Saturday, 10 December 2011

The Nun and the Cabbie

Photo Credit: Rick Hall
http://www.flickr.com/people/toestubber/
A cabbie picks up a nun.

She gets into the cab and notices that the very handsome cab driver won't stop staring at her. She asks him why he is staring.

He replies, "I have a question to ask you, but I don't want to offend you."

She answers, "My son, you cannot offend me. When you're as old as I am and have been a nun as long as I have, you get a chance to see and hear just about everything. I'm sure that there is nothing you could say or ask that I would find offensive."

The cabbie said, "Well, I've always had a fantasy to have a nun kiss me."

The nun responded, "Let's see what we can do about that. First, you have to be single, and secondly, you must be a Catholic."

At that the cab driver became very excited and said, "Yes, I'm single and a Catholic!"

"OK," the nun said. "Pull into the next alley." When the cabbie did so, the nun fulfilled his fantasy with a kiss that would make a hooker blush. But when they had pulled back on the road, the cabbie began to cry.
Photo Credit: Twicepix
http://www.flickr.com/people/twicepix/

"My dear child," said the nun. "Why are you crying?"

Amidst his tears the cabbie said, "Forgive me, but I've sinned. I lied and must confess. I'm married and I'm a Baptist."

To the cabbie's confession the nun then replied, "That's OK. My name is Kevin and I'm going to a Halloween party."

[story source unknown]

Friday, 11 November 2011

Time Out to Remember

In honour of my wife's parents, both of whom served in the Canadian military during WWII.



What saddens me is how nonchalant many of us are towards days set aside to commemorate. Businesses are perhaps the worst. Whatever happened to simply closing the doors for the day in order to remember and honour the memory of those who gave their lives fighting against tyranny and oppression? Is that too much to ask? Do we so worship the almighty dollar in this land that we have to stay open on Remembrance Day? I’m not talking about essential services. I’m talking about retail stores and restaurants and the like. You cannot tell me that we cannot possibly buy the goods and services that we need on non-special days. If I thought it would do any good, I’d boycott the lot of them! Sometimes our society sickens me! Sometimes I sicken me too when I fall into the same trap, and by doing so, show that I’m no better. Where’s the respect?

Sorry for the rant; I just had to vent a little. Lest we forget.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The Wedding

We've all heard wedding horror stories of where one thing or another goes terribly wrong. What would it take to ruin your perfect wedding?

I have no idea who these people are. As far as I know, it is just a random picture that a friend posted online and then asked for his followers to suggest a caption for the picture. I'm afraid I wasn't being very sensitive when I first saw it. For some reason it struck me so funny that I laughed and laughed until I almost cried. In retrospect, I'm sure that the bride probably didn't find it too funny at the time.

Original source unknown
So here's the deal. To borrow an idea from my friend, what caption would YOU use to describe the scene in this picture? I will go first. Here is roughly what I said when I originally commented on his post that day:

"Little did the bridesmaids know of the brides secret wish to have a group baptismal service at her wedding." Now it's your turn. Be creative. I'd love to hear your take on this.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

An Ode to the English Plural


We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And if I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and there would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of bretheren,
But though we say mother, we never say metheren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the femine: she, shis and shim!

Poem Author: Unknown

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Three Old Men

Once upon a time there were three elderly men who decided that it would be best for all of them if they moved into the same house together. They reasoned that then they could be there to assist each other in their twilight years.

One day one of them went upstairs for a bath and started running the water. As he was undressing himself he suddenly stopped and asked, "Wait a minute. Am I having a bath or did I just have one?" As he was pondering the question, the water started overflowing the tub and running down the stairs.

The second man noticed the water and decided to go upstairs to investigate. When he got about half way up the flight of stairs he also suddenly stopped and asked himself, "Am I going upstairs or coming downstairs?"As he stood there thinking about his dilemma, the bath water continued running around his feet and down the stairs.

On seeing that, the third man started to laugh and said, "Thank God I'm not like those two old fools! Knock on wood." He then followed up his statement with the customary knocking twice on the wooden table. No sooner had he done that when he too suddenly stopped and asked himself, "Was that the front door or the back door?" (unknown)

Monday, 1 August 2011

Will's Hootch

Anyone who has known me for the last few years is likely aware of a certain hobby of mine; wine making.  It has evolved from a relatively small kitchen attempt with a single wine kit to a little more refined effort in my basement "winery," as I like to call it. The winery was used, I think, as a canning cold room by a former owner of our house. Today it is still a cold room, but one which now also has a large old stainless steel bar sink that I acquired, a couple of countertops, and a converted walk in closet with floor to ceiling wine racks. All the decor in the room is wine related. There is even a poster entitled "Will's Hootch" which has my picture on it as well as a caption borrowed from an old M.A.S.H. episode that says, "This morning was a very good year." At any given time there is up to four batches of wine on the go. Each batch yields between 28-29 bottles. The most inventory I've ever had at any given time bordered on about 240 bottles. None of the wine is ever sold, as that would be illegal. All is either used personally in my family or given away as gifts to friends.

As a Christian, I've often thought about the story of how Jesus turned the water into wine (John 2: 1-11) at a wedding in a place called Cana. Oh, I know that there are some people who believe that the wine Jesus made was a non-alcholic form of fruit juice. Personally I don't believe that, but I'm not going to argue the point here as I already did that in another blog post called What Would Jesus Drink? But I digress.

I would like to risk a little parody. Christians are called to follow Jesus, and at the risk of being sacrilegious to some, one of the ways I've followed Him is by also making wine for a wedding (wink, wink). Some people have been amazed at how much wine I make (4 batches @ 5 gallons or 23 litres each), but I like to remind them that Jesus made 6 batches "each holding twenty or thirty gallons" (John 2:6). My efforts are pretty small in comparison (grin, grin).

