Dear Mr. Gormley,

Wednesday, January 31, 2007
You do seem to make it cool to be a blogger.

I don"t know if it"s a good thing or not but since you mentioned my blog on the air yesterday it"s been affirmation central around here.

You see most of the general public doesn"t always get what I"m on about when I say I Blog.

“You blob?”? they respond, then add, “Well if you got more exercise you"d feel better about yourself.”?

Yeah thanks.

And so I"ve resorted to telling aging family members or the people in church that I write stories, on the computer.

Sometimes they roll their eyes, sometimes they go read it to see if I"m telling secrets about them. But mostly they just smile and nod their heads and proceed to tell me about how they enjoy the Internet because they can find out what the weather is, really quickly.

Then came yesterday, and you mentioned on the air. They were driving in their cars or having coffee around the table, but they heard you say blog,, and good, in the same sentence, and suddenly all was well with the world wide web.

The excited calls and emails started to come in shortly after. Some of them were in the tone of “I don"t know what all this blobbing is about, but if Gormley says its ok, then its ok by me.”?»? You"ve been able to do in a moment what I"ve been trying to do for five years.

So thanks for the plug, and thanks for making my life easier.

My mother"s never been prouder.


Randall Friesen .com

Desiring God’s Will - David Benner

Read for class.

1 image = 1000 words

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Leadership Trick #0003

How to foster growth in your organization.

When you ask people to lead and participate, then let them lead and participate.

Nouwen on Choosing Joy

Joy is what makes life worth living, but for many joy seems hard to find. They complain that their lives are sorrowful and depressing. What then brings the joy we so much desire? Are some people just lucky, while others have run out of luck? Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event, but one may choose to live it quite differently than the other. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it.

What makes us human is precisely this freedom of choice.

Annual Meetings

Monday, January 29, 2007
I just participated in my ninth annual meeting here in Prince Albert.

Today I feel like I"m hosting a hangover.

Oh the meeting went well, but Annual Meetings can be quite the little pressure points, for a pastor and a church. For me, it"s where I communicate my productivity for the previous year. I try to give a sense of where my time went and what I invested in. Were my/our goals accomplished, how has God led us and where do I think He is leading us in this coming year.

As a church, our approach to setting direction and trying to hear God is that we work to discern God"s leading and direction for us, together. It"s not that just I discern that or a small group of us does that, we desire to hear God, together. So our annual meeting is a place where we try to do some of that hearing God.

But it"s always a bit of a nervous time for me. Kinda like a yearly job review where you have 50 or so bosses sitting in front of you listening to your year.

And the other side is that they are not your bosses at all, you follow God"s leading and communicate what you feel he is saying to you. They may like that, and they may not like it.

There you go, welcome to the party.

Then add a bit of history, a sprinkling of drama, and a large dose of group nerves, and you have the makings of a long and stressful day.

And I suddenly feel very tired inside.

Like completing a lengthy journey or like when I"ve just finished writing a long paper. It feels like I"ve been tying up the final parts of a very big project.

It feels like you"ve accomplished something, but instead of a celebration, you need to go to bed for a week.

Except that tomorrow it begins all over again.

Just a noise in my head.

Today we had to re-do our mortgage again. We chose a two year term and while we were in the bank I observed out loud, that last year our interest rate was around 5.4% and this year it looked like it was to be 6.7%.

"One moment," she said, and reworked her numbers and announced that she could bring it down to 5.7% and would we like that?

"No, may I please pay the higher amount?" I thought.
"Yes that would be agreeable." We spoke out loud.

I'm writing this from the church auditorium...

Sunday, January 28, 2007
and it's the middle of our Annual Meeting, and how cool is this.

I forgot to mention it but this has been one of my goals for Gateway Covenant Church too. To have WiFi throughout the church building itself.

I like it.


Friday, January 26, 2007
Alright let's face it, I change template designs like some people change underwear.»? Well ok maybe that isn't a great comparison cause some guys change their underwear once a year, but it is true that I've tried many things in this space and it's probably because I have a creative streak and I can't paint or write nice mellow Kumbya worship tunes.

But, I can mess with webdesign.

So, in honour of history and creativity and all that jazz, I present some of my "Looks" over the past couple of years.

Click to enlarge.

Each one my baby, each one with it's own distinctives, each one loved exactly the same.

But, truth be told, I think I loved the last one the best.

Sigh, where are ye now you olde Coldfusion designs.

Hot time in the old town, next week. Maybe.

Thursday, January 25, 2007
So, the boys are off tomorrow to some youth retreat in the Hinterlands of Norquay Saskatchewan. (think desolate prairie town, cut the population in half, twice, there, that's Norquay. And yes, your guess why is as good as mine.)

Anyway, you know what that means don't you? A house with no children in it. (Yeah, I can count the times that has happened in the last 19 years on one hand.)

So, hot time in the old bungalow this weekend, right?


Lauralea has the flu, though she's carrying on around here like she isn't sick. Mainly because tomorrow I'm also going to Saskatoon for meetings and she wants to go too.
Then, Saturday I have some meetings.

Then, Sunday is our Potluck and annual meeting.

And right about then, the guys return home.

A guy just can't get a break.

R.I.P Northern Lights

Not "The" Northern Lights, but the radio program by the same name that runs on CBC One every evening at 11 pm.

There was always something warm and gracious about listening to beautiful music over the AM radio on the prairies. The static and noise always added to the reality that you were out there in the west some place, sometimes a very uncivilized place at that. But there would come this wonderful music from different times than your own. And it could sooth your spirit.

CBC One was where I first discovered "Classical" music, (Whatever that means). In my bedroom, late at night I cultivated an interest in things Beethoven and Chopin and Mozart-ian.

