Tuesday, August 17, 2010


My title is the self-same title of David Warren's recent column, in which he quips:

In general, I favour capital punishment for people who put marks in books. They'd be easy to catch, for almost all put their marks on only the first few pages. The effort of defacement seems itself to exhaust them, so that they seldom make it to the end of a long preface.

I've recently been immersed in a shallow vice: Star Wars novels.  There are at least 275 of them, and I've maybe worked my way through twelve so far.  It's a daunting task.

I had to laugh when in one of these tomes I encountered frequent use of a highlighter on some of the more profound thoughts.  "Evil is as evil does" is but one example.

I know that truth is truth, no matter where it's found.  But the poor chap who found inspiration in a Star Wars novel must really crack open a Chesterton essay or some C. S. Lewis; there is much deeper thought contained in their works - even in their fiction.

Transformations #33

Yesterday during supper I put on a bit of a show for my kids.  We've been watching a lot of Jerry Lewis films as a family lately, and one of Lewis' shticks revolves around having difficulty eating.  So I hammed it up a bit, demonstrating difficulty getting one particular piece of roasted zucchini into my mouth.

Even little Benny, at 18 months, found it hilarious and was positively enthralled - just check out the look on his face.  On many levels I don't fully comprehend just how much my kids look up to me.  Although it started out as an attempt at being funny for my family, this turned into an eye-opener for me.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Transformations #32

I did it!  The project that I've had in my head for the past seven years is finally done.

It's a drawer for the computer desk I made seven years ago.  It doesn't slide too well but I think once the nuts grind against the wood long enough to carve grooves for themselves after repeated openings and closings, it will be much better.

Yes, yes, I know, it's far from perfect and I could get one that slides like butter off a bald monkey at any store, but there's a certain satisfaction that comes from having made something with my own two hands.

Monday, August 09, 2010


I live in Winnipeg.  The speed limit on most Winnipeg streets is 60 km/h.

I grew up and learned to drive in Estevan, SK.  In this sleepy little town, the speed limit is 50 km/h.

While in Estevan on vacation two weeks ago, it took me about half a day of driving around to get accustomed to the slower speed.  At first I felt impatient; like I was dragging a slab of granite behind me.  In the "big city," you see, everybody is always in hurry.  We have places to go, and a long way to go to get to them.  It can take an hour to drive from one end to the other; longer if you take the "shortcut" of the Perimeter Highway. 

In Estevan, by contrast, if it took you 7 minutes to cross town, you knew traffic was thick.  Either that, or a freight train had bisected the city again, causing commerce and community to halt until the anonymous cargo was clear.

That 10 km/h makes you feel like you're going a lot faster.  But try driving at just 10 km/h and see how fast that is.  Or better yet, try driving 50 when everybody around you is doing 60 and see how many times you catch up to them at the next red light.

Once I became re-adjusted to the slower pace, the town felt like home again.  Now that I'm back in Winnipeg and can go 60 though, it feels so unnatural.  I feel like I'm being pushed everywhere I go when I'm in traffic flowing at the higher speed.

Looking back on my visit there, I recall feeling unanchored and lost at first (metaphorically, that is - my taxi-driving days there burned the layout of the town into my brain).  My family has all moved on, and there are only a few friends left there whom I had time to visit.  But once the slower pace kicked in and I gave myself permission to take my time, at that moment I felt my vacation peak - and I reached maximum relaxation.  It was nice.

Being back at work now and seeing the hectic and frenetic pace that our sales staff, operations crews, and customers operate at is tough.  Why can't we all just slow down and savour the world around us?  Why does everything have to be done yesterday?  Everybody, take a deep breath; chill out!

In a few moments I'll be leaving my house for my weekly time in our church's perpetual adoration chapel.  I think I'll do 50 on the way there.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Transformations #31

This morning I somehow cobbled together enough self-discipline to drag myself out of bed early and do my first ever bout of burst training.  It's a long road ahead, I can tell you that for sure, but at least I've put a foot on it.

Feels good.

Monday, August 02, 2010

This Post Might Not Be Worth Reading, But...

Did you catch the title to this post?  What expectations did it set in your mind?  What are you expecting after reading it that you weren't expecting before?

While driving out west with my family for our recent vacation, we stopped at McDonald's in Brandon, MB.  This is one of the must-stop places for us, as it has a great Playland.  It's far enough away from Winnipeg (2 hours) that our kids can use a stretch once we've hit it.  The only downer is the food.

I went to place our order, and the girl behind the counter was clearly new.  Her uncertain stance and the way she kept glancing over her shoulder at her coworkers and supervisor gave it away before she even spoke.  Her first words to me were not, "Welcome to McDonalds!  What can I get for you?"  Instead, she started off by blushing slightly and saying, "Let me just say that I'm new so if I screw up your order I apologize in advance."

Now, I've been there.  Even recently.  The owners of the company where I work have pointed it out to me on several occasions when I've done pretty much the same thing: opening an interaction by, essentially, asking for permission to fail.  I'm becoming more and more aware of my tendency to do this, which is why it snagged my attention when this girl did it.  I stopped her before she could say any more.  "That's no way to begin," I chided her.  "You're going to do just fine.  Trust me."

She muddled her way through our order, needing help a number of times, and she made a few mistakes which I caught and patiently corrected.  When the food was ready, I offered her a final word of encouragement:  "Hang in there.  In a week or two this will all be second nature.  Trust me."

It would have been easy to get frustrated with her and to beat her down.  But that just wouldn't be Christ-like, nor would it embody the spirit of Friendly Manitoba.