But seriously, there is an important difference. I make my wine from a kit containing concentrated grape juice and add some water; Jesus made it without the kit and used only water. My wine usually takes between 4 weeks and 10 weeks per batch to make, depending on how long I want to let it bulk age before the bottling process. Jesus made His wine instantly and His didn't require any aging at all. As a matter of fact, the emcee at the banquet where all this happened went so far as to say that the water turned into wine was the best wine of the whole wedding. Mine didn't get that kind of praise.

Imagine turning on the tap and out came the best wine ever. Now if only I could do that, then wouldn't that be something to write home about! Anyway, there you have it. Hobbies can be an enjoyable thing.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Forklift Rodeo?

Hmm. I've had many years of forklift experience, I have competed in forklift skills competitions, and even been involved in forklift training and certification programs. But I can honestly say that I've never attempted this!

This has got to be photoshopped, wouldn't you think? I simply cannot believe that anyone could be quite this stupid.

Or am I missing something here? Hmm

Photo Source: Unknown

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

12 Things That A Motorcycle Can Teach You

When in Sturgis in 2009, I bought a patch that reads, "If I have to explain, you wouldn't understand." For me, Sturgis was kind of like that; words just couldn't properly explain the whole experience.

This little piece is also kind of like that. Unless you're a biker, it probably won't make much sense to you either. 

1. The only good view of a thunderstorm is in your rear view mirror.

2. Four wheels might move the body, but two wheels move the soul.

3. I'd rather be riding my motorcycle and thinking about God, than sitting in a church and thinking about my motorcycle.

4. Life may begin at 30, but it doesn't get interesting until about 95...mph, that is.

5. Midnight bugs taste as bad as noontime bugs.

6. Sometimes it takes a whole tank of gas before you can think straight.

7. A bike on the road is worth two in the shed.

8. Young riders pick a destination and go, but old riders pick a direction and go.

9. When you are riding lead, don't spit.

10. Catching a yellow jacket in your shirt at 75 mph can double your vocabulary.

11. You'll never see a motorcycle parked outside a psychiatrist's office.

12. Only bikers know why dogs stick their heads out a car window.

(Source unknown) 

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Do We Need A Little Grammar Workshop?

Do you want to know what one of my pet peeves is? It is the incorrect use of certain English words; such as THEY’RE, THERE, THEIR. I see this all the time. Now, I am not an English professor, and I’m certainly not saying that I understand all the strange little nuances of the English language, but enough all ready! Is it that hard to use words properly? Sure, there is such a thing as “typos,” but it seems to me that the greater problem is that too many of us simply don’t know (or don’t care) which is to be used in which context.

I’m not sure why that is, but as it has often been suggested, I suspect it may have a lot to do with our lazy tendencies bought on by the advent of the texting craze. Have we become so used to abbreviations that we’ve forgotten how to spell? It’s actually really kind of sad. 

Let’s play a little game. Here is your test to see how well you understand the difference between these words. Which of the following six sentences is correct?

1. THERE tired after arriving THEIR with THEY’RE young children.

2. THEY’RE tired after arriving THERE with THEIR young children.

3. THEIR tired after arriving THERE with THEY’RE young children.

4. THEY’RE tired after arriving THEIR with THERE young children.

5. THERE tired after arriving THEY’RE with THEIR young children.

6. THEIR tired after arriving THEY’RE with THERE young children.

Are you having a little trouble? Let us look at how the dictionary defines these three words.

THERE: “in or at that place”
THEIR:  “of belonging to”
THEY’RE: “they are”

 Does that help? The correct sentence was number 2; “They’re tired after arriving there with their young children.” If you still don’t see the difference, then I’m afraid I cannot help you. I would, however, encourage you to find a good English tutor.

There are many other common grammatical faux pas' that also bother me, such as mixing up the words THEN and THAN. Likewise the words TWO, TO, and TOO. When is is correct to use the one? When is it correct to use the other? Your homework assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to sort that one out on your own. Class dismissed. 

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Lego Church

Somebody clearly has too much time on their hands.




How long did it take to build? Approximately one and a half years from the planning stage through to completing construction.



 




How many pieces?
Reportedly over 75,000.








How big is it?
2.2m x 1.7m x 0.76m
(7.0 ft x 5.5 ft x 30 in).









How many people does it seat? 1372.

How many windows does it have? 3976.

Can you say, "WOW!"

Sunday, 3 July 2011

The Social Media Revolution

For a long time I balked at social media, having nothing to do with Facebook, Twitter, and the like. At the time I could give you all sorts of reasons and excuses for my personal boycott of them. Some of my friends are still there where I once was, and that's OK too, for as the saying goes, "to each their own."

It's been an interesting ride. I've developed online relationships that I once believed was not possible, or at the very least, questionable in terms of authenticity.

I don't know if I coined it or if it came from somewhere else, and ultimately it doesn't even matter, but sometimes I've even used the term "eFellowship" to describe some very meaningful faith-based online discussions that I've had with people that I've never even physically met before. Who would ever have thought that would be possible? Hmm.

These online relationships certainly do not replace the flesh and blood, face to face, relationships in my life. There is no substitute for sitting down with friends for fellowship in a coffee shop, park, or wherever. I would caution anyone who thinks it's OK to do otherwise. Having said that, online relationships can be precious too.

Sure, there is some online junk out there too, and some people have unfortunately gotten hurt by it. However, in my way of thinking, that's not really that different than venturing into the wrong parts of any major city; you can get seriously hurt there too. Ultimately, a person does have to be smart and take certain precautions.

"If Facebook were a country, it'd be the world's 3rd largest." Think about that statement for a moment. Wow! One thing is for certain, as this video makes very clear, social media is here to stay. The following is an interesting little video full of amazing statistics. Enjoy.



For me, the personal boycott is over; the social media revolution has been joined. 

Peace and Blessings.


Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Mystery of Life Solved

On the first day, God created the dog and said, "Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years."

The dog said, "That's a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I'll give you back the other ten?"

So God agreed.

On the second day, God created the monkey and said, "Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I'll give you a twenty year life span."

The monkey said, "Monkey tricks for twenty years? That's a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the dog did?'

And God agreed.

