Wednesday, November 28, 2007


It's only been 3 days and I am TIRED. Also, it is terribly warm in robes. I don't like the on-edge feeling I have all the time, and while it's fun and all, it's just so, so hard. It doesn't help that I am still fighting a cold. I delivered my opening statement with about half my normal voice and now I am hacking up a lung. But God is good and I know it's only by his grace that I even had any voice!

Okay. What else can I talk about. How about some real-time blogging of TV:

It's commercial time during America's Next Top Model. Yum, chocolate torte or something like that at Superstore (President's Choice brand.) Andrew, I think you'd really like this. It looks like pretty dense chocolate. And only around $5.99 or something.

And now, Ugly Betty commercials. I've never watched this show.

Oh, we're back to ANTM. Why is that girl's hair just like Tootie from Facts of Life? Nigel is mean. Miss Jay's afro reminds me of that Bishi Bashi stage where you have to match the beat to make the guy's hair grow. Nigel is annoying and can't take a joke. Tyra is getting really weird as the seasons go on.

I'm so sick of the "X of you stand before me... but I only have X-1 photos" and the "The first name that I'm going to call is..." JUST CALL THE NAME. No need for the ridiculous drama. Oh, Tootie made it. They're off to Beijing (currently they are in Shanghai.) Oh, the name Tyra doesn't call must leave the show. No, it's the person whose name she doesn't call. Tyra is horrible.

You shouldn't be late for go-sees. Neither should you wander around Shanghai by yourself. Apparently you also must wipe away your sarcastic attitude in order to make the judges like you. I obviously would never make it on this show... and I'm not just talking looks.

And now the hubby wants to play video games, so it's back to work for me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mexico roundup, part 1 (sans photos)

Good day everyone,

I'm sure you've been wondering where I've been. Well, to give you an idea of my week thus far, I got home around 8 on Monday and it's just been getting later every day. We're gearing up for three super busy weeks, so I don't think I'll be seeing any less of my messy office any time soon.

Anyway, Mexico! It was great. The weather was perfect - hot, but not ridiculously so. It was our first time at an all-inclusive and I think it was a great way to start. Our resort wasn't one of the huge ones we saw driving past Cancun, but the size was great. We were right by the pool and a tiny walk away from the beach. Apparently at some resorts you might walk for 20 minutes to get to dinner. That is just ridiculous. The food was pretty good, although I think cruise food is a notch above. Food was certainly plentiful. I like how on a cruise, you get to eat a "fancy" meal every night - whereas at all-inclusives, much of the time, your dinner is a buffet.

I managed to finish three books while lying around on the beach enjoying mojitos and margaritas. I read "The World According to Garp" (very... interesting), "All Over Creation" (hmm... also very interesting), and "The Good Life" (which I did not realize was a 9/11-related book.) The hubby couldn't really see the fascination in reading all day long, so he played beach volleyball, soccer, tennis, etc. I did get roped into "beach Olympic games" one day and that was a little strange, but fun. Our team lost though. Maybe because our team name was "Gimme More Tequila" (not my suggestion.)

Anyway I will try to post more when the craziness dies down. Look for me sometime before Christmas, in other words :)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Forgive and forget?

How do you forgive the unforgivable?

This is a question posed by a friend, a woman of great strength and faith in God, who spends much of her life serving others and ministering to their needs ... a woman who has recently suffered a terrible tragedy in her family, one I can't even begin to fathom, grief that would shake your faith more than ever before and would leave you wondering why God could ever allow horrible things to happen.

How does one forgive what is seemingly unforgivable? I don't know the answer. The somewhat obvious answer is that nothing is unforgivable to God. This is a truth I have known for most of my life, and yet I don't know if it is really an answer. God's mercy is beyond what anyone on earth can offer ... so it seems obvious that his ability to forgive goes beyond ours.

What does forgiveness mean?

I wish I had the answers.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

I'm giving up NaBloPoMo

...because I realized that being away in Mexico with no free internet will really hamper my posting. So anyway I'll try to keep you all entertained until we leave, and then you'll just have to ponder what I will write next.

