Dear GMail…

I would like a few things.

  • Move the “Create a New Filter” link to toward the top of the page. I end up with a lot of filters and I don’t really want to scroll down all the way to the bottom just to make a new one. Or put a link at the top and the bottom. There’s no reason it can’t be in both places at once.
  • Under the “Reply” pull-down box, place a link to make a filter from that sender. This is a lot easer than, say, copying the email address, going to filters, making a new filter, pasting the email address, etc.
  • For Google Apps, could we perhaps get a “Global Filter” type page or something to mass-manage email? There are quite a few message types I would prefer no-one receive, and I don’t have time to modify each account.


RCA to VGA converter.

I want to plug a DVD player directly into a monitor. Anyone have any experience with this sort of thing, any product recommendations?


Bryan asks an interesting set of questions.

1. What time do you usually leave for lunch?

Anywhere from 1130 to 1230 depending on what’s happening at work. The odd time I skip the whole dog and pony show altogether, but most days I take it.

2. How long do you usually take for lunch?

I get a half hour as mandated by Ontario law, and that’s it. Most days I’m under that. Rarely, I go over by a few minutes.

3. Ever eat lunch at home?

I suppose I could, as I live 10 minutes from home, but I dislike driving enough already thankyouverymuch.

4. What are your favorite places to eat out for Work Lunch?

Wendy’s or The Country Kitchen (part of Highland Farms). I don’t do that as often these days.

5. How often do you bring food in from home?

Almost every day. We always have something around here, even if it’s just a sandwich with lettuce, ham, provalone, horseradish mayonnaise, mustard, and pepper.

6. Are you a lone ranger or a community eater?

I don’t like eating with people. I’m solitary. Groups of larger than two — especially people I don’t know — make me long for solitude.

7. How often does your company pay for your lunch?

Never in a blue moon would my company pay for lunch. Well, there was that one time with the pizza.

8. What is your favourite lunch meal of all time?

Left-over pasta that I made. Especially angel hair noodles with a really nice sauce. The ground beef, Spanish onions, green onions, green pepper, red pepper, garlic, and diced Roma tomatoes kind. Kills me.

Things I think about whilst doing dishes… part the second.

  • Here we go again!
  • One of the great tragedies of the modern church is that we’ve for the most part lost the language of covenant. We still have some of the ideas. But there’s hope. Imagine, if you will, the power of context and the power of covenant wedded to each other; perhaps this is an unholy union of the ancient and the post-modern, but which covenant doesn’t have context? The church and God in the context of his schema of salvation; the covenant of marriage in the context of God and the church’s covenant; these are powerful concepts.
  • Share the Well is — and I hate to say this, as much as love Long Line of Leavers — probably the best Caedmon’s Call album ever. So many years and I still love CC. It’s true. I’ve listened to them longer than I’ve been a Christian.
  • I’ve heard it said that if God seems distant it’s probably because you’ve drawn away; the implicit assumption is, of course, that God is static and that he always wants to be close. In light of scripture, does this seem true? Are there not many people in scripture who were desperate to draw close to God only to find him still distant? I think when we talk about God we need to remember that he’s also a person, or a Person if you will, who has thoughts higher than ours and a plan greater than we can understand. God’s not static. He moves, we move, it’s the grand danse (as you may have heard said). If God seems distant and you don’t understand why — if you want to draw near and nothing happens — all you can say is that there is a reason. It’s almost blase in its simplicity. But there is a reason. Sometimes you don’t get to understand, sometimes you do, but there’s always a reason.
  • It’s hard to synthesise the appalling poverty most of the world labours in and the almost limitless prosperity we enjoy. The question is, of course, at what point does prosperity become a curse? This very blog begs ask that question: I have enough money to buy a computer and enough free time to contribute this ocean of dross that is the internet. How much time do I spend feeding the hungry and how much time do I spend feeding my own various hungers? How much should I?
  • Candace is getting baptised on Saturday, which is totally awesome. Baptisms are amazing things, no matter which side of the spectrum you fall on. It’s a powerful symbol no matter how you look on it. I’m a paedobatist by preference, but anyone who fulfils God’s command to baptise is terrific in my books. I have a special bit of confusion for “Reformed Baptist” (decide which side you’re on, you freaks!) who seem to have forgotten that Reformed theology leads inexorably to the baptism of children, but hey, it’s all good.
  • It seems to me that a little introspection and self-knowledge is a good thing, but a leads to confusion. Maybe it’s because people function on a sort of quantum level: You measure yourself enough and you change. Then you have to start over again and it becomes a full-time occupation. And not a fun one.
  • Beer is proof that God loves us; dentist are proof he can change his mind.
  • I’m less three teeth, by the way.
  • You ever have it where you say, “It can’t get any better than this?” and then it does? Yeah. I got that. It’s called marriage. I’m an incurable optimist, it’s true.
  • This is probably the best thing I have in my feeds.
  • It seems every nation has its legacy to overcome. US, India, China, all the big ones.

