29 May 2011

Tough Crowd

Bible study night.
It's a small crowd today -- Youth Conference Edmonton is apparently still ongoing and of course all the popular kids are there. But the group that remains is mostly comprised of those I have fairly deep ties with. It's almost like the old days.
Toward the end, the leader explained a bit about the impending camping trip the group is going on. Even though she has previously made a rule that no non-Bible study members are allowed on the trip, she is breaking the rule.
From behind me JJ, ever quick, hollers "Stone her!" We all laugh.
But this is a worthwhile exception, she explains after the laughter has died down. This is her nephew, aged thirteen, whose home has burnt down, whose parents are going through a messy divorce, who has almost given up on life. This kid needs a getaway. She goes into a lot of other details, but that's the gist of it.
When she finally finishes reiterating she says, "So I think you understand why I'm breaking the rule."
She looks around the room. A few people give little nods. No objections... for a moment.
Then from behind me comes the cry again.
"Stone her!"

Good old JJ.

28 May 2011

What Happens To Dirt When You Drink Pepsi

There's no real point to this story, just me writing it down so one day, maybe two months, maybe six months, maybe a year or more from now, I can look back on it and smile...

Our church has been doing a serving-the-community thing for about six months now. Every Saturday morning, whoever shows up at the church before ten goes out to help people around the community. If no one's called during the week and asked for our help with something (usually yard work) we go pick up litter somewhere.
But today we were asked to help move a pile of dirt from someone's front yard to their back yard. So we went out there.
It was a small group today -- only Thomas, JJ, Mr D, Joshua, and myself.
The pile of dirt was fairly sizable -- more than half as tall as me and wider than that. But we had half a dozen shovels and about as many wheelbarrows, so we took it on pretty readily. After all, fourteen hands (counting the homeowner and his son-in-law) were still better than two.
So we dug in. Literally.
We worked for about an hour perhaps, maybe more... I didn't look at a clock. But by the time we stopped for a break the pile had visibly diminished and we'd only lost one wheelbarrow (blown out tire).
Our hosts graciously offered us some soft drinks -- Coke and Pepsi. The Pepsi was in the regular 491 ml cans, but the Coke cans were those new '100 calorie' ones -- smaller and shaped more like a tin can than the average pop can.
There were four Cokes, three Pepsis (one held by yours truly) around the circle in the garage. Joshua commented on the size and shape of the Coke cans (he was one of the Cokes) and JJ said "They're the new hundred calorie ones."
Mr D said "So I gotta drink two of them now?"
We laughed and JJ said "I guess so."
We finished our drinks and JJ, Joshua, Thomas and I started on the rest of the dirt pile while the others went out back to finish tamping it in place.
Shortly after we resumed shoveling I noticed the pile seemed much smaller now than it had been before we stopped. About the same time Joshua said, "Wow, there's not much left."
I said, "I know; it seems much smaller now than before the break."
"Ah, that's what sugar and caffeine does to you. Reenergises."
JJ laughed and said, "It's like in that movie Over The Hedge. You know that little guy -- Hammy; and he drinks that soda or whatever and everything slows way down."
"Oh yeah..."
"Just for us everything shrinks."
"Nice," Joshua said.
"Now imagine how much smaller it would be if those Cokes had been regular size," I said.
JJ laughed.

27 May 2011

Music Day

This song is very much off the beaten track of 'normalcy'. I mean, it was recorded in the late 1980s (and take into account who the artist is), but even so, this is a fair departure from 'conventional' arrangements (at least in the Christian music world).

It starts out with a light, airy flute alongside birds chirping. The flute gives way to the drum machine that carries the beat, simply and unobtrusively, through most of the rest of the song. The lyrics, however, are more serious than the birds or the inherent eighties dorkiness of the drum machine would suggest. Therein lies the genius of the song -- there is a whole plane of reality that we can't see; that we're barely aware of...

Title: A Witch's Invitation
Artist: Carman
Album: Revival In The Land
Year: 1989
Label: Benson Records
It's on iTunes and YouTube (check out his mailbox -- so hilariously dorky. Also notice how there conveniently happens to be a trash can on his yard).

