Monday, December 18, 2006

Dean's Finished

Well he finally decided to stop. The man who started running 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 states on September 17th, then once finished in NYC ,decided to run back to San Francisco decided to stop when he got to St. Louis. I don't think anyone is about to call him a quitter though. I'm actually glad he stopped. He's always said he never wanted running to come before family and I think now he has proven it. I'm glad he'll be home with his kids and wife for Christmas.

I've been following his progress at his blog. If you're at all interested in what a guy is thinking while running across the United States you should check it out. It would have been pretty cool to keep up with Canadian Hero Terry Fox when he did his Marathon of Hope so I'm kind of thinking of this as a modern day version of that.

Anyway, check out these links to read more about this incredibly inspiring and insane man.

Endurance 50
NYC to St. Louis blog


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Time With My Boy

I’ve been away from home for almost two weeks so it was nice to get home Friday afternoon, even though it took an all night drive to pull it off. My son’s reaction to me arriving home was pretty much the best too. He was soooo excited. It was definitely the happiest he’s ever been for me to come home. So needless to say we’ve spent a bunch of time together since I’ve been here.

One way we get to do something together (and my wife Sherri gets a break) is for me to take Jonah with me when I go out for a run. We spent good money when Jonah was born to get a really good running/walking/biking/cross country skiing stroller. (No joke about the skiing. You can actually get skis for the thing. Check out the Chariot web site.) So I often take Jonah with me when I go for a run. It gives me a little resistance training too.

Well lately, since he’s started talking so much he’s often said some pretty funny things. During my usual route we pass a water treatment plant beside the river. Since Jonah is so interested in pipes and water this was naturally something I thought he would be interested in. So we’ve talked about it ever since he was quite little. Well yesterday during our run, on our way by, here was our conversation:

Jonah: What’s that?
Me: You know what that is. It’s the water treatment plant.
Jonah: That’s where my poop goes, then it goes in the river.

Well I guess he’s mostly right. Made me chuckle anyway. Later in the run he noticed a white van driving by and said “Hi Poppy!” I had to remind him that Poppy doesn’t live in Cambridge.

All that to say it’s nice to be home, and especially to know that I’ll be here for about four weeks straight. Crazy!



Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Yet another personal best!

I know I talk a lot about running here but hey, it has become an important part of my life, and yesterday I just had such a great run that I have to share.

First off, I try to run every other day for about an hour. An hour of running for me equals around 7 miles now. I’ve got a few routes that I run regularly, a couple at home in Cambridge and a good one in Tennessee. Each of them are 7 mile loops.

After I wrote my last blog about the Goji Berry my good friend Wes gave me a call and wanted to know what the Goji juice has done for me. It’s a hard question to answer really because you can’t verify anything. But I do know that a few things seem different for me since I started drinking the juice. My running is the most noticeable.

Until about a month and a half ago running 7 miles in an hour was pretty rare for me. I was normally around 6.5 miles per hour. To try and push it to 7 always required significant effort and would wear me out. The times I did get 7 miles I would be pretty wasted after. In the last few weeks my times have just been getting faster and faster. It’s like a new personal best every run! Yesterday just topped everything off. Since I’ve had so many great sub hour 7 mile runs I was curious to see if I could maintain that speed for any longer than an hour. So I decided to do two laps of my 7 mile loop here in Franklin TN. I managed to finish 14 miles in 1:57. That means I ran a half marathon about 10 minutes faster than ever before and I was able to maintain my pace and still feel great.

Again, I don’t know for sure it was the juice. I also did read a pretty inspirational book by Dean Karnazes, which you can read about in this blog. It looks like I’m not the only one getting some advantage from Goji juice for running though. Check out this link about 3 guys running across the Sahara.

My only fear now is that I’ll somehow suddenly revert back to my slower running. I don’t think it will happen. I feel like I’ve increased my base speed enough so slowing down would be a choice. Anyway, enough about that.

To visit my Goji Juice site click here.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Goji Berry

Have any of you heard of the Goji Berry (aka Wolf Berry)? Back in October I met this guy in the airport gate area while I was on my way to Toronto to run the Toronto Marathon. I often enjoy talking to random people while travelling. You never know what kind of life the person next to you is living. Anyway, he asked me if I had heard of Goji. I obviously had no clue what he was talking about. He went on to tell me a few things about the Goji berry and this Goji juice. It was sounding like it was some miracle food from the stories he was telling me. He gave me his card (he sells the juice) and I told him I would research it.

There’s a lot of pretty interesting stuff out there on the Goji Berry. Much of it looks like hype, but when you look at the nutritional value of it there’s no question that it’s a very unique berry and that it’s good for you. I found a lot of great info on Wikipedia. Here are a few things I found there.

It has been long known as one of nature’s most nutrient-rich foods in China. Chinese Traditional Medicine has been claiming all sorts of health benefits from the Goji Berry. Things like, it enhances immune system function, improves eyesight, protects the liver, boosts sperm production, and improves circulation, among other effects.

It’s loaded with carotenoids - beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, lutein, β-cryptoxanthin and lycopene, at least 6 vitamins (examples, vitamins C, B1, B2), over 30 essential and trace minerals, polyphenolic antioxidants, and amino acids.

The amounts of Calcium, Potassium, Iron, Zinc, Vitamins C and B2 are also quite high in Goji Berries.

So all in all it’s definitely good for you. I’d rather drink juice than take a manufactured vitamin any day. So I bought some of this Himalayan Goji Juice and have been drinking it now regularly for the last month or so. I am now on a journey exploring selling the juice myself. Yeah, me selling stuff. Seems strange doesn't it? I’ll keep you filled in on how it’s going. In the mean time, check out the web site they gave me. More later.



Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Toronto Marathon

Sorry, this post was messing up my whole blog!


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

It’s pretty cool how God seems to teach me in seasons. The season previous to this one God was really teaching me a lot about how selfish I am. It wasn’t like, I’m such a bad person because I’m so selfish or anything like that. It wasn’t condemning. It was in the small things that I would notice I was being selfish. I think the Holy Spirit urges our thoughts towards these things to teach us more about God’s character, which brings us closer to Him.

