Friday, November 30, 2012

The Punic Wars

A good result of reading historical fiction is that it drives me to the history books out of curiosity, something that my school years were not able to accomplish. Reading a book like "The Sword of Carthage", in high school, would have not only taught me something, but would have whet my appetite for history in general. I felt the same way when reading Conn Iggulden's series on the Roman Empire.
The Punic Wars were fought between the Carthaginian and the Roman Empires several hundred years BC. Rome was all about military might and conquest as their empire was expanding. Carthage was about trade and commerce and when it came to conflict, they hired mercenaries. The story revolves around a young man whose military heritage is squelched by a wealthy merchant father. He somehow manages to fulfill his dream of being a soldier and ultimately played a pivotal roll in the third Punic war when the Romans laid siege to Carthage. A very interesting element to this story is the introduction of elephants onto the battle field. The tough and disciplined Roman Legionaries were terrified of the huge beasts and it lead to their defeat in a pivotal battle.
The author realistically portrays life in Carthage with all the religion and political intrigue playing a large roll. The story is captivating, but I found the poor editing, spelling, and grammatical errors a distraction. Apparently this is something that is all to evident in many eBooks. I have come across this problem several times, but this one is bad. There were times when I had to re-read a page to understand the intent of the words. That is not good.
Cleaned up, this would be a better novel. Otherwise, it was a good read and held my attention well. I would probably read other novels written by Vaughn Heppner but he is no Conn Iggulden, a true master of Historical Fiction.  
3 1/2 stars

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hard to Find Good Help

I braved the cold air today and took a walk around Fish Trap Creek Park. As I entered the park, I noticed, with some delight, that there was someone 'blowing' leaves off of the path. This is a good thing as the leaves are thick and quite slippery when wet. I heard the blower from a ways off and watched as the young man came to the end of the path as it exits onto the street and he became mesmerized by the sound of the blower whenever he blew into the hollow pipe stanchion that normally holds the gate in place. As I passed him, he was definitely more interested in blowing into the pipe than blowing leaves. I soon left him behind and he was no longer doing any work, but just fooling around.
I walked further down the path and came across another group of 'workers'. There was a supervisor and four young people with various machines for grooming the paths. They were all sitting in the middle of the path, and one of them had to get up and move so I could get by. That was six city employees, doing nothing. I cut them some slack and continued on my walk. Later, I observed them from across the lake and had to laugh out loud until I realised that as a tax payer I was paying for this nonsense.
The boardwalk you see in the photo was being blown off and behind the blower was a wheelbarrow full of sand, being pushed by the supervisor, and the four sloths were taking sand, one handful at a time and sprinkling it on the boardwalk, which can get very slippery in the frost. The way they were doing it was very hi-tech. Not! They each turned in a circle as they slowly walked forward and gently released a bit of sand at a time. In the calm morning air, I could hear the supervisor say, "Remember, our goal for today is to get this walkway sanded." It is no more that 100 ft. long.
I had to leave before I blew a fuse.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Big Deal?

Another Grey Cup Sunday has come and gone. Last week my team, the BC Lions, were eliminated in the western final by the Calgary Stampeders. This made the game on Sunday anti-climactic, but I still like to watch because it is an east vs. west competition, and I am a westerner for sure. The other reason is that I am a football fan and I find CFL to be an exciting version of football where anything can and does happen.
My heart was not in the game, and as the final minutes counted down and it was obvious that the west was not going to win, I simply observed the reactions of the players on both teams, marvelling at the contrast. Despondency, sorrow, disappointment, even anger, were written on the Stamp's faces as the game wound down. One player even called out his own quarterback in a move that showed a lack of sportsmanship. The Argos, on the other side of the field, were ecstatic, jubilant, overjoyed, crying with relief and happiness, and hugging everyone in sight as Gatorade rained down on the coaching staff. 
I remember last year, as my Lions won the Grey Cup, feeling with the players in their celebrations of joy. I could identify with them because I too have played in team sports and I know what it is like to win with a team effort. But this time, as I watched the Argos celebrate, my attitude was "What's the big deal, it's only a game!"  

