Archive for August, 2007

Just stop praying “just”

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

The Holy Observer is back poking good-natured fun at Christian culture.

God to Intercessors: Just Stop Saying “Just”

Linguistic grace no longer applicable to mutually exclusive prayer requests

For decades, God has lavished his followers with linguistic grace regarding what could be considered an epidemic in the prayer world – the use of the word “just.” Usually found in a pattern similar to “God, please just [insert petition] and just [insert another petition],” the word “just” has made answering prayers a confusing and tedious process for the Almighty. In response, God declared earlier this month that Christians everywhere may no longer use the word “just” during intercessory prayer, effective immediately.

In an AIM interview with The Holy Observer, an official from Heaven explained, “This has been a huge frustration for everyone up here. For ages our gracious Father has put up with the grouping of mutually exclusive prayer requests, on each occasion taking extra time trying to decipher what the intercessor probably wanted the most. You see, the prayer queue was getting quite backed up but it was usually manageable. That is, until last month when the queue was flooded with hundreds of millions of contradictory requests. They were like, ‘Lord, just use this movie as an evangelistic tool,’ ‘God, just help us to grow spiritually as we watch this movie,’ ‘God, just let everyone understand that this movie is about Your love,’ and the one God answered, ‘Father, please just let this movie make box office history.’”

… full article here

I used to get the occasional chuckle (and sometimes just a groan) out of The Holy Observer’s articles a few years ago. Then they disappeared. Now apparently they are going to start putting out their Christian satire again. Meanwhile they’ve put out a “best of” issue … click here (Warning – some articles may offend).

Church Sign of the Month

Combatting NDD

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

Seeking a cure for Nature Deficit Disorder along the Rotary Trail in Prince Albert.

Prince Albert's Rotary Trail 2007-08-26

Nature Deficit Disorder

Saturday, August 25th, 2007

I spent the first 14 years of my life on a small farm in Saskatchewan’s Boreal Transition Ecoregion. Our nearest neighbours lived more than a mile away, and we didn’t have a TV.  What we did have a lot of was nature, since more than half of our farm had never been cleared for agriculture.  A lot of my childhood was spent with my nose in a book, but I also spent a lot of time out in the “bush”.

It concerns me that my children haven’t had the same oppotunities to connect with Creation that I did as a child.

Given that concern, this news article caught my eye…

Kids face ‘nature deficit disorder’ given trend toward staying indoors: experts


TORONTO (CP) – The “vague and powerful fears” parents harbour about giving their children free reign to frolic outdoors means a whole generation of young ones are facing a “nature deficit disorder,” say experts and observers.

“The whole notion of free, unorganized play is going by the wayside,” said Joe Doiron, senior policy analyst with the Public Health Agency of Canada’s healthy living unit.

There is a “disturbing trend” that shows children are involved in mostly indoor organized activities, Doiron said. 

“What this trend suggests is that we’re ignoring opportunities for our kids to be involved in unorganized, free play,” he said.

Nathan Perkins, an associate professor at the University of Guelph, said the need for structure in people’s lives is making nature an increasingly “programmed experience.”


Read the entire article here.  I think it raises some very important issues about a generation of kids who are out of touch with Creation.

The Bourne Bonamine*

Friday, August 24th, 2007

Janet and I seldom see a movie on the big screen, usually waiting for the DVD release (in fact we often don’t watch movies until they’ve been retired from the new release section). However since we had enjoyed the first two movies about Jason Bourne, we took an evening awhile back to take in The Bourne Ultimatum. When we were well into the movie, near the end of one of the many chases involving hand-held cameras with a lot of jerky movement, I noticed that Janet seemed to be suffering. I’ve known her long enough that it didn’t take long to realize that she had a case of motion sickness. After scraping together the little money we had on us, she left the cinema and went next door to the drugstore, where although she didn’t have enough for a full package of Bonamime*, the nice pharmacist sold her two pills for $1.00. Within a few minutes she was back in her seat, and was able to enjoy the end of the movie. Motion sickness pills have been put to good use on most of our car trips, and of course on our rare flights, but this was the first time I’ve seen them used to survive a movie. Thanks Pfizer for making that amazing product.

(By the way, I really enjoyed The Bourne Ultimatum. And Janet enjoyed the part that she saw)

*TM/MC Pfizer Products Inc., lic. use/sous lic. Pfizer Canada Inc., Markham, ON L3R 5L2

Ole and Lena

Monday, August 20th, 2007

Ole and Lena went to the Olympics. While sitting on a bench a lady turned to Ole and said, “Are you a pole vaulter?” Ole said, “No, I’m Norvegian…and my name isn’t Valter.”

Ja vell, if this type of humour isn’t your cup of coffee, then move along, but if it is, you can find lots more Ole and Lena (and Sven) jokes <here>.

