Wednesday, December 19, 2007

uncommissioned plug

Aqua books, my favorite used bookstore in the 'peg, currently located in the Exchange district, is moving to the downtown core. AND they are opening a bistro. This will, I think, nicely fill the hole that will be left once McNally Robinson ditches the downtown core for the big box area of polo park.

The owner has created a fun, informative, and amusing video about the move. Check it out here. He's pretty funny.

Also, they host ideaExchange, a lecture/discussion series on spiritual and Christian issues. Super challenging stuff gets thrown around. They have podcasts on their website. Definitly not light listening - it's pretty deep.

They are also amusing. Recently, Aqua books got into a spat with Campbell Soup company for using the Campbell's soup logo on their t-shirts. Check out the letter exchange here. Glad to see some people still have a sense of humor, and I am even more glad some people decide to fight corporate anality (yes, i think i just made up that word. It fits). Check out the info, it's fun.

Cool place. I recommend it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Merry Christmas.

Yep. Merry Christmas, friends.

Here's a little treat for you, from myself and a few close friends.

Click here.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Crisis of Faith? Or Faith Itself?

I came across this article while waiting at my chiroprator’s office. Mother Teresa’s Crisis of Faith.

It is quite a long article; if you do not have time to read it, I will summarize; Mother Teresa spent over 50 years in what the author calls spiritual darkness. An excerpt of Mother Teresa’s writing:

“Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The Child of your Love – and now become as the most hated one – the one – you have thrown away as unwanted – unloved. I call, I cling, I want – and there is no One to answer – no One on whom I can cling – no, No One.”

At times she also expressed questions as to the very existence of God.

My strongest reaction from this article came not from the fact that Mother Teresa felt spiritually estranged from God, but from the claims and response of the author of the article to her writings. David Van Biema claims that Mother Teresa’s outward expressions of love for God - her commitment to devote her life for him, and her inner, most private doubts and feelings are “a startling portrait in self-contradiction.”

It is on this point where my soul reacts strongly. I think the author has missed the purpose of Mother Teresa’s life, and that his reaction to her deep struggle stems from a serious misunderstanding of faith.

I believe that doubt is an intricate part of faith. I also believe that pain is an intricate part of faith. It does not surprise me that Mother Teresa felt this pain, asked these questions, and wrote these words. In the same breath, it does not surprise me that she held fast to her God. In spite of (or, I might even suggest, because of) her pain, she still clung to Christ, and continued to use her hands and her heart for his work on earth.

I respectfully think that the author of this article wrongly assumes that love and estrangement cannot exist in the same relationship.

My dance with Christ has, over the years, jumped all across the spectrum. At times we play together, laugh together. Explore together. At other times, times which I find no less meaningful, we seem as separate as East is from the West. I understand that longing and that pain which Mother Teresa writes about. But there are no moments (well, ok, very few moments) where I would not consider myself to be His child, to be in an intimate relationship with Him, to speak of Him as my All, even though I feel painfully estranged from Him at that moment. I can understand why this can sound like somewhat of a contradiction, especially to someone who has not chosen to take on a journey of faith. But from my experience, it is all part of the same. Faith is a mystery. To try to unpackage it completely; to reduce it to linear rules of love and relationship is to limit its fullness as well as its beauty.

I don’t always feel close to Christ. There are days and moments where I am overwhelmed with frustration, tears, and anger which stem directly from this seeming divide. But I do not believe, in any way, that these feelings and longing are sinful, unique, or even unnecessary. I trust that Christ has me in his arms. And it is that trust – that faith – which prevails over all doubts and feelings.

We are connected. Always.

Near the end of Mother Teresa’s life, she did not move from the feeling of spiritual darkness. But, she wrote these words:

“for the first time in . . . years – I have come to love the darkness.”
“I just have the joy of having nothing – not even the reality of the Presence of God.”
“If this brings you glory . . . with joy I accept all to the end of my life.”

She eventually took joy in her professed state of darkness. And that is a powerful testament.

May her testament bring you hope. It brings hope to me.


Monday, November 19, 2007

What is justice without love?

Glad to see such controversy, Zac and Chris. Thanks for the respectful dialogue.

Onto other matters:

Jeremy John and I have very different stories and backgrounds. Interestingly, we have come to similar conclusions about some significant issues. Check out his thoughts below:

So I seek to change the world by loving others. I seek to change structures and hearts, focusing on the latter. I don’t believe structural change will matter unless it is undertaken with pure and loving hearts. The political arena is a battleground for good and evil . . . The real battlefield is the human heart, where the struggle to love and forgive others takes place. Jesus didn’t end the oppression of structures by setting up a Jewish state. Instead, he lived and died for love and truth. He won the greatest victory over oppression by simply ignoring its power to rule over him, even its power to take his life.
I still get outraged at injustice, but I try to avoid letting indignation turn into hatred towards systems or the people in them. Such hatred is as destructive as the system that it seeks to destroy.

