Sunday, September 18, 2011

Busy, Busy, Dreadfully Busy

I've got a lot going on these days.  For starters, you can expect a birth announcement post in the next week or so - our sixth child is due Sep 24 and my wife is quite predictable when it comes to adhering to her due dates.

The school year has started again, which adds its own layer of complexity to our busy lives.

My insatiable lust for Star Wars and Star Trek novels has flared up again and I've consumed at least a dozen books in the last few months.

But the real project I'm devoting my time to is building some models to be used in our school's Atrium program, also known as the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.  This is a Montessori method of educating children about the truths and mysteries of our Christian faith.  I've been buzzing about in my garage all summer, putting in anywhere from five to fifteen hours a week.

This work of mine corresponds nicely with what my wife has also done in the last year, as she was attending classes with the ultimate goal of becoming an Atrium instructor at some amorphous point in the future.  So as she was learning about the Atrium lessons on a spiritual & academic level, I was learning about them on a functional level.  We both surrounded our labours with prayer and took great delight in sharing perspectives with each other!

Here are a few photos of the projects I've done so far.  You can click the photos to enlarge them.

Sheepfold - this is one of the first models the children are shown.  The grass is a soft indoor/outdoor carpet.  Figures of a shepherd and a flock of sheep are used to display how the shepherd guides the sheep into the sheepfold on the right, calling them each by name.  The same lesson is applied, using the altar on the left circle, to show how Jesus calls us all to encounter him in the Mass.

Miniature Altar with Base - note the miniature lectern in the background as well.  Using this model, the children are shown the vessels used during the Mass.

Cenacle (The Upper Room). This is the first project I did.  It has an empty space below for storing the figures of Jesus and the Apostles.  Someone else is making those.  Children are shown a re-enactment of The Last Supper using this model.

Puzzle Map of Israel at the time of Jesus - this was my first foray into the amazing flexibility of coping saws.  The pieces are cut from a pine blank, and it is backed with 1/4" plywood.  After painting each piece I protected them with clear Varathane.

Topographical Map of Israel - this is the most challenging one I've yet completed.  The heights are achieved through use of cardboard egg-carton paper mache and a few strategically placed blocks of wood.  Most of the paint was sprayed on.  The three flags represent the locations of Nazareth, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem.  Children are taught the significant locations in salvation history using this model.

Jerusalem - this model, as you can see, is still a work in progress.  It promises to be the most challenging one yet.  I enlarged a topographical map of Jerusalem and traced the various heights onto nine pieces of hardboard, then cut them out and glued them together.  Next, I'll be using Plaster of Paris to give the ground a smoother appearance (I built a small mock-up of some slopes so I could test this method, and was pleased with the result).  After the ground is complete, I'll build the city walls and major buildings.  They will be removable, so the most complicated part of this project will be building them to fit easily on the contours of the ground.  This model is used to teach children about the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus.  They are shown the key locations where Jesus was throughout Holy Week.

I'm also working on a model of Mary's home where the Annunciation occurred, but haven't taken any photos of that yet.  Still on my to-do list is the Nativity model showing where Jesus was born, and a generic house used to demonstrate the parable of the Pearl of Great Price.

This is a very rewarding experience and I'm truly relishing the opportunity to use and develop the woodworking talent the Lord has given me.  Plus, being a carpenter makes me just a little bit more like Jesus. :)

Friday, September 02, 2011


I frequently admire the wit of the famous xkcd web comics.  This one in particular really illustrates the polarization of modern society.  It reflects the difference between people whose priorities are the accumulation of pointless wealth and people whose priorities are more focused around family.  Very poignant.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011


The other day I was helping my four-year old wash her hands.  After rinsing I playfully flicked my wet fingers into her face.  She flinched, then frowned and scolded me: "Daddy, I don't like when you do that."

"Well, I like it," I said with a grin.

Confused, she replied, "Then why didn't you do it to yourself?"

