Friday, December 30, 2005

Out for Supper

Tonight I took Karen out for supper. She was thinking of going to a conference over the holidays, but in the end decided not to go. So, I felt I should take her somewhere nice. Probably the best restaurant west of the downtown of Ottawa is Perspectives in the Brookstreet Hotel. It is a four star hotel and restaurant.

The service provided by our waitress was impeccable. Very attentive without being bothersome. We started off the meal with a complementary walnut brie brulee. For an appetizer we had perogies with smoked bacon and carmelized onions. The main course was a charbroiled rib steak (definitely the most tender meat I’ve ever had) in a peppercorn sauce with mashed potatoes and lightly steamed vegetables. For dessert I had an amazing chocolate soufflé with homemade vanilla ice cream and crème anglais. Each course was served with fresh cutlery. Each course was well presented, on innovative plates with sparkling glasses. The music and lighting were just right. We ate at 6:00pm and were the second ones in the restaurant. At the end of our 2 hour meal, the place was packed, but the ambiance was still there. Many thanks to Karen’s Mom for babysitting for us! Without her help it couldn’t have happened.

Three points that should be noted. First, there was a kids hockey team eating in the adjoining grill restaurant. Evidently nobody informed these children that wrestling and yelling in the lobby of a 4 star hotel is not appreciated. The Perspectives Restaurant needs some glass doors to cut down on this sort of thing (and let me note how much I appreciate my children. In situations like this they are really well behaved. I told the older two last night that I would be willing to take them to the fanciest restaurant in the world because they are so well behaved). Second point, the fellow who brought our food to the table needs to understand that customers in a good restaurant do not want to be addressed as “Guys”. “Sir” will do nicely. (Please don’t get me started with waiters and waitresses who say “No problem” to me. Of course it’s no problem. In fact, it’s your job.) Third point was that we had the table d’hote, which specified a bread pudding which we were really looking forward to. The server dropped off some dessert on our table which was not what was specified in our menu. I asked the waitress about it, she checked and found the bread pudding was not available. I asked for something else and she handled it seamlessly. Kudos to the waitress. However someone should have checked with us ahead of time about the substitution. There is really no excuse for making unauthorized substitutions without checking first.

I hope I don’t sound too snooty with these complaints/observations, and I repeat that this is the best restaurant west of downtown Ottawa and I’d be happy to go there again if ever I could afford it 8-)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Can't Slow Her Down Now

Bethany got a cook book for Christmas, and decided to make a big breakfast for us. She took orders from a menu she had written up, we got what we needed yesterday, and this morning she made the breakfast. She started at 7:00am and it took her almost to 9:00am, but it turned out really well. She baked a coffee cake, pan cakes, french toast, set out a fruit bowl and made chocolate sodas for herself and Joel. I thought this was great. She's nine years old.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas Gifts

I won't spend much time describing the Christmas gifts I received. I'm thankful for all I have, and for all the people who show kindness to me (both on Christmas day with gifts and 364 other days of the year with their love and friendship). However I wanted to mention one gift Karen gave me. It isn't something I had on my list, but it is something I wanted. Karen got me the book "Desiring God" by John Piper, and I'm really looking forward to reading it. Piper is an excellent author, and he really connects with me about the things that matter the most.

Christmas Supper

In keeping with a theme, I should describe the supper Karen cooked last night. Fresh roast organic turkey with stuffing, mashed potatos and gravy, broccoli, corn and squash with brown sugar. For dessert, Skor ice cream pie and plum pudding with hard sauce. Yum.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Bunch

I must take a moment to update you on the Christmas Bunch Karen put together. Cheddar muffins and raspberry cream muffins, bacon, a ham/cheese and egg baked cassrole, blueberry waffles and Belgian waffles (with maple syrup, strawberries and real whipped cream), egg nog, and a fruit tray with fresh cherries, orange slices and apple slices (with carmel sauce). Wow!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Don't you care about the Charter?

Paul Martin has been wrapping himself in the Charter, and defending his position by saying that the Prime Minister cannot pick and choose which Charter rights he will defend. But I have a question. A few years ago there was a vote in the House of Commons affirming the traditional definition of marriage. Paul Martin voted in favour of it. Fast forward a couple of years, and Paul Martin did everything he could to change the legal definition of marriage citing the Charter. My question is this... when did Paul Martin first read the Charter? Was it after he voted in favour of the traditional definition of marriage? Did he not believe in the Charter back then? What has changed? Why does he wrap himself in the Charter now, and cast himself as the defender of Charter rights?

