Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Happy Hogmanay Day, to all my dear, old (and not-so-old) friends of Scottish descent.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

rock music!

Papa Moa has a new view. We're in an office with a window and some paint that is much more flattering for his complexion.

Friday, December 26, 2003

The gift greedies got my daughter yesterday, and I wasn't impressed.

The whole "giving and getting" emphasis has rubbed me the wrong way more and more as I've grown older. As a kid, I remember looking forward to getting some presents, but as I've aged, the gift desire (and pressure to get just the right gifts) seems to have become more and more pronounced in society. The merchants(by way of the media) have been happily pouring fuel on the fire, aiming at the most vulnerable and easily-swayed of the population - children. Almost all of the children's' programming has some sort of commercialistic tie-in. Some of the television programmes (Yu-Gi-Oh, Bayblades, Card-Captors, to name a few) are barely entertainment, and totally aimed at selling the accessories, not even *trying* to disguise their consumerism.

"Gotta catch 'em all, Pokemon!" Right?

"Grandma? Grandpa? I need 'em all for Christmas, just like the theme songs says. Please?"


So here it is, Christmas Day, and I'm watching my kid have a meltdown because she didn't get *one* of the gifts on her list. To her credit, she made an astute comment in the car ride home from my parents house (where we had Christmas dinner). She said that she "must be tired, that's probably why I feel this way." Good for her. That shows a lot of self awareness. I was totally beat, which wasn't helping my mood and tolerance of the situation, either.

I was pretty disappointed in my daughter and fear that I took it out on her by being extra-stern and very, very unsympathetic that she hadn't got one of the gifts (of the many) that she asked for.

I have to remember that kids don't have the power (money, access to stores, etc.) to get the things that they want. They have to rely on benevolence (in the form of events like Christmas) to get those things that they desire. Maybe I had misjudged which of the items on her Wish List she had placed the most importance on. I, as a parent, have to have to temper my judgment with this knowledge and remember what it was like when *I* was a kid.

Reason and empathize, Sean, reason and empathize.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

I spent my Christmas Eve on the ski slopes with my family. A much calmer skiing trip than the previous one, but no less enjoyable. I rode up the gondola with a family from Dover who had made the trek over to Banff (we were skiing at Sunshine Village) to spend the holidays. They mentioned castles and battle re-enactments around their home town - sounded like there was a lot of dented armour being produced on the east shores of England in the summer.

After skiing, we made the hour drive back and prepared for the big day. One thing I insisted on was a trip to church. Normally, I'm not that fervent to push a religous experience on my family, but I enjoy singing Christmas carols and the usual candlelight procession that happens at the end of the service. I don't insist that they attend, but they decided to tag along.

The church that we attend most regularly is the United Church. Although I don't (unquestioningly) subscribe to the Protestant religion, I find that the United Church is the most accepting and welcoming of all the Christian faiths. The experience was wonderful. Being with a group of people that are feeling love for the whole of humanity does something nourishing for your soul, no matter where your spiritual idiologies run. The sermon was a message of acceptance, welcoming all who came to the sanctuary that evening. I found it very satisfying being there.

After church, we came home, got ready for bed and Banana and McMonk crawled back into their nest to settle down for the evening. As I was putting the last few goodies in the Christmas stockings, looked out the back window and saw the pine tree in the back yard. It was a small cone of warm lights in the darkness.

I felt all Christmas-y. Everything was as it should be, me in my warm, little, un-renovated house, amongst the clutter that I've carefully accumulated and can't seem to get rid of, with my occasionally misbehaving children that I love so much.

Monday, December 22, 2003

This weekend, I bought a Wayne's World DVD and now I can't bear to give it away.

Does that make me evil?

Sunday, December 21, 2003

"... and the children were nestled all snug in their tents ... "

Hang on a second. That's not how it goes.

But, look. There they are. Banana and McMonk have created a waiting place, where they plan to hedonistically wait for Christmas to arrive. They've taken every spare blanket and sleeping bag and made a nest under Banana's loft bed, thus blocking out all light coming into the area. They've taken a small TV and set it up just outside of their nest, so they can watch Christmas videos of the Muppets, Veggie Tales and even some of the classics that I used to watch as a child on broadcast TV. From this little sanctuary, they will venture out only for bathroom breaks, to get food and fresh videos or to stroke another day off the kitchen calendar.

The one positive thing about the Big Christmas Wait is that the two of them typically get along wonderfully. Go figure.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Sometimes gift-giving events can be downright embarrassing.

We had a White Elephant gift exchange at work on the last day that everyone was going to be there. I was fourth person to choose in the draw and had a brilliant strategy. I was going to go for the biggest and heaviest gift.

On the fourth draw from the selection of names, I was picked to go and choose from the pile of wrapped, non-descript, unmarked gifts and was rewarded with a 750 ml bottle of Baileys. It was quickly stolen (we had a one-swap-and-the-gift-is-permanent rule) and so I went back to the pile and picked the next-biggest gift, which turned out to be a gag gift. It was a very nice apron with a big flap that lifts up in the front and artificial (but very authentic looking) naughty bits under the flap. It looked like I was flashing people when I put my hands in the pockets and lifted the pockets up.

I thought it was funny, but not really appropriate for work. I made the best of it, though. I put the apron on and taunted the male co-workers a bit when they went to choose their gifts, trying to get them to come and "steal" my gift. I was acting as the ham, but I surprised myself with a flush of modesty.