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Why I Love Twitter

For work recently, I had to find some replacement parts for a customer's barbecue.  After some legwork I was able to find the required part numbers, and I assured our customer we would have them ordered and delivered to her.  It wasn't a smooth process but it all worked out... I'll let the email thread below speak for itself:


From: James
Sent: Monday, July 04, 2011 11:32 AM
Subject: Parts for Broil King Signet 20


I need to order the following parts for a Broil King Signet 20 (9865-54):

10184-E78 DOOR - TOP CAP – LEFT
10184-E79 DOOR - TOP CAP - RIGHT

What is the best way to place the order?



From: Gordon
Sent: July 13, 2011 11:51 AM
Subject: RE: Parts for Broil King Signet 20

The best way to order these parts is through us over the phone, simply call in at 1-800-265-2150 and talk to a representative in our office here. I created a file for you with the part numbers you provided, so simply reference your name and the information should come up and the rep you talk to can help you from there. I hope this helps!

Customer Service Representative

From: James
Sent: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 12:16 PM
Subject: Re: Parts for Broil King Signet 20


Thanks for getting back to me.  I tried calling but was stuck on hold longer than I cared to wait, which was what prompted me to send the email.  I also found Broil King on Twitter, and have talked to Rich through that channel.  He has taken care of the order, so you can cancel the file you set up for me.

As a customer service rep myself, I must say I’m not impressed with the phone delays Broil King is having, and am even less impressed that it took nine days for anybody to respond to my email.  Please let the powers that be know that I’m very impressed with Rich and the service he provided via Twitter though.




UPDATE: (at 3:48 PM, same day)

From: Gordon
Sent: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 1:36 PM
Subject: Re: Parts for Broil King Signet 20

I’ve just been in contact with Emilie who I understand just left you a message asking if you had given your address to either Rich or myself. Emilie is taking care of sending out your parts but doesn’t have your address to send them to. If you could either call her back or just shoot me one last email and then we can take care of everything for you. I apologize for any delay and confusion and hope to help get this resolved as soon as we can. Thanks for understanding.

From: James
Sent: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 3:19 PM
Subject: Re: Parts for Broil King Signet 20


I got Emilie’s message – yes, I had provided my address to Rich and he was going to send the parts to me.  As I said, Rich has taken care of the order, so you can cancel the file you set up for me.  I don’t want to seem rude, but didn’t you or Emilie communicate with Rich before replying to & phoning me?



From: Gordon
Sent: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 3:45 PM
Subject: Re: Parts for Broil King Signet 20


We’re sorry there was this mixup, because Rich works separately from us in the customer service department it can get somewhat convoluted exchanging information when customers contact us through our several different inlets. We’re glad that this was able to be resolved however and hope these parts work well for you! Thanks, and sorry once again!

[emphasis added]
Commentary: I appreciated the apology, but the inference within it is very unfortunate.  I refused to wait on hold for 40 minutes to reach an agent, and when I had no response to my email a day later, I decided to use Twitter to try to reach somebody.  But how am I to blame for their lack of internal communication?  Do I even need to be told that?  Businesses really underestimate the power of a simple, "We messed up and we're sorry."  Besides, I don't need to hear the root causes of your confusion - that's for your managers to know.


Update: July 20/11 - I've received the parts I ordered - twice as many as I ordered, actually, but since they sent them no charge I can't complain about that from a financial point of view (although their accountants probably can).  The real kicker is that the replacement parts all broke during transport - even the surplus ones.  That's right: the parts I ordered to replace broken ones were broken as well.  I think there's an issue with quality of the plastic used, but they were also poorly packaged, which is obviously what caused the damage.

Again though, Broil King's Twitter guy, Rich, came to my rescue.  I sent him a video showing the damage and he replied that he'd personally package a new set of parts and send them again.

It's not uncommon in the modern world to find products that break easily.  And it's not uncommon to find companies too bound up in policies to provide decent customer service.  For all the failings I encountered in Broil King's phone & email support team, I was impressed enough with their Twitter guy that I haven't lost confidence in the brand itself.  That's a valuable lesson for any company to learn - one person can make a world of difference, plus or minus, for your brand's image.  I only hope Broil King is smart enough to recognize the asset they have in Rich and that they compensate him well and start to clone him.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Transformations #40: Biking To Work

My steadfast readers will recall that I've been eating differently, starting back in November 2010.