The season I am currently in and have been in for months now is one of thankfulness. So when I was listening to a sermon by John Ortberg recently, one part really stood out to me and I’d like you to hear it. Just click on the link below to listen.

John Ortberg - The Good News

That gave me tears! What an incredible gift we have from God. John has such a clear concise witty way of speaking. If you want to hear the rest you can find it here. Or you can just subscribe to the church’s podcast by going here or by searching MPPC Sermon-Cast on itunes..



Monday, October 30, 2006

Dean Karnazes

Over the past week or two I’ve been reading quite a bit about an incredible man named Dean Karnazes. I first heard about this guy in Runner’s World magazine, which, even if you are just a moderate runner, you would enjoy. He was on the cover of the October issue and I think he was in the August and September issues too. Anyway, Dean is nearing the end of a crazy challenge he created for himself. He’s running 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 U.S. states. It's called the Endurance 50. Today he is running race 44 of 50.


Dean has written a book called Ultra Marathon Man, Confessions of an all-night runner. I couldn’t put it down. The guy seems totally nuts but totally grounded at the same time. I highly recommend it. Not just to runners or athletes either. Dean ran as a kid then stopped at age 15. For the next 15 years he just climbed the ladder at work and got caught up in the grind of the everyday and not being happy with who he was. It’s a book about a guy who actually decided to get up and do something about his life. Here’s a quote from Dean that I think is a great summary of who he is.

“To me, life is about struggle. If I’m not pushing myself, then I’m not happy. People think if we had every damn comfort available to us – if we removed all the struggle – we’d be happy. I think there’s a lot of miserable people out there, and one of the reasons is, there’s no struggle. They’re taken care of every day. But I think there’s a lot of happiness in suffering.”

After reading his book I learned a lot about pain & suffering. During his really long runs he would talk about how it would come and go in waves. Sometimes a really big wave but it would always go. And if he just focussed on taking the next few steps or sometimes even just the next single step he would eventually get through it. What a great metaphor for living. Not like it hasn’t been used before but to see it so obviously during Dean’s runs was really great.

Dean has run many 50 mile races as well as 100 mile, and 150 mile races. He’s done a run of 262 miles, which is ten marathons in a row! And now, I think his longest run to date is 81 hours, 350 miles straight running! If you’re feeling like you could use some inspiration (not just for running) check out Dean’s book or read his blog. You can’t learn about this guy without wanting to do something different in your life.



Monday, October 23, 2006

Marathon Post

Here's the info. Albeit a little late.

For me:
Place - 1035
Official time - 4:21:44.2
Pace/KM - 6:13
Chip Time - 4:21:38.1
First Half - 2:00:33
Last Half - 2:21:13

For my sister:
Place - 1300
Official Time - 4:43:49.3
Pace/KM - 6:44
Chip Time - 4:43:43.3
First Half - 2:00:33
Second Half - 2:43:17

And some pictures!!


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Sea Of Heartbreak Cont.

Last entry I described a little bit about the book Sea of Heartbreak. I told you about the cruelty of the fisherman toward animals and the general bad attitude they have towards the sea that they make their living from. They shoot at polar bears, they shoot at whales, they torture birds and garbage is just thrown overboard in plastic bags.

What I didn’t get to in the last entry was the fishing nets. The fishing nets used in this expedition are called gill nets. Basically the fish swims into the net, gets stuck, and can’t swim back out because its gills are trapped in the net. The nets used today are made with polypropylene monofilament webbing which doesn’t tangle as easy, is more durable, is much lighter and cheaper but will not breakdown if lost or discarded at sea. Author Michael Dwyer does a great job of describing how “deadly efficient” these nets are.

“The fishing gear is designed, made and set in a deadly efficient way. Set like a fence across the bottom, the webbing eventually fills with sea creatures and “lies down.” Crabs, the scrubbing action from contact with the seafloor and time serve eventually to consume and breakdown the sea creatures. When this happens the nets rise up again and fish indiscriminately. They fill up and lie down, over and over, forever. Stories have been told of draggers finding old, lost gear and the nets are filled with skeletons of every kind. As horrible as it is, it’s legal and it’s a common form of commercial fishing.”

So I’m just learning about all of this now as I’m guessing you are (which is why I am writing this). Is there no one who checks with the captain before he sets sail to find out how many nets he’s bringing out? Then when he comes back, checks to see how many he left at sea? Is this more complicated than I am making it? Surely there is something that can be done.

Like I talked about in previous posts, I believe that everything we have here on Earth is a gift. We need to be stewards of these gifts and look after them as responsibly as we can. So now that I’ve been made aware of this issue, my eyes have been opened and I cannot just sit here and claim ignorance. I have to do something. And if you have read this far, then WE have to do something. I’m starting by just telling people about it. Breaking the ignorance. If you don’t know about an issue you have an excuse. Once you DO know about an issue there are no excuses. There needs to be some sort of action or in the very least an acknowledgment.

In trying to do my part I’m asking you to do at least one of two things.

1. Please help spread the information. You have a blog? Blog about it or link people to these posts. Email some close friends and family and tell them to check out these posts. Bring the topic up with friends or co-workers or members of your church. . . Spread the word!
2. Get more informed. Read Sea Of Heartbreak and anything else on the topic. If you have the means buy it, if not, check out your local library.

I’m also going to continue spreading the word and learning more. I know there are so many things in this world that we can contribute our time to. And there are so many problems that need our attention. I have trouble figuring where this fits in when there are children dying because they don’t have cheap medication to stop a simple sickness like diarrhea. I'll keep telling people about World Vision from stage which I know is having an impact and for now, it seems this whole issue is something God has placed in my path and I need to act on it.



Monday, August 07, 2006

Sea Of Heartbreak

Shooting whales for no reason. Torturing birds. Throwing bags of garbage into the ocean. Cutting loose nets that will fish the waters forever. These are some of the violations of nature that Michael Dwyer had to endure seeing while on board a fishing expedition in the waters off the coast of Labrador Canada.