On the third day, God created the cow and said, "You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer's family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years."

The cow said, "That's kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I'll give you back the other forty?"

And God agreed again.

On the fourth day, God created humans and said, "Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this I'll give you twenty years."

But the human said, "Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?"

"Okay," said God. "You asked for it."

So that is why for our first twenty years, we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years, we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years, we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years, we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.

Life has now been explained to you.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Turn on the Tap Motorcycle Ride & Fundraiser

Well, it is almost time for this year's TURN ON THE TAP ride here in beautiful Lethbridge, Alberta.

When, Where and What Does it Cost?
Date: Saturday June 25, 2011. Like last year, we will be meeting at the City Light Church, 4101 - 20 Avenue South, Lethbridge, AB. Meeting time is at 9:00 am for registration and a free continental breakfast. Registration is a non-refundable $25 per bike (not per rider) at the door (not online). Ride starts at 10:00 am. In the event of being rained out, the BBQ will still be held at 3:00 pm.

The ride route is, like last year, through beautiful Waterton National Park, through Pincher Creek, and back to City Light Church where we enjoyed a barbecued burger supper. In the event of rain in the mountains, we will use the Hays maze as an alternate route. Last year's ride saw 23 participants. It would be great to double that number this year. 

What is Turn on the Tap?
Turn on the Tap is about water, and more specifically, clean drinking water. It is a fund raising ride, through Samaritan's Purse Canada, in which Canadian designed BioSand water filter systems are provided to the third world at an average cost of only $100 per unit. Each rider is challenged to raise funds for at least one filter system. You can read more about the Turn on the Tap ride here.

What is the Motorcycle Ride for Safe Water?
The Turn on the Tap Motorcycle Ride is a way for riders across Canada to raise awareness and funds to help families in the developing world get safe water. It is a fun day trip through some breathtaking scenery in Southern Alberta with old and new friends from the motorcycling community. But most importantly, it's about helping those less fortunate than ourselves with one of the most important basic necessities of life; clean and safe drinking water. For more information about the motorcycle ride, see here.

How does the BioSand water filter work?
For more information about this amazing product, check out this video.
For a detailed technical explanation, see here.

How do I make a donation?
Donations are easy. The best way is to do so in person immediately before the ride during the registration process. Donation forms can be downloaded here. These will be needed to receive donations. However, if you aren't able to join us and still wish to participate apart from the ride, you can make a donation online here.

How can I contact someone about this in person?
If you would like to speak to someone in person about this, please leave a comment on this blog with your name and phone number. As all comments go through a moderator first, in this case they will not be posted in order to protect your privacy. Someone locally here in Lethbridge will call you back ASAP.

What if there are unforeseen changes?
Please watch this blog for details on any change of date or time that may be deemed necessary.

Thank you.
We hope you can join us. Please remember to always ride safe.

Hosted by the Lethbridge chapter of the Chariots of Light.

The Phucket List

Do you have a "Bucket List?" Do you have a list of things that you really would like to do or accomplish yet one day before your time on this rock we call Earth is up? I guess I've never made an official Bucket List, although there have been a couple things that I've wanted to do, such as take in the Sturgis bike rally, which I'm happy to say that I've now already done. I would also one day like to take a cross-Canada train trip, from the Pacific to the Atlantic. I think that would be kind of cool too. So, yes, I guess I do have the makings of my very own Bucket List. If I thought of it a while, I'm sure I could add a few other items to it as well.

My friend David Hayward has an interesting list that he calls his  "Phucket List." David is a gifted cartoonist that I first discovered on Twitter. If you're not yet familiar with his work, I would strongly encourage you to check out his site at http://www.nakedpastor.com/.

I asked David for permission to share his "Phucket List" here on my blog, which he graciously permitted me to do.

So without further ado, here's David's list. Enjoy.
__________

I watched the movie, “The Bucket List”. So I thought before I kick the bucket I should come up with my own personal phucket list. Here’s mine:
  1. Waiting for the good opinion of others. Phucket!
  2. Yearning for a quorum of affirmative support. Phucket!
  3. Excusing the obnoxious and unkind because they are Christians. Phucket!
  4. Hiding my true colors. Phucket!
  5. Pining for the endorsement and applause of the authorities. Phucket!
  6. Pleasing everybody and offending no one. Phucket!
  7. Mincing words. Phucket!
  8. Subsidizing the “Christian Cheap” in myself and others. Phucket!
  9. Waiting for minds to change before I proceed in my search for truth. Phucket!
  10. Fearing the reactions of those who encounter me. Phucket!
_________________

I suspect that David only just scratched the surface on this one. It might be kind of fun to see how long we can make David's list. David asked in closing, "What's on your phucket list?"

For me David's list screams out: STOP BEING PHONEY AND BE TRUE TO YOURSELF. I guess that's on the top of my phucket list. Isn't it about time we all did that?

Well, it's a nice day here so, Phucket! Let's Ride!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

God Loves Drunk People Too

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons
http://www.flickr.com/people/vectorportal/
I've often been told that I have a sick sense of humour, to which I often reply that "a sick sense of humour is better than no sense of humour." I believe that we have to learn to laugh more than we do. Too many of us go around looking like we've been baptised in vinegar or lemon juice. There is nothing wrong with having a little fun, provided that our laughter is rooted in purity and is clean as opposed to some form of coarse joking that offends others. After all, Paul does warn us in Ephesians 5:4 that there should not be any "obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking" in our lives.

Well here is a joke that was emailed to me recently. I'm not sure where it came from, nor who thinks these things up. However, it did strike me funny and so I thought I would share it with you. May it put a smile into your day and may God bless you today with some wholesome laughter.
____________________

A man and his wife were awakened at 3:00 am by a loud pounding on the door. The man gets up and goes to the door where a drunken stranger, standing in the pouring rain, is asking for a push. "Not a chance," says the husband, "it is 3:00 in the morning!" He slams the door and returns to bed.

"Who was that?" asked his wife.

"Just some drunk guy asking for a push," he answers.

