Cellulitis and Me

I have been brought low by bacteria again. This time it's a little pathogen genus called staphylococcus. It erupted from a little cut in my ear. I woke up suddenly at 2:30 AM to striking pain on my right ear and neck. Because of where the infection set in, it is called cellulitis. Don't google images of cellulitis.

Foolishly, I went into school that morning (it's always easier to go in than call a sub). I was then sent home at noon as I was green, had the chills, was nauseous, and the right side of my head was bright red. I saw a doctor who prescribed some strong antibiotics (Cephalexin 500 mg) to take 4 times daily. I stayed home for the next two days.

When I went for my return visit to a doctor 48 hours later, she noted that things had not improved, so I was abruptly sent to emergency.

The infection had spread to a greater portion of my face and my ear became more chimplike and stiff, stiff, stiff. In the night I would completely drench my sheets and clothes with sweat. During the day, I was weak. I couldn't chew because of the pain in my jaw and I could only open my mouth about 1.5 cm.

At the hospital, I was given an IV (my first ever!) of the same antibiotic and referred to a clinic at the hospital which deals specifically in infectious diseases. I visited the clinic the next morning and was given a second IV, assessed and told that my improvement was imminent if I continued with the oral pills I was originally given.


Movie Season: Winter 2014-15

My favourite time of the year for films is the winter beginning just before Christmas and ending in March. Most of the Oscar hopefuls are released and I typically have time and Cineplex gift cards to go see them. So, with the big awards night coming on tonight, I had better comment on some films before the moment passes. Plus, my movie blog has stagnated.

BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE): Easily the most enjoyable and unique film I've seen in a very long time. Cinematically. The unyielding dialogue. The twitchy acting. The incessant rhythm of the soundtrack. The tremendous grand theme of being loved vs. receiving recognition.

SELMA: The risk with portraying historical events is romanticizing one side and demonizing the other and I'm not sure this film accomplishes that, but I also think it is very difficult to do in this case. Dr. & Mrs. King, President Johnson, and the marchers all demonstrated hesitancy to varying degrees. The murderers, police wielding batons and releasing dogs are not the focus. What we get is a powerful display of the Gospel.

WHIPLASH: Character twists and turns and invigorating music simply clothe the majesty of this essentially 2 person play. Brilliant performances by both leads. You can't help leaving the film saturated with multisyllabic beats and questions about genius.

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL: Wes Anderson delivers another raucous cacophony of characters and milieus for a look at legacy, friendship, and eccentricity. I had no choice but to enjoy this.

WILD: Based on the book by the main character played by Reese Witherspoon. Witherspoon drives the entire film with her both her strength and fragility. While it's not very plot driven, it does provide time into understanding the ache of loss and the Search.

FOXCATCHER: This is one of the most uncomfortable films I've watched in recent years. It is so rich in pathos and cringe factor. Steve Carrell plays a magnificent tyrant.

BOYHOOD: Yes, I appreciate that the film was shot over 12 years, but it would have been a great film if Richard Linklater had actually crafted a plot, dialogue, and more complex character development into his project. Amber and I were quite bored through most of the 2h45m film and did not find it inspiring, enlightening, or challenging.

GONE GIRL: I don't watch many movies of this genre anymore. The 90s were shock full of thrillers and I saw my fill back then. This one is original because it is very self-aware. David Fincher leaves the end open-ended enough to cause perpetual tension for the viewer.

IMITATION GAME: The heartbreaking and harrowing story of a mathematical genius. Much of the film - especially the role of Alan Turing - I loved, but some seemed forced and poorly written. Some lines we hear too many times to take seriously.

INTERSTELLAR: It's a fun ride and spectacular visually. The plot holes are huge and would take far too much energy to articulate, but they are irrelevant since the film is really there for entertainment.

Yet to be seen: Why I plan on seeing it?

TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT: This is directed by the brothers who made L'enfant which won the Cannes prize 10 years ago. I think L'enfant is one of the greatest films I've seen, so I'm very keen to see what they are able to do with Marion Cotillard in focus.

MR. TURNER: Directed by one of my favourite directors: Mike Leigh (Happy-Go-Lucky, Secrets & Lies).

INHERENT VICE: Directed by on of my favourite directors: Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood,  The Master, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love).

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING: It's nominated for a lot so I should probably take a look.

Also quite keen to see:
FORCE MAJEURE, UNBROKENBIG EYES, TIMBUKTU, & LEVIATHAN. And all the documentary features which I never get to see before the Oscars.

I'm not really interested in seeing the last of the best picture nominees, American Sniper. Just seems like a flag waver and since it's done so well at the box office, I'm even less inclined judging by who is likely going to see it. Plus, Clint Eastwood dropped several notches in my estimation when he did his little interview with Obama. I'll probably see it anyway though.

Book Review: Her Gates Will Never Be Shut (Brad Jersak)

I shall add this book to the small list of books* that has powerfully shaken my grip on my perceived reality only to give me a far greater appreciation for the love of God and His holding together all things.

Her Gates Will Never Be Shut: Hope, Hell and the New Jerusalem by Bradley Jersak is an exhaustive study into the origins of the western doctrine of hell, the biblical understandings of hell, careful analysis of punishment vs. judgement, and finally an inspiring contemplative work on what the New Earth will look like.

Jersak does not only approach the topic of hell theologically. In the opening chapters of the book, he exhausts the historical understandings and uses of the Gehenna (Valley of Hinnom) by comparing Jesus and Jeremiah's prophetic use of the valley laying outside Jerusalem's walls to the presence of Gehenna in the writings in the Book of Enoch - an inter-testamental book of prophecy and history that is not included in either the Jewish or Christian canon. Bringing such light on a word that is often understood as referring to hell where the damned will suffer for eternity is vital - and in fact redeeming to the gospel.

