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11/23/2006
 
This blog has moved. If you're reading via RSS, please visit the site at www.jonandnic.com to find the new RSS feed link.

This also marks the end of life for eXpression, which has been deprecated in favour of WordPress. I am very proud of what eXpression was and could do, but I just don't have the time to maintain it any more...

- posted by codepoet @ 12:00:00 | Current News & Events | Comments (0)

Mac Round-Up

11/22/2006
 
The year is drawing to and end and it's computer refresh time at our house! As always, I'm figuring out how to do this without spending any money -- we very rarely spend actual cash on computers, and when we do it's usually only for an odd part or upgrade. This time we're taking a step backward and a baby step forward...

I was previously using Nic's dying iBook as a server of sorts at my desk at work where it handled various tasks that Windows just can't do. When the screen finally died, I sold it on eBay. A broken 700Mhz G3 iBook fetched me about $180 -- enough to pick up a G4 Cube.

The Cube is about 6 years old now, but it's still a striking machine. The descendant of Steve's original cube, and the predecessor of the Mac Mini, the Cube is a work of art that I've lusted after for years now. A 450Mhz G4, it'll be slower than the iBook, but it'll look soo much cooler on my desk -- once I clean it up, upgrade it a little, and give it some TLC.

Speaking of the Mac Mini. My PowerMac G4, super-computer of yester-year, decked out with all the goodies I could shove in it, is listed on eBay, destined to be replaced by a Mini on my desk at home. The G4 tower was an awe-inspiring machine, beautifully designed, both inside and out, with a wonderful drop-down side for upgrading. My only complaint about this machine was the incredible amount of fan noise it generated, even while asleep. (The machine is almost universally known by Mac geeks as the "Wind Tunnel.") Still I love the look and feel of my PowerMac, and I'm going to miss it -- it's just that the Mini is smaller, does almost everything my G4 can (except for Final Cut Pro), and does a couple things it can't.

Some day soon I hope to be adding another Mac to my daily use, but that's a story for another time. In related news we picked up a Mac Pro for the Production Team yesterday. Quad Xeon cores makes Jon drool...

- posted by codepoet @ 12:42:54 | Digital Toys | Comments (1)

Short Weeks Rock!

11/22/2006
 
It's the last day of the week! In 8 hours I'll be going home and not returning to the office for 4 whole days! I was going to talk about Thanksgiving, but instead I think I'll just let Ze Frank entertain you all, and I'll return later to babble about something not nearly so witty...



Neither of our family Thanksgivings are anything like this, but that doesn't make it any less amusing...

- posted by codepoet @ 07:01:47 | Current News & Events | Comments (0)

The Baby Blues

11/21/2006
 
Only 4 minutes behind schedule this morning!

In September, one of our students was telling me that she was going to see the Blue Man Group. I told her she was brave. That there was no way I could ever go see the Blue Man Group because they give me nightmares. She thought I was joking...

Last night I had a dream that I had to change the babies diaper (this could be because there are suddenly packages of diapers all over our bedroom) only I was having a hard time getting the baby to sit still -- because it was actually a tiny member of the Blue Man Group...

- posted by codepoet @ 06:45:13 | The Next Adventure | Comments (0)

Old and New

11/20/2006
 










Today is Day 1 of my new schedule -- I was only about 10 minutes behind. My alarm goes off at 5:30am on weekdays now. To some people that might not seem unusual. For me, it's nearly vomit inducing. I still hit snooze 3 times, crossing the room in a state that would surely look like sleep-walking to the casual observer. Really it's a sort of semi-conciousness, where I know that I'm eventually going to have to face the cruel cold world, but not before I let myself slip back into blissful sleep for a couple fleeting moments. My goal is to be at work, where ever that may be on a given day, by 6:30am -- the time when I'd usually be shuffling, zombie-like, across the room to hit snooze for the first time. That'll get me out of the office by 4:30, and give me Tuesday mornings off for staff meetings at the church. Thursday mornings, I'll only have to drag my butt as far as the kitchen to begin my day of working from home. Most of my week days will end at 9:30pm, although the job that I consider 'work' will be done by 5:00pm at the latest. Monday's and Fridays, however, will end around dinner time so I can spend some the evening with my wife -- and soon with our baby!
My first week on this new schedule is mercifully short, since Thursday and Friday are holidays for the great American Thanksgiving, so I'm easing myself into these new early mornings. A 15-hour day can seem oppressively long, but the only part I really hate is the mornings -- most of our week is really fun and challenging, and since Nic spends so much time at the church herself, it's kinda like we'll be working together!

The picture above is of New York city. The color version is a shot I took on one of our trips to the big city. The black and white is from almost the same angle, extracted from a movie, circa 1950. I thought it was pretty cool that a photographer 50 years ago saw New York almost the same way I did. It's kinda comforting, as our lives change so much, to know that nothing in life is really that scary, cause, to quote a great Canadian band, it's all been done before...

PS - Arm update: It moves more and more each day. I saw the specialist on Friday, and after poking, proding, more x-rays and a giant needle shoved in my elbow, was unable to tell me anything about the injury. Next stop is an MRI. Apparently there's two possibilities, with two solutions. One is that it's a fracture, and I should take it easy and then start physical therapy once it's healed. The other is that there's some cartiledge that's chipped out and is floating around in there, in which case they'll have to open it up and suck it out... Neither sounds very appealing to me.

PPS - Baby update: It's still there, and still getting bigger! Maybe more news after Tuesday's doctor's appointment.

- posted by codepoet @ 08:19:39 | Current News & Events | Comments (0)

Updates

11/15/2006
 
My elbow doesn't hurt any more, but it doesn't move either. I can type by leaning on my right side and elevating my left arm into the air so that my fingers are above the keys. I can feel the tendons in my arm move as I do and it feels weird, but it's not really painful. It's just hard to stay lopsided all day. I've read a bit about elbow injuries online, and apparently this kind of injury can mean that I'm going to need physiotherapy. I'll wait to see what the orthopedic specialist has to say on Friday, but I'm done with my stupid sling until then -- it doesn't do anything. My range of motion gets better as I use the arm, and icing it helps a lot more. The doctor said it was up to me, and in my medical wisdom, I've decided I'd rather have limited use of my arm than none at all.

Yesterday I had my first meeting as a member of the staff at Northway, although my official start date isn't until November 28th. My new title is Director of Information Technology, which basically means I just keep doing what I'm doing. The pastors anointed me with oil and prayed for healing for my arm yesterday, like it says to do in James. It was a little weird, but also very cool -- how many people have bosses who pray over them?

Obviously no progress has been made on the babies room, due to my arm, but Monday we had our last child birth class and got a tour of the hospital. It's all very nice and well equipped. My only complaint is that they don't have wireless internet. I'm going to try to make a deal with the staff so that I can find a computer to blog from during labour!

American Thanksgiving is coming up next week, and these crazy Yanks get two full days off to celebrate! We got invited to turkey dinner with the family of some of our students, so we're going to go to do that and spend the rest of our long weekend taking care of some things around the house. The guy who hit my car has agreed to get it fixed, the baby's room needs to be finished, and I need to do some server maintenance. The website is moving to WordPress, since I've been impressed with it as I've worked on it for the church. I'm not sure how I'm going to handle archives, but likely there'll be a "new" and an "old" jonandnic.com for quite awhile...

- posted by codepoet @ 08:33:42 | Current News & Events | Comments (5)

Typing With One Hand is Hard!

11/12/2006
 
Broke my arm at a Kutless concert. I'd like you to believe that I was crowd surfing in the mosh pit when it happened, but the truth is, I was running across the parking lot to toss my sweatshirt in the car. As I was pulling it over my head I was sure to take note of the street sign in my way, but failed to notice the curb, which I subsequently tripped over.
I made it through a couple hours of the show but went home as my arm got harder to move. Woke up at 1:00 in pain, made it until 7:00 before I woke Nic up to drive me to the hospital. There  was too much fluid in my elbow to get a good X-Ray but they think it's fractured. I'm wrapped up and in a sling and about to go fill a script for some sweet sweet pain killers.
The picture is of me at a nice American hospital, after receiving some nice American morphine through a not-so-nice, and somewhat messy American IV.

Update: It might not be broken! The doctor thought it was but since they couldn't get a good X-Ray he said there was a chance it might just be bruised and hyper-extended. The swelling was down a lot this morning, and I have a good increase in range of motion. I'll have a follow up visit with ortho later in the week so hopefully that'll be good news!

- posted by codepoet @ 13:25:12 | Current News & Events | Comments (4)

The Next Big Thing(s)

11/10/2006
 
It might be too early to talk about this -- it probably is, cause there's some details left to be worked out, but I'm too excited to keep my mouth shut any longer...
This week I accepted a part time position with Northway Church! I'm gonna be on staff at the place where I spend almost all my free time anyway!

The job description and the compensation details are pending. I imagine both will be creative since I enjoy serving in a lot of different areas, and since I can't actually get paid by anyone else here in the States. And although I had thought I'd gotten my time management down to a science, I'm going to have to refine it even further. My boss at my full time job has allowed me to create a more flexible schedule that will involve early mornings and a day of working from home so that I don't miss out on family time, and I'll be spending my Tuesday mornings in meetings at the church.

Of the jobs I've taken, this is easily the most nerve-wracking step of faith -- even though it's really just a baby step. This is going to put some pressure on my time pie charts, and force me to discipline myself -- especially in the mornings, and I hate mornings. I'm stepping into a job in which I have only volunteer experience, and even though I've grown up in the church and ministry world, this is really my first significant opportunity to be a part of leadership... and I'm really not sure what I'll have to offer. But they asked me there, so I'll do my best and trust that God has a plan.

In other news, the baby's room is almost done. We need to paint clouds on the ceiling and add the border, then we can start moving in the furniture. We have one more child birth class left (thank goodness!) -- this one a tour of the birthing center at the hospital, which is a good thing. Nic's started having occasional, random Braxton-Hicks contractions, and her belly looks about ready to burst. Hard to believe the baby is still going to be in there for almost 2 more months!