CBC One went with me to College and was one of the things I had in common with Lauralea. I recall dreaming with her late one night that when we got back to civilization we would get dressed up in our finest and go to a concert of wonderful music. We did.

Then it went with us to Southern Ontario, and it was with me in the back of that semi-trailer I would be loading on the night shift at the insulation factory.

Now CBC One is going mostly talk and news and information. Which is fair I suppose.

But how are the young ones out in Cutknife Saskatchewan ever going to experience good classical music?

I wonder.

And now for something completely different

A ring tone for your phone, which seems very appropriate for pastors.
A clutch of singing sheep from the Lake District are now “flock”? stars after their indiscriminate bleatings were dubbed to an energetic remix of the William Blake classic, Jerusalem.

Just as the Crazy Frog craze appealed to the young and urban, it is hoped the reworking by The Baarmy Sheep of The Lake District, will appeal to those with a love of the countryside and outdoors.

Uh yeah, like i said, completely different.

Go here now.

You know you want to.

Happy Birthday Dad.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Life is short and we have not too much time
to gladden the hearts of those who travel the way with us.
Oh, be swift to love.
Make haste to be kind.
Henri Frederic Amiel
Journal 16 December, 1868

Well, this is a revolting turn of events...

Mennonites may lose Canadian citizenship over 1920s glitch

Hundreds of Mennonites living in Canada are in danger of losing their Canadian citizenship because of a legal technicality in Latin America where almost 7,000 of their ancestors moved in the 1920s.

The Mennonites went to Mexico and Paraguay looking for a place to live without government interference in their lives. But they have been trickling slowly back to Canada ever since.

Many of them married while living in Mexico, and that's what is causing the problem now. They were married by the church, and Mexico doesn't recognize church marriages as being legal.

That means their children were born out of wedlock, and they»?”? along with their grandchildren and even great-grandchildren»?”? are not eligible to be Canadian citizens.

Lauralea and I spent a couple of years in Southern Ontario working with many of these Immigrants. They totally found a place in our hearts and have helped to make us who we are today.

I hope the government can get this one figured out, in just ways.

Check out the story, here.

Is That You God? Cultivating Discernment as a way of Life - Lois A. Lindbloom

Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Small, easy to read, and encouraging.

A keeper.

How to know when I am getting sick.

First, early morning at the office and I realize my back is starting to hurt. It never hurts.

As the morning progresses, so does the pain. I take a Tylenol.

I begin, throughout the afternoon, to feel ache-y, and the clear need to remain near a washroom.

My head isn't full and my sinuses are mostly clear, but I sense a growing dis-ease, deep within the recesses of my body.

I begin to drag myself home, after work.

Not hungry, repulsed by food, muscles tense, then releasing, from my head to my toes.

My back hurts as does my head. My breathing grows heavy, labored even.

And I know I'm getting the flu.

How do I know this?

Cause I want my blankie.

the day had to come.

Monday, January 22, 2007
It"s my dad"s birthday this week.
It"s also the week of the day seven months ago that he died.

I didn"t realize it till Sunday, and then a terror shot through me while I was trying to figure out what day Sunday was and had I actually missed his birthday. I took a deep breath when I found out it was the 21st yesterday, and not the 25th.

So, it"s the first year with no calls or cards or cake.

It was to be his 65th birthday. A date the Doctors were not sure he would make, and they told him so.

His response to them was that he had paid so much to the government over the years in pension payments that it was his goal to get some of that money back, and he had every intention of seeing some of it returned to him.

Only it didn"t work that way.

And I suppose life is like that, in not always turning out like we thought it should.

Sometimes if I"m honest, those are the moments that frighten me. I don"t know how this all turns out, and I don"t know how I"ll handle it, when it does.

But one of the things I did learn from my dad was to take each day as it comes, piece by piece and day by day. And at the end of it all, it will be ok.

Because at the end of it all, stands the one who holds the beginning of life.

It will be ok.

And it's snowing


Chicago Bears vs New Orleans Saints

Sunday, January 21, 2007
Come on Bears!

13:38 4th Quarter
Bears 25 - Saints 14
11:37 4th Quarter
Bears 31 - Saints 14

4:05 4th Quarter
Bears 39 - Saints 14

Bears 39 - Saints 14
Bears - 0 Turnovers and 0 Penalties

Sweet day in the snow!!

oops, my bad.

Yeah, so I've been using the computer and projector at church to put up the announcements and songs for the day.

Today I included this announcement, not knowing what I was asking the church to participate in.
Join us for coffee following the service.

Following that, feel free to check out our lasses in the lower auditorium.

Uh, yeah. Sorry about that girls.

All Online Radio, all the time

Friday, January 19, 2007
For those of you who are Radio Freqs like myself, you're gonna love this site.

"They" have packaged radio stations and presented them in ways that make listening on-line a very simple thing.

Find a format or city or station you want to listen to, from anywhere in the world, click on the "Listen" button, and it loads a player that will quickly and easily play the stations feed, if it has one.

This is something the Internet has been in need of for a long time.

Check it out:

Simple Phone Etiquette to enhance your relationships

Thursday, January 18, 2007
Upon receipt this morning of a letter from a frustrated daughter who has moved away, and who seems to be calling at times when we just are not available to chat, I responded with a letter myself.

Part of my letter included the following and it dawned on me that this information which has helped me, may help some of you as well.

Phone Etiquette to enhance your relationships

I too find it frustrating to call home when I am away at conferences, or at classes or meetings, etc.

While away, whenever I phone home it's usually not a good time to chat, mostly because the people at home are already involved in an activity which requires their attention apart from our discussion. If the call is for a specific purpose then it's less of an interruption and we can proceed through the call in a swift and efficient manner. In that way I am seen as less of an interruption.