I know I offended at least one of the people in the office and I'm not sure that I'm comfortable with that.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Today a friend invited me (via e-mail) to create and send to him a list of my ten favorite moments in 2003. Normally, I save my birthday as a reflective time, but I decided to take him up on it. I made a quick list at work (lots to keep me busy there and I'm a bit self-conscious about wasting time at the company's expense) and fleshed out my favorite moments (with stories behind what led to the moment and how I was feeling at the time) once I got back home.

Creating the list was harder than I anticipated. There were lots of moments and incidents that stood out in my mind, but not all of them were memorable for positive reasons. My blog was a good starting point, but didn't have all the incidents and happenings that I wanted. It just helped with timeframes.

It ended up being a good exercise that left me feeling grateful for all that the year has brought me.

Christmas is a good time for being grateful.
Almost all the gift buying has been done. It is going to be a lean Christmas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Blecchh! Exercise!


Yummm! Greasy food!

A Double Quarter Pounder with cheese, large fries and a bucket-sized Coke is cheaper than a day pass to the Talisman Centre, enabling you to swim, run on a track, play basketball or volleyball, lift weights or otherwise workout.

Hardly seems fair. If you had a day that was free of obligations, two litres of water and only 10 bucks to spend, which would you go for?

Friday, December 12, 2003

Okay, I guess it's about time to wash my gym clothes.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

The idea of purchasing a G5 keeps popping into my head.

Do I need one? No.

Could I make use of one? Yes, sometimes.

Could I just use one at work when I did need one? Yes.

It just wouldn't be the same as having one around the house. One that I can learn on, blow up, fix and goof around with late at night.


Sunday, December 07, 2003

The Christmas tree went up today, midst feelings (for me, anyways) of hypocrisy. Christmas, in it's purest form, is the Stanley Cup of the Christian flavor of religions. The birth of Jesus Christ, the reason for the Catholics and Protestants to be. And here I am, singing songs about how glad I am that Jesus was born when I'm really just glad that I get a few days off work to hang out with my family and friends. I feel I've done my kids a disservice regarding all this Christmas stuff, too. Due to my information regarding Christianity, they wouldn't know the Holy Trinity from the Three Stooges.

I wasn't always this way. I was raised by Christian-ish parents, taken to a United (Protestant) church, became a member of the boys choir and sang Christian hymns right along with all the other slick-haired, young, rosy-cheeked boys. I learned to recite the Lord's Prayer from memory, understood how a service generally proceeded and even figured out what to do during communion. As I grew older and my weekends got busier with swim meets and vacations, my (and my family's) church attendance dropped off to pretty much nothing. As a teenager, Christmas Eve and Easter services were expected, but anything else was just a bonus.

Now I've become an adult with busy children and a family of my own and I am recalling the church experiences I've had away from my mom and dad. Since becoming an adult, I've had a couple of two-year runs where I've attended church regularly, usually drawn by favorable family circumstances (read: some extra time on Sunday), ministers that I've gotten along with well and/or the lure of singing (once again) in the choir. Right now, I have found the United church closest to my house to be a bit stuffy and non-welcoming. I haven't attended more than four times all year. Combine this with the reading and studying I've done of different religions and philosophies and suddenly I don't feel a real close affiliation with all the other hard-core Christians that are gearing up for the B-I-G celebration.

I'm still trying to firm up my beliefs and I've had a hard time trying to swallow the one-size-fits-all structure that most religions have for you; Christians in particular. For now, I'm going to just focus on the message that was wrapped around the visit of that Jewish carpenter to our lonely planet - hope for the human race, peace, tolerance for each other and gratefulness for those whom we love and who love us. I'll go to church (yes, the one that I feel weird about) on Christmas Eve and sing my favorite carols with a church organ vibrating my sternum in accompaniment. I'll shake hands with all the congregation, wishing them a merry christmas and wishing at the same time I could remember their names.

That'll have to do for this year.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

I just spent an hour cleaning our storage room. I can see the floor everywhere in the room, the shelves are organized, the workbench is clear of junk and I've created a whole bag of recyclables and just a small bag of garbage.

Whew - talk about satisfying! Next time, I attack my study ...
Separated at Birth?

Is it really you?

Rex Murphy of
CBC Televsion

I can't believe we're reunited at last!

Gollum, from
Lord of the Rings
S.M.A.R.T. Technology?

Puh-leeze. Are people still impressed with interno-techo-integrated-no-one-cares-about components that are given acronyms that spell a cute, vaguely meaningful word?

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

I managed to hold off on feeling Christmas-y until December, no thanks to retailers who've had garland up and Bing Crosby playing since before Hallowe'en. I plugged in the Christmas lights last night due to some other subtle signs that the HoHo day will soon be upon us. The holiday parties have started, Mandarin Oranges are on sale, and my mom (bless her heart) has covertly set out some of her own decorations at our house on one of her visits.

Christmas always makes me feel cozy and warm. I want to skate outdoors, go Christmas carolling, come home and drink hot chocolate by a fireplace. At the same time, I'm curious about what traditions are going on right now for those follow (as loosely as I do or not) other religions. I found an excellent website that details the Jewish traditions, specifically Hanukkah.

Good reading.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

I have a new mobile phone. I love playing with new technology.

Monday, December 01, 2003

OK, enough is enough.

The pictures from our trip to Greece and London aren't fully annotated with comments, but they're good enough to have a quick look at.

Be sure and try out the cool panorama shots.