Overall, life is good... and kinda grown-up. It's scary to realise that we're actually adults now, but I'm kinda getting used to the idea. Before you know it, I'll be yelling at those dang kids to get off my lawn and turn down their hippy music!

- posted by codepoet @ 10:00:55 | Current News & Events | Comments (1)

Heros of Faith?

11/07/2006
 
It started with a germ of a thought. Actually it started a lot earlier than that, and began to take shape as a weight in my heart weeks before. But it really took hold in my mind with this thought: What is a hero of faith? What makes them that? What is it about their character or their make-up that allows them to be a hero?
And the answer that I came up with, the only one that makes sense, is that there's only one thing that defines a hero of faith, and that's their walk with God.

When you talk about a regular hero, you might say they're brave or courageous. You might say they're humble and kind. When you talk about a hero of faith, you may use those words, but you'd be missing what really makes them. They can't be that kind of hero if that's how they describe themselves. A hero of faith describes themselves only as a follower of God.

----

It occured to me that I've been without a mentor for quite some time now. When I was little, I had my dad to look up to. In my teen years and early 20s a man who was my Sunday School teacher and then my boss set an example for me of how to live a life of professional integrity and success while still making time to be heavily involved in ministry. Both of those men still have things to teach me, but both have lives seperate enough from the individual path God's led me on, that I can't exactly chase them any more.
So as I began thinking about who I should chase now, and my mind mentally checked off people of faith that I respect -- both living and dead -- I started to ask myself: what character traits or priorities do they have that I would want to adopt as my own? And I found that even though these men were "heros" and accomplished great things for God, I couldn't list those things -- because that's not what defines them.

----

I spend a lot of time in my head. I've always had this kind of internal dialog with myself -- even when I was a little kid I imagined my life being narrated by some writer in my brain. I examine myself constantly and question almost everything I do. Despite never being real good at school, I crave feedback against which I can evaluate myself. I'm constantly trying to figure out what defines me; what I'm good at; what I suck at. I check my motives and wonder endlessly why I do what I do.

I enjoy it when God uses me, and something good happens because of my desire to serve.
I collapse when someone challenges my ministry or suggests that my priorities are wrong.
I long for the actions that define me to be ones that are good and worthwhile.

And these are all good things. But this is me-centered behaviour. This is me, once again, thinking that I'm important to God's work. That it's about me and the adventure God's got me on. Every time I wonder if I did something right, or get excited by something that does go right because of my efforts, I'm putting myself in the way of God's work.

And all of the introspection, and second-guessing and even celebrating, is putting me and what I do above God and my relationship with Him. Cause here's the thing... If my relationship with God is right, He's not going to screw up, and He's not going to use me to screw up. And if my eyes are fixed on God, the good things that happen are going to pale in comparison to my walk with Him. The fact that I'm being used or not used is secondary to Him in my life. It's not about me and how He uses me, it's about Him -- and if He uses me, that's just gravy.

When I do ministry, I have this tunnel vision: this person's problem, this technical challenge, this looming deadline, those are the things that I focus on. I get into this mode where I think it's my job to take care of God's people, or God's media ministry, or God's church. But that's not it at all. It's my job to be in the best, closest relationship with Him that I can. He'll take care of His people and His ministries and His church -- these things aren't mine. No one needs Jon to come and save them! And if my focus is on Him, if my tunnel vision is pointed at His light, He's going to use me and I won't even notice! I won't have to sit there and analyze whether or not I did a good job, because God will have done His job -- and if I was a tool He used, I'll know that He's done His work perfectly, like He always does.

I think of it like which way I'm facing...
If I'm facing the work, with God's light behind me, ya things are getting done, and ya God's light is still shining around me. But maybe I make a mistake because I'm not focused on God, and definately I'm blocking out some of the light with my own image.
But if I'm facing God, the work is behind me. The priorities are clear: God first, the work second. And God's not going to let His work go undone. But if I desire for Him to purify me through my relationship with Him, I begin to become more transparent. God works around me when I'm not the right tool, and through me when I am. I never need to look back to see if I'm doing alright, or if people are following my lead, cause I know my eyes are fixed in the right direction. And the more he purifies me, the more His light shines through me, until my image is gone. Until I have no definition save for my walk with God.

That's what I see in the Christian men I respect. I don't see them and what they do and what defines them, I see God shining right through them. And yes, you can judge them by their work, and say "look at the great things He's accomplished." But if that person is a true hero of faith, they don't see those things, and they don't judge themselves by them. They don't say "ya, look what I did." They just keep pointing to God, in wonder and in awe... not ever needing to know if they were successful or not, because they understand that the work is nothing more than a bi-product of a right walk with God, and that He never fails -- despite having an imperfect toolkit to work with.

- posted by codepoet @ 14:07:41 | Ravings | Comments (0)

Jason on Pregnancy

11/07/2006
 
Our friends Jason and Brooke are hilarious. We met them when they decided to run a Home Team and we got signed up in their group -- and we've enjoyed hanging out with them since. We don't see them often enough, but when we do we always have a good time.
When they got married (2 years ago, I think) Jason started a marriage documentary for everyone out there thinking about marriage -- ostensibly anyway. It's actually for everyone who is married so that we can laugh at ourselves and the things we all have in common.
Brooke is a couple months behind us in having a baby, so it's been a lot of fun for us to watch them go through some of the things we dealt with (and are still dealing with) and know that we aren't alone. Apparently, Jason's restarted documentary production, this time about pregnancy. I stole this video from his MySpace for all of you to see...



And speaking of pregnancy... I won't say names, cause some people are still keeping it quiet, but 6 of our close friends, in Canada, the States and other parts of the world, are having a baby within a few months of us. Congratulations to all of you -- we're so glad we'll have other people to commiserate celebrate with!

- posted by codepoet @ 11:46:10 | The Next Adventure | Comments (0)

Placenta Not Previa

11/06/2006
 
Our baby continues to get huge. Last ultrasound, which was 5 weeks ago, it was in the 75th percentile. Now, with 2 months left of pregnancy, it's in the 88th percentile at a whopping 5 pounds 2 ounces.
On the positive side, it's massive girth has finally succeeded in pushing the placenta out of the way, and we're clear for a normal delivery!
On the negative side, if baby continues to grow at this rate it may be too large for a normal delivery...

Child birth classes resume tonite... they wouldn't be so bad if they weren't 3 hours long and the instructor didn't stop every 5 minutes to ask "Any questions? Hmm? Any at all? Anything? No questions? Anyone?"

- posted by codepoet @ 15:55:36 | The Next Adventure | Comments (2)

Years of avoiding manual labour...

11/06/2006
 
When I was in high school and thinking about college choices, I'd tell people that I was planning on pursuing computers. There were two responses indicative of the times. People who didn't know much about the topic would say "Oh, that's great! You'll have no trouble finding a good job!" And people who knew a little more would ask "Hardware or software?"

See at the time, it was roughly an even match -- maybe hardware even had a slight leg-up. Technology problems could be solved with (or occurred with equal frequency in) hardware or software, so asking which discipline I was interested in was a fair question. These days the question wouldn't be asked. Computer "hardware" has been relegated to either Best Buy, or your local white-box shop (which is basically the new corner mechanic) and if you're going to college for computer "hardware" you likely mean some advanced engineering discipline that would have you working at Intel or AMD -- you would never say "I'm going into computers" if you meant that you're interested in microchip development.

But as I said, at the time, computers were a mystery enough to most people that they couldn't tell the difference between hardware hacking and some good software kung-fu, and a guy with a soldering iron was on equal footing with a guy who was running VisualStudio on his Windows NT 4 box.

10 years later it's pretty clear that I made the right choice -- I don't still work at Future Shop, so at some point I must have put some thought into. But I don't really remember making a conscious decision to pursue software technology. If I did though, two factors would have impacted my thought process. The first, of course, being the discovery of the Internet, and realising that it didn't matter what kind of box you were running, as long as it could get online. The second being the fact that I don't think I've ever opened a PC case without hurting myself.

I used to have a little business doing in-home computer repairs and training, and I swear I've left my blood on more motherboards than most people have ever seen. Every time I go to upgrade a computer or swap out a component, I cut myself somehow. A couple weeks ago while building the NAS I shredded a few dozen layers of skin off my index finger. Just as that was healing, I went to install a SATA card in the same PC, and ripped half my finger nail off my middle finger. It hurts to type because any time I hit a key with that finger I can feel the sensitive skin getting jammed back into what's left of the nail.

There was a time when I realised that I'd let my hardware skills slip, and that I wasn't up on the latest graphics cards and hard drive technology. But given where I'm sitting, and the scars on my hands, I think I chose the right path.

- posted by codepoet @ 09:15:05 | Current News & Events | Comments (2)

Surprise!!

11/04/2006
 
I'm not very good at blogging but I thought I would write about my day today.
I got back to the US Thursday night from a week in Canada of hanging out with my dad. And yesterday I didn't do too much and Jon told me that the "meeting" that was scheduled for last weekend got moved to this weekend….very interesting. Also he said he would be doing something with the youth guys after. Later I'm not sure if he let something slip but he said something about them coming to the "meeting" but he really couldn't explain why. So this morning Jon leaves to go to the church and reminded me to meet him at the church @ 10:30. I did this wondering what exactly we would be doing since I asked Jon earlier if he knew who all was going and he said he didn't know, weird I think to myself. Anyway we get to Brian and Libby's house for me only to find out that I was at a surprise baby shower. Yeah my first baby shower, although I do have to say I get very nervous at showers that are for me.
Anyway I wanted to thank everyone for coming and for all the awesome gifts we got, which I'm not going to list because that would be too long and I don't want to forget anyone. Also sorry that it had to get rescheduled and that some people couldn't make this weekend . I can't wait to put it all the nursery -- that is, once it is finished. Thanks again to everyone who helped plan the shower and to Libby for hosting it at her house and also to the great food everyone brought!! I love you guys and I am glad we have found some great friends here to share in our new journey together.

