25 December 2005

Something like Christmas

Merry Christmas from Lehigh!
It's a balmy white Christmas here. It even snowed a little this morning.
Christmas tradition has eroded over the years as my family got older (and some may even suggest grumpier). Actually, I never really thought we had much tradition in the first place. For us, we gathered on Christmas Eve with the extended family and ate a little, drank a little, and opened presents all while the television blared. Most would sit around. Not my ideal.
My immediate family would open gifts on Christmas and do more sitting around at home. Perhaps we would eat something special.
Then a few years ago we began to go to Christmas Eve services at The Harbor. I let out a sigh of relief- at last we would have an honorable tradition. Nostaglia is okay. Family is good too. However, without the One who the season is meant to honor, Christmas seemw banal and pedestrian: a trite excuses to spend money and create a myth about a jolly fat man from the North Pole. Just look at Holiday programming.
When Christ is exhalted then indeed there is much to celebrate. All other purposes must be subserviant to Him. That's the kind of Christmas celebration I enjoy and desire.
For a good article on Christmas TV see Mr. Veith.

18 December 2005

The middle of December and.....

It is the middle of December and I still don't know where I am going. There have been 2 interviews and only 3 temp jobs since the previous posting. Freezing rain came. Then the snow arrived. The city shut down. Sub-zero arctic fronts badgered the area. Busted out the bike only twice.
You are probably surmising that I am either real busy or rather depressed. Although the wise will discern that it is some of both. Hey, I wrote the stuff, you just have to decide if I am honest when I am talking about myself.
What has not kept me busy is work. Pretty slim the last 3 weeks.
No, what has kept me busy is passion for audio drama. This is the third year I have written, directed, and produced a radio drama for my church although I had more help this year. I spent many hours searching for music, creating sound fx, and revising the script. I got a good return on the investment. One audience member commented that the show was 10 times better than his church's Christmas program. And that came from a 12 year old.

29 November 2005

The Irish make soccer news double

The past 2 weeks in football saw an Irishman land a leading story and both stories happen to include Manchester United.
Cork native Roy Keane ripped himself out of United's season. Although hoping to return to the line up after injury, Keane pulled out of the club and then had his contract voided. Details were sketchy on what made the oft critical captain Keane pull out early but there has been speculation that he may not have approved the direction United were going this season. So now the hunt begins. Will Keane play for another side once the transfer window opens in January? I think he will but I have no idea where. Celtic has always been a possibility.
Belfast born George Best died this past week. He has been considered the most talented player to from the home countries and rightly so. He spent a majority of his career with Manchester United and indeed helped the team to glory during the 1968 European Cup. He made his way to play in the states a few times as well. With the arrival of Best the era of superstar players began. George paved the way for Beckham. These days, however, George looked more country gentleman than playboy. It is strange but George Best actually looked a bit like Sean Connery. I wonder if they were related?

Stormed in

It has been almost a decade since I've been stormed in by the creeping hand of winter (which of course does not begin for another month). Freezing rain began it and then came the wind and snow. Interstates closed. Schools closed. The whole city closed.
I went out to move my car to discover almost a 1/4 inch of ice on it. I spent nearly 2 hours working on it. I would never venture out on the bike in this weather. It was miserable and impassable.
Today I cleaned my room and wondered if I would be called upon to work. I did however land an interview with the Dakota Clinic.
Oh what an extended weekend.

24 November 2005

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving salutations. Hope your turkey is well done and the cranberries are not too tart.
My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving probably because of the food but I also like it as a time to reflect and realize that all good things don't come from ourselves. It is a good attitude to have especially as entitlement continues to drive our culture towards complaining.
Hey we may be better off than many others but it is prideful to think we are deserving of it and if we don't get it we have a right to complain. I've heard a lot of complainer working through employment agencies. I'm thankful that I do get to work from time to time. And I'm very thankful when its something I really enjoy.
Here's a list of Thanksgivings for 2005
1. I am still alive- this year I have been hit by cars twice and thrown off a motorcycle. Whoa!
2. Bicycling- I have enjoyed a good year in the saddle. Started to tour too.
3. Ireland- I am thankful I got to the island this April. I am always hopeful to return to those shores.
4. God's provision- it may not seem like much to others but it really is more than enough- finacial and spiritual.
5. Physical Fitness- I cannot believe I am still running every week and riding the bike everywhere.
Hope you have a heart filled with thanks today and into the new year!

16 November 2005

Gasping for employment

Although it appears the Go area has the lowest rate of unemployment in the nation for September, I am still sinking to the bottom in what I am told is a good job market. However, I did get an interview the other day with one of the local colleges which was encouraging to say the least.
The interview went okay but I came out of it thinking "I really don't know much about computers anymore." I kept a good conversation about viruses and spyware but it seems everything else I just said "No, have not done that." So I think my prospects are rather low for landing that position.
Now am I in gap land with the agency. There is a continuing anxiety about what assignments they proffer. The last 2 weeks I was back at the mill. It was easy and I think it will pay the bills.

Waiting can be more difficult now that I've got others wondering if I am looking for jobs every hour of the day. Do I just say "Yah, I'm doing something" or snap back? Then there's a sub set that try to offer advice and suggest jobs I'd never want to do. The are well meaning but suspect they don't understand the complexities of who I am and what I would enjoy doing.
In recent weeks I have found some encouragement and pathos in listening to Jay Mohr's audio auto-biography of his Saturday Night Live years- Gasping for Airtime. Kind of like parallel world except I never did stand up.

31 October 2005

It was raining granola...

The employment cycle continues to churn. Today I returned for another stint at the Mill (Roman Meal Milling).
It was a very simple day. It included plenty of waiting. Congeled coconut oil held up the start of making granola in the giant toaster. I ended up playing with the "larded" oil until it liquified to add to the recipe. And some recipe it was. Ah granola smells much better than donut crunch.
The granola ran through the toaster and into hoppers overhead and then into a gargantuan sack. During production the bin that let the granola into the sack became congested. At first I only felt a few pieces fall on my as I was aiding the granola's distribution into the bag. Then a torrent rained down upon me. A flash flood commenced.
So it was a pretty interesting Monday.

18 October 2005

Lesson from a pumpkin

Cute stories have been floating around the Net for years. It seems my sister collects them and then forwards them onto me. I usually dismiss them. However, this one is particularly interesting although I would debate the worth of pumpkin seeds- in actuality they are very healthy. Of course seeds of doubt, hate, greed and all that jazz are not healthy if you desire to be a follower of Jesus.
A woman was asked by a coworker, "What is it like to be a Christian?"
The coworker replied, "It is like being a pumpkin."
God picks you from the patch, brings you in, and washes all the dirt off of you. Then He cuts off the top and scoops out all the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate, and greed. Then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see."

16 October 2005

O Hastings, O Hastings

This past week my picturesque and quaint hometown of Hastings had been mared by a tragic murder. This is not the way I want Hastings to be known. Horrible. Yes very horrible. A Shakespearan tragedy could do itself well based on the facts of the crime. A son kills his parents to get at the inheritance. There are hints that it was motivatived by some arguments too.
What went wrong? All but one of the accused had been model students. My only guess is they had tasted religion but had not accepted the implications- the spirit lead life. Our only hope now is that through these circumstances and probably grave consquences these young men will find hope that rests on nothing less than the Cross.
This is not the only crime to have brought attention to Hastings. There have been others in the 20 or so years I recall- an accidental shooting brother, a bizarre electrocutuion, an underage drinker dying in the cold. So Hastings is not so spotless. I'm sure I could dig a few more up but I won't. I'll just hope the smalltown surrounded by suburbia returns to better days.
Here's a more detailed account

10 October 2005

Do something extraordinary

It has been dullsville out here. With the exception of a strange occurance at the Forks, nothing terribly stands out to me these days. Just look at the blog gap.
Because of this I this I decided to embark on an extraoridinary task. Something challenging.
Bike to Wilmar.
Sure it's not Seattle but do I really want to cross the Rockies at this time of year. I am more confindent I can cross the prairies.
In other news, the vicious employment cycle put me back folding shop towels again. Yep. The bottom rung of temp work. Although this time around I had a better attitude and survived. I even thing I might go back- I'm a bit desperate.
To culminate my week at Ameripride my co-workers gave me cheers. Unheard of anywhere. It made it all the more enjoyable. I was also thanked numerous times that day from others. Incredible.
Well, got to hit the road.

20 September 2005

Looking at the BBQ

"What are you guys doing?"
"Justing looking at a barbeque."

The downward trends

I have been experiencing a lack of employment lately. Ever since the big July crash its been a sporadic route in and out of temporary positions.
I've got return visits to Kaye's and AMS and ABC Seamless. Then I got to work at Roman Meal mill. That was tough. My fingers felt arthritic for a week.
Alas with only 2.8% unemployment in this town I am wondering where in the world is this leading me. Did I miss my cue for something? I am what one of my favorite verses says?
(John 3:29-30) "The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less."
From how I feel I seems like a time to go back on the shelf.
But that seems like retreat. What am I to do? Let the downward trend continue?
If there is anything I have learned through these times is to persevere through them and have faith there are better things on the other side of this valley.
So I guess it may become an upward climb.

