Thursday, June 29, 2006

Book Review: Ender’s Game

Let me start off this post by saying that I don’t normally read science fiction. (Or “SF”, as the nerds call it.) I have nothing against it, I just don’t normally pick up science fiction books of my own accord. (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, of course, doesn’t really count.) So I wasn’t overly enthusiastic, when a friend of mine suggested I read Ender’s Game, but I figured I’d give it a shot. Luckily, he was right, and I found it a very enjoyable read.

In the book, the humans are at war with a race from another planet—called the “Buggers”, because they’re insectile in nature. The humans have already battled the Buggers once, and barely survived; they need to get together a battle fleet, to fight them off again, to ensure the survival of the human race. The first time they fought the Buggers, they were saved by a brilliant military leader, Mazer Rackham, and they’re looking for someone to lead the next fleet. So the humans have been looking at children for potential leaders; when one is found, s/he is raised in military training bases, so that they can weed out the best and brightest to be their leader. Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is one of those children.

That’s about all I’ll say, in terms of plot. I like the way Card works it out, and I like his style of writing, so he pulled me into the story very quickly. Some of the plot twists I foresaw—but still enjoyed—and some I didn’t, which was nice. If you’re not a science fiction fan, but enjoy fiction in general, I’d still recommend this book; you don’t really have to know anything about science fiction to get it. (I don’t, and I enjoyed the book.)

The copy of the book that was lent to me—and the version featured in this picture—is the “Author’s Definitive Edition”, but I didn’t bother to read the introduction, so I don’t know what was added to this particular version.

Book Review: The Secret Pilgrim

I’ve read another book by John le Carré: The Secret Pilgrim (1991). As usual, I loved the book, and loved le Carré’s writing style.

The book is narrated by Ned, a former spy and current head of the Mi6 “spy school” (my words, not le Carré’s as far as I can remember), and also features George Smiley, in what is—I assume—his last appearance in a le Carré novel. According to Wikipedia, he is speaking to a class of newly recruited Mi6 students, although I could have sworn he was speaking at some kind of graduation ceremony; that the students were not “newly recruited”, but were in fact getting ready to begin the actual work of spying.

The book is really a set of short stories; each chapter gives an excerpt from Smiley’s talk, which then triggers a memory of one of Ned’s past exploits, which he shares with the readers—a device which is used very well to tie all of the stories together.

One of the things I like about spy novels from John le Carré is that they are much more realistic than other spy novels; they tend to give a bit of a “behind the scenes” look into the spy world. (Or, the British spy world, in the cold war era, at any rate.) This book does so even more than usual, so it might not be for everyone. If you’re a serious spy novel junkie, and love this deeper look into the world of spying, then you’d probably find this book fascinating. If you’re more of a casual reader of the spy novel genre, you may find this one boring, and should probably pass it by, for something more fast-paced.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Learning about life without Grandpa

I had previously written that my grandfather was in the hospital, but there wasn’t really an update to give after that post; he was taken out of ICU, as I’d written, and was in his own room, and then things just sort of stayed there.

I was woken up Saturday morning by a call from my mom. She told me that things had gotten worse, and that I’d better get down there to see him, as it might be my last chance. She was packing a bag, in case she needed to stay overnight, and I’d better do the same. So I got up, and we showered, and we packed a bag with some clothes. Andrea had actually been planning to work, on Saturday, but she called to let them know she couldn’t make it. We got in the car, and headed off to the hospital. My grandparents live in a small town near London, which is about 200km from Toronto.

We were about halfway there when my stepfather called my cell, to let me know that Grandpa had just passed away. He said we shouldn’t bother to go to the hospital; we could go to Grandma’s house instead, and they’d probably be there. So we did. (Travel: about 200km.)

I didn’t know what to expect when we walked in the door. Grandpa was 80, and he and Grandma had been married for 57 years. How would she take it? How would Mom? However, as is often the case with an illness such as he had, the death wasn’t a surprise, and people were taking it well. I was relieved, because it’s always harder to deal with death when everyone around you is not dealing with it well; when everyone is dealing with it well, it’s easier for all involved. (Did that come out tautological? Oh well.) My sister, who lives in Ottawa, was also on her way down, with her partner, but we weren’t sure when they would get there; Ottawa is about an 8 hour drive. So we all hung out at Grandma’s house, and had KFC for supper, and waited for them to arrive.

In a bizarre kind of way, it was a nice visit with Grandma. She and Andrea like each other, which is good, and we had a nice visit. At one point, everyone except Andrea and I had to go to the funeral home, to make the arrangements, and I took the opportunity to go and get a haircut, since I was still overdue, and didn’t want to show up at the funeral home looking disrespectful. Funnily enough, I ended up at First Choice, as usual, but I got a really good cut—which, these days, is not usual, for First Choice.

