Over the past year, I've run into or been referred to some remarkable pieces of interesting art. 6 are here linked for your pleasure.

-The Helsinki Complaints Choir with a song by Esko Grundström, Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen. (thanks Carl for sending this to me)

-Billboard Top Song Timelapse by R. Luke DuBois. Dubois fed 857 songs between 1958 and 2000 into his laptop and gave every week 1 second where he crunched the top song of that week.

-Single-Paper Art by Peter Callesen. Magnificent and often meaningful paper sculptures cut from one piece of paper and completely connected. (thanks Kevin)

-Animatus by Hyungkoo Lee. Look at classic cartoon characters' skeletons. Brilliant! (thanks again to Kevin)

-The Honda Choir. A vocal rendition of automobile sounds. (thanks to Kevin again for this one)

-Rick Mercer's Photoshop Challenges: Harper vs. Martin, Gilles Duceppe and Jack Layton, Peter MacKay and Stephen Harper, Michael Ignatieff and George W. Bush, Paul Martin, Ralph Klein, Jean Chretien, and most recently Jason Kenney. (thanks April for telling me about Mercer's blog)

Post 200

Average posts per week since I started* blogging: 1.5
Average posts per week over the last 100 posts: 2.35
Average number of comments per post: 2.34

Thank you everyone for reading and commenting. You are all superstars.

*(not counting the first year with only 1 post)

28-Year-Old Honey

My honey is TWENTY-EIGHT years old today. 28 on the 28th. She calls it her golden birthday.

I have to go make her some breakfast now while she is still sleeping... shhh.


Weekend in Honduras

We took off Friday afternoon dragging our buddy Mariah from St. Albert with us so we could get to Ruinas Copán, Honduras in time for supper. Stopped and had licuados (smoothies) in El Rancho. We got another stamp in our passports (the last possibly for mine as I'll be getting a new one in December).

We stayed in our usual hotel, Hotel Calle Real and ate at our usual restaurant, Via Via. Mariah got her Christmas shopping done and we watched a couple movies on HBO in our hotel.

Blaise did not sleep well. Last night, he woke up 4 times screaming. The first time at 11 pm. After 30 minutes of soothing and exploring all possible solutions he went to sleep only to be woken up 10 minutes later by a rooster (I'd like to clean that rooster's clock!). So, I've been pretty tranced out.

I visited the ruins again with Mariah. They were still there and still old. This is the famous estela head from the ruins (on all the postcards). Notice the whiskers. Notice the angry nose. Entrance to the park is relatively expensive - US$15 - compared to Tikal - US$6.50 - and you have to pay another US$15 to get into the tunnels which we didn't pay. As we approached the tunnels, one of the guards approached us and offered us an under the table deal as long as we didn't talk about it. So we got to see the tunnels for US$4 each. I must say that they are not worth US$15. Maybe not even US$4. But it was cool. The coolest part being the deal. The ruins are layered because subsequent rulers would build a whole other set of new ruins (ha ha) on top of the old ruler's ruins. It's hard to appreciate everything your seeing because it's mostly worn down carvings and all the really interesting stuff is gone (the people, animals, furniture, paint, roofs, and wooden substructures).

This is a Guacamaya. There are lots of them at the ruins park.

Last night we enjoyed some ritzy food at place called Twisted Tanya's. I had filet mignon with a light jalapeño sauce, a lovely salad, and cheesecake. The cheesecake had to come home with us because Blaise was really tired. I slept through most of Batman Forever after I ate my dessert. I also enjoyed some cheese pupusas, carrot soup, waffles, bread pudding, a great big burrito and some nice beverages over the weekend.

It was good to get away and feel our extremities again.

Steaming Horse

Amber pointed out the horse outside our house early one morning. This is how cold it is inside of our house. I'm not trying to have a cold competition with my Canadian friends who are always quick to point out the -84°C weather they are experiencing. Perfectly clear. Understood. But how many of you have 3°C inside your house? My joints were stiff due to the consistent rain and cold we've had in town the past few weeks.

Consequences of the cold:

-Amber and I get up in the night and scurry in our heavy layered PJs to Blaise's bed to ensure that he is covered up. He routinely kicks off his blankets... for kicks.