Where I was once cold and angry, focused on structures, I am now warmer and focused on people. I read and write less about politics, but I am more involved in groups working for change. I used to be very critical of political groups, and was therefore somewhat of a loner. Now, I forgive the faults as best I can and I just show up. I care less about facts or about proving the current government has lied or manipulated than I do about working with people, for people. My belief in the need for social justice has not changed, but now I come from a place of love rather than a place of justice. And what is justice without love?

- “Salvation in Ill-Fitting Blue Pants” Jeremy John. Geez, Winter 2006.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Eternal Forces

Again, relativly old news, but I would really like to hear your response.

The "New" (well, now old, 'cause I am slow) Left Behind video game. Check out the video:

Check out this response from Alternet.


1. What is your reaction to the game itself?

2. AlterNet's responded to both the game itself and Left Behind's requests of the Christian community. What is your reaction to their reactions?

Looking for responses. Zac, I'm counting on you for sure. :-)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

27 . . . but i don't feel a day over 30.

thanks for everyone's well wishes and cheesecake for my numerous birthday celebrations around the city. I love you all. I still have more birthday celebrations to come. thanks, friends!

How are you all? Hmmm?

Do you know that bears aren't hibernating anymore? This is actually relativly old news, but still relatively shocking.

D'ya like how I snuck in that fun environmental fact during my ramblings about myself? Yes, it is a gift.

Pretty much I am ranting. I'm done now.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

100 mile sweetness

A number of friends and acquaintances of mine are doing the full-blown 100 Mile Diet.

The 100 Mile Diet is a commitment to only eat foods that have been grown AND processed within 100 miles. Pretty much anything that grows in Manitoba, and doesn’t leave it before hitting the grocery shelves.

The purpose of this is many; basically I will sum it down to a few main parts. 1) Eating locally drastically decreases environmental damage 2) Eating locally aids in the pursuit of food justice (The way food is processed is important; a number of food processing methods and global market considerations hurts people in Canada and abroad in numerous ways, including economically and physically. By knowing where your food comes from, you can have more choice in how it was produced and who was hurt or helped).

Around 140 people have signed up for this challenge, which lasts 100 days. It’s about 40 days in, I think.

The impact of this challenge has been amazing. And not only on the participants – there have been a few really cool things which has happened.

1. People have become more aware. Not only those who have signed up for the challenge, but the media has caught on and spread the message. Additionally, a number of people have been asking local stores for certain items, or letting them know that they are unable to shop at their store for the whole 100 days. Grocery owners definitely take notice of these things.

2. I have seen this wonderful, calming change, and courage, in those who have signed up for the challenge. They are truly hard core, and I admire them a lot. It’s not nearly as easy as it sounds, and it doesn’t sound easy. It is so intense. Everything which goes into a dish they need to ask questions about. They have had to put in so many hours of planning and work canning and preserving food in order to not starve throughout the 100 days. They have done this with much grace and respect to those who are not 100 mile dieters. In addition, they are so generous. I have been asked to a number of 100 mile meals, which blows me away, because the food availability that they can eat is relatively scarce. I would be tempted to hoard. But they do not.

3. I have changed. Their courage, and I do mean courage, has inspired me. I have also learned that I am not as hard-core local as I thought I was. I have become more aware of lots of issues. For example, lots of products which I thought were local really aren’t. “Made in Manitoba” merely means that the end process occurred in Manitoba – the ingredients aren’t necessarily 100% local, or local at all! It is very humbling to be asked to someone’s house for dinner, and not be able to find ANYTHING in my house which I can offer for the meal. I came close with Manitoba honey, but then found that it was slightly spiced with Moroccan cinnamon. Crap.

4. I truly believe, and this experience that I see my friends doing has re-enforced, that eating is truly a spiritual activity. I challenge everybody to truly consider this. Our bodies are temples, and we need to treat them as such. Monitor the crap that we put into it. Secondly, when we realize the impacts of what we eat has on other people, both far away and locally, eating becomes far more meaningful. I can’t express how meaningful those meals are that I have had with my 100 mile diet friends. The table takes on another dimension; one which is almost sacred. It deepens the conversation, and enriches the relationships around the table. Eating has become a spiritual movement of sorts. That’s awesome.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Global Justice Film Festival!


Friday, November 2nd, (registration begins at 6:30 pm)

& Saturday, November 3rd, (registration begins at 8:30 am, films begin at 9:00 am)
The University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Avenue

For program information, ticket information, and other useful details, go on-line to:

For those concerned about Global Justice, it is often difficult to keep up with the many issues facing us today. Documentary films are an excellent resource for keeping informed and sensitive to the reality of people’s lives as they strive for justice.

