Wednesday, December 31, 2003

New Years Eve

We wanted to visit some friends tonight, but none of our babysitters are available. So we'll spend a quiet night together. Karen will likely make some cheese biscuits, which is sort of a New Years Eve tradition with us.

I've continued to read "Detectives in Togas" with the children, and to do "Mindbenders" (logic problems) with Bethany over the holidays. I also went through part of a cross-sections book with Joel while Bethany was doing the Mindbenders.

Karen is doing some "Once a Month" cooking today. Actually, its about 7 recipes that use ground beef because she was able to get a good price for some ground beef today. She likes having a variety of foods in the freezer, and it also saves money (since we buy the ingredients in bulk when the price is good, and having food in the freezer means we order less take-out food). Karen likes the cooking, and feels it isn't a burden on her.

Joel is learning to read. In fact, he is contastly surprising us with all the words he knows and sentences he can read. We have a lot of books in the house, and make frequent visits to the library. I think growing up in a house full of good books inspires children in the joys of reading.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

The Return of the King

I saw "The Return of the King" today. It was very impressive. Cinematically, the film was very beautiful (for beauty of the directing, I can only compare it to Sense and Sensibility).

The computer graphics are amazing. I can't say how faithful to the book it was, since the last time I read The Lord of the Rings was more than 15 years ago. I noticed they left out the scouring of the Shire.

For me, the most thrilling moment in the film was when the horsemen of Rohan slam into the orc lines. Absolutely amazing. I wonder if it was a realistic portrayal of heavy cavalry hitting a line of infantry. Anybody know?

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Comparison of Books on Bible Teachers

I've now read the books on Harold St. John and H.A. Ironside. A couple of thoughts:

- both were untrained men (limited secular education and no formal theological training) who worked very hard to train themselves
- both were highly intelligent. From what I read, it would seem that Ironside had a photographic memory.
- both had a command of the Scripture that exceeded what can be obtained from simple memorization.
- both were primarily men of the Book, though both were extremely well read
- both were articulate but plain spoken
- both travelled extensively. In both cases the wife was left to do most of the work of raising the children

And now for some of my thoughts:

- it would seem that full time itinerant ministry can impose a terrible burden on a preacher's family. I'm not talking about a father who is away many Sundays, but rather a father who is away weeks or months at a time.
- I wonder why it is necessary to ask a preacher to cross a continent to come for a week or two of special meetings. My thought is that God has not been miserly in dispensing gifts, but that potential preachers have lacked care in preparing themselves with the Word and in developing their gift. If more men did these two things, less men would need to travel extensively.
- are the churches doing a good enough job developing gifts? I've tried to read a number of books on homiletics, and tried to listen to how others preach (rather than just what they preach). I've learned from these sources, and made a lot of mistakes along the way. My Bible teaching is much better than it was 5 years ago, but I can't say that my gift is well developed yet. However, I can only remember a handful of times when anyone in a local church gave me any constructive feedback. I think a lot of young men are asked to preach, do their best and only receive a word of encouragement ("You did fine") rather than something that would help them to develop their gift.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

More on Christmas and a visit from my parents

I have a few minutes to get caught up, and to provide some details.

In addition to the 3 biographies previously mentioned, Karen also got me "Major Bible Themes" by Chafer and Walvoord. Interestingly enough, it has 52 chapters, and I have heard it suggested that going through this book one chapter a week would provide an excellent grounding in doctrine for a local church. We'll see if I some day get a chance to do something like this (though 1 sermon a week at the same church for 52 weeks would be a lot!). Perhaps it is more suitable for a couple of teachers in a church to go through together over the course of a year.

Dad told me about another one of his practical jokes. He took 4 of his grandchildren (my sister's children) out on a daytime camping trip. He does things like this periodically, taking a Coleman stove and boiling hotdogs, etc. Anyway, the kids took off down to the water and he had a chance to prepare. Having made successful preparations, he went down to the water side, and called them up to lunch. As they were walking up the path, he turned the conversation onto dill pickles, which my niece Keeley absolutely loves. So my Dad commented that it was too bad that Sudbury didn't have more pickle trees. Keeley said that pickles come from cucumber plants. Dad said that this was true, but that some came from pickle trees and "well look at that! There's a pickle tree now!" And there hanging from a tree was a dill pickle. Tristian, Keeley's brother, said that it looked like a pickle, and went over to the tree to pick it. He tasted it and confirmed it was a pickle. Now Keeley was at a loss for words. Finally, she realized that it was another one of Dad's great practical jokes.