13 September 2005

Pork camp

Making camp at the site in the BWCA I affectionately call pork camp because Phil made one of the most delicious meals of the trip here- pork helper delight. Also was my pick for pest campsite of the 2005 trip.

This Gen- Part 3

The Loss of Localization- the local church is spurned

The very medium I use to write this is part of the problem. So ironic. I must be hypocrite. However, the Internet has aided (for better or for worse) the delocalization of much of the world. This generation has grown up with it, harnessed its power, and are virtually living online. My home is not considered Zeeland, North Dakota anymore (hypothetical of course). I am a citizen of the world!
This attitude has its good and bad points. First the good. We no longer can keep a narrow view of this world. Zeeland is just as close to Berlin as Warsaw or Munich. This generation wants to go places. To the distance lands, to the exotic isles. Missions are booming. They want to see all nations come to worship the creator of the universe.
On the flip side, they become so globally minded that the local church is ignored or even spurned as not being a vital link. This is a terrible thing. Although I agree the body of Christ extends beyond borders and denominations- the local church is the essential buiding block for reaching the world- not "ministries" or organizations or agencies- it's the church! This generation has become a consumer of church meetings, events, but has not attached itself to the vitality of the body that has Christ as its head. All ministry should flow from Jesus and since Jesus is the head of the church why not be part of one?
Some reasons why I thing local church is spurned
  1. It requires time, effort, and commitment. This reason sort of relates to the problem I wrote of in part 1.
  2. It is too institutional and cumbersome.
  3. It does not feed my soul. Everybody has said this at one time or other about the church. Face it. It's not fast food. We need to learn to receive from God not rely solely on a minister. The local church should help you reach that stage.
  4. It is full of strangers. Yah, I agree with that. Some local churches have all the charm of a wet noodle. It should not be that way of course. I guess that is a prayer point- that local churches would exude the love of Christ. I know it can happen.
  5. I'll join when I am married, hurt, etc. Face it. By failing to connect with a local church you wind up missing a whole aspect of the body of Christ. I don't think being part of a local church is optional. If we received Jesus, we receive his people too.

09 September 2005

A prairie home at the fair

In the evening of my state fair visit, I was entertained by Garrison Keillor and his Prairie Home Companion show. My father bought tickets for all of us and we had great seats on the infield.
Garrison was at his best that evening. The show was superb. It featured some New Orleans tributes and 2 groups. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, a stranded New Orleans jazz group that also sang harmony. They were a blast. Then there was a Candian trio of ladies called the Wailing Jennings (a play on the musician, God rest his soul, Waylon Jennings). These ladies were fabulous as well. One played an accordian. The all sang heavenly harmonies reminiscient of the Indigo Girls.
At the break Garrison lead the audience in a sing along. We sang "Oh Beautiful for Spacious Skies", all the verses of "Amazing Grace" and the Elvis tune "I Can't Help Falling in Love." During the sing a long Garrison was about 20 feet from us. I did not ask for his autograph.
The second half of the show was just as good. In is monologue he recounted the time he was asked to recite the Gettysburg address at the State Fair for a re-enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg. This incident was mostly fictional (there was a re-enactment a number of years ago) but real enough to get plenty of laughs.
An especially humorous part of the monologue was when Richard Nixon came to give a speech at the event. On the podium Garrison had put the Gettysburg Address. Nixon finishes and takes the address with him leaving the already nervous Keillor hoping for a miracle since he has not memorized the second half. He ends up reciting the first lines a few times over and then where the second half would be he blurts out in his memory lapse "for the wages of sin is death.."
At the end of show Keillor lead another sing along to the "Star Spangled Banner." A moment after the audience sang the last words, fireworks launch into the sky, bursting with reds an blues and bringin a hush over the entire cast and audience. What an end to a remarkable evening!
Final comment: Lots of the songs on the show were spritual in nature. Hey we evening sang "Amazing Grace." Rather peculiar but pleasant.

Fair chance

The beginning of September found me back at home in order to enjoy a long overdue visit to the State Fair. I was glad to be relieved of working at Roman Meal where I heaved 50lb bags of Dolly Madison Donut Crunch unto pallets for 8 hours the past 2 weeks. I left feeling sore, especially in my fingers.
We arrived at the fair early but not as early as we had to when we worked there. Back then we were on the fairground at least by 6 AM. There was so much to see and unfortunately I did not see it all.
I did get to return to the 4-H building- a big white ediface with a central tower which accents the evening skyline of the fair with its green lights. As a younger person I spent much time in the structure; In particular the 3rd floor dormitory. The place has changed little since those days. The stage I performed on is still there and Arts-In continues to put on its productions albeit without Art in the Park. This year's show was OK. Nothing like the glory days of the late 80's. It was unfortunate that such a large group could not project well. I heard about a 3rd of the songs and they were amplified.
Besides 4-H the building we made it around most of the fair except the horticulture and dairy buildings and the bazaar. Another place we also missed was the Territorial Pioneers cabin. My father and sister hurried through places and at times I completely lost them.
I am much of a fair food eater. I bought 2 1919 Root Beers and had a shake. Outside of the gates I bought some cheese curds before packing myself onto a crowded shuttle bus.
Nevertheless, it was a fine visit. I wish I stilled worked and lived at the fair as I did in the past. That way I could really take in all the fair without the rush.

22 August 2005

Another thought about this generation

Worship What?!
This entry continues the ramblings I have been pondering considering this generation.
Today I take issue with the worship of this generation.
I find that we gravitate towards the large and the extreme and especially the famous. Hey, God is all three of those. That's really good.
Probably what is not entirely good is that we think worship is what we do when we sing God a song- possibly a very emotional experience. We desire worship experiences with the lights, the music, the whole emotive display. Great. But what about at home. When no one is watching. Do we dance with all our might before the Lord or do we excuse ourselves.
I think we've got a mixed up view of worship. It's not songs, dancing, emotion. Those can be part of it but worship should be the sound of devoting our whole selves to Lord.
There can be events but if that's all we entitle worship we are sorely missing it. All these things -music, song, dance, lights, incense whatever are the accessories- merely vehicles of expression.
Get out there- live worship!

15 August 2005

BWCA fire of 2005

Evidence of fire in the distance. Smoke churls up into the skies just west of the Gunflint Trail between Alpine and Seagull Lakes and the end of the trail.

Phil defies the warning in the BWCA

My canoe comrade, Phil, and I ate lunch at this deserted campsite just before fire consumed it.

Not really. In fact we did not even notice this sign until we began to make our lunch. It was hung on the other side of the site. However, smoke had been noticable around the lakes we were coming through (Alpine and Red Rock).
Although we were in the vicinity of the fire for a few days we never saw anything but smoke and planes flying overhead. Phil had first seen the smoke on August 6th as we were heading east into "O gosh it's gumbie" Lake (Phil's rendering of the lake name). We never met the flames.

Extreme biking beyond

The other day I revisited the eery locale I call The Lord of the Flies. A friend and I rode our bikes south to this "ghost neighborhood."
I christened this place "Lord of the Flies" because when I first visited all sorts of winged pests were bustling about especially around an area that looks like an altar.
On this visit the bugs were missing but there were quite a few skeletal remains of varmints. We explored the premises carefully. My friend appeared to be awestruck by the strangeness of it all.
Time ran out on exploring and we needed to head north to go the RedHawks baseball game. A friend of mine gave me some really good tickets and I had wanted to go see the 'Hawks play for a while. A cool autumn evening began to descend as we made our way to the stadium.
However as we cruised the empty sidewalks, suddenly a white Saturn came out of a blind alley. I braked hard but ended up hiting the automobile at about 15 mph. Fortunately I was not injuried. The car sustained no damage either because it was made of plastic. My chain fell off and my front fork needed to be adjusted. The car occupants were very surprised (more shocked). I was surprised the female occupants were wearing so little on a cool evening. My friend was surprised I did not flip over the hood. I am sure she would have enjoyed that.
We got things fixed and were on our way without major catastrophe. The girls were still shocked.
The incident left me shaken up. Just a few blocks before I was speaking about my close calls when biking. Fortunately I enjoyed the RedHawks game. Unfortunately I was in the gift shop when the Hawks hit a home run in the bottom of the 7th inning.

09 August 2005

Under the open sky

I hustled out of town last week into the wilderness for a few days of canoeing in the Boundary Waters with the ever quotable Phil, his Volkwagon Rabbit, and his Kevlar Canoe.
It was a bustling time in the Boundary Waters. We went at peak season and did not even reserve a permit. At the Cook ranger station, Phil and I learned there were only 5 available permits left! Pretty bad for a million acres. Most of the available ones were on or near Lake Vermillion. I wanted more wilderness. The only one close was at the end of the Gunflint Trail and a 3-4 hour drive through backwoods roads. We took it.
We stopped in Ely for gas and get a few supplies. What we failed to get was bread.
This tripped proved to me that the BWCA is a bit crowded in places. However, those sturdy enough to put in some miles will find it well worth passing through the congestion at the entry point. Our entry point also happened to have motor designations which proved distracting although tolerable. I will detail the rest of the trip later.
In the solitude of the wilderness I had opportunity to pray and read. Phil, not much a conversationalist, passed the time in his own quiet ways. He also read some.
He brought a book along called Under the Overpass that intrigued me. I read the whole thing. It is narrative about 2 men who decide to live as homeless for 5 months in 5 different cities. Check out the website to find out more. This book inspired me and changed my thinking. It also re- emphasized my desire to live simply and live my faith. Good stuff.