Well that was alittle longer then I expected but I thought I should explain why I was kind of expecting that it was a baby shower but not 100% sure….Jon was very vague with his answers so that is mainly what go me wondering.

Well I should be off to bed now. Goodnight!!

- posted by colie @ 23:25:17 | The Next Adventure | Comments (2)

A Canadian on Politics in the United States of America

11/03/2006
 
I wrote this post a couple months ago, and saved it, but didn't put it online because I thought it might be too inflamatory. But with the midterm elections looming, politicians slinging dirt, and scandal in the news on a daily basis (or at least that's what Jon Stewart tells me on the Daily Show, cause I don't watch the actual news) and without any ability to vote, I figured I might as well get my two cents in somewhere. I apologize in advance if you disagree with my politics. The opinions in this commentary are that of the author and are not intended to reflect the opinions of my employer or any organizations that I volunteer at...

One of the realities of living in the States is that to be Christian you pretty much are supposed to be conservative in your politics -- in other words, Republican. I'm finding that this means it's best to keep my mouth shut when it comes to politics. Because George Bush claims Christianity as his religion, and because his party is Republican, no matter what he does, American Christians (and a number of Canadian ones I know) tend to give him the benefit of the doubt. Obviously readers of this website are aware that I'm not quite so gracious in my opinion of him.

In fact, I'm finding that in matters of politics, I'm actually a lot less Conservative Christian than most. I disagree with, and have since the beginning, the war in Iraq. Although I've softened in my stance somewhat since living here, as I got a better understanding of the American view point, I still believe that at best it's been bungled, and more likely it was undertaken with interests less than altruistic. It seems clear to me that "the greater good" represented by this government is actually that of a fairly small group of individuals who tinker with liberty and law to get their own way, at the expense of those who are not rich in power or money.

I definately wouldn't consider myself a Democrat, but I do find myself on the liberal side of some issues.
I don't watch Fox News, because they sound like unabashed lapdogs of the current government.
I don't think abortion is right, but if they're gonna kill babies, they might as well use the stem cells for something good.
I'm not against defending freedom and liberty, even into war, but I am opposed to the false premise under which we were led into this particular war and against the flawed leadership which has kept us at war for much longer than we were originally told we would be, without yet managing to eliminate the culprit of the original catalyst.
I'm not for gay marriage, but idiot Conservatives who spout things like "God hates fags" aren't doing anything for the Kingdom.
I believe God gave us this planet to rule over, but I am opposed to irresponsible consumption of our resources... even if that makes me, as a Christian friend once called me, a tree hugger.
I believe God created the world, but I also believe that God gave us minds so that we could study science and investigate theories -- the theory of the earth being round was once thought to conflict with the Bible, so who knows what else we have to learn as a civilization.

Still, I know that many of my peers don't agree with me, so I was surprised to hear our local Christian radio station participating in a little Bush bashing this afternoon. Could it be that even the Conservative right is starting to wonder how long their liberty will continue to be eroded? Or wonder why it's permissable for their President to break the law? Or condone torture? Or expend the countries resources -- including their young men and women -- in a war with no clear ending?

I am beginning to understand the nobility of the American soldier. The ideal that they fight for, and the faith-filled acceptance that it's their job to do what they're told on the hopes that their leadership is acting for the good of God and Country -- two seemingly inseperable principles in the States. I know why America is proud of their strength and of their military. It's there for all the right reasons, and it is that strength that allows the rest of the world to take them seriously. No one takes Canada seriously, despite the fact that we have a good country full of intelligent people -- we simply lack the strength to communicate who we are and what we believe. Unfortunately for America, their strength is now being used to communicate a message that the rest of the world cannot understand...

And even they themselves may not understand what's happened. They are a country that has stood for freedom and liberty since it's inception. A few weeks ago we took a trip to Washington D.C. and I couldn't help but be overwhelmed by the magnitude of that place. It is a monument to the bright and earnest minds and hearts of the men that formed a country through hardship and battle into something that represents principles that every nation should aspire to.

And Americans truly believe that they are perceived that way now -- and are taken aback that the rest of the world does not see them in such a high light any more. They are puzzled by people of other countries protesting against their war in Iraq with signs that read "No more war for oil!" In their minds, this really is a war for freedom, no different than every other war they've fought in their history to defend those noble principles established by the founding fathers. So you can forgive them for missing the subterfuge. For not seeing the duplicity of the current government. And even if they are aware that the motives behind their stay in Iraq might not all be pure, you can't blame them for holding out hope that even an imperfect president still has the American Dream in mind.

So while I try to hold on to a bigger world view, and see things from the perspective of the people in the other countries I've lived in. And while I'm proud to be Canadian, at least because of the fact that I'm not at war right now. I am beginning to understand the power of this country's dream. If I could vote, which I cannot, and never will be able to in this country, I'm not sure where I would cast my loyalty. There are still some Christian beliefs that I hold to be important and would like to see them defended, but I believe with equal strength that Christianity should not be a weapon used to bludgeon people into submission. That a government is not flawless simply because the President is a Christian. And that most of us Christians could stand to get out of our comfy, sheltered life, and actually face the issues in front of us. Love God and Love Others are the two greatest commandments, and if we could all make those two things our focus again, I'd like to think that North America could be a better place...

Of course, I can't vote here, and I've left the country where I can vote. So all of this is really just useless rambling. I just felt like I should get my opinion down somewhere, because I'm really out of place if I say it out loud, and I had to have it recorded before I get assimilated too completely!

- posted by codepoet @ 12:48:59 | Current News & Events | Comments (2)

Nic's Home

11/03/2006
 
All week I've been feeling so good about my mornings. I'd get up almost as soon as the alarm goes off and start my day. This morning, though, I had a lot more reason to stay in bed...

- posted by codepoet @ 10:16:48 | Current News & Events | Comments (0)

Riding the Short Bus

11/02/2006
 
Sometimes I think I'm still pretty with it, still pretty cool. Like maybe I'm not so out of tune with culture, and still have a pretty good handle on what students live with these days. Then I remember that I haven't watched MTV (Much Music for you Canadians) in nearly half a decade, that I have no problem buying my clothes at Walmart, and that at least 75% of my iPod is filled with songs 5+ years old...

This week I heard, for the first time, about a show on MTV called Next, which is a dating show in which people eliminate dates by calling out "Next!" and another potential candidate is brought out. Sometimes a person is eliminated from the show before taking even 5 steps.
I supposed this is no more shocking than dating shows have ever been, but in the clips I saw while researching the show, I was kind of disgusted by how superficial and callous these young people were. I realise that I'm probably sounding like an old man, and when I was their age, kids had some respect, dang nab it!! But, seriously, the show is pretty gross.

At any rate, this week at Vertical, Brian's starting a series on dating, and at his creative meeting with some of the students, they decided to rip off this "Next" idea -- only instead of talking about the worldly view of relationships, we're going to talk about what the Bible has to say on the topic. Since the show takes place on a bus, is targeted at high school-aged kids, and is retarded, I decided for the intro video, that we'd poke a little fun at it...



This took about an hour to make, and is a little rough around the edges, but it makes me giggle. I took a Short Bus, added the Next logo, and then made 3 frames for different hydraulic positions, and transitioned them together. Played at about 300% speed, it makes the bus bounce. The background is just a stock motion back that worked well for the video. We agonized over the music choice, but ended up using a song by Toby Mac. Click here if you're wondering what the show actually looks like.

- posted by codepoet @ 11:35:24 | Video Posts | Comments (2)

Inexplicably Happy!

11/01/2006
 
I'm not really sure why, but I'm really happy today! It just feels like things are clicking...

I've pretty much promised to rock the UI for the next version of our product, and the technology we've decided on is pretty new and therefore pretty scary. But the more I learn of it, the more it fits with the way I'm used to programming. Not everything is coming easily, but many major concepts are just falling into place in my mind, and it feels like I'm poised to totally not suck at this.

Our production meeting last night was so much fun. We didn't do any actual work, which is gonna mean a long night for me tonite, but instead we celebrated the recent baptisms for the group. We ate cake, I taught them Mafia, we played Hide and Seek in Price Chopper and then in the church, and then Dave, Jeremy and I took my team and the band over to the "haunted house" across the road and scared them all -- in honor of Halloween. I was in a funk when I got there last night, but by the end of the evening I was having a blast.

I discovered FaceBook... I've been resisting FaceBook even longer than I resisted MySpace, but I read an article the other day on the technology behind it, and how much better it is than MySpace, so I figured I'd check it out. The thing about these community sites is it's not the site or the technology, it's the fact that your friends are there. I refuse to get addicted to yet another cheesy social networking site, but it was pretty fun exploring around and finding friends from home.

This project I've been pushing for in the other big part of my life finally got approved. I'm really excited about rolling it out because I can take some of the awesome technology Nic and I use at home and apply it to a much bigger organization to help them be more efficient in what they do. For the past few months I've been trying to learn the things other people know so I can contribute to their teams. Now I can finally bring the things I know to them to make all of our jobs easier. Learning is fun, but sharing the things you've already learned is too.

And last but not least, my wife comes home tomorrow! The apartment is so empty without her, and I've kinda started avoiding going home, cause there's no one there to talk to. I've kept busy while she's been gone, and had lots of good friends to talk to, but nothing beats having your soulmate with you -- even if she takes up more than 75% of the bed...

- posted by codepoet @ 12:44:02 | Current News & Events | Comments (3)

The Re-Examined Life

10/31/2006
 
A couple months ago, Nic and I took stock of our time and our money -- having determined that we weren't being effective enough with either. Since then, Nic's implemented a meticulous budget, that we're generally sticking too, and I've been working on where I spend my time.
When I first looked at my time budget I determined that I was wasting about 2 hours a day, or 14 a week, that I could be making better use of. So I adjusted my work hours, started working on getting up earlier, stepped up some ministry activities, and considered going back to school.