Me: "Hello?"
Your Mom: "Hello."
Me: "Can you pick me up at the airport at 8:45?"
Your Mom: "Why yes I can and let me just say I'd love to do that!"
Me: "Thank you for your kindness and willingness to pick me up."
Your Mom: "You are most welcome sir."
Me: "Farewell then."
Your Mom: "Goodbye, and see you at 8:45pm."

And there you go.
I have not interrupted their rhythm at home and they feel like they can take the time required to work out the specifics.

This kind of a call is much better received when I call home from a distance.

Contrast that kind of a call to one where the general purpose is vague and convoluted.

Me: "Hello?"
Your Mom: "Hello."
Me: "whatcha doin?"
Your Mom: "Nothin. whatcha doin?"
Me, (because I've had more time to prepare for the call than she has and have thought out the answer before she has,): "Talkin to you..."

And so on.
She gets impatient because I am interrupting her dish washing, or her clay work, or her washing up to go to bed.

Your Mom: "Is that all?"
Me: "No."
Your Mom: "Well then, what else?"
Me: "I dunno, I'm just alone."

You see, if the person who calls has a specific purpose, then the call taker is willing to help the loved one with the process of gaining the needed information.

If it looks like the call has no specific purpose then it's better for the caller and callee to have prearranged a time when they will talk on the phone together.

This allows both parties to be emotionally prepared for the call, ready to invest in the call, and their relationship.

It goes something like this;

Cuckoo clock cuckoos 10 times.
Ring ring...

Your Mom: "Hello?"
Me: "Hello, it's me!"
Your Mom: "Why, thank you for calling at our pre-arranged time!"
Me: "Is it ok to chat now?"
Your Mom: "Why yes it is. I've washed the dishes and put the boys to bed and I'm ready and willing to commit to a general conversation regarding the quality of your day. Please proceed."
Me: "Well, the other pastors laughed at me today because we went swimming and they saw the hairy arrow on my back and now they won't stop calling me Hairy Arrow Backed Friesen. This makes me want to cry into my pillow. Pastors can be so mean sometimes."
Your Mom: "Yes they can, but you're better than them. Did you call them names back?"
Me: "Well I could only think of one good one quickly enough. The Rev. Peter Penner has a big pompadour on his head so I yelled at him that so what he was Pompadour Pete!"
Your Mom: "Well next time I'll help you get the rest of the hair off your back and they won't bug you any more. But for now why don't you sneak into their hotel rooms and steal all their free shampoo!"
Me: "Yeah, thanks, that'll teach them. I feel better already. Thanks for this prearranged phone call."
Your Mom: "You're welcome, I'm so glad I could help affirm you and build our relationship."
Me: "Me too. Now, how was your day?"

And so the conversation can continue with a healthy, caring dialogue.

With the pre-arranged phone call, both individuals can be prepared emotionally for the phone call. They are then ready to invest in their relationship. It's like making an arrangement to meet for coffee and a visit.

So, the next time you have to travel and still want that home based connection, try the simple step of having the prearranged phone call.

Your spouse and children will love you for it. And you will be able to sleep peacefully all night, knowing that all is well.

Mayor offers to help move wall

The Prince Albert Daily Herald is reporting that at Monday evenings city council meeting, Mayor Jim Scarrow offered the services of himself and perhaps the whole council to help a young home owner who has found herself in a difficult situation.
Mayor Jim Scarrow suggested council perform some construction work for a young homeowner whose property is in violation of the National Building Code. "I'm looking for a good teambuilding exercise and I think council could come down and help you move your wall and your shed," Scarrow said.

Charlene Berard, 19, was a little shocked when Scarrow made the offer. "It's very generous, though," she said.

Berard wasn't the only one surprised by the mayor's offer. Ward 4 Councillor Shawn Williams worries Scarrow's offer sets an unwise precedent. He said Berard's isn't the only property violating national codes and council can't go fixing all of them.

While performing another inspection in the same neighbourhood, Peter Halayka, Prince Albert fire and building inspector, noticed Berard's shed and carport wall violates both the National Building Code and the city's zoning bylaw.

Development co-ordinator Kim Johnson sent a letter to Berard telling her to move the wall and shed by Dec. 30, 2006. Johnson informed Berard her carport's west wall and backyard shed are both too close to the property line. Given winter weather, the compliance to the order was delayed until May 30.

Berard appealed the order to council on Monday. She said the carport and shed were built years before she purchased the house and moving those items would cost her thousands of dollars.

Ward 2 Councillor Greg Dionne told Berard the city's "hands are tied" by the national code. He said the four-foot barrier acts as a fire barrier and, if the structure started on fire, the city would be liable because it failed to enforce the code.


In the end, council upheld the order, but gave Berard until Aug. 31 to comply.
Berard intends to call the mayor on his labour offer when the weather warms up.

Councillors don't have to participate in Scarrow's work bee.

Now, I didn't vote for the guy, but I just like this a lot.

Nice work Mayor.

And check out the paper for the whole story.

Gone Phishing

In computing, phishing is a criminal activity using social engineering techniques. Phishers attempt to fraudulently acquire sensitive information, such as passwords and credit card details, by masquerading as a trustworthy person or business in an electronic communication. Phishing is typically carried out using email or an instant message,[1] although phone contact has been used as well[2].

Imagine my surprise this morning when I received an email notice from a bank I don't belong to, asking me to update my personal account information.

(Click on all images to view clearly)

My first clue that this wasn't real, was the fact that I don't bank at this bank, located in the USA.

My second clue was the email address they used for the bank, Hmm, a huge bank using the facilities of Yahoo?!?

My third clue was the link they wanted me to follow.

It looked ok,

But the address written in the html was actually:

And when an email tells you to go one place, and sends you to another place, well you gotta wonder.