26 May 2011

The Attack Of The College Jerk(s)

I've spent the better part of my life being ignored. One can get used to that after a while (albeit a long, long, long while in my case), but what's infuriating is when people can no longer settle for ignoring you and instead start to insult you every second chance they get, ripping out every thread of happiness you've ever had, slowly, methodically, steadily.
As if it couldn't get any worse they spend the other half of their time with you (notice I said 'every second chance' in the preceding paragraph) being quite decent friends. Not bosom buddies or anything of that sort, but fairly open and friendly-like. They probably wouldn't defend you if a robber were to get his hands on you, but they listen and they have no problem conversing with you.
Luckily, most of the worst offenders in my life are now going to college. Even better, all of the worst are going fairly far abroad -- far enough that they only return for Christmas break and then they're too caught up with family things and the few people they've somehow managed to retain as friends to bother looking for me and insulting me.
The problem is, in April they all come back for the summer and stay until September. There's three of them, although two of them seem to have really mellowed out as of late.
The third one, however -- let's call him RJ -- seems to grow more and more irritated with me every time he sees me.
This probably wouldn't bother me so much if I wasn't so close to his mother and younger brother.
I can tell when he's returned from college even before he says anything on Facebook. His mother's whole attitude toward me changes when his return is drawing near. She stops talking to me, gradually distances herself; giving only vague excuses for it that mostly place the blame on her chronic illness.
I realise he's her son and she loves him more than me and wants to spend time with him, but honestly, must our friendship go through this roller coaster based on her son's location? It's not that she and I spend that much time physically together anyway, most of our contact is through e-mail.
Something just occurred to me.
So many people who know both him and me -- and there's quite a few, seeing as we attend the same church -- have said that RJ and I are very, very alike (in personality that is, not appearance). I've seen it too. His mother comments on it almost every time she sees me -- how I remind her of RJ.
So is this it then? Am I just a replacement for RJ while he's gone off to college? When he's here, is that reason enough for her to ignore me because now she has the 'real thing' living in her house again?
Or has RJ 'brainwashed' her (for lack of a better word)? Does he exercise such subliminal power even over his own mother that she has nothing to do with me as per his (possibly unspoken) wishes?
Or am I just a conspiracy theorist?

24 May 2011


Sometimes I think I take this whole blogging thing too seriously.
I have no idea what to blog about because they say an ideal blog has a fairly definite focus. I know of some excellent blogs which don't have that, but it's still easier to post something if you have some idea of what you're expected to post. There are some things you can't really blend together and my interests are all of those.
In addition, I'm having this creepy feeling that I'm losing my best posts before the ideas are even half-formed because my internal censor thinks they're not worthy of a blog post.
I could fall back on the old sarcastic approach to life, but that's gotten me into some very deep trouble too many times. I've lost a lot of friends as a result of the same scenario: I say something which I thought was very clearly sarcasm; they take offense and never speak to me again for the rest of their living days.
So I am left with memories of good times and people-watching. At least until I start touring with my future potential dance troupe/band and become famous.
However, in the meantime there might be something in writing down my childhood memories and my observations in people-watching...
Any thoughts from my readers?

21 May 2011

The Free Alberta Highway

Two days ago I was driving on the Anthony Henday highway that goes around Edmonton. The purpose of this highway, I'm told, was so one could go from the south side to the north side in fifteen minutes. To the credit of whoever planned it, that is generally the case.

Unfortunately, even though the highway has only been in heavy use for like three years, they have already decided that rather than fill in the moonscape that is 50th Street, they must do their construction on the almost butter-smooth Anthony Henday.

I'm here to tell you few things are more frustrating than sitting in an endless string of traffic going exactly six kilometres an hour for a good half hour (at least). Those orange construction signs line the roads, telling the traffic to condense into one lane but when nothing materialises in the cleared-out lane, the impatients pull out and zoom ahead -- only to finally reach a physical barricade a kilometre later and have to merge back into the lane they just left. Which makes the lane insanely slow for those of us already in it because these idiots keep sticking their hood ornaments in our way so we can't just suck up to each other's bumpers and keep the impatient blockheads out.

So they merge in and we continue. Beads on a string, being slowly added at one end and pushed along a thread, no hope of escape.

Finally, after almost half the highway, we see evidence that the construction signs might actually be telling the truth -- there's a pair of highway maintenance trucks.

As we pass it we see... two men, one holding a shovel.

That's it.

I have been delayed for a half hour because of two men and one shovel.

20 May 2011

Music Day

I know next to nothing about this band. They've been around for years, but something about their sound grates on me (made worse by being grossly overplayed on the radio), so I don't listen to them a lot. I think this is the only song of theirs I like. This is probably also one of the most well-known/popular songs that I like.

