Saturday, March 28, 2009


For those of you who didn't hear my cries of joy emanating all the way from my house, today I received acceptance into the University of Toronto graduate studies program!!

I have been accepted to do a Master's of Education in Sociology and Equity Studies in Education as part of their collaborative program: Comparative, International, and Development Education (CIDE).

I start in September and, while I am rather unexcited to leave the amazing province of BC for dreary Ontario, I am also very excited to have been accepted into one of the best schools in Canada and a really world-class program. The website describes the program as:

one of the world's largest, most diverse and dynamic graduate programs in the field of comparative education. More than one hundred and fifty graduate students and two dozen faculty from across OISE/UT are currently active in the program. Student and faculty interests span an exciting range of theoretical and practical issues - from the study of ethnicity and identity to the issues of globalization and global governance; from non-formal learning and citizenship education, to concrete problems of educational reform, social equality, language education, conflict resolution and community development.

So, over the next few months we are going to pack up and plan the move out there as well as give me some time to figure out what the heck I am actually doing. Here I was sweating over the acceptance but now the reality is hit that I've gotten myself into something big.

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers as these next few months are going to be momentous, from figuring out how to move across the country to simply staying sane through it all.

And yes, I finally did crack that world-famous beer, Peche Mortel.... it tasted like sweet, sweet acceptance.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Life Updates pt.2

I know most of you come here to see pictures of my baby and not to hear me rant about religion or politics or post the latest greatest beer (but how many blogs do you know that do both of those?!) - so here are some more pictures of my baby to keep you happy!

Zonked out with Daddy.

Ready to go out with Mommy.

We recently had 2 Japanese high-school girls stay with us for 4 days on exchange. They spoke hardly any English (which was interesting) and were super shy. But they did like Daija! I also taught their group for the weekend... and it was a gong show! Reminded me of Korea.

My parents were also just here to see their grandbaby and put the house up for sale - guess that means they're not moving back!

On Daija Development news, she now is able to put individual fingers in her mouth rather than trying to jam her whole fist in.

And the other day we got her to actually full-out laugh for the first time. She has squeaked and gurgled and cooed.... but this was full out laughter. We caught the tail end of it on camera, but I can't seem to get it loaded so... too bad for you.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


A recent article on talked about the closing of a number of parishes as numbers, dollars, and priests decline.

One of the upset nuns states: "Too many bishops are treating parishes as if they were Starbucks franchises," said Sister Christine Schenk, a Cleveland-area nun.

Interesting point. Church as a franchise. Church as fast-food service. Or perhaps more along the lines of what she actually meant: Do church governances have the right to "close down" a local body of worshipers?

The nun goes on to say: "It's about more than money. It's about mission to the people," she said. "This isn't what Jesus would do."

She talks of the many good programs to the poor in the area that will be lost. And I wonder if she, while full of good analogies, is still missing the point. If the Church is the building and the programs, then it seems in line to be upset that someone is arbitrarily deciding to end it. But if the Church is bigger than the meeting place and is in fact a living, breathing, active body of believers, what difference is it if the building is locked up? Perhaps, despite her witty remarks, she is in fact guilty of treating church like a Starbucks; a body that can be encapsulated within a building and is not accessible when locked up. What would Jesus do? He would probably keep helping the poor in Cleveland regardless of whether the bishop decided to close the church, he would likely keep worshiping with a body of believers and probably wouldn't be any worse off for it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Palo Santo Marron

Last night a couple of the guys finally made it over for a few brews. We had a great time sampling some styles and brewery's. We sampled Driftwood's new Blackstone Porter against Rogue's Mocha Porter (Driftwood is a nice, traditional English porter!). We had a couple Belgian style ales in Driftwood's Brother Bart's Belgian Brown (dubbel) and Unibroue's Chamblay Noire (dark ale).

The kicker though, was when I pulled out a bottle of Dogfish Head's Palo Santo Marron. This beer is definitely on the more extreme side of things and oh so friggin' delicious. It's a high ABV (12%) brown ale aged in the unique Palo Santo wood. Dogfish Head describes it:

An unfiltered, unfettered, unprecedented brown ale aged in handmade wooden brewing vessels. The caramel and vanilla complexity unique to this beer comes from the exotic Paraguayan Palo Santo wood from which these tanks were crafted. Palo Santo means "holy tree" and it's wood has been used in South American wine-making communities.

This beer is a 12% abv, highly roasty, and malty brown ale aged on the Palo Santo wood.

Add to that the immense amount of cane sugar added from Africa and you have a monstrous, unique brew. I personally really dig it. The guys compared it to a port.

I post this only because it is such a unique brew and because there are some sweet videos about how it was made and about the wood. You can check it out below. The beer can be a bit difficult to find in BC (and is a touch on the expensive side) but definitely worth a try.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Terrorist Alert!

Look at the picture carefully. This man is a terrorist. Or at least that's what Canada's immigration people tell us. Ok, maybe they don't think he is actually a terrorist but he supports terrorists and talks about terrorists. So he is not allowed into Canada.

To many others in the world the above picture is one of George Galloway, British MP. He speaks out against war, including those in the Middle East, has been known to support Leftist philosophies, has argued for the poor Muslims that have been bombed by the Bush alliance (which included his Prime Minister) and has been known to support organizations such as Hamas.