"Did you help him?" she asks.

"No, I did not, it’s 3 am in the morning and it’s bloody pouring rain out there!"

"Well, you have a short memory," says his wife. "Can't you remember about three months ago when we broke down, and those two guys helped us? “I think you should help him, and you should be ashamed of yourself. Remember - God loves drunk people too.”

The man does as he is told, gets dressed, and goes out into the pounding rain. He calls out into the dark, "Hello, are you still there?"

"Yes," comes back the answer.

"Do you still need a push?" calls out the husband.

"Yes, please!" comes the reply from the dark.

"Where are you?" asks the husband.

"Over here on the swing," replied the drunk.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Retirement Investing

What does it take to retire today? Well, whatever it takes, I know that it will be a lot more than I have in my savings, especially given the fact that like many of us, I have no savings account. Perhaps that is why I tell people that I am on the "Freedom 85 Plan." Hmm, while said in jest, it may not be too far off the mark.

I used to have a RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan), but the recession pretty much took care of devaluing that and left me with only a small fraction of what it once was worth. The small change that was left has long since been cashed in, while there was some cash to still be had from it.

People used to recommend investing in the stock markets, but like my RRSP, that may no longer be the best advice to prepare for retirement. The whole thing is just too uncertain. So what is a person to do? Work until the day before one's own funeral? For many that may be the sad reality; work hard, pay your taxes, and then die. Isn't that a cheerful thought? Hmm.

I don't remember where I got this from, but it illustrates this all too well. Maybe this is a more likely retirement plan for many of us:
__________

If you had purchased $1000 of Nortel stock a year ago, it would now be worth $49. 
With Enron, you would have $16.50 left of the original $1000. 
With WorldCom, you would have less than $5 left. 
If you had purchased $1000 of Delta Airlines stock, you would have $49 left. 
But if you had purchased $1000 worth of wine one year ago, drank all the wine, then returned the bottles for the recycling refund, you would have $214. 
Based on the above, the best current investment advice is to drink heavily and recycle.
__________

Well, there you have it; free investment advice. No need to thank me; I'm just glad that I was able to be of some help. However, a final caveat is in order; I take no responsibility for your liver.  

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Gas Prices at the Local "Gouge" Stations

So I went to get some gas yesterday and suddenly noticed a huge difference of price between some local gas stations (or should I rather say, "Gouge" Stations).  This in itself doesn't really surprise me, for the media has been talking about higher gas prices for a while now. I don't pretend to understand how this all works. They tell us that natural disasters in some parts of the world apparently play a part, as do situations of political unrest brought on by a rogue political leader in some third world country. I get that, sort of.

The problem I have is reading about such things and then at the same time hearing about how the major oil companies are reporting record profits. Excuse me? Record profits? Am I missing something here? So which is it? Are our high gas prices caused by environmental and political issues, or by the unscrupulous gouging of the CEO's of the major oil companies? The answer is probably that both equally have a part to play. For the purpose of this article, however, I intend to focus only on the major oil companies.

Have you ever noticed how, regardless of global environmental or political issues, every spring prices seem to go up? Just when the weather starts to get warmer and people begin to think of some vacation time, the oil companies seem to think that they can make a few more quick dollars and so they begin to raise gas prices at the pumps yet again. At least, that it the perception of many people, myself included. At the risk of sounding like a conspiracist (which I'm really not), could it all be a part of the rich upper class oil companies plan to further eradicate the middle class? The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the middle class rapidly finds itself becoming extinct. Ah, but that's the joys (or perhaps better, "evils") of a capitalistic society. But I digress; we'll leave that topic alone for another time.

To further illustrate this gouging of the major oil companies, one needs only to look at who raises the gas prices first. Here in our small city of Lethbridge, most gas stations were advertising prices of $1.17 per litre (already far too high). As of yesterday, two major companies saw fit to raise their prices significantly higher. Esso raised their prices to $1.24 per litre, and Shell raised their prices to $1.30 per litre. This is a $0.13 difference within a few blocks of each other. How do we account for that? I realize that those prices may still be cheaper than some parts of the country, but my purpose isn't to discuss what causes regional differences in fuel prices.

When the local gas station gets a delivery of fuel, they get invoiced based on current market prices. I understand that. What I don't understand, is how they can justify raising the price with older fuel in their tanks that was already paid for at a lower rate. That's a double mark up in price, or double-dipping. That would be like any other business buying something wholesale, adding whatever percentage they deem necessary, and reselling the product at the new retail price, before finally raising the price yet again to reflect an even higher profit margin on their original purchase. There can be no other word for that but gouging. Then again, I suppose we could also use words like stealing, fraud or larceny. The worst thing, though, is the oil companies will deny doing any wrong. They will, if confronted, pass the buck and blame some other factor for the high prices. Then when they present their next quarterly or annual report, they will hope that you and I are too stupid to see the connection between higher pump prices and still more record profits!

For some time now my solution has been to keep a close eye of the advertised prices and notice which companies raise their prices first. It's always been the major companies who do this first, and never the little guys. Sure, eventually the little guys are pressured into following suit, but they never lead the attack. Those companies that tend to raise prices first, well, they will never see me as a customer.  It's my little boycott. Why should I support them when the only part of me they're interested in is the depth of my wallet?

What we need is to expand my little personal boycott and make at as national a boycott as possible. What we need is to get as many like-minded people on board as possible. What we need is to stop being lethargic about it all and start taking the boycott to where it begins to hurt their wallets like they've done to us. If enough of us start boycotting these major oil companies, maybe they will sit up and take notice. If enough of us do this, maybe we can get them on their knees crying "uncle" just like they've done to us. It's time to fight back!

A great tool to achieving such an end is the social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook. When we see a particular gas station with recently raised prices, let those on your social network stream of friends know. Then we who live in that area could join you in your boycott of that gas station. Word always travels fast, especially bad news. I see current gas prices as being a form of "bad news" that others need to be warned about. If I saw you walking down the street and noticed your wallet about to fall out of your back pocket, I would be quick to warn you. This is no different, except that the oil companies won't warn you that you're about to lose your wallet. Instead, they will wait until it actually falls out and then run with it. Social media is a great way for us to watch out for each other.