After the expedition Michael put into words everything he saw and wrote Sea Of Heartbreak. Living in a place like Newfoundland and writing a book like Sea Of Heartbreak was a very brave thing for him to do. In a small town in a province where jobs are hard to find, and fishing is still one the biggest industries; Michael has been blacklisted from ever getting another job aboard a fishing vessel because of this book!

In August of 1998 Michael was in desperate need of work. Not just financially was he in need but not being able to provide as a husband and father was also taking its toll. So when the opportunity came up for a job on a fishing trip with the prospect of making good money he took it right away. What followed was about a month and a half at sea, sailing along Iceburg Alley, trying to fish for Turbot that were not nearly as plentiful as hoped.

From what I can tell it wasn’t the small paycheck or the time away from home or the often violent sea that really made this trip difficult, it was the attitude the men on board had for the very waters that they earn their living from.

Michael’s first experience with this attitude or “way of life” came after dinner during his first day on board. He had been on clean up duty for that meal. One of the crew members asked Michael to throw the compressed bag of garbage over the side of the boat. Being his first day on the job and not wanting to ruffle any feathers Michael followed the orders.
“Watching the bag fall astern, playing peekabo in the swells, I tried to remember the last time I had done such a shameful thing as to deliberately pollute the sea with garbage.”

The day this ship set sail, it was loaded with truckloads of supplies.
“After the five-week voyage, the only garbage left onboard was a little bit in the galley at the bottom of the gum bucket.”
What?? That’s it!!?? My family just went camping in Algonquin park for a few days and we carried all of our garbage including dirty diapers in backpacks until we got back to our vehicle. Then it stayed in there until we were out of the park and we found our first garbage can. Surely a boat can figure out how to store a bit of garbage till their next stop.

Throughout the book Michael gives some great descriptions of the amazing nature he’s able to observe. From iceburgs to glacier carved cliffs and the tundra of the north to wild birds and seals and polar bears and caribou. He also describes a visit they made to an abandoned Inuit village where he saw his first polar bear. He also describes how the majority of the crew seemed to do what they could to destroy what he was enjoying so much.

Some members of the crew were always looking for polar bears just so they could try to shoot one. They would also often use the wild birds that fly around the ship for target practice. It seemed they really didn’t like these birds. Michael describes how one time they caught two of these birds and proceeded to smear fish parts on their bodies. Then they tied two birds together at the legs and watched them peck each other to death.

Continued next entry . . .


Friday, August 04, 2006

A New Friend, An Amazing Story

My posts seem to be on a theme right now. Talking about the gifts we have been given my next couple of posts are going to fit in quite well.

I’ve had an interesting and unusual experience over the past couple of days. About three or four days ago I finished a book called Sea Of Heartbreak. This book is an account of a fishing voyage that took place in Newfoundland Canada in 1998. Because of my family connections with Newfoundland, (birthplace of my wife and Mother) it has always been a place I’ve been interested in. There is something romantic about the ruggedness and barrenness of the land and sea there. And of course the people there are some of the most enjoyable people to spend time with anywhere.

So I picked up this book because it had a forward by Farley Mowat. Farley Mowat is a well known Canadian writer who has written many books. I’ve only read a couple and wanted to find another one by him to read. In fact, I only picked up Sea Of Heartbreak because it showed up when I searched Farley’s name! It looked interesting enough so I brought it home.

I started reading it on my way down to West Palm Beach, Florida where the band was going to be playing for a week. One night I was awake between 1:30am and 5:00am reading until I finished it off! I’ve always been interested in life at sea but this was not the romantic story of a fisherman at sea that I have always conjured up in my mind. When I finished the book at 5:00am that morning I decided I needed to contact the author to get some resolution to what I had just read. After all, this was a true account.

I was unable to find any contact information on the book which didn’t surprise me but there’s the good old handy dandy internet to help one find whatever it is they need. So I searched and searched, but still no email address for him. Finally I decided to just look him up in the city where he lives, that was on the book after all. Sure enough I found his name and phone number and without hesitation I made the call to Newfoundland.

Within a couple of rings he answered the phone. I was a little surprised how quick it all happened. What was I doing calling the author of a book I had just read? I’ve never done that before. I nervously explained to him that I just finished his book and that I wasn’t a stalker but I just wanted some resolution to the book. We had a great conversation that lasted about twenty minutes. I feel like we made some sort of connection with each other during that time. We exchanged email addresses and later that night and the next day sent a couple of emails back and forth.

Michael has an amazing story. It is full of beauty and harshness and recklessness and ignorance. It is one you need to know about, one that everyone needs to know about. I want to tell you more but this entry may already be too long so until my next post . . .



Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Gifts and Heaven

“Then how can tongue describe all the beauty and use of the creation, which the divine bounty has poured out for man to see and take, although he is condemned to such toils and miseries? The diverse and varied beauty of sky and earth and sea, the abundance and loveliness of light in sun and moon and stars, the shady woods, the colours and perfumes of flowers, the many species of bright and chattering birds, the vast variety of living creatures, the smallest of which move us to the greatest wonder (for we are more surprised by the accomplishments of ants and bees than by the size of whales)! The grand spectacle of the sea, dressing itself in its different garments, now green, now blue, now purple: what a lovely sight it is when it is rough – much more agreeable to the spectator from the shore than to the sailor tossed upon it! What abundance of food to meet our hunger! What a variety of flavours to suit our taste, all distributed by the bounty of nature, not produced by the skill and labour of the cook! In so many circumstances what remedies for protecting or recovering health! How pleasant the alternation of day and night! How soothing the coolness of the breeze! How much material for clothing in trees and beasts! All blessings who can enumerate?

Here I have just dealt with a casual collection, but if I wished to open up the whole store and deal with each and every one, how tedious should I be! And these are all consolations of mankind under judgement, not the rewards of those in bliss. What then must they be like, if these are so many and so great? What will God give to all those whom he has predestined to life, if he has given all this to those whom he has predestined to death?”

St. Augustine, City Of God

I just read this the other day and I thought it was a great continuation from my last blog. The way he describes all the gifts in nature we have been given really paints a beautiful picture. Then it is this sentence that gets me, “And these are all consolations of mankind under judgement, not the rewards of those in bliss.” How wonderful heaven will be!



