Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Resilient Parasites

What’s the most resilient parasite? An Idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules.

Inception is a FANTASTIC movie. If you haven't seen it, you need to.

I recently read that there are 3 kinds of people in the world. The Dreamers (those with lots of ideas), The Doers (those who get the job done) and The Incrementalists (those who have ideas, then make them happen). Unfortunately I am a dreamer.

I have A TON of ideas. Ideas how to create environments for non-church people to encounter Jesus. Ideas how to create a work environment that inspires people to do great work. Ideas how to awaken the creative spirit God created us with. Ideas how to reach youth and young adults that ditch church as soon as they leave home. Ideas how to create a radio station that challenges Christians and attracts non-Christians. Lots of ideas.

I can give you a million ideas, but actually executing them is not my forte. Some of the ideas aren't feasible. Some of the ideas require more money than is available. Lots of the ideas get stashed away for "another day." I tend to dream too big.

But what about the ideas that can happen today? Those ideas that can be implemented now? It ain't gonna happen. Why not?

I'm not a doer.

It's not that I can't do it, it's that I don't. Why? I don't know. Maybe I'm lazy. (Although I've taken a couple tests that say I'm prone to being a workaholic) Maybe I have the ideas, but I'm not in a position where I can work on seeing them come to life? Maybe I need to wait.

I hate waiting.

Good thing ideas don't die.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mow 'Em Down - Update

I have been domesticated.

My birthday list, which used to include things like a bike, tv, or hoodies, now consists of exciting items like blinds, snowblower, landscaping and a lawn mower.

Not just any lawnmower, I wanted a push reel mower. No engine, no gas, no emissions. PLUS it actually cuts the grass better than your typical gas mower.

Well, I got my wish. My parents got me a reel mower for my birthday and I was SO happy. I took it home, assembled it and cut the grass the next day.

It was tough.

The grass had grown pretty long, so when I hit the long, dense grass it was some tough sluggin'. I was unsure how long I could keep this up. I actually put the reel mower away and brought out the electric mower I had borrowed to finish the backyard.

I probably would have done the front with the electric too, but I ran over the extension cord.

Since our rough first date, my reel mower and I have made up and I have cut all our grass with the reel mower three times. I love it. Not only is it good for the environment, it's a good workout for me, and I love how it makes the lawn look.
The Wonderdog gives manual reel mowers two thumbs up!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Quebec City - Day 4

Our final day in Quebec City began with another fantastic breakfast, followed by the packing (and repacking) of our suitcases before we checked out.  Our flight wasn't until the evening, so we left our bags with the hotel and went on one final quest to see a few final pieces of Quebec City.

We hadn't found the "cannonball tree" as Crystal called it, so we did a quick Google search and off we went.  It was right on the main drag, which I thought was kind of odd, considering the battlefield was a good 15-20 minute walk away.
After "cannonball tree" we marched on towards the Plains Of Abraham, the site of a famous battle in 1759.  I was expecting more statues, memorials or some sort of markings to commemoerate the battle.  We read online that the Mortello Towers were pretty cool to tour, but when we got there they were closed.
We were pretty hungry at this point, so we started to trek back into Vieux Quebec to pick up some souveniers for friends back home, and then grab some crepes for lunch.
We stopped off at the maple museum, picked up some maple candy and continued our cross-town walk to grab lunch.  When we arrived at the restaurant (voted to have the best crepes in town) we discovered they were closed on Mondays.  (As Steve Jones would say: "DRAT!")

So we ended up hiking back up and across old town, past the maple museum, to the other crepes restaurant.  They were good, but we were kind of annoyed at having to walk back across town to get them.

After lunch we walked back to the hotel and caught a cab for the airport, and our trip home.  The Quebec City airport didn't have a Porter lounge like Toronto did, so we sat in the row of chairs, (with no free food or coffee), and waited for our flight to board.

The flight home featured free dinner and drinks (we love Porter), and landed in Toronto without too much excitement.  Our 4 day getaway to Europe Quebec City was over.
Some Random Thoughts
- I heard a lot about how people in Quebec treat you badly if you are an anglophone, but we were treated so well, perhaps better than in English speaking Canada.
- I found myself actually thinking we were in Europe a number of times.  Loved it!
- I spoke Estonian at least 5 times, thinking the other person would understand me.
- Who wants/needs turn down service?  Seriously. 
- I liked walking to get around.  Had we been driving to a bunch of different destinations the trip would not have been nearly as enjoyable as it was.
- We walked around the Chateau Frontenac.  It's a lot nicer from the outside.  The inside is kind of boring.
- I hope Quebec never seperates.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Quebec City - Day 3

Day 3 got off to a later start. We took some extra time getting ready, went back for an extra round of breakfast and were in less of a rush.