As for me, unless I absolutely have to, I will NEVER buy fuel at an Esso or Shell gas station again. If I do have to, it will only be a few dollars worth to tie me over until I can get to a smaller retailer, but never bless them with a fill up. That's my way of saying, "enough is enough," and I'm not going to play this game any more.

So what do you think? Just as it only takes a little spark to get a fire going, it also only takes a few local boycotters to get a national boycott going. Are you up for it?

Friday, 22 April 2011

Spring is in the Air?

So one day as I was starting to get a little bored with winter, I thought to myself, wouldn't it be great if someone would develop a computer program or cell phone app by which you could install and run the season of your choice?

Imagine if that were possible? You're into summers and your neighbour is into winters. You're sitting on your deck sipping iced tea in a balmy 30 degrees celsius, while your neighbour is getting ready to go cross country skiing in his -10 degree day. Everyone could simply choose the season they liked best, install it as an app into their phone, and voila. Wouldn't that be a great idea?

I guess there are some serious logistical problems to overcome first with such a concept. Still, once upon a time men were certain that the world was flat and that the horseless carriage concept was an impossibility too. Likewise, it really wasn't that many years ago that air travel was also unheard of either, so you never know what the future holds.

Having said that, I'm ready for Spring. How about you? So I'm going to try a little experiment and install a season change. Let's see how it works:

INSTALLING SPRING...
███████████████░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░ 44% DONE.
Installation delayed ... please wait. Installation failed. Please try again. 404 error: Season not found. Season "Spring" cannot be located. The season you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable. Please try again.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Friday, 8 April 2011

My Pilgrimage to Biker "Mecca"


Well, the summer of 2009 I finally experienced a trip that I've wanted to do for a very long time. Along with three friends, I finally got to experience the 69th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota. We left on Monday August 3 and returned the following Sunday, August 9, 2009. The total round trip was 3281 km. What an incredible experience! While I heard estimates that there were between 600,000 - 700,000 bikers in and around the Sturgis and Black Hills of South Dakota that week (a number that still boggles my mind), others I talked to said that the numbers were down this year. Either way, there was an incredible number of bikers there! I have a patch that I bought while there that says it all, "IF I HAVE TO EXPLAIN YOU WOULDN'T UNDERSTAND." Sturgis is definitely something that has to be experienced. Words simply cannot begin to describe it. Having said that, I will try and outline a few highlights below.

Monday August 3

I left the house about 7:00 am and met the rest of the guys at McDonalds for a quick breakfast. Three other friends who were not going joined us for breakfast. Another friend, Harry, met us at the gas station next door where we stood around the bikes while he prayed for us. It sprinkled rain almost all the way to the border.

We crossed the border at Sweetgrass, MT. Tim had a little more trouble crossing than the rest of us did since he travels with a German passport, but it was only a minor delay. The first quick stop was for fuel in Shelby, MT. From there we rode straight into Great Falls, MT. There we had lunch and checked out a few bike shops. We left Great Falls and rode down Hwy 89 through White Sulfer Springs in Lewis and Clark National Forest. This was a beautiful ride through some majestic scenery.

We spent the first night at the Rodeway Inn in Livingston, MT. In what would become the norm for the trip, due to available rooms and to save on hotel costs, we always took one room with two queen beds. In this way we each only had to pay for 25% of the hotel bill. After supper, Barny, Tim, and I (Pete was too tired and stayed back) went for a little exploring ride through town and stopped at a neat little outdoor bar called "The Parkplace Tavern." There we met some wonderful people including a woman named "Jackie" who was riding by herself back from Sturgis, SD to her home in San Diego, CA. That night she was celebrating her 59th birthday with some friends who lived there in Livingston.

In what would also become the norm for us, we sometimes rode without helmets in town, but always wore them on the highways. Most bikers we saw seemed not to wear helmets at all, even on the highways, but we always did. Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota all do not have helmet laws. I'm not sure of how many other states that is also true.

Tuesday August 4

We left Livingston at approx 8:00 am after a free continental breakfast. We made a brief stop at Emigrant Gulch to take some pictures and to check out the scenery. The next stop was for fuel in Gardner, MT at the edge of the Yellowstone River. Went through the arch (Rosevelt Arch?) and into Yellowstone Park. It cost us $20 per bike to get into the park. Scenery and photo stops included the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces and the Beryl Springs. A funny thing that happened at Mammoth Hot Springs was the 3 or 4 Japanese tourists who approached Barny and wanted their pictures taken with him because they thought he looked like Santa Claus with his long white beard.

We finally made it to Old Faithful. The place was packed with tourists! Apparently it erupts regularly every 90 minutes. While we were waiting for it's scheduled eruption, we fueled up, had lunch and a cold beer. Tim commented that the mass of humanity that we saw there was our preparation for Sturgis. After Old Faithful's eruption, we hurried to the bikes in an effort to get out of that area before most of the other people. We were soon back on the highway, crossed the Continental Divide at 8200 feet, and headed east. The original plans were to make it to Sheridan, WY that night, but the time spent in Yellowstone was longer than we anticipated. Oh well, it didn't matter since right from the start we had said that our itinerary was only to be a rough guide and we all knew that it was subject to change along the way.

At a quick stop along the way, we met three guys from Colorado, one of whom rode a trike and had even a longer grey beard than Barny. Tim took a picture of the two of them talking. It was kind of amusing. We decided to stop for the night in Cody, WY. We had supper at "Bubba's BBQ" where the food was amazing! We got the last available room at the "6 Gun Western Motel." After a quick "helmetless" ride to Walmart for a few supplies for Barny and Tim, we were back at the room by about 8:30 pm. I was talking to some other bikers who were in the room next to us. They were from Illinois and were on their way back from a ride to Alaska. All I could think of was, "Wow!"