Thursday, July 27, 2006

Take advantage of what you've been given.

Many of you will know that over the past few years I have become a runner, thanks to some friends and fellow bloggers. (Ethos, This Guy Falls Down, Normal Rockstar) I’ve even been able to complete a marathon! My sister (running blog and normal blog) tells me all this running inspired her to start running too and now we are planning on running the Toronto Marathon together in October. How cool is that?

Over the weekend we were able to run our 20 mile training run together. It was a great run! We finished it in 3 hours and 20 something minutes. Way to go Krista!! It was the longest run she’s ever done, and doing it in that time is awesome.

Being healthy enough to put on some shoes and go out for a run is such a huge blessing. It got me thinking about how many people waste their perfectly good health. If we believe that everything we have is a gift from God then why would we squander it? I guess it just happens eventually. Maybe not enough focus or direct thought. I don’t know. I know I squander my brain often. I know I also squander time that I could be using to improve my relationship with God. What a waste!!

But if we have the ability to go out for a walk or play tennis or golf or swim or run then spending our nights at home in front of the tube (TV or computer) just doesn’t seem right.

I know that when I give a gift to someone and I see him or her using it, it makes me happy. Imagine the confusion you would have if you gave someone a nice new car but they rarely used it. On top of that they never washed it or got the oil changed. I’d be left scratching my head.

I don’t suppose God is scratching His head as His understanding is way beyond ours but at the same time not using our gifts can’t be all that pleasing to Him.

All that said, we all have many gifts; things like family, friends, good health, an income, a church, a pet, and different abilities like reading, writing, playing music, playing a sport, leading some social activity. We have much to be thankful for. Please don’t let opportunities to take advantage of your gifts pass you by.



Thursday, July 20, 2006

Organic Food

It's true, Blogger. I have not been here for many days and I'm sorry. I really do miss you too but there are times in one's life where new friends take up more time than old ones and I'm afraid you have become an old friend. I hope that we can hang out more in the future like we used to. But for now I need to spend more time with some of my other friends like myspace and downhere website and family and trying to make a living in music. They just demand more of my time right now. But for today, let's spend a little time together.

My wife and son gave me a subscription to Runner's World Magazine for Father's Day and I really enjoy it. There was a really helpful article in this months issue about organic food that I wanted to share part of.

I have always wondered about what the real big deal is with organic food. I know organic farming is supposed to be better for the Earth and organic food is supposed to be better for my body. I guess that should be enough to convince me. The hard part is the price. OUCH! So Runner's World created a list of organic foods that are worth spending money on and a list that you don't need to worry about quite so much. Enjoy!

"Spend Wisely
These 12 fruits and vegetables contain the highest levels of pesticides; buy organic to reduce your exposure.

Bell Peppers
Imported Grapes

Also buy organic meats, poultry, eggs and dairy to limit your exposure to antibiotics and growth hormones.

Don't Worry (As Much)
The pesticide levels of these 12 fruits and vegetables are low to undetectable; okay to buy conventional.

Sweet Corn
Sweet peas

Choose organic breads, pastas, cereals and other processed foods when cost and availability allow it."


Friday, June 09, 2006

Flying with no ID.

Yes I'm still here. I sort of disappeared for the last month on here though. Sorry about that.

I just figured out since April 20th I've been on about 19 different planes! Man!! I've spent time in Washington, Oregon, California, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Ontario, Manitoba, Morocco, Holland and Denmark. Quite a busy few weeks. I think that's the most planes I've ever been on in that stretch of time. My passport is definitely being well used.

So after a couple of months of this kind of insano flying, an article from caught my attention. As I'm sure you all know travelling is a little tricky now with security the way it is. For instance, leaving Denmark I had to put my carry on luggage through the scanner. Then when I arrived in Amsterdam for my layover I had to go through another one. Then to get on the plane to Toronto I had to do it yet again. And you need to have your passport and boarding card with you at all times too. I went to buy my son Jonah a gift at the airport in Holland and they needed to see both my passport and my boarding pass before I could purchase! Crazy.

So the title of this article is "The Great No-ID Airport Challenge". Sounds interesting to me. And impossible! But I guess the deal is (at least in the USA) that "airline passengers either present identification or be subjected to a more extensive search." And that's where the controversy begins. The man who issued the challenge is John Gilmore. He did this at a meeting in San Francisco of the Homeland Security's privacy advisory committee. I guess he feels some of his rights are being infringed upon by having to show his ID all the time. Call me simple but, if you have nothing to hide what's the big deal? Signs at airports and on the TSA's web site say that showing ID is mandatory and John Gilmore wants to make it known that it's not. I guess.

So he challenged the members of this committee to mail their drivers licenses home and try to fly home without any ID. One took him up on it. Very interesting result.

I think you should read the whole article here but if you just want to know what happens continue reading below.

"At 6:00 a.m. the next morning, Harper handed this reporter a green self-addressed stamped envelope and entered the checkpoint line, which even at that early hour was filled with travelers facing a 20 minute crawl to the magnetometers.

Harper told the identification checker he had no ID, and the attendant quickly wrote "No ID" with a red marker on his ticket and shunted him off to an extra screening line -- generously allowing him to bypass the longer queue of card-carrying passengers.

There Harper was directed into the belly of a GE EntryScan puffer machine which shot bits of air at his suit in order to see if he had been handling explosives.

TSA employees wearing baby blue surgical gloves then swiped his Sidekick and his laptop for traces of explosives and searched through his carry-on, while a supervisor took his ticket, conferred with other employees and made a phone call.

Meanwhile, a TSA employee approached this reporter, who was watching the search through Plexiglas, and said, "It's pretty awkward you are standing here taking notes," but he did not ask for identification or call for a halt to the note-taking.

The TSA supervisor returned from her phone call and asked Harper why he didn't have identification and to where he was traveling. But she was satisfied enough with his answer -- that he had mailed his driver's license home to Washington D.C. -- that she allowed him to pass."