Well, it's about 3 months later. The reality of a baby arriving has set in, and that pretty much makes the school idea a pipe dream (not to mention sky-diving). But I think I have gotten a little better at using my time. Work is down from 56% to 43% of my life, while ministry is up from 19% to 32%. The learning category has been eliminated, but all that means is that everything new I'm digging into is directly related to ministry or work. That's fine with me, because personal time for Nic and I is up from 6% to 19%, which really means that I'm not bringing as much work -- ministry or otherwise -- home with me. Social time is down from a low 8% to an even lower 6%, but that's OK because ministry is a social activity anyway.

These numbers are adjusted, removing unproductive time. Without that adjustment, I spend about 32%, or 54 hours, of my week asleep, and about 12%, or 20 hours, on overhead: showering, driving, eating, etc...

All that said, I definitely feel more balanced. Like I'm effective at work, effective at church, still have some time for Nic and I, and the occasional opportunity to just hang out with some friends. This is pretty much all I could ask for from myself, but like our financial budget, we still haven't figured out where to make room for emergencies... or a baby...

- posted by codepoet @ 11:04:26 | Current News & Events | Comments (2)

Blogging because I was told to...

10/30/2006
 
So I've been asked (told actually) to write about my weekend (well, about last night, but I can't write about that without filling in the rest of the events). I'm not much for writing on demand, but my weekend was varied and interesting enough that I'll give it a shot.

Let's see, I guess we start with Nic's grandma dying last week. She left for home, by train, on Friday to attend the funeral and spend some time with her family. This left me, yet again, a bachelor in New York. I can't say I really like being alone, but I do have to admit that I've slept a lot better without a pregnant lady in bed with me.

Friday I was given the afternoon off in reward for my rather small efforts on the release team for version 4.3 of our product, so I decided to head up to the church to see if I could help out with anything. On the way there I had to drive through one of the many traffic circles recently installed, where an old man, understandably confused by all the lane lines decided to merge into my car. It was a very low speed collision, since I saw him drifting and slammed on the brakes, but he did cream the signature 3rd door in my 3-door Saturn Coupe pretty good. The door is out of alignment so it doesn't close properly and it's scratched up a fair bit. I'm currently wrestling with how I want to deal with it. My loathing of insurance companies, combined with the sweetness and sincere regret of the old couple who hit me, has me leaning towards a simple fix, while what remains of my youthful ego is demanding that my car be restored to it's original and sexy condition.

The police were not called, which may or may not have been a mistake, so hopefully I can get it fixed up somehow without getting screwed. They are willing to take responsibility (or at least were when I took their information down) so I'm hoping I can get things resolved without too much stress.

When I finally made it to the church, I found two of my friends nearly as frustrated as I was (although not quite as emotional). The pool we use as a baptismal had sprung a leak and dumped a couple hundred gallons of water all over the church while they were off getting lunch. Fortunately the floors are rubber, the fix was easy, and after a few minutes of prayer and planning, volunteers showed up out of nowhere to take care of things. The guys and I were able to get some production/technical stuff done in preperation for the weekend before heading back to my place to get started on painting the baby room.

We did an exceptional job on the ceiling and a crappy job on the first coat on the walls, before we ran out of energy and paint. One more afternoon of painting though, and it should be ready to go. Sadly, at this point it doesn't look like it'll be done before Nic gets home on Thursday.

Saturday I did a little bit more work on the room, and then headed back to the church to help prepare for the services. We're getting a lot more organized in the production booth, and once we get all our new technology figured out, things are going to be running pretty smooth back there -- which suits my anal, organized personality just fine. Saturday night, two teens helped out with production, and after testing out the pool, the guys and I went to Red Robin to eat burgers and lament about how none of us had a female companion to share the evening with.

Sunday morning was the baptism, and despite some tension and some technical problems, the services went amazingly well. The baptism service, in particular, was packed solid and over 60 people got dunked. As I mentioned earlier, I was especially excited about all the students who stepped up.

So now we come to the party that I'm actually supposed to be blogging about. For starters, we never got an invitation to this party, but I'm assured that we were sent one. So that was a little awkward. Then, having seen a friend's invitation on the way there, I realised that we were supposed to bring food (not that I could have prepared anything edible anyway), so I felt like a total leech.
When we arrived (I went with another couple) there were 7 pregnant couples represented there (although I'm a poor representative of our pregnancy, due to having almost nothing to do with it at this point). The girls all moved to the kitchen while the guys all gathered around the TV to watch football.

I should add here that I hate football.

Actually, I don't hate football, any more than I dislike watching any sport on TV. In Canada I had begun to train myself (rather, I'd been trained by my friends) to sit through a hockey game, and even find moments where it was entertaining. I have yet to establish that discipline for the preferred American sport of football.
It's not that I don't like the game -- I love playing football -- it's just that I don't have the time or the patience to care that much about what over-paid jocks on the screen are doing. I'm sure, like hockey, there's subtle nuances, fascinating strategy and an unfolding drama between the competing teams that you only understand if you slavishly follow the sport throughout the season... but I just can't bring myself to care. There's too much other stuff I'd rather be doing with my time.

So when it seemed that this would be a football party, I was pretty bummed. I'll make an effort, for my friends here, as I did at home, to find some enjoyment in the things they enjoy, but on a Sunday night after a fairly intense weekend, staring at little people running around on a screen, didn't seem like that much fun.

Then the food came out...

Torn away from the TV, the guys began using actual words, instead of just grunts and the occasional fart, the women started to mingle a bit, the conversation picked up and got interesting, and I began to remember why I was so excited that we'd been invited to this party. Some of these people I'd never met before, others are really cool and exceptional Christian couples that we only get to see every couple months.
After we ate, 8 guys went outside (in the freezing cold) to play Bocci Ball -- a game that apparently some people take very seriously. I've never really played before, and don't have a track record of being naturally athletic, so I was really only hoping to keep up. For the first half of the game, my teammate, Joe, carried us through. But at about the halfway point, I started to figure it out, and our team rocketed up to tie for first place at the game point. Sadly, the other team got that point, so we came in second (which according to Chad means we were the first losers), but I was pretty proud of our showing. And more importantly, I had a lot of fun.

I also ate very well (did I mention the food?) despite being a leech, and got to hold a baby (who nearly started crying, but I managed to put her back to sleep). So when my ride was ready to leave, I was sorry to go. Scott and Rachel have a beautiful house that they've worked at and made into a warm and welcoming home. The company was good (once the football was over), the conversation lively and fun, and it really was a nice way to spend a cold autumn evening.

It might have been a lonely weekend without my wife. But God's surrounded us with great friends and amazing opportunities to grow and serve. That doesn't mean I don't want her to hurry up and get home, but it's nice to know we're not alone here.

PS to Libby: The blog war is on.

- posted by codepoet @ 09:39:18 | Current News & Events | Comments (3)

Dunkfest

10/29/2006
 
This morning 4 of the kids on my production team -- my kids -- got dunked. In obedience and with courage, they got up in front of a couple hundred people, and told all of them what they believe.

I could not be more proud of them, or happy for them. Getting baptized is a huge step of faith -- especially when the water is  that cold. I know, cause I got test dunked last night while we were setting up the pool.

Way to go guys. I'm so stoked that God put you in our lives so we could watch you grow to this point.

Update:
Yesterday, one of the students who got baptised asked me some awesome questions. For those who've been baptised, you know the joy you feel on that day, and they were wondering how you know what opportunities to take to find that joy again. I hope they don't mind if I post an excerpt from my reply, because it's a question I've been searching for an answer for most of my life...

How do you know what opportunities to take to get this feeling back?
Sometimes you don't. Sometimes you're wandering in the dark, and God only shows you the next tiny step to take, without giving you any clue of what comes next. Sometimes you're torn between a good thing that seems scary and a bad thing that seems fun. Sometimes you're even torn between two good things. Rarely is it ever so clear as it is with baptism.
But it's the steps where you're unsure, where you're scared, and where God is demanding that you trust Him, that have the greatest reward.

Sometimes you'll know -- because God has built you with desires and talents and passion that He plans to use. And if you're walking with Him, He'll put those things to work, and you won't need to get paid for it, and you won't expect to ever be thanked for it, because you're just having so much fun doing what you know God made you to do. Those times are great. You might stumble around for awhile figuring out who you are or what God wants from you, but when you get it right, you'll know.

But in the times when there's no way to know, except to have faith in God, it's not as easy. And when you get there, my best advice is to get on your knees and pray, and ask God to show you what to do... and often you'll find that He's been guiding you and nudging you all along. But sometimes you'll find out that you're not ready, and God's not going to tell you yet.

I know these aren't good answers -- they're honest ones, but they probably don't leave you satisfied. God's like that -- we can't understand Him. And in my life it's only in looking back that I can see how brilliant He is, and how incredibly He's guided our lives to teach us what we need to know for the next step. All I can say is chase Him! Abandon your own wants and desires, forget your pride and your defenses and let Him use you the way He plans, and you will have more fun than you can imagine. His plan for you is an incredible adventure, and when you know you're in His will, you'll have joy even in the hard moments.

- posted by codepoet @ 22:20:16 | Current News & Events | Comments (2)

Another Rant on Windows Sucking

10/27/2006
 
When you boot up a new Mac, with nothing installed but the base system, you have everything you need for a useful workstation right out of the box. Mail.app, Address Book.app, iCal, Stickies and iSync. For these essential programs, plus Adium and NetNewsWire (both free), I brought a little iBook into work. It keeps me connected to the world, let's me see and sync my personal information with home, jumps firewalls and proxies to get me my mail, and co-ordinate schedules with Nic.

Well the little iBook, which was on it's last legs, may have just bit the bullet. The screen hasn't been working, but I had it hooked up to an external monitor, and if you held your tongue just right it would work. It doesn't owe us anything. It's a 5 year old laptop that still runs current software -- try saying that about a Windows-based laptop. But as of yesterday, it's been unable to drive an external monitor.

I unhooked it and spent a couple hours trying to duplicate the functionality it provided me using a 6-month old, supposedly top-of-the-line Dell business laptop, running the latest version of Windows XP. And found I can't.