Wednesday August 5

Breakfast in Cody was at McDonalds where an elderly gentleman stopped at our table and talked for a while. Everyone we talked to so far was friendly. It sure gave me a new appreciation for some of the American people. We left Cody, WY at about 9:00 am. We took Hwy 16 which took us through the "Power River Pass" at an elevation of 9666 feet. Near the top we pulled over to take in the breath-taking scenery and to snap some pictures. A few minutes later, three bikes came down the mountain and also stopped. We talked to the bikers and discovered that they were from Oklahoma. Suddenly, one of them asks us if we wanted a beer. This struck me funny as I wondered where around there one could find some beer. We said sure, and he proceeded to open his saddle bag and pulled out some pint-sized cans of ice cold Budwiser. The cans were so cold that there was actually frost on the outside of the cans. What a great treat! We talked for 20 or 30 minutes, finished our beers, and said goodbye.

We stopped for lunch at a Subway in Buffalo, WY. There we met some other bikers headed for Sturgis from Vancouver, BC. By this time you could already see a huge increase in bike traffic. Upon leaving Buffalo, WY, we jumped onto the I-90 and headed straight into Spearfish, SD. The highway was suddenly packed with bikes. I also noticed a lot of Wyoming State Troopers trying to keep an eye on things and enforcing the 75 mph speed limit. Like I said earlier, most seemed to be riding without helmets. At that speed and in that traffic, I thought that was kind of nuts! I don't know for sure, but there seemed to be a ratio of at least 500:1, bikes over cars. Approaching Spearfish, SD (about 10-15 miles from Sturgis), the highways became overwhelmed with motorcycles. Words simply cannot properly convey that image and that sound. The roar of bikes was unbelievable; it just didn't quit!

As we pulled into Spearfish, we saw the providence of God at work. I was leading at that time and pulled over in front of a Rodeway Inn and a Perkins Restaurant. The original intention was to get our bearings and find out where the campgrounds were. On a whim we went into the hotel lobby and said to the girl behind the counter, "This might be a really stupid question, but what's the chance of you still having a room available?" She smirked a little as if to say that was a stupid question. She graciously checked the computer and suddenly seemed as surprised as us when she told us that she had one room left with 2 queen beds! 600,000 - 700,000 visitors to the area, no reservations made on our part, and she still had one room left? The only possible explanation I could come up with was the providence of God. Needless to say, we took the room and were also able to keep it for the next two nights as well. Three nights accommodation with no reservations! Who but God could arrange that? The room rate was high, $225, but divided four ways, that was only $56 each per night. Apparently the same room after the rally rents for only $89.

Walking out of the Perkins restaurant after supper that night, we met another couple at the door. They asked me where we were staying, and so I told them the story and how we were "lucky." The woman instantly corrected me, pointed to the Cross and Bible patch I have on my leather vest, and said, "Young man (she called me 'young' - LOL), there was nothing 'lucky' about that. It was the providence of God, and you as a believer should know that!" I was busted. She was right. Obviously they were also believers. Outside the restaurant we also met some bikers from Edmonton that we talked to for a while. In the parking lot we also saw bikes with Manitoba and Saskatchewan licence plates. Other licence plates we saw there were from as far away as Florida and California.

We rode down the street to an Exxon gas station to buy some munchies. We talked to some people there who said that they had "Super B" gas tankers come in daily, and sometimes twice per day, into that gas station alone (never mind the other gas stations). The average bike takes about 4 to 5 gallons, so that also gives one an idea of the amount of bike traffic there. There were booths everywhere selling all sorts of biker trinkets. I bought a small eagle patch with "Sturgis 09" underneath in. The guy sewed it on right there in front of me. Cost: $6 patch, $8 sewing.

We sat outside the hotel and just marvelled at the non-stop roar of bikes up and down the highway. The sound didn't ease up until well after dark. There was an amazing lightening show that night and some pretty intense rain. We were so thankful to have a room and not to have to camp out in that weather.

Thursday August 6

With the rain the night before, we had a very foggy early morning. We had breakfast at the Perkins beside the hotel and by the time we finished, the fog had lifted enough for us to hit the road into Sturgis. Like the day before, the rumble of bikes was amazing and even almost deafening. While we we travelling at basically speed limit, 75-80 mph, we were constantly being passed by other bikes. We got into Sturgis early enough to be able to park on the infamous Main Street where there were four rows of bikes parked side by side for endless city blocks. Again, words just cannot adequately explain the euphoria of finally having made the pilgrimage to biker Mecca - STURGIS!

There were shops galore, like an over-grown flea market geared exclusively to bikers. By mid morning it had already become a slow walk through the masses of people. Two girls approached Barny and me and asked if they could take our pictures. Maybe it was the beards that caused all the attention; who knows. A woman with ad ID badge from "sturgis.com" also approached us and asked for our picture. Pete stepped out of the picture because he didn't want his picture taken, but Barny, Tim and I agreed. Another person wanted our picture for the "Rapid City News," but I was unable to find it on their site. Once again, we saw another guy with a beard like Barny's so Tim took a picture of the two of them together.

Met a bunch of believers here and there as we walked through the streets of Sturgis. One woman approached us and was offering free samples of "Al Capone Sweets" cigars. There was virtually every brand of motorcycle there, although the Harley Davidson's were by far the most popular make. The Sturgis police presence was hard not to miss; on foot, on bike and in cars (the cars were only on the side streets since Main Street was open to bikes and pedestrians only). Every imaginable bike artist was represented ready and willing to do any customizing one wanted on their bike. Tim and I stopped in the Knuckle Saloon (an outdoor bar) for a cold beer while we waited for Pete and Barny. There was a live band playing, I'm not sure who they were, but we didn't stay long as they were too loud for Barny and Pete when they met up with us again.