The Global Justice Film Festival has a line up of 18 films that deal with a range of topics, with a central theme of what is happening to our natural environment. Some of the main films include An Inconvenient Truth, Toxic Trespass and Dead in the Water.

Other films this year include Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, Shameless: the Art of Disability and Finding Dawn (about missing aboriginal women in Canada).

The Festival will open Friday evening with the film, The Ecological Footprint. The evening will include a panel discussion on environmental issues and entertainment with local singers Paul and Susan.

or pick up printed programs at:

Faculty of Theology, U of W
All Assiniboine Credit Union Locations in Winnipeg
UMFM Radio Office, 308 University Centre, U of M
Mondragon Bookstore and Coffe House, 91 Albert St

Festival sponsors on the Global Justice Film Festival Coalition are:

· AVEL (Audio Visual Educational Library) United Church of Canada,

· KAIROS (Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives) Cambrian Agassiz Region,

· Canadian Catholic Organization for Development & Peace,

· Council of Canadians - Winnipeg Chapter,

· Amnesty International, Group 19,

· U of W Faculty of Theology,

· Project Peacemakers,

· Menno Simons College,


· St. Mary's Road United Church Foundation,

· Manitoba Council for International Cooperation (MCIC)

· MATCH International (Winnipeg Chapter).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


An interesting read . . . also timely considering that Christmas is coming soon!

Buy-Nothing Year

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

AIDS and hamburgers

Is anybody interested in going to see Stephen Lewis speak at the Pantages on November 12th? It's $25 and tickets run out early, so let me know very soon. More info can be found by clicking here. He's supposed to be an amazing speaker. For those of you who don't know who he is, he was the UN special envoy to HIV/AIDS in Africa.

On a seperate note, I would like to share something which disturbs me greatly. Please click here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

look! i learned how to embed!

You need to check out this video. It's a good visualization. Winnipeg has a very active Amnesty International Letter Writing Chapter which meets once a month, if you are interested!

Amnesty Letter Writing Video - from Amnesty International

Monday, September 17, 2007

too long . . . again

Hey y’all.

So I have anemia. Which is why I’ve been so sickly and tired lately. And sort of look like a vampire. But that should be fixed eventually when my red blood cells start to replenish.

It’s been an interesting summer. Sometimes I find that when you pray you get what you ask for, but you hate the results. But I guess that’s fair.

So some of you have regularly kept up with asking me how my summer experiment went – a few months ago I had posted that I was going to see if I could serve God by doing things which I enjoyed, and to not do “ministry” or other things merely because I thought I should.

That’s been good, let me tell you. There has been a few things which I was not able to let go of due to prior commitments. But in general my experience has been very positive. I have learned lots about myself and about my complexes (perhaps I should say, numerous complexes). This was a surprising learning. My intention was to learn about my actions and not necessary learn about myself.

I have learned, in a more concrete way, that I truly, deep down, consider myself to be the saviour of the universe. Likewise, I have learned that I truly, deep down, don’t consider my spiritual or emotional health to be as important as anybody else’s.

Neither of these are healthy.

First of all, I can’t save the world. My actions over the last few years, busy-fying myself to death, would seem to suggest that I am trying desperately to do just that. I need to learn to sit. Focus on where God has placed my hand and my heart, and do what I can where I am

Secondly, I am a hypocrite. It sounds all humble and selfless to consider others more important than me; to sacrifice my own emotional and spiritual health in order to give, give, give to others. But what this really boils down to is that I do not practice what I preach. If I try to drill the importance of self-care to others, and don’t focus on that myself, than something is wrong. It occurred to me one day that I really don’t think that I am worth the time to focus on myself. I don’t think it’s that I am trying to earn those heaven points by focusing on others; truly this is a result of myself not respecting or thinking my own spiritual or emotional health a valuable thing.

This is bad.

So I realized this. And then came a blood infection. I literally thought I was going crazy, being exhausted all of the time. But was diagnosed, and it makes a lot of sense.

My life in the last month has pretty much been working and sleeping. Which was fun and refreshing for a bit, but now is pretty boring. I have been forced to take my experiment to another step and have let go of many of my volunteer commitments and many extracurricular activities.

I had prayed that I would be able to find a way to simplify my life. And now it seems I am forced into this situation. Which sucks, but is really good at the same time. I guess I asked for it.

So I enter this new year (us academic working types consider September to be the main year milestone, not January) with a new outlook and new commitments. Please keep me to them.

1. I will limit myself to 2 ministries – the SCM and Faithworks. That is busy enough. And my involvement in these 2 ministries will be strictly limited to ways in which I feel passionate and excited about doing.

2. I will take the time to value myself as I value others. I will find hobbies and ways to strengthen my spiritual and emotional well being. This includes spending time with soul-giving friends (yes, you), and really taking hobbies seriously. This semester it is drumming and learning about Politics. That’s awesome. I will also spend intentional, not guiltified time feeding my spiritual life and continuing my dance with Christ in whichever way suits that particular day. Fun.