Monday, November 26, 2012


Our house has been in a bit of a tizzy this week as busylizzy has lost her backup pair of glasses. She has been recalling her every step for the last few days, and turning the house up-side-down, searching for the glasses, the case, and the clip-ons. Never having misplaced anything in my life (yuck yuck), I could not understand how one could lose a pair of glasses. But they were gone and have been for a few days.
Fast forward to yesterday afternoon when we were coming home from a wonderful Sunday afternoon walk. We were at the top of our street, a block away from home, when I spotted a pair of glasses, neatly folded and sitting on the edge of a brick retaining wall, covered in dew. I commented and pointed them out to busylizzy and she stared at them for a moment and then bent to pick them up. She did not say anything, but cleaned them and put them on. Yes, they were hers, in wonderful shape, undamaged.
As we were trying to unwrap the mystery, we slowly walked home and pondered over the whereabouts of the case and the clip-on sunglasses. We stood at the head of our driveway and were trying to re-enact how her glasses could have wandered off like that, when she spotted the case on the grassy edge of our driveway. The clip-on were still in the case. All was intact. Only the day before I had blown the leaves and needles from the driveway exactly where the case was, and never saw it. It is bright silver against the green grass.  
How do these mysteries happen?
I blame old age.
I told her that after having found her brother's gold wedding band on a cement retaining wall this summer, and now her glasses on a brick ledge, she must be living life on the ledge. Let's just not fall off because of our new found infirmities.    

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Intelligent Writing

Oliver Broudy, the author of "The Convert" is an atheist. He is telling the story of Erin Mounsey, another atheist. Erin has an interesting true story, full of tragedy, drama, love, and hatred. It is a remarkable journey that begins when Erin is severely burned in a house construction project. The old Erin dies, so to speak, and the new Erin, scarred from burns to 86% of his body, and finding a new identity, struggles with many issues, not the least of which is his reason for living. The author is coming from the perspective of "we atheists" and poses some pretty amazing philosophy and insights regarding man's search for meaning.
This book is so very intelligently written, a story that moves rapidly and interestingly, interspersed with soul searching and analysis. It is unique in the world of Christian conversion stories, and I would say in the world of literature. The climactic ending involves a dramatic conversion and is sympathetically and accurately portrayed by the atheistic author. Haven't read anything like that anywhere before!
4 stars

Friday, November 23, 2012

On Being Thankful

An Autumn garden bouquet.
My thoughts today did not arise from the fact that it was Thanksgiving in the USA yesterday. Rather, they come as a result of hearing of so much disease in my circle of friends and acquaintances lately. The expression "bad things happening to good people" comes to mind.
But why does the Bible tell us explicitly to be thankful in all things? For me, the main reason is that I do not know the mind of God, nor do I see the big picture like He does. This becomes a trust issue and if I trust him, then what is happening is not really bad, but something that will turn out for the good. That is a difficult idea to wrap our minds around when we are in the thick of radiation or chemotherapy.
On a more practical level, there is something that most of us have experienced. When something bad has happened, it makes us concentrate on the good things we took for granted, before the bad thing happened. Years ago when I came out of the hopsital after 4 days of not knowing if I would live or die, I suddenly appreciated the smell of the air, the shades of green in the trees, and the twitter of sparrows.
On a very simple level, how much do we appreciate the way we used to be able to breathe freely before we had the bad cold and all that congestion? So calamity forces us to draw on the good, the relationships, the faith, and the hope that we will love and appreciate life so much more when all this dust has settled. But as with most trauma, in the thick of which we only have questions, the gratitude will probably be the strongest in retrospect.  