Monday, May 15, 2006

An Islamic America and Thin-Slicing

While I was away on this last trip I finished a couple of books I have been wanting to read.

The first one is called Blink. It’s written by Malcolm Gladwell, the same guy who wrote The Tipping Point. Blink is a book about the decisions we seem to make in the blink of an eye. The decisions that we don’t really seem to even think about, but just happen. I find this book difficult to describe quickly here so I'll just descibe one concept from it called thin-slicing.

“Thin-slicing refers to the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behavior based on very narrow slices of experience.”

An example of thin-slicing would be . . . let’s say you are walking through the mall and you pass a women’s clothing store. While you are walking past you notice near the front of the store a man shaking his head looking exasperated and a woman close by rolling her eyes as she puts a piece of clothing back on the shelf. In that brief moment you may be able to put together a pretty good idea of what their relationship is like.

Or, let’s say you are a quarterback in a football game. The ball is snapped to you and you have maybe a second or two to decide if the play you called is going to work or if you need to decide something else based on everyone’s position.

These are all decisions that happen very quickly and we all make variations of them daily. Anyway, a good read if you are into understanding how you think.

The second book I read is called Prayers for the Assassin by Robert Forigno. Imagine America is now an Islamic nation. Seattle is the new capitol. DC, NYC, Chicago and Detroit have all been destroyed. Nevada is its own thing called the “Morman Territories” and the old “South” is now the hard fought for “Bible Belt” with its own president. Well that was enough to interest me. I wanted to see if the author could pull of a convincing story given those parameters. Oh yeah, Coca-Cola has been outlawed and replaced with Jihad-Cola too.

The basic story here is about a renegade ex-Fedayeen fighter named Rakkim and his woman, Sarah. They are after the truth of why the Islamic Republic became the Islamic Republic. The widely held belief is that the Jews nuked parts of America which is why everyone rallied against them and all Christians.

Did the author pull it off? Mostly he did. I think he made up for what he missed with the energy of the story. If you are looking for a page-turner adventure you may enjoy this one. However, be warned, the language isn’t always great and there are a couple of sections that should be rated R.



Friday, May 05, 2006

a short update

I'm sitting in an internet cafe in Marrakech Morocco. In the interest of time I'll post a few excerpts from my last two emails home along with a couple of pictures.

"After we ate Marc, Jay, me and Dave all went for a beauty walk. We checked out a couple of shops, found an internet connection,(that was when we talked) and found some bank machines. We eventually found this cool market area set up with tents. That's the picture of Marc with his camera.

There was some pretty cool stuff in there. I have no idea what kind of thing you might like. I'm thinking jewellery but I'm not sure what colours or anything. I'll find something you love. Jason visited the guy with all the musical instruments. I got caught talking to another guy who invited me into his tent-shop to talk and have tea. So of course I said yes. He was interested in Canada and practising his English. He kept showing me all of the things in his shop he had made and what the significance of each item was. He came from a Berber/Nomad background and almost every piece he showed me had some sort of mystic meaning to it. I think he considered them selling features! He was real nice. Eventually the other guys joined us and we all had this awfully sweet tea together. It was almost unbearably sweet in fact. The with the turban is him with Dave behind and a big ugly flash. Marc got some great pictures of us in there talking that I'll have to get from him.

After lunch is was back to the van for an almost 2 hour trip south into the Atlas mountains to visit a Berber village. It was a beautiful drive. It scared the crap out of most people. We heard that the other van was singing hymns as they were driving up. On the way back, after the scariest sections the driver of the other van had to stop and have a smoke break!! It was pretty funny, and sort of dangerous. So we climbed up about 4500 feet to get to where we eventually ended up. There's no way I can really describe where we were too well. It felt like a dream or a movie set. It didn't feel like a place people actually lived. Anyway, we stopped driving and got out and walked uphill for the next 15-20min. We walked up this windy path through this "settlement" to reach the top where our hosts were. The pictures will explain the best.

When we reached the top we heard music. We walked into a hallway where we were greeted by two people. The first a girl with a tray of face clothes to wipe our faces with and the second was a man with perfume for us to put on our faces. They also had a tray of dates and figs and olives that we were supposed to eat as we entered. The perfume is apparently from the flower of orange trees. I need to ask about that again to be sure. We eventually all reached the top and there they had a very cool looking spread of pita-like bread with olive oil, butter, fig and apricot spread, nuts and of course the mint tea which I'm having trouble choking down. Mainly because of the sweetness. We sat and ate then they pulled out their drums again and began to sing and encouraged us to join. We played together for a while. I had my cornet out too. It was difficult to find any sort of tonal center to their songs but we would eventually land on something."


Thursday, April 13, 2006

An almost forgotten love

Those of you who know me will know that my first instrument is the cornet. (A slightly smaller and mellower version of a trumpet.)

I started playing it when I was 5. My Father, both Grandfathers, Step-Grandfather and Great Grandfather all played brass instruments while in the Salvation Army. So it is something of a family thing.

About 5 years ago when I joined downhere I had to make a decision about where I would focus my practice time. Seeing as I would be trying to make a living playing the bass it made more sense to make that my primary instrument to practice. So after nearly 20 years of playing my cornet at least once a week and studying it all through college I just stopped. It was kind of sad yes, but life goes on and things change.

During this last tour we found a great way to fit my horn playing abilities into the set creating a very cool moment in the show. This has been very cool for me being able to play my “first love” again. Since we started doing this I’ve been trying to get my “chops” back into shape and what a joy it has been. I didn’t realize how much I missed playing. There is something about sitting down with a book and a music stand and a metronome clicking away that I find very enjoyable. I think it’s the same thing that makes running enjoyable. It’s just you trying to learn more and improve: no one there to criticize, no one there to tell you what to do. I guess it’s kind of my Yoga. I haven’t yet been able to get into a daily routine which is when it becomes most rewarding, and I’m not sure that I should due to my schedule, but the times I am able to just sit down and play have been great. It will be a while before I can get back into the shape I was when I stopped playing but the great thing about life is, I can get there and I can improve on it if I put the time in.