3. Things feel better in 3’s, but I honestly don’t have anything for this point. Perhaps I will commit to . . . oh, wait. I remember. I have also learned that I have a body. And that my body is intrically connected to my soul. So I will treat my body better and eat better as well as take the time to gym at least twice a week, starting in October.

So there we go. Sickness, sadness, but good things too.

Thanks for reading,Bre

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Is Profit the Cure?

Yep. There's still a fight going on to keep Canada's health care accesssible to all. If this issue really "moves your heart" (Christian-speak) you might want to check out this website; there is an online petition to sign. Council of Canadians is a very reputable organization (I'm a member . . . so that's cool!) Sign if you feel moved to do so!

My apologies for the quick and unpersonal posts. It's September! Which means that I pretty much live at the university and don't have nearly enough time to ponder life!

That makes me very, very sad. :-(

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP)

Seriously, i think it's important for us all to be aware of what's going on with this issue. Basically, Canada is working on merging many of its policies with the U.S. and Mexico. This would increase "security" and trade, but would mean that Canada would no longer have complete say in its policies, such as who to allow in as refugees or immigrants, what environmental standards to have, etc.

It is basically a merger of Canadian and U.S. policies. Which I think is somewhat dangerous to our sense of identity, as well as dangerous to Canada's commitment to justice in many different areas.

Check out this link for more information.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Sick Dog

Sometimes I love Oprah. And other times she drives me freaking crazy.

May’s issue had a little segment called “How To Get 7 More Hours Into Your Day.”

It includes tips such as:
1) Don’t listen to the news first thing in the morning (“Depressing reports can distract you from efficiently accomplishing your a.m. routine”)
2) Make good use of waiting time (bring a book or magazine to the bank; don’t go to the doctor without taking something to do)
3) Think “Half-Time” (wear a wireless headset so you can water plants or pick up toys as you talk on the phone . . . “)

Are you kidding me? This segment should really be called “How to Never Rest and Not Be Engaged In the Real World.”

It has been a huge struggle for me to learn to relax – to not attempt to squeeze every single opportunity from every single moment. I have learned to cherish those moments waiting in line because they are a few minutes that I can breathe, ponder, pray. I have learned that my friends, family, and the people I speak to on the phone deserve my full attention, not my half attention because I am too busy dusting my Muppets figures. And don’t even get me started on the “don’t listen to the news” thing. Get real. “Life is too depressing, so just focus on your own problems. Otherwise it might take you longer to do your hair.” Perhaps we are supposed to take moments, to feel emotion when we hear that a bridge has collapsed or that a hurricane has seriously caused pain and disruption in other people’s lives. Maybe that is more important, and more human, than getting out of the door on time.

Seriously, Oprah. You disappoint me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Nitty Gritty #2

Nitty Gritty #2 was meant to be an immediate sequel to Nitty Gritty #1. But then I had a hospital visit, which could not be ignored. So this is a continuation of Nitty Gritty 1.


I have tried about 3 different beginnings to this post, but don’t seem to know how to communicate what I would like to communicate to you. It is at this time where I lament not being a Star Trek Betazoid, because then you would know exactly what I mean without me needing to bumble through it.

But I’ll do my best.

Risk is important. This is the conclusion I have come to in the last few months. Risk is essential to a healthy faith. By Risk I don’t mean jumping off of buildings or eating week-old Chinese food. I mean, essentially, putting faith into action by doing something wild, crazy, and uncomfortably Godly.

Risk is, essentially, faith put into action. If faith is the reality of things not seen, faith in action means doing things according to the unseen. That means loving somebody who is gross, because you see the unseen beauty in him or her. That means talking to that crazy dude on the bus because you have faith that there is a huge amount of Christ in that person. That means making a crazy decision which makes entirely no sense to anybody but you and God – giving away your car to a family who needs it, letting a stranger move in with you simply because he or she needs a place to stay. Quitting your job so that you can have more time to feed your spiritual life.

I think one of the biggest things I miss about Waves of Grace Church is that there were a bunch of people who really, honestly believed that miracles could and did happen. That God works in ways which seemed totally looney. Together, we would support each other in listening to those crazy Godly urges to do crazy Godly things. And really cool amazing things happened. I really believe that it is because we put our faith into action, and took risks which seemed utterly insane to others . . . and to us!

There is nothing more terrifying, or more fun, than stepping out, doing something that you know doesn’t make sense, but you are following that inner yearning, the inner voice, to carry out God’s will. That’s golden. And that’s how I grow. It’s a great way to be challenged, to allow God to do wild and crazy and fun and beautiful things in my life and in the lives of other’s around me. I need to remember to not always play it safe. Some friends and I are considering moving into the north end. I must admit that in many ways that really scares me. I’m not sure if I will feel completely safe. It’s definitely a risk. But perhaps it is time for me to stand and discover my prejudices, to take a risk, to move into a new community, and have the opportunity for Christ to change me through that community, and that community through me. Amazing things could happen, and if the door opens I want to seize that opportunity. . I have no real valid reason for not wanting to live in the North End besides my own potential discomfort. Discomfort is one of the worst reasons that I can think of for not doing something.