I read a couple more chapters of "Detectives in Togas" for the children. I'm now caught up to where Karen finished off the schoolwork for the Christmas break.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Christmas Day and Practical Jokes

Christmas dawned, and Karen made a great breakfast. Scrambled eggs and sausage, baked french toast with real maple syrup, fresh fruit salad, cheese biscuits and raspberry muffins.

The children had a great time. Joel mostly got Lego, and Bethany got an EasyBake Oven. I received 3 biographies - Harold St. John, G. Campbell Morgan and H.A. Ironside. Yes, I find missionary biographies interesting, but as someone who sometimes teaches the Bible, I wanted biographies of some great Bible teachers.

Mom made me an Icelandic sweater, which gave me a wonderful chance to play a practical joke. I put it over my head and pretended the neck of the sweater was too tight to go over my head. Mom was horrified. I said, "Wait, I'll take my glasses off and see if it will go". Finally, I popped my head through and said "Fooled you!".

December 24, 2003

I took the children to Burger King for breakfast, and took them into work with me for half a day. Yes, I did manage to get some work done. Later, I read several chapters of "Detectives in Togas" to the children, and introduced Bethany to "Mindbenders". Mindbenders is a series of books intended to develop thinking and logic skills in children. It is also good for helping children to work their way through word problems. We did 2 pages (6 problems) and Bethany got a perfect score.


This morning I remembered that it was Paul Wolfowitz who was in the hotel that got hit by RPGs. Still, my thoughts on Paul Bremer stand.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Bravery in Iraq

Quite a few American, British and other soldiers are facing a very dangerous time in Iraq, and nobody can doubt their bravery. Yet I think the most interesting person there is the U.S. civil administrator, Paul Bremer. He was in his hotel when rebels hit it with RPG anti-tank weapons. He was in his convoy when it was attacked a couple of weks ago. And yet he's still on the job and still touring around Iraq. The American soldiers are anonymous targets, but Bremer clearly is not. He has to know that every rebel in the country is specifically targeting him, and he has already survived several assassination attempts. To my mind, that's an uncommon sort of bravery.

Friday, December 19, 2003


Christmas is coming and the baby is coming, and so I bought a digital camera. It's a Sony CyberShot P32. It has 3 Megapixels, but no optical zoom. Sorry, no time to blog... I've got to figure out how this works.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Guns don't kill people. People kill people.

Yes, this statement is true. However people who want to kill who have guns are more efficient about it. On the other hand, I was raised with firearms, know how to handle them and believe they should be controlled but legal. I always slept well at home knowing Dad's 30-06 was close at hand. Nobody ever broke in, but since a 30-06 can kill at 3 miles, a criminal would have to run pretty fast to get out of range. Interestingly enough, a motorcycle gang in the U.S. almost found out this lesson from Dad the hard way, but that's a story for another time.

One time Dad was out hunting (with Uncle Clayton) and they got lost. They walked and walked, until they came out at the Burwash Prison Farm. It didn't take too long for them to get surrounded by armed guards who have them one and only one chance to drop their rifles. A lot of phone calls established that they weren't trying a prison break - they were just two lost hunters.

From some of my descriptions about Dad and guns, you might think they had a careless attitude about them. This is far from the truth. Yes, in their early days they did some stupid things, but they were not careless. On the contrary, they were stupid and well thought out. On the other hand, my Uncle Francis was once out hunting and saw a buddy of his on another hill so he waved to him. The guy had buck fever and started shooting. Uncle Francis took a 22 caliber hollow point through the stomach. He grabbed the kid he was hunting with and threw him on the ground, then popped off a few rounds over the other guy's head. The guy came to his senses and came running over. Uncle Francis almost died on that mountain. The guy who shot him went for help, and the kid he was with applied a touriquet. Uncle Francis lived through the surgery, which was a good thing because Francis's brother (Uncle Eric, who is really the salt of the earth) had announced that if his brother died, he'd kill the man who shot him. And he would have too.