I've stuck to it and have seen the pounds drop off - 46 lb lost, at my last weigh-in.

In addition to the new eating plan, I've recently added some exercise to my life (yes - every pound I've lost, except for the very last measurement, is due strictly to the change in my diet).  Now that summer's finally here I've also decided not to buy bus passes for the next few months, until the weather turns cool.  Instead I'll be taking my bicycle to work.  Credit goes to our local Bike To Work Day, back on June 24, to get me kick-started in this.  So far it's been great - it actually takes me less time than the bus ride takes, and I really enjoy not being bound by schedules, surrounded by smelly people, or stuck in traffic.

I'll also save the $76 monthly bus pass cost (although I do get about $11 of that back at income tax time), over what I expect will be the next three months.

Knowing that I've accomplished so much is a huge boost to my confidence too.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Ten Favourite Christian Songs: 10/10

Time to finish off this list, folks.

Again, let me reiterate that the order of these songs is irrelevant - just like my kids, I love them all the same.

So without further ado, number ten is True Believer by Hokus Pick, a now-defunct Canadian band who were based out of Vancouver.  I saw them in concert a few times, most recently around the year 1999, the year they stopped making new albums.  I wore my Hokus Pick t-shirt, with their logo crammed into a Superman S-shape.  After the concert, one of the band members looked at my shirt and commented, "Wow, that's a really old one."  I bought one of their newer shirts after the concert, and I still have it today (hanging in my closet next to the Koo Crew one).

They are roughly comparable to The Barenaked Ladies in style, but happily they don't have an offensive band name.  Their albums are heartfelt, yet vibrant and full of fun.  Some elite musicians may scorn their compositions as amateurish, but as an amateur musician myself I very much appreciate being able to pick out the chords and play along.

To hear True Believer on iTunes, click that link and play the sample (track 8).  Why not buy the whole album there and give these good Canadian boys a few cents?  There's a hidden track at the end that's easily worth $10.

The lyrics are what I appreciate most about this song:

I'm not a rock.
Do I believe it not?
For I have denied the grace I've received by name
The saints of old chickened out when the rooster crowed
Still they were forgiven without consequence or blame

I'm trying, crying, denying
I wanna be a true believer
Giving up, running out, full of doubt,
But I wanna be a true believer

Songs like this give me a great assurance that no matter how hard I fall in my faith, the faithfulness of God is more powerful than any sin I can contrive.  It's OK to be imperfect in my quest for holiness.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2011 Election, Families, and Twitter

So we've got another election happening up here in the Great White North.

I'll say this once: Canadians have to stop complaining about elections.  If you're sick of their frequency as of late (a complaint the Iranian people certainly don't have), then give the Tories a majority government for once so you can get in your four years of shut-eye.

The government spends $300,000,000 on elections, the pundits tell us, and Canadians don't want that.  Pah.  The government (no matter which party is in power) spends that much when it farts.  Get over it.  Show me a government that executes simple fiscal responsibility, such as, oh I don't know, NOT SPENDING MORE MONEY THAN IT HAS, and once that's in place then go ahead and complain about expensive things.

For all their faults, the Conservative Party is the closest we're going to get to that model of efficiency, so they've got my vote.  This is no secret to anybody who knows me or reads my blog.

One of the not-faults of the Tories is their Universal Child Care Benefit, which pays families $100 per month per child under the age of five.  That benefit was an election promise the last time we hit the polls, in contrast to the Liberal promise to establish free day care for everybody.  As a father to five young children (soon to be six) who delights in his wife's desire to stay at home with the kids, I gotta tell ya, the Tory deal is a better one for us.  Under the Liberal plan we would get nothing.  Now, ideally, no government should be giving me money just because I've had some kids.  But if I gotta choose between cash in my pocket that supports our lifestyle choice, or institutionalized child farming that condescendingly suggests the government would be better at forming our progeny, the choice is clear.  I can't for the life of me figure out why the Liberals think that a one-size-fits-all childcare solution is appropriate for Canada.