So, I'll just answer Tree's comments about popular items in the Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. I really don't think any item was unpopular, although of course, kids aren't nearly as excited to see socks as they are to see toys. But that doesn't mean socks aren't useful! We found that kids really liked to get toys that had some sort of movement to them - like spinning tops where you pull out a plastic zipper to get them to spin, whirly-bird flyers, yo-yo's, etc. Candy was also a big hit, as you might expect. Older kids seemed to like things that were useful ... sunglasses, hats, small makeup kits for girls (although I am not wild about this...), tools for boys, stickers, hair accessories, notebooks/stationery, pens, etc. I don't think there's much you could put in a box that wouldn't be enjoyed!

Operation Christmas Child/Samaritan's Purse always faces a measure of controversy. I don't pretend to understand it all, but I suppose the short version is that they are often criticized for telling kids about the gospel and about God... many suggest that the shoeboxes come with strings attached because the children are "forced" to hear a religious message in order to get their gift. I see it differently.

OCC works through local partners. Each receiving country has a leadership team, and that leadership team works incredibly hard to mobilize local churches. Often, the pastors of those churches go door-to-door to invite children to come to the church for a rally and for a gift. Children and families are not deceived into attending the event ... they are told that it is a church-organized event. No one is forced to accept Christ. The local pastor and church usually lead worship songs, then someone will tell the Bible story. Kids are asked if they would like to accept Christ as Saviour, and if so, they are invited up for prayer. Then the boxes get handed out. A separate person will have a booklet on Jesus' gift to us available, but kids do not have to take one if they don't want to. They get a box regardless.

Anyway, I think the value of the shoebox goes beyond the gifts inside it. Samaritan's Purse often is able to get into countries with limited access through OCC, and then they are able to do some amazing work. The BioSands water filter is one excellent example. It's a slow sand filtration system which removes harmful bacteria and other water contaminants - one filter can meet an entire family's needs for their lifetime. Pretty amazing stuff. Only $100 supplies a family with the filter and health education, ensuring clean water to cook with, bathe with, etc.

The bottom line, for me, is that SP/OCC seeks to meet the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of people in developing nations. In so doing, they acknowledge that their main goal is to spread the news of Christ.... but their work isn't conditional upon people accepting Christ.

Hope that helps :)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Shoebox time!

What are you putting in your shoebox this year? Yes that's right, it's Operation Christmas Child time again! If you haven't packed your box yet, it isn't too late! Official collection week is November 5-10, 2007. You can drop off your box at any Safeway, or go here to find a location near you for dropoff.

We just did a little shoebox shopping today. I made my box for a 6-8 year old girl. Here's what I got:
  1. Plastic box (more long-lasting than cardboard)
  2. Plushie seal (cuz in Canada - we have seals. Heh.)
  3. 12 pencil crayons
  4. 6 pencils
  5. 1 pencil sharpener (hand crank kind!) (only $2!)
  6. Skipping rope
  7. Facecloth
  8. Pink pencil case with ruler/stencil
  9. 3 finger puppets (zebra, lion, bear... oh my)
  10. Wooden drum toy thing (you rub it between your hands - it makes noise)
Not bad I think. The box wouldn't hold any more stuff!

Hubby made his box for a 10-14 year old boy. He wanted to include some stuff that might help a boy who needs to work, so his box has:

  1. Plastic box
  2. Screwdriver with various bits
  3. Monkey wrench
  4. Ruler set
  5. 12 pencil crayons
  6. 6 pencils
  7. Pencil sharpener
  8. Magnifying glass (to start a fire? examine a bug?)
  9. Othello game
  10. Facecloth
  11. Tape measure (metal kind)
Maybe that'll give you some ideas for your own shoebox! We're also including a Christmas card with our picture and address, in case somehow the kids are able to write us a letter. That'd be super cool!