Things I think about whilst doing dishes…

  • Sometimes when Laura leaves the house to go out and do whatever, I do dishes and listen to post-rock. You know, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Explosions in the Sky, Mono, Red Sparrowes, that sort of thing. Right now I’m listening to This is Your Captain Speaking. It’s good stuff! If you’ve ever listened to post-rock, you’ll know how hard it is to come across truly interesting material, even by those veterans of the genre such as (and especially) Mogwai. TIYCS seems interested in being interesting. That’s good.
  • I don’t like megachurches. I mean, I can see where they fit into the ecosystem of Christianity — if it can be called an ecosystem as opposed to a burgeoning, idiotic choas — but I don’t like them. I don’t think I ever will. It’s not simply that they’re generally white, suburban, middle-class and almost always utterly devoted to not offending anyone. It’s that they’re not distributed enough. They’re too centralised. Thus, one pastor boffs his secretary, the whole thing goes under, and your sanctuary gets converted into indoor soccer field. I’m pretty sure churches should be small, efficient, face-to-face, involved, local, community-based, and active. But mostly small. Enough that you can’t hide in the crowds. But also enough that if something goes wrong, and entire faith community isn’t left floundering in the shallows.
  • Let me ask you this: Why do you dislike Thomas Kinkade’s art? Is it because his art is bad? I bet it isn’t. I bet you don’t know good art from bad art even if such things exist. What you probably mean to say, instead of, “I dislike Thoman Kinkade’s art,” is, “I dislike Thomas Kinkade“. That would probably be more accurate. You don’t like his commercialising of his art (but when was art ever not commercial?), you dislike his subject matter (though his paintings are quite nice to look at), and you especially dislike the types of people who buy his prints (you think they’re generally the unwashed white trash living in trailer parks somewhere, their floor and ceilings and furniture covered in linoleum). You don’t want to be one of them, because that wouldn’t be… something. Wouldn’t be cool, wouldn’t be acceptable to your peers, wouldn’t truly speak to your sensibilities and your good taste. Maybe what you should say instead is, “It’s not kosher to like Thomas Kinkade… so I don’t like him.” Because at least then you’d be a bit more honest. In the meantime, look at some of his paintings. They’re quite nice.
  • This may be some indie music heresy, but you know what’s wrong with My Bloody Valentine? They’re completely and mind-numbingly boring. Sure, they came up with sounds no-one had ever heard a guitar make before, but none of those sounds is interesting.
  • I hate modern classical music. I really do. Things started going off the rails in the early 1900s and haven’t gotten back on since. Once I thought, “Why have people accepted abstract art, but not abstract music?” The answer is, of course, that a bunch of different colours splashed on a canvas a la Pollock can be extraordinarily — if unintentionally — beautiful. It doesn’t hurt me to look at. Notes seemingly scribbled on a page at random, however, has the capability to make me — and from the look of it lots of people — wince. (I am abusing my dashes; I know.) Harmony and melody aren’t old social conventions meant to stifle the artists. They are a common framework in which we as Westerners operate. It may indeed be that this only a custom, but that doesn’t matter: It’s ingrained and there’s no point in the composer trying to wiggle it loose. You are literally hurting me with your atonal disasters, your craptastic 12-tone form, and your alternative rhythmic nightmare. Go write some music someone wants to listen to; see if there is perhaps something of value to be found in those old forms everyone seems to have abandoned without a reasonable alternatives. Rediscover, for heaven’s sake, the power of beautiful music. Don’t make it your mission to question what beauty is. It just is.
  • My, there are far too many dishes here.