For some reason, they needed a white shirt for Grandpa; apparently there wasn’t an appropriate one in his closet. (Or maybe they just felt they needed a new one?) So my stepfather was given the task of finding one for him. Unfortunately, his only choices were WalMart and Mark’s Work Warehouse, and WalMart only had short-sleeve shirts. So he ended up buying one from Mark’s Work Warehouse. (And, by everyone’s account, they charged too much for it.) I don’t know why a short-sleeved shirt wouldn’t have done, under the circumstances; maybe it would have, and he was just buying what he was told, or maybe the funeral home had given explicit instructions. I don’t know.

My sister and her partner showed up around 7:00 or so, if I remember right—which I might not—and we stayed a while longer, before we finally called it a day, and left. My sister is a lot more emotional than I am, and a bit more emotional than the rest of the family, so there was a bit more crying when she was there, but it was to be expected, of course.

The funeral was planned for Tuesday afternoon, with a viewing on Sunday evening, and further viewings on Monday afternoon/evening. Unfortunately, Andrea and I hadn’t brought clothes appropriate for a viewing or a funeral, so we had to head back to Toronto, for the night, so we could pick up the appropriate attire. (Travel: ~200km; total so far: ~400km)

On Sunday, we drove back to Grandma’s house. (Travel: ~200km; total so far: ~600km) At some point, we must have called around, to let people know where we were, and that we wouldn’t be at work on Monday, etc. I don’t remember most of that.

The viewing Sunday evening was fine. I met a lot of people, and stayed by Grandma’s side most of the time. She was feeling a bit dizzy, so my main job was really to make sure she sat down as much as possible, but of course that was an unlikely task; every time someone new came along, she popped up to greet them, out of habit. But she was fine. In a strange way, it was great to see her meeting the people as they came in. With rare exception, she knew every name, and a word to say to everyone, and did a fine job. I love and respect her, and the viewing added to that.

On Sunday night, Andrea and I had to head back to Toronto again. Andrea had a plane to catch on Monday, for a conference in New York. So we drove back. (Travel: ~200km; total so far: ~800km) She felt guilty, for not being able to attend the funeral, but of course everyone understood completely, and there was no need to feel guilty. But I know how she felt; if I’d been in her shoes I probably would have felt guilty, too, even though it was unjustified.

On Monday, I drove back to Grandma’s house. (Travel: ~200km; total so far: ~1,000km) About halfway there, I realized that I had brought my suit—for the funeral on Tuesday—but had forgotten to bring the shirts to go with it. They were conveniently hanging on the knob of my bedroom door. (Say it with me now: So that I wouldn’t forget them.) Luckily, my uncle had brought some extra shirts, so he lent me one, for the viewings on Monday. Between the viewing on Monday afternoon and Monday evening, I managed to get to Mark’s Work Warehouse, to buy myself another shirt, to wear with my suit for the funeral. Which means, if you’ve been following along, that I would be wearing the same shirt to Grandpa’s funeral that he would be wearing. At least I had a different tie.

As a side note: We were looking through Grandma’s photo albums, for pictures we could put up of Grandpa at the funeral home. We found one of him wearing the top half of a suit, with blue jeans. The story behind the picture was that he and Grandma had been attending a wedding; she was wearing her wedding clothes, and he was bringing his, and he kept telling her to hurry up, hurry up. When they got there, he realized that he’d forgotten to pack his suit pants with his suit, and was forced to wear the jeans. We had half-heartedly joked that we should wear jeans to the funeral, in honour of him, but we didn’t.

Again, my self-imposed job was to stay with Grandma at the viewings, and again, in a bizarre way, it was just nice to spend time with her. I think there were some people there who were a little aghast that she kept touching him in the coffin, straightening his tie, etc. But I had no problem with it. I was touched, and I still get a lump in my throat now, just thinking about the tenderness of it. I’m sure I would do the same, if Andrea passed away before I did, and was in an open coffin at the funeral.