-Our house has a distinct campfire smell because when it's windy the smoke from our meager fires can not escape to the outside and stays inside. With us. Cough cough.

-Amber managed to convince me that going to Copan, Honduras for the weekend was a good idea since it's hot there. It's her birthday on Tuesday, so I went along (or rather drove the 250 km through mountain passes, desserts and border crossings).

-Showers are taken when they are needed. Well, that's not true. They are taken when we agree that they are needed. Low pressure and volume doesn't make it a pleasant experience. Besides, not many people can smell you when you have so many layers on.


Chocolate Mint of Anguish

Mariah was kind enough to share one of her chocolate mints with me this morning. It was perhaps the most foul thing that has gone into my mouth. I howled and spat and sputtered and winced and shuddered. Think cat poop and antifreeze (no, I haven't tasted either, but free your imagination). Mariah ate two of them. She thought they were a little off. I had to drop oil of oregano and then deepfry my tongue to regain coherence. Poison!

I'd love to know what was wrong with these things. Where are my chemical lab techs? The expiration date was sometime in 2008 and we've had the same mints before and they were fine. Not sure if I'm brave enough to try them again.


RSS. Do it.

If you're scared of computers, don't worry, this is simply meant to make your life easier.

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) allows you to know as soon as a new news item is posted on your favorite news website or when your favorite blogs have a new post. This eliminates the necessity of having to visit each website to see if something knew has been posted. For example, I know that I don't have to visit Justin's blog, because he hasn't posted anything new since November 4. I do know however that there are seven new articles on the How Stuff Works website since I last looked at the feed. All you get are the headlines and a short description or the first few lines of the article, so you can browse ad free and click on the articles or blog posts that most interest you. All Blogger blogs automatically generate an RSS feed.

To take advantage of all this, you need an RSS reader. I use one that is built into my browser Safari on my Mac. Easy as anything to add an RSS or XML (same thing basically) feed to your bookmarks. Any page that carries a feed will have an RSS or XML on the right end of the URL (website address). Just click on that and you get the RSS page, then add to favorites.

Windows has a whole bunch of RSS readers too. I'm sure Sirdar or kevininspace can recommend one. Firefox and Explorer have RSS reader plugins that you can download.

Some feeds that I subscribe to are the Edmonton Oilers, Wired, CBC Canadian News, New York Times Movie News, Apple News, and of course Strength and Honour Showtimes.

iPod takes flight (part II)

I ordered the new 5th generation iPod. Black. 80 GB. Colour screen supporting videos and photos. As far as FedEx is concerned, it's still in Shanghai at the moment. I only get it once I arrive in Canada on Dec 13.

What's super cool about this iPod is that I can keep photos (which I can use for work) and video* (which I can use for fun). The 80 GB is hardly enough though with 61 GB of music and 14.4 GB photos (both expanding) doesn't leave room for video. I'll have to pick and choose what goes on. A few disappointing features: this iPod can't synch with FireWire, just USB 2.0. My laptop only has FireWire and USB 1.1, so I have to synch it exclusively with my desktop compy. Also, all the gadgets I had for my old iPod (iTalk, RoadTrip, and dock) may not work with this iPod. I am hoping to get my podcast back on track by using my iPod as a voice recorder on the field. We'll see.

My first iPod (stolen, see previous post) was a 3rd generation. White. 40 GB. B/W screen.

*any movie converted to H.264 video, up to 1.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per sec.


Our house was robbed of $8000 worth of stuff nearly nine months ago. The thief is still anonymous and likely still suffering guilt. The most painful feelings from this have subsided mostly, though everytime someone else we know get robbed, the wound reopens a bit.