Title: God Of Wonders
Artist: Third Day
Album: Offerings II: All I Have To Give
Year: 2003
It's on iTunes here and YouTube here.

15 May 2011

Only A Stupid Person

Only a stupid person would forget that the other 99.99999% of the world's population do not differentiate between 'are you willing to do this if you have to?' and 'do you actually want to do this?'
Only a stupid person would assume that the half-raised hand means maybe when apparently it obviously means yes.
Only a stupid person would stand there gaping like a fish with no rebuttal as her words are twisted back to her to make it sound like she was lying.
Only a stupid person would be so terrified of disappointing a 'friend' that she doesn't say what she truly wants even though what she truly wants shouldn't offend the 'friend' at all.
Only a stupid person would still trust the person who twisted her words into lies and all but yelled at her for 'deceiving' her.
Only a stupid person would not have said no the very bloody instant doubts began to surface.
Only a stupid person would think the confusion and double-talk would simply blow over.
Only a stupid person would believe the 'friend's' implied claim that she was a liar.
Only a stupid person would assume so much.
Only a stupid person wouldn't think to explain herself more clearly.
Only a stupid person would act as if others are supposed to read her mind.
And only a truly stupid person would still want to believe that there is still something in this world for her.

14 May 2011

Music Day

I'm pretty sure this is also a newcomer to the iTunes Store. We had it on cassette (before I discovered how to import them into the computer), but it wasn't on iTunes and I wound up special-ordering it on CD from a Christian bookstore an hour and a half away (in case you haven't noticed, music nerds tend towards desperation. Especially when nostalgia is involved). I paid far less than thirty dollars though.
Anyway, nostalgia is a big part of this album for me, and this song in particular. It's not anything spectacular, just one of those little moments in time that imprints itself into your brain for some unknown reason. My little moment for this one is in the parking lot of a fabric store. My mother, a seamstress, had gone inside to make a 'quick' purchase (although nothing was ever 'quick' at this particular store, even before taking my mother's love for the material into account) and my father and I remained in the car.
This tape had been playing the whole time, but I had barely noticed. However, I eventually got bored and tuned into the music, just at the end of the song preceding this one.
And then this song came through the speakers, its stripped-down synth opening. I loved the song immediately. The drama that built up as the song continued transfixed me.
All too soon it was over. I asked my father to rewind the tape and play it again. He did. I listened, trying to drink in every note. The song ended. I asked my father to rewind it again. He did, a little less willingly this time. I listened again, wrapped up in the drama of the synthesizers and the almost-haunting vocalisations. The song drew to a close again. Again I asked my father to rewind it. This time he refused, suggesting that I listen to the rest of the album now. After a bit of convincing, I agreed. But none of the songs that followed were quite as dramatic as that instrumental synth piece based on a supernatural thriller.

Title: Ashton
Artist: Michael W. Smith
Album: i 2 (EYE)
Year: 1988
Label: Reunion Records
It's on iTunes here; YouTube here (you may have to turn up your speakers, especially at the beginning).
The book it's based on is called This Present Darkness, by Frank Peretti. I've begun reading it, but I haven't finished. So far it seems pretty good though.

13 May 2011


Due to Blogger's 'issues' yesterday and the fact that I need to be leaving the house NOW, I may not be able to write today's Music Day post today. However, assuming Blogger doesn't run into any more trouble, it will be posted sometime tomorrow at the latest.
Thanks for your patience.

06 May 2011

Music Day

This band recently broke up, but in their seventeen or eighteen years together (something like that), they popularised quite a few songs that are sung pretty widely in churches today. Shout To The North; I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever; Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble? and others were either written by them or covered and brought to wider attention by them. This isn't one of those songs that typically gets sung in churches, although I think it would be great fun to sing in church.
This was one of my sister's favourite songs when we were younger. Every time we went out with our father to the workshop she would ask him to put on this CD and we would dance around any clear space we could find and sing along, although not very accurately. For almost a decade we were convinced that the song contained the line See his smiling overalls (rather than ...and see Him smiling over us).

Title: The Happy Song
Artist: Delirious?
Album: Cutting Edge
Year: 1997
Label: Furious? Records
Here it is on iTunes and here's a version on YouTube.

04 May 2011

The Great Misunderstanding

Why people think kids bring firearms to school...

Why kids really bring firearms to school...

To break into those stupid juice boxes.