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Americans are becoming more polarized with each successive election. Something is happening now with Obama having been elected for a second term. Some folks are wanting out.
It is interesting that the Obama administration has promised to grant a "generous review of online proposals" to petitions that attract more than 25,000 names.
As of yesterday, Texas has 116,070 individuals who have pledged allegiance to the idea of leaving the USA and going it alone. Texas maintains a balance budget and is the 15th largest economy in the world! How better to preserve their standard of living and secure their rights as citizens?
Similar petitions (69 at last count) were filed in the last few days across the nation, indeed in every state. The most enthusiastic are Louisiana 36,738 ...... Florida 34,468 ..... Georgia 31,799.  Tennessee, North Carolina, and Alabama all posted more than 30,000 names. So far.
It reminds me of our own Quebec and Alberta. Occasional flare-ups  of heat, but to this date, no light.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Bitter Sweet Story

Harry Herndon is making a nostalgic trip to relive his past, but he is 'on the lam' because he has Alzheimer's. Fourteen year old Jay is being foisted on Rose, his mother, who is estranged from his dad, and she is not looking forward to meeting her son, Jay, at the airport. Jackson, Jay's dad, is in Africa for a month with 'Doctors Without Borders'. Jay meets Harry on the airplane and so begins an adventure that throws every one's life into turmoil.
I found the premise intriguing because I have had some experience with Alzheimer's disease in my own mother. The progression of the disease plays a big role in this story, but really, it is a story of a boy from a broken home, in search of love and acceptance. The old man and the boy go missing and as their respective families begin searching for them, the issues that each of them face, come home to roost, and must be dealt with.
It is a good story, but not really well written, except toward the very end when it becomes quite poignant. The conversations are jerky and at times crass, but the overall direction of the story is heartwarming. Although Alzheimer's effects each victim a bit differently, I believe the author is taking some literary licence when it comes to Harry's thought processes. There is too much emphasis on memory loss, when the disease is about so much more than that.
But, it is a fiction novel and if one is not too critical about accuracy in the details, the story works. 
3 stars 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Never, Never, Never.

Never, never, never buy this paint. I used this product today (the interior version) and as a professional painter with 35 years of expereince, my assessment of it is highly critical.  
On a scale of 1 - 10, 10 being the best paint can be, and 1 being the worst paint can be, here is the verdict, after using up 4 gallons of this so called 'paint' on various surfaces.
Coverage (sq. ft. per gallon)   2
Masking ability (how well does it cover up existing colour)  1
Flow (how well does it release from the brush and the roller) 1
Odour 2
Drying time  4
Re-coat time  3
Clean-up 3
Adhesion 1
Appearance 4
Durability n/a
Wash ability n/a
Touch up ability 2
Price: When you consider that rolling whole milk onto the wall would work better than applying this product, it is expensive at any price. It is 1/2 the price of what we ordinarily use, but requires three times as many coats and 'mileage' is only 1/2 as good.
We had a room with bare drywall and it took 4 coats. A room with a very light off white took two coats of a similar white and it was borderline covering. We had several rooms with a medium to dark green and we are still applying paint after 5 coats.
I inspected two jobs just this Fall where this product was used over an enamel paint, and it was peeling like skin after a bad sunburn. How do you solve that problem?
The big mystery is that this product gets rave reviews in consumer reports. Could it be that Consumer reports are funded by the products they test and Behr gives the biggest donations? Just wondering.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sorry, But I Had To

A while ago, I had a few requests to remove 'word verification' from my blog settings, you know, those annoying funny letters and numbers you had to re-type to prove you were a real person commenting and not a spam program. I did that and for a few weeks it was OK. Then the spam started coming, but only came into my email inbox and not on my comments on the blog. Then a few days ago, the spam started coming fast and furious, onto my blog, but only one or two into my email inbox. It really is over the top and I cannot keep up with deleting all the junk on the various posts.
I know that not many of my readers comment, but I had to change the settings back. Sorry. It is either this or I have to have readers by invitation only.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Itching For ....