28 July 2005

This Gen- Part 1

I have been pondering as of late the weaknesses/problems/shortcomings/opportunities of my generation and hope to enumerate them.

Number 1 is loyalty. In continue to see loyalty failing to take hold in us. We flutter from job to job, experience to experience and never appear to give a solid commitment of more than a year or 2. We tend to be of this mindset-- if it doesn't work find something that does.

My generation will change jobs and even vocations more times than our parents. What created this occupational migration? I think a few things have contributed. First dissatisfaction has driven us to find those things which satisfy us more. I was taught in school you should do what you enjoy. Second, mobility and freedom. We are more single, marry later, and branch out more from the nest. Third, the world is changing faster in the information driven age.
Even among Christians I wonder who is committed to the church. Isn't being part of his people part of being "in Christ." Yet I see my generation detached from the church while claiming to be "in Christ." Church hopping has become a trend in the West. Churches are viewed as a commodity I chose carefully (good) but can fling off like a dirty garment if the experience begins to chaff at my skin.
Faithfulness, patience, and committment will be tests to this generation if they hope to fulfill all that God has for them to do.

Odd jobs

I have been odd jobbing since end of my Well Fargo ride.
One I got to assemble computers from 6PM-6AM. I got terminated after 2 days because I was too slow.
I then returned to Kaye's Printing and the friendly confines of the web room for a few days. Then yesterday I was on 2nd floor assembling baseball cards for distribution at the Red Hawks game. Later that day I assisted Phil in creating a driveway. We did not drink beer but had a lot of watermelon in the evening.
In between all this activity I have been hard at work writing and researching a movie script for late summer and early fall production. No title has been given to it. It is a detective mystery based on the "mute" detective Mark Time I had created for the Kevin Myers Show years ago. Mark Time is not really mute, he just choses not to use words. However, you can here him think.
Well, I got to get researching.

A separate peace?

It began as a relaxing normal day. One, in which I should have taken more advantage. However, I rested. Then there was the bathroom ordeal where the toilet connection broke causing water to flood a portion of the basement.
However, that event is not nearly as predecent or historic as the announcement that the IRA (Irish Republican Army) have official disbanded a a para-military organization. To me it is good news because I have been praying for peace in the "North of Ireland." This announcement is certainly a further step in that direction. Gerry Adams even alluded to Ecclesiastes when he stated: "There is a time to resist, to stand up and to confront the enemy by arms if necessary. In other words, unfortunately, there is a time for war... There is also a time to engage, to reach out and put war behind us. This is that time."
No doubt many are skeptical of such rhetoric. Actions do speak louder. Even after the Good Friday Accords enacted a cease fire, the IRA still opporated. Now the network is called to disband and disarm.
Yet the doubts are not unwarranted in Irish history. Secret militia societies have been a thing of Irish history since after the Great Famine during the Land Wars. It may not exist in name but definitely could slumber beneath a polarized Northern Ireland. However, I am hopeful.
Certainly the recent bombings in London have brought many memories of the IRA's tactics and perhaps tried to link today's terrorists with them. To me it is a hard sell. The only thing that links them is passion.
I hope that passion can now united a troubled land that needs the blessing of peace.

21 July 2005

Out on the prairie

I did get a chance to retreat to the Sheyenne Grasslands this Friday previous. It was not what I expected it to be, for good and bad.
First the bad. The bugs were very dense. Opening one's mouth caused one to get a mouth of squito. It was hard to be outside of the tent in the evening. Fortunately not one bug was found in the tent.
The most excellent part was a terrific camping site in a grove nearby to a water source. Plus, no cattle surrounding me in the morning. The moon gave some great light and there were trains in the night. One of my favorite sounds is a training passing in the night. My site happened to be situated by some tracks. However, the trains were fairly silent.
I had planned to do some writing and reading but did not get to do either. Also I had planned to brainstorm my latest movie idea but that got waylaid by the squito and fatigue. Instead I hiked.
One interesting thing happend as I was hiking to the site. Coyotes had surround me. They were cowards and refused to show their faces. They just howled incessantly as I passed.

Times they are a changing

I never heard the Dylan tune but I suspect that it may give some theme to these days.
I have lost 2 jobs in 2 weeks in addition to being given less than thrilling news about what I believed to be a potential relationship. Now, I am wondering what other sorrows can fall upon me. What shall be my end?
The 2nd job I lost was building computers from 6PM unitl 6AM. Interesting but the hours were long. I got the axe after only 2 days.
Oh, how the times they are a changing......

14 July 2005

Jobless freedom - 200th post

It is kind of fun to be free of work.
Yet it takes discipline to stay disciplined when out of work.
Lead worship at SIMT and took in the missions sessions these past 2 days.
Buddy Walker told some interesting missions stories. One in particular about a missionary and a special aircraft called a Super Helio. This aircraft was fitted with speakers and was used to preach while flying over areas of Central America. Now that is my kind of propaganda.
One statement stood out to me about being a world Christian: That we are pilgrim’s camping between God’s purposes for this world and their fulfillment. This seemed to verify what God communicated to be in Ireland- “You are a pilgrim.”
Home has never had a strong pull for me. Just in viewing circumstances of my life I see an itinerant calling—being here for a time and then elsewhere.
Anywhere He'll lead me, huh?

12 July 2005

An abrupt ending on the wagon

Seems like my stint on the wagon has been cut short. So now I must trust in someone greater to provide for me.
Farewell Wells Fargo, again!
Until we meet again :)
Slan Abhaile.

Blog and self redux

The Royce Files got a bit of a makeover. I just changed templates. I should probably do some proofreading but I assume my readership is not hankering for improved grammar, spelling and stylistic choices. Perhaps I need to think of self-promotion of this thing.
In the aftermath the incident I called "Independence re-Emerged"-see previous entry- I felt I needed to re-evaluate, re-cover, and re-imagine too. I need a whole self redux but have no liberty to take that personal retreat, yet.
Rejection is never simple to deal with. Even near rejection is not a piece of cake. Why is that so? Well, I think a lot of it has to do with perception. From one incident our minds and our hearts perceive things that are not actually there. I may think I am cut off from the land of the living but really it is just a realization that my romantic intentions (no matter how noble) will not be realized.
Is there freedom from this syndrome?
I am not sure we can avoid the dreaded rejection. It is always around the corner from me. I think we can be shielded from its ill-effects: depression, self-hatred, anger. I think there is some room for sorrow but our self-worth needs to be secure elsewhere.
I could pontficate more but will digress.

07 July 2005

Numb independence

It was not the best of weekends.
No, it ranks near the bottom of the barrel. Even my tire blow out weekend was better. At least I did not lose sleep this like during "firework."
I had premonitions of inevitability seeping from my head. Something was awry.
As it turned out my Independence Day foray reaffirmed my own independent status.
There I was parting ways on the most delicate of emotional connections while strolling through a generic part of the neighboring town. It seemed expected. It was the day I dreaded. A numb feeling sort of engulfed me as I took in the conversation. It was by no means what I desired. Far from it. I believed that this was the missing piece.
I pursued it silently and it ended silently. A mere blip on the map I suspect.
Passion dies a cold hard death.
I felt like crying but could not.
It was not until the next day that I actually lost it as I was listening to some music. I had to leave work.
The emotions gushed out. I felt abandoned, rejected, failure, self-hatred....then numb as if they were instantaneously frozen.
And I still grieve.

02 July 2005

The dog on the knoll

Hope waits patiently for those who plan to breech the heights of Lehigh .

Hope is an Austrlian Shepherd of no reputation.
There are rumors that she is a wily chaser of coyotes.

Oh the issues

Came accross this website that addressed some hot button issues concerning Christianity. It is not comprehensive but did provide some insights on the controversial issues addressed.
It is published by Mercy Church in Sioux Falls, SD, a new church start-up. They appear to have a trendy appeal judging by the website. They seem to know who they are and what they want to become and they've only been around for about a year.
What troubles me in our group is that we do not quickly pursue that identity through sorting out our vision, values, and mission. It's been almost 4 years and I have no idea what our specific purpose is as a church. It seems that our focus is on the Downtown of the 'Go but what is the how?
I think this lack of cohesive vision stems from the ideal of not wanting to be limited but be open to every opportunity. This "shotgun approach" keeps us from being pigeon holed as this type or that type. Personally I don't like be pigeon holed but as a church should there not be definition and targets to aim for? Now is a time for definition.

Extreme what?

