New Cohousing Name

We have been involved with cohousing for about a year now and have since become associate members and then equity members. A couple weeks ago our group, Whiskeyjack Cohousing, merged with Silver Sky Cohousing to form a new group. At our meeting last Sunday, we chose a new name. Prior to the meeting, we were all invited to submit names for the group to choose from. These were my submissions:
Acorn Cohousing
Firefly Cohousing
Hummingbird Cohousing
Snapdragon Cohousing
Riverstone Cohousing
I thought it would be funny to submit these name possibilities too:
Dog Poop Cohousing
Platinum Ukulele Song of Harmony and Peace Cohousing
Run for the Hills Cohousing
It's Different from a Commune Cohousing
Bomb Shelter Cohousing
The name we ultimately chose was Dragonfly Cohousing.


Airport Geocaching

While waiting in Kelowna airport on a layover on my way to Calgary, my buddy Mike was waiting in Calgary airport on a layover. We connected over Facebook and started chatting. We discovered that I was going to arrive about 5 minutes after he left. I asked him if he was into hiding something in the airport for me to find when I arrived. He was in.

When I walked out of my gate, I followed his directions to a spot behind some pay phones at a particular gate and picked up a keychain he left for me.

It made me feel oddly connected to Mike over time, like in Back to the Future II when Joe Flaherty's mailman character walks up to Marty McFly in the rain with a letter written to him 70 years earlier.


How not to win over unlike-minded listeners...

At teacher's conference a couple days ago, Josh McDowell said
". . . I wish those emergent post-moderns would get that through their thick skulls."


Interview on CBC Radio 1

A couple days ago I was interviewed by Jim Brown on CBC Calgary Radio 1. The Calgary Eye Opener does local special interest pieces every day and one of their reporters, Meghan Grant, discovered our cohousing group on Kijiji and decided to investigate. In the end they interviewed me on Friday for an edited news story that ran every hour and then live on Monday morning by phone. You can listen to it here (look for the cohousing piece on Oct 18) for a limited time. I'll get an .mp3 to put on the Whiskeyjack Cohousing site.

I was quite nervous and I kept waking up in the night thinking "I have to mention aging in place" or "it's not about the money, it's about community!" or "I must remember to drink water and go to the bathroom before the interview" and on and on. I think I contradicted myself once, but otherwise I think I was pretty upbeat and clear.

I was at school for the phone interview, so I ducked into an office so it would be quiet. The residents of the office waited outside and listed to the interview on an iPhone. When I was done, I walked out and they were still listening so there was a good 1 minute delay - I thought there would be about 10 seconds, but a minute is serious business.

TDMCTC Study Guide

Earlier this year, before my pastor published his book The Day Metallica Came to Church, I was invited to read through the book with the pastor and a handful of other church members. When we finished the 3 months of discussions around the book, John (the pastor/author) asked me to compose thoughtful discussion questions for each chapter. We edited the questions and then John added some great spiritual exercises to try after reading the chapters and voilà! it's a Study Guide. The publisher (Faith Alive) has posted the Study Guide for free for readers of the book.


Air/Rail/Sea/Road in 90 minutes

8:15 PM: Descending into Vancouver on WestJet Flight 437
8:22 PM: Touching down at YVR
8:31 PM: Walking through the terminal to the SkyTrain.
8:46 PM: Boarding the Canada Line at YVR-Airport towards Waterfront.
9:11 PM: Exiting SkyTrain at Waterfront Station
9:16 PM: Departing Waterfront on the SeaBus
9:28 PM: Stepping off the SeaBus after crossing Vancouver Harbour
9:36 PM: Piling into my sister's car at Lonsdale Market in North Vancouver
9:45 PM: Driving on Hwy 99 towards Squamish


Mavis Staples Quote

Mavis Staples: "They said I was singing the Devil's music."
Stephen Colbert: "Were you singing the Devil's music?"
MS: "I'm positive, I was not singing the Devil's music."
SC: "Did you ever sing disco madame?"
MS: "The Devil ain't got no music!"


In Outer Space

Last year I took Blaise to a star gazing night at my school where my coworker and friend Jeff gets a bunch of folks from the local chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada to bring their mondo telescopes to a field so his grade 8 science class can view the sky through their lenses.

This year Blaise studied astronomy as his first unit of kindergarten at home school which lasted the whole month of September. He learned about the planets and about orbits and stars and the moon. On September 30 we went with Jeff's class to inspect the heavenly bodies.

This time we saw Jupiter and its moons complete with the largest planet's brown stripes. We saw Comet Hartley 2. We saw galaxies Andromeda, M81 (Bode's) and M82 (Cigar) (the last two are 150,000 light years apart and yet both visible in the telescope). We saw Albireo (two stars that align so closely they look like one to the naked eye, but they are different colours). We saw the M13 star cluster.

Blaise's favorite planet is Jupiter so it was pretty special for him to see it so well in some world class telescopes.


Disposable Business Model

There are two things that I hate: Junk and Paying for Junk.

My Canon Pixma MP520 only prints when all the toner cartridges have ink in them - even when I just want to print in black. So, I had to go buy toner at $20 each because my colour ones were empty. As a result I had to throw out 3 perfectly good cartridges because they were empty rather than refilling them. Well, I could have refilled them, but I don't have the gadget to reset the computer chips. So, the cartridges were Junk. A waste!