It is Sunday morning, mid November, cold, raining, dark, and I am itching for a sunny destination. Literally. The Vitamin D supplements are not kicking in like they should, and my winter skin condition is flaring up. There is only one really good solution and that is soaking up a lot of sun.
I am obsessing on this thought every evening when my body begins to slow down for the night ahead and the natural defenses are not revved up like they are during the day. Each day it gets a little worse. The steroid cream only works on the 'bad spots' if I apply it three times a day, but I do not want to walk around all day slathered in cream from head to foot. Besides, excessive use weakens the skin and probably makes the condition worse in the long term.
I really know what it is like to "itch for something".  For me it is Mexico, or Hawaii, or the Maldives, or the Cook Islands, or Barbados, or Florida, or .......

Friday, November 16, 2012

Blood Brothers

For many years you have heard of the plight of the Palestinian people and you think you have a picture of what is, or has been going on. And then you read a book like this ... a game changer.
Elias Chacour grew up a Christian Palestinian, next to Jews, in Palestine, and they all got along. And then came 1948 when the powers of the world concluded a Zionist plan that was hatched before the turn of the century, to establish the nation of Israel.
At this point one would expect to hear ranting and railing against the Jews, but not so. Elias was heavily influenced by his peace loving father to find reconciliation in the midst of conflict and it inspired him to go into the ministry, and become a peacemaker.
The book tells of his early struggles as a young man to come to terms with the injustice all around him, and his strong Christian belief that love and peace are the only way to respond. His many accomplishment to date are a testament to his commitment to the fulfilling of that desire.
This book is an eye opener as well as an inspiration for hope. Conflict, violence, and war only fosters more of the same. The cycle has to be broken. People everywhere just want to be left alone in peace, but the leaders of this world, in their clamouring for more territory, or more power, prevent this from happening. Through his life's work, Elias has shown that there is a better way and he has blazed a trail for all to follow. (He has been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize)  
3 1/2 stars

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Coming Fiscal Cliff

Since the election, the big story that is grabbing the attention of those of us who are political is the impending doom of the "fiscal cliff". This is the self imposed deadline for hitting the debt ceiling for the nation of the USA.
Let's say you are operating your household on a line of credit from your bank. They have given you a credit limit and you have gone right to the limit of that credit. But you are in debt, the bills are due, and that Cancun vacation is coming up soon. What to do? Normally, we would stop spending, try to earn more, or sell one of our children to the bank.
But the USA is not normal. They are 'out of control government'. What they need is not cuts, but a severe amputation, somewhere just below the ear lobes. What they are going to do is squabble about tax break expiration's, spending cuts and which social programs and 'defence' budgets will be cut as well as just how severely they can tax the rich without driving them all to Central American countries with their assets in a carpet bag. We are being assured that the lawmakers in the nation's capitol are hard at work hammering out a solution. 
Well, here is the solution as it has been 74 times since March of 1962. They will raise the debt ceiling. They have no choice. Well, actualy they do, but it involves pain.  
But here is the kicker. Getting back to the example above, where you as a homeowner have reached the debt ceiling, the ultimate call will be made by your lender, your bank. He will call your loan. For the USA, the lenders are Zhou Xiaochuan, Governor of the People's Bank of China, Masaaki Shirakawa, Governor of the Bank of Japan, and Abdullah bin Fahd al-Mubarak, Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority. They will, in the not too far distant future, make the call on the debt ceiling and nothing will be like it was.
          The party will be over.    

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Tough Lesson

We wanted to see the latest James Bond movie but even after going super early, we could not get a ticket as it was sold out. We chose instead to see "Taken 2".
I saw "Taken" so I was familiar with the story line and premise. This was a simple continuation of the same theme. A father whose love for his daughter propels him into a search and rescue when she is kidnapped. Only this time, the mother and father are kidnapped and the daughter has to do the rescuing. Liam Neeson, the father, is well equipped to handle anything to do with hostages and kidnappers as he is a CIA agent, trained to the max.
In "Taken 2", the father of one of the bad guys wants to take revenge and he gathers around him a gang of middle eastern types and they are as bad as the original kidnappers. They did not learn their lesson the first time around. You do not mess with a father whose family is in imminent danger.
There are impossible situations and predicaments but in the end, good prevails, even though there had to be a whole of killing to resolve the situation.
Justice is a common theme in movies, and when it is meted out efficiently and with finality, it is somehow very satisfying. Some situations in life just cannot be negotiated away. Especially in the movies.
4 stars