There has been an incredible miracle that followed the theft however. I wrote in our latest newsletter about how nearly all the items that were stolen had been restored. Well, now all of them, save some DVDs, have been replaced. We can only attribute this to God's faithfulness to us. I've learned to trust Him more and release a lot of the anxiety that followed the theft. Here's a detailed list of what was stolen and how it was replaced:

300 DVDs138 DVDsfriends mostly
3.1 MP digital Camera5.0 MP digial camera 
iPod 40GBiPod 80 GBtax refund money
DV Camcordernew DV Camcorder 
Nikon F65 SLRNikon F65 SLRgift from François
Diaper BagDiaper Baggift from Aunt Gaylene
BackpackBackpackb-day gift
Men's Dress Shoesmore comfortable shoes 
Men's Sandalsmore comfortable sandals 
Women's old runnersnew runners 
Women's new flip flopsnew flip flops 
$200 cash$825gifts from Tols, Roths, Wiebes
Power Adapter for phonenew adapter 
Pocket Bible (NASB)new same Bible 
Swiss Army Knife (camping)Swiss Army Knife (biggest one)my b-day gift to myself
Beltnew belt 
Confidence in peopleMore Confidence in peopleprayers, cards, emails, phone calls

A realization that I had after the theft was that there were three ways to live in the face of the threat of theft:

A) Live simply with nothing so that nothing can be stolen.
B) Live boldly and richly without attachment to material things
C) A good combination of A and B



My nose started to run last night, so I decided to smash it behind the knees with this potent cocktail:

+3 Cold-fx capsules (600mg of CVT-E002) (or N.A. ginseng)
+5 drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract (here a sham or there the world's most useful product)
+1 capsule Garlic Oil (3 mg)
+5 drops of Oil of Oregano under the tongue ("Nature's Strongest Antibiotic!")
+1 capful of delicious Fig-Honey Cough Syrup (used here purely as a chaser, or is it?)
+1 tall glass of water

I felt pretty groggy this morning, like I had a hang-over (never had a hang-over, but I imagine this is what it feels like). What am I missing from this random menagerie of mythical immune boosters?


All blades of grass

There is a dog, split in two, stretched across one lane. I answer the door in my pajamas at 7 A.M. to a man wanting to know why I needed to see his son. The bank teller still asks me how my film is coming. I eat 4 meals. My 2 o'clock appointment with Oscar and Evelin doesn't happen because they are too tired to answer their door, but they answer their phone and delay my afternoon by 45 minutes. My 8 o'clock appointment with Erick and a carpenter doesn't happen because Erick couldn't contact the carpenter. I'm one of four adults at the small group tonight, it's on God's revealing Himself to us. No hay dios quien puede hacer las obras como las que haces tu. I'm training Oscar and Evelin to take photos and collect info for sponsorship packages. My little one is eating solids again after 3 1/2 days. The printer in the office hassles me and I end up taking 45 minutes to print one 8X10 photo. Nine of twelve members of a family descend the mountain and arrive excited that we are there, measuring out their house and talking about the size of the rooms. At 8:30, I drive by a drunk man laying on his side, back to me in the dark. The Oilers won last night, but Smith is injured. Flor writes me another reimbursment cheque, so I'll go to the bank three days in a row this week. We're going to get together on December 20. Only Q3.46 left on my phone. Amber is content with the soup I brought home from tonight's meeting. What is el Libro de Ecclesiasticos in English if Ecclesiastes is el Libro de Ecclesiastes? Online chatting with Carl dissipates after a couple exchanges - there must be a hummingbird blocking the satellite signal. Thom Yorke was singing in my car all day long. We meet at 3:15 instead and head to San Antonio to plan and estimate the building of a house. I write little blurbs describing the past 10 short term teams for a ministry newsletter. "Papá." Lang is the carpenter, he's going to do the job for Q2500. Sandra has made us a tasty soup with smoked roast beef chunks in it and tamalitos as dumplings. $16,000 raised at the benefit concert for Waldrons in Africa. The Simpsons Movie is in 2D. "Only 3 cups of goat's milk today, thank you." Hector can't make it to the video shoot, so we postpone until tomorrow. I have just enough money in my wallet for Erick to buy the re-bar, cement, blocks, and sand for tomorrows delivery to San Antonio. Estuardo chases a huge wood eating beetle around the patio. There's a man peeing on the side of the street. Jairo helps me with the grammar for the photo we are printing for the mayor of Tactic in thanks for the land the town gave us. The eyes should be 1/4 of the way from the top of the picture with no lines through the head. Why do Jehovah's Witnesses call God 'Jehovah'? The making of The Big Lebowski reminds that I need to be working on my screenplay.