The site they wanted me to go to was the Wells Fargo Bank site:

But they created a lovely copy of the site, bought the fake domain name,, and direct people there to leave behind their usernames and passwords.

The fake looks like this:

Nearly the same, except they don't include a sitemap, just so you won't get sidetracked to the real site.

And the links on the fake page direct you back to the real site pages, to get the information you require.

Again, what they are after is your username and password, so that they can access your account and take control of your investments, funds, and life.

Nice eh?

The domain name, (The fake site) was purchased and set up yesterday/today. And will expire in one year.

Domain Name..........
Creation Date........ 2007-01-18
Registration Date.... 2007-01-18
Expiry Date.......... 2008-01-18
Organisation Name.... Sandra C. Kennedy
Organisation Address. P O Box 99800
Organisation Address.
Organisation Address. EmeryVille
Organisation Address. 94662
Organisation Address. CA
Organisation Address. US

The Internet company which registered this domain for "Ms. Sandra C. Kennedy" was, an Australian company, legitimate or not.

The sad part is that this con will trick some people and they will loose. And those who will loose the most will be the gullible and often the aged.
So we need to become more aware of these schemes.

Wikipedia tells us what to do in regards to Phishing:
Users who are contacted about an account needing to be "verified" (or any other topic used by phishers) can take steps to avoid phishing attempts by modifying their browsing habits. Users can contact the company that is the subject of the email to check that the email is legitimate, or can type in a trusted web address for the company's website into the address bar of their browser to bypass the link in the suspected phishing message.[39]

And there you go.
If you get an email from an organization you usually would trust, give them a phone call, and not using a phone number located on the email itself, but rather look it up in your phone book.

The other option is to type in the real www address as you know it, into the address bar at the top of your browser.
These kinds of post-modern day thieves wouldn't put the big effort into this kind of a con, if it didn't work. So they are obviously making money on it.

Lets practice safe surfing, and be aware.

This public announcement brought to you by the editors and owners of
Warning--For temporary use only. Long-term use of this product may lead to faster bone loss, continuing irritation, sores, and tumors. For emergency repairs only. Long-term use of home-repaired dentures may cause faster bone loss, continuing irritation, sores, and tumors. This kit for emergency use only. See Dentist Without Delay.

Hey anybody...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Some of us from our small group are meeting at Ricki's tonight a little after 7.

Come and join us if you are in need of a night out!

And then there are days like today

where everything one touches turns to C R A P.

So you just stop trying, in hopes that tomorrow things will improve.

And you can catch up on the things you were unable to do today.

Some jobs are just made for two people

Monday, January 15, 2007
In my defense, it had been a long day when I got into the shower last night, and stood warming myself beneath the steaming water.

As I began my ritualistic washing, I looked over and saw hair growing on my shoulders.

Hair. On my shoulders.

It seems to be some warped right of passage that as one grows older, hair begins to appear in places usually reserved for smooth skin. My mind goes instantly to that older man I was chatting with some time ago who seemed to have a great deal of hair growing inside his head as it was leaking out his ears and nose in an escaping, “I"ve got to get out of here,”? way.

Yet, there it was, just sitting there on top of my shoulders.

Mind you, it wasn"t a great forest of hair, like my Greek friend who ran a restaurant and had to shave his face to be able to cook there properly. When he wore a shirt with the buttons opened to his chest you could see where his hairline was. You know, the place at the bottom of his neck where he stopped shaving his face cause it turned into his chest, and that"s where his hairline started. It wasn"t hairy like that on my shoulders.

So I looked in the mirror and saw the beginnings of a hair thing going on on my back too. I"d never noticed this before, mainly because I never get a good look back there. But there it was, a fertile field of hair growth.

I continued washing, thinking what could be done with such a problem.

It was right about then that I saw my razor there in the corner, and I had an idea. I could just take off a bit of the crop from the top of my shoulders, no problem.

So I got some soap lathered up, and went to town. First this side, then that side. Then I wanted to even it up so I went back to this side, and back and forth I went.

The hair came off nicely, but my shaving strokes seemed to reach deeper onto my back, so that I could at least be even with my hair line.

This continued on until I was reaching as far down my back as possible with my right hand over my left shoulder and my left hand over my right shoulder. I couldn"t seem to reach beyond that, but the problem seemed to be taken care of. I could see no more hair on my shoulders or even when I looked down my back, on either side.

“Problem solved,”? I thought. So I shut off the water and dried off a bit.

No more looking at hair on my shoulders and nothing but smooth skin baby.

Then I turned around and caught a look at my back in the big mirror.

And, yeah, like I said, in my defense it had been a long day.

On my back there was a nicely shaped arrow of hair, pointing to my head.

Really smooth where I had been able to reach, but yeah, nice hair arrow.

Sigh. Good thing it's -27C out there and I won"t be going swimming anytime soon.

Did you ever...

Friday, January 12, 2007
Did you ever see the sun rise over a Swiss village?

I just did.

As I was finished some work and heading to bed, I checked a few webcams on the other side of the world.

Some of the most gorgeous images were being captured as the sun began to creep over the mountains.

I captured the pics from here.

You can click on these to get the full effect.


Some days it feels like a dream


Staring at Brest

I am sitting here at the computer table preparing for Sunday.

The table is set at just beneath the window.

So I'm working here constantly reminded of the cold whenever I look up above the screen, and see outside.

Therefore, in the corner of my screen I have a running live image of Brest, France, and it looks so inviting.

A little rain, but no snow, and everybody is on the way home from work.

The town lights are coming on as people find their way home for supper.

It looks like I'd like to be walking there too.