I am not suggesting that we all jump into the bear’s cage at the Assiniboine Zoo or anything. That’s just dumb. But I do urge you to, when you have a wacky urging or opportunity, to really explore it. Is this something God is urging you to do? Does this have potential to create great character development for yourself or others? Don’t just shrug it off – this just might be your ark moment. I’m sure Noah questioned his sanity for awhile, as everyone else questioned him. But he took a risk – and great things happened.

Faith without works is dead. Likewise, faith without risk is irrelevant.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

musings from a hospital bed

Well, actually, it was a gurney.

Well, actually, I was barely coherent. So most of my musings were spent while recuperating the day after.

On Monday I was admitted to the emergency ward when I became violently ill. Everything turned out ok – it turned to be a severe migraine. But due to the severity of it, and possibility of it being some sort of brain aneurysm or tumor or something, they did lots of tests on me including a catscan and blood tests.

It was a very intense yet surreal experience, and here are some things that I have been thinking about connected to it.

1. It seems a very surreal and cosmic thing to watch a doctor stand in front of you holding an envelope which literally contains your future. The contents of that envelope could have been devastating. The reality that my life just might change quite dramatically was very real to me, yet I was somewhat calm about it. It seemed like a weird dream. Life is a journey. My journey, at least at this moment, includes an envelope with happy contents. Some would say I was lucky, but I think that luck demeans the significance of the situation to those individuals, some of whom I know, who walk out of rooms like that with different envelope contents. Who walk out of that room with a life entirely different than the one they came in with. I don’t feel lucky. I feel human. And I feel thankful.

2. During those moments, lying there, waiting for whatever was going to happen, I was somewhat relieved that I did not have a spouse or children who depend on me. With my guilt-prone personality, I was glad that I did not feel that I would need to deal with feeling that I left people whose lives depended on me. This is obviously a touchy situation, and has its own challenges and joys in different ways and at different times in life. Relief is not exactly normally what I feel when I think of my generally solitary life. But it seems strange that at that moment I was thankful to be alone with no dependents. I don’t know what this means. But it is very real to me, nonetheless.

3. Regardless of the implications of #2, I am blessed with amazing people. I was not alone since I became sick. Family, friends, parents. Even a baby offered me great comfort and love. I am often overwhelmed and quizzical about my number of facebook friends. I don’t quite get it – I assume it has much to do with my sparkling manic-depressive personality. But there are wonderful people in my life who I know will stick by me like glue through bad times . . . and good times. And that is golden. I randomly was listening to this healing CD on my way to West Hawk Lake this weekend, and on it the guy said “If you are healthy, you might not have everything. But if you are sick, and you have somebody who cares for you, then you have everything.” That’s real to me, too. Relationships are so much of what this life is about. Relationships with each other, relationship with God. I am more and more convinced that relationships are what life REALLY is about. And I think I’ve got lots of them. Lots of quality ones, too. And I feel blessed with that.

My body is tired. And my hand still hurts from having the IV in it. But otherwise I feel good. And a bit more focused on what matters. And a bit more quizzical about this whole experience. And a bit more frightened of what set this off. But overall I feel blessed – about my life, about my friends and family.

Ummm…that’s all.

Monday, August 06, 2007

enough of pictures; back to the nitty gritty

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." -Heb 11:1

To be perfectly honest, the colossal implications of a "saving" faith has never quite sat right with me. Not that I deny the existence of it - I find the concept of faith to be a very beautiful, very inspiring thing. What really has always seemed strange to me is that Faith seems to take precedence over the incredible work and power of Christ.

Faith is a powerful thing, and I have been coming to realize this in the last few years. What really freaks me out is that we are saved through faith in Christ, not merely through the work of Christ himself. This is a powerful distinction. As if the work of Christ on the cross wasn't enough, there is something extra which is needed. It is incredible to me that Christ carried out the ultimate sacrifice - that thousands of years of history accumulated into a single moment in time which is so significant for me and for everybody else that I know, that there was such a master plan in the works being so carefully unfolded, that this great, amazing thing happened - death was conquered, my redemption and the redemption of countless others was carried out. And that, even though all of this incredible mind-blowing things happened, they really add up to nothing if I choose not to believe in it.

Why does the work of Christ become nullified in my life only because I choose not to believe in it?*

It is something that I have been pondering for awhile. I don't have many good answers. But my pondering on this subject has opened up a new beauty and appreciation which I have for the subject of and implications of faith.