On Monday evening, I didn’t have to go back to Toronto. I did, however, go back to my mom’s place, instead of staying with Grandma. (We felt—and she did too—that she needed some time to herself.) So I drove back there. (Travel: ~100km; total so far: ~1,100km)

On Tuesday, we all got up—on time!—and made the trip back to Grandma’s. (I wasn’t driving, this time, so I won’t bother to record the mileage…) Although Andrea wasn’t able to make it, her dad and sister were planning to come, which Grandma really appreciated. But I was pleasantly surprised, when they got there, to see that not only had they come, but they’d brought another uncle of Andrea’s, and my pastor! I thought that was really above the call of duty, and I was very touched, and appreciative, that they came. (And, actually, I was glad they were there at all; I’d given Andrea’s dad instructions on how to get to the funeral home, and I realized on Tuesday that they wouldn’t work, because there was construction. Luckily, however, he was ignoring my directions, and had got directions from MapQuest, so they were fine.)

The funeral was very good. Although the presiding pastor was United—and, judging by conversations before the funeral, very United—he did a good job with the service. My cousin also did a good job, when he gave a bit of a speech on behalf of the grandchildren. (There had been some debate, beforehand, as to whether he would go up and say something, or I would, or we both would. I would have been fine doing it, since I don’t mind public speaking, but on Monday he began work on putting his thoughts down on paper, so I figured he could just go up on his own. I didn’t want to wriggle out of any responsibility which might have been mine—as the eldest grandchild—but neither did I feel that it was a responsibility, so I was fine with him doing it. And he didn’t seem to mind either, so I didn’t feel I was putting a burden on him that he didn’t want. We all contributed to what he was going to say, so he really was speaking on behalf of all of us.)

I don’t know why I didn’t cry. There was no reason not to, and a few times I felt the tears come to my eyes. I even thought to myself about the shortest verse in the Bible (“Jesus wept.”, John 11:35), which Grandma had been talking about the day before. You have to remember the context of that verse: Lazarus has died, and Jesus is on his way to the tomb. He knows that He is about to raise Lazarus from the dead; really, there is nothing to be sad about. And yet He wept anyway. Partially, I believe, because He was troubled by the mourning of those around him, and partially, I also believe, simply because death is sad, even for the Christian, who will die on this Earth and wake up in heaven. In any event, if Jesus wept for the dead, even the temporarily dead, then there is ample reason for me to weep for the dead. But for some reason, the tears never came. I didn’t hold them back, but neither did they spill forth of their own accord, even when I thought they would.

There was some worry about rain, on Tuesday afternoon, because the sky was threatening, but the timing was near perfect: We got to the cemetery, the pastor said what he needed to say, and just as he finished, the skies opened up and the rain fell. People got a bit wet as they went back to their cars, but it wasn’t bad at all.

After the interment we went to the Legion hall, where sandwiches and snacks were served. The pastor who had done the service had to leave, unfortunately, for another engagement, but my pastor was willing to give thanks for the food, before it was served. Unfortunately, we didn’t really introduce him, before he did, so nobody knew who he was. (And even if we had, what would we have said? “This is the pastor of the church Jack’s grandson David attends in Toronto”?) But a number of people mentioned to me afterwards that they liked his prayer, so I guess not knowing who he was didn’t matter too much.

After the “lunch” at the Legion hall, many of us headed back to Grandma’s, where we had beer and other drinks available, and the family spent some time together. Nobody got rip-roaring drunk or anything; we just had a few drinks, and enjoyed each others’ company, and silently, internally, grieved our loss. One uncle spent a little too long saying goodbye to Grandma, which upset her a bit; he’d lost his own father a while before, and the funeral obviously brought back the memories. I tried to distract him away from her, and get him talking to me instead of her, but I was unsuccessful. It wasn’t too bad; just drunk talk. But still, I’d rather if he’d found someone else to give it to, rather than Grandma. (And, luckily, my sister’s partner had spent much of the afternoon with him, and done a very good job of keeping him entertained and/or quiet. So he is to thank for the fact that this uncle didn’t spend more time upsetting Grandma.)

We headed back to Mom’s Tuesday evening. Tuesday night, since I was in the area anyway—and still hadn’t given Jer and Terilyn their baby shower gift—I gave them a call, and asked if it was alright for me to come over. I hadn’t given them any warning that I was in the area, and of course I expected them to be tired, what with the new baby and all, but they were very happy to have me over, so I went, and spent some time with them. I held Alexis in my arms, and didn’t break her or anything. (That I know of.) I was also pleasantly surprised when they asked me to be Alexis’ god father. I don’t know what’s involved in doing that—and what little I thought I knew turns out to be incorrect—but whatever it is, I’ll do my best. I’m very touched and honoured that they’d want me to do that for them, and for Alexis.