We really had so much fun and joy in giving away boxes last year in Chile. God has given us so much... it was awesome to be able to share some of that with children in another part of our world. As we approach the Christmas season, may God work in all of our hearts to look beyond ourselves!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Ridiculous behaviour

Yesterday I spent an unreasonable amount of time on the phone with my former cell phone company, whose name rhymes with Hell. This cell phone saga is just out of control. Although I had cancelled my services with them at the end of September by switching to another company, they decided to bill me all the way until Nov. 21 anyway. Prior to switching, I had phoned to ask if there were any cancellation charges, fees, or penalties I should be aware of, and had been told that no, all you do is get the other company to port your number over and then byebye! After I made the switch, I phoned again to ask if there would be any further charges or problems, and they said no, and byebye.

I did get a bill in which I paid up till Oct 21 (since the billing is always a month in advance), and as it isn't a huge amount, I figured it wasn't worth my time to complain.

But then I got another bill for the following month!

So I phoned and spoke to a rep who really had no idea what I was even saying. She told me that there is a 30 day notice which I must give when I am cancelling. I pointed out that two separate reps hadn't told me about this when I called, and she said, "Sorry, but they were wrong." So I asked to speak to a supervisor, and she took this to mean that she should be the go-between between the supervisor and me. Finally, she told me that the supervisor said because I wasn't on a contract, I didn't have to give the 30 day notice, so good news, I only had to pay up to the end of October. I pointed out that no, that would mean I wouldn't have to pay past September, so in fact, "Hell" owed me money, not the other way around.

She didn't get it.

She finally sent me over to the supervisor, who then backtracked and said in fact, I do have to give 30 days notice. She said I should have referred to my terms of service agreement (given to me in 2003) and when I explained that I don't have this mysterious agreement, which is why I called way back in September, she agreed that the reps back then should have told me about it. I called her on this, saying that if they were both wrong, why should I pay the price for their mistake. She said "Oh, well all of our reps are different and will say different things." (That's reassuring.) She then got kind of nasty and I actually had to say all of the following:

- Stop. Just stop talking.
- Please stop talking.
- Will you let me finish?
- Please stop talking AND LET ME FINISH.
- Excuse me, I was not finished talking.
- So you told the other rep that I didn't have to give 30 days notice, yet you are telling me I do have to.

She tried to tell me she was being generous in waiving the early contract cancellation fee. Of course, THERE IS NO SUCH FEE since I was not even on a contract. I pointed this out and she said, "Yes, so the fee has been waived." NO. That is incorrect usage of "waived".

She then tried to tell me she was being generous in waiving the Oct 22-Nov 21 bill ... and I said again, there is no 30 day notice, so that bill is really wrong to begin with.

At the end of the day, I possibly called her a dumbass (not the way to approach conflict, I know... but in the interest of full blog disclosure...) Oh, and I'm getting about $5 back from them.

It's the principle.

But I will admit that sometimes, strict adherence to "principle" just isn't worth the time and effort.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

NaBloPoMo strikes again

So I just realized that it's time for the annual NaBloPoMo event again ... the month in which bloggers (some? a few thousand?) attempt to post every single day. Once again, I didn't officially join, but once again, I will attempt to write something every day. I have my doubts about the success of this venture, but we shall see.

Speaking of things that occur every year, I got my hair cut two days ago. I don't have a picture of myself yet... nor do I really want to post one on my blog anyway ... but here is (somewhat) the look I suggested:

The stylist (thank you to Char and Jr for the salon suggestion!) said "Oh ... this style requires hair wax. Do you use hair wax?" and I almost said, "What is hair wax?" Instead, I went with the vague "Oh... not really..." and then I gave her complete control of my hair. I tend to think that's the best idea, since I know nothing about hair. I wouldn't want my clients telling me how to do my job, I suppose.

The best part is that this haircut only cost $25 (although FYI - their prices are going up to $28 starting Dec. 1). I am truly a cheapskate (considering I cut my hair once a year or even less). But not so cheap that I would cut my hair myself... although I thought about it.

It's the day after Halloween. Time to search out some half price candy!