Faith is such a powerful thing. On numerous occassions, Jesus credits his ability to perform miracles to the faith of the individal (Luke 7:50, Luke 17:19, etc.). It blows me away that Christ becomes literally powerless in situations due to the lack of faith of those around him (Mark 6:5). It seems wrong that such a small insignificant detail would disarm the Son of God.

But these verses show that something significant and somewhat unseen is happening here. There is something very significant and very powerful about faith. Faith can move mountains (Matthew 17:20). Faith can heal (Matthew 9:22). And, perhaps most importantly, faith can save (Luke 7:50).

That's cool. But I still don't get it. :-)

*these two sentences are, obviously, very simplified statements whose ramifications could be argued against very intelligently. "Nullify" could be considered a bit erronnous and dramatic. But, for the sake of simplicity and ease-of-reading, I have worded it this way in order to exemplify my main point - the power of the cross is at least significantly disabled in a context where faith is absent.

Monday, July 30, 2007

New York. New York was a blast. I didn't really have much time to look around for fun - most of my time was spent in meetings. But my biggest impressions can be found in the pictures, as well as in point form below:

1. New York stinks. Like garbage and urine. And lots of both. It is literally inescapable.

2. I was evangelized about 28 times in my 3 days. Mostly by slightly frightening hellfire folks. But I appreciated their intentions.

3. There is a weird sense of community in New York. And also a strange understanding of social rules. People look out for each other, generally. But don't EVER stop moving on the sidewalk, or you'll be told numerous nasty things. And for heaven's sake, when you walk into a cafe, don't think. Just order, or you'll be yelled at by angry service people.

4. The NY Skyline:

5. My mother will be happy to know that, even when she wins the lottery, she will still have bargain options.

6. The World Trade Centre - not an experience I am comfortable with sharing over electronic means. But I thought you would want to see a picture. Notice the hoards of tourists.

7. Much of the hip-happening parts of NY reminded me of Las Vegas. Here are some pictures of Times Square. Notice the sea of yellow taxis. There were signs everywhere which threatened a $350 fine for honking, but people didn't really care. I got honked at lots, mostly due to my laid-back Winnipeg pedestrian attitude. My bad.

8. People told me that there would be lots of police in NY. But they didn't tell me that lots of them rode around in golf carts. That, my friend, is funny.

9. I stayed in a hostel in Greenwich. There are lots of front steps in this area of NY, just like in the movies. And people sit on them and smoke and talk, just like in the movies.
The red sign below is a sign that was posted in my hostel.

10. New York Harbour! Very pretty in the morning. Also a picture with me with The Brooklyn Bridge. I think my Dad is most jealous of this experience.

11. The statue of liberty. Pretty anticlimactic. You can barely see her. You can take a boat tour closer, but security is tighter than it is in the New York airport. Not too worth it, I think.
12. Even though I promised my Mom I wouldn't go to Central Park for fear of being accosted or mugged, my friend from Cleveland and I braved it. And so glad we did! Beautiful park in the middle of the city. We didn't even get hit on, never mind mugged. Stupid NY.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


In June I also got to go to a conference in Saskatoon. I was actually very impressed with Saskatoon – it is a very beautiful city. People are great, great relaxing atmosphere. My only complaint is that it is a bit *boring* Seriously, the malls all closed at 6 everyday (except for “Saskatoon Party Wednesdays” where they stayed open until 9).

University of Saskatchewan is the COOLEST campus I’ve ever experienced. So beautiful – such distinct, consistent old buildings. Great pride in how things look, great signage. Awesome displays of old dinosaurs and cool things to see. UofW and UofM should take some lessons.

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting up with my friend, former co-worker, and bunny hug lover Brenda. She showed me the serious Saskatoon underground, including a mean carrot cake and some very spicy coffee drinks.

The best part of Saskatoon is this walking bridge they have – it’s actually a train bridge! We waited and waited and finally a train came! It was so cool. Brenda almost lost her arm, and I think I would have been legally responsible, since I dared her to touch the rushing train. It is so dangerous, so fun, and so cool to be so close to a fast-going train! It actually stopped on the track for a bit and I touched it. Yep. Didn’t even get arrested, though I think Brenda saw the side of me that is absolutely terrified of breaking the law.
Way to go, Saskatoon. You impressed me. That hasn’t happened since I discovered the wonder that is Albert St. Burgers.

Pics of the U of S Campus:

This is where the U of S President gets to live. Jealous, Lloyd?

Random Saskatoon Funness.

Train Bridge! Freaking yeah!

Monday, July 16, 2007


The day after I got back from Alaska, I flew out to Calgary for a conference and to hang out with some friends. Odie joined me after my conference, and we spent a few days in Calgary just hanging out.