    I really wanted to get this down on the hard drive… and I didn’t realise how bad the piano recording was until I had got to singing. So i just gave up and didn’t bother correcting any of the (obvious) flaws in the levels. It isn’t pretty, I tell you.

    Scatterbrain – Ogg Vorbis
    Scatterbrain – MP3

    Everything I record these days seems to have a ringing noise at the high end… anyone have any ideas how to fix this problem?

    It’s like everyone’s getting married…

    I feel old these days, with people I used to know and people I still know getting engaged and married. We’re all growing up and it’s happy and sad at the same time.

    This is the best life I can possibly imagine for myself. Married to a woman who (it’s true, I didn’t make it up) loves me and who I love back. Living in a pretty nice apartment in a bit of a rough neighbourhood with access to all the amenities we want. Need a coffee? Walk over and get one. Need some groceries? Five minutes down the road. Want to rent a video? Basically across the street. Want to buy Chinese rice and fish heads? Asian supermarket around the corner. Want cheap (in every meaning of the word) furniture? Ten minutes away, an Ikea. You get the picture.

    I mean, I can imagine living in a swankier place, owning a house with a backyard and all that jazz, but I don’t think it would make me any happier. It might be the icing on the cake. But right now I have everything I need and more than I ever thought I could have.

    That’s good. I don’t miss my subterranean existence in that miserable hovel of an apartment I used to have. I don’t miss being precariously poised on the edge of infatuation and incandescent disaster. I don’t miss the restlessness of wanting something or someone and being constantly outside looking in. I don’t miss much. Maybe, sometimes, I miss the way there were only two bus stops between me and work, but that’s it.

    It was never the best of times. It was almost always the worst.

    Yet there’s still something about being young. Or younger. I’m pushing 30 here. I don’t feel it at all and I wonder if anyone ever really does. At 20, 30 seemed so very far away. Now, at 27, it feel right around the corner. There was a time when I counted hours in a day. Now I count days in a week. Soon, I suspect, I’ll be counting weeks, and then years.

    I miss being a romantic. Not the action of being romantic, not the things I do to make Laura feel loved, but actually being a romantic. I think it was being on the other side of dreams coming true that made me feel as if it must, must happen. As if getting there was the reason behind so many thing. Now that my dreams have come true — in ways different than I could have imagined — I can’t help but notice all those people whose dreams, whatever they are, have not and may never will.

    You may always find yourself chasing a dream and never getting anywhere, feeling like you were destined for something bigger than yourself and falling short of your expectations. Or you will fall in and out of love like a person breaking the surface of an ocean and going under again and again. You may never get there. Maybe you will find it and it will leave you.

    I’m not a romantic anymore. Oh, I fall for a good love story like anyone else — Endless Love was almost too good to be spoiled by its awful ending, for instance — but I’m not enamoured of the concept that life works out all the time. Maybe that’s because mine seems to be, so far, despite me. I don’t know. God works in mysterious ways, as the song goes, and despite what you may think about God, I’m pretty sure some of those mysterious ways are to teach concrete lessons. Sometimes people get what they don’t deserve, and sometimes they do. Either way.

    Tonight I can’t sleep. I think it has something to do with the coffee I had three hours ago. I know, drinking coffee before bed, not a good thing. I used to be able to do that.

    To all you people I used to know: Congratulations. At least five or six of you got married. This is good. And to those that I still know: Double congratulations. You’re great people. I hope very much you remain happy.

    Books and Lists.

    I have shamelessly stolen this list from Kari. She writes:

    I am not exactly sure what this list is, but it has something to do with the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read program, though I couldn’t find this list on their website to verify that claim. I stole it from CJ. Apparently the NEA estimates that the average adult has only read six of these books. At least, that is the statistic that is bandied about the internet. So, basically, this is a random unverified list with a random unverified statistic attached to it. But let’s see how I do anyway, shall we? (Hint: more than six.)

    Here’s how it works:

    1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
    2) Italicize those you intend to read.
    3) Mark in red the books you LOVE. (Not going to do this!)
    4) Reprint this list in your blog

    Oh, yeah, I am not so much for making things red. So we are ignoring that rule. But feel free to use it if you’d like.

    1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen – Yes. If it’s Austen, I’ve read it.
    2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien – What a lot of tough slogging. The films were so much better withouth Tolkien’s ridiculously overwrought descriptions of everything.
    3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte – Didn’t like it. Very boring stuff.
    4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling – Everything so far!
    5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee – Yep. Read it at the cottage last fall because I had absolutely nothing else to read. It was good, I guess.
    6. The Bible – Did one of those read-the-bible-in-a-year things. Some of it is awesome, some is dreadfully skull-poundingly boring.
    7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte – This Bronte person, I do not like her.
    8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell Yes! What an awesome, terrible book.
    9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman – I own the entire series. They start off well and end badly, like most explicitly atheistic tracts.
    10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens – They sure did love their meandering sentences back then.
    11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott – Of course! And Little Men, and Jo’s Boys, and whatever else she wrote.
    12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy – I remember reading it, don’t remember much about it.
    13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller – Heard of it, never read it.
    14. Complete Works of Shakespeare – I own it, but I’ve only really browsed the highlights, and of course the sonnets. Ole Shake sure rocked the iamb good and proper.
    15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier – No idea what this is.
    16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien – Much better in tone, much more light-hearted than LotR.
    17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks – No.
    18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger – Laura has a desperate attachment to this book. Read King Dork for more details on how annoying that can be. But of course I’ve read it too.
    19. The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger – This book is fabulous but suffers at the end.
    20. Middlemarch – George Eliot – Sounds… dreary.
    21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell – No. I watched the film and that turned me off enough thankyouverymuch.
    22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald – No real book reader can skip this. It’s impossible. F. Scott is like a force of nature.
    23. Bleak House – Charles Dickens – I am unhappy with the Dickens I have read and wonder if people had a lot more time on their hands back then.
    24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy – I can only remember thinking that the outline for this book must have itself been thirty or forty pages long.
    25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams – Odd that it makes this list.
    26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh – What a horrible load of tripe.
    27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky – I picked it up once. That was enough.
    28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck – I liked this book.
    29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll – Through The Looking-Glass was better.
    30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame – Marvellous, wonderful book. Should be given to every child everywhere so they can grow up and catch the themes later.
    31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy – Tolstoy has stolen enough of my life. No more.
    32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens – They made me read this one.
    33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis – Of course. C.S. Lewis understood more about writing books for children than Pullman ever will. Narnia is inhabited with the sort of wide-eyed wonder that children exhibit. HDM was, instead, dreary and oppressive.
    34. Emma – Jane Austen – Delicious.
    35. Persuasion – Jane Austen – Not her best effort.
    36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis – Because, you know, it’s not part of the Chronicles.
    37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini – An awfully boring book. I can’t imagine the sort of people that read this and actually enjoy it and want more. Sickos.
    38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres – No. Think I’ve heard of it.
    39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden – Maybe someday if I run out of back issues of National Geographic and word-of-the-day toilet paper.
    40. Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne – Love these.
    41. Animal Farm – George Orwell – Somebody doesn’t like communists. Good show!