And now that Sandra Day O'Connor plans to step down from the Sumpreme court, who will fill her shoes? Some extremist, right? Apparently NOW feels that way. It is as if the extremists (in their minds) have taken over. It is all relative I suppose. One's extremist is somebody's rational centrist. More rhetoric. More marches. When is anybody going to find common ground?
Of course there is the big one that perhaps we will never have middle ground on- abortion. It should be an incredible battle. The nomination showdown that has been building up for years. It's possible there could be 2 of them in this term.
Oh how fickle Americans are.

28 June 2005

A man who had an afro...comments on Greg Boyd

Segue and I made our way to the 11 o'clock meeting at Woodland Hills Church after an extraordinary night in the club part of Minneapolis. Woodland Hills is one of those massive community reach churches. It's big. It's modern. It's multi-cultural. It's slick. It works hand in hand with other expressions of the body of Christ. It mixes suburban tastes with urban values.
This morning we were treated to some R&B gospel flavored music to worship God.
The place was jumping. We even saw one of the wedding party from the previous day. Reminded me a bit like the Cincy Vineyard.
Preaching duties fall to Greg Boyd. He finished a series on parenting that morn. Mr. Boyd is an incredible speaker. He even show us a picture of himself when he had an afro back in the Sixties.
Here's three points that I found important:
  1. The wouded wound others
  2. That which you despise clings to you
  3. Let children inherit your faith

To clarify the 3rd point- he meant that our faith should not be compartmentalized but be a part of our whole lives. Moses' instructions to the Hebrews was to put the word on your foreheads and doorposts and talk about it. This is not passive inheritance. Passive faith is a passive inheritance.

26 June 2005

Irish reading

Found a decent website that has a bit of a nationalistic slant that contains Irish Gaelic lessons, Irish news, and some history.
My two bits on the North-
  1. The British appear to have built this political state as a pawn between them and the Republic (Eire)
  2. Peace will come through forgiveness and not continued anger manifesting.

Maybe I should have slugged Rickert

So if Rick Rickert was behind me and he refused to play miniature golf should I have gave him a round house like K.G?
An intriguing story concerning this unheard of event of 2004 featuring K.G. and Rickert.

Twin towning

Hit the Twin Towns this weekend with Mark a.ka. Segue. First we did a gig but once it got done we hit to the streets.
It was an ideal night to be out on the streets in Minneapolis. With the Target Center hovering over us we hit Club Three Degrees.
Although there were huge crowds at the other clubs in the area, such as The Quest, 3 degrees was very empty. On Main was DJ Smoove spinning some hip-hop. Downstairs Mark and I met DJ Free-T and had a long chat. Later I got to shake DJ Smoove's hand. He was a happening kind of guy- cheery and encouraging.
After we cleared out of the 3 degrees we walked around. We noticed an outdoor party at some place that started with Bella. Nearly everyone one there (all behind a fence of course) was wearing white. And we saw Sam Cassell of the Timberwolves. In fact we were roughly 5 feet from him while he was talking to some woman on the other side of the fence. Also at the part was Quincy Lewis, formerly of Gopher's basketball fame. His hair was hip.
As we walked further along Rick Rickert, another former Gopher basketball player, was walking behind me and eventually passed both me and Seque. I had looked back at this giant and almost asked if he played miniature golf.
Where we were at was totally alive but not in the right way. Drunkeness of course was around and it appeared debauchering lurked in the shadows of a few clubs we noticed. However, it felt good to be out there. I'd go again. Hopefully Rick Rickert will be up for a game of mini-golf.

DJ Wazitz Naim in action in the Saintly City. Could it be heaven? Posted by Hello

Why they have to break

It sort of frustrates me why celebrities break it off.
Because I am a fiercely loyal guy. (I am also picky I guess because I am not hitched yet.)
So when Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise go find new flames it it upsets me. How can they be successful actors when relationships are not successful with the ones to whom they were supposed to be faithful. Maybe what gets my goat is this Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise thing. Perhaps it is my subconscious desire for Katie Holmes. For one I did not want her to get hooked into whatever that system of thought Cruise adheres. She's too sweet to go down that path. Or maybe she just appears too sweet.
Don't eat the camel, Katie!

A Pontiac from 1951 appears mysteriously. I drive it to the Boondocks with my friend Mark. It is classy. Posted by Hello

23 June 2005


I have returned from some of the hottest and most explosive work that any person can attempt to do.
No, it's not putting out wildfires in Montana. Nor is it playing hurly with some beautiful models.
It was setting up TNT Fireworks super stores (a.k.a circus tents) in various locales around the state.
It was a long sweaty, dirty, nearly sleepless 3 days. My journey started in Morris and weaved around from Rochester to Alexandria to Bemidji. I am still exhausted.
Driving when one is exhausted to the degree I was should be illegal. I kept blanking out and losing my concentration on the road. Plus I had 2 kids sleeping in the car. Nothing seemed to keep me awake. Not coffee. Nor that Mountain Dew Amp energy drink. Only thing that seemed to work was cold water on my face.
My kudos go out to the team that helped assemble to Bemidji tent. Ross, Mark, and Bobbi-Jo were excellent as was Jon. We had that tent looking real good in about 10 hours despite wind and heat. Usually it takes upwards of 18 hours to get it in order. Hopefully sales will increase because of the pleasant tent. There really needs to be a better system to set up these tents. I think I will write the book 0n it. Maybe a pamphlet.
Here's a few tips for you "fireworkers"
  1. A good tent is a clean tent
  2. A good tent is a friendly tent
  3. A good tent is a fun tent

The TNT Fireworks tent at Bemidji, MN 2005 Posted by Hello

20 June 2005

Back to firework

Next few days I will be doing a limited engagement with TNT Fireworks in Minnesota. I will be setting up fireworks super stores in parking lots of 4 retailers. This year I get to work in Rochester.
No word on any new fireworks but" the plan this year is to use the phrase "Could I interest you in a multi-stage grand finale piece?"

Lord have mercy on us when we find ourselves out at the Boondocks. Reminds me of the Boar's Nest of Dukes of Hazard Fame Posted by Hello

Red River of the North overtakes the bike paths at Lindenwood Park. These two riders wonder how they will get across. Posted by Hello

And my portion

Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; You have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance Psalm 16:5,6.
I think that a Christian life should not stink, but hey at points it does. I get restless, harbor jealousy toward others' glory, and often despise myself for not attaining some remarkable standing in this world. I ask myself- "What am I doing here?!" It is a question that goes unanswered. I keep up doing what I am doing and see others prosper.
It is a difficult byway I tread. Why you may ask? Well, it concerns favor and particularly God's favor. I wonder if I have it. It becomes a great comparison game- "That person has it and so and so but why not me?"
The question then should be asked- what is God's favor and how does God bestow it?
As far as I know the the spine of a Christian's life is that God loves, accepts, and forgives him/her. There is no ands or ifs or buts. This is basically what humanity craves. It is upon that revelation (that God cares for me) that a Christian should be secure. Everything else is probably favor- the friends, toys, jobs, money, power and influence. God supplies our needs but favor extends to beyond. There is probably more that can be said but I have had my stand.

15 June 2005

The whole of the football season wrapped up in 1 day

Being a rather lean day, I took in the recap of the football season from around the world.
Here is my brief rendition of the important events surrounding football- particularly focusing on Europe.
  • Man U snatches English teenage phenom Wayne Rooney from Everton for big ching at start of season.
  • Chelsea exihibit dominance in the English Premiere League. It's probably a "told you so" kind of event but Chelsea final kicked it in gear and won the silverware. John Terry is proving his worth and grabs a spot on the national squad.
  • Kevin Keegan quits. Being a Man City fan of sorts I read a bit about this development. It's not out of the ordinary for him so why bother. Well, City finished in the top 10 this term. Goodbye to Fowler, Macca, and bunch of other older "wiser" guys. Wright-Phillips arises to the occasion. So does Joey Barton in some unusual way.
  • Liverpool outduals the Italians for the European Champions Cup in one of the greatest finals of all time (ended in penalties). Less amazing is that they may not be able to defend their title because they did not qualify in the Premier League tables. So much for finishing 5th.
  • Michael Owen joins Becks in Madrid. Real flounders as Barcelona re-emerge. Villareal qualifies for Champions League with Man U castaway Diego Forlan.
  • Malcolm Glazer purchases more Man U stock and makes the fan boys shake in their boots. Can the most recognizable team in the world handle his debt? For now, we'll have to wait. Hopefully he doesn't move the club to Florida.
  • Moscow CSKA wins UEFA Cup. First Russian team to do so.

14 June 2005

An chaisal- my Irish castle

It's been about a few months since I left the byways of County Mayo but I finally discovered the name of the castle ruins I visted near Kiltimagh. It was not Rathroe as I thought but instead Ballylahan Castle. It dates back from the 12th century and was occupied by the MacJordans. Much thanks to this discovery goes out to castlebar.ie for the extraordinary collection of images of County Mayo, Ireland. The site has some fantastic pictures of places I was near or at but had no opportunity to snap a photo. Slan.

01 June 2005

Lefse given liberty

A few days ago the potato based flaky, thin, tortilla-like, food known as lefse made front page news in the Go! It appears that the sale of Lefse was prohibited (quite mistakenly) at local art fairs. This is not a contentious issue because black market lefse abounds in these parts. I assume the authorities who had enforced the lefse ban were swayed by the swell in public opinion. Who would want to go the art fair or bazaar and be denied the right to eat lefse? Not I.
As it was it seems the ban was enforced by misinterpretation of some Department of Food and Health documents. Now we are free to sell the stuff anywhere. I, however, prefer boxty.

26 May 2005

Archs of Rosserk Abbey near Ballina in County Mayo. Occupied and built during 13th or 14th century. It was a 3rd order Franciscan, so famlies were engaged in the work here. Had a bit of lunch there one evening. Posted by Hello

25 May 2005

Only changing jobs

Hopped on the Wells Fargo wagon for a 3rd tour of service at the operations center. It had been about a year and a half since I stepped foot into the place. Once again it is a migration project but I am working with a team of 8 other people from the agency.
Still quite a few familar faces. Some even recognized me. Others were probably thinking in their mind "Where has he been?"
Let me postulate on that last thought. Where have I been? I could tell the long and arduous tale of my flight from Wells Fargo in December of 2003 - about the time this blog started or I could spin a drama of having been moved to the farthest end of the building until now. Another option could be that I just woke up and found myself here, again.

Upon Down Patrick Head near Ballycastle, County Mayo. Winds were brisk and the sea churned.  Posted by Hello

24 May 2005

The revenge at stars end

Viewed the Revenge of the Sith this weekend. It was good but not incredible. Plenty of eye candle but still the lack of character cohesion. True, these movies are just to set up for Obi-Wan and Darth Vader but it still lacked a decent verbiage. The following are the my kudos for the this chapter:
  • Hayden does improve. More believable. Yet I sense a missing link in the characterization as he moves from Anakin to Darth Vader.
  • Ewan McGregor is still fantastic. His Obi-Wan is superb, again.
  • Light saber duels abounding. This is the what we wanted to see. Obi-Wan and Anakin's duel is incredible
  • Keeping the serial motiff. Although I could easily jeer (in chorus with a thousand others) the awkward romantic elements, Lucas knows how to lay the pipe and turn up the heat and leave us lurching for more. The Obi-Wan beast of burden chase was a bit over the top.

There are some sour points too that I will enumerate here:

  • Samuel L. Jackson's Mace Windu. Not as bad-ass jedi as in Clones. A blah performance notwithstanding the confrontation with Palapatine.
  • Clutter. So much eye candy it hurts at times. Give us stuff we have seen before. The Star Wars universe has been bloated.
  • Resolution that was fairly predictable. For almost 20 years my friends and I knew vaguely about how Anakin became Vader. This movie gave us brilliant visuals but nothing surprising. That's what it lacked- surprises. We are used to Palapatine's plans to play both sides. It happens again and again.

And there are a few questions:

  • What kind of relationship does Yoda have with the Wookies?
  • How come the Jedi council could not tell Padme and Anakin were married? Come on Jedis! Even I can tell when somebody is in love.
  • How did Obi-Wan get on the Jedi council? Probably answered in the book.
  • Was Anakin the chosen one? Not clear.

And my favorite moment- Obi-Wan last lines to Anakin : "You were the chosen one!"

17 May 2005

Cast me aside

Met up with one of the actors from Flowers for Algernon- see previous post. It was the girl who played Dr. Strauss. Apparently she works at Moorhead Hornbachers. She looks nothing like the character she played- must of been a whig. So I told here I'd cast here in Grease as Frenchie. She thought I must be some casting agent. "Nope." I said. "I'm just a dreamer."
Then the tea fiasco ensued...but that's a rather hopeless tale.

A night of trivial pursuits

Together with cohorts KT, Gjervold, and Tranasaurus, I returned to Moorhead High School to partake in an evening of trivia to benefit the debate team. Our team, of which I did not captain nor show much leadership initiative, was the smallest of the dozen or so participating. Fargo Dan and Phil had been unable to fulfill their commitment. So Trip Trotsky, as I secretly christened the team, began at a slight disadvantage. But not to fret, we held our own.
The contest of 5 rounds required each team to answer a series of questions in a alloted amount of time. There was no buzzer beating - just fill out the answer sheet and hand it in at the round's end. Our collective minds fused to create a combatting force contending for the evening's championship title - cash.
Along the way there were other contests and door prizes interspersed which KT won a few times. There was also food, not that we needed any because Tranasaurus made dinner for Gjervold and I.
Coming into the final round, we were in 5th place. However, in this round we were allowed to bid on the amounts of points we would get for correct answers for 15 catergories a la Final Jeopardy. Of these categories 2 were sure things- Musicals and Large Lizards (thanks to Gjervold). Now the strategizing began. Tranasaurus and KT did the math. We allocated our bids and then received the questions. Indeed, our strong points for Musicals and Large Lizards paid off. Our secondary strengths came through too. When all the points were calculated, Trip Trosky came in 2nd. Not much cheering for us. The 3rd place team got more. KT went up and accepted the $30 prize with a smile. We had a photo op and then donated the money back to the debate team (the coach is a friend of ours). Oh the thrill of victory.

16 May 2005

Famine feasting

I’ve been reading a lesson plan on the Irish Potato Famine (1845-1848) the last few days. It is quite moving and in depth. It uses quite a few primary resources to describe the time leading up to the famine. I am very impressed with it. It has really helped me to understand the deep seated animosity the Irish have toward the English. It is shocking to see how the Irish were viewed as an inferior race. The curriculum draws parallels between the black slaves and the Irish. The English saw each as no different except their skin pigmentation.
What is even more shocking is that Ireland exported enough food during the famine that would have fed 18 million people. Because of powerful interests in England and the underlining theories of free market economy, none of those food resources were used to improve the plight of the Irish.
Indeed, the English dominance of Ireland created protectionist policies that favored England. During the Industrial Revolution, England de-industrialized Ireland. Prior to the Great Famine, England repressed the native Irish by instituting strict statues that regulated ownership, work, and religion. No wonder there is such vigor in the Irish. It makes one want to stand up and fight with a righteous indignation.

15 May 2005

A jocular marathoner takes a moment to be enshrined near mile 12 Posted by Hello

Fargo Marathon report

Waking unexpectedly but necessarily I noticed snow on the windows. “Great, just great, the first Fargo Marathon and it snows. Can we ever break the arctic gulag stereotype?”

I had hope the other day when the sun began peak out of the west in the evening. Surely this will dry us off. Unfortunately it did not last. I prayed for better weather.

When I awoke at around 7AM to take up my volunteer traffic control post. It was cold. The temperature hovered somewhere below 40 yet definitely above freezing. A cool breeze and some light rain filled out the rest of the picture. Not ideal conditions but not arctic tundra.
Between 2000 and 3000 runners participated in the races and probably around 300 volunteers were assisting. [The results actually give a much smaller number, just under 1000 so maybe it was the combined count with half marathon and 5k]
This marked one of Fargo’s largest outdoor events.
I arrived at 2nd St S and 8th Ave at 8AM. I set up the barricade and bedecked myself in raincoat and a fluorescent green vest of power. I was positioned a few blocks from mile 12. The race started at 8AM and thus I had a bit of a wait. I ate my breakfast in the middle of the road.
The first runners started to trickle by at a little past 9AM. I was amazed to not see any Kenyans. If there ever were any Kenyans they probably dropped out of the race when they discovered the weather. This is what my friend Karen did (She is not from Kenya). There were other factors for her decision but the weather was what cinched it for her.
[However, Paul Brown, a noted marathoner ran today and finished 6th]
By 10AM the heart of the participants were passing by. The weather only improved slightly and sudden gusts if wind provided challenge to the runners. As I kept an eye on traffic I expressed some affirmation to the runners. Quite a few of them even thanked me for volunteering. That made it all the more fun. An acquaintance from college days even recognized me. Quite a feat I’d say going into mile 12. The toughest miles were yet to come- those at the top of Fargo coming out of Trollwood.
By 11AM most of the mass of humanity had passed and I was relieved of duty. I biked to downtown to the finish line to drop of my vest of power and watch some of the finishers. I was home by 12:30.
Despite the weather this was a very well put together event rivaling even Grandma’s in Duluth. I certainly hope it will continue to attract the numbers it did. Perhaps the Kenyans will come too.

12 May 2005

Running through my head

Fargo Marathon is just a day away so I decided two days ago that I'd volunteer. I "forewent" the running in this inaugral year mostly due to obligations in the Forky city to the north. Nonetheless I'll be controlling a little traffic between mile 11 and 12. Should be fun and familar. If any of you remember I was once hired to be a stop sign. I think there must be a post about that someplace on the blog.
This marathon is certainly emerging faster than anyone anticipated. At the traffic control meeting the other day, the race director said there would be upwards of 3000 runners (a record for any running event in this neck of the woods)! Now that's incredible. The inaugral Sioux City Marathon I ran in about 2 years ago had about 400 participants. What makes this town's race so much better? I'm not even sure. We have been a media darling as of late- the Today Show likes to feature us. Are we trendy, cool, irrestible? I guess that yet is to been seen. Hopefully the weather turns out better. There was some snow in the Dakotas today. I'd like to see some Kenyans running in the snow.