The pundits are also saying that this election will be 'the social media election.'  Not surprisingly, they're already oohing and ahhing over how wonderfully the also-ran parties are embracing it.  They do have a point there.  Part of Barack Obama's disastrous election win was due to his ability to engage young voters in an unprecedented fashion, and social media was a big part of that success.  Fortunately for the Tories, Jack Layton and Elizabeth May don't have near the charisma that fooled so many Americans into thinking Obama knew what he was doing.  But they're on the same low-charisma playing field with Prime Minister Harper and Michael Igantieff.

A 2010 analysis showed that about 2% of Canadians are active on Twitter.  I'm one of them.  From what I've seen in the #cdnpoli thread, most of that 2% are left leaning folks, which isn't surprising, since the main demographic that uses Twitter is, for the most part, too young to realize how left-leaning policies have a terrible historical track record.

Ultimately, I'm of the opinion that social media won't matter very much at all in this election.  I predict that the mainstream media and the left leaning parties will vastly overestimate the importance of social media over the next few months.  They'll burn up their ROI by spending too much time, effort, and money preaching their liberal agendas to the liberal choir, and the Tories will quietly win the race, slow and steady.

It will be fun to watch.

Monday, March 14, 2011

My Ten Favourite Christian Songs: 9/10

Something about David Mullen's music has always resonated with me.  He's a gritty, no-frills soul rocker, and his lyrics continually twist and turn in, out, through, and between complexity and simplicity.  The man is a true artist.

One of my favourite songs is Functional Faith And Clothing, from his 1991 Faded Blues album.  It's short - 88 seconds long - and so the only clip I could find online is actually a good chunk of the song.  If you find it on iTunes it's easily worth the $0.99.  Yes, the penny-to-second ratio is less than 1, so it might not seem like a good deal, but it's such an amazing & simple little song I can't see how you'd regret the decision.

Here are the lyrics:

Me and my jeans, we fit together most naturally
Me and purity, should fit together as easily.
You do what you, I don't care
When it comes to faith and clothing I need something I can wear.
I need functional faith and clothing (repeat this line a bunch of times)

The fun thing about this song is the beatbox/scat with which he opens and closes the song, in tune with his guitar picking.  Percussion is a simple djembe flitting around the guitar's rhythm.  The melody is charming yet covers a broad range, and he puts his whole heart into blasting it out.

Simply brilliant.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Transformations #39: The Tweetup

If you've noticed, on the side of my blog is my Twitter feed.  I trust you're all monitoring it ceaselessly and are enjoying the hilarity ensuing therein.


One of the things I've come to love about Twitter is how I can connect with people that I never would have connected with before.  Some may argue that a connection of 140 characters is of dubious worth, and indeed many Twitter experiences lack value.  But some do, and the ones that do, really do.  And I'm not just talking about opportunities for business growth here.  At the other end of each tweet is a real person, and many of them are very interesting.

Over the past year, I've built digital friendships with a number of other Winnipegers who are using Twitter for work, like I do.  These people are usually representing the face of their company or employer on the various social media channels, also like I do.  One of them, Matthew Shepherd, organized a tweetup for March 9.  A tweetup is basically a chance for Twitter users to meet up with each other in real life.  I wanted to go and have a chance to meet some of these interesting people face to face.

The only problem is, I'm an introvert, and being in a crowd really drains me - especially when it's all strangers.  My wife, in God's idea of irony, is a roaring extrovert.  This disparity really caused a lot of difficulty early in our relationship ("I want to go out." "I want to stay in!" and back and forth like that), although we've reached a healthier balance now.  Now when we go out together, I consider myself lucky just to be able to be out with her (having five kids will do that).  Not only do I enjoy her company more than I ever have, but she grounds me when an environment is outside of my comfort zone.  She is my rock.