While shaving is not my favorite activity, I do shave. Usually. And over time I've moved from the Gillette Sensor Excel to the Gillette Mach 3 to the Gillette 5-Blade Fusion and then back to the Mach 3 because it's cheaper. Four cartridges cost $15 or $3.75 each. They are a blend of plastic and a few thin metal blades that last about 6 shaves. So for me to shave costs a fortune and I'm tossing out items that are not renewable.

It's clear that the business plan of both Canon (and other printer manufacturers) and Gillette (who hold a near monopoly on the shaving world) have created a dependence on their products and are cashing in on the replaceable items.

This was not always the case. In the shaving world for instance, there was a multitude of razor blade producers and a host of razor makers. This kept competition up and prices low. Plus the bulk of the money made was not on the disposable blades (which were just the double use blades, no cartridge), but the razor which would last a lifetime. The only place where I can purchase an old-style razor is an online specialty store (Rasage Poulin) as no pharmacies carry them (thanks to Alan for putting me on to this). I will do this. I also picked up an old straight razor at the Red Deer Farmer's Market a couple weeks ago. I need to sharpen it, but it promises to be a treat to shave with.

My printer cost me $100 - to switch out all the cartridges it costs $80. When this toner dies out, I'm buying a laser printer, a Lexmark that takes back your toner cartridge and promises 21,000 printouts per $400 cartridge (though a friend of mine can get them at $80 from a distributor). No waste. No unnecessary costs.

In closing, I think human kind would do better to move towards a less disposable consumer model. Thinking of all the preventable landfill contents (and use of natural resources) of diapers, cartridges, shampoo bottles, etc. saddens me. It also saddens me that we have moved away from high quality products for the sake of saving a few bucks in the short term. Even cars are disposable these days.


The Arcade Fire - Sept 26

I've seen some good shows in my limited concert attending life. This one will stand forever as a great concert: The Arcade Fire at the Corral, Calgary, AB, September 26 with Calexico.

Amber and I scored tickets through my friend Gary at church. They were on the floor, so I pushed for us to line up a little early so we could get close to the stage. Close we did get - right at the gate, just a couple feet from the stage, just left of centre.

Calexico, a roots/rock/mariachi band from Phoenix, opened. We were right in front of the trumpets. They were a lot of fun, some great music.

Earlier that day at New Hope Church, our pastor John preached on the truths that God speaks through Arcade Fire. A couple dozen New Hopers were at the show that night. It was a great big church party!
“This concert experience was totally different because of what we did at church this morning,” said Kailey, a fellow New Hoper who sat (stood dancing) beside me at the Arcade Fire explosion last night. She’s right. It was… for me too. (from John's Blog)

The theatrics were awesome! Two of the musicians were especially furious in their playing: William Butler (keyboards, percussion, and shouting) and Richard Parry (everything). At one point William beats a drum, but actually beats it into a pulp during Power Out – a song about kids reclaiming life after humankind is found to be dead (empty hearts). There’s a physical response, not just words. Actions, not only faith. Régine Chassagne, the female lead singer and multi-instrumentalist does an amazing job flitting around the stage like a pixie or angel or oracle. Her songs are less angry, more desire – singing about Haiti or about how disappointing the suburban sprawl is. Her dancing evokes new life, rebirth, purity.

One of the big highlights for me: Rococo - a song about today’s kids being entranced by emptiness, lavish materialism, and their fake feral nature. (Rococo is an art era marked by meaningless swirls, gaudy decor and French despotic rule that is beheaded decades later for their disregard for real justice) The song on the album almost seems playful, peppy. Live, it is an ominous experience, an angry trudge. Win asks at one point, shouting “What is this horrible song they’re singing?” I had shivers. He’s singing about deception, lies, being duped and he’s genuinely reviled by it.

The string section in Rococo was arranged to sound like mosquitos biting colonial Frenchmen in Haiti.

Another highlight was catching a drumstick that flew out of William's hand as he pounded the tar out of a tom during Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out).

Tim, the main guitarist was in front of us most of the time at the far left. He is probably the least dynamic of the band, but he was rock solid on his instruments.

At one point Win's mic stand fell on the ground, so he got down and kept on singing into it. Gary snapped this great shot of him.

The set list was brilliant. Not one song was out of place.

The Spirit of God was definitely at the show, not only brought by those of us from New Hope Church, but by all of the desires for something more in all the fans. Brought by the thousands of fans who are drawn not by glamour and veneer, but by the gritty chafe against it. Brought by artists who have forged their talents into magnificence. Brought by a God who asks “What are my children doing, letting their hearts fill with nothing? What are my people doing making religion a mockery of justice?”

This is from their Madison Square Gardens show a couple months ago:

Photo Credits go to Gary who brought his camera to the show. Thanks Gary!

Fall Colours in Calgary

I was shocked at how much I missed the mighty and diverse deciduous trees of the east while visiting Tennessee after living four years in Alberta. I also remember the overwhelming power of the fall colours while driving through the Eastern Townships of Québec and the striking yellows of Montréal when we lived there seven years ago. And every autumn I spend in Alberta with its limited and diminutive trees I feel cheated - especially when autumn passes in a matter of hours:


This year we got a gorgeous week! Driving in from Red Deer two weeks ago we saw the grassland covered in burning oranges and reds. The lines of trees that separate farms were bright yellow and leafy green. It was glorious!

Then, behind our house, in the green space the city has reserved for kids to litter and build forts the greenery transformed and every blade of grass and each leaf began to die and chemical reactions brought colour and it remained for a week before a series of strong winds ushered in the purgatory that is October and November before the serious snow comes.

See the photos in larger sizes at ZAAKISTAN.COM.