face this fear, it gets a little easier to do. I still don't like it. I still have to work up my courage and get as prepared as I can before picking up the phone. But I do it.

Do you have a fear that immobilizes you? Is there something you face every day that drives you to do irrational things?