Just another Prairie Winter

Well, the weather continues to be the consuming, ever present strain these days. This morning I had a meeting down town at 8am, so when I went out to start the van and the sharp cold nearly knocked me off my feet, I should have known something was up.

As I unplugged the vehicle and the plastic cord kind of refused to lay down on the ground, well that should have been my second clue as to how cold it was. Turns out it was minus 40C, (which is the same as -40 F!).

Stink it's cold out there.

If anything, this week has proven a cold (pardon the pun) reminder of how dangerous winter can be. I'm always on the kids about being ready for anything when they leave the house, like bringing mitts along or wearing decent footwear.

All three of the people who died in this terrible week were within yards, a hundred yards in the one case, of a warm home. For pete's sake, one woman was lost in the airport parking lot, and that's not a 5 story parking complex, that's a flat piece of ground just outside the Airport proper.

When the wind and snow get going you honestly can't see two feet in front of yourself, and the good part is that now some people believe that much better than they did last week.

The other good part is watching people step up. This kind of weather makes people start watching out for others. They know it can kill and it makes them concerned.

People helping people get unstuck, people giving strangers rides home. People generally making sure others are ok before they go on their way. Those are the kinds of things that make sure the weather doesn't win.

And if you think about it, so far no homeless people died this week either.

Seems as though at times when there are bigger fish to fry we overlook our differences. Our income or skin colour doesn't seem to matter when we have a common enemy, and we come out the better for it.

Winter on the Prairies may be the last place anyone wants to be.

But I think that for these reasons it's the best place to be.

100 things eh?

Thursday, January 11, 2007
All this downtime is giving me the time I need to get on with the next session in my course work. So this afternoon I completed some more homework. Made an interesting discovery today.

I"m having a bit of difficulty with this whole "100 things you would like to do" extravagant opportunity.

I"m not having trouble with coming up with a hundred items, yet, but I am struggling with the sense of freedom within me to even hope, or dream in such ways. I am honestly surprised by this.

I think at some point in this exercise I put a few things together and began to realize that over the past few years I"ve been laying down some of my lifelong held dreams. Things I"ve held onto that I wanted to do at some point. I"ve realized that many of those things will never be achieved.

Feels strange and a bit lacking in integrity to be laying down dreams on one hand, and looking to make a new list on the other.

Somewhere along the line it"s caused me to start using the word No, more than the word Yes. And it"s making it hard to see the possibility of hope or dreams. Grief is mixed up in there too.

But I am re reading the class notes and realizing what is at work within me. I need to poke around this a little more.

Aftermath: Updated

Well, Thomas and I started shovelling last night at 10:30. By 11:30 we gave up because it was getting cold out.
So this morning I didn't have to work for hours to get out.

But the church lot, well that's a different story.

The snow is, in some places, between one and two feet deep, and hard enough to walk on top of! I nearly got stuck, twice. But I made it out.

The roads are getting cleared and the sun is high and shinning nicely, hard to believe only 24 hours since the worst blizzard since 1952. But just step outside and the -28C will remind you pretty quickly.

Some pretty dramatic stories getting out today;

It was a night of dramatic rescues for Saskatoon emergency crews Wednesday, as one of the worst blizzards in years paralyzed the city and left hundreds of people stranded at the airport, at businesses and in cars.

"It's by far the worst storm I've ever seen here," said Saskatoon Environment Canada meteorologist Larry Flysak.

For the first time in memory, city firefighters and ambulance crews were using snowmobiles, borrowed from a local dealership, to get to people trapped in snowbound vehicles.

One couple from Quebec was particularly grateful when firefighters found them seven kilometres outside the city on Highway 16.

They had been stuck in the ditch for about seven hours and had been keeping the engine running to stay warm. However, the car had run out of gas by the time they were rescued.

Flights were cancelled at the Saskatoon airport and the visibility was so bad about 350 people had to stay inside.

One woman in her car got lost in the parking lot. She phoned people in the terminal who were able to locate her and bring her inside.

About 50 people were stranded in a Saskatoon Wal-Mart until the storm lightened up early Thursday. Staff set up air mattresses so the refugees from the storm could get some sleep.

"We had food and beverages and stuff like that, so it wasn't too bad," store manager Sheldon Thurston said.

And, some stories are still being written.

RCMP have asked for help in locating a woman, whose overturned vehicle was found this morning, in a snowbank. They could not find her at the scene. She's out there, somewhere.

Police have located the lost woman. She was found dead only 300 metres from a friend's house.

Little Mosque on the Prairie, Revisited

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Well, we watched "Little Mosque on the Prairie" tonight, and our conclusions?

A very well written show with humorous dialogue. I laughed out loud a couple of times, and it kept me watching for the whole thirty minutes.

I like how it treats some of the stereotyped perspectives we have of Muslims. It tries to use humour to diffuse some of those preconceived ideas. What it may end up doing is helping Muslims get a better understanding out here in the west. And that's a good thing.

The only part I didn't like about the program was that again and again it was spoken of as a "small town." But the sets didn't seem small town at all. Big newer houses on well developed, paved streets, a radio station, and daily paper with a reporter and new taxi all were a constant reminder that I had to leave a part of my brain at the door.

But then again, where on the prairies are you going to find a small town with a group of practising Muslims...

I'll watch for this one again.

the b word :Updated, again.

"bliz»?zard [bliz-erd] ”?noun
A severe winter storm with low temperatures, winds of 35mph or faster, blowing snow that reduces visibility to 1/4 mile or less that lasts at least 3 hours."

You wake up to a great howling noise, something between a train running down the center of your street and a beast from the abyss howling it's displeasure.

You get up and look out the window, and it's all white out. The whiteness seems to be moving sideways, past your window view. But you can't see the house across the street, so you know its gonna be a bad day.