Is the Supreme Court Indecent?

Today the news carried word that the Supreme Court of Canada has overturned indecency convictions related to two wife swapping clubs in Quebec. The owners had been charged with operating a bawdy house. The Supreme Court has decided that issues of decency must be settled on the basis of harm rather than society's standards.

I wonder if the Supreme Court has any idea what a momentous decision this is? I wonder if they are aware of how far reaching this decision is, or of how this decision will be applied? I assume there will be little additional demand for wife swapping clubs, but think of what other activities are considered to be indecent by the standards of our society, but which do not result in immediate, obvious and physical harm.

I could see it coming when the government legalized same-sex marriage, but today's ruling accelerates the downward spiral. I predict that within 10 years (Dec 21, 2015) we will see polygamy and consentual incest legalized. Some of our political leaders may say that this is scare-mongering and that the decisions being made today will not lead to these repulsive practices, but legally speaking I don't think they will have any defense. They have pushed for the laws they wanted with regards to homosexuality, and they will reap fundamental changes in our society.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

What's the Big Deal?

Yesterday the news media reported that President Bush had admited authorizing the NSA to spy on American citizens. Gotta love the spin by the media. Whenever you say that someone has "admited" something, you imply their guilt. Perhaps a more accurate statement would be that Bush openly acknowledged wire taps on the international conversations of about 30 American citizens. This isn't as attention grabbing, but more accurate. Of course, let's be honest... the media is a business and they make more profit from sensational headlines than from accurately reporting the news.

But perhaps the question should be asked, "what's the big deal over these wire taps?" Read "The Puzzle Palace" by James Bamford and you'll see that the American government has been doing exactly this for about 80 years. The key that makes it legal is that it is an international conversation. Provided it terminates in a foreign country, it would seem to be legal. Indeed, if Bush has authorized 30 wiretaps, it displays a level of restraint almost unheard of in the past. You might not like the implications, but it is perfectly consistent with American practice since before World War 2. The American Senators who are protesting are surely aware of all of this, but it would seem many of them are just trying to make some political mileage at Bush's expense.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Not Withstanding Clause

What is it about the Liberals and the "Not Withstanding Clause" in the Constitution? It was put in the Constitution under a Liberal government, and ever since then they have pretended only a Fascist would use it. Can there not be some acknowledgement by the Liberal Party that we are ruled by a Parliamentary Democracy rather than an unelected Judiciary?

Leadership Debate

Last night was the leadership debate for the upcoming election. Nobody scored a knock-out, although the format (with all the microphones except one cut off) pretty much guaranteed a bland spectacle. Karen and I watched in via streaming media, without a television. It was kind of neat.

I though Stephen Harper did OK, but not spectacular. Paul Martin's high point was hitting out at Duceppe over Quebec sovereignty and how as a Quebecer, nobody is going to steal my country away with a trick question. Duceppe actually seemed quite reasonable, like a man who wanted to provide good government rather than a man who wanted to split Canada. The NDP leader, Jack Layton, did the best (IMHO). He was forceful and tied every comment back to the theme of why you should send NDP members to the House of Commons. Layton would have come off even better if he hadn't kept talking with his microphone off (which happened at least 4 times).

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

What on Earth was I talking about?

My Dad wrote me to say he gives up. What "almost unique" event happened on Dec 6th? Someone posted a comment on my blog!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Something special...

Something special and almost unique happened on Dec 6th. Can anyone guess what it is?

Friday, December 09, 2005

Intelligent Design and SETI

Well it seems some of the scientific community have discovered the need to develop an apologetic for SETI. For those who have never heard of SETI, it stands for the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. The idea is that alien civilizations could be detected by radio telescopes and enough computing power. The radio telescopes are available to pull all the radio signals out of the sky, and the computing power is provided by millions of individual computers that all run a cool screensaver. When the computer is not being used and the screensaver is on, the power of the computer is being used to detect signs of intelligent life. But how do you detect signs of life? The answer is in some pattern which displays evidence that it was created by an intelligence, due to complexity and regularity.

So far so good. But all of a sudden some scientists have realized just how dangerous this is. If complexity and regularity are a sign of intelligence in the heavens, some misguided folks might get the idea that the same is true here on earth! Some misguided folks may adopt the views of the Intelligent Design movement.

So articles have been published to make sure the public is properly indoctrinated. For example, we are told that regularity is not a sign of intelligence. Well, maybe and maybe not. Regularity itself is not a guarantee of intelligent design (rock crystals and pulsars being examples), but a well cut diamond would be an example. But I'm not sure anyone in the Intelligent Design movement is suggesting that regularity by itself is a definitive sign of intelligence.

Anyway, I stand by the assertion that complexity and regularity would be a sign of intelligent life in the sky and would be a sign of intelligent design here on earth. If the rules apply in one place, they apply in another. I refuse to accept that little green men are science and a creator God is myth if similar evidence is available.

Finally, I do not run the SETI@Home screensaver. Instead I run Folding@Home (, which uses the same principles of distributed computing to try to understand the folding patterns of proteins. If the rules by which proteins fold can be understood, there will be a quantum leap in our understanding of protein biochemistry, and the advances in medical science would be amazing.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Rocking Babies

About a week ago, a couple month stretch with Hannah came to an end. She stopped screaming when we put her down. Things had been going really well. We'd ask her if she was ready for bed and she'd go running for her bedroom. Then one night that changed, and she started needing to scream herself out. Rather grating when it happened every night at 7:30pm and a couple of times in the middle of the night for good measure.

However, a week ago things mostly returned to an even keel. Strange how these things start and stop. Anyway, Hannah woke up tonight and I ended up rocking her. There are some really great things about rocking babies:

1. you can solve all of their problems by rocking them. It isn't always going to be like that.

2. babies and warm and snuggly. This is especially good when they've just had a bath and they are warm and snuggly and smell good.

3. best of all, it's a wonderful time to pray for them. You can pray for their salvation, and their happiness, and that they would be useful to the Lord. It's a great time to pray without distractions.

Of course, all of this is best when it happens at 9:00pm rather than 2:00am, but if you have babies, please try to remember this no matter what time these precious gifts need a little rocking.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Hannah's Words

Hannah is getting more and more words. Sometimes Karen and I are not sure where she picks them up, but we suspect her two older siblings. On Friday I got home from work and laid down on the couch. Hannah came over and started rubbing the top of my head saying "fuzzy". You see, I currently have a rather "conservative" haircut. What a funny moment!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

More from the Abigail Household

Being that it's December 1st, Karen asked me to stop at Zellers and pick up an Advent Calendar. For those who are unfamilar with this custom, it is the size of a large but thin book, and contains little doors that you open (one per day) leading up to Christmas. Behind each door is a small toy or more commonly, a small chocolate. However, there are problems. First of all, there are Advent Calendars and there are New Years Calendars, and if you get the wrong type one child will end up with several days more chocolate than the other. However today at Zellers there was a different problem - I couldn't find an Advent Calendar that dealt with Advent. They all had Shrek or Spiderman on them. I asked one of the sales staff, "Do you have any Advent Calendars with an Advent theme?" In fact, they don't. They didn't get any in this year.

The news slipped out. We're buying a microscope for Christmas. Last year as a family present, I bought a food processor. This year it's a microscope. I ordered a very good microscope from Efston Science. I think it's a Meade 9640. Anyway, it should be a good addition to the Abigail home school. The news slipped out, so I suggested to the children that they get a book on microscopes out of the library to learn as much about microscopes ahead of time.

Bethany made a periscope today. She used 2 mirrors and 3 empty Kleenex boxes. I think she must have seen one in a book at some point, but she says she just figured it out. In any case, she wasn't copying straight from a book.

Joel is broken hearted tonight, because he doesn't have a brother close to his own age. He even said there is no point in Karen and I having more children because they wouldn't be close enough in age to him. This is obviously a problem that is completely beyond my ability to solve!

Hannah is using a number of words. "Pillow" was her first, and "toe" is her favourite, but she has more. And she knows exactly what you are talking about. "Hannah, do you want to go to bed?" "NO!". Ah yes, willfulness.