There is also a great element of pastoral concern for Christians. Jersak writes as an evangelical to evangelicals knowing that any challenge to a deeply rooted doctrine concerning the character of God is going to raise some ire. What is remarkable is Jersak's gentleness and caution when drawing conclusions. From my perspective, with God's love in your heart and the call of Jesus to "love your enemies," it would be near impossible to reject the hopefulness, beauty, and life spring that is proclaimed in the final chapters of this book. It is also reckless to not heed the warnings associated with hating your brother or sister as the gaze of Christ is inevitable.

*The other four books are:
  • A New Kind of Christian (Brian McLaren)
  • Walking with the Poor (Bryant Myers)
  • Surprised by Hope (NT Wright)
  • The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Mark Noll)


Brew 7: Bock & Witbier

As a beer aficionado, so far I have tended towards the British, Belgian and American ales (india pale ales, abbey ales, stouts, browns, etc.). The only German exceptions to this has really been the hefeweizen which is very pleasant in the summer and the bock (or doppelbock) which I rarely buy, but always enjoy.

So, in order to expand my skills and taste, I attempt the witbier - a lighter, more floral ale and my first lager style - a traditional bock. Lagers are trickier because they require 4 weeks and a 10ºC atmosphere to ferment. Fortunately, I have such an atmosphere wherein to ferment: an empty, unused fridge in the laundry/furnace/brewing room. Alex has lent me his temperature controller:

I decided that since I plan to brew semi-regularly for the next few years, it is probably time I gathered my own equipment. There is something responsible about sharing equipment, but it's quite a hassle to drive across the city and borrow gear when Alex isn't using it. Amber and I went out one night last week and we picked up a 28.5L turkey fryer at Canadian Tire, copper tubing at RONA, and a 45L cooler at Target (which is liquidating their inventory - first time I ever went in there actually!). I picked up some incidental parts at RONA as I assembled things.

As a result I have a mash tun made of a cooler with a 1/2" hole cut at the base of one end where a copper pipe manifold fits into it from the outside and where a plastic hose fits on the outside. I couldn't manage to find the proper fittings for a valve, so I just use gravity to ensure I don't spill my wort. It barely leaks. ;)

My new turkey fryer serves as the kettle where I boil the sweet wort collected from my mash tun. I use a copper pipe coil as my wort chiller at the end of the boil to bring the temperature down quickly. One end connects to the garden hose tap outside and the other end drains into a bucket.

My chiller is pretty wimpy, but it still cools at a rate of 4-5ºC/min which is way better than filling the bathtub with ice and cold water and waiting 2-3 hours. Beyond that, I already had 1 primary fermenter, 2 carboys, and all the tubing, manual pump, bottling gear, stoppers, and airlocks.

Wyeast provides a great out for last minute / lazy brewers like me. I don't have time or spare wort to get a little yeast culture going the night before a brew.

My recipes came from Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew. Each brew session (I did one Sunday afternoon and another on Monday morning) takes about 4 hours, the most intensive parts are the cleaning before and after.

I wake up in the night after brewing and I just have to check to see if it has begun fermenting. My one primary fermenter holds my witbier which has a strong citrus aroma. I have an airlock (tube running to a bottle with water so the CO2 can escape without letting unsavory elements in) on my bock, so I have no idea how it smells. But it's doing the bloop bloop thing very nicely in the refrigerator.

I should be able to sample these in about 6 weeks - unlike my previous November brew which will not be ready until May.



276 years ago a certain François "le jeune" Robichaud (my 6th great grandfather or 8 generations back) marries Marie LeBorgne de Belleisle, a woman of noble French lineage, but also the great-grand-daughter of the Madokawondo, Chief of the Penobscot Tribe. François and Marie escaped the Great Dispersion of Acadians in 1755 with 5 young children. Their son settled on the east coast of New Brunswick where the Robichaud family remains today.

15 generations earlier, one of Marie's ancestors is Louis IX, a Capetian King of France who ruled France for half of the 13th century. Louis IX led the 7th and 8th Crusades. During the 7th, he was taken prisoner by the Egyptians but was ransomed for 1/3 of France's annual income. He died of dysentry in Carthage after landing their to begin the 8th Crusade. He's the St. Louis by the way.

7 generations of French Kings earlier, Robert "The Pious" II marries Constance of Arles (my 30th generation ancestor) in 1001, his third wife. Their marriage is stormy and Robert is urged by friends to repudiate her. Robert even tries to get a third divorce so he can go back to his second wife, a first cousin - this is refused by the pope. Constance continually encourages her 3 sons to challenge their father for more power which caused a lot of family strife. Eventually they challenged her and she yielded.

Constance's great-grand-father, Louis "The Blind" King of Provence and for a short time the Holy Roman Emperor (901-905) is betrothed to Anna, the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI "The Wise." This is a diplomatic move made to consolidate power in southern Italy. It didn't work very well as Louis is blinded in a battle trying to maintain control over Italy who wasn't keen on serving him because he couldn't stem Magyar attacks.

Anna's mother is of noble Armenian descent. Leo VI, Anna's father, was the son of Eudokia Ingerina and either one of two different men: Michael III who had Eudokia as a mistress or Basil I who married her afterwards and had Michael killed. And thus ends this particular line due to the uncertain lineage. We do know that Eudokia's family was iconoclastic and therefore hated by Michael's mother. Her parents were Ingr, a Varangian guard, and Martiniake.