The one foot deep path you had shovelled to your front door from the street is gone. It's filled in and blown over so that you can't see the path any longer. The door at the back of the house has to be pushed open, and pushed hard because the snow drift has covered the stairs, and part of the door.

I get covered up so that only a bit of skin is showing near my mouth and cheeks and out I go, to see if we can even get the van out of the yard and an alleyway.

I walk out to the street, wind whipping my face, blasting snow into me like some great sandblasting hose. Within moments I feel my cheeks start to ache, and I know I had better get back inside, quick.

So we are hunkered down, waiting out this storm. Word is that right after the storm it's going to get really really cold out, and that won't help at all.

The boys are staying home from school, their teachers unable to make it into school. But I was able to make it out, and I made it to the office.

I'll work here a bit, then maybe get back home and work. Because the only thing worse than being snowed in at home, would be being snowed out of the driveway, at your home.

Be careful out there today, and make sure you are covered up all the way.

11:14 UPDATE
It's time to go home. The alley into my driveway is up over two feet of snow now, and if I don't plough through it soon, I won't be able to get in there today. So for now I'll take my books and work at home. Call me there if you need me, 306-764-0701

12:30 UPDATE
I'm home. Barely.
The wind, when you stand out there it pushes you over and sounds like you are standing next to heavy equipment.
The visibility was about two car lengths, so twice there were suddenly cars in front of my van, that had stopped hard into snowdrifts.
And finally I had to take a flying run to get into my alley, but I made it.
I did nearly get stuck inside the church because the snowdrifts had piled up three feet against the doors, and it took some work to get them moved enough to escape. Then at home I needed to cut a path through a huge drift on the back step, so I could get in.
Now they're forecasting this to go on through the night too.
Very gross.

Stay home.

I took some pics from the warmth of the house. Check them out.

5:00 pm UPDATE:

It's continuing to blow and snow here, although somebody from City hall likes me because they sent a plow through my alley an hour ago. Now if I want to go out I'll only have to shovel the three feet deep snow from the van to the alley....

In other news, in Saskatoon my daughter, sister and sister in law have made it home from the University and their places of work, guess they shut things down early. Robyn, my other sister is stranded at her place of work, Old Navy, for the night. They are closed, but she can't get home.

All highways in central Saskatchewan are closed, and/or considered very dangerous.

The City of Saskatoon is reporting:

Saskatoon Police are advising that businesses that are sending employees home for the day may want to consider having employees not all leave at the same time. All downtown streets are experiencing near gridlock conditions.

The Circle Drive Bridge is closed in both directions between Millar Avenue and College Drive due to a number of incapacitated vehicles.

Citizens are advised to stay off the streets if at all possible. If you do drive, please have your hazard lights on.

The following is the list of closures at 3:00 p.m. today due to the blizzard:
Circle Drive Bridge and Circle Drive remain closed in both directions between Millar Avenue and College Drive.

The following intersections are closed due to the weather:
Wanuskewin Road and Adilman Drive
McOrmond Road, Kerr Road and Highway 5
22nd Street at Highway 7
Preston Avenue and Perimeter Road
Preston South and Circle Drive
Attridge Drive and Circle Drive Southbound
Warman Road and Circle Drive
Gordon Road (Stonebridge)
37th Street and Latrace Road

Motorists are asked to please use extreme caution and ensure your hazard lights (flashers) are on when travelling.

Saskatoon Fire and Protective Services (SFPS) and Saskatoon Police Services are urging the public to please refrain from using cell phones during the blizzard except for emergency reasons, as increased cell phone usage is making it difficult for them to complete emergency communications.
SFPS and Saskatoon Police Services thank the public for their co-operation.

It looks like two are already dead from the storm.

And finally the Blizzard warning is still in effect:

4:47 PM CST Wednesday 10 January 2007
Blizzard warning for
Prince Albert - Shellbrook - Spiritwood - Duck Lake continued

Blizzard conditions gradually improving this evening or overnight.

As of 4:45 PM blizzard conditions continue across much of central Saskatchewan. Many locations are reporting zero or near-zero visibilities in snow and blowing snow..With sustained easterly winds at times exceeding 60 km/h. Saskatchewan highways is reporting many roads are closed from Lloydminster through to Saskatoon and approaching the Yorkton area..With poor conditions being reported in many other areas.

So again, stay home.

9:18 pm Update

Well, it looks like the snow has mostly stopped falling, and the wind has died down considerably.

It looks to be a huge mess out there though, plenty of work to be done in the morning.

But now the cold is coming. So I'll worry about that tomorrow.


Ester Buchholz on Solitude

Tuesday, January 09, 2007
"Life's creative solutions require alonetime. Solitude is required for the unconscious to process and unravel problems. Others inspire us, information feeds us, practice improves our performance, but we need quiet time to figure things out, to emerge with new discoveries, to unearth original answers."

Steve Jobs on Apple's future. Starting Today.

“From this day forward we"re going to be known as Apple, Inc. We"ve dropped the computer from our name.”? And then he quoted ice skating legend Wayne Gretzky. “”?I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it"s been." That"s what we try to do at Apple.”?

What would be on your list?

For my classwork this week, a part of the assignment is this;

Make a list of 100 things you want to do before you die. But listen to these instructions: Let your imagination run free. Allow yourself to repeat some items. Postpone the question, “Do I really want this?”? and don"t worry about the practicality of some of your desires.

After number 1. Go down to Pennsylvania and try to eat the worlds biggest 15-pound burger, I got nothing.

I understand the reasoning for the question, and I'm not expected to come up with 100, but I tell you this is more difficult than one might think.

...Freedom to do what you would like to do. Freedom to even explore making a list. Freedom to let my imagination run free...

I haven't let anything run free for a long long time.

What would be on your list? (I won't steal them or anything. Well unless they're good ones!)