So yeah . . . I just thought I’d share that since it was something that was bringing me joy these days. Not to mention the joy I have from being home after being gone for nearly 3 weeks!



Tuesday, April 04, 2006

It tastes amazing. And I love it!

I know I know. It's a beautiful thing. Drinking fresh maple syrup on a beautiful spring day with the frozen river in the background.

This picture was taken by none other than Marc Martel of downhere fame in Mirimichi NB. We were near the end of our East Coast Canada tour and had just been given some fresh New Brunswick maple syrup. When I say fresh, it was made the day before this picture was taken. It's fun to drink maple syrup every once in a while. It gets people all fired up and it tastes really good!! What can I say, I AM CANADIAN.


Monday, March 27, 2006

It tastes awful. And it works.

I've been on the road for the last week and a half or so and it's been one of the busiest trips we have done in a while. I prefer the busy trips. I figure if I'm away from my family I should be as working as hard as possible. So let me show you a quick run down of what this trip looks like for me.

Wednesday - Fly to Nashville
Thursday - Orange Beach, AB
Friday - Drive
Saturday - New Kent, Va
Sunday - Washington DC
Monday - Drive
Tuesday - Cambridge, ON
Wednesday - Ottawa, ON
Thursday - Montreal
Friday - Saint John, NB
Saturday - Charlottetown, PEI
Sunday - Truro, NS
Monday - Halifax, NS
Tuesday - Moncton, NB
Wednesday - Mirimichi, NB
Thursday - Fredericton, NB - drive to Nashville
Friday - Drive
Saturday - GMA Nashville
Sunday - GMA Nashville
Monday - GMA Nashville
Tuesday - GMA Nashville
Wednesday - Fly home

So yeah, a little hectic but good. The big problem is that back on the first Monday when we were driving to Cambridge I started to feel a sore throat coming on. By Ottawa I could barely talk. I didn't feel too bad but talking was an issue. This is a problem since I'm supposed to sing some BGV's and do a World Vision presentation. Then an all night drive after the Montreal show didn't do much to help.

But yesterday I finally think of Buckley's medicine. I have been loading up on Vicks, Fisherman's Friends, and some other sort of drop until now. I picked up the Buckleys before the show and and a couple of swigs before we played. I was able to sing again, and my voice was feeling pretty normal too. A bit more Buckley's before bed and I feel like a new man this morning. Not 100% but way better. Being sick on the road sucks. I'm just glad neither of the singers picked up what I had!!



Sunday, March 19, 2006


I just finished a book by Benjamin Levy about learning how to remember names and how important that is. In any job this is important. I meet so many people every night I'm on the road and I've just been terrible at remembering their names. Well, it turns out I'm not actually "bad with names," I just don't have any strategy for remembering them. He likened it to someone who has never had a snow skiing lesson in there life say I'm a bad skier. Well if you haven't learned how to ski of course you are. Anyway, great book. I was able to memorize thirty random words in a specific order with about ten mintues of work after reading the book. THAT IS CRAZY! So yeah, if you think you have a bad memory, check it out!

I'm also re-reading a C.S. Lewis classic, Mere Christianity. I'd like to leave you with a piece of what I read tonight.

"I'm trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Dveil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Jonah on Bass

Now just look at the hand position . . . he's a natural!


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Salvation Army

Here is an article that my brother-in-law sent me. He works on staff at the school this article refers to. I am really proud of what he and my sister-in-law are doing out there. I think this is what Salvation Army founder William Booth had in mind when he started the Salvation Army church.

Right-click on it and save it to your desktop so you can view it large enough to read.


Icy Run

I thought this would be a fun thing to share. On February 22nd I was in Wacovia, MN with my band "downhere" and I decided to go for a run. Below is my route. I created the image using my Garmin Forerunner 201 (a gps unit), a web site ( and GoogleEarth for Mac. And yes, I did run straight across the lake.

Being February in Minnesota it was obviously frozen. I passed quite a few fishing huts. It was actually a nice warm day. I ended up taking off my sweater when I got to that island so I ran with just a long sleeved shirt and a t-shirt. And pants of course! Warm meaning about -2C (or 28F) and sunny.

Click on the picture to see it a little bigger.

The run ended up being a little over 7 miles and took me a little over an hour. Not too bad for a winter run across a lake!

My next marathon is booked so it's time to get back into marathon shape. Official training starts on Easter! More to come on that soon.



Friday, March 03, 2006

In response to Ceremonial Dagger

I had some great comments on my last post and wanted to respond with some info and thoughts here.

Are you really not allowed to pray in school anymore? I can understand not forcing everyone to say the Lord's Prayer in our "multicultural" society but I thought they still at least had a moment of silence where people can say their various prayers to their various Gods. I don't like it but I understand we don't live in a Christian nation.

And about celebrating Christian holidays in school, they may not say Merry Christmas now but at least we still get the Christian holidays. Who knows how long till that changes!

As for what we can do, I called my local MP's office to find out. We can write a letter explaining our opinion and mail it to:

Vic Toews
Minister of Justice
House Of Commons
Ottawa, ON

Or you can just contact your local MP's office. To find your local MP go here. You can request that they send a letter too. So there are things we can do if we really want to, no matter how small our voice may be. It is the voice that our Grandparents and Great Grandparents fought for! Let's use it.



A Blessed Life

I'm sitting at wife's computer typing this blog entry. Over the past 24 hours I've yet again gained a new appreciation for my wife.

For those of you who don't know me, my job as a "musician" causes me to be away from home often for long periods of time. It was a hard adjustment when I started but Sherri and I have really got into a good groove now where it is a manageable way of life. Having a son was another readjustment but we are handling it well I think and our marriage is quite healthy and still a lot of fun.

I say all of that because after two nights of me being home Sherri went out last night for most of the evening leaving me on my own. Not a big deal, I have lots to do, but as the night wore on and I started getting ready for bed I couldn't help but think, "How does she do this every night I'm away? At least I know she'll be home by the time I get in bed." I was starting to feel lonely and bored and I kept looking at the clock hoping more time had gone by. When Sherri got home and I asked her about all of this she said that when I'm gone she just sort of switches gears and somehow it's not too bad. Knowing that many people keep us in their prayers must have something to do with why it's easier to handle too.

