We are going to have a baby.

Amber's pregnant! We found out in October and my family has been able to keep it a secret, whereas Amber's family... Regardless, it has been an exciting experience letting people know. We heard the heartbeat on December 21 at the shared-care clinic in Stony Plain.


I'm still green

Ah! Dean and Saison have just ordered it.

Amber and I have been discussing whether to get cable or not (our current television status is two fuzzy stations: Global and A-Channel). We just this minute have decided not to get it. We'll save the $500 we'd spend on it this year and put it towards something useful - an iMac G5.... hmmm, though I think Amber was thinking of something a bit more philanthropic.


Amber's 26

I got her some multicoloured orchids this morning and then we chilled at The Crêperie. I'm still enchanted.

alma mater

Amber and I visited CUC for the first time in 4 1/2 years. It hasn't really changed at all except for the dozens of ugly houses built on the campus and all the torn down ones. I did enjoy visiting with so many old friends (Ian, Mandy, Ravi, Kara, Bob, Chanda, Rhanda, Des, Debra, Daryll, Myla, Josh, Garrick, Merle, Garrett, Tiffany, Jerusha, and Jorel). Most of my friends no longer attend church - all for different reasons. God's taking everyone on a journey - I hope!

Amber and I were excited about eating where we had our first date - Kavaccinos - but it was closed, on a Saturday night!

Saison scored two goals in her game and Dean made the all-star team. We went out to eat at BPs after going to the arena.

We spent the night at Mom's. She took me shopping at employee shopping time at Costco Sunday morning.

Amber and I drove by all these geese on the lake where we first kissed.


3-2-1 Warriors

My junior boys team made it to the finals and rocked the other team to the point a parent and the coach of the other team were screaming at the ref (a high school student). If only I was there. So our boys got silver, much better than the shame the gold medalist team now carries for their behaviour.

It was my first experience coaching anything and it was quite a bit of fun. Lots of time, but rewarding to see the kids improve so much in very little time.


I'm the Green

It was a tense two hours. Sarah had South America and Africa early on. She nearly decimated me in Europe after I kept on preventing her from collecting for Africa. Amber step-by-step took Asia and Tim took North America at the last minute. Tim and I shared Australia.

I cashed in my cards for 35 armies, collected for Europe and set to work. I had in mind to slowly take each person on and wipe them out completely so as to take their cards, cash in again, then wipe out the next person and so on. I had unimaginable luck against Amber and the other two atritioned following my victory.



10 000 Tunes

My iTunes library reached the 10 000 mark when I added Edie Brickell's "Picture Perfect Morning" (total now stands at 10 079). I now have 29 days 9 hours 6 minutes 20 seconds of original listening available. Sweet.

Visited mom last night and today. She let me borrow 16 video cassettes of home movies that I am planning on digitizing, editing and producing on DVD. Should be a great Christmas vacation!


Sibelius Symphony #1

Sibelius Monument (I've never been there)

Divine music.

The first time I heard this symphony, it was cassette of Leonard Bernstein conducting playing on my old stereo that was covered in Batman stickers. I was in my second story room, laying on my bed laying face up looking out my window as a mighty thunderstorm ensued. For me, this symphony cascades memory, purpose, fervency, and depth over my spirit.

Amber and I went to the Winspeare Centre and heard it - part of my life goals (listening to all of Sibelius's symphonies live - just 6 to go now).


I was worked up...

...but now, I figure, the USA will get what they deserve: an ignorant megalomaniac president. Onward MANIFEST DESTINY.



Alan sent me this:

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Friends and adversaries of the United States voted overwhelmingly in the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday against the four-decade-old American economic, financial and commercial embargo against Cuba.

The vote, conducted for the 13th consecutive year, was a lopsided 179 to 4 with one abstention on the resolution opposing the embargo. The United States, Israel, Palau and the Marshall Islands voted "no" and Micronesia abstained.