Oh Global Warming, why does't thou tarry?

This morning as I was leaving the house shortly after 7:30 am, I had a second thought and checked the weather on TV.
It was like getting hit over the head with a frozen salmon.

WHAT? Minus 25C? and a Blizzard warning in effect? I hadn't heard about that! And to add insult to injury it looks as if it's going down into the -30's later on this week. What happened to that global warming everybody's on about?

Karp, peer karp.

It looks like winter is arriving children, so you'll need to take care of those things.

You'll need a head covering, (Which is biblical, at least for the women...) and probably long underwear if you are walking anywhere. Bring some good mits along and have a way to cover your face.

And for petes sake don't wear some hole-y runners in this weather. If you can help it.

Just do your best, and be careful and think ahead. We've done this before, just not this winter yet.

Here we go.

Monday, January 08, 2007
is a domain I purchased some time ago. Whether I bought it because I was ticked off at myself for not acting quickly enough to get»? or because»? I always liked the classic Moby Dick, I don't know. Fact is I purchased it, mostly for down the road a bit.

One of the requirements for owning a dotmobi is that the site it is directed to must be able to be viewed in a mobile browser. Pda, wireless, cellphone, you get the idea. It requires an interface designed for a mobile device when visitors come to your site on their mobile devices.

Until now I haven't been able to make that happen.

Until now that is.

Today I installed a wordpress plugin that should take care of all that for me.

So now you can visit this site with a mobile, should you be so inclined for whatever reasons.

Hey, it's just a part of the service around here.

(And if it doesn't work, please give me a shout.)

Summer fun, in January

Saturday, January 06, 2007
Watching the news out of Baaston tonight. They are eating in outdoor cafe's today because the temperature was 70F.

That would be cool. Middle of January, go down town in just your shirtsleeves, and enjoy supper at an outdoor cafe.

Yeah I know, we need the precipitation and global warming and winter sports, and and and, still would be cool to walk to an outdoor cafe in January and not freeze.

NFL Unbelieveable

Wow, what a great game, and amazingly awesome ending. (Enough already??)

Seattle 21
Dallas 20

and you had to see it to believe it.

Divine intervention I suspect. Dallas kicking a field goal with about a minute left, the setup fails, no kick and it's obvious that God likes Seahawks and Covenanter, Mr. Holmgren.

These kinds of games are the reason I love football.

One more step completed.

Another piece of the caring for a late dad thing has been accomplished. We printed a shortened Obituary into the EMMC denominational magazine.

Took me forever to even want to do it, but I'm glad I did and glad too that it's completed now.

You can see it, if you want, from "The Recorder."

January 2007, page 11. Just remember, it's a pdf file.

New year, new things

Well it's Saturday morning and the snow is gently falling. I'm back into my work mode and just finalizing my thoughts for tomorrow morning.

Just thinking about a new year and the room that creates for doing or being something new. We all, me included, want to see changes in our daily lives that are rather large sometimes. We may want to loose weight or read more. We might want to use our seatbelts more or drink less, be more active or slow done our lives a bit. So we use the new year as kind of an excuse to introduce those changes into our lives. But we do it in kind of a forced way.

We expect a lot from ourselves, and most times we let ourselves down with these grandiose ideas.

One of the reasons we disappoint ourselves is because we take too big a bite out of life. We want the change or the new discipline to happen now, right away. And we want it fully formed immediately. When it doesn't happen that way we quickly loose hope. Then we go back to our old ways faster than you can say, "Please pass the white bread..."

This week I came across a parable, written by Megan McKenna in "The Arrows of God," (Orbis Press, 1994), which might help us a bit with this thought.
There was a woman who wanted peace in the world and peace in her heart and all sorts of good things, but she was very frustrated. The world seemed to be falling apart. She would read the papers and get depressed. One day she decided to go shopping, and she went into a mall and picked a store at random. She walked in and was surprised to see Jesus behind the counter...She looked again and again at him, and finally got up her nerve and asked, “Excuse me, are you Jesus?”? “I am.”? “Do you work here?”? “No,”? Jesus said, “I own the store.”? “Oh, what do you sell in here.”? “Oh, just about anything!”? “Anything?”? “Yeah, anything you want. What do you want?”? She said, “I don"t know.”? “Well,”? Jesus said, “feel free, walk up and down the aisles make a list, see what it is you want, and then come back and we"ll see what we can do for you.”?

She did just that, walking up and down the aisles. There was peace on earth, no more war, no hunger or poverty, clean air, peace in families and peace in the heart. She wrote furiously. By the time she got back to the counter, she had a long list. Jesus took the list, skimmed through it, looked up at her and smiled. “No problem.”? And then he bent down behind the counter and picked out all sorts of things, stood up, and laid out the packets. She asked, “What are these?”? Jesus replied, “Seed packets. This is a catalogue store.”? She said, “You mean I don"t get the finished product?”? “No, this is a place of dreams. You come and see what it looks like, and I give you the seeds. You plant the seeds. You go home and nurture them and help them grow and someone else reaps the benefits.”? “Oh,”? she said. And she left the store without buying anything.”?

Those who have ears to hear, let them listen.

Most of these profound deep changes in our lives come as a result of small seed like changes we may make on a regular basis. Small choices made each day makes a lifetime of good choices. And changes.
So, if you were to plant some seeds in your life this year, seeds that will grow into big lifetime changes, what kinds of seeds would you plant?
Think that way, rather than the big change way. Plant some choice seeds this new year, and see what grows from them.

The question remains, what do you want to grow in your life? And what are the seeds that will grow that for you.

Akine Kramarik. Child Prodigy.

Friday, January 05, 2007
Good grief, talk about overachieving.