We planned on finishing the walking tour that we had abandoned the day before, and our fist stop was the farmer's market. Crystal loves the market. She mentioned a couple times how she'd loved to have a permanent market like this in Barrie, so she could grocery shop there. From fruit & veggies, to wine to fresh pasta, the market was well-stocked and active.

After touring the market we headed to the St Roch district. This previously run-down, crime filled portion of the city has been restored thanks to some funding from the government. As you walk under the freeway and enter St Roch you are greeted with colourful frescos on the previously cold, grey concrete pillars.
We toured around St Roch for an hour or so, making stops at St Roch church, St Roch's garden and Benjo (a massive toy store with a TON of toys). Once we had conquered St Roch we took the free (we love free) elevator back up to upper town.

It was lunch time, so we went on the hunt for some Quebec poutine. The concierge at our hotel had told us to go to Chez Ashton if we wanted poutine.

She was a bit disgusted when we said we wanted some real poutine, instead directing us to a fancy Quebecois restaurant before we assured her we wanted to eat junk for lunch.

Chez Ashton was a fast food restaurant, not really what I expected, but we wanted poutine. Crystal ordered a regular poutine and I elected to go with the sausage poutine. The sausage turned out to be a boiled hot dog, but it was still quite tasty.

After lunch we entered Old Quebec and continued to explore. There was a performance happening in the square by the Chateau, but the elderly clown was less than captivating so we continued to walk along the cliff overlooking the St Lawrence.

It's amazing the size of the ships coming down the river, and the fact they don't hit the tiny sailboats that seem to be buzzing around the waters.

We headed back towards the square, and this time found a gymnast who would walk on his hands almost more naturally than on his feet.
We planned on an early dinner because we had to be back in Old Quebec by 8:00 for our walking tour, so we started to head down the stairs into Petit Champlain and towards our hotel. We stopped a couple times along the way to check out potential stops for our meal, and settled on Bistro Sous Le Fort, a small restaurant at the bottom of the funiculaire. We made our reservation and headed to the hotel for a change of clothes.

Dinner was very good. Crystal had a chicken dish that she claimed was her favourite meal so far. I wanted to try some authentic Quebecois food, so I ordered an elk burger. Pretty tasty. Grainier than a normal burger, but still very good. We polished off the last of our meal and made our way towards the Morrin Centre for our ghost walking tour.
TripAdvisor (& Jeff Brodie) recommended the ghost walking tour, and I thought it sounded like a fun way to see the city and learn about some of its history, so I booked it for Saturday night. I got an email once we had arrived in Quebec that Saturday night was not going to work, they had booked that night for a kids with cancer group. So we had to reschedule for Sunday night.

The tour was ok, not really what I had expected or read about, but it was kind of fun. Turns out, after some additional online research, that there are 2 companies running ghost tours, and we picked the wrong one. (Oops) We should have gone with this one instead of the one from the tourism office. It sounds like it's better in the summer when there are more characters, and it's more interactive.

Once the ghost tour was complete we took another walk around and snapped some more pictures. Our feet were pretty tired from 2 days of walking so we decided to call it a night and head back to our hotel.
Day 3 complete... Our final day comes at you tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Quebec City - Day 2

Day 2 started off with a free (we love free) breakfast at the hotel. Fresh croissants, yogurt, eggs and 5 different kinds of toast. (And some more lattes). Having done some research the night before, we planned on taking the self-guided walking tour and made our way to the tourism office to pick up the map.

There are companies that offer bus and walking tours, but we like to be independent. So off we went, with Crystal acting as the tour guide, reading the information for each stop.

We started off outside the walls of the old city, and made our way towards the Citadelle, an 18th century fort built by the British to keep the Americans out. It cost $10 to walk around the inside, so we walked along the top of the exterior walls.
It was a beautiful sunny day with temps near 20, I should have worn sunglasses. Instead I'm squinting like Mr Magoo.
Once we were back inside the walls the tour took us to Notre Dame de Quebec Basilica, but before we could get to the church we stumbled across a breakdancing crew in the park. These guys were funny, VERY personable and pretty talented. Nearly everyone who was watching ended up throwing some cash their way at the end of their performance.
After the breakdancing crew finished their show we walked across the street to Notre Dame de Quebec Basilica. Crystal informed me that it is the primate church of Canada and hosts the oldest parish in North America. I had no idea what that meant, but the inside was pretty spectacular. Crystal also said there are four bishops buried in the crypt, but we weren't allowed in there. (I felt awkward enough taking pictures while the woman beside me is weeping and praying.)
On the day we also visited another church (with some rather interesting stained glass), a chocolate museum, Artillery Park, the maple museum, a prison that is now a school, some more churches and the oldest grocery store in North America. It was a pretty solid day of walking.

We had dinner reservations so we cut the walking tour short, made it back to the hotel and got dressed up for our night out.

Finding a place to eat before arriving in Quebec was a difficult task. More places were a) too expensive, or b) only served pheasant, elk or some other exotic meat. I wanted something I knew Crystal would like, and elk is not a sure-fire hit.

I settled on Conti Caffé, just down the street from the Chateau. It had penne, risotto and chicken on the menu. I know Crystal likes those. So we made the hike back up the stairs to our dinner date.

We paid $4 to take the elevator up first thing in the morning. Not sure whose idea it was to take our one elevator trip up when our legs were fresh.

Crystal had the mushroom risotto, and I ordered the veal tenderloin wrapped in prosciutto and melted brie. Both were fantastic!

After dinner (meals seem to take longer in Quebec) we hiked back down the stairs and to our hotel. We were both exhausted, so another nighttime tour would have to wait.

Day #3 tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Quebec City - Day 1

The surprise worked! Crystal had no idea where we were going until we checked in at the airport. SUCCESS!

We flew Porter, so after dropping Snax off at my parents we made our way downtown. Porter was unlike any airline I had flown with before. From the moment we walked through the doors of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport the experience was relaxed, easy, and (dare I say) enjoyable. The lounge was filled with comfortable leather chairs, free wifi (a room filled with iMacs if you don't have a computer with you) and a FREE cafe.

Yes. F-R-E-E

Free lattes, pop, cookies and pastries. It was fantastic. (I think I had 4 or 5 lattes)

The flight was quick and relatively uneventful. We did receive complimentary drinks and snacks though.

Once we were on the ground in Quebec City we grabbed our bags and made our way over to the information desk to see what bus routes we needed to take to get to our hotel. The pleasant lady behind the counter informed us that the bus doesn't run from the airport after 5. (It was 5:30) The only way into town was by cab, so our $3 bus ride turned into a $35 cab ride.

We arrived at our hotel (very nice, more free lattes), got settled and went on the hunt for somewhere to eat dinner. We found a cafe in Petit Champlain and enjoyed a delicious dinner. After dinner we elected to walk around the city, and see the old town a little bit.

The Price Building

Tourny Fountain & Quebec Parliament

Chateau Frontenac

Notre Dame de Victoire

A great start to what was an unforgettable weekend!

Day #2 tomorrow!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Yesterday Crystal and I celebrated our 4th anniversary, although we only saw each other for about 30 minutes so the "celebration" was pretty much non-existent.

Tomorrow the real celebration begins.  Crystal and I take turns planning the anniversary celebration, and this year it's my turn.  It's going to be amazing!

You see, Crystal is never surprised.  She sneaks around and figures out what her Christmas gift is weeks before she tears the wrapping off.  She ALWAYS figures out what I'm planning.  So I decided I'd try to surprise her this year, and (as far as I know) she has no idea what we're about to do! 


Obviously I can't share any more details on the blog yet, but come Tuesday I'll try to have a complete synopsis (including pictures) posted for you to enjoy.

See you next week!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

WWGD (The Half Way Report)

A couple weeks ago I started reading What Would Google Do?, and I'm about halfway through at this point, so I thought I'd give you a quick synopsis.

It's an interesting read, and a lot of the idea and concepts presented go against conventional knowledge. The book (so far) is about giving up control. In the Web 2.0 world it's all about interaction, and the community building the product, all you do is provide the platform. Instead of having people come to you, you need to go to them whenever and however you can. When the community creates the content, they will be more loyal to your product. People invest time and effort into building the product, they won't walk away like they would if you simply fed them what you think they want. They are invested in you. In the "Google economy" you will grow by building platforms to help others prosper.

It's an interesting concept, letting the community build your product. I'll post the full review/synopsis when I finally finish the book.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Last night we had our student ministries leader's meeting at Connexus.  Student Ministries Director, Jeff Brodie, had all the jr & sr high leaders get together as he cast the vision for the next year in StudMin.  We talked challenges, we talked goals, and we talked about what we wanted to see happen in the next year. 