I'm so content

God blesses.
Wife satisfies.
Health remains.
Music uplifts.
Brothers challenge.
Sisters encourage.
Job rewards.
Students enthuse.
Dreams stir.

I could only ask for more time to enjoy life.


Ester Buck Violated

A/Some vandal(s) pryed open my car door and stole some iPod attachments and a tripod a week and a half ago. My immediate feelings were that of being violated. How aweful that someone would feel free to break my property and go into my space. Now I'm just inconvenienced because my car is no longer secure (not fixed yet), so I can never leave anything in Ester Buck (name originated by me and Tey removing some of the dealership letter stickers on the trunk: WesterN PONTIAC buIck).


Amber spent 2 weeks in BC leaving me to my own devices. My devices often did not include sleep, food, or tidying up around the house. I managed to fit those items in just before she arrived so that I was in a romantic state of mind. It's so good to have her back.


Our friend Les spent yesterday evening with us. He's the director of Impact Ministries in Guatemala. We are eager to work with him long term in a year's time so it was really great to relax and indulge in a conversation after more than a year of emailing. He's coming by tomorrow morning for breakfast too and then he'll speak at my school.


Amber y yo estamos tomando clases españolas a las noches de miércoles. Reímos toda la manera a casa mientras que hacemos sentencias ridículas.


We went with some friends to Emily Murphy Park on Saturday and shot a bunch of pictures. The light was really nice and the yellow leaves on the ground added some quality.


Terry Fox Run

I ran with my iPod in my hand and the memory of Stephanie in my head. The course began at the Pioneer Centre in Spruce Grove. A woman shared at the departure ribbon about how her friend just passed away on Friday of Cancer and how her husband currently has it. It was touching to see the handful of people out on a chilly Sunday morning ready to fight the wind and test endurance.

My running mates were strangers - a middle aged woman and a young man. Our course was approximately 7 kms, though we were told it was 10 kms. I finished first of the runners with a time of 36:29. It was a rather surreal experience and I was choking back tears even as I was stretching before the run. The wind was bitter along Grove Drive and the last half of the route passed through a grove of spruce.

I also recalled stopping by the Terry Fox monument in Thunder Bay last summer on my bike. His legacy is incredible. He ran an average of 42 kms (a marathon) each day from St. Johns, NF to Thunder Bay, ON at the age of 22 after losing a leg to cancer. He died of lung cancer 10 months after he left the trail.

You can pledge money for cancer research by clicking on the title of this entry.


Cards, Kydds, Cinema, Cardiovascular

Alan, Randy and Nic came out Saturday and we enjoyed homemade mint ice cream, sparkling French grape juice and my new game courtesy of 5040 Garnier. It took us a while to get into the groove of the game because it's so new to us. I've downloaded a computerized version of Tarot (not the tea leaves, turban and crystal ball tarot) and in playing it, I have discovered new winning strategies. None of us wanted to quit, so it was a late night - I slept in until 11:30 next day.

Amber and I are now raging cinephiles. Amber has volunteered for the Edmonton Film Festival. We don't watch TV anymore. With all of our DVDs, we feel compelled to watch them instead. Last night we watched the quaint La Grande Séduction from Québec. Tonight it was the 2000 documentary Spellbound. We recommend both.

My friends Kevin and Danny ran the 21 km half marathon yesterday and rocked it finishing in under 2 hours. Myra and Jocelyn just started their 6-week bootcamp for cancer (e-mail me if you want to make a pledge). I've started helping Natalie coach volleyball. The best part about that is the running, as I myself ought to be coached, which begins each practice. The kids are out of shape, but they're troopers.


America's Quest for Global Dominance

Sept 11. And the only thing I can think of is how it was used as an excuse for continued enforcement of 'righteous' global conquest.