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Forced Off the Grid

After reading Hugh Howey's "Wool Omnibus", which I reviewed here, I was ready for another one of his novels. Having had discussions with various people on this very subject, I chose "The Hurricane". You are thinking that I was discussing hurricanes, and I have been, but that is not the main theme of this book.
The story is about a typical teenager in a typical high school and the first few chapter impress upon the reader how everyone is totally connected to the grid. The preponderance of electronic devices, especially of the communicative type, is overwhelming in these young people's lives ....until a hurricane comes and puts an end to it all.
The sense of loss and bewilderment causes many to wander around in a daze as they have no 'bars' on their phones and the batteries are slowly dying with no way to re-charge them.
What evolves is a slow but sure connection with reality and the world of real relationships. There is time to ponder the important things in life and to see people as they really are.
It is not a deep book, but does make one wonder what it would be like to be isolated and have to resort to a total lack of communications with anyone but the person next to you, or heaven forbid, your neighbour.
Daniel, the hero, discovers some pretty amazing things as he and his small family recover from the hurricane.
3 1/2 stars  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Remembering on Behalf of my Father

This may be a day late, but on Remembrance Day the memories for this post came to mind.
I met several of my father's peers who had served in WWII and as a young boy, I was interested to know what my father's role was as he was the right age to have served. He was willing to tell me and my sisters of his experience. Having grown up in a Mennonite home and church, it was strongly expected that he would take a non-resistance stance. He did and as a result did alternative service, first working in a meat packing plant and then later moving to Port Alberni to plant trees.
The young men that he grew up with and went to school with enlisted and all were part of a division of Canadian soldiers that were involved in the Dieppe Raid. This incursion into France was a practice run for the major invasion that would come later. The date was August of 1942 and my dad would have just turned 20. It was a bit of a disaster and all of my dad's friends died on the beach.
He told me several times later in life that he felt guilty that he had not gone into battle as his friends had done. As I think about that, I realise that I would not be here if he had gone. That leaves me feeling very thankful for those that did go, that I might have not only freedom and democracy, but life itself.
I never met my dad's friends, but I will honour them with my remembrance. My red poppy is for them.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Historical Fiction

Ken Follet has taken on an ambitious project with his Century Trilogy. The first in the series is Fall of Giants and is a great read. The story follows several families in England, Germany, USA, and Russia and begins just prior to WWI. The families are interconnected through either blood relations, or circumstances that bring them together. The historical aspect of the novel is accurate and is a great way to learn, or in this case, re-learn history.
When I picked up the second book, Winter of the World, a few weeks ago, I was wondering if I would remember the characters from a few years back. I did not review the cast of characters but jumped right into the story and it soon all came back to me.
The location and time is pre-war Germany and Ken Follet gives a very chilling account of what it was like to live during those years when  Germany was led into Fascism. Some of the characters are pro Nazi while others recognize early on just what it is all about. The interesting thing is that many people in the rest of the world were also pro-Nazi and later communists as socialism was the 'in thing'. The novel is political as well as personal, taking us behind the scenes as leaders of the world are thrust into predicaments that result in war. There are chapters on the Pacific theater of the war, as well as in France, Spain, Poland, and Russia. The brutality and waste, the suffering and pain of war, is vividly portrayed as the heroes either live or die in those desperate times.
It took me a few weeks to get through the 940 pages, but well worth it. The story ends with the Communist Russians engineering their first A-bomb after stealing a blueprint from one of the scientists who helped develop the American version, and the beginning of the cold war as Berlin is divided between the victors of WWII. The history is just approaching the time when I came on the scene so the next and last installment will be greatly anticipated by this reader. Both the history and the development of the characters combine to make this novel hard to put down.
4 stars  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