He was to come to Canada to speak at an anti-war rally in Toronto. But, because Hamas has been labeled a terrorist organization in Canada (rather than recognized as an elected ruling party) and we don't allow terrorists to come into Canada - George Galloway must stay at home.

In other news, George Bush was recently allowed across the border to speak in Calgary.

Not only did we allow him in, we had him meeting with officials and talking at a $400 a plate banquet.

If we, as Canadians, are allowing Dubya to come into Canada and speak on his beliefs, why are we not allowing Galloway? I thought we had a little thing called free speech....

Something seems a little "off" to me.

Travel Philosophy

I've recently been reading a book called "The Art of Travel" by Alain de Botton and it's been interesting. It's a set of philosophical travel essays that looks at the "how" and "why" of travel - since most of us only think about the "where" of travel.

Below are a couple quotes that I contemplated and identify with at least to some extent.

"If we are surprised by the power of one sulk to destroy an entire hotel, it is because we misunderstand what holds up our moods. We are sad at home and blame the weather and the ugliness of the buildings, but on the tropical island we learn (after an argument in a raffia bungalow under an azure sky) that the state of the skies and the appearance of our dwellings can never on their own underwrite our joy or condemn us to misery."

I have always said that happy people are happy everywhere and grumpy people are grumpy everywhere. When you travel you always meet people who are complaining about this or that: the food was not up to par, there were bugs in the bed, the monkeys outside kept them up all night, the train ride was too long... These are the people who should have just saved their money and been grumpy at home.

"If we find poetry in the service station and the motel, if we are drawn to the airport or the train carriage, it is perhaps because, despite their architectural compromises and discomforts, despite their garish colors and harsh lighting, we implicitly feel that these isolated places offer us a material setting for an alternative to the selfish ease, the habits and confinements of the ordinary, rooted world."

When people ask me what I liked so much about Africa and about traveling I am always at a slight loss for words because I don't know how to put together all the things that draw me to somewhere else. After reading this, I think this is part of it; it is the sense that it is an alternative to a style of living that I would like to shed.

"We may value foreign elements [in other countries] not only because they are new but because they seem to accord more faithfully with our identity and commitments than anything our homeland can provide... What we find exotic abroad may be what we hunger for in vain at home."

If you accept that your country helps identify who you are.... what are we as Canadians? Wealthy. Over-consumers. Individual-centered. I think you could put those up along with the more traditional pictures of peace-keepers and polite (though I don't think you'll see them on any brochures or TV ads in the near future). I think this is also partially what draws me to Africa and the so called Third World.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Holy See (And what he doesn't see)

As you may (or may not) have heard, the Pope is currently on a tour of Africa and has followed in his precursor's steps by confirming that the Catholic church is against the use of condoms - and that, in fact, condoms are contributing to the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Let me say a couple things. The Pope is absolutely correct when he says the only sure-fire way to stop HIV/AIDS is abstinence. He is also 100% correct when he says that condoms alone will not stop the tide of HIV/AIDS.

But there are far more things that he is simply turning a blind eye to. The first and most important is this: Abstinence is a good idea but it is simply not reality for most people. The goal of faith communities should be to engage with the real world. Caedmon's Call (on an old old album) had the lyrics, "How can I preserve and light the way for a world I can't admit I'm in?" People are having sex with multiple partners, Catholics are having sex with multiple partners - heck, even some priests are having sex with multiple partners. That doesn't mean it is right, but it is most certainly reality. For those who preach abstinence as the only way to attack HIV/AIDS, they are closing their eyes to reality.

I don't believe condoms are the answer to HIV/AIDS. I don't believe there is one answer. We must piece together many prongs of attack of which condoms is one that has proven to work in some situations. There has been tons of work with condoms in Africa and despite some serious deficiencies, the work has certainly helped people stay HIV/AIDS free. For someone with the clout of the Pope (or the President) to come out and say condoms are a sin seriously hampers the good work that is going on in Africa with condoms. The Pope has, by what he said, most certainly caused someone in Africa, this minute, to be infected with HIV - someone who might have used a condom except that the Pope told him on the radio that it was wrong.

It frustrates me to no end when I hear respected leaders spout off about what is right or wrong for people in Africa - especially when what they say is in direct opposition to the facts. It makes me even more upset when these leaders use God to gain currency for their ideas.

At the bottom of the CBC article there is space for people to comment. The highest rated comment on this article was, "Organized religion is the worst thing to happen to God." I clicked, Agree.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Life Updates

Just throwing up some pictures for all of you that like to look at little babies and like to hear how our little sweet pea is doing.

We recently put her in the Jolly Jumper to see how she'd do, and whadaya know - she liked it! In fact she loves it! You can't tell that in the picture though... I think this was her initial hesitation to something unknown...

She's also officially started teething (already!) and we sometimes jokingly and lovingly call her our little terrorist...

(Note the awesome hair flip at the top.)
(Also note her mauling the poor stuffed dog.)

She is growing like a weed (10oz still last week!) and we are occasionally mistaken for long time parents ("Oh, when does your child start kindergarten?" - that kind of thing). She plays, she poops, she cries, she makes us simultaneously pull out our hair and wish we had more kids....

This weekend Janis was over from Vancouver to see our little terrorist and charmed her into smiling for a picture.

Even better, Janis brought some rare beers over for me! I was awed.

And last but not least, the most recent un-photogenic picture of our little family.