On Wednesday afternoon—after sleeping in past noon—I made the drive from Mom’s back to Toronto. (Travel: ~300km; total travel: ~1,400km)

This was a very matter-of-fact post, with a somewhat emotional title, which is appropriate. I’m not an emotional man, but I’m close to Grandma, and was close with Grandpa, so obviously his death is affecting me. So I’m currently experiencing grief at his loss, but am also somewhat emotionally empty. Because we’ve all been so busy, over the last couple of days, preparing for and attending the funeral, we haven’t had time to grieve—as is always the case, with funerals—so his death isn’t real to any of us yet. Wednesday was probably the first day it really felt real to Grandma, that Grandpa was gone. Just as it was for me.

My Grandpa’s name was Jack, and my Grandma’s name is Shirley. Jack and Shirley. As I was growing up, I never heard the word “Jack” unless it was followed by “and Shirley”, and I never heard the word “Shirley” unless it was preceded by “Jack and”. The only exception, of course, would be if they were talking to each other, because they had no problems with communication. They had a good marriage, they were good parents, and from what I could tell, they were good friends, to their friends. Their marriage served as a model to many marriages around them, including, to a certain extent, my own. I hope to be a good husband, as Jack was to Shirley. Everyone loved Jack and Shirley, and everyone loved spending time with them.

And now Jack is gone, and it’s just Shirley.

Friday, June 23, 2006

I need a haircut!

I just realized that I forgot to write something, when I wrote about the week before the concert. I realize how strange that must sound; I wrote all that, and still missed something?!? But it’s true.

What I forgot to write is this: Because I was out/busy every night before the concert, I didn’t get a chance to get my hair cut, even though it was in desperate need of it. I had been vowing to myself that I would get it cut, before the concert—expecially since my mother was planning to be there, and she’s always good-naturedly ribbing me about not having my hair cut. (Which is valid, since it’s almost always in need of a cut when I see her.) But I was busy, so I wasn’t able to get it cut, so I showed up to the concert with what looked like a brown mop on my head.

But the concert came and went, and I still haven’t had a chance to get my hair cut. If I don’t get it cut soon, people are going to think I’m trying to get on Saturday Night Live or something.

(Is that an obscure joke, that nobody will get but me? Quite possibly…)

Welcome to Friday. Hope you enjoy your weekend. See you again on Monday.

I have absolutely nothing to say. (That’s a general comment, as well as a specific one for this particular moment.)

I won’t mention names, but I just read a blog entry from someone who is apparently having a meltdown. Remember, people, blogging can be dangerous. Use extreme caution. Especially if you allow comments, which I’m starting to think is a bad idea.

The serna Bible Blog is doing okay. I’ve done two posts, now, with the icon used to indicate links to Bible Gateway, but I still haven’t decided if I actually like the idea. Maybe by the time I get to the book of Psalms I’ll have it all worked out in my head. Maybe not.

I won’t mention names, but I saw a friend online on MSN Messenger, and wanted to say hi, but then hesitated, because I figured maybe she was just getting ready for work or something. And maybe I was right, because when I went back later, she was “Away”.

Note: a brief pause was taken in the writing of this entry, while serna got himself a coffee. Followed by a moment of reflection, as he tried to decide if there was anything else he actually wanted to say.

I won’t mention names, but after talking with one of the anonymous bloggers the other day, I gave some additional consideration to putting some kind of hit counter on this site, but again decided against it because I still don’t care.

I should probably give up on this post, click Submit, and just move on to a post on the serna Bible Blog.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


I know of two separate people who have started blogs on Blogger, lately. I can’t mention one, because s/he specifically wants the blog to be anonymous, and then I was talking to someone else today, who casually mentioned that s/he had started one, but didn’t happen to give me the URL—leading me to think that it might be anonymous too.

Regardless of whether that’s the case, I wonder how many others are out there starting anonymous blogs? Most blogs—including mine—are pretty useless, but I have to admit, an anonymous blog gives you a good opportunity to say things you might not otherwise say.

In any event, if anyone needs any help customizing their Blogger template, I can probably help. I don’t have any visual skills, so you’ll need to help me to understand how you want it to look, but I do have HTML and CSS skills, and understand how Blogger templates work.

Congratulations Terilyn and Jeremy!

I obviously haven’t been updating this very much lately, but I missed mentioning a very important event: T and Jer had a baby.

Congratulations to you both. Here’s hoping you can at least get some sleep, in the next 12 years or so. Although it isn’t likely…

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Formatting for the serna Bible Blog?

I was playing around with the serna Bible Blog today, and trying to decide if I wanted to include an icon, to indicate when a link is a link to a Bible verse on BibleGateway. For example, instead of saying “go and read John 3:16 and see for yourself”, it might say “go and read John 3:16 and see for yourself”.

But I haven’t decided if I like the idea or not. Earlier, I had been playing with the idea of doing the same thing on this blog, to differentiate between links to external sites, and links to other blog entries. An important distinction, because I think more than half of the links I put up are links to my own blog entries—maybe even somewhere around 75%.

Not necessarily with an icon, but maybe with different colours or something…

Monday, June 19, 2006

Stickman Funnies

I was sent these in an email, and they were so funny I had to share them with my blog readers.


My Week (Long)

It’s been a busy week. The last time I wrote anything here was Wednesday, so I guess I should recap what happened last week, before I get into the weekend.

For our concerts, we don’t like having empty space between the songs. If I’m playing electric guitar for one song, and then need to switch to acoustic for the next—meaning that there is a slight pause between songs (or not so slight, depending on if I have to change settings on the amp, etc.)—we prefer to have something happen during that song change, for the audience to look at, so they’re not just sitting there, waiting for me. Since the theme for our concert was a 70’s-style game show, we decided to film some commercials, that would show during those pauses. We worked it out that there were two times when I would need to switch instruments between songs, and one other pause while the keyboardist needed to switch from piano to keyboard (or vice versa—I don’t remember which), meaning we needed three commercials.

We taped the commercials last Sunday, on a video camera lent to us by a friend of Andrea’s, and the taping went very well. But my computer at home doesn’t have the appropriate connections to hook up the camera, so we had to give the camera back to her, and get her to get all of the video off and burn it onto a DVD for us, so that we could then edit it back together. We brought the camera back to her on Monday evening, and they promised to drop the DVD off to Andrea at work on Tuesday.

If I remember correctly—I didn’t enter it in my calendar—we had to get up early Tuesday morning, because Andrea had to be at work early. Tuesday evening, after work, Andrea and I sat down in front of the computer, slid in the DVD, and nothing happened. When I looked more carefully at the disc, I saw the word “Andrea” carved across the DVD’s surface. It turns out that they had put the DVD into a sleeve, and then put that sleeve into an envelope, and then written Andrea’s name on the envelope. Somehow, through three separate layers of paper, when they wrote her name on the envelope, it actually scratched onto the surface of the DVD! So, in a panic, we called Andrea’s friend… actually, she’s not just Andrea’s friend anymore; she’s my friend too, I think. I’ll stop calling her “Andrea’s friend” from this point forward. As I was saying, we called our friend, in a panic, and told her what happened. She promised to burn another DVD for us, and we drove across the city to pick up the new one.

We got back home, DVD and supplies in hand, ready to start editing together our commercials. We popped the disc into the drive, only to find that it still didn’t work. We called her, again, in a panic, wondering if the problem was that she had burned the DVD from her iMac; maybe there were compatibility problems? But she told us that she didn’t burn it from her iMac, she used her PC. And then I looked more closely at the disc, and realized that it was DVD+R, not DVD-R. (Did you catch the difference there? It’s pretty subtle, I know.) There are compatibility problems with DVD+R; not every DVD drive will read them. (So if you have a DVD burner, and are planning on burning any DVDs, you should try and make sure you always use DVD-R, because it’s a much more widely adopted standard.)

So we gave up, and decided that I should stop by Future Shop Wednesday, and pick up a DVD drive, that would read DVD+R discs. So, after all that, we ended up getting to bed late, and still hadn’t accomplished anything.

Wednesday, as promised, I stopped by Future Shop during my lunch break, and bought a DVD burner. It seemed to understand every DVD and CD format under the sun, so I figured it would be safe. And it was—I got home Wednesday evening, popped it into the computer, and it read the DVD just fine. (30 minutes of video works out to about 3GB of drive space, if you’re curious.) So we spent Wednesday night editing together the commercials, using Windows Movie Maker (WMM). Once we got going, it was fairly easy to put the commercials together. (We’re planning on putting them online at some point, so I’ll probably link to them when we do.)

(As an aside, the DVD burner I bought came with a bunch of software from Nero, including a movie making program. It may or may not have been better than WMM, but I haven’t played with it yet. There were some minor features that WMM didn’t have, that it might have, although we were able to live without them.)

Thursday morning we had to get up much earlier than normal, because I had a seminar to attend downtown, that started at 8:30. Then Thursday evening we had to go to the church, to help decorate. Actually, Andrea helped decorate, and I re-strung my guitars. But halfway through, I realized that I had picked up the wrong kind of strings. (There are four kinds of strings that I buy, for my three guitars, and two out of those four changed the way they do their packaging. So I apparently mis-read the packages, when I was picking them up.) So I was able to restring two guitars, and had to leave the other one for later. We got home late Thursday night.

Friday night, there was a church business meeting and a choir practice at the same time. I went to the business meeting, and got out just in time to practice the very last song with the choir. Just enough to realize that the strings I was using were too light; meaning that, out of the two guitars I had re-strung the night before, only one was actually usable. We got home late Friday night.

Saturday was the day of the concert. We were supposed to have practice from 10:00–12:00, but it went a bit late. We then popped by the music store, so I could buy proper strings, and I spent much of the rest of the afternoon re-stringing the remaining guitars (which included the one which I’d put light strings on).

(As an aside, it doesn’t normally take too long to re-string a guitar; maybe 10 or 20 minutes. But one of the guitars I own is a double-neck, meaning that there are two guitars built into one (like the image on the right—which is, I believe, the same one I have). As shown, one of those guitars is a 12-string, instead of a 6-string, so there are 3 times as many strings to change as on a regular guitar. And, I have a handy tool for changing strings, as shown on the left, which is what makes the job so quick, but because of how close the necks are together, I can’t use it for some of the tuning pegs, and have to do it by hand. So, all told, instead of 10 or 20 minutes, it takes about 45–60.)

The concert Saturday night was great. I was a bit worried, because even up to the practice Saturday morning it was still a bit chaotic, but they pulled it together, and did a great job. (I say “they” because it’s really the singers who do most of the work. I didn’t even have any really difficult songs to play, so it was mostly a breeze for me. Also, I had a lot less acting to do than last year, so I didn’t have as many lines to memorize.) Afterward we went out with a friend we hadn’t seen in a while, so we got home late Saturday night as well.

Saturday night/Sunday morning, at 2:00AM, I got a call on my work cell phone, because I was needed to help with a deployment. I would love to rant and rave about this, because it was something that shouldn’t have happened, for various reasons, but it would involve writing about work, so I’ll leave it at that. Luckily, I was only needed for 15 minutes anyway.

Sunday morning we slept in a bit, because we were told that we could take the morning off from playing in the service, if we wanted. In the afternoon, we met up with some of Andrea’s family, and had a picnic in the park. We had a great time.

Later on in the afternoon, though, I got a call on my cell from my mom, because my grandfather had gone into the hospital. It was fairly serious, but she didn’t know how serious. She was on her way to the hospital to see him—it’s about an hour’s drive—and promised to call me back when she had more information. I told Andrea that I might need to drive down and see him, but when Mom called me back later, she told me that he was in emerg, but was somewhat stable, and that there was no need for me to drive down, yet. She called back around 11:00 or so, to let me know that he was out of emerg and in ICU, and was more stable. Which is actually where the situation stands now, so I may or may not still need/want to drive down and visit him.

And that’s how my week went. Which should explain why I haven’t written here or updated the serna Bible Blog since Wednesday.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


I moved into a new desk recently, and since I’ve been here, I’ve got two free travel mugs.

When I first moved in, there was a mug sitting on the desk, from the previous occupant. It was used—as evidenced by the tea sitting at the bottom of it, which had been there for a few months—but after a few trips through the dishwasher, it seems to be fine.

And then, the other day, I opened up one of my filing cabinets, because I wanted to lock something away, and lo and behold, there was another one! This one looks like it’s never been used at all.

I should change desks more often.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The usual big fat nothing

I didn’t really have much to say today. But then again, neither did anyone else, apparently, because none of the blogs that I read regularly had much to read.

I still don’t know how well I’ll do with the Bible Blog. Maybe I’ll keep posting to it on a regular basis, maybe I won’t. It’s up to Genesis 4, now; only 1,185 chapters to go! I don’t know if I’ll continue posting one entry per chapter; that’s what I’ve been doing so far, but the beauty of not defining any set parameters for it is that I can do whatever I want. Actually, even if I do define set parameters, I can change them; it’s my blog, after all.

I came very close to signing up for a YouTube account, today, and uploading my cartoon, so that I could easily post it here. I think the only thing that stopped me is that I’m not likely to be making any more cartoons or videos. What’s the point of having a YouTube account, just to upload one measely video?

This is my 459th post to the blog. Only 41 more posts to go, before I get to the big 5-0-0.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Tim Hortons “Camp Day”

I was in Tim’s today, and I saw the following sign:

You probably can’t read that, because my camera phone is lousy, but it says that if you buy a coffee on June 7th, Tim’s will donate the proceeds to send some deserving kids to camp.

There is just one minor problem: They didn’t put that sign up until today, and today is June the 12th. I’m hoping that other locations managed to get the signs up earlier.

Star Trek vs. Star Wars

Further to Tyler’s comment, here is the Star Trek vs. Star Wars video.

It’s a bit jerky, because of the way that it’s cut, but hey, I couldn’t have done it any better.

Friday, June 09, 2006

serna Bible Blog

For those of you who don’t read the comments, I guess I should make a real mention of it here, too.

Because I was so obsessed with the idea, I decided to go ahead and create a blog, which will chronicle my reading of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. The blog is at

I don’t know if I’ll make it all the way through, or if I’ll end up giving up before the end. I’m sure I won’t get to post to it every day—although it will help me to keep up my daily Bible reading.

I decided not to put too much work in to the template of the new blog, so I was originally just going to take one of the standard Blogger ones, without any customizations. Unfortunately, none of them were quite what I was looking for. So I found one that I liked from Blogger Templates. (I still had to do a bit of customization, but not much. Actually, just modifying the links, and fiddling with the profile a little bit.) A friend of mine—who I can’t mention, because s/he wants to remain anonymous—created a blog just recently, and I could have sworn that the template s/he used from Blogger was better than the ones currently listed.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Blogging the Bible

A friend sent me this link, about a guy who doesn’t really know the Bible, and is going to read through the entire thing, and blog about the experience. His angle is that blogging it will capture the thoughts of someone who is reading it for the first time.

I thought about stealing his idea, and doing the same thing. The problem is that:

  1. I know the Bible better than he does, so it wouldn’t be a chronicle of a first-timer’s reading
  2. On the other hand, I don’t know enough to write a proper Biblical commentary, so the blog wouldn’t have any value in that respect, either.
So I know too much—but not enough—to offer any value in writing it.

It’s still an intriguing idea, though…

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


I tried to give blood last night. Yes, that’s right; tried.

Stage One: I showed up for my appointment, and they made me read a little pamphlet, and drink some juice. Then they performed a rather creepy little ceremony, where the woman pricked my finger, and I watched her fill a little glass tube with the blood she was squeezing from it. She then dropped a couple of drops into a weird beaker, and informed me that my iron level is fine. Phew.

Stage Two: She gave me a form to fill out, and they put me in a little booth, similar to a voting booth, where I filled it all out. Every step of the way, they were making it clear that “You don’t have to go through with this! You can leave any time you want!” I gamely stayed the course.

Stage Three: Having filled out the form, I went on to the next doctor, who checked my blood pressure and temperature—both of which were fine—and asked me some additional questions. This was my first worry that I might not be able to give blood; one of the questions on the form was “have you been out of the country in the last 3 years?”, and I was in Venezuela last year, and Guyana and Barbados the year before. But she confirmed that it was still okay. She next moved on to the “high risk” questions: “Do you have AIDS? Have you had sex with anyone who has AIDS in the last 12 months? Have you paid anyone to have sex in the last 12 months? Have you been paid for sex in the last 12 months?” etc. etc. No to all, so I was still fine.

Then, and I thought this was very neat, she gave me two stickers, and left the booth. The stickers were a last chance for me to tell Canadian Blood Services that they shouldn’t use my blood, without causing myself embarrassment. If, for whatever reason, I didn’t feel that it was safe to give my blood—for example, if I had AIDS, but was just to embarrassed to tell the doctor—I was to attach the “No” sticker to the form, but otherwise, I would put on the “Yes” sticker. But the stickers were just bar codes, so nobody looking at them would realize whether I had chosen yes or no, until later on when they scanned the bar codes.

She then gave me a dizzying array of bags, tubes, and other apparatus, which I was apparently going to fill with blood. (Actually, I was only going to fill the big bag with blood, along with a much smaller compartment, which they would use for testing. Then, assuming that all of the tests passed, they would transfer the blood from the big bag into three smaller bags, meaning that I would have donated 3 units of blood.) I then went and sat and waited for my turn.

Stage Four: They called me in, and started prepping me. A very pleasant woman swabbed my arm with alcohol, and then with iodine. She put the needle in—and, since she knew what she was doing, it didn’t hurt at all; it hurt less than the prick they’d done to my finger, earlier, which I could still feel, at this point—and the blood started to flow.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’d even been leaking for a minute, before she saw something in my face, and asked me if I was alright. I told her I was feeling a bit nauseous, and she sprang into action. (Actually, it was more than a bit; I was in medium-risk danger of throwing up.) You’ve seen those scenes in the movies or on TV, when medical professionals suddenly get very focused, in a way that maximizes efficiency, but minimizes worry for the patients? (“We need to move now! Get that tube out, stat! But there’s nothing to worry about, Mr. Smith; this is all very routine.” That kind of thing.) She called over two other women, and they all quickly worked together to remove the tube from my arm, lower the chair position, ask me to roll onto my side, and even put a cold washcloth on my neck. She told me that they don’t take chances; as soon as something goes wrong, they take everything out immediately.