    42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown – I read the first seven or ten pages of a DB novel once. I strive not to repeat those sorts of awful misadventures.
    43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Meh.
    44. A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving – LOVE this book. Irving’s a bit of a perv, though.
    45. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins – No.
    46. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery – Sadly, I was reading these when I was thirteen. As the series went on, either the books got rather blase or I was growing too old for them. I prefer to think the latter.
    47. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy – No. I have read some Thomas Hardy, but this was not one of his most daring and original works, from what I hear.
    48. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood – Margaret Atwook makes me alternately crazy and appreciative. Mostly crazy. I am ambivalent about this book.
    49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding – READ THIS BOOK KARI.
    50. Atonement – Ian McEwan – Between this and The Cement Garden I begin to see a theme in this man’s novels. Perhaps a classier, gentrified Irving?
    51. Life of Pi – Yann Martel – I came away from this book thinking, what have I just read? Of course, that’s often a favourable thing in my books.
    52. Dune – Frank Herbert – After Dune it all goes down-hill. There should be no sequels or prequels to this novel. Anything else spoils it.
    53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons – Never heard of it.
    54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen – Duh.
    55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth – Sounds a bit dirty.
    56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon – Sounds foreign and loquacious and moreover quite boring.
    57. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens – Could not finish this. Fine beginning sentences, though.
    58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley – I love Huxley, and I want him to have my genetically-altered soma-sipping children.
    59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon – Laura and I both owned this book when we got married. Not sure why it’s on this list.
    60. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez – I hate, hate, hate this book so much more than any other book I have ever read.
    61. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck – Just this year!
    62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov – Strange book. Not what you think from the title.
    63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt – Never heard of it.
    64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold – This is a crap book I’ve heard.
    65. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas – This book is so frickin’ long… he was being paid by the word for a serial publication, so naturally he stretched everything out. I read it after I saw the film. The film was marginally better.
    66. On The Road – Jack Kerouac – I love the style, hate the content. It’s this rumbling, rushing, busy prose with no plot or anything else of interest.
    67. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy – Oh yeah. Good book.
    68. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding – WTF
    69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie – I read the other one he got in so much trouble for.
    70. oby Dick – Herman Melville – I was forced to read this. I did not do it voluntarily, let me tell you.
    71. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens – Nor will I.
    72. Dracula – Bram Stoker – Good book.
    73. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett – Another great book.
    74. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson – No.
    75. Ulysses – James Joyce – I’m not sure I’ll ever get around to this.
    76. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath – Yes. Such a good book.
    77. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome – Surprised to see this here! All these books about sailing made me want to own a boat when I was kid. If not duffers… won’t drown!
    78. Germinal – Emile Zola – What is this?
    79. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray – No.
    80. Possession – AS Byatt – Don’t remember what it was about.
    81. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens – No.
    82. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell – No.
    83. The Color Purple – Alice Walker – Maybe. Sounds familiar.
    84. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro – And I suffered through the film! I’m practically a martyr for this story.
    85. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert – It has such a charming name.
    86. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry – No.
    87. Charlotte’s Web – EB White – Hells yeah!
    88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom – WFTH?
    89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Every single one, cover to cover.
    90. The Faraway Tree Collection – What?
    91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad – Yeah. Good, not great.
    92. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery – No.
    93. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks – Such a creepy, weird, off-kilter book. Loved it! Read this, if you ever have a chance. Unless you’re squeamish.
    94. Watership Down – Richard Adams – I hate rabbits because of this book.
    95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole – Dunces by Toole? Nice. But no.
    96. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute – No.
    97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
    98. – Yeah. This guy needs a good editor, seriously.

    99. Hamlet – William Shakespeare – I haven’t read much Shakespeare, I confess / But this play is one of the few I’ve read.
    100. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl – Dahl’s a genius. FYI.
    101. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo – No WAY am I ever going to read this.