So I had to ask again (I frequently do), "We're doing the right thing, right?" I don't think this is a question I really need to ask her but it's like hearing "I Love You", I just need her to tell me once in a while for reassurance. I'm sure when she feels differently I'll know! Sure enough she told me of course we are doing the right thing and not to worry!

Man, do I love this woman or what!!

Then . . .

My computer has had an issue for the past few days with not being able to plug into power anymore. Sucks! So I've been using Sherri's PC during the day as I am right now and I don't know how she has the patience to tolerate this archaic piece of non-Apple machinery! It drives me nuts!!! She uses this thing without hardly complaining. If I ask her, she can't wait to get a new computer, but hardly is there ever a complaint.

I am truly blessed to live the life I have and to have such a great woman in my life!



Thursday, March 02, 2006

Sikh Ceremonial Dagger

I just read this news article on, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation web site. Here are the first two paragraphs to give you an idea of what's happening.

"A Montreal boy can now wear his Sikh ceremonial dagger in the classroom after Canada's top court unanimously overturned a ban on the kirpan.

In its 8-0 judgment, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Thursday that a total ban infringed on Gurbaj Singh Multani's guarantees of religious freedom under the Charter of Rights."

So what they are saying is that it's OK to bring a knife to school? Here's more.

"Manjeet Singh, the Sikh chaplain at McGill and Concordia universities, who also assisted Gurbaj Singh's legal team, said baptized Sikhs believed the kirpan is a symbol of courage, freedom and responsibility to stand up for their rights.

"It is one of the five articles of faith that every baptized Sikh is supposed to have on their person, all the time," said Manjeet Singh."

So what about on airplanes? How do baptized Sikhs get this knife through security? I'm guessing they don't and that it's not a big deal to them because they understand the circumstances of todays world. I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt there. I would think that bringing a knife into school would fit into the same category.

I don't think anyone is saying that because a Sikh boy brings a knife into school that he's going to use it but a potential weapon is now in the school that anyone could have access to. This puts Sikhs in as much danger as Christians or Muslims or Athiests or Jews or anyone else.

Check out section 2 of The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Fundamental Freedoms

Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

  1. freedom of conscience and religion;
  2. freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
  3. freedom of peaceful assembly; and
  4. freedom of association.
You can read the rest here at a Government of Canada site. That link goes on to say this:
"Even though these freedoms are very important, governments can sometimes limit them. For example, laws against pornography and hate propaganda are reasonable limits on freedom of expression because they prevent harm to individuals and groups."

I know I'm just a musician but it would seem to me that not allowing this ceremonial dagger into school would be a reasonable limit because it prevents "possible harm to individuals and groups." Sometimes I wish I understood politics better so that this kind of stuff would make more sense.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

How about a few pictures?

OK, so he loves pizza. Too bad he can't have cheese on it! Actually his pizza has turned into an egg on a pita with tomato sauce. It looks like ours so he's happy.

And what better to go with pizza than beer. Root beer that is.

Did I tell you he loves hockey? He's even trying to look like a hockey player with this black eye. He did a face plant off our coffee table. Ouch!


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Ever Heard of Candlemas?

Ever heard of Candlemas??? I haven't until today, which is Candlemas.

"According to an old bit of Sussex folklore: “If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, Winter will have another flight; But if it be dark with clouds and rain, Winter is gone, and will not come again." This is a much older and really, a more beautiful tradition than our current Groundhog ritual which has, in any case, all but supplanted Candlemas on this day. A real pity, don't you think?"

To read more about what Candlemas is all about check out the rest of Dr. Grant's blog today.

The sun just came out here!



Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Narnia and Treasure

Two things today, Narnia and a verse I’ve heard a million times.

First off, I finally went to see Narnia the other night with my wife, my sisters and my brother-in-law. I came close to having tears a couple of times because of strong the metaphors were. It was very well done! Georgie Henly who played little Lucy was easily my favourite character in the movie. She was cute and believable. The bickering between the siblings was overdone and got tiring for me. That could have been because the other three siblings weren’t great actors or because the script called for too much of it. But the thing that I liked the least was the big battle scene. I could see it coming a mile away and I just hoped they were going to find a creative way around it. I am bored to death of the big bloody war scenes that we’ve had to watch so much of since Braveheart. When Braveheart came out, that part of the movie was incredible. Maybe it was Lord Of The Rings that overdid it for me. Both sides line up, they run at each other, swords go into stomachs, arrows land in necks, sometimes even a limb or head gets chopped off, blah blah blah, yawn, seen it before, boring. Can Hollywood please find a new trick?

All that said, go watch it. It is great and worth seeing in the theatre.

And another verse from the Message got me today. If you are interested The Message is available in its entirety at Here's the verse from Matthew 6:

21"It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being."

I have heard this so many times in other translations but this version made it make more sense, or stand out more or something. I think it’s the line “is the place where you will most want to be” that sort of changes it for me. It’s not just that we should “store up riches in heaven,” but if we take our focus off of our belongings and reaching the next status level and change it to things that God loves like selflessness, love, and helping those in need, it will cause us to most want to be in heaven instead of most wanting to be in a big home with lots of gadgets and beautiful property. I’m guilty of that.

A great reminder any time!



Friday, January 27, 2006

Light Reading

A little heavier than my last blog but here it goes.

"The Islamic Resistance Movement strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine... Therefore our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious...The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said: “The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews, killing the Jews. When the Jews hide behind stones and trees, they will say ‘O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him...’ Resisting and quelling the enemy is the individual duty of every Muslim, male or female. A woman can go out to fight the enemy without her husband's permission, and so does the slave: without his master's permission...”
"Thus, there is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Ji’had. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with..."
"The Zionist invasion is a vicious invasion... It relies greatly in its infiltration and espionage operations on the secret organizations it gave rise to, such as the Freemasons, the Rotary, and Lions clubs, and other sabotage groups. All these organizations, whether secret or open, work in the interest of Zionism and according to its instructions..."
"Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Muslim people. May the cowards never sleep."