I'm reading Chomsky's latest book and I'm just getting angry and frustrated the further I read - I haven't even read 70 pages yet. The arrogance the United States has demonstrated in the past century is abhorrent. From the Philippines to Guatemala to Columbia to Iraq to Chile to Kosovo to Panama to Cuba to Libya to Marshall Islands to Nicaragua to Afghanistan to Venezuela.......... Under the guise of democratic and humanitarian advancement, the USA has looted, displaced, poisoned, disenfranchised, deceived, imprisoned, terrorized, enslaved, polluted, widowed and orphaned. I think the worst detail is that the majority of Americans are either oblivious to these facts or they support these so called ideals.

The fact that the current administration is pressuring the media from showing caskets of dead American soldiers, now over 1,000 dead, and the more than 10,000 civilian Iraqi casualties is a disgrace. What is this carnage accomplishing? Fear. What does fear accomplish? Control. What does control accomplish? Cash.

I have to direct my rage to God and allow Him to transform it into love and passion to serve the oppressed.


Simon, who I never met

Jenny, our grade 1 teacher, lost her son Simon to depression on Sunday. His funeral was this evening, standing room only. After hearing people talk about him for an hour, I really wish he was one of my friends. His idealism and art would have uplifted me.

And it breaks my heart to see parents burying their children.

During the slideshow, Iron and Wine's Such Great Heights played. Such a beautiful anthem.

"And I have to speculate
That God himself did make us into
Corresponding shapes like puzzles pieces
From the clay"

I was telling Carl on Sunday that I'm feeling that right now I'm in a re-evaluation phase. Just a time to take inventory: strengths / weaknesses / friends / enemies / priorities / use of time / dreams and goals... Amber and I are quite well in our current situation.


And to Jasper we did not go

There's a strike in Jasper so FREE CAMPING.
Let's leave at 3 pm.
Chris can be ready at 4.
Josh and Stephen can come too.
Josh has practice until 5.
Will arrives in The Grove at 6 without Chris.
No one can get ahold of Josh.
Stephen is frustrated and opts out.
Will and I pack the car.
Will's boots are in St. Albert.
At 6:30 we decide not to drive 4 hours west to Jasper.
Stephen cooks us chicken and spaghetti and we watch Canada beat Russia 3-1.


How the west was reached and where it got us

If it really mattered to me that each experience that I had was recorded in this blog, well, the past couple weeks would set me back a fair bit. Here's what it looks like from the inside of the nutshell.

packed in NDG, ate at Au Pied du Cochon, bought out our lease, loaded the truck (ginormous thanks Aimée, Miranda, Cesar, and Patricio)(massive thanks to Etienne), heard about the unloading of the truck in Spruce Grove (stupendous thanks to Mike, Carl, "Pipes", and Paul), drove with Amber and the iPod to New Brunswick, relaxed with Papa and Memere, celebrated 400 years of Acadian civilization, drove accross the continent - 5550 km - to our new home (thanks to Pattie, Steve, Justin, Joanne, John, Mandy, and Ian), unpacked (thanks Dean and Saison), went to work and prepared new classroom and to teach music etc... for this coming Monday (thanks to entire staff at LWCA).

Yeah, I'm tired. And joyful.


Ballet and Beer or Dancing and Hops

I had such a wonderful time tonight. Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal put on a free performance of Minus One in Parc Lafontaine. Kevin stood in line for us and seven of us sat in the very centre of the stands and watched about ten different dances. It was amazingly choreographed with fabulous soundtracks. Amber and I stayed warm in a blanket on the aluminum bench.

Following the ballet, as planned, we skipped up to Kevin's. Danny and I spent $10 at the corner beer store and brought back five different beers to add to two Kevin had at his house. What ensued was the great beer tasting of 2004. My reviews should be considered with the fact that prior to this evening I had tasted only a handful of beers.

Exhibit A: La Fin du Monde (strong ale on lees, triple fermentation)
A very strong flavor, but without a bitter aftertaste. Our favorite from the start.

Exhibit B: St-Ambroise (oatmeal stout)
Super dark and heavy consistency. Heavy, but enjoyable aftertaste.