Amber, April, and Sirdar reminded me today that it is Remembrance Day. I don't pay much attention to dates here, plus, it's a balmy 24℃ outside so it's hard to even remember that it's November.

It doesn't take much to get me choked up about Remembrance Day. Everytime I go to a service or watch a program or listen to the minute of silence on the radio, I am overwhelmed with the sacrifice. I put together a slideshow to Rod Stewart's Forever Young of fallen Canadian soldiers for a school I worked at a few years ago. I updated it a bit a few weeks ago for the principal and sent it to him for this year's assembly.

I got up at 4 am today. Could not sleep and there was so much traffic. I decided to watch one of my movies that I haven't seen before, Amen., directed by Costa-Gavras. IMDB's synopsis is
Two systems: the Nazi machine versus the Vatican and Allied diplomacy. Two men struggling from the inside. On one side, Kurt Gerstein, a real-life chemist and SS officer, supplied the death camps with zyklon B while he tirelessly denounced the crimes and alerted the Allies, the Pope, the Germans and their churches at his family's and his own risk. On the other, Ricardo Fontana, a young Jesuit, a fictitious character who represents all the priests who had the heart to struggle against savagery, often paying for their courage with their lives. Countless priests, some known, others anonymous, who simply were not content to live with the silence of their church's hierarchy.

I guess today I remember the soldiers who were put in situations they did not expect to be in.

Driving Around

It is not uncommon to see some startling sights from my car. Here are a few recollections from the past week.

As I wait for cattle to cross the road returning from San Antonio, I watch from from my car as a bull attempts repeatedly to mount a cow in the middle of the street, stopping traffic on both sides.

Each time I pass one building on my way out of Tactic, there is a man with magnifying glass eyewear smoking a cigar standing in the doorway. He never has a beard, yet he looks like he never shaves either. He simply stands unaccompanied learing at passersby.

A Mazda pick-up truck is taxiing a half dozen people on the highway going about 20 km/hr. As I pass them, the front driver wheel is wobbling uncontrollably.

I wait in my car for Walter to come down from his 2nd story home that overlooks a pasture. A cow is runs down the street and dives through a barbed wire fence then holds it's right rear leg close to her body as it took a good slicing on a barb.


Decoding Presidential Speeches

Got this from Nate Knows Nada. 360 U.S. presidential speeches from 1776-2006 got put through a tag generator and so you can visually see how often words were used based on the size of the word. It's remarkable to see the shift in focus between eras and presidents - notably words like:



God's Eye View

Today, I was able to see with God's eyes things that only He could see a hundred years ago.

This is my child who will be born in April of next year. We drove into Cobán and had an ultrasound done. I filmed almost the entire appointment where we saw the baby wave his/her arms, open mouth, and wiggle. Pretty wild. Amber is quite excited about the prospects she's just discovered about where we can deliver this baby and with whom.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed. Psalm 133:14-16

This is my home from outer space. Google Maps updated their satellite images of Guatemala, now they are one step down from the quality that you can see downtown New York City. My house is the lower of two identical ones in the middle north of the highway.
My eyes will flow without ceasing, without respite, until the LORD from heaven looks down and sees. Lamentations 3:49-50


The cemetery is a-hoppin'

Had to swing around the cemetery this afternoon to check out the Día de los Muertosfestivities. I dragged Amber, Blaise and Mariah along. This time, I wanted to talk to a couple people to find out what they believed about this whole thing.

Two camps.

One group of women told me that they figured the dead are dead and the living visit the cemetery with food, flowers, pine needles and paint (to spruce up the crypts) just to honour and remember the dead in their family. I asked them if they believed that the dead did anything special on that day and they said "no, no hacen nada." Cool.

Another group parties hard. Lots of liquor and they burn incense and make offerings to Maximón. Most of the partying is done at home and the Mayan priests are heavily involved. They told me that in Antigua it's way bigger, as big as Easter. I smelled plenty of incense in Tactic too. Bombs (basically sticks of dynamite) were being shot into the air all day too.