And Still More Guns

Surprise, surprise. The stock markets crashed a bit the day after the US Election and have not yet bounced back. Could it be that business knows something the voters do not?
But here is an anomaly. The famous gun manufacturer, Smith and Wesson had a 10% gain while almost all other stocks fell. Isn't it interesting that since the last election four years ago, Smith and Wesson share values have gone up over 100% and then just now another 10%? The reason is clear. The American public has the strong suspicion that now that Obama has a mandate for another four years, he will push his agenda for gun control. Hence, everyone so inclined is getting their guns while the getting is good.
The second amendment to the US constitution gives people the right to own and bear arms. Why would this be? The founders of America so believed in freedom from tyranny that they gave the citizens the right to own and bear arms for protection from bad people? No, it is for protection from a tyrannical government. And what happens when the government takes away that right?
Well, there is a history to follow as the poster below shows.


Friday, November 9, 2012


Flowers of summer, now gone.
The leaves are almost all on the ground now. One more wind storm, or even a gentle breeze, and the barren branches will be all we have until spring.
I have experienced this transitional season for more than sixty years now and it still conjures up the same feelings it did in my youth. The incredible beauty of gold, yellow, orange, and red, suddenly gives way to a total lack of colour in such a short period of time. There is a feeling of loss, almost the same feeling as growing old, but with a concentrated and contracted time line. Loss, yes, but also a feeling of nostalgia as we realise that the leaves will not come back, just as our youth will not come back.
In literature, Autumn has often been synonymous with old age. The parallels are many. The loss of life, or at least the onset of dormancy, the coming chills as our circulation is not what it used to be, the approach of winter and its symbolism, the end of the year drawing nigh as one's life comes to its conclusion, and putting the seasons of new life (spring) and vibrancy (summer) behind us.
But, as each year passes, I get more of a feeling of resignation, something that one does not experience in youth. Here is where cliches abound, such as 'time marches on', 'you cannot stop the clock', 'the older I get, the shorter the days get', and 'everybody has to die so don't fight it'. Resignation, for me, does not mean simply giving up, but rather coming to terms with it and finding ways to make the transition to the 'Golden Years' meaningful and even fun.
Clinging to one's youth and looking ridiculous in the process is not for me. Being totally gracious and sophisticated about it is a fine option, but not for me either. I want to keep a sense of humour as well as retain my sense of wonder of the world around me, and watch changes in my life, with greater interest, as the final chapters of my story begin to emerge. More than anything I want to keep my mind sharp, not that it ever was, but losing what I have been given is not a self chosen option for me. I want to stay relevant, informed, opinionated (in a good way) and I want to continue to be able to communicate, converse, and network with as many people as possible. 
As a result, in my last years of working with the public, I appreciate so much the new friendships I make, the people I meet, and the meaningful conversations I have with them. I am realising, with greater clarity, that the people I have come in contact with during 38 years of business have been the best reason for doing what I did.
We worked for a very good and loyal client today. As the leaves were falling on their property, and these thoughts were drifting into my mind, it hit me that I may never work for them again. I may meet them on the street one day, but the privilege of serving them will be forever gone. After all, it is the Autumn of my life.     

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Election Interest

I did not meet many people today, but the ones I did meet were political. There was a varied response to yesterday's election, from ambivalence, to frustration, to dismay. We here in Canada seem to be pretty much in tune with American goings on. Is it because our media is American dominated? Is it because we have an innate understanding that our fate is tied to that of the USA. Apparently we care about them a whole lot more than they care about us. Most of them do not even know we exist.
John Stossel characterises the great American political fight as the takers versus the makers. That is quite insightful, until you realise that both parties are takers, and they can only take from the makers.
Why do the electorate, on both sides of the border, not get that there is nothing 'free' from any government! Not only are the freebies funded by the recipients, but the recipients then become even more dependent on the government for a continuation of the freebies.
All degrees of socialism sap initiative.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What Happened?