Auntie Florence (AKA Saint Florence)

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

Florence really isn’t my aunt, but our family, and many of the other people at Gateway Covenant Church, know her as Auntie Florence. In the 19 years that I’ve known her, I truly can’t recall her ever saying a negative word about anyone. She taught Sunday School to all four of our children, but that was just a small window of the time she taught the toddler class. At least one family at our church had three generations loved by Auntie Florence in that Sunday School class. A number of years ago I served with Florence on a church board, during a time when the church was dealing with some conflict issues, and she was always ready to point out something positive about the people involved. She never stops loving. In recent years, despite physical setbacks and memory loss that have forced her to give up her apartment and car, she has maintained her smile and humble gratefulness for any small favour.

In the stream of Christianity that I’m part of, we don’t have an official process of recognizing saints, since we generally understand the scriptures as saying that all all believers are numbered among the saints (some of us being less saintly than others), but if we did, I would nominate Saint Florence.

Auntie Florence

Haying on the Isles of Scilly

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

Janet was tickled to find a couple of pictures of her dad, brother, and nephews posted on the Scilly Webcam site.

Here’s one of the pics.

Tea time for three generations of Bird farmers

Click here (or on the photo above) for the full Scillywebcam post with another picture of nephew Daniel.

Riders game blackout lifted

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

There are people living in Prince Albert who buy season tickets and attend every home game of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. However most fans in P.A. consider the 4-hour drive to Regina and another 4 hours back, and settle instead for listening to Rider home games on the radio while grumbling about the blackout policy. According to a statement on the Edmonton Eskimos website:

The standard CFL blackout policy is as follows:
The blackout pattern for CFL games is 56 km radius from the stadium for cable television and 120 kms for conventional (CBC). There is one exception to this rule. The Province of Saskatchewan is subject to full provincial blackouts.

I guess I understand the exception for Saskatchewan, after all they aren’t the Regina Roughriders. However it is an annoyance for those of us living almost 400 km away.

Actually attending a game in person is a rare treat for me, the last time being in 2005 when some men from Gateway Covenant Church had a road trip.

With the B.C. Lions game last night ending in a tie, the Riders could pull into 1st place with a win against the Eskimos tonight. I was all set to watch the game online on, putting up with the poor video quality, so (finally getting to the point of this post) I was happy to read that the game has sold out, and the blackout has been lifted. Since CBC is televising this game, guess where I’ll be at 8:00 tonight.

UPDATE: Well what a roller-coaster that was.  The Riders now have sole possession of 1st  place in the CFL.

Wasn’t it a near-collision?

Friday, August 17th, 2007

This news story uses the term “near-miss” to refer to an incident at the Los Angeles Airport. Apparently WestJet flight 900 from Calgary almost collided with a Northwest Airbus.

Maybe this is quibbling, but if the planes nearly collided, shouldn’t it be called a near-collision? Likewise shouldn’t a “near-miss” refer to a collision that nearly missed?

Winemaking for fun … and profit?

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

I made my first batch of homemade wine while living in Edmonton in 1986, when my former U of A forestry classmate and then workmate Don Edwards mentored me in the art and science of oenology (OK, that term is pretentious, so call me a winemaker, not an oenologist). Our Chokecherry 1986 wine was quite nice, enough to encourage me to stay with the hobby. Since then I have made various fruit wines, kit wines (from the cheap 4-week concentrates to the premium mostly-juice kits), and wine from pure fresh refrigerated grape juice, while never progressing to the pressing of my own grapes (or getting my kids to stomp them).

Although my tastes do lean toward the red wines made from pure juice, I still enjoy the challenge of making a fruit wine, despite the highly variable results. One of the wines that I am most proud of was a raspberry wine that I made several years ago.

Well last year my friend Will, who with his wife Genevieve recently started up a U-Pick operation, asked if I’d be interested in making a couple of batches of wine on a shared basis, i.e. he provides the fruit, I make the wine, and we split the product. I started his Raspberry 2006 late last summer, and bottled it late this spring. I also have a batch of a fruit I’d never heard of, a Japanese edible honeysuckle that he calls Hascap, aging in the carboy. The Raspberry 2006 must have passed inspection, because he’s asked me to make a couple more batches from this year’s fruit.

Now here’s the twist. Will has also floated the idea that he’d eventually like to get a licence to sell homemade wine from his U-Pick, but not having the time or interest for making wine, he’s interested in some form of partnership with me as his winemaker. I enjoy winemaking as a hobby, but the thought of making wine for sale has never crossed my mind. Besides having a full time job, I have a busy family, not to speak of a blog, so I’m going to have to think long and hard about this. Probably the biggest question for me is whether winemaking would be less enjoyable if it were no longer just a hobby. Another is the fact that although I’ve probably done more reading on the craft than most hobby winemakers do, I don’t have any formal training, and I don’t consider myself an expert.

Meanwhile, for this year I’ll enjoy making a couple of batches of raspberry (red and golden) wine on a shared basis with Will, and there’s lots of time to consider taking it to another level.