This 12 year old girl, Akiane Kramarik, seems to be gifted. Certainly beyond her years.

(Trust me. I have a twelve year old at home and he... well, he does have a website too...)

She paints amazing pictures, does a bit of poetry and like that.

She indicates that at the age of four she had a "Spiritual experience" in which she was taken up into heaven. Things haven't been the same since, for her or her previously atheistic family.

She tells a bit of her story here. Click on the "Questions and Answers" link
I love her pictures the best.

Simply amazing.

Can't afford to travel? to the rescue.

Some people see internet webcams as intrusions into their private life. I however, even after walking into the kitchen Christmas Eve in my boxers and dress shirt realizing someone had turned the Friesencam into the kitchen rather than out of the window, still see the webcam as a wonderful gift to the world.

Here are two cases in point.

This image is of a town in Switzerland, the name of which I've not been able to discover yet. (25 points to whomever finds it) Someone in that town has put a semi-live webcam up on their roof and you can see the most beautiful sights from there. The other morning it was snowing like crazy, and a more picturesque scene you've never seen.

(The java used in the site continues to ask you to refresh it, which can be a mite annoying. But pretty none-the-less.)

You might think that was fun, but what would happen if you could aim the camera in the direction you wanted to look. Zoom in or out, pan right or left. What are they drinking in their steaming mug of "Hot Chocolate?"

Here's a link to a "Sport and Wellness Hotel" which just happens to have a moveable webcam mounted on their building.

Go and try it out, or watch while somebody else on the Internet moves the camera around trying to make sure that their teens out on the slopes are behaving themselves.

They let you see the world, for only a few bucks a month.

Little Mosque on the Prairie

Thursday, January 04, 2007
This program is starting to get some serious buzz.

TORONTO ”? American newswoman Paula Zahn and a crew from CNN visited the set of the CBC"s “Little Mosque on the Prairie”? Wednesday ahead of the TV show"s premiere next Tuesday.

A CBC publicist says Zahn was on the show"s temporary set in west-end Toronto for a story she"s working on for the cable news giant about “Little Mosque,”? the brainchild of Zarqa Nawaz, a Muslim filmmaker and mother of four who has
lived in Saskatchewan for 10 years.

CNN will run a small segment on “Paula Zahn Now”? today at 8 p.m., just hours after “Little Mosque”? publicists hand out more 100 kilograms of free halal chickens in downtown Toronto to promote the show.

“Little Mosque on the Prairie,”? a comedy about Muslims trying to interact with their small-town neighbours in a fictional Canadian prairie town called Mercy, has been receiving the kind of advance buzz that most publicity departments only dream about.

The CBC is so pumped by the attention the show started getting ”? largely on the strength of its title and premise ”? hat it decided to premiere it this month instead of waiting until next fall. That meant the show"s production crew had to move into overdrive to get the initial episodes ready for broadcast.

Back to work

Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Well, I think that nearly does it for my holidays this year. This week we've played games, watched movies, eaten Christmas snacks, traveled back and forth to Saskatoon a couple of times, got the van fixed, and other assorted small projects.

And tomorrow I'm back at work.

I feel ready to get back at it. Maybe one might even use the word eager when describing my desire, and that is a good thing. I wasn't sure it would be enough of a break, but it seems to have been.

But I don't want to go back to where I was at , you know? Skimming along the surface, taking care that the Christmas things got done the right ways.

No, I need to take some time to go deep for a while. Just go deep.

I might start off next week with a bit of a local retreat. Set aside some days for prayer and silence. I'm in need of a season of that, so I will plan to work it in.

I realized that my regular pastoral retreat/conference which I usually attend each February, I will have to miss this year.

This year the gathering is in Denver, and guess who forgot to get a passport in time for the US January deadline, for all Canadians flying in to produce a passport.
Uh, yeah, me.

But then again, it's been snowing ALOT in Denver lately, and here today the temperature was +5 C. Yes you read that right, +5.

I wonder what this year will hold. What dreams will be realized, and which ones will be layed aside. I think that the quiet and prayer will help to clarify those directions and purposes, and I'm looking forward to that.

So for now, may you and yours have a most blessed new year.

What to do

It was every subway rider"s nightmare, times two.

Who has ridden along New York"s 656 miles of subway lines and not wondered: “What if I fell to the tracks as a train came in? What would I do?”?

And who has not thought: “What if someone else fell? Would I jump to the rescue?”?

...Mr. Autrey was waiting for the downtown local at 137th Street and Broadway in Manhattan around 12:45 p.m. He was taking his two daughters, Syshe, 4, and Shuqui, 6, home before work.

Nearby, a man collapsed, his body convulsing. Mr. Autrey and two women rushed to help, he said. The man, Cameron Hollopeter, 20, managed to get up, but then stumbled to the platform edge and fell to the tracks, between the two rails.

The headlights of the No. 1 train appeared. “I had to make a split decision,”? Mr. Autrey said.

So he made one, and leapt.

Yeah, I've stood there and thought the same things. What would I do.

Given the amount of unhappy endings these stories usually have, here's one with a happy ending.

The color of money

Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Well, yesterday afternoon in a fit of holiday nothing-to-do-ness, we endeavoured to play a game of Stock ticker. We were inspired by Marc and Dixie's New Years Eve game of the same.

I don't know why we let Micah play the game, he seemed to love hoarding his cash much more than investing it. And he made the classic beginners mistake of using his starting funds to purchase a lot of one or two stocks, rather than spreading it over 5 or 6 different stocks.

Well, we played for four hours and we were getting into the tens of thousands of stocks and we were getting hungry so we started to tally up our winnings.

And, Mr. Money hoarder won the game.

Go figure, new guys luck I guess.

But hey, we might have us a financial genius here.

I just won't hold my breath.
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