What happened indeed? The race to be president was close, as predicted. In the end, the support for Obama was weaker than four years ago. The die hard fans did not fail him, but those that voted for him four years ago and were disillusioned by his abysmal performance did not stick with him. He will not get a free rein as the house has a Republican majority.
The American people have not voted for freedom, strength and prosperity, they have voted for "what can we get for free".

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day

What does a Ram in a field of clover has to do with the US election? Absolutely nothing. I just needed a photo for today's post. South of Nighthawk USA in August of this year.
Today is election day in the USA. Most of you do not care and do not follow US politics. I do and I find it fascinating even though I do not know the system nearly as well as I do the Canadian system.
The big question of course is, does it really matter who wins. I wish it did, because I certainly have my favourite party and my favourite candidate. However, I get the feeling that the day after the election, the bureaucrats will head back to their offices, the special interest groups will meet with their lobbyists, the generals will plot more wars, Ben Bernanke will print more money, the social system will expand, the economy will continue to shrink in real terms, and we will be headed for four more years of the same. Decline.
How can Obama fix what he could not in the last four years. "We have more work to do", he says. He has not done any yet, but he has caused irreparable damage. And now Romney is chanting the same phrase Obama used in the last election, "It's time for real change." If only. One wants to plunge the US deeper into socialism, the other deeper into military might. Both have lost the sense of what the spirit of the American constitution created in forming the greatest country in the world. Daily, freedoms are being taken away. Subservience to and dependence on big government is the slippery slope that they are on, and it is almost too late to halt the decline.
The one bright spot on the Horizon for the USA is their potentially imminent dominance in the production of domestic oil supplies. It has already begun and will be a key to turning the country around. Which ever candidate wins today may find himself to be the most popular president of all time because of all the new found wealth, and all the largess they will be able to pour out on the nation. But, of course, that will just make the people even more dependent on the government. After all, they are both 'tax and spend' candidates, both socialists, but in varying degrees.   

Monday, November 5, 2012

Feel Good Fighting

On a recommendation, we went, on Friday night, to see the movie "Here Comes the Boom".
Scott Voss (Kevin James) is a one time 'teacher of the year' who, ten years later, has lost his enthusiasm for teaching and is 'drifting', just like his complacent students.
Then one day, a fellow teacher, Marty Streb (Henry Winkler ..... remember the Fonz of Happy Days?), announces that he and his wife are having a baby. Their last child just graduated from college. Not only that, on the same day the school announces a shortage of funds and the band program is going to be scrapped. Marty is the band teacher.
Deep down, Scott has a good heart and he cooks up a scheme to earn enough money for the school to keep the band program. He will fight in the wild world of mixed marshall arts, cage wrestling. Even the loser gets a purse.
What results is a very funny and at times poignant story of resurrecting a school by way of inspiration through blood sweat and tears.
I must admit that I laughed out loud a number of times and was smiling a whole lot through the rest of the movie. I thought the casting was very good. There are some very interesting characters to enjoy. Age old themes, (read cliches) are shamelessly resurrected and used to manipulate the audience's emotions, and it works. We all like to root for the underdog, and we all love to see winning against all odds. In this movie, there are many winners, even the movie goer.
3 1/2 stars   

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Beware the Spider Silk

Hopefully, in a few more weeks we will not have to blaze a new trail every day. I hate to see these little guys work so hard all night only to have me smash through their web just to get out of my house in the morning.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Post Halloween Madness