Exhibit C: La Bolduc (old style beer)
Enjoyable, easy beer to drink.

Exhibit D: Golding Indian Ale (ale, golding hop)
Very strong taste with heavy and rather bitter aftertaste.

Exhibit E: Dentergems Witbier (Belgian white beer, fermented in the bottle)
A beautiful beer with gentle taste. Quite refreshing.

Exhibit F: Griffon Rousse (red ale)
Quite a different flavour from the other beers, pleasant taste and beautiful colour.

Exhibit G: U (Unibroue pilsner)
Quite unexpected strong taste with light aftertaste.

Our drinking was pretty minimal as we were sharing bottles between 2 or 3 people. Kevin made some cheese on buns with cumin and pepper on top to give us something to soak up the beer. Neither of us got drunk, just light buzz. We talked developing world, renewable energy, homestarrunner, Simpsons, horror vs. thriller, and childhood memories. It was a good time. Cheers Kev!


Camping in the 21st Century

So we drive to Mont Tremblant after spending the night at a full facility campground. I just want to climb a mountain, but no one else in the park seems to want to. People can take an air car up the green ski slope mountain or pay $11 to hang out by the lake. I just want to hike in seclusion.

We find Mont St. Bernard and pay $3 each for some reason. The mountain is rugged and the paths well marked. We take the trail marked difficult, but I think it is only difficult for wheelchairs and maybe tricycles. The mountain's care taker has never been up the 45 minute path to the summit. At the top we stand on a rock and take double exposure photos.

The green. The blue. The hummingbird. The mushrooms. The moss. The deer tracks. The solace. The beautiful woman beside me.


iPod takes flight

I'm tracking my iPod on the FedEx site.
It left Shanghai late tonight.
Then it arrived in Anchorage this afternoon.



Our precious and beautiful friend Stephanie died last night. We want to thank her father, Gaetan, for his phone call this morning. And we want to thank everyone for their prayers and we ask that you continue to pray for Stephanie's family and friends as we grieve.

We saw Steph last Sunday in her hospital room. She was very weak and moments before recieved morphine for her intense pain. Despite the fact she was in agony, the few minutes we saw her she smiled and asked how we were. Amber met Stephanie the day she was diagnosed with stomach cancer, April 16. Since that time, we have become quick friends. The most remarkable quality we saw in Stephanie is that we never once heard her complain - about anything - and she had so much pain and so many justified reasons to complain. Her faith and trust and peace throughout her operation, treatment, and care have kept us in awe of this mighty woman.

We are thankful that we were able to know Stephanie for these short three months.

We miss her and love her so much.


Bound for the Grove

We have been accepted to rent an apartment in Spruce Grove this fall. It will be smaller than the huge place we have now, but that will give us the opportunity to shake some of our materialistic headspace in exchange for a simple home. We know we will only be in Spruce Grove for one year.

I'm pretty stoked about teaching music to kids aged 5 to 17 this year. How fun is waving a baton and having music happen? And little kids singing with me. Total blast! I'm also going to teach grades 7 and 8 math and elementary P.E. and some non-core classes. The classes are nice and manageable to the point where I can get to know all of the students better and where more possibilities for learning can happen. This is a fantastic opportunity.


Cirque du Soleil

Amber and I lodged ourselves into the crowd at 4 pm and waited five hours to watch the big finale of the Jazz Fest. The show was worth the wait and our spot in the crowd was perfect. The Cirque was perfect in its delivery and as we voyaged home (late, really late) I remarked on how Montréal is really the perfect city for such a spectacle. I'm glad we were able to experience this unique place on earth for the time that we have. We'll sure miss it.

Played cut-throat tennis with Mati and Kevin today. It was aggressive. My first time playing on artificial turf, lots of running, but tons of fun.



Saw Napoleon Dynamite. The anticipation was as good as the movie. I hope Garden State is as good.

I made apricot sorbet tonight. It's pretty sweet. Amber is really impressed with it, and really, that's what matters.