What’s the best part about Calgary? Karilynn and Christopher, definitely. I’m not a big fan of Calgary – I find it largely lacking of character and a bit too focused on money, cows, and oil. But the people are stellar, and we had some good times.
Karilynn (Odie's Sister) and Christopher, Transformers addict.

we really liked Kari's new bike.
i am hot.
odie in front of an old house, which i can't remember the name of. super old and pretty, though.

this was my favorite Calgary site. It was in an elementary school gym. I don't know this guy personally, but I think he is about to have a very bad day.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Potter Party!

Harry Potter PartyFriday July 20, 2007 10:00pm
McNally Robinson Booksellers presentsHarry Potter, The Final ChapterParty in the ParkFriday, July 20th10:00 p.m. - MidnightAssiniboine Park Conservatory and adjacent fieldsDarkness will prevail. BYOF (Bring Your Own Flashlight)Rain, glow or moonbeam.Books available for voucher holders, promptly at midnight at distribution points posted on the map.
Forbidden Follies
The Forbidden Forest will come alive inside the Assiniboine Park Conservatory. Amidst the dark and haunting flora of the Palm House, find creatures of the Forbidden Forest peeking out of decayed and petrified trees, nestled in ancient burrows and hanging from musty moss-filled works of nature. Carefully meander along the forest floor as Dumbledore directs your night-dreams, Mrs. Weasley consoles, Hagrid encourages, Mad Eye Moody glares, Professor Sprout skillfully plants screaming mandrakes, and Filch admonishes you. Wee ones may find this exhibit frightful.
Diagon Alley
Stroll through the shops of Diagon Alley inside the Conservatory. Bring along a few sickles, galleons and knuts if you want to take home small mementos. Wizardly items, creepy creatures, wavering wands, and Harry Potter books will line the store shelves of Flourish & Blotts, Eeylops Owl Emporium and Ollivanders Fine Wands. Gringotts Bank will be nearby for last minute Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows voucher purchases.
Magical Magniloquence
Hogwarts students eagerly await the return of visiting professor, Wizard Woodwarden, better known to muggles as Magician Mike Bayer. Rumoured to be performing free fifteen minute shows commencing at 10:00 p.m. muggles are encouraged to use their pocket sneakoscopes to peer into the Wizard’s temporary shelter. Look for the big white tent located outside the Conservatory. Suitable for all ages of Hogwarts students. You’ll learn all about the dark arts, apparating, and scornful curses but remember that laughter is the key to repelling those Boggarts.
Madcap Mayhem & Music
Madcap musician Mr. Mark will entertain Hogwarts students in desperate need of frivolity between their N.E.W.T. studies. Mr. Mark will be performing in one of the field tents commencing at 10:20, 11:00 and 11:40 p.m. Accompanied by an odd and unusual assortment of percussion instruments, Mr. Mark inspires even the most rhythmically-challenged student. Expect a lively interactive show of toe-tapping, wand-waving and spell-binding jocularity.
Consolation and Comfort
Madam Pomfrey will be on hand to dispense first aid to all those in need. Bearing bandages and balms, Nurse Pomfrey will banish all the boo-boos and instill bravery in students fearful of He Who Must Not Be Named. Located in the Consolation and Comfort Infirmary, Nurse Pomfrey will be aided by the very competent crew and volunteers from St. John’s Ambulance. This is also the spot for lost kids to meet up with their harried parents. Check the map before the event for this important meeting spot located on the fields adjacent to the Conservatory. Professor Ludicrous Loquacious (aka Ron Robinson, a close friend of the Weasley brothers) will drop in from time to time to console lost souls with the odd bad joke. Professor Loquacious will also bring his questionable humour and levity to crowds throughout the party grounds.
Divine Divination
Professor Sibyll Trelawney will bring her fortune-telling and divination experience to the students of Hogwarts. The bespectacled and sometimes reclusive Trelawney will be found in her canvas lodging on the grounds across from the Conservatory. Her flair for the astrological, combined with her clairvoyant tendencies will bring good fortune to all students willing to gaze into her crystal ball. Professor Trelawney has donated her services for the evening to ensure that disadvantaged mudbloods can receive positively psychic predictions and prophecies.
Mellisonant & Melodious
The Ministry of Magic has commissioned medieval and celtic musicians Comhaltas Winnipeg to wander the alleys and streets of Hogsmeade to quell the fears of local residents about a possible re-emergence of “He Who Must Not Be Named”. The lyrical solace of the strolling minstrels will be appreciated by all Hogwarts students and their guardians. Costumed in the latest ensemble from Madam Malkin’s boutique, they will also perform on-stage at 10:00, 10:40, and 11:20 p.m. playing medieval and celtic concert winds and strings, the Irish Bodhran Drum and penny whistles. Paul and Susan Hammer will be joined by a fiddling sensation at each show to add levity and lightness to this otherwise dark and murky evening.
Magical Creatures
Owls, rats, snakes and spiders have found a temporary home on the fields adjacent to the Assiniboine Park Conservatory. Wizard Strix Nebulosa of the Zoological Society of Manitoba will be bringing his friends from the Manitoba Wildlife Rehabilitation Organization to teach classes in the Care of Magical Creatures. The parselmouth wizard will recite the responsibilities that accompany caring for creatures from the Forbidden Forest.
Starry, Starry Night
The dark and shadowy grounds of Assiniboine Park, close to the cricket pavilion, will offer special classes in Astronomy. Professor Sibyll Trelawney predicts the celestial skies over the park will give Hogwarts students a first-hand opportunity to view the stars through the telescopes of the Manitoba Museum’s Planetarium. Professor Stellar Astronimus and his colleagues will impart all of the important information necessary to pass the fifth year Astronomy O.W.L.
Appearances by the Dragon Dancers, fire dancer Ignatio Firenzo and juggler No Strings Attached will entertain the wizards, witches,and muggles of Hogsmeade as they rove through the village and Conservatory area. Thanks to the efforts of the Ching-Wu Athletic Club, Dave Corby and Myron Pauls, party-goers can expect to be mystically entranced by their transcendent efforts.
Back to July events