After a wet and uneventful Halloween night, with relatively few begging goblins at the door, I checked the latest news on the Internet. The article on the new 10 year renewable passports intrigued me so I clicked on it and immediately started laughing, until I realised it was Halloween and not April's Fool Day.
Naturally, Canadians being the cynical bunch that they are, had nothing but criticism for the water mark images on the pages of the new and revised travel document.
Initially, the main beef was that the images are "musty and dusty" and give the impression that nothing new had happened in Canada in the last 50 years.
After spending $53,000.00 on focus groups, the criticism now, is that there is a lack of ethnic diversity portrayed. Remember the trouble a while back when the Chinese lady on the $100 bill was neutralized? Now the multiculture Nazis think that the visible minorities of Canada should not only be represented on the passports, but they should be front and center and highly recognisable. We just cannot win. Read the article here.
So, in the spirit of true fairness to the entire mosaic of our Canadian population, and the icons of our national identity, here is my list of demands for watermark images on the new passports.
- A hearty bowl of Borscht to represent all the Russians, Ukrainians, and Mennonites who settled the prairie provinces.
- A robust marijuana plant to represent the economic diversity of the Fraser Valley and the many ethnicities who participate in this lucrative industry.
- A size large band-aid to represent the broken Health Care system from sea to shining sea.
- A large hockey stick tangled in cobwebs to represent our broken NHL.
- A donut and cup of coffee to represent our loyalty to Tim Horton's and our true Canadian pastime.
- A cup of Starbucks coffee to represent all those Canadians who do not know what bad coffee is.
- A depiction of a moose being chased by an RCMP along a bike lane, through the tar sands, over a pipeline with protesters hugging nearby trees singing Koombya.
If these images are not included in the re-vamped passports, I will be greatly offended and will bring my case to the Human Rights tribunal where the government will pay all my legal fees and after a three year battle, all the way to the supreme court, I will have enough credibility to form my own political party and will contend for the primeministership of our great country and I WILL defeat Justin Trudeau. Just watch me.    

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sky High

The ad in the paper caught our eye so we bought the tickets and took in the Sky Family concert on Tuesday evening. They are a father and his four kids Celtic revival band. It was an evening of Don Messer's Jubilee/Rankin Family/Riverdance, from PEI. As in any concert, there is both good and not so good. I will get the criticism over with first.
This band needs a good sound engineer. How can you have such a huge bank of massive speakers and never once hear the bass guitar? The sound was much like that coming out of a cheap battery powered radio. The richness of sound that should have been coming out of the variety of instruments was missing. The back tracks were a bit better, but should have been just that, in the background. And, the whole thing was too long. Way too long.
But don't get me wrong. I really enjoyed the evening. This was a fresh-faced bunch of people who exuded joy and a love of what they were doing. Except for the bass player, they all have skills with a variety of instruments and they all danced, some of them extremely well. The dad, who was the 'front man', had 'down home' appeal and a delightful sense of humour. They had an interesting 'story'.
Their tour is sponsored by a fairly new charity called World Gifters. They are not so much a fund raising band as an  evangelistic outreach ministry. Yes, there was preaching, but done by the father who had by now endeared himself to the audience. It was gentle, honest and heartfelt preaching with a genuine concern for the direction our Canada is taking.
It was an evening well spent and I wish this family all the best.   

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Result

This is my photo of the "Lion lying down with Lamb" as it will be in Heaven. However, there are only goats in my photo and no Lions. Close enough!
So, why does it matter, all this talk of hell, and whether there is one or not, and if there is, who will go, and for how long will they be there, and what will it be like? Here is why it matters.
There is a trend in the Christian church today, to make the message easier to swallow, less harsh, more 'seeker engaging'. That is all fine and good, but it has reached the point where the true gospel is being watered down.
If there is no hell, or it is temporary, or after a while a bad soul will simply be annihilated, there is no real danger or sense of urgency to rescue someone from going there. 
Likewise, if there is more than one way to God, if all religious paths lead to God, then we do not have to tell anyone of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. You see, it is all fine and good. Nobody needs rescuing and "the great commission" of Jesus to go out and preach the gospel to all nations, tongues and tribes, no longer applies. The millions of deaths of the Christian martyrs down through the ages was for nothing.  
In effect, it makes the Gospel redundant. And that makes Jesus' death redundant. It was for nothing and God made a big mistake.
 How dare we think like that. Those who distort the Gospel of the Bible do so at great peril. They are betting on the fact that God will turn a blind eye.
The really good news is that He will turn a blind eye. All those who trust in him and believe that Jesus died for their sins, will have those sins forgiven, now and forever, and God will no longer see them or remember them. And suddenly, hell is no longer an issue, for those who are believers.