I faxed my contract to Living Waters Academy this afternoon. We are moving to Edmonton. I am a music teacher now, or rather soon, I will be one. I can't wait to go to a baton store and choose the perfect one for me. I just hope the band isn't 11 clarinets, 9 flutes, 1 trumpet, 12 saxophones, 1 percussion. I want to do Sibelius proud. Incidentally, Sibelius' 1st Symphony will be performed by the ESO in November. That's one of his seven glorious symphonies that I wish to experience with a live orchestra in my lifetime.

Summer school is exhausting. Thirteen more school days left (or 65 more hours). I wore shorts to work yesterday and my students were more spiffed up than I was. Montreal is killer hot. The Jazz Festival is on and the shows are awesome (Jimmy Bowskill, Besh O Drom, Los de Abajo).

We played tennis at the YMCA. A couple guys reserved the court for the same time, but the desk worker made the reservation for 1 pm rather than 11 am so they were pretty ticked. A little awkward, but we were in our nifty tennis outfits, what option did we have except to demand the court. I won despite the perpetual distraction of Amber's legs.


AH! Holidays!

It is so good to be done work. Well.... I still have to type up my report cards, which I will do quickly in the morning. Jobs go fast when I'm almost finished.

My 10 year high school reunion is coming up next weekend. I've been thinking of shaving down to a moustache for the event. All of my classmates will remember me with a moustache, but I really won't be a moustache guy. Or even getting a wig.

I'm stoked about this coming week. I can do lots of running, beaching, reading, eating, movie watching, guitar playing, ice cream making, movie editing, and best of all visiting with Memere, Papa, and Amber.

I voted on Monday at an advance poll after a 20 minute registration. Go Maria Pia Chavez, Go! She's a grade 5 teacher in Lachine.

Go to political compass to see calculate your politique.


Ice Cream

I have made ice cream. Tonight, as I was pumping iron, I realized I still had a wee bit of strength in me and that I could pick up some ingredients on the way home. I hobbled in to the Metro on Somerled and chose some prime maple syrup, some walnuts, and a couple (thinking ahead) cartons of cream. I made Maple Walnut Goat Milk Ice Cream. The only milk I had was goat's milk that I bought on a whim last week because I hadn't ingested it in years. It adds a nice dimension to the dessert. In total, about 1.5 L was produced in about 45 minutes. I look forward to trying the hardened result tomorrow.April and Amber helped document the event.

I thank Kevin and Aimée for their encouragement in this matter.

Kevin told me about politicalcompass.com yesterday. Of the famous politicians and activists, I am most like Ghandi. With this, I am satisfied.



Kevin animatedly convinced about getting my blog powered by blogger.com. I am impressed by it. Much less work and far more reward by me. He wasn't necessarily trying to convince me, but he had that wild look in his eye meaning, this is one world shattering institution that I shouldn't miss out on. So, I've now transferred all of my old blogs to zaakistan.blogspot.com.

I haphazardly registered an account with blogger over a year ago and forgot about it.

Now everyone can leave comments. Send me links to your blogs and I'll post them among my links.


United Nations

I gave a challenging but fair exam to my grade 9s this morning. They are a great bunch of kids. The student council president, Joe, calls our school the United Nations. In grade 9 alone I have students representing Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama, Trinidad, Haiti, Ghana, United States, Iraq, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Korea, Sri Lanka, Egypt, St. Vincent, England, and of course Québec. In grade 10 and 11, I have students from Vietnam, Hungary, Russia, Palestine, Barbados, China, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Kenya, Somalia, Iran, Lebanon, Romania, Italy and Philippines (thanks Aatam).

I was asked to help out with the elementary sports day this afternoon. The kids are so loud, not unlike the high school kids I suppose. Amber has pains from it all, and a sunburn.

I picked up my ice cream maker, so another life goal accomplishment is just around the corner, and some terrific tastes! I am a little dismayed at my discovery that ice cream is riddled with raw egg. So is Amber, dismayed, not riddled with raw egg.