Monday, July 09, 2007

Alaska Diary - final day.

Our last day. :-(

Let me take you step by step through what we did

1. Woke up. Freaking early.

2. Ate Breakfast.

3. mom's too paranoid to let strangers touch her luggage, so we drag it off the boat ourselves.

4. Go through customs. No problem.

5. We're cheap. And smart. And figure out that if we rent a limo we would actually save money and not have to sit on a shuttlebus with 40 old people. So we ride in style!

I'm sad to be going home.

My 2 seals were stuffed in my backpack, so i let them out for a bit of fresh air.

So we got to the Vancouver airport about 6 hours before our plane was to leave. We couldn't really do any sightseeing since we had enormous amounts of luggage. So we just sat around and tried to amuse ourselves.

Jan tried to show off her butterfly eyebrows . . . squit and concentrate and you might be able to see them.

I, on the other hand, took this opportunity to practice my camera smile.

After a loooonnnng airport day, we made it home!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Alaska Day 7 - i'm too lazy to rotate my picture

So, even though we aren’t going to anymore ports or anything, there are still numerous adventures all over the ship.

First of all, let me share a little snippet of our on-ship itinerary options with you:

Bridge Play with your fellow guests
Sailaway Music with the Sun Show Band
Art Lecture
Color me Beautiful Seminar
“The Glaciers of Alaska” lecture
Board Games with your fellow guests
Pilates class
“How to buy the best mutual fund”
Amber seminar and sale
Eat more to weigh less seminar
Afternoon Trivia
Enjoy the Music of the Brothers and friends Trio

And that’s only between noon and 5 pm. There is ALWAYS something to do. The casino, bingo, scavenger hunts, bands, crafts, movies, shows, 70’s dance parties, seminars, entertainment. You’re definitely never bored.

There are also 10 different restaurants on board. We were treated really well. Throughout the week I ate dishes such as filet mignon, new york strip steak, lobster tail, some fancy fish, etc. And everything was so excellent. Always good desserts, it was very fun to feel so pampered.

Did I mention that everyday our room steward comes to our room twice – once to make up the beds for the day and again in the evening to get the beds ready for bedtime? We are way too pampered here. Plus, my favorite part, at night they leave a towel on our bed folded as a animal of some sort. Isn’t that awesome?

Today we got to go on a ship-wide scavenger hunt which actually turned out to be one of the funnest parts of the trip. We were ripping around the ship trying to get signatures, tokens, and answers to questions before the time ran out. We did pretty good and got 2nd place! Below you can find a picture of me modelling our stellar prizes:

Also, today my family has developed a taste for Karaoke. My mom and my aunt stole the show and sang like 4 songs. This wasn't hard since there was about 4 more people listening in the audience. I went up with Lisa and Jan, both whom kindly kept their mouths as far away from the mike as possible so that it was only me that everybody could hear. Thanks, guys. Thankfully there were only 4 people listening.

We met up with these 2 other girls our age for dancing in Dazzles Disco a few times. They are cousins from Montreal and Ottawa. They are pretty dissapointed that there's like 7 of us on board under the age of 40. I think maybe they were wanting to hook up with some single guys, but there are slim pickings on this boat, for sure.

Finally, I got chosen to be one of the participants in “The Weakest Link.” Seriously, my worst nightmare – I got voted off first. Perhaps the other ladies were just concerned that I was the prettiest and they wanted me off the stage. But it probably has to do more with the fact that I answered every single question wrong. Who was the dictator of the Philippines? Seriously. Am I supposed to know every single oppressor in the world? I’m not quite that good.
I couldn’t remember anyone’s name so I relied on an arrow to try to vote out the guy beside me. It didn’t work.