It was a long day of walking and seeing the sights. While we saw a lot, there was also a lot that we didn't see. We also didn't take in any of the night-life, which is probably just as well as that's when things do get a little raunchier. I did see one topless woman on a bike, even though public nudity is illegal. Oh well, it's all a part of the atmosphere. A couple other interesting sights were a biker towing a casket-trailer which was painted the same colour scheme as his bike. Another was a biker riding down Main Street with a dog (the dog wearing a t-shirt and goggles) riding on the gas tank and both riding right in front of a Sturgis cop. Later in the day we all purchased some souvenir t-shirts and patches for our leather vests and jackets.

In looking through the pictures on "sturgis.com" it's obvious that there was still a lot that I didn't see. One would really have to spend the entire week there to fully appreciate the experience. Still, it was a fantastic day and a memory that I will never forget: the day I spent at the 69th annual Sturgis Bike Rally.

Friday August 7

We left our motel early in the morning for a day of riding through the Black Hills of South Dakota. We took Hwy 14A which is also known as the "Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway." This proved to be a good choice as it exposed us to some beautiful scenery through the winding Spearfish Canyon. This is a highly recommended trip for anyone finding themselves in that area. We came out of the canyon at a place called "Cheyenne Crossing" where we made a quick stop for some pictures. From there we went on to the towns of "Lead" and "Deadwood."

In Deadwood we looked for a place to park the bikes so that we could walk around a bit. This in and of itself proved to be a bit of a feat given that Deadwood, like Sturgis, was full of motorcycles. Deadwood, an old gambling town, is famous for being the location where "Wild Bill Hickok" was killed. There is even a bronze statue of him at the edge of the old downtown. Deadwood is still a gambling town with a lot of casinos in the old hotels.

From Deadwood we rode down Hwy 385, stopping in Hill City. Hill City is essentially another mini-Sturgis, with bikes parked up and down both sides of Main Street. I took a picture of a street sign that stated that "Main Street was open to motorcycles only." I was amazed at how this whole Black Hills region completely catered to motorcyclists for this week in August. I wouldn't be surprised if the bulk of their annual budgets wasn't made up from the tourism of the Sturgis Bike Week.

From Hill City we continued south to "Keystone" which, as you might by now have guessed, was also full of bikers and parking was again a chore. We had lunch at a little cafe called "Oma's Cafe." Our waitress was a young woman from the Ukraine who was in the US on a student visa and was about to head back to university in Kiev. She was overwhelmed when both Barny and Pete spoke a few words to her in Ukrainian, which also caught me off guard. As it turns out, their mother was from the Ukraine and so they had learned a little of the language when they were younger. From Keystone it was just a short ride over to Mt. Rushmore where we pulled over to the side of the highway for some pictures. Many other bikers did the same rather than paying to go into the park. After leaving the Mt. Rushmore area we circled back to Hill City for more fuel and then on to "Crazy Horse." Again, we opted not to pay to go into the park but simply took a couple of pictures from the roadside. As I understand it, Crazy Horse is simply a bunch of old native drawings on the mountainside, which, while no doubt interesting to some, wasn't interesting enough to us to have to pay for a closer look.

Next we were off to "Custer State Park" which required a $6 admission per bike. We paid the admission because we wanted to ride the famous "Needles Highway" within the park which we had heard a lot about. Needles Highway is a very narrow and winding highway with one hairpin turn after another. I noticed several hairpin curves had speed limits posted of only 10 mph, and once we were into these curves, I could see why! Much faster through there and you would find yourself in trouble. Certainly Needles Highway is not for the inexperienced rider or the faint of heart. There were three one-way tunnels cut through the rock which were also interesting. They were so small that a full sized pick up truck would just barely be able to squeeze through. I thought it strange that they called this route a "highway," for it seemed to be anything but a highway. "Lane," or maybe "Goat Trail" might have been more appropriate. Still, despite the dangerous curves, the scenery was breath-taking! On a side note, we did see one accident where a biker went off the road. Thankfully it wasn't over one of the cliffs. We were not sure of the biker's condition, but as many other bikers had already stopped to assist, we didn't bother stopping.

After making our way out of Needles, we headed back north towards Deadwood on Hwy 385. As we approached Deadwood, the sky suddenly got very black. We pulled over and thought it wise to put on our rain gear, and I'm glad we did. Suddenly it started to pour like I haven't seen in a very long time. Then, at the edge of Deadwood, it hailed. Since hail and motorcycles is kind of like walking on marbles, we pulled over again. Barny took pictures of hailstones in his hand the size of golf balls! We ran across the road and took refuge inside someone's open garage (with their permission) until the hail stopped. There were a few ambulances and police cars racing up the road we just came from. I hope nobody was seriously hurt. The next mile or so was slow going as we rode though Deadwood in some deep water and mud that was running across the street. There was quite a bit of flooding. From there we went back up Hwy 85 north and onto the I-90 west and back to the hotel in Spearfish.

We heard reports of soft-ball sized hail in parts of Sturgis that day which apparently caused an awful lot of damage to some bikes. There was a DJ from Utah staying at our hotel who showed us his vehicle that was in Sturgis during the hailstorm. It had broken side windows, a seriously cracked windshield, and a completely pitted hood and roof. It was so seriously damaged that we thought that the insurance company would probably call it a write-off. I'm so glad we didn't do Sturgis that day, although we originally planned on going back through Sturgis on our way back from Mt. Rushmore. Once again God's hand was obviously upon us as none of us experienced and hail damage to our bikes or got physically hurt in the process. The worst that happened, besides getting soaked, was getting a few hailstones on some tender body areas which did leave a few bruises. Here too was another good reason to wear helmets (which we all did) as I can only imagine what golf-ball sized hail would feel like on a bare head!

Saturday August 8

We loaded up the bikes, checked out of the hotel, and started for home. There were some serious dark clouds that resulted in us riding for a while in the rain once again. We had hoped to go see the "Devil's Tower" in Wyoming, but it was raining so hard that we simply rode past in an effort to get out of the storm. Maybe next time we'll see it. We had also hoped to take the famous 11,000 ft "Bear Tooth Pass," but we were cautioned that, when there is rain falling below, there is usually snow up top (even in the summer). None of us felt like taking the chance of riding in the snow, so this too, we will leave for a future time.

