Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009


While my little girl is indeed long, we got to thinking that 69 cm is REALLY long. So we measured her ourselves. Daija is really somewhere around 60 cm, which while still in the 90-95th percentile, is more in her age ballpark.

Guess I can quit dreaming of the WNBA for her...

Editor's Note: The midwife joke has been removed due to threats of litigation. We love midwives, we love our midwives. They're great! Any further questions can be directed to my office manager.

Editor's Note: Litigation was not actually threatened.


I'm pretty sure you've all heard enough news on Gaza recently and you feel inundated with facts, but I feel that I need to speak out in some way on this. So here are a few snippets of thought on the recent Gaza conflict/war/emergency.

It is a tangled, convoluted mess with two sides who hold absolute positions. On one hand, there is Zionism who believes theologically that God gave them the land and it is their right to have it. On the other hand, the Palestinians argue that they also have a right to the land: historically, religiously, culturally. I was talking with a pastor at my church about it and he made the point that, theologically, there is no middle ground. To which I have to admit is true. But I think we also have to look at Zionism as something more than theology, because it is ultimately a political organization using theology to mask its motives.

Historically, Zionism wanted land. It didn't even have a particular eye for Palestine. It even looked at Uganda at one point.

In its more modern incarnation, it wanted land. Post WW2 it took far more than then the UN proposed. It has spread out, constantly grabbing more land, "settling" more areas as if nobody already lived there and the land actually needed them to settle it down.

All along the way they have disenfranchised Palestinians, imprisoned Palestinians, and killed Palestinians.

Even in Old Testament law, this seems to be a little over the top. First, you covet the land. Then, you steal the land. Then you murder to keep the land. That covers at least 3 of the 10 Commandments handed down to Moses.

Finally, I am still dumbfounded at how Christians can continue to support Israel. The Bible speaks of a God of justice for all, of love for all.... of caring for those in prison, of providing for the orphans, of feeding the poor. Not praying that missiles would hit the right targets, as someone mentioned recently seeing in a church.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Best Albums of 2008

Being the music aficionado that I believe myself to be, I admire those who can look through their reams of music and rank them in some haphazardous fashion which makes them look so adept. So this year I am attempting the join the rank of true music lovers and share with you my favorite albums released in 2008. Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments.

1. The Acorn - Glory Hope Mountain

This has got to be the breakout album for this Ottawa based band. Folksy guitars and vocals mix with mad Honduran drum beats (two drummers!) and a laid back, chill style that morphs into a slightly more frenetic live performance. Got to see their show in Victoria which was a plus and made them a little cooler in my mind. And is probably the reason that they're first. Some good Canadian content.

Track to check out: Crooked Legs

2. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

First album for this Seattle based band and it was a success gauged by placing 1st on the indie-prestigious and slightly obnoxious Pitchfork top album of 2008. It actually made most top 10 lists but what kind of music reviewer would I be without some sort of Pitchfork shout-out. And by calling it obnoxious I place myself slightly above such fare.

As for Fleet Foxes, they are defined by their incredibly tight vocal harmonies (even live) and they describe themselves as "baroque harmonic pop jams". Definitely a hint of jam band, way harmonic, slightly pop-py... but who knows what the heck baroque is... I mean, besides the first name of the next President of the United States.

Track to check out: White Winter Hymnal

3. Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Lie Down in the Light

I think I have to rate this album third simply for how much it took me by surprise. Who would have thought that a guy who chose to name himself Bonnie "Prince" Billy could actually make a great album. I mean, I would have expected fairy tinkling or Scottish highland music or Prince covers or some outlandish mix of all three(and the cover certainly doesn't help). Instead, you get breathy, stripped down acoustic gems which drive you deep into that land called Introspection.

Track to check out: For Every Field There's a Mole

4. Coldplay - Viva la Vida

Um, really, who doesn't know Coldplay? Piano based ballads, whiny Chris Martin vocals, and glorious, glorious anthemic rock. Pretty much the biggest band since... U2? Their new album doesn't disapoint. It's not simply a rehashing of past formulaic successes but it still has that "Coldplay-ness" that is so distinctive (again, it might just be Chris's whiny voice - seriously, I still can't get Yellow out of my head, and not in a good way).

Track to check out: Violet Hill

5. Mother Mother - O My Heart

Some more Canadian content in this Vancouver based band. CBC called them "pure ear candy" and I would have to say, mmmm candy. They could be called indie pop-rock but, sticking with the candy analogy I think I will just call them Pop-rocks. I see they're going to be touring through the States with Sam Roberts - now that would be a super fun, high energy show totally worth driving to Chicago for.

Track to check out: Body of Years

6. The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely

Led by the irascible JackWhite of White Stripes fame and toned down by the silky Brenden Benson this is a collaboration of musician's musicians and they make some gritty, grungy rock n' roll worth pouring yourself a glass of whiskey and drinking to. Unique in all ways and even each song carries a unique flavor.