Almost as soon as they got me on my side, I was feeling better. I’m sure it’s because I hadn’t eaten properly yesterday. (I’d skipped lunch, at work, because I’d simply forgotten to take it, and had pizza for supper.) So, in 2 or 6 months, I’ll try again, and make sure I eat properly first.

Probably the worst part about this is that I think Andrea still believes I got nauseous because I was scared.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Persuant to Subsection P, of Article IX, you are forthwith requested to read the following blog entry…

See this blog entry from Jer, which I found well-written and hilarious. (Despite the strange choice in font colours, which made the text unreadable; here’s a hint, if it’s not fixed by the time you get there: select the text with your mouse, which will highlight it, and therefore make it readable.)

Friday, June 02, 2006


Things are in a constant state of change.

Some people are attempting to help design massive changes, for the common good.

Some people are studying social, economic and political change.

Some changes are bad. But some people are working to rectify those changes. And others are working to make good changes.

Simply buying and selling produces change.

People often have to change addresses. Or driver’s licenses.

Change isn’t good or bad; change is change. You have to examine individual changes, to know their positivity or negativity. The best way to do so is in retrospect, because you often can’t know whether a change will be good or bad ahead of time, or even while it’s happening; it’s only when you look back—sometimes way back—that you can know for sure if a change was good or bad. Positive or negative. Fun or painful.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Random Thoughts on a Thursday Morning

The “random thoughts” part of the title is highly accurate, as I don’t have anything to say. The “on a Thursday morning” part is just pretentious “look at me, I’m a writer” kind of writing, and I’m ashamed I included it. Sorry.

I worked from home on Wednesday, because I wasn’t feeling well, and I’m doing the same today because I’m still not feeling well. It’s nothing serious, just a bit of a runny nose, and a bit of a headache. I’d had a sore throat, but it’s feeling pretty good right now.

On the way back to the house this morning, after dropping off Andrea for work, I stopped to pick up some frozen orange juice. I got Old South Premium, because it’s the best kind I know. (The only better OJ is freshly squeezed.) Just for fun, as I was typing this, I looked up the Wikipedia article on it, which had a link to the Old South website. Which is when I realized that the company calling itself “Old South” is actually a Canadian company. I guess when they say “South”, they mean Windsor or something.

I also learned that:


An orange is technically a hesperidium, a kind of berry. It consists of several easily separated carpels, or sections, each containing several seeds and many juice cells. Orange trees are evergreens, seldom exceeding 30 feet in height.

You learn something new every day.

On a separate topic—and keeping in line with the “random thoughts” nature of this entry—I currently have two bottles of Coke in the fridge. I like Coke; it’s my favourite cola. But I don’t normally have any in the house, unless something special is happening. But we bought some a couple of weeks ago, when Andrea’s relatives were coming over for dinner, and it turns out that they don’t drink Coke, so I still had most of the bottle left. And then James came over for the week, and he bought a bottle, as well. (Probably as much a gift for me, to thank me for letting him stay, as it was for himself.) But that bottle hasn’t even been cracked open, so there’s lots of Coke in the fridge.

On that note, this is a message specifically for James: You’ll be happy to know that I cut the grass on Sunday. The yard looks nice.

I’ve realized, being home the last couple of days, that I need to clean out the MP3s I have on my computer. There are a lot of mediocre-to-crap songs on there, that I should get rid of. (There are also a lot of songs on there that I love, that Andrea thinks are mediocre-to-crap, but that’s another story.)

While I was at the grocery store, getting my Old South Premium, I also got some concentrated Nestea. I drink a lot of Nestea, but they don’t sell it in 2L bottles, as they do most soft drinks; so I’m stuck buying cases of the cans. Which is a lot of waste. So I’m hoping that the concentrate will taste as good as the regular stuff, so I can stop buying the cans, and creating so much waste.

Of course, I won’t bother trying to make it until I get better. That’s what the Old South Premium is for.

I have Youth Group this Friday, and I’m not sure what we’ll do. I’m thinking glow-in-the-dark mini-golf, but we’ll see. At Youth Group last Friday, we went swimming, which people enjoyed more than I thought they would. While we were there, one of the girls bought a bag of Dill Pickle chips, and I had one. Since then, I’ve had a craving for them. I wish I weren’t sick, so I could go get a big bag and go to town. Soon, my precious chips, soon…