Eventually we got out of the storm and pulled over to take a picture of the storm cloud behind us. We made another fuel stop in Gillette, Wym., went through Sheridan, Wym., and stayed on the I-90 all the way into Billings, MT. Just before Billings, MT. is the sight of "Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of the Little Big Horn" where we made a brief stop. In Billings we got something to eat and made another fuel stop. The original plans were to spend the night in Billings, but it was still relatively early so we decided to carry on another two hours to Lewiston, MT. Lewiston had no rooms available anywhere, so we felt we had no choice but to push on still another two hours to Great Falls, MT.

Suddenly, after leaving Lewiston, the clouds grew black again. I prayed (as I found out later the others did as well) that God would just hold back the rains. By this time I was tired of riding in rain. It was amazing what happened next. As we rode on, at the very edge where it was pouring rain, the road suddenly curved away from the rain. There were rain clouds on our left and on our right, and each time it looked like we were about to ride through the rain, the road curved yet again taking us away from where it was raining. We kept dry the whole way. Truly, that was an answer to prayer!

About an hour out of Lewiston we passed through the little town of Stanford, MT. where we saw a small motel (The Sundown Motel). We stopped and they still had a couple rooms which we took. It was owned by a Christian couple. They told us about the "Waterhole Saloon" in town where the locals go and where we could find some good food. We rode into town, found the saloon, had some supper and a couple of beers and talked to the very friendly locals. Tim figured that we rode almost exactly 500 miles (800 km) that day. I think that was a daily record for all of us. No wonder our rear ends were sore!

Sunday August 9

We left Stanford about 7:00 am for the hour ride into Great Falls, MT. There we made a stop for breakfast and for more fuel. After another quick fuel stop in Shelby, MT., it was no to the border. We arrived back in Lethbridge at 12:30 pm and headed straight for the Burger Baron (where we often fellowship Sunday mornings) and had a celebratory milkshake. We were happy to see that some of our friends were still there. On a more comical note, Delores came up to me and began brushing my beard to pull out a trapped grasshopper. I guess she figured now that I was enjoying a great milkshake that I no longer needed to snack on the grasshopper.

I stopped by Ginny's work briefly to let her know that I was safely back, and then went home. The total mileage from the time I left home until I pulled back into my driveway was 3281 km. This really was, as my brother called it, my "Pilgrimage to Biker Mecca." What a great time! What a great experience!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

All I Really Need to Know...

My wife has a saying that she often uses that I really like. When she sees people not getting along, or simply nit-picking at each other, she says that "they need to learn to play nice in the playground." Perhaps that's one of humanity's greatest problems; we still haven't learned how to place nicely in the playground of life.

Recently I discovered a great little book by Robert Fulghum that touches on some of these very issues. It is called, "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things."

If you haven't yet read this, I do recommend it. It's an easy read that will warm your heart. I totally enjoyed it. Here's a couple paragraphs to tickle your interest:
__________

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:
Share everything.
Play fair.
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Flush.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, stick together.
__________

Isn't that great? Maybe everyone in any sort of leadership, from president to pastor, from CEO to junior managers should be required to read this. Maybe it ought to be required reading for all of us, regardless of what we do for a living. Maybe we all need to get back to the basics and learn to play nicely in the playground.

Just a thought.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Canada Votes ... Again!!!

Well the newspapers are calling for yet another federal election in May of this year. "Historic parliamentary defeat marks start of federal election battle." So ran the headlines. The whole thing would be kind of funny, if it wasn't so sad.

"Canadians are being asked to pick their poison as the country heads into its fourth election campaign in seven years," says the Lethbridge Herald on Saturday March 26, 2011. That's about it! The whole thing is about not much more than picking the type of poison we want. It's been reduced to picking the "lesser of the evils" rather than voting for someone based upon an informed decision.

So what happened? As I understand it, and correct me if I am wrong, the opposition parties voted against the proposed new budget, thus effectively causing a non-confidence motion in the elected government. If the government receives no support, then it falls and an election is imminent.

So do Canadians want another election? Most likely do not. It would serve the parties who voted against the budget right if Canadians, or at least those who still bother to show up at the polls, punished them for this mess by not voting for them and returning the former conservative party back into power with a majority, or at least with more seats than they had before. Nobody wants another election, other than perhaps the opposition parties themselves.

Sure, as a democratic nation it is our right and our responsibility to vote. If past elections have taught us anything, however, they have taught us that a growing number of people now vote by their absence at the polls. People don't care anymore. The whole thing has become a joke! Nobody even knows what the issues are anymore. Why? Because of all the bickering and name-calling by the politicians. If they could stop the slandering each other for any length of time, then perhaps we could hear what they had to say about the issues. Perhaps then people might be interested once again enough to at least try to cast an intelligent ballot. But then once the election is over, and as they usually do, the elected politicians would simply turn up their noses at all their earlier promises and do whatever they want. In other words, during the election campaign, politicians will only say what they think you and I will want to hear in order to secure our votes. After that, they couldn't care less about the average voter. At least that is the perception of many today.

Maybe what we need is a new party (of sorts) to vote for. Maybe, as I have indicated on my Facebook bio, what we need is a Theocracy. Yes, I know the problems associated with mixing church and state, but I can't imagine them being any more serious problems than the current election problems. I also know that most people in this land do not share my interest in a form of government that believes itself to be based upon the law of God. Too many people today have too many different ideas as to exactly what that law is or should be. I know it would likely never work, at least not the way I imagine God would desire it to work.

So where do we go from here? Am I going to join the masses in boycotting the federal election? Probably not. I've lived in the third world and understand the importance of having the right to say my piece (like writing this) in freedom, a freedom and right that many in this world still do not have. So I will try my best to sort through all of the rhetoric and do my duty and exercise my right to cast an informed ballot, for the lesser of the evils, whoever that may be.

Will it make a difference? Probably not.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons