Saturday, 7 February 2015

Indoor Day

It is cold out and it is snowing. Our winter has returned after what must have been the warmest January on record.

Tess has declared an indoor day. By that she means it is too miserable to go out and she wants to sit and watch television all day which is fine by me. She works hard and needs the rest. Besides, going out would entail her dragging me through the malls and Walmart and it is embarrassing being out in public being pulled along by the ring in your nose.

Tess has said she wants spaghetti for dinner tonight which means I am cooking. I don't mind. I make the absolute best spaghetti sauce and we haven't had it for a while. My mouth is watering already.

I checked and made sure the old folks had something for dinner so I won't worry about them. Mom said to me "Stop worrying. I am a good cook." I told her yes she was but she hadn't done if for two years. It made her laugh. She knows that is true.

Valentines Day in the city is off. I had forgotten that that was the weekend of the B.C. Winter Games and every room in the city is booked. So much for that! We will wait and go south to Kamloops when the weather is a little better.

At some point today I will need to shovel and snow blow the driveway and I have to run to the market for a couple of things but other than that it is an indoor day for me also although if I muster the energy I may walk about the block for a bit.

I will lounge on the Chesterfield, read, dink on the computer, and listen to the MP3 player while Tess watches bad Filipino dramas.

Indoor days in Canada in the winter are not so bad.

February 1, 2015

Prince of Peace Tea Company

The weekend starts now.

Earlier I wrote that Tess has declared an indoor day and that was fine with me. It just got off to a late start. I went to market and got what I needed for tonight's meal while Tess prepared a 5 Star brunch. When that mess was cleaned up I went out and took the snow blower to the driveway, called each of my daughters and spoke with them, and then Tess and I watched a two hour Filipino news special about the slaughter of 42 policemen by Islamic militants in Mindanao. The Islamic apologist in chief in the US Whitehouse started drawing down US anti-terrorism troops in the Philippines in July. The Filipinos are in this on their own now.

The news over, Tess has switched to a quiet soothing music show. We are drinking an extremely delightful hot instant honey, ginger drink. Made in China  by Prince of Peace beverage company. Five stars. They get my vote.

I eat food and drink beverages I would have turned by nose up in years past. Tess has trained me and it has opened my world. We North Americans are far too chauvinistic. There is a huge world out there filled with wonderful cultures, tantalizing food, wonderful beverages, delightful customs.

I will go you one further by stating I think our culture is decaying, crumbling, destroying itself and there is little good left in it. 

In any event. I am going to read for a bit then watch a video on Youtube before the Internet speed dies this evening.

This Is A Test. Or, At Least A Quiz.

This is a test. For the next sixty (or thirty) seconds, this station will conduct a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test.

If you are old enough to remember that then you are likely older than dirt.

In any event, I would like to run a little quiz here and ask you to take part.

It is not as easy to do here as I would want and I have to ask you all to play by the honor system and not look ahead too far.

I am going to give a series of hints one after another. I would like you to give your answer in the reply section with the hint number you are replying to. For example, if you think you know the answer after the firt hint then give the number 1 and your answer. If after the third hint then give your answer and the number 3, etc.


  1. I was the most well known person in colonial America.
  2. I was close friends with Ben Franklin.
  3. I made 13 ocean crossings between the Colonies and England.
  4. It is said that 80% of Colonial America heard me speak.
  5. I regularly spoke to crowds of 30,000 and more.
  6. It can be argued that I had more influence on Colonoal America than anyone else.
  7. My first name was George.

And the answer ... George Whitfield.

The Crisis That Created A Classic

Most people recognize the name C.S. Lewis if only as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia. A few more may be familiar with another of his classics, Mere Christianity. Lewis, of course, was a towering intellect and wrote far more than those works but the Chronicles and Mere Christianity are what he is most remembered for.

I usually read Mere Christianity at least once every two years and sometimes more than that. It never grows old for me. Each reading is as fresh for me as the first. Occasionally I run across some  fool who claims that Lewis' arguments in Mere Christianity fell flat for them. At that point I ask them which specific argument they found wanting and how they answer what Lewis posited. I never get a response. 

I don't care what someone believes. I don't care if they are swayed by his writings or not. I do care when someone claims his argument's are weak and than offer no alternative. I suspect those people have never really read they book.

Lewis, who was a professor at Oxford and then later at Cambridge is himself now the subject of innumerable University level courses. It can be argued that Lewis had as much affect on the 20th century as Whitfield did on the 18th. 

Paul McCusker has written a delightful book on how Mere Christianity came about that is in parts a shortened biography of C. S. Lewis, partly an account on how the book came to be written, and partly an account of WWII Britain. It is in each of its parts brilliant.

This too is a book I will read again. C. S. Lewis & Mere Christianity: The Crisis That Created a Classic is more than worth your time and money.

Am I Going To Have Fun With This

Am I ever going to have fun with this.

This is the anniversary of Tess' father's death and today is the day her family will have a Filipino styl prayer/open house service.

Tess spoke to one of her sisters last night and said she would send 5,000 pesos toward the cost today. I was the designated sender so this morning, while out with Scott for a coffee, I ran into Western Union to send the money. It was the middle of the night in the Philippines but I sent a text to her sister with the required Western Union information.

While serving up dinner for the old folks I had left my cell phone in my coat pocket and finally heard the Viber service ringing. I ran for the phone ... Tess' sister had been frantically calling ... about six times.

She couldn't get the money because her name had been spelled wrong on the Western Union ticket.

I flew back down the hill to town making Western Union just before it closed. Then getting there I had forgotten my wallet and they needed my ID to make the change.


I was finally able to give them my DL number and expiry date from memory but now the computer wouldn't take it.


Finally the agent got Western Union on the phone and got the change made.


I went home and then called Tess' sister to tell her I was sorry. I know her name. I don't know how that happened but that it was fixed now. She could get the money.

Then I went looking for my wallet and pulled out the piece of paper that Tess had written her sister's name on so "you won't make a mistake."

I just about fell apart laughing. I had just handed the paper to the Western Union agent. She copied it from the paper.

It was Tess who had spelled her own sister's name wrong.


I Lost My Virginity

Last night was my second night into a surprisingly good book I purchased cheap, cheap from Amazon. I am seldom awake past 10:30 or 11:00 any more but last night I could not put the book down and was trying to finish it. By 1:30 I was still only three quarters of the way through it and had to get some sleep. I reluctantly gave up for the night.

As much as I am enjoying this book and even as cheaply as it was priced I still should not have bought it given the large number of unread books I have bought and then never gotten around to reading. I realized now that can be blamed on my needing new glasses and not on any lessening interest in the printed word but none the less I should be focusing on clearing that backlog which would probably take a couple of years of serious get-to-it-ive-ness.

But, I did buy it, I am thoroughly enjoying it, and I am going to try not to guilt myself too much.
None of this is news of any sort. This is.

Two Christmases ago my oldest daughter got me a Kindle ebook reader. I loved the idea in theory: cheap books, free books, and instant delivery. In practice it worked out differently. It didn't feel right. It didn't look right. It didn't smell like a book. The constant tapping to turn pages was a pain in the ass. Hi lighting a passage was cumbersome. The lack of page numbers frustrating.

Still, I muddled on. I kept trying it.

Last night about midnight as I was reading along I suddenly realized that I was reading without awareness that I was reading from a Kindle. I usually read in bed and accordingly lie on my side towards the lamp on the nightstand. The Kindle is back lit and you do not need a light to read. I found that I had turned over to my other side and was still reading.

A Kindle can solve a lot of problems. Books are a lot cheaper. Kindle books take up no space and that is an issue as I am running out of room. Kindles are light weight and can be taken anywhere.

This may have become an answer to a problem. I can read fiction and light reading on the Kindle and for reading where I need to hi light and write notes I will get a book.

It took over a year of petting and foreplay but I finally lost my ebook virginity last night. It is me and my Kindle for now on.

Fighting Monks and Burning Mountains

On four occasions I have walked the 780 kilometres of The Camino de Santiago in Spain. Once I walked the length of Japan from the southern tip of Kyushu in the south to the northern tip of Hokkaido in the north. This evening I completed the 1100 kilometre Shikoku Buddhist Pilgrimage Trail for the second time. I have done these walks with several well known writers: Jane Christmas, Will Ferguson, Paul Barach, Hape Kerkeling, and Conrad Rudolf among others. I have done this all without breaking a sweat or leaving my home.

Usually when I see a book on Amazon listed for $2.73 I pass on by as quickly as possible. Experience has shown that books at this price are usually as appealing as a supermarket selection of fish that are a week past their best by date.

Of course, occasionally I am fooled and get a good book and, this week, a great one.

Paul Barach's Fighting Monks and Burning Mountains: Misadventures on a Buddhist Pilgrimage was an absolute delight. Sure, it was over baked in some places and under cooked in others but overall it was a beautifully engaging book. I enjoyed every step Paul Barach took on this 750 mile pilgrimage in his badly fitting shoes. 
"A 750-mile pilgrimage, an unprepared office worker, and everything that went wrong along the way. 
 Age twenty-eight and fed up with the office job he settled for, Paul Barach decided to travel to Japan to follow a vision he had in college: to walk the ancient 750-mile Shikoku pilgrimage trail. 
Here are some things he did not decide to do: learn Japanese, do any research, road test his hiking shoes, or check if it’s the hottest summer in history. 
And he went anyway, hoping to change his life. 
 Fighting Monks and Burning Mountains is the absurd and dramatic journey of one impulsive American’s search for answers on a holy path in an exotic land. Along the pathway connecting 88 Buddhist temples, he’ll face arduous mountain climbs, hide from guards in a toilet stall, challenge a priest to a mountaintop karate battle, and other misadventures. He’ll also delve into the fascinating legends of this ancient land, including a dragon-fighting holy man, a berserker warrior-priest, haunted temples, all manner of gods and monsters, and a vendetta-driven ghost that overthrew a dynasty.
Told with humor and humility, Fighting Monks and Burning Mountains is a funny, engaging memoir about the consequences of impulsive decisions, and the things you can discover while you’re looking for something else. 
Also that boars are terrifying in person."
Reaching the end of this book left me terribly saddened. I will miss Paul Barach and I will miss Japan and I will especially miss the people and places along the Shikoku Buddhist Pilgrimage. 
I may have to start walking it again tonight with someone new.

5 out of 5 Stars

San Francisco Book Store Closes After Minimum Wage Hike

There will be a lot more of this. A lot!

Important story from the most leftist city in America.

Independent bookstores have faced tough times for quite a while. In San Francisco, neighborhood businesses have been passionately protected, so it’s hard to believe that an initiative passed by voters to raise the minimum wage is driving a Mission District bookstore out of business.

San Francisco’s minimum wage is currently $11.05 an hour. By July of 2018, the minimum wage in San Francisco will be $15 an hour. That increase is forcing Borderlands Bookstore to write its last chapter now.

[…]Borderlands was turning a small profit, about $3,000 last year. Then voters approved a hike in the minimum wage, a gradual rise from $10.75 up to $15 an hour.
“And by 2018 we’ll be losing about $25,000 a year,” he said.

It’s an unexpected plot twist for loyal customers.

“You know, I voted for the measure as well, the minimum wage measure,” customer Edward Vallecillo said. “It’s not something that I thought would affect certain specific small businesses. I feel sad.”

Though it’s caught a lot of people off guard, one group that wasn’t completely surprised was the Board of Supervisors. In fact, they say they debated this very topic before sending the minimum wage to the voters.

“I know that bookstores are in a tough position, and this did come up in the discussions on minimum wage,” San Francisco supervisor Scott Wiener said.

Wiener knows a lot of merchants will pass the wage increases on to their customers, but not bookstores.

“I can’t increase the prices of my products because books, unlike many other things, have a price printed on them,”
Wiener says it’s the will of the voters. Seventy-seven percent of them voted for this latest wage hike.

Let’s review the facts on minimum wage, and then I can make fun of one of my friends in my conclusion.

Abstract from new National Bureau of Economic Research study:
We estimate the minimum wage’s effects on low-skilled workers’ employment and income trajectories. Our approach exploits two dimensions of the data we analyze. First, we compare workers in states that were bound by recent increases in the federal minimum wage to workers in states that were not. Second, we use 12 months of baseline data to divide low-skilled workers into a “target” group, whose baseline wage rates were directly affected, and a “within-state control” group with slightly higher baseline wage rates. Over three subsequent years, we find that binding minimum wage increases had significant, negative effects on the employment and income growth of targeted workers. Lost income reflects contributions from employment declines, increased probabilities of working without pay (i.e., an “internship” effect), and lost wage growth associated with reductions in experience accumulation. Methodologically, we show that our approach identifies targeted workers moreprecisely than the demographic and industrial proxies used regularly in the literature. Additionally, because we identify targeted workers on a population-wide basis, our approach is relatively well suited for extrapolating to estimates of the minimum wage’s effects on aggregate employment. Over the late 2000s, the average effective minimum wage rose by 30 percent across the United States. We estimate that these minimum wage increases reduced the national employment-to-population ratio by 0.7 percentage point.
That comes out to 1.4 million workers.

Harvard economist Greg Mankiw explains the top 14 views that a majority professional economists agree on, and here’s #12:
12. A minimum wage increases unemployment among young and unskilled workers. (79%)

How Did My Friends Get So Old?

Ouch. That is going to cost me. I don't have a long distance plan for phone calls into the USA and I just spent an hour on the phone talking to a friend. I may have to beg on a street corner to pay for that one.

Pastor Ken in Pennsylvania is 65 today. I know that because Pastor Ken used to be Missionary Ken, the director of the Native Bible Institute here. He was also my very, very close friend for many years. He moved back to the US a long time ago and we are not as close as we once were. Maintaining long distance friendships is hard. I do miss him and I miss the time we shared together over the years and I wish I could see him.

Another friend is having a birthday on next Tuesday. He is my best friend. I have known him for coming up on 43 years now. We'll celebrate his number 72 by doing what we always do on Tuesday mornings, going for coffee. I have offered to buy him breakfast that day too. I mean, after 43 years of friendship buying him an Egg McMuffin at McDonald's doesn't see too extravagant, does it?

I can't give you him his name. He is an unassuming guy and wouldn't want it spread around that TUESDAY IS HIS 72ND BIRTHDAY.

I cannot tell you how much my friendship with 65 year old Pastor Ken and with my 72 year old unnamed friend have enriched my life. I would be so much poorer without these men in my life. I love them both dearly I and I am unashamed to admit it.

The only thing I don't understand is how I wound up with friends that old!

February 5, 2015

God In the Dock

There are times C.S. Lewis is not an easy read.

Lewis, an Oxford Don, was one of the last centuries towering intellects and while he was extraordinarily adept at making himself clear to the ordinary man some of his writings are directed a little higher and require some time to get through.

God In the Dock is a collection of forty- eight speeches and essays written by Lewis over a period of 23 years and at 416 pages it is not a two night read. Its title implies "God on Trial" and is based on an analogy made by Lewis suggesting that modern human beings, rather than seeing themselves as standing before God in judgement, prefer to place God on trial while acting as his judge.

One of the points that Lewis made writing in that age was that every generation of unbelievers trot out the same objections to God, Jesus, and the Gospel that the previous generation had trotted out and present them as new and untried while in fact the objections have been answered over and over again ad nausea throughout history. 

This is even more relevant today when atheist arguments against Christianity presented by drug store atheists on the Internet are nothing more than a rehash of every past argument that didn't hold water then and don't now. The atheist well has been emptied for want of an argument lacking holes.

Even the weak arguments presented by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor Dr. Bart Ehrman are nothing more than the rejected Bauer hypothesis of the last century dressed up in a cheap suit. This, doubtless, why Ehrman speaks with forked tongue presenting one thing to scholars and its opposite in his books for a public audience.

None the less Lewis hits many of these arguments head on and shows their shallowness once again to another generation. Now, seventy years later, apologists are repeating the same answers to a new generation running their tired old flag up the pole again.

While not for everyone and most certainly beyond the ken of the garden variety atheist writing here, Lewis is still relevant and well worth reading.

Amazon says:
"C. S. Lewis struck me as the most thoroughly converted man I ever met," observes Walter Hooper in this book's preface. "His whole vision of life was such that the natural and the supernatural seemed inseparably combined."
God in the Dock contains forty-eight essays and twelve letters written by Lewis between 1940 and 1963. Ranging from popular newspaper articles to learned defenses of the faith, these pieces cover topics as varied as the logic of theism, good and evil, miracles, the role of women in the church, and ethics and politics. Many represent Lewis's first ventures into themes he would later treat in full-length books.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Best 4 Bucks I Ever Spent

Silas' mother forgot to sign him up and pay for 'Booster Juice' day at Kindergarten. When you are five years old being left out because of a mother's oversight is cause for a major trauma and, perhaps, PTSD.

Dropping him at school this morning his mother reassured him all would be okay and then called me asking if I could get a Strawberry Sunshine Booster Juice and take it to Silas by 12:30.

Arriving at school there was no one in his classroom and most of the school was deserted. I saw a young boy about Silas' age and asked if he might know Silas and where he might be. I got a terse "on the playground" in reply and went back out.

The schools use volunteer mother's as playground monitors and I quickly located one and asked if she might know a 5 year old named, Silas, 5 years old, big for his age. I didn't expect she would with the hundreds of kids there but she laughed and said she did and that Silas hung out at the tire swing at recess. She walked me there.

Of course the boy lit up when he saw me. I looked at him, looked at the drink in my hand, and said, "Beets, spinach, and avocado, right?" A fleeting moment of panic crossed his face and then he laughed. "Grandpaaaa."

"Where does it, go?"

"You can put it at my spot in the classroom."

"Buddy, I don't know where your spot is."

The playground monitor chimed in, "I can show you."

Silas piped up, "I will."

Together we walked back to the school building seemingly meeting every single one of Silas' kindergarten classmates.

"Hi, Tia, this is my Grandpa." "Hi, Billy, this is my Grandpa." 

On and on until I must have met them all.

We deposited his drink at his seat and started back out. "Thanks, Grandpa."

"You are welcome, Silas. I love you."

Silas looked around and seeing no one he hugged me and said, "I love you too, Grandpa."

That was the best four bucks I ever spent.

February 6, 2015


In the last 24 hours Kitimat, B.C. has gotten 117 cm of snow (3 feet 10 inches) while just up the road Terrace has gotten 97 cm (3 feet 1/2 inch).

It is still snowing and and the prediction is for another 60 cm (1 foot 11 and 1/2 inches) over night).
Hey, Scott, want to move back to Kitimat? {#rofl.gif}

Thank God they got that pineapple express there and it, for the most part, bypassed us. Whew. We dodged a snow drift.

February 6, 2015

God's Anointed Servant in the Great Revival of the Eighteenth Century

Arnold Dallimore's two volume biography of George Whitfield is a classic and by all accounts the best treatment of Whitfield and of the Great Awakening ever written. However, at 1232 pages and $63 U.S. dollars for both volumes I wasn't certain I was interested enough to pay that much or spend that much time reading. Instead I purchased the Kindle edition of Dallimore's abridged biography of Whitfield, George Whitefield: God's Anointed Servant in the Great Revival of the Eighteenth Century. Having recently read through that volume I wish I had bitten the bullet and gotten the two volume set. Dallimore is a very good historian and his account of Whitfield never flags, never becomes repetitive, never becomes boring.

George Whitefield: God's Anointed Servant in the Great Revival of the Eighteenth Century is a riveting account of the life of the man who many historians consider to be the real father of the United States.  Whitfield's influence on the colonies and upon the founding father's cannot be underestimated. Nor was his influence limited to the U.S. His influence on his native England was even greater.

Whitfield crossed the Atlantic seven times to tour America and this when a crossing could take months and was extremely unhealthy. He regularly spoke to crowds of 30,000 people and more in a time without any amplification. Originally doubting that Whitfield could be heard by that many people no less a personage then Ben Franklin did experiments and undertook counts shows that it wasn't only possible but true. On one occasion it is said that he spoke to 80,000 people at one time in England. In Colonial America estimates are that over eighty per cent of the people had heard Whitfield preach.

Colonist Nathan Cole published an astonishing account of going to hear Whitfield preach which I reproduce below.

This is a great book.

5 out of 5 Stars.

If anyone wants to buy me the two volume biography, let me know.

Account of Colonist Nathan Cole:

“Now it pleased God to send Mr. Whitefield into this land; and my hearing of his preaching at Philadelphia, like one of the Old apostles, and many thousands flocking to hear him preach the Gospel, and great numbers were converted to Christ; I felt the Spirit of God drawing me by conviction, longed to see and hear him, and wished he would come this way. And I soon heard he was come to New York and the Jerseys and great multitudes flocking after him under great concern for their Souls and many converted which brought on my concern more and more hoping soon to see him but next I heard he was at Long Island, then at Boston, and next at Northampton.
Then one morning all on a Sudden, about 8 or 9 o’clock there came a messenger and said Mr. Whitefield preached at Hartford and Weathersfield yesterday and is to preach at Middletown this morning [October 23, 1740] at ten of the Clock. I was in my field at Work. I dropt my tool that I had in my hand and ran home and run through my house and bade my wife get ready quick to go and hear Mr. Whitefield preach at Middletown, and run to my pasture for my horse with all my might fearing that I should be too late to hear him. I brought my horse home and soon mounted and took my wife up and went forward as fast as I thought the horse could bear, and when my horse began to be out of breath, I would get down and put my wife on the Saddle and bid her ride as fast as she could and not Stop or Slack for me except I bad her, and so I would run until I was much out of breath, and then mount my horse again, and so I did several times to favour my horse, we improved every moment to get along as if we were fleeing for our lives, all the while fearing we should be too late to hear the Sermon, for we had twelve miles to ride double in little more than an hour and we went round by the upper housen parish.
And when we came within about half a mile of the road that comes down from Hartford, Weathersfield and Stepney to Middletown; on high land I saw before me a Cloud or fogg rising. I first thought it came from the great river [Connecticut River], but as I came nearer the Road, I heard a noise something like a low rumbling thunder and
presently found it was the noise of horses feet coming down the road and this Cloud was a Cloud of dust made by the Horses feet. It arose some Rods into the air over the tops of the hills and trees and when I came within about 20 rods of the Road, I could see men and horses Sliping along in the Cloud like shadows, and as I drew nearer it seemed like a steady stream of horses and their riders, scarcely a horse more than his length behind another, all of a lather and foam with sweat, their breath rolling out of their nostrils in the cloud of dust every jump; every horse seemed to go with all his might to carry his rider to hear news from heaven for the saving of Souls. It made me tremble to see the Sight, how the world was in a Struggle, I found a vacance between two horses to Slip in my horse; and my wife said law our cloaths will be all spoiled see how they look, for they were so covered with dust, that they looked almost all of a colour coats, hats, and shirts and horses. 
We went down in the Stream; I heard no man speak a word all the way three miles but every one pressing forward in great haste and when we got to the old meeting house there was a great multitude; it was said to be 3 or 4000 of people assembled together, we got off from our horses and shook off the dust, and the ministers were then coming to the meeting house. I turned and looked towards the great river and saw the ferry boats running swift forward and forward bringing over loads of people; the oars rowed nimble and quick, every thing men horses and boats seemed to be struggling for life; the land and banks over the river looked black with people and horses all along the 12 miles. I saw no man at work in his field, but all seemed to be gone.
When I saw Mr. Whitefield come upon the Scaffold he looked almost angelical, a young, slim slender youth before some thousands of people with a bold undaunted countenance, and my hearing how God was with him every where as he came along it solumnized my mind, and put me into a trembling fear before he began to preach; for he looked as if he was Cloathed with authority from the Great God, and a sweet solemn solemnity sat upon his brow. And my hearing him preach gave me a heart wound; by God’s blessing my old foundation was broken up, and I saw that my righteousness would not save me.”