A Day in the Life of the Abigail Family

This morning we woke and I had my favourite breakfast - coffee with french vanilla cream, and two bagels from Great Canadian Bagel (one cheddar herb and one chocolate chip). Incidently, the guy who owns the bagel place used to be a computer programmer. There's not much work available, so he created his own job.

I picked up a TV from the repair place. It's the TV I use with my Sunday School class and it broke the second time we used it. We're going through the video version of "How Should We Then Live?". On the way home, I picked up Quiznos subs. Karen says that "Fat Albert" subs used to be as good as these, but most of the places closed their doors and then they went downhill (stopped using "real" cheese, etc.).

At this point, allow me to rant. In the United States, they call cheese slices "American cheese". In Canada we call it "processed cheese". I really dislike American chains that modify their menus from "American cheese" to "Canadian cheese". OK, rant is over and I feel better.

Anyway, I read a couple chapters of "Strawberry Girl" to the children, which is part of their curiculum. We had some tickle time, Bethany read 10 chapters from "Swiss Family Robinson" and Joel and I played Lego. Joel has been drawing pictures of the baby in a crib (note to self: buy a crib for the baby) and very detailed drawings of "Bibleman" (a superhero designed to fit a certain market segment). I made chicken pesto penne for supper (FYI for the purists - I used pesto from a jar). Karen has a cold that won't let up, but she did some cleaning, looked after the children while I took a nap (bliss), and did some Christmas wrapping.

The mention of Christmas jogs my memory about another event today. I was explaining to the children that I want a pink elephant for Christmas, and I'm sure they bought me one and have it hidden in a neighbour's garage. Bethany told me that she knows I'm kidding because I'm using my "jokey voice". I asked her what my jokely voice is like. She couldn't exactly say, but she knows my voice is different when I'm trying to pull her leg.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

The Money Man

At work I sometimes jokingly say, "I'm independently wealthy. I just work here because it amuses me." Nobody has ever taken me seriously. Yesterday I had an appointment to get my car fixed. In the end, it didn't need a break job. However it did need 2 new rims, some parts for the fan, a new windshield wiper pump and a couple of other things. Don't know the final damage because they won't have it ready until Monday. Normally I'd feel terrible about spending this kind of money, but I have found a garage I trust and I've been going there for a while.

Also, when I woke up yesterday morning it was cold in the house. After I took my shower I went downstairs I found out how cold. 13 degrees. The furnace was running but no heat was coming out. The repair guy came and had it fixed by 10:30am, but that was another $85. Good thing I'm made of money!

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Shut Down!

There was a discussion at work today about the war in Iraq. One of the guys suggested that the reason for the war was not terrorism, but rather that America wants to steal Iraq's oil. This was too good an opportunity for me to resist. I said, "Then why are the Americans allowing a provisional government and why are they encouraging the Iraqis to write a constitution? Furthermore, why didn't the Americans invade Saudi Arabia, which has 10 times the oil reserves that Iraq does?" The response was a feeble and uncertain, "Well maybe it's because the Iraqis were weaker." So I pointed out that Iraq had 20 times the military power of Saudi Arabia, and that most Americans would be quite happy to invade Saudi Arabia given how many of the Sept 11th hijackers were Saudi citizens. Shut down! Since there was no response I said, "So you must acknowledge the superior logic of my position!" He didn't, but my point was made. You can question is invading Iraq was right, and you can question whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, but let's not have any nonsense about this being an attempt to steal oil!

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

The Latest Episode of Survivor

The latest episode of Survivor came to Ottawa today. Not some silly TV show, but rather another round of layoffs at work. I survived, and thanks to some last minute shuffling everyone on my team survived (although some will move on to different jobs within the company, as will I). On the other hand, some really talented hard working people went out the door today. This is the fourth major round of layoffs I've experienced over the last 3 years. My job can be a lot of fun when I get to give out job offers and hand out big raises. But days like this are really hard. Still, it could have been much harder for me and my team. Thanks to all who prayed.