Track to check out: Consoler of the Lonely

7. Calexico - Carried to Dust

While I have trouble saying what is so stand-out about this album, every time I listen to it I am sucked in by their blend of Spanish/South-western guitars, folksy blues and bad-ass ways. I also love their use of horns. Horns are good.

Track to check out: Victor Jara's Hands

8. Jakob Dylan - Seeing Things

Being the son of the legendary Bob Dylan is a hard cross to bear because, really, how do you measure up to that kind of success? Formerly of The Wallflowers, Dylan is off on his solo journey and all he remembered to pack was his acoustic guitar. I like people who know how to pack light. This is straight-up coffee shop material and while it lacks the writing insight that ol' Bobbo had, it's not too shabby in the writing department as well.

Track to check out: Evil is Alive and Well

9. Sam Roberts - Love at the End of the World

Forget Nickleback or whatever other lame-o band you think is the best Canadian band out there - it's Sam Roberts. And this could be his best album yet. Actually, as I sit here and think about all the good things to say about Sam Roberts, I realize I probably should have ranked this album a little higher. This is also the point where I wish I was Matt Bingham who went to his show in Victoria this last week. Rock at its finest (and Sam isn't too bad either).

Track to check out: Love at the End of the World

10. Ray Lamontagne - Gossip in the Grain

Soulful, silvery, shuffling - all 'S' words I would use to describe the album. This album restores my faith in Ray to create a masterful album that sails (another 'S' word) from start to finish. My only complaint is the track dedicated to White Stripes drummer Meg White. While she is as cool as all get out and deserves a song in her name, I am stuck thinking she deserves a little better.

Track to check out: You are the Best Thing

Honorable mention goes to the following:

The Watson Twins - Fire Songs
Asa (Asha) - Asa
Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks - Real Emotional Trash
Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs
Amos Lee - Last Days at the Lodge
Joshua Radin - Simple Times

Well, there is 2008. On to 2009.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Fatherhood Update

Negative: We went to the Public Health nurse today and Daija got her first immunizations. I now know why people are against them. They don't want to see their child in pain so they make up some half-baked moral/medical reason why they are against them. After today I am ready to join their camp though, I'm such a suck and needles aren't my thing to start with. And of course Nolana gets me to hold Daija for it so she doesn't look like the bad guy and because I'm supposed to be tougher. But, MAN, they stick that needle WAY in and there's 4 of them in BC. I've never seen her wail like that..... except for maybe her 1st bath when Nolana was so worried about scalding her that she froze her.

Positive: She measured at 69 cm. For those of you who aren't up to date on your average baby lengths, that's in the 95th percentile.... for 6 month olds. 50th percentile for 9 month olds. She's a mere 2 months old. I am the proud father of the next Katie Feentra (pictured)

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Initial Wanderings of 2009

HAPPY NEW YEARS!!! (have to get that out of the way)

This is likely to be a real scrambling of ideas and thoughts - so be warned.

2008= a good year. I kicked it off by celebrating with my wife and a solitary friend on a balcony in Ethiopia, smoking a cigar, and ended it with family and a lovely little daughter in wintry Calgary. Pictures from our delightful holiday season can be found on Facebook here. I am simply too lazy to post them here again.

2009 = more unknown. I am currently taking a break (heck, actually I haven't even started, but I've been trying) from finishing up my first Masters application (of two) and hopefully 2009 will be the year of jubilation as I get accepted and finally see the first glimmer at the end of the education tunnel. We'll be out of Victoria again, still in Canada though, and still dreaming of Africa.

African news: Ghana has a new President and a seemingly 2nd peaceful transition of power. You only hear of coups and wars in Africa - but in some places, progress is happening unheralded. Go check it out.

Also an interesting article that a friend passed along (thanks Gill!): an atheist writing that Christian missionaries are good for Africa. You can read it here. I am a little torn on reading it. I believe that Christ is indeed the hope of the nations, not just Africa. Yet, the tone of the article irks me a bit; as if for some reason Africa needs faith because of.... their backwardness? Their history? Their inability to get along? Their mob mentality? Whatever reason they need faith, the writer doesn't seem to have that same reason. I applaud the honesty of the article, the seeking and openness, but wonder if it is nothing more than a poorly thought out observation. Christianity and missionaries have failed so many times in Africa and in large part because they didn't take the time to think out the implications of their actions. They had good intentions (at times) but failed in Christlike qualities such as justice and mercy. The article seems to follow in this good intentioned yet oblivious vein. Other things, like the image of NGO workers debating strategies in tourist hotels, strike a chord but... from experience I think it has more to do with the person (and their motivations and convictions) than their faith as to if this is true. Anyways, definately a thought provoking article. Anybody else have thoughts after reading it?

Back to us: New Years resolutions: find more time to read rather than being computer dependant, lose some of the 1000+ plus lbs I've gained since Ethiopia (everybody has to have a weight resolution, right?), become more sensitive to insensitive people, keep questioning the things that need to be questioned and trusting in the one who is unchanging to guide my wanderings.