11 May 2005

U2ed in Ireland

No I did not see Bono or the Edge. They were on tour someplace. Of course I came to a better understanding of their music while in Ireland.
New meaning sprang forth for the song Where the Streets Have No Name. Because literally in parts of the country the streets have no name- the houses have names. Then in Dublin the streets are crazy. They change the name of the streetabout a half dozen times in the matter of 2 miles. Then the song I Still Haven't Found What I am Looking For came to mind as I searchedfor a Fish and Chips place in Dublin. We got directions a few times but just kept wandering around, wondering if we took a wrong turn. Then Walk On always come to mind- I did quite a bit of walking. Summer Rain also fit in too as I walked in the rain on numerous occasions and wondered where I was. I could probably apply quite a few U2 songs to the trip but I'll leave that for another time. Need I even mention With or Without You.

09 May 2005

Back in time

Added some backdated material that I have been keeping on the laptop.
Nothing incredibly new or amazing. Occasionally I have found myself sleepwalking. I believe the other day I was being hounded by some Irish parish priests and I just felt I needed to leave the room. I did this twice. Once going all the way down stairs. Now that's incredible!
On Sunday gave my Ireland presentation at the church meeting. I was up until 2:30 AM perfecting the slide show on power point. I think it was well received. I know I liked it.
One of these days I'll need to post some pictures I took. One of the things I regret about my trip to Ireland was I did not take enough photos. The battery on the camera went dead in the middle of the trip and I did not get it charged until 3 days later. Nevertheless I got some great shots. I am sad I did not get a photo of my comrades all together, but that leaves open the door for another adventure.
Slan lat.

06 May 2005

Along the coast road

It was a marvelous tour by automobile on the northern coast of County Mayo. The scenery was impressive. It seemed to be right out of a book or calendar. It featured incredible views of the Atlantic spotted with sheep on hills in and in vales.
Steep hills abound around Mayo. In addition to Croagh Patrick, a rather holy hill to some folks, there are numerous high hills around North Mayo. Nephim was one of the closer ones but I did not have the opportunity to climb it. We were at the base of Croagh Patrick in Westport but had not the time to hike up the 2000 plus feet. One acquaintance I met in Mayo, Ian O’Shea, has run up Croagh Patrick. That’s incredible! 2 of my other friends took four hours just to walk up.

Weathering it

When I returned from Ireland it was a balmy 86 degrees. Then a week later it snowed- three times. Fortunately there was no accumulation. The Fargo winds have been intense out of the north. Now the weather is beginning to improve. Only slightly
In Ireland there is a saying - “If you don’t like the weather wait five minutes.” It was generally true. The weather does change rather quickly. There were only 2 days of purely great weather where it did not rain during the day.
The rain can be soft or it can be soaking. Soft is very nice. I ran in the soft rain. Winds in Ireland were not as biting as they are on the Plains. They were occasionally the same speed but not as chilling.
For North Dakota we should say “If you don’t like the weather, either wait a few days or get out of town.”

05 May 2005

Running in Ireland

Not surprisingly I kept up my running regime while in Ireland. Should I attribute it to good discipline? Perhaps but I also had the time.
I felt a bit odd being the only runner in these parts (although my friend has claimed she runs sometimes) but the people appear friendly. Every driver waved at me.
The terrain is medium to difficult but provides a good workout. I just don’t get to run up that many hills back in ‘Go. I ran in the mornings and actually did part of my prayers while running. Occasionally it would be a little wet. It was never too cold. I only got soaked once because I kept running in a steady rain.
I only encountered problems twice: Once with an ornery border collie and another time with some maverick dairy cattle. Overall my running around Ballycastle was very enjoyable. I like it when there are empty roads because I do not need to be watching for traffic.

04 May 2005

Tasting it simple

My house became a taste testing centre for Tastefully Simple products today. There were some wonderful dips, wild rice soup, and that incredible beer bread. I first encountered the stuff a number of years a go. My father received some of their mixes as a gift. I found them to be very good indeed and simple. Oh simple indulgence.

03 May 2005

Soul searching

While in Ireland I had the opportunity to do quite a bit of soul searching. It can be retching at times, but catharsis, like a good cry, cleanses the soul. Fortunately I knew how to encourage myself lest I throw myself off one of the 300 foot cliffs into the Atlantic. It never got that far. Indeed it was something to overcome.
The fear in the back of my mind was that I would be spat out of Ireland like lukewarm water. I desire acceptance and I came to Ireland believing there to be a kinship with this land of my ancestors. Being “spat out” would only verify that I am one without a place of my own, a lonely wandering spirit, unwanted and unknown. Again that was something I needed to resist and let my emotions be put in the right place.
I am amazed at how God used me there. I think I had the some of the best fellowship with God than I have ever had. I prayed a lot. I also ended up prophesying quite a bit. To me it just sort of turned on and I could see things in the spirit. I just exercised faith to speak them. I could not believe it at times. I thought I just had guitar and few songs. Well, God wanted to surprise me.
There was this incredible meeting at St. Vincent de Paul in Ballina. I was asked to lead an evening of worship. I did and God was there too. I had some great back up guitarists too. They were very skilled. Afterward there was a little jam session that ended up morphing into Blues Night at SVP. Now that was some good craic!

Jots on Jaunting

Jaunted to Morris mostly because I made a promise I would to some dear friends.
It was May 1 and it was snowing. How incredibly wrong? The weather was dreary and unwelcoming. In Morris I visited the church and then proceeded to prepare lunch for my friends- a smattering of spaghetti, green beans, oranges, carrots, and garlic toast. Needless to say some of my assistants got sauce on the walls and ceiling. Goes to tell you that a good can opener is a cook’s best friend.

Inspiration for cooking came from Jim, a guy that was staying a Western Shore while I was in Ireland. Jim is a brilliant cook, a culinary genius who weaves a delicious meal each time takes to the kitchen. He was a real inspiration- both culinary and spiritually.

02 May 2005

Flowers for...

After a brief jaunt to the lonely hamlet of Morris (more on that later) I went to Moorhead High School’s presentation of Flowers for Algernon. I was floored by the acting and technical execution. This was perhaps the best play I have seen since my high school days. The acting was top notch. Not a single weak link in the cast. Technically I really like how video was fused with the live action. A poignant script realized with a brilliant collage of actors and technical verisimilitude. Bravo to Moorhead High.

Kudos deservedly go to Ben Gunderson for his portrayal of Charlie Gordon. It is a difficult role to pull off naturally with the various changes that need to be expressed in the character but Ben hit the mark. The technical crew also deserves much praise for their fine execution of transitions and brilliant use of video and sound.

So how did this show affect me? It reminded me of what I feel I have lost in the course of four years. I feel I have lost that jocularity and spontaneity I once had. I have become calculated and cold in addition to wise. I wonder if Charlie gained wisdom while his intellect expanded. I do know Charlie was haunted by his previous self- the slow, good spirited boy. The thing that haunts me now is if I let life march past.

25 April 2005

Here again

Back at the old Net haunt - West Acres. After a hiatus of over a month I decided I need to catch up on the Net dragons. So far none have been slane. What a shame (or sham perhaps).
Now for another bit from my Ireland trip.
Aer Lingus brought me to Dublin. I had a great seat. Just behind 1st class on the right hand side. So much more room! I have to say Aer Lingus does have some good looking employees. I never really hit it off with any however. As a side note BMI has the best uniforms.
Thinking I would be getting something really good I ordered the Kosher meal. For the life of me I never knew what I was eating and I know Kosher. It seemed like something with matzo meal. Anyways I get to Dublin and go to the city centre. I spend hours just walking around and seeking sourvenirs, which I realized I needed to appease the people back in the states.
Went to see the Book of Kells at Trinity College and did not even know I had seen it. I thought I was looking at another illumintated text.
Soon it was lunch and I was looking for a fish and chip place. I think I got directions a few times but never did find it. Streets in Dublin have a tendency to wind and change names when you least expect.
Exasperated I wander the Temple Bar for something. I happen upon a Persian cafe and eat there.
Fast forward three hours. I am sick. Really sick. I leave part of me in the Dublin airport before flying to Knock where I keel over upon landing. To make matters worse, my friend must have lost track of time and day because she was not there at the tiny airport. I forgive her. She's a really sport!
So needless to say my arrival in the west of Ireland was a bit traumatic. I blame the Kosher and Persian food. They must have been warring with one another.
The Kosher meal back to the states was much better. As was the movie- Oceans 12.

24 April 2005

Back from Eire...this pilgrim's passion

Returned from Emerald Isle on Monday last. I took approximately 24 hours after awaking at 4AM Ireland time to step back on the soil of Dakota. What was even more bizzare was that the temperature was something like 75 degrees!
People ask me how the trip was and I hesitate a moment and say "Good." Of course that does not begin to break the ground of what encompass my 2 weeks abroad in Maigh Eo. Good is just polite way to say I did not die and I am back with all my limbs attached. It does not even give a hint of the passion I went through. The ups and downs. The highs of feeling near to God and the lows of loneliness and melancholy.
It was absolutely...normal. I felt at home even though those fears of being spit out of Ireland like a wad of dull chewing gum knawed at me. I kept up my running regime and even daily spent some splendid time of prayer. Put a guitar in my hands or any instrument for that matter and I would come alive.
No way.
Would I do it again?
Yes. I most assuredly would.

more on the Ireland trip later

04 April 2005

The wild goose flies

Just hours away from departing for Eire...err I mean the Republic of Ireland. Once I was feeling pretty depressed about going but now I am in good spirits. However I still need to get packing. I am sorely behind on that. Plus I am only bringing a well packed carry on. It will be an adventure I expect. Not sure if it will be like coming home but I suspect I will find a kinship. There is some of my history on the island someplace.
I'll be out west in Mayo and in Sligo. I hope I get to go north. I've been brushing up on Gaelic for a while just in case.
Slainte to all you faithful ones. Stay tuned for more adventures.

18 March 2005

Beer and...

Phile and I were celebrating the feast of St. Patrick the other day and the topic of what goes with beer arose. Eating ice cream, I suggested ice cream would be a fine compliment to a glass of pilsner. The thought crossed my mind that beer flavored ice cream would bring men and women together as no other food has done before. Phil then proffered an earnest proverb: Beer is good with ice cream but beer with beer is better. An astute observation methinks.

17 March 2005

On St. Patrick's Feast

I get to celbrate St. Patrick's feast twice. Yep, I celebrated last night and this evening I will be going to Gethsemane Cathedral's St. Patrick's Day feast. Hopefully Phil will have more quotable moments.

Last nights festivities included in addition to food and stout, trivia, music, and a movie. I was the music. I still am not very good at playing those Irish ditties. I need to practice more.
Our Irish film for the evening was Angela's Ashes. It was based on the Frank McCourt book of the same title. I never read the book but had read a synopsis summary of it once. Actually I almost bought it at the second hand store once.
Anyways the book being a memoir of sorts, the movie is rather episodic. One event after another that shapes Frank. Quite an eery look at poverty in Ireland in the days leading up to WWII. You just hope the family can escape it. Eventually he gets the money (somewhat dubiously) and returns to the United States. And by the way there is nudity and sex.
Here are a few observations I made on the film:

  • Classism existed. I knew there were Protestant/Catholic tensions but the classism I did not anticipate. Even amongst the Catholics and those who should be showing mercy there was a discrimination. Also there were prejudices between those from the North and South.
  • Catholicism a coping mechanism and not necessarily a living faith. Seemed that adherance to Catholicism helped people to cope with their lives. God, the Sacred Heart, baby Jesus- they were turned to only in bad circumstances. I applaud the Irish desire to honor God but it seemed like a faith of convenience. Frank would go to confession but later would continue in the same habits. He was conscietious but not fully devoted which paralleled his father.
  • The state of the family in Ireland was miserable. Frank's father was pitiful but you just wish he'd take some responsibility. He was a victim of discrimination and it affected his role as a father. He probably felt worthless and thus drank away his sorrows and abandoned the family.
  • Limerick is wet. It think it raining about half the movie. It made the slums look drizzrable (new word meaning raining and miserable).

Well, have a happy St. Patrick's Day. Ireland forever!

Phil the awesome

I have friend in town. He a fairly laid back guy and the kind of guy able to sneak through airport security with toenail clippers kind of sly. If he had not gotten married I'd suspect he form a vigilante anti-terrorist brigade that's only purpose was to sit around and drink beer (not the domestic junk) and discuss means they could use to track down Osama's minions.
He bought a whole gross of nutrition bars recently (and gross can describe them: think soft cardboard with flour, wheat germ and chocolate) that I had interest in obtaining a few from him.
He brings some over to my place and to my chagrin the were of the female specific type. I was bit dismayed and did not want people to think I am becoming woman.
Phil responded with one of his trademark bits of wisdom: "Nutrition knows no gender."
I have not eaten any of the bars yet so we will see if this is true.

06 March 2005

The dangers of blog: a thin line of dissent

So you can actully lose your job because you blog. In the case of 2 individuals, their blogs cost them their jobs. Read about it here.
This begs the question what is protected speech now. Obviously their blogs must of violated company policy in the sense that as individuals they represent the company to the public. Additionally, speech is not necessarily protected in the sphere of the private world (only in relation to incidences of discrimination, whistleblowing, or in union organizing. Ones are employed at will as I recall from my professional ethics class and thus the private corpus (body) can do what it wants. I am not sure many even realize employers have this "right."
Now then what can one blog without violating the company line?
Here are my suggestions:
  1. Movies. As long you don't work for Miramax or Paramount I am sure the discussion of movie culture can be discussed and dissented with freely. (i.e. I dispised Al Pacino's role in Meet the Fokkers.) Look now one's going to fire me.
  2. Hobbies. As long as your hobby is not illegal- although I have seen a few blogs that ride that line, but I digress. I have frequently written about biking, I think I have, and soccer.
  3. Family. This of course could possibly be easy to do as long as you don't libel them in the process. Some family life is pretty interesting. However, telling about how junior had become potty trained may cross descency lines.
  4. Spirituality. I believe we can freely discuss spiritual issues. The first amendment protects the government from preventing the free exercise of religion I think. So, write all you want about the Almighty One or that idol you bow down to or what you do not intend to believe because you don't believe in anything spiritual. Can private organizations limit the free practice of religion? Hmmm. I would say that it may violate privacy issues. However, "religious speech" could possibly be limited by private companies. I believe it is unfair but I do not know of any protection for it. Looks like we are just protected from the government, those old dogs.

03 March 2005

Re:Footballer on Christ

Been doing a bit of research for (re) developing some web endeavors that have fallen aside in the last year and came across this UK site. It feature an interview with Gavin Peacock, former Chelsea and Newcastle star. He speaks about his success and matters of faith. The website itself is rather well done and accessible yet utilizes Macromedia (but for good effect). Be sure to check out the steps of faith page.

28 February 2005

The taste of Saffron

My former roommates and oft time colaboraters came back to town. We decided to lunch at an Indian restaurant in the south of go called Saffron since one of them in particular had a craving for the delictable dishes of the Sub-Continent.
This place had opened a while back before we parted ways from our old HQ. It is one of two Indian restaurants in town. However, Saffron has a classy traditional look and seems to be more frequented by both non-Indians and Indians. I think I saw more Indians in that restaurant than I had at the other place 10 times 7.
The food of course was delicious and the service excellent. We had the buffet which included a few curries, tandoori chicken, and other things my mouth enjoys with rice and the nan. It's not to everyone's liking but hey a good portion of the world eat this kind of menu. More on Indian food here.

Enter the digital realms

After almost a month of researching and ardent bidding on MP3 players at America's garage sale (ebay), I finally eluded the snippers and got a Rio Chiba. A flash player, the Chiba, is upgradable with SD memory. It also is small and ergonomic. Additionally it is pretty tough. It took a few drops but worked flawlessly. I enjoy it.
Well, I show this item to my friend and he is hooked on it. So hooked he seeks one out on Ebay. And then he wins one the next day! It took me nearly a month and he snags one in about 24 hours. I guess I am setting a trend.
A few days later he won another. He had done some mass bidding in order to secure a Chiba for himself. He might win more for all I know.
Price comparison: Chiba in store new is $119. I got mine on Ebay (used) for about $58.

20 February 2005

Transform me

In the last few weeks I have actually watched some movies: Super Size Me (great web site) and Transformers. I sort of got pulled into watching them. It was not my first desire.
Super Size Me re-enforced my firm belief that Big Macs and Fries may taste good but they sure can cause some damage. I have continued to avoid the golden arches because they may be the plague. Of course I must confess I ate there the night before I saw it. So I must add that although the guy gained quite bit of girth he still looked good in bikini underwear!!!
Tonight I took in Tranformers the movie (on DVD) in rememberance of that child-maddening toy craze of the late 80s. The movie brought me back to the imaginary time when robots fought each other while listening to techno synth and glam. Yes, all they did was fight and die. Oh poor Optimus Prime.
I guess there is quite a following amongst fans of the soundtrack in addition to the whole movie. It was totally glam tech 80s. They even had a Weird Al song for good measure. I wonder if the band Lion who did the Transformers' theme had any other hits. So much for the death of Pop Metal at junior high dances.
The real treat of the DVD was storyboards (all B&W) and an interview with with the composer which was hilarious although it was not meant so. He made a least three gfaws during the course of the 7 minute segment. Pure intelli-nerd. Reminded me of one of my college roommates.

18 February 2005

How to dismantle a U2 fan

As of late I have become somewhat a U2 fan and it is all because of a cheap 75 cent CD I purchased at the local thrift shop. The CD entitled Seven has 7 tracks of re-mixes and b-sides from the All You Can't Leave Behind days. Almost every cut is incredible including a re-mix of "Beautiful Day." Although my buddy DJ Seque is a huge fan I never took it seriously enough to listen closely. Now I am convince there is no band like U2. Everyone else is only trying to sound like them or reach the same peaks without the raw materials.
I am not a junkie yet but let's say I'll be seeking more U2 in the days to come. And perhaps I may get to hang with The Edge in Malahad or elsewhere.

16 February 2005

Making it to Eire

Weeks, months, days, I have been hoping to acquire passage to the Republic of Ireland. However, the deals have disappeared. Airlines have booking up to the middle of March and then wham! Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I better start swimming if I want to make it there by April.
So why Ireland you may ask? Well, I'll tell you. For one, it's the homeland of my ancestors (a few of them at least). Of course I'll be very dismayed if I am told- you're not Irish you sissy boy. That I pray will not happen.
I have been enchanted with this land since my youth although I am not sure how I happened to know the traditional name of Ireland was Eire when I was a wee lad. I'd like to think that it's the Celt in me calling. So second is a bit of a self-discovery adventure of my soul's yearning.
Thirdly, I know someone there. Well I think I know someone. We went to ministry school together and were in a band of sorts. Anyways I going to encourage this individual who happens to be living out on the western shores in County Mayo. Padraig (the one we celebrate March 17) started his ministry out there. It is plenty remote so I am sure she'll be glad so have some visitors.
Fourth, I am going gain some music wisdom. I have been a fan of Irish traditional music for a while and hope to take some in. I also endeavor to do some music training.
Well, that's all for now.

Two wheels - too good

I have broken the bike out earlier this year. Probably because of my inner self feeling the need to be out. The weather has been below average to fair for biking. Either it warms up and stuff melts causing the build up of resevoirs where there should not be any or it gets cold enough to create jagged iceways on the sidewalks that double as channels when the snow melts. I perfer the colder because I don't like getting wetter than I need too. Plus the water is plenty dirty.

06 February 2005

Let the biking begin

Super bowl commercial?

The Super Bowl has become utmost of commercialization and the 60 second spot is its minion. This year attempted to forget the hullabaloo of last year- with sexualization pressing the envelope a bit too far for decency's sake. So things were cooled down a bit. My favorite were the MasterCard spots. Cute and clean.
Then there was the Mac's Hardware commercial emphasizing their pallet shelving. Now how in the world does this get put on during the Super Bowl? It was dull. No quirky hooks or celebrities. Just plain. And all those pallet shelf shots.

03 February 2005

He came, he spoke, he flew over

With heightened expectation most Fargoans looked skyward this morning and afternoon to catch a glimpse of Air Force One. It was as if Fantasy Island was pushed to the northward fringes of existance with many pointing to the heavens and exclaiming as Tattoo did- "The plane, the plane." I was not one of them.
My workplace is a mile removed from the airport and is constantly flown over by commecial and military aircraft. Unfortunately Air Force One decided to take another route. I did, however, catch a glimpse of the aircraft leaving for Montana. It was distant but odd. I wonder if George were looking out and pondering the growth of Fargo and my bicycle.
For those fortunate enough to get into the marquee event...well I am not sure what happened. I contend he spoke about social security, did a few "that's why this country is great" lines, received a few courteous boos, and shook hands with every important person in North Dakota (that probably took about 30 seconds I surmise).

28 January 2005

Infiltration - genuine intentions

Coming to you live at UMM in Morris, MN- that is if you are reading this now. I have infliltrated the campus dressed as a typical college student. So far no one has detected me.
What brings me to this little hip town? Well, I'm here on business- relational business. I am hanging with some good friends this weekend. I'm off from doing the Grand Forks gig and thus decided to get away from the 'Go. The 'Go? Sounds like a new religion, right? Like the Dao of Pooh.
Well anyway, I had planned to co-opt with my friend, let's call him Segue, and do a dance in Mankato at Prepeare Haus but that fell through like stones through wet Kleenex. Besides Seque is a bit injuried. My secret name is Naim as in "Waz Hez Naim." But that's confusing you so I'll cut to the meat of the post.
Segue and I were having deep conversations about the state of things. We touched on plenty fo details but a few big things leapt out. Firstly, that we are appreciated for our skills and gifts and not for who we are as individuals. We thought it was bogus that there's all this talk about relationships but what it really comes down to is do you got the goods we need to do the job. I've struggled with gifting and vocation being my indentity (which it is not), and to see things like this irks me. Christianity should be about genuine relationship and not what potential this relationship can give. Arranged marriages? Look at what happened with Solomon and then later on with Joram. You see this on Survivor too. I disdain it. I'd rather be faithful to someone I know and enjoy then someone who only want to tap me for some skill.
Not to say these things (gifts and skills) play a part in relationships, they just should not be solely on those. I am more willing to serve someone I know well and trust.
Quo Pro Vido. That's all for now in Morris. Keep it real!

23 January 2005

Weary of this world

The weeks press on. I am at work nearly everyday. I do get some breathing space occasionally. Not enough in my opinion. I am trying to budget time more wisely but I find myself getting further behind. You hate to ask the why question becaus then further things will be unearthed that will demand time and attention.
I am fortunate to have some support in this life. The George's have been gracious as has my Dad. I also give props to the West Acres wireless net that I am now using abundantly (at least now.)
Next weekend I get a reprieve. No work. Not that requires any major effort. I am hoping to join Seque on a stint doing a dance in Mankato. I hope to see my friend Dustin there, but who knows.
I am also in the midst of planning a trip to the Republic of Ireland. The airfare have not been generous for my planned dates. I will wait and see. Prehaps the Almighty may answer my prayers.
But back to today. I am feeling weary. It is like there is a huge emotional dike being held back. I need rest. I am on a low I assume. The rollercoaster tugs at my heart and emotions. I am weary, I am sullen. The soul needs lifting.

Music evolution

In the past few weeks my musical tastes have expanded. Admittedly I am a novice fan of techno/synth/electronica fan. It has probably been a few months in the making since I refound my love for making grooves on the MTV Music Maker on the PC. I have actually pondered re-assuming the DJ Waz His Naim (notice the new spelling) mantra and creating dance jazz music.
In previous weeks I have really enjoyed listening to a CD I purchased at See You at the Party by an artist known as ShelterShed. A few times a month I head down to old Cheapo Records store on Main and peruse the bargain bin of club music for the new vibes. It has been pretty hit or miss. One CD I picked up was too hip hop for my taste. Then I got another one, The Sound of Electronic Cologne, which took a bit of listening to get used to it. However, my greatest acquisition has been Ultrabeat. He was at See You at the Party in 2001 and he stayed at my friend's house in Morris. How unreal is that? High quality techno synth and European to boot.
The more things change the more they stay the same. I have returned to listening to Iona again. I am blown every time I listen to the mix of Celtic and jazz and ethereal. Bainbridge is a genius! Heaven's Bright Sun is still one the best albums I have ever heard. The final 2 tracks are gorgeous and ethereal, breaking new ground. Need I say Terl Bryant is an incredible percussionist, a phenom!

04 January 2005

Preppy hockey star

One of my roommates' sister was honored on television this week. She was in the same wedding I was in in June of 2001. No fooling. Check it out here.
No NHL yet so we need to find some grass roots hockey. My hockey person of the week is John Mattson. He's a real Gordy Howe type and even coaches squirts.

reflecting in a local cafe. note the stoic on the left.  Posted by Hello

A hard knock life

I return to work after the holiday and my computer login problems escalate to the point where I cannot even get into my computer. After a numerous phone calls by myself nothing really improves. The weather was not good either. Eventually IT says it can't do anything tells me to pass it off to security. At this point my manager steps in with full force and has a six way tele conference until it gets completed. By this time a third of the day is gone. My goodness.
In other news, North Dakota is frozen stiff and my car still runs. No biking in these conditions. Well that is not exactly true, there was biking for myself this evening. I rode to the bank and back. It was not too bad but the sub zero temperatures do not treat the gears well.

02 January 2005

Blizzard bravado

Blizzard like conditions were a featured part of my trek up to the ForX. I had just returned from Alexandria and almost immediatlely boarded the george transport. The trip north on 29 took a bit longer than usually I am told since I was fast asleep in the back seat.
Covered with a massive load of white snow, downtown reminded me of the city from It's a Wonderful Life- light, fluffy snowscaping. In addition the sidewalks were a bit icy and we experienced unexpected door trouble with our front door. Besides that it was real good meeting. We had one intriguing and homeless guest that left ten minutes after the meeting began.
On the road home we experienced worse conditions since the road had not been plowed. Fortunately we made it home without incident albeit much later than usual.

Yet another year bygone

It has been a busy holiday season. So much to do. Fortunately I am still alive albeit a bit tired.
The holiday festivities ended with a rousing New Year's celebration in Alexandria at See Your at the Party. It was great night featuring the bands Falling Up, Children 18:3, Red Cloud, Shelter Shed, and Showbread in addition to inflatible games, dodgeball, a coffee house, pro wrestling, and Wolf's Game Show Fever. Did I mention they gave away a car? Well, I was up until 7:30 the New Year's Day. [I hope I am using the possesive correctly] On the downside, I misplaced my digital camera with a lot of memories in it.
I had the bike out for commuting the past week. It is a record of sorts since I had not ridden to work past December 22. It was warm enough too. Who knows if this next week will be good weather for riding? It snowed yesterday and slowed the entire transportation network down but that's another entry.