Mark Zaak mark.

I produced the second of our home movie DVD series this weekend. I'm pretty satisfied with the music videos that I made too. The DVD burned quicker than I anticipated too, so I inadvertently burned 3 copies because I thought the DVDs it was spitting out were rejects. They will make nice gifts.

The Calgary Flames lost last night in overtime: heart-breaking. This means I will lose sleep tomorrow night too. Today is a day of marking student papers. Does anyone out there feel my enthusiasm?



My Weakness

Amber tricked me into going to the YMCA tonight. I thought I felt weak before I went, now the meaning of weakness is far clearer.


My Friend Alan

Drove Alan to the airport this afternoon. I was hit with the power of our friendship as we said goodbye. We played guitar together until midnight last night.


5 km race

I entered my first race this morning. I ran 5 km in 23:42 minutes. This is in preparation for a marathon in September. I haven't run for a week previous to this race. The best part about running is all the time to think. Avoiding the fraction game (distance / time) is definitely my weakness. I have to be careful about slowing down when I think, it is difficult to maintain a higher pace when the mind wanders - the body defaults to what is a comfortable pace. The race took place in Pierrefonds, QC with likely over 150 participants. Danny raced with me. He beat me soundly by 44 seconds I think.

Amber and I spent over a thousand dollars of repairs on Ester Buck (Toyota Tercel) in the last 2 weeks. Car repairs do leave a sick feeling in your belly. It's an odd business, where malpractice is rarely checked and trust is paramount - and apparently profit as well.


Thumb bash

I watched The Exorcist for the first time last night. Interesting career possibilities. It wasn't as suspenseful as Psycho which I watched for the first time on the weekend.

Amber bashed her thumb in the car door quite efficiently on the way to a soccer game on Sunday. I'm trying to convince her to lance it to release the pressure. I would never have the guts.

Ester Buck is sick

Just six months until The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Extended Edition DVD is released. Patience precious.

Our car is in the garage. The ache of a broken car. I remember stopping at a gas station in Red Deer with my first car just after registering it. I was driving it for the first time. As I was paying for the gas a guy came up behind me and said "Is that your car that gas is pouring out of?"

After getting the gas tank fixed, about two weeks later I remember decelerating to a halt on highway 2A to discover that my fuel pump had quit. A good friend pulled up behind me and helped me deal with my sudden loss.

After a series of electrical fixes and mishaps, I discovered that I had to boost my car after letting it sit for hours. I thought it might be the alternator, but after purchasing a new battery, a kindly mechanic showed me that the battery poles were shorting on the hood.

After fitting my car with a new BMW sign (don't be envious, it was 18 years old when I got ahold of the little 4 cylinder) and a $300 new starter I crossed a median in dead winter and a tractor trailer sheered off my trunk. I finally let go of my car a year later and had it towed away from in front of my mom's house.

I walked home today from work. 2541 steps.



The Innocence Mission has been around for more than a decade and I discovered them this week. Her voice is innocence and its allure is irresistable.

I spent 40 minutes sharing my Mackenzie River trip with students this morning during an assembly. Though more than half the audience was quite disinterested, I am thankful for those who were curious - as I was when I was their age - in the unknown, the adventure, the freedom I was sharing with them. These had questions for me. All I hope to share with them is a sense of adventure and respect for their lives and of others and for the earth. Life is short. King Solomon says if "the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field" and "there is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it [is] common among men: A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour, so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it: this [is] vanity, and it [is] an evil disease." Why do we pause before enjoying life, thinking of the costs? We should be enjoying the fruits of our labour and the earth's bounty. My homeroom class is reading Ecclesiastes together in the mornings. It is remarkable to read it in contrast to what is presented in the new documentary The Corporation. To think of injustice and theft happening during our mortal lifetimes - one man taking away another man's life work - is hard to swallow.