This sounds like it’s from a movie. Sadly it’s not. These are a few excerpts taken from the Charter of Hamas who won the Palestinian parliamentary election earlier this week. (Thanks Dr. Grant for the excerpt)

This is just a sobering reminder that although life is pretty rosy and easy here in North America, the stuff we see in movies IS actually still going on. I’m not sure how being part of a political party which has murder in it’s charter seems like a good idea to any human being.

If you are a praying person, please pray for the people who make the decisions about how to deal with these situations. I’m sure presidents and prime ministers and other leaders of our free world are already discussing what to do next. Without the wisdom only received from God this could get ugly. Also pray for the people in Hamas.

How’s that for some light Friday reading?



Sunday, January 22, 2006

New Gear

If you don't know me or know anything about me, knowing that I play bass guitar for a living is important to understanding this blog. I love playing the bass but I've never really been much of a gear guy. You know the kind of person who knows every brand and model of every guitar ever out there. It's not that I don't want to be; it's just that my brain isn't wired that way. Lately I've been thinking I should at least try to learn a little more about my instrument and its history. The electric bass guitar is one of the youngest instruments around so you don't have to go too far back to learn about it. Anyway, that's another blog. This blog is about my new amp!

For the last almost 5 years I've been playing through my Euphonic Audio, iAmp 600. I have a 2x10 Euphonic Audio speaker cabinet that I used to play through too. Three years ago I picked up an Ampeg 8x10 speaker cabinet (this just means really big speaker) to boost my volume and make me feel more like a man. It worked!

Over the past 5 years since I've been playing bass full time, I've had the privilege of playing many different amps and speaker cabinets. It seems the sound I really like to hear in an amp has changed in that time. My iAmp 600 could be considered a “boutique” amp, a real high fidelity amp that only amplifies the sound and doesn’t change the sound of your instrument at all. This is the sound I really liked a few years ago. I guess my tastes have changed now though. What I’m really digging now are tube amps. The tube amps that I’ve played have such a great warm sound, plus you have the ability to overdrive the tubes to get the perfect crunch.

So, all that said – the iAmp and cabinet are being retired and sold (money for a new Jazz bass). The new amp I decided to go with was the Fender Bassman 300. Forgive me for talking bass amp shop for a minute, the Bassman is a 300 watt all tube amp very much like the classic Ampeg SVT. The difference is, it has two channels (one for clean, one for crunch) and lots of tone/compression controls. Plus, it’s less expensive!!

So anyway, I haven’t had a chance to play it at a gig yet but it is definitely LOUD and it sounds great. For the bass players who read this, I can’t wait till you have a chance to hear this thing and maybe even try it if we have the opportunity.


Thursday, January 19, 2006


Do you often feel like discontent with life? I do. I feel like that way more than I should.

If you know me or have been reading some of my family members blogs you will know that there have been a few changes for us this year. The one that has had the most impact is that my wife Sherri has started working at home looking after our adorable nephew Miles. So she has her hands full with our 19-month-old son Jonah and 13-month-old Miles. Sherri did a five year course in child studies in University so this is right up her alley and she will do great.

For some reason, this change has made me feel much more content with where we are right now in life. I can’t explain it at all. Maybe I feel better now that Sherri has more purpose to her days. Maybe I feel better now that we’ll have a little extra income. Maybe I just feel better because we finally removed the flimsy fold-up door that separates our room from Jonah’s room, with a real door. Or maybe I feel better because we converted the dinette into a playroom. I don’t know. But I guess I can’t ignore some of the scripture I had been memorizing from Matthew 5. Check this out.

3"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are--no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.”

Isn’t that a cool translation! I started working on this a while ago but I guess I got lazy and stopped. Maybe it’s time to get back to it! Repeating powerful words that Jesus spoke over and over in your head is always a good thing.

So all of that to say, if you are feeling discontent with where you are in your life, remember,
“You're blessed when you're content with just who you are--no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.”



Sunday, January 01, 2006

The Christmas ipod & CD's vs downloads

Christmas has passed and I finally own the new toy I’ve been wanting for so long, the ipod. Not just any ipod either, I had to get the biggest one possible, the 60 gig ipod. You see, I have a CD collection of somewhere around 600 CD’s that I will now be able to take with me everywhere I go. And to me, that is exciting!

After going through the whole process of importing my CD’s and finding album artwork then receiving some itunes money (thanks Mom and Dad and Mark!) I started to wonder which method of getting music was the best.

Since the first CD I ever owned (Led Zeppelin II and/or Steve Miller Band) I have loved tearing off the plastic, then delicately removing the CD from the tray and listening to it while pouring over the liner notes and artwork. The smell of the newly printed paper, the perfect-ness of the CD and jewel case, the anticipation about whether or not this album will become a new best friend or not are all great things about buying a new CD. I just love it! New music is always very exciting to me. This is why I own as much as is reasonably possible for my musician’s income.

Then along came the mp3 revolution. I jumped in there right away checking out Napster and finding some great songs. It always seemed like a great way to find new music but I never felt like it was quite right to be able to get all of that music for free. So when itunes came along and made it accessible and legal, I felt like that was what I needed to support. I may not be able to download any song I want for free, but a 30 second clip is usually enough for me to be able to tell if I like it or not. And at 99 cents a song, it sure seems like a deal to me.

So now I have the ability to listen to clips of just about any song I want as well as check out what other people think of that song and what other songs they like. This is great for a guy like me who loves to find new artists. Plus, there is a lot of content available online that can’t be bought in stores. Album artwork and sometimes videos are often included when you buy new albums too.

With all of this in mind I think I have come to the conclusion that when it comes to buying ‘albums’ the CD is still preferred. When it comes to buying singles or checking out new bands or finding content that can’t be found anywhere else then online is the way to go. For instance, I just bought a Jack Johnson album of 22 songs that are all in video format for $10. I think that’s a great deal that I wouldn’t have been able to find in any store!

So I’m not sure what your preference is. Just keep supporting the artists you love by buying their music one way or another. That way there’s a chance you’ll hear more!



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