I left the meeting so pumped!  Let's do this NOW!

Reality is I have to wait a couple weeks until I'm back with the Jr High guys.

Friday, September 10, 2010

My Words

I made a Wordle today, based on my posts on this blog. Wordle weights words based on the number of times they are used in the selected text, in this case my blog. Kind of fun.
Create your own HERE

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Culture and Meaning

An interesting post over on Scott Jackson's blog today.  Talking about the "devil" gesture you often see at rock shows.  Did you know it meant that, or did you (like me) think it was the sign for a harmless "rock on!"?

My question is more of a big picture question.  Does culture determine meaning?

Go to Quebec and the use of "tabernacle" will land you in detention.  If your host in Brazil asks you how you enjoyed the dinner they just cooked, better not give them the "ok" gesture.  And don't even think of giving someone the peace sign in Italy.  Make eye contact in Japan and you are insinuating that the other person is beneath you.

Is it possible that culture determines meaning?  If the vast majority (like 90%) does not consider the "rock-on" sign to be evil, is it still evil?

Can I believe that culture determines the meaning of gestures/words and still believe in absolute truth?

Now I'm confused.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Identity Crisis

I'm not sure if you've heard this story about a rather interesting Florida Pastor, and his plans for September 11th, but it has got me confused.

I've searched my Bible, and I couldn't find where Jesus calls us to burn the holy books from other religions.  And I doubt "Burn A Quran Day" is going to cause Muslims across North America to come running to the altar to accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.  (Never mind the fact that the military is asking him to cancel the community bonfire)  I'm not sure about this Dove World Outreach Center "outreach," but I doubt this is what Jesus had in mind.

It's too bad the Muslim extremists and the Christians extremists get all the media attention.  I'm sure there are people from both beliefs that are doing good in the world.  Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and comforting the hurting, but they are seldom heard from. 

I know people like this are the minority, it just bothers me when they get the airtime on major networks and speak on behalf of Christians everywhere.  I think my reaction is the same as many non-believers, if that's what a Christian is, I don't want to be one.  It's up to us to show them this guy, and others like him, do not speak for all of us.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dark is The Way, Light Is A Place

Welcome back to school friends.

Tonight we debuted the new album from Anberlin, Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place.

Anberlin used to be in my Top 5 favourite bands, but fell from grace a couple years ago. I'm not even sure they'd be in my Top 10 now. Needless to say, I wasn't expecting much from their latest album. I was pleasantly surprised.

The first couple tracks are pretty weak to start off the album, but they get progressively better. I think my favourite track is #7 (The Art Of War), followed closely by #5 (You Belong Here) and #9 (Down). I think Stephen Christian is at his best on the more melodic tracks.

The Art Of War has a spacey, almost dreamlike feel to it. I picture the song going along with a heartbroken, twenty-something girl in her room. Flashes going back to her first love. Maybe a romance that lasted a couple of years, was pretty serious, but he cheated on her and ran out on the relationship. Now she swears never to love again. Do you hear a song and instantly have a visual scene play out in your head?

Which song on the new album is your favourite?

Relevant Magazine posted an interview with Stephen Christian about the new album HERE.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mow 'Em Down

We moved into our new house on January 1.

We got grass on August 6.

I cut the grass for the first time on September 2... and loved it!

After living in a condo for 4 1/2 years, I was looking forward to shovelling snow and mowing the lawn.  I find manual work to be refreshing.  Maybe because my job on a day-to-day basis involves a lot of sitting, and can be excruciatingly painful for someone who has a lot of energy.  So I enjoy doing physical work, because to me it's not work, it's a release of the pent up energy that would otherwise drive me crazy.

So if you're looking for someone to cut your grass once the kids leave for college... Give me a call!

(We don't have a lawnmower yet, so I have Jeff Brodie to thank for lending me his mean machine.)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Thou Shalt Not Covet

I could be considered a bit of an Apple groupie.  I LOVE Crystal's MacBook, and couldn't imagine not having Podcasts to challenge me in my faith.

Apple announced today they are releasing updated versions of the iPod Nano and iPod Touch.  I want a touch!

I do have an iPod (Second generation, and it seems to be dying) so I don't NEED one, but come on!

HD Video
Touch screen

It's a thing of beauty.

My birthday is in 2 weeks.....