Friday, January 29, 2010

Favorite Things

So I'm going to poach an idea of my friend Suzi's blog.

Favorite Things Friday

Every Friday I'm going to post 3 of my favorite things.

Things that make me smile.

Things that I like so much I want to share them.

Playing Hockey
It's what I look forward to all week. Sunday nights, Wednesday mornings, and (occasionally) Friday mornings. It's my escape from the daily grind, and it's exercise!

Maybe because I never got to play as a kid I still love playing like a kid does. I have some friend's that played at high levels, and now they don't like it nearly as much as they used to. Maybe I'm lucky.

The Music Of Mat Kearney
I've been a fan of Mat since his first EP (maybe 6 or 7 years ago), and while his sound has changed in the past couple of years, my love for his music has remained strong.

Sure I wish he included some more of his spoken word style, but
City Of Black & White was still a killer album.

Crystal Summers
Seriously, she is the best thing to happen to me. I am so lucky to have an incredible wife that loves me so selflessly and puts up with a husband who she sees one day a week. She has the ability to make me laugh, put me in my place, or just forget about everything else that's going on and just enjoy life. She's so super-talented and can put a smile on my face with just a simple email.

AND she's my best friend.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Does anyone else find "iPad" to be a bit awkward of a name for Apple's newest technology?

Don't get me wrong, I think it looks pretty rad, but the name makes me kind of uncomfortable.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How Do They Know?

The last couple of days have been... well... crappy. You know the kind of days where you wish you hadn't woken up?

Yeah... like that.

So as I lie in bed, not wanting to "man-up" and get on with my day, I'm greeted by a 25-pound ball of wool that jumps up on the bed and starts to lick my face.

Snax is so happy I'm awake.

She runs out and grabs her squeaky ball and drops it on my chest. I throw it out of the room and she takes off after it. Not 10 seconds later, she's back with the ball in her mouth, begging me to throw it again.

We play for a little while and then I head downstairs and make breakfast.

Snax stays by my feet, waiting patiently, hoping I drop some cheese on the floor for her. I don't. We then move to the computer room where I check email and she curls up on my feet, letting me know she's there and wants to be with me.

How did she know I was sad? How did she know I needed some "puppy kisses" to motivate me to get out of bed? How is she able to make me forget about the stuff that's weighing me down? How is she able to pull the "old AJ" out, when we thought he died a long time ago?

I never understood "dog people", and the weird connection they had with their pets... Now I think I might be one of them.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hack Photography

I wish I was a better photographer. I love photography, and bought myself a pretty good camera a couple years ago to support my hobby. But no matter how good your equipment is, if you lack the skills/talent your photos will still look amateurish. (My sister takes some amazing shots with her little point-n-shoot)

In my travels across the interweb I found some sweet photos that use HDR (High Dynamic Range) Photography. Well today I decided I wanted to learn how to do it. So I toured around some websites that gave you a step-by-step instruction guide. So I went outside and tried it.

Not nearly as cool as others I found online.

So, like with the sweet camera, it takes talent to make a photo truly amazing. So I continue to read, practise and try to hone my photography craft. Practise makes perfect right?


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Small Town Livin'

Today was the kind of day you'd want to spend at Blue Mountain. Bluebird all the way. Sunny, temps around the freezing mark, hardly any wind... pretty much perfection. Since I don't have a season's pass to Blue, that was not an option for me. But one such a perfect day, I wanted to get out and enjoy it.

So I got dressed and took the dog out for a walk. I knew our subdivision was close to the Nottawasaga river, so I ventured out determined to find the water. It took about 5 minutes to reach my destination. I found the river, frozen, and decided we'd take a walk along our icy trail.

I wish I had brought my camera, because it was other-worldly. No noise, fresh snow on the ground, the crisp air filling my lungs. It was magic.

I did manage to snap some pictures with my cell phone, see them below.

5 Reasons I Love Living Outside The City
1 - I can let the dog off the leash and let her run around. (And she has room to run!)
2 - I can see stars at night. LOTS of them!
3 - I come home and it's like a mini-retreat from work. Time to recharge and relax.
4 - The snow is still white. (Even though I live in a construction zone, a 5 minute walk and it's nature all around)
5 - That small town feel. All the stores are on one street, people are friendly, people drive their snowmobiles to the gas stations.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Impressed Once Again

Switchfoot has become one of my top 3 favorite bands. They held a similar spot a couple years ago, when Beautiful Letdown was all the rage. BUT, a couple lack-luster albums later and they were dropped from my top 5.

In the past year Jon Foreman and friends have seen their stock rise in my opinion, not because of great work, but rather my encounters with them. (Granted Hello Hurricane is a GREAT album, but that's not the sole reason) I've had to opportunity to interview Switchfoot a couple times and each time they have been so nice. They could brush me off and treat me like work (l;ike many bands do) but they don't. They went out of their way to say "hi" when we drove to Michigan to see them play with Relient K, and each interview on the phone has been amazing.

So Jon, Tim, Chad, Drew and Jerome... Thanks for being so classy!

You can hear my conversation with Tim Foreman HERE.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

All Star Encore

To Write Love On Her Arms hosted an event last Saturday that I think every music fan would have wanted to be at. Heavy & Light saw a collection of super talented musicians like Bryce Avery (Rocket Summer), Mat Kearney, Stephen Christian (Anberlin) and Aaron Gillespie (Underoath) among many others perform at a fundraising concert for TWLOHA.

Watch this video and smile.

HEAVY AND LIGHT 2010 Encore. from To Write Love on Her Arms. on Vimeo.

Cage Of Responsibility

As I scrolled through my Google Reader today I'd say about 80% of the posts had to do with the Haiti earthquake. Most had links to the Red Cross, Compassion International or Doctors Without Borders. While these are great ways to help out and give to the rebuilding of life in Haiti, I can't bring myself to do it.

It sucks.

I gave a small amount, more out of obligation than anything. But I feel like it's not enough. I feel like God wants us to do more than write a cheque. I could give a million dollars and still feel the same way. Maybe it's our North American culture, where we pull out the check-book when someone is in need. Like if we give some money, that gets us off the hook.

If I had a million dollars, I think I would rather spend it on airfare, accommodations and supplies, and send a group of people to Haiti to help. Those people would interact with the Haitians, build relationships, and be there to be a tangible evidence of what Jesus was all about. And not only would they have the opportunity to see God move in the lives of the victims of the earthquake, but God would also do some work on them too. You'd change 2 lives for the "price" of one. Ya see what I mean?

I can't just write a cheque, or pack up some clothes and ship them off. I want to be there. I want to get my hands dirty. I want to be broken by the tragedy. I want to weep with the mom who lost her 2 children. I want to tell the kid who lost his family and friends and feels totally abandoned that there is a God who loves him infinitely more than he can imagine and will not abandon him.

I want so badly to go, but I find myself in the Cage Of Responsibility, and can't get out.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haircut Anxiety

I got my haircut yesterday, and (as usual) it was a tense time for me. You see I've been searching for a hairdresser for the past year or so. (Ever since the place I was going jacked up their price).

I got a gift certificate at Christmas for a salon in the mall, and though I had walked by countless times, I never thought of going in. But free is the right price, so I decided to give it a shot.

I arrived a couple minutes early and found the receptionist with her nose in a Stephen King novel.

"[cough] excuse me, I'm here for my 4:30 with April."
"Yup, can I get your coat?"
She takes my hoodie, opens the closet doors and hangs it up between a what looks like an animal pelt and a snowboard jacket.

I turn around and try to guess which one of the chain-smoking cougars is "April." I'm starting to feel a little uneasy about my choice. The receptionist leads me to the back where April, (a pretty, mid-thirties blonde) greets me with a smile.

I let out a relieved sigh, happy that my female hairdresser does not have a deeper voice than I do, and she looks "normal".

April washes my hair and leads me back to the front where we talk about work, family and how I like working at a Christian radio station.
(Apparently she used to listen when the french guy was on)
20 minutes later I emerge with significantly less air, and a haircut I'm not upset with.
***Side Note: I never like my hair right after it's cut.***

Overall, a good experience. Will I go back? Probably. Until they jack up their prices.

Anyone else experience similar haircut anxiety? I fear I'll end up looking like this guy.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Nerd Alert!

Ever wonder how weather in your city compares with the weather in various locales from Star Wars?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Decade Resolutions

A new decade is upon us, and seeing as how I've never been one for New Year's Resolutions, I'm going to give you 25, (25? Yes 25!) New Decade Resolutions. 25 things I hope to accomplish before 2020.
  1. Take Crystal to Hawaii
  2. Build my "man-cave" in the basement
  3. Buy a Toyota Tacoma (my dream car)
  4. Go whitewater rafting
  5. See the republic put down roots and establish a permanent location
  6. Have a son
  7. Become more involved in student ministry at my church
  8. Spend New Years Eve in another country
  9. Rent an RV and drive across Canada
  10. Read one book that goes against everything I believe
  11. Go bungee jumping
  12. Design a line of clothing
  13. Get a Macbook
  14. Go back to Estonia with Crystal
  15. Have the family Christmas at our house
  16. Write, produce and shoot a short film
  17. Learn to cook one meal really well
  18. Go on a missions trip
  19. Take a bible college course
  20. Start my own business
  21. Be able to give away 50% of what I make in a year
  22. Scuba dive
  23. Get a tattoo
  24. Volunteer at the Barrie Film Festival
  25. Do something totally selfless, expecting nothing in return

10 years ago I was in high school. Crazy to think how far I've come in 10 years, excited to dream about where I could be in another 10.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Watch Your Mouth

Some interesting conversation on the radio program tonight. It began with a simple question: "Have you seen Avatar? What did you think?"

It seems like everyone is talking about it. It's been a trending topic on Twitter for over a month, blog everywhere are raving about it, and it's the fastest movie to reach the $1 billion mark.

BUT does it live up to the hype?

The lifelines lit up with people anxious to give their opinion. Those who had seen it LOVED it. Some people aren't interested in the Sci-Fi genre and so they had zero desire to see it. A handful of people were upset we would even be talking about the movie, seeing as how Focus On The Family lambasted it in their review. (Language being one of their major gripes)

Which brings up an interesting question... What turns you off a movie?

Is it language?
Sex and nudity?
Maybe it's excessive violence?

I understand we need to be careful what we watch when it comes to movies (Phil 4:8), but I don't think we can expect someone who holds a different set of beliefs to make a film with Christian morals and values.

Maybe it's because I worked in a warehouse with some more "raw" coworkers throughout high school, but language doesn't really bother me. When you're dodging bullets in the Middle East, or when you lose your job, you'll probably drop the occasional f-bomb. In fact, I would expect some language in those situations.

I haven't actually heard much about the story in Avatar. Most people rave about the special effects, and how visually stunning the movie is. Some people mentioned similarities to Pocahontas or Dances With Wolves, but no one really raved about the story. (I do remember watching Dances With Wolves in school and our teacher fast forwarding through the sex scenes.)

How do you decide which movies are appropriate and which are not? Does the quality of the story have any bearing on your decision?

P.S. - Some fantastic movies are rated "R" (Shawshank Redemption, Good Will Hunting, Gladiator, The Passion Of The Christ, The Matrix and The Green Mile) so I don't think you can use the MPAA rating as a guide.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Another Decade Begins

Welcome to 2010. As we enter a new year, I'm giving you 5 predictions for the 12 months that follow.

1 - The Canadian Hockey team will fall short in the bid for Olympic Gold on home ice (Russia wins). BUT Canada will win it's first ever Gold on home soil (probably in a speed skating event)

2 - Skinny Jeans will no longer be the trend. So we will no longer have to shield our eyes from 200-pound musicians squeezing themselves into a pair of ladies size 2 stretch denim.

3 - Reading will become cool again, and poetry slams will explode in popularity.

4 - Rob Bell will start wearing brightly colored shirts.

5 - A troop of dancing Asian toddlers will become the biggest act of 2010