- There's no built-in calendaring program, and all the ones out there that support the iCal standard for Windows suck.
- The built-in e-mail program, Outlook Express, is garbage. Thunderbird comes close to Mail.app, but I relied heavily on Mail.app's rule processing, which isn't there in Thunderbird.
- The built-in Address Book can't sync, so it's pretty much useless -- unless I like typing in my contacts again at work.
- GAIM is ugly compared to Adium.
- NetNewsWire Lite is free for Mac and syncs your subscriptions and read items between two Macs. There's a Windows equivalent, but it's not free.
- There isn't even a decent Stickies app out there that doesn't look like garbage and leak memory.

Why is that a Mac from 2000 is 10 years ahead of a Windows PC from 2006?

- posted by codepoet @ 09:43:48 | Ravings | Comments (0)

An Ode to Frankenstein

10/25/2006
 
At our church we produce a tremendous amount of video. Two years ago, Dave was averaging roughly 30GB a year -- based on the files I've found. Now, between all of us back there, we're pumping out around 110GB a month. Obviously file storage is a problem.

Our latest project has been building a NAS (Network Access Storage) computer that shares a terabyte (via hardware RAID) of disk space between two PowerMac G5 computers. Combined with an archiving solution that we're setting up next week, we hope to have a rolling 500GB or so of recently and frequently referenced data, and about 500GB of current project storage on the network, plus about 250GB per Mac of local storage. We'll archive to cheap IDE drives and move older stuff to storage as needed.

Before this plan took shape, however, and before we had two computers to share data between, my friend Jon Bates came up with a rather unique and elegant solution that's served Dave pretty well for the past year.

Frankenstein, as I lovingly dubbed it after working with it's assorted innards, lived a previous life as a Sun SCSI enclosure, holding 4 hard drives, probably totalling 30GB or something that seemed huge at the time. Bates gutted the box, replaced the SCSI connecters with 2 IDE to FireWire adapters, daisy chained together, and squeezed it all in next to 4 IDE drives, with the potential to total a terabyte (via software RAID), but falling short after one of the drives died.
It's a little haphazard, and definately a tight fit in there, but at the time I'm sure having a terabyte of space was practically unheard of. Frankenstein may not have been pretty, but it served us well.

Tonite I finally finished moving it's contents to the NAS, and freeing up the IDE drives to be used for back-up and archiving. It gave up even it's IDE cables to help assemble a keying computer and, for now, has spun up it's last platter. I can't say I'll miss the big noisy box, but it was a clever solution and it deserves a proper eulogy.

Good bye Frankenstein!

- posted by codepoet @ 22:26:04 | Networking Experiments | Comments (2)

Certain Advantages to Living in the States...

10/25/2006
 
Originally this was going to be a post on Child Birth classes. I'd selected a stellar quote from the show Scrubs, one of my all time favorites, around which I was going to base the post on. But in the past 2 days of thinking about it, I suffered some scope creep, and the topic was expanded. Still, I wouldn't want to rob you all of a wonderful quote on the magic of child birth...

"You will spend hours and hours in pain while you fart, pee and puke half naked in front of total strangers."

That, and this picture of different positions you can choose when delivering your pink blob, pretty much sums up this week's child birth class, so there's really not much left to discuss -- except for US healthcare. Some people have a bad idea of what US healthcare is like. These people don't understand the power of capitalism (read: greed). The way healthcare works in Canada is that everyone gets the same mediocre care. Whether you're rich or poor you're entitled to shoddy equipment, over-worked doctors, and long waits. In the States, you get what you pay for -- or more accurately, you get what your employer pays for. There are many disadvantages to working for a large mega company. At least one advantage is that they pay for really good health care.

We haven't been to the hospital where Nic's going to be in labour, but we've heard all sorts of good stories. Stories of private rooms with jacuzzi's for the mom and lounges for the dad. Flexible options for dealing with pain -- from getting the epidural as soon as you walk through the door, to waiting until nearly the end of labour. And professionals who's pay check comes from you, the patient, and who's job performance is judged by your satisfaction with your visit.

I'm sure it's not the utopia it sounds like, but everyone I know who's experienced both Ontario and subsidized US healthcare have raved about the level of attention and care that they get in the States. I'm actually a little excited to see what the hospital looks like.

Another good thing about the States? IHOP.

Maybe there are IHOPs somewhere in Canada, but before moving here, I'd only heard about them in the movies. So a few months after we got here, we decided we'd better look one up. Turns out there's one just a couple exits from where I work, and that they're just as good as the movies say.

Today, Nic and I spontaneously decided to meet for a lunch date at IHOP, for some chocolate chip pancakes with strawberry syrup on them. It was tastebud nirvana, and a perfect mid-week indulgence. If you've never been to an IHOP, you really need to get to one.

That and the healthcare almost make up for the lack of Tim Horton's coffee...

- posted by codepoet @ 13:05:08 | Current News & Events | Comments (4)

Worst. Day. Ever.

10/23/2006
 
Well maybe not the worst. But it sure was a roller coaster...

- posted by codepoet @ 21:36:11 | Current News & Events | Comments (3)

Welcome to the Family

10/20/2006
 
Yet another guy named Jon, this one from our student production team, got saved last night after Vertical. I had the priviledge of being used to help him through it. And I know the angels are rejoicing with us today...

- posted by codepoet @ 14:54:37 | Current News & Events | Comments (2)

Baby's Room

10/19/2006
 
The guest bed is gone! Last night the guys helped me move it out and into Dave's bachelor pad. All that's left is a gaping empty spot where the crib is going to go. This weekend I think we might start painting. The room's going to be pale yellow, with a classic Winnie the Pooh border, and other thematic decorations. If we have the time and the energy the ceiling is going to be sky blue with clouds sponged onto it.
Finally something I can do to get ready for our little alien's arrival!

- posted by codepoet @ 08:57:26 | Current News & Events | Comments (3)

Mucus Plug

10/17/2006
 
I've spoken before of the conspiracy to trick child-free couples into reproducing. But you don't know just how deep the rabit hole goes until you attend Child Birth classes (the class formerly known as Lamaze). At the root of the trickery is... All. Women. Everywhere!

See from the time they can pick up a doll, women have a life long fascination with babies. Don't believe me? Sit outside a maternity store in the mall for an hour or so. Practically every female, from 16 year old girls to 60 year old women, cast a glance toward the displays in the window as they walk past. It's much the same as when men walk past lingerie stores and their eyes flick over to the window, only this is much more malevolent. Men are only wondering how that lingerie can change their life for an hour or so. Women are thinking about how those maternity clothes can change their life forever!

And men only pay loose attention to all this noise about babies. Women speak of it with such excitement and anticipation that we just assume it's probably a good thing, and leave it at that. But this is a part of their plan: hype it up so much that some of that enthusiasm gets absorbed by the unsuspecting man, and he agrees to reproduction. Seven months later he finds himself in Child Birth classes wondering when the magic is going to start.

Guys, let me give you a weapon against this nefarious scheme of misinformation: mucus plug. When you're about to be fooled by the excitement bubbling off her -- or by the lingerie she's wearing -- just remember the mucus plug.

I won't go into the details of what the mucus plug is on this website, but I'm sure you can find plenty that will. Most of those sites will be pink and include cute pictures of cartoon babies, but will be full of information that seems incongruent with how the site, clearly made by a woman, seems to portray pregnancy. Words like "discharge" and "cervical dialation" -- words that you're not thinking about when you're making the baby, but that will become ingrained in your brain while the baby is taking over a significant portion of your mate's body.

Nonetheless, men have to go to Child Birth classes -- even when there's no illusion of the magic of childbirth left, and we realise that this thing that women have been excited about since the beginning of time is really pretty terrifying and a lot gross. Even then we have to go to these classes because otherwise there's nothing for us to do. And that's the other part of the trickery.

See women let us men believe that we're important to the process. The reality is that we're just DNA donors. We provide a little genetic contribution at the start of the process, and then sit around bewildered for the next 9 months while our gal morphs into a new shape on an almost daily basis to make room for the little life growing inside of her. And let me tell you, from the pictures we saw, there isn't that much room in there.
So we go to these classes, and learn way more about our sexy spouse's anatomy than we ever really needed to know to do our job. And we watch as the "magic" is stripped away from the experience and replaced with cold, hard medical facts.

Still once you get past all the ickiness, you can't help but be a little amazed. Who knew there were 10 available centimeters in your wife's body for the baby to fit through? Or that no one knows what causes labour to start. And did you know that the baby will actually turn itself twice on the way out the birth canal to fit through properly? It may not be pretty, but it is pretty amazing... If only it could happen with a little less mucus...

- posted by codepoet @ 08:17:00 | The Next Adventure | Comments (2)

Virtual Reality

10/16/2006
 
So are you one of those early adopters who picked up an XBox 360 before the competition released their next-gen systems? Or perhaps you're more shrewd, waiting for the PS3 to come out and drive down the price. Maybe you actually want a PS3 (although I don't know anyone who does). Or maybe, like me, you've decided to eschew horsepower this round, and wait for the more immersive experience of the new Nintendo Wii...

But wait! Why just adopt a new control system that responds to your movements, when you can completely surround yourself in the holy grail of video game entertainment: Virtual Reality! All you have to do is put on this helmet...


Coming soon, from Toshiba!

- posted by codepoet @ 13:18:38 | Digital Toys | Comments (2)

Jump On It!

10/16/2006
 


























This is our posse. Don't they look like they're straight out of some hip new teen drama on Fox? From left to right: James, Caroline, Shannon, Paul, Karl and Joey. Not in this picture are: Jon, Alicia and Willy. Brandon couldn't make it.

This is the Vertical Production Team, Group B -- which, despite the name, is actually the original crew, plus or minus a couple extra people. Yesterday my team of students saved the day by covering 4 out of 6 video positions for both services, with two of them even doing some directing during the sermon. And they all did incredible. Teens adapt faster, learn quicker and take on more than adults doing the same job. What they lack in expertise they make up in enthusiasm and joy. You can't stop these guys from serving -- they're having way too much fun.

There's a second group that we're starting up as well, that's starting to learn all the ins and outs of Production at Northway, and I'm really proud of them too. But before our groups got too big, Nic and I wanted to reward our original group for the incredible effort they've put in over the past couples months to help pull off Vertical on Thursday nights and begin helping with the weekend services. So we took them to Great Escape (a mini Canada's Wonderland, for those at home), where I discovered that I'm getting a little too old to ride the "Screamin' Demon" more than once.

Nic was a real trooper, despite the fact that her belly is getting HUGE and she couldn't ride anything (even the Carousel), and we had a mom come along to help corral the troops. I did my best impression of a much younger person and managed to keep up with everyone for most of the day -- but boy did I sleep well last night!

Regardless, we had a great time. Vertical is so huge that it can be a little overwhelming, so it's been awesome for us to have our own little posse of students to get to know. For any of them reading this: you guys rock! I'm so proud of everything you've accomplished so far, and I know we're gonna have a blast doing Vertical the rest of this year!

- posted by codepoet @ 08:45:50 | Current News & Events | Comments (5)

Changing Engines...

10/13/2006
 
When I started blogging, the concept was in it's nascent stages. There were plenty of blogging engines out there, but none did what I wanted. I wanted customizeable themes, multiple topics, pictures with posts and WYSIWYG editing. So I started building eXpression, the engine that runs this site. Up until recently, it was ahead of the curve, and I once really believed that if I just put some more time into it, I could take on the big guys out there...

That might have been true, but I never really had the time to put into it. As it stands now, I don't even have access to my own source code. It's locked in a safe in my parent's house, along with all my other code, as proof that it's my intellectual property. So the code base is almost a year old now, I have new feature ideas but I can't write them without decompiling my own binaries, and to be frank, the other blogging engines have pretty much caught up.

With a baby on the way, I know it's not realistic that I'll ever improve eXpression significantly again, and within a year or so, this blog will start to look a little aged. So it's with some remorse and resignation that I've begun looking at using someone else's blogging engine. Sadly there are no good open source ones out there that run on .NET, so I'm gonna have to fight with PHP some more (it never seems to work right on my Windows Servers). With all the new bloggers starting up, I've had a chance to look in depth at the engines out there, and so far I've been the most impressed with WordPress. I'm thinking of rolling my own server so I can still get in there and customize it and run multiple sites off my box, but I'm hesitant to run Apache and MySQL on my Windows box. If anyone has any ideas on how best to make the switch from Windows + IIS + SQL Server to LAMP, I'd be interested in their thoughts...

- posted by codepoet @ 13:45:47 | Code Poetry | Comments (4)

It's a Blogolution!

10/13/2006
 
I love blogging! It's been a part of my routine, and a great to adequate emotional outlet for me. I love it even better when little baby bloggers start walking in the blogosphere. It's fun watching them get into it and finding their stride and unique style. Here's a whole bunch of blogs that have started up lately, from new and just getting going, to more mature and steady...

- Rob Whittaker: an awesome guy and a great ministry leader, who's brand new to blogging.

- Brian Howe: is the youth pastor at our church. After his wife took over their blog with a shock and awe assault of posts, Brian's been relegated to a new little corner of the web.

- Buddy Cremeans: the pastor at our church, who's writing offers some insight into where those weekend messages come from.

- Mark and Elisabeth: the youth pastor at our old church and his wife are both dear friends, and now she's actually updating their blog!

- Libby Howe: her blog is prolific and entertaining, and sometimes updated more often than this one!

- posted by codepoet @ 12:21:03 | Current News & Events | Comments (1)

class myPost : BlogPost

10/04/2006
 
Today I did some coding. It's the first time in many, many months that I've written any actual code, and I quite enjoyed it. I'm a complete newbie at this new Microsoft technology called WPF, a part of the upcoming .NET 3.0 framework, so it's a little tough being back near square one. But it still felt good to return to my first love.

Writing code is a unique form of poetry. You take normal words and punctuation, and make them flow together, in shape and even canter, to produce something more beautiful and elegant than simply the sum of the parts.
I've noticed that when I'm writing my code poetry, I'm prone to some eccentric habits. For example, I've been walking around the office in socks all afternoon because for some reason I can't code with my shoes on. I also spend a fair bit of time with my legs crossed like a kindergarten student at story time, or squatting in my chair, pecking at the keys from above. Also, I've found I need to have some kind of music in my ears at all but the most frustrating times. Usually trance or heavy metal work best -- but anything with a driving and repeating beat will do. Somehow I can type faster with a beat in the background, sort of like a metronome.

At the end of a few hours of coding, the 3 screens on my desk will each be cluttered with a dozen or more windows with sample input, screen designs, reference pages, and multiple instances of Notepad (which I use as a clipboard for ideas or segments that aren't working now but might work later). My physical desk will be cluttered too, with beverage containers and print-outs. Neither sets of clutter will compare to what's in my brain though, which will be in a completely altered state that I can only suppose compares to an athlete "in the zone."

This year hasn't really lent itself to many opportunities for composing my "poetry" but every once in awhile I get to open up an IDE and remember why I wanted to be a software developer...

- posted by codepoet @ 15:16:27 | Code Poetry | Comments (0)

Coming Home - For the last time this year!

10/02/2006
 
We're coming home this weekend for Thanksgiving. We're gonna do things a little different than our last few visits. As much as we love to see everyone, and spend a little time with everyone we can, now that we're heavily pregnant, we just can't keep up our usual pace.
So, while we'd love to come to you all, we can't do a 7 hour drive then spend two days driving non-stop around Southwestern Ontario. Instead, if you want to see us, we invite you to take a short drive to one of these convenient locations!

- On Saturday afternoon and evening, we'll be in London, at my parent's place.
- On Sunday morning we'll be in St. Thomas at the 10:00 service at Faith.
- On Sunday afternoon and evening we'll be in Aylmer, and surrounding area visiting with Nic's family.

We really do want to see you, so if you want to see us and you're close to one of these locations, drop us a line and we'll get you directions. Please note that we will not be home at Christmas -- it's too close to the due date to risk the drive.

On a related note, we'll be entertaining our last visitor in New York next week. The open invitation to come and see us is now closed. The guest room is about to become a nursery, and Nic and I need to dig in and do some serious nesting. If you are set on visiting, we'll have to ask you to book yourself a hotel before you head down.
We have appreciated everyone who's made the drive to help us make the place feel like home. It was great to have people from Canada to share our lives with, but we're shifting priorities here for the next little while. The invitation will re-open next year after the baby is settled in and sleeping through the night.

- posted by codepoet @ 21:07:40 | Current News & Events | Comments (0)

3D Ultrasound, 26 Weeks

10/02/2006
 
We got three of these, but in the other two the baby looked angry -- and looked frighteningly like it's grandfather looks when he's angry (like the exact same eye brow furrow) so we decided not to post those ones.
 
Everybody say "awww...."






















- posted by codepoet @ 17:30:01 | The Next Adventure | Comments (2)

How We Found Our New Home

09/30/2006
 
















Most of you have probably heard the story of how we found our new church. How I drove up into our new apartment early this year, praying as I did, that God would lead us to a church where we could be at home and get involved. And how, on a whim, I checked our new mailbox a few minutes later and found God's answer to that prayer in the form of a direct mail piece.

You've probably heard the story, but something we realised a few months ago is how amazing that particular piece of mail is. In the States the Postal Service will re-direct your mail for free when you move, so the fact that there was mail in the box at all, means that it arrived in the tiny window between when the previous tenants moved out and the Postal Service began redirecting their mail. That an ad for a church should be the one piece that makes it through there is nothing short of God's hand at work.

On top of that, this particular flyer was 4 months old by the time I found it. I had always assumed it was current. I saw enough of it to see the address, and knew it was where I was supposed to be, so I didn't study it any further. Nic only recently noticed that it was for a series starting on October 1, 2005.

I wonder if they knew, when they put this particular mailer together, what it would mean to us. Maybe they did. Maybe the were expecting and got a hundred new people because of this mailer... Or maybe no one responded, and the seed they had sowed took 4 months to take root in our lives.
Was it just another job that someone had to do that week, a year ago? Or did the person who put these together and in the mail pray over them? Did they believe in the ministry they were a part of? Did they ever loose heart and wonder if they were making a difference? When other churches criticised them for doing direct mail -- something no other church in the area had even considered -- did they doubt themselves for a moment? Did they doubt God? Or did they always have confidence that even a cheesy piece of junk mail could be used by Him to change lives?

We keep this particular mailer above our bulletin board in the kitchen, as a reminder that God is working in our lives. When I drove into New York, I was scared and broke and alone. It was a barren and cold winter and I seriously wondered what on earth I was doing here. But God was ready and waiting for me -- 4 months before I got here He had arranged a message for me at my new front door. He said you found your way to this apartment, now let me show you to your new home.

A year ago, our church did a series called Retro, full of fun video and great music and a message that met people where they were at.
This weekend we announce an incredible and exciting new step in the life our young church, at the end of a series called HD Vision.

I say 'we' and 'our' because Nicole and I believe in that vision. Because we believe in this little church that God has raised up. Because we believe that He is at work, and that He is using His faithful servants in a kind of church that no one around here has ever seen. And because that church is our new home.
And more than the job, or the adventure of moving, or the friends we make here, that church is God's blessing in our lives in New York.

- posted by codepoet @ 09:30:06 | Current News & Events | Comments (3)

Why My Wife is Cool

09/29/2006
 
Nic burned a CD of classical music for the baby to listen to while she was driving around. On our way to the mall this evening Also Sprach Zarathustra came on.

"Are you trying to make our baby evolve?" I asked her.
"Ha," she laughed, "nice."

Anyone else get that? Or are we the only two people geeky enough to catch the 2001 reference?

- posted by codepoet @ 19:04:54 | Current News & Events | Comments (2)

DHTML vs WPF

09/29/2006
 
DHTML = HTML + JScript

HTML

<BUTTON onclick="HandleClick">Click me!</BUTTON>

JScript
function HandleClick(objSender, e)
{
     alert ("Clicked!");
}

WPF = XAML + C#

XAML
<BUTTON Click="HandleClick">Click me!</BUTTON>

C#
private void HandleClick(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
     MessageBox.Show("Clicked!");
}

I really think I'm going to like WPF. Too bad it doesn't actually work on the web (working in IE 7 doesn't count as the web).

- posted by codepoet @ 15:32:30 | Code Poetry | Comments (0)

4 Rounds Later

09/29/2006
 
Much love and props to my former co-workers at my old employer who got laid off yesterday. I didn't know all 15 of you, but to those I knew, I had a lot of fun working with and learning from you all. I hope each of you land on your feet at a company that will respect and appreciate you for your hardwork and sharp minds...

- posted by codepoet @ 13:22:35 | Current News & Events | Comments (0)

Bob Dylan: The Times They Are A-Changin'

09/28/2006
 
Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.

- posted by codepoet @ 08:29:24 | The Wall | Comments (2)

Proud to be a Carnivore

09/25/2006
 
When I first moved here, and was alone in our apartment with few, meager possesions, the youth pastor at our church took pity on me and invited me over for a meal. Although I like to be independant and not accept help from people I don't know, I was desperate enough, having subsisted on Kraft Dinner and Chunky Soup for over 3 weeks, to accept. Libby, his wife and a wonderfully gracious host, asked if there was anything I didn't like to eat, and I said, honestly, that I wasn't a huge fan of vegetables. After that, apparently, she took to referring to me as "the guy who doesn't eat vegetables."

A few weeks ago I was eating lunch with Brian, the youth pastor, and he told me that he and Libby had recently started a vegetarian diet. Although I respect their decision for the apparent health benefits, which he extolled at length, I can't personally imagine an existance that doesn't include a cheeseburger or a nice steak...

Yesterday we were invited over for dinner at their house. Libby again asked if there was any food we didn't like to eat... and then her face fell as she remembered that I'm the "guy who doesn't eat vegetables." Afraid to spoil a perfectly good friendship with a great couple of similar priorities and beliefs, I agreed to some vegetarian fare... Last night I had something called "Chick'en" -- a tofu soy-based Buffalo Chicken Finger substitute, and two variations of white pizza, neither of which involved meat. The Chick'en wasn't that bad, but I will not accept it as a valid replacement for my favourite white meat. The pizza, on the other hand, was awesome. As was the apple pie we had for desert.

I still don't think I could survive more than a day or two without some thick, juicy beef or a nice turkey sandwich, but I guess it's not as bad as I thought. And it was a nice evening after a long and busy weekend, so I guess it was worth it...

- posted by codepoet @ 10:36:38 | Current News & Events | Comments (2)

Matrix Reloaded Sucks

09/23/2006
 
It's on TV right now, and I don't think I realised how bad it really is. I remember when i saw it in theaters thinking "I'm pretty sure that was awful, but I'll reserve judgement until I see the third one" since they were meant to be one movie... and then I saw the third one and it sucked just as bad.

Then I remembered seeing the original. Me and my friend Jeff decided to see it, as it had the best title of the 3 movies playing at the crappy St. Thomas theater. Neither of us had heard anything about it or saw any trailers. We walked in without having any idea what to expect... and we were blown away. Within 5 minutes, we turned to each other and said "What is this?!" By the end we were just totally floored. I saw it again 8 times before it was out of theaters.

It's too bad no one makes movies like that any more!

- posted by codepoet @ 21:05:37 | Current News & Events | Comments (0)

Birthday Shout outs

09/21/2006
 
My little sister Lizzy turns 23 today -- Happy Birthday! Right now she's in Edmonton Calgary, working on a horse ranch for a change of pace from the past few years of earning her English degree.

Also, someone who is practically our little sister turned 15 on Monday. Happy birthday to you too, Chelsea!

- posted by codepoet @ 08:24:23 | Current News & Events | Comments (1)

The State of the Web

09/20/2006
 
For a long time now -- at least as long as I've had this website, so... 5+ years I guess -- I've maintained that the Web is more than what most people think it is. I call it an "Application Platform" and in my senior year at college posted an impassioned treatise on the subject.
In the past year or so, the buzzword "Web 2.0" has been hot on the lips of Silicon Valley types, and on those of industry pundits, investors and informed consumers. Accompanying rounded rectangles, reflective logos, and unique spellings (like Flickr), is a series of technologies that make a new level of interactivity possible. One of the key technologies is something called AJAX -- long time readers of this site will remember me ranting about AJAX on a number of occasions... First about how important it was, and then about how everyone was stealing the idea I helped pioneer at a company then called Executive Manufacturing Technologies.

Of those of us who pay attention to these things, most are sick of hearing "Web 2.0" and of all the articles published on what AJAX is and is not as the civilian world has wrestled with where it fits into their life. But I'm pretty happy to see it taking off. You see, Web 2.0 is the first realisation by the mass Internet community of the fact that the Internet is not just a new way to read the newspaper, or do some shopping. The Internet is an Application Platform.
So what's an Application Platform? While you've got one in front of you right now. If you're like 95% of the world, you're probably running some version of Microsoft Windows on a computer you bought at Best Buy or your local whitebox computer store. That's the platform for the old world of computing. On top of that platform, you've probably installed some applications. One application you might have is called Microsoft Word.

MS Word is a tool that allows you to create text-based content, with some graphics sprinkled through-out. You can print this content and hand it out to people, or stick it in the mail. You can even use Word to create electronic mail that you send to one or more people.
The online iteration of this application might be Blogger.

Blogger is more powerful than Word. It's young, so it doesn't have all the nice bells and whistles like grammar check or thousands of fonts, but it has many of the same features. You can align your text, add in some pictures, and save the result. But unlike Word, Blogger is built on the Internet as it's platform. Suddenly the same content that you might produce in MS Word can be shared with a vastly wider audience. Instead of pushing content to people via mail, interested parties can pull your content to themselves. They can visit your website or subscribe to your feed. And not only that, they can contribute to that content, by posting comments or related ideas. They can link to your content from within their own, and whole communities can be built around what was previously a .doc file you saved on your hard drive.

This is an example of an Application built on the Internet. It's kind of somewhere between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. It's not an advanced use of the Web, or a novel one -- in fact Blogging was around for years before the general public got into it. But it's an application nonetheless.

Some web applications are merely ports of old school applications to the web world. There are companies that are working on putting a spreadsheet application online. There are tons of examples of games online, where instead of installing something on your Windows computer, you simply visit a page and use the application you see there.
Other web applications are completely new ideas that could never have existed without the web as a platform. Sites like YouTube or Flickr that allow people to share the content they created or captured in the real world, with each other, then Tag them to be used in other places.

But these are only the beginning. Five years ago I worked on a project for a company called Rockwell that allowed you to monitor and control machines over the web. We could turn on a light in a room, or start up a motor, just by clicking a button on a web page. It was a little before it's time, and actually a little ahead of the company I worked for, who cancelled the underlying technology. But the capability exists to do things on the web that no one has even dreamed of yet.

In fact, the web is bound only by the imagination of it's consumers, because the real power of Web 2.0 is that it's controlled by normal people. Dinosaurs like CNN and Time Warner have little place in a truly democratic web. When the collective consciousness of thousands of minds connected by a world wide network gets to decide what's important, what's worth buying, or what's worth investing in, big companies get scared. When YouTube is more entertaining than watching Fox on TV, rich people in big houses worry. You see the web isn't just a place for large companies to produce content that people will buy. It's a place where an old guy from England can post a video blog about his life that people will watch. It's not just another medium, like paper, radio or film. It's an application platform, upon which any kind of collaboration can happen -- and where the power belongs to the people.

The web is not an online flyer, it's not a TV station, and it's not a mall. It's a way for people to connect to other people.

And incidentally, this is what Net Neutrality is about. If you follow technology at all I'm sure you've heard about this bill. Right now the Net is neutral. Data is anonymous and is passed through the web at an equal speed regardless of who produced the data or who is consuming it. But big companies don't like this. AOL Timer Warner, and CNN would prefer it if their content was given a higher priority than mine or yours. They seek to reduce the universal value of the world's Application Platform, and bring us back to the dark ages of cable TV and magazine subscriptions. Where the content they control is pushed to us over the fast connection, and the content you and I produce is relegated to a slow connection, and assigned less value or significance. Where Blogs and YouTube and Flickr are given a back seat to CNN News or Survivor.com, and we return to being mindless consumers, made zombies by a stream of what someone else wants us to watch or buy or believe.

If you're in a position to vote, vote to keep the Net neutral.

If you're in a position to produce content, produce! And don't just push it onto the web like a newletter or some other static, and archaic medium. Collaborate. Build community. Share. Shun copyright. Forget patents. Avoid the perspective that we each belong at the receiving end of a signal. Engage your audience -- even better, make your audience the publisher!

And if you're sitting at the receiving end of a signal right now, and you've never harnessed the web as an application platform for your mind, reverse that signal. Start a blog. Publish your photos. Upload your home videos. And post something back to the world!

- posted by codepoet @ 13:05:26 | Ravings | Comments (0)

Acrobatic Alien

09/20/2006
 
I've taken to referring to the baby as an alien life form. I know this isn't the nicest thing to call our spawn, but the way I figure it, it'll be awhile before it can actually understand English -- it only recently grew ears -- so it doesn't really matter what I call it. Besides, it bears an uncanny resemblance to something from a creature flick. And when you feel it moving around in the belly, poking random appendages in equally random directions, you'll probably agree with me.

The alien gestation sack is now roughly the size of a soccer ball and it's a tribute to the thickness of a mother's skin that the alien can't poke its way out at any time. That doesn't mean she isn't well aware of its movements though. Baby is on a daily schedule roughly opposite its host, and while mom moves around during the day its rocked to sleep, and as soon as mom lies down for bed, it wakes up and begins its nightly acrobatic routine. This means that already the little bundle of joy is disturbing my precious, precious sleep. For the first hour or so each night Nic moves around almost as much as the baby, trying to get comfortable, frequently squealing in delight or horror at our child's most recent attempt to free itself from her belly. Once that settles down I get a few hours of normal sleep, at the end of which I find myself pushed precariously close to the edge of the bed by the mound of blankets and pillows Nicole has wrapped around her to try and make sleeping with a soccer ball under her shirt a more comfortable activity. From around 2 until 4 in the morning I'm usually inexplicably wide awake -- perhaps my mind is subconciously aware of the possibility that the alien may burst out of mom and decide to nest in me instead. The only thing more unsettling than living with a pregnant woman would to actually be pregnant woman... or man... I guess if I were a pregnant man, that would be really unsettling.

Of course I'm joking. You see, there's a secret pact amongst child rearing married people to convince all childless married people that it's actually a wonderful and fun activity that's great for your relationship and your bank account! This is so that those people will be fooled into reproducing themselves and then we can sit back and laugh at them. I'm not sure who's laughing at us, but we played right into their plan.

Nic had her regular check-up with her doctor yesterday, where we learned nothing we didn't already know, and confirmed that there was still a baby behind all that belly. Thanks doc. We'll see ya again next month. It's suprising how little they can actually tell you about things without shoving probes in there. You'd think they'd have refined this process a little by now. Fortunately we have lots of books around the house to tell us generally what to expect. From what I've read, this has mostly been a pretty easy pregnancy so far, and we'll likely have smooth sailing for the next 3 months and beyond.
And I shall receive no ironic come-uppance for that statement. None at all.

But seriously, the dreaded volatile emotional state and prophesied weepiness has barely affected my bride. She has her occasional moments, but mostly she's been very stable and steady. I attribute this to her having lived with me for the past 5 years and already being skilled in dealing with an unpredictable, immature and frequently demanding person. We've had some requests for photos of the belly, and while we have taken lots, most are not of the variety we like to share with the Internets. So we'll take one soon that hopefully illustrates girth without embarassing the girthed too much.

- posted by codepoet @ 10:24:38 | The Next Adventure | Comments (4)

Reasons my new iPod Video is better than my old iPod Photo

09/18/2006
 
- 60GB is bigger than 30GB!

- The screen, while only a little bit bigger, is SO much nicer. It's incredibly sharp and colourful and album art looks gorgeous.

- When you scroll through all your songs, as it accelerates it pops up a little window that tells you what letter in the alphabet you're flying by. It makes it so much easier to find a specific song.

- Did I mention that it plays video? Ya, it's a little annoying to convert my DivX AVIs and MPEGs to it's special iPod format, but iSquint makes it much easier. And it's worth it because once you get them there, they look great. I can't see using this feature often, but it is nice to have a couple movies and TV shows with you if you're bored waiting for someone.

- It accepts all my photos! My old iPod would always pick one album to choke on and refuse to go any further. No amount of restoring or updating would fix the problem and Apple had no information on the issue. It just works on my new one.

- iTunes 7 goes and gets album art automatically. Plus it gives me TV Shows, video podcasts and games. I may never use those things, but it's still cool to have.

And the best thing about my new iPod? I didn't have to pay for it...

- posted by codepoet @ 14:47:04 | Current News & Events | Comments (1)

Full, good day

09/16/2006
 
I worked on video at the church from 10:30 to 4:00, while Nic helped Shannon, one of my production team members with her math homework. Then I bought some students some dinner while Nic ran the nursery. Actually sat in the chairs for a service, then we took a crew of teens to see some fireworks.

I'm exhausted, and as a result, not very articulate. But it was a good day. And I am blogging it.

- posted by codepoet @ 21:51:40 | Current News & Events | Comments (1)

I don't think I like my career choice

09/15/2006
 
There's a bold statement that I've been struggling with for the past 2 or 3 years, which I've never actually said out loud.

It's not that it's a bad career choice. I am an adequate software developer, with sporadic moments of above-averageness. It's comfortable, affords me the occassional opportunity for travel, and most importantly, it pays well. So why am I embarrassed to talk about it?

I'm not embarassed to be a geek. I try to keep the geekiness to a minimum in social situations, but I'm not shy about my encyclopediac knowledge of technology or the joy I get from creative problem solving. But I am embarassed to talk about my job. In the whole time we've lived here, I don't think I've actually described my job to anyone I've met. Is it because they wouldn't care? Or is it because I don't care?

In the past few weeks I've written a number of e-mails home to various friends. As I re-read them this morning, it struck me that while I spent no more than a sentence or two talking about my job, I had no problem rambling for paragraphs about the other things in my life. The things I'm proud of, and excited to be a part of. I had that feeling, briefly in my career -- shortly after I finished college. I haven't really felt that since.

And if that were all, I would accept it as the end of a honeymoon phase, and content myself in the knowledge that everyone has to work somewhere, and it's not going to be something that I'll be passionate about every day of my life... but that's not all. If I could look back on my professional career, 20 years from now, and say "well, not every day was exciting, but I did do some good things..." or "I did help some people..." or "I did make a difference..." then I would discipline myself through the routine and work for that day when I could look back on the sum of my achievements...

The reality is though, that the sum of my achievements 20 years from now will be meaningless. I have chosen a career in which my creative expression -- my passion -- is directed to something that is obsolete within months. I have chosen a profession in which no achievement has any lasting value, and where there will be nothing to look back on with pride. This thing that I pour myself into for 40 hours a week is a meaningless black hole, that inhales my being, and gives nothing more tangible in return than a pay check.

Recently I was given an iPod Video from our church, as a thank you for the time we volunteer there. Although I was delighted to get a free toy (one that I never would have been able to purchase under the new 'prepare-for-baby' budget) it occured to me that the gift was of less value to me than work I'd done to receive it. And hold on here, because I don't mean that the work was worth more than the reward -- I mean that the work was, in itself, a much better reward. That it seemed strange to me to be given something physical for that work... almost as if a physical gift had no correlation to the work.

I don't mean to reduce the value of the gesture. I simply mean to say is that it wasn't necessary. At my job, I am in a contract where I do stuff and I get paid for it. Ultimately that's why I do it. In ministry, I do stuff because I love to do it. Because God has built me with a unique set of gifts and abilities, that when used for Him, provide a self-perpetuating work and reward scenario. I work because I love it, and whatever physical, tangible rewards come from that are merely adjunct to the inherent satisfaction and peace and energy and joy that come from that work.

When I was 16, I could have told you, within a few degress of accuracy, where I would be at this moment in my life. I couldn't have told you what State, but I knew I would be here. I couldn't have told you what company, but I would have accurately guessed my job title. And although I dreamed a little high on my estimated salary, I wasn't too far off on that either. No step in my life since then has been a risk or a failure. That's a set of arrogant statements, I know, but the reality is I am where I hoped I would be in life... and the funny thing is, none of those things that I hoped for have brought me the satisfaction that I assumed would have come with my arrival here.

Like I said at the start of this rambling post, I've been struggling with this for awhile now. I guess I assumed that scoring the big job in the States would turn things around and get me back to the place where I looked forward to getting up in the morning so I could get to work. Something did change though -- just not the way I expected. Cause now I look forward to 4:00 so I can get out of my cubicle and get to work...

- posted by codepoet @ 14:37:27 | Current News & Events | Comments (1)

iPod Video

09/14/2006
 
I got one!


Given to me!

- posted by codepoet @ 21:32:21 | Current News & Events | Comments (1)

I can move!

09/13/2006
 
Well I slept through most of the early part of this week. My muscle relaxants took me out for 4-6 hours with each pill, and I had to take a pill every 8 hours, so I got strategic about planning my lucid time so I could get stuff done. Today was my first full day without drugs, and I made it through until 4:00 without any significant pain. At around 5:00 I started getting random, sharp spasms in different areas of my back, but not so bad I couldn't handle it. I'm sore from sitting all day, so I'm reducing my intake (as recommended by my doctor) to one before bed for the next couple days, and taking it real easy.

The picture is from before my back issues and is of the new and upgraded Production Booth at church, manned by 3 geeks. There's other pictures of our handiwork in the Photo Albums section as well. We've got everything mostly working for the weekend, although most of my limited waking hours have been spent on Vertical stuff. For any of my team reading this, you guys did awesome on Tuesday. Brian loved the "Dust" video!

A quick baby update, even though there's not much to update. The belly continues to grow, and we are snapping a picture every week to record the change. The baby kicks a lot at about 10:00 at night, and I can even feel it sometimes now! Tomorrow marks the 24th week of our pregnancy; 6 months on the nose. So far, baby and mommy are doing well...

- posted by codepoet @ 21:06:01 | Current News & Events | Comments (1)

September 11

09/11/2006
 
To my American friends, on this the anniversary of the attacks of 9/11: Today I mourn for you. I'm saddened by the unconscionable loss of life. That hundreds of innocent people were killed, with little warning, while hundreds more were hurt physically, or by the loss of family members. Like you, I find this tragedy a cruel one, and unwarranted. And although the events of that day mark your darkest hour, they also represent your bravest. Normal people, in an abnormal situation, banding together to save lives and to refuse to bend under an oppressor you've never met.

Yes, today I mourn for you. But no more than I mourn for the same number of lives lost on a weekly, or even daily basis around the world. Your tragedy is no more wrong or unjust as the lives taken in Africa, or in the Middle East. The events depicted in the movie World Trade Center are no more heartless than those depicted in Hotel Rwanada. And although planes crashing into New York City is a horrible thing to have happened, I can't assign any more value or grief to those American lives lost than I can to those around the world.

Never forget 9/11, or let down your guard against those who would subvert your collective dream of America. But on this day as you remember the lives of the office workers, response teams, and innocent American people, I ask you also to remember the people around the world who have died for causes no more noble, and with no less control over their own fate. And who died with no dream of freedom and no hope, such as you enjoy, for those they left behind.

Today I mourn for all those who died, and I honour all those who carry on -- in America, and in the rest of the world.

- posted by codepoet @ 04:39:21 | Current News & Events | Comments (1)

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Jonathan Wise, 2002-2005
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