So here's the transforming moment: I went out to a venue I've never been to before (Tavern United), I didn't know a soul there, and my sole source of social strength - my wife - wasn't with me.  Talk about taking the forceps to one's comfort zone.

Only twice before in my life have I voluntarily and without a driving reason put myself in a completely foreign situation like that.  The first was when I toured with The Challenge Team in the late 1990's, and the second was when I joined Toastmasters.  Both of those choices have resulted in amazing life experiences for me, and so I'm confident that good things will come out of this tweetup and the ones to come in the future.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Ten Favourite Christian Songs: 8/10

I can't list my favourite Christian artists without including at least one who has, like myself, migrated to Rome.  John Michael Talbot's biography does more justice in and of itself than I can in a summary, and you should read it - it's well written.

As with most of my music, the one album of his I have dates from the mid-1990s.  I remember when I bought it.  I was living in Ottawa at the time, and still not yet formally received into the Church, although I had begun the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults.  I wanted to add something Catholic to my music collection, so I found a Christian book & music store and asked them if they had anything like monastic chanting.  The closest they had, the lady explained, was this monk who plays guitar.  I took a chance and bought the CD.  It was "Troubadour For The Lord."

Many songs on this compilation resonate with me, but his rendition of Psalm 131 stands out as unique for its pure simplicity.  There is no harmony and sparse accompaniment; a chorus of male voices repeats the same melody (lifted from true monastic life, I've no doubt) throughout the short psalm.  Considering the lyrics, the simplistic approach is perfect for the arrangement:

Unless you acquire the heart of a child
You cannot enter the kingdom of God
O Lord my heart is not proud
Nor haughty my hands
I have not gone after things too big
Nor marvels beyond me
Truly I have set my soul in silence and peace
As a child has rest in its mother arms
Even so my soul
O Israel hope in the Lord
Both now and forever
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever, amen.

To listen to a sample of this song, click the Troubadour link above.  It's track #16 and you can hear 30 seconds of it there.

"I Know One!"

My boss shared something with me the other day that made me both proud (in a humble way) and ashamed (in a collective way) to be Catholic.

As a learned Christian man, he does some part-time teaching at a local Protestant Bible college.  He told me that one of the classroom discussions led itself into a discussion of the Catholic Church, and one young lady commented how Catholics are all lost and have no personal love for Jesus.  He challenged her on that statement, asking the class if any of them knew Catholics who didn't fit that description.  A lot of blank stares were passed around the room, until another young lady, by chance my boss' niece and also a coworker of mine, said, "I know one."

"Who are you thinking of?" he asked her.

"James," she replied.

"I was thinking of him too," he said.  He told them a bit about my conversion story and how my living faith is evident in my life.  He then warned the group that it's not fair to characterize one group of people by the actions of any of them, and a whole different discussion morphed out of that.

I was taken aback by this when he shared it with me.  Little old me arising as a sign of contradiction, in contrast to the way Protestants perceive Catholics!  I know these misconceptions well; I held them dearly once myself.

Indeed, I can identify with the words of G.K. Chesterton, another convert, who wrote, "When a man really sees the Church, even if he dislikes what he sees, he does not see what he had expected to dislike. Even if he wants to slay it he is no longer able to slander it.... There drops from him the holy armor of his invincible ignorance; he can never be so stupid again."  Once I learned what I learned, I couldn't unlearn it, and for better or for worse I had to keep going.

Anyway, as my boss shared this tale with me, I struggled with a surge of pride, as would only be natural to any man in such a situation.  But as I pondered it more and more, my pride slowly migrated toward shame.  I'm not an amazing Catholic, really.  Just a normal one.  I still sin, I'm not always filled with sublime joy when approaching the Mass, and I get angry at my kids.  So instead of me standing out because I'm awesome, instead I stood out because the rest of the Catholics these young Christians know are so... unchristian.  They don't seem any different than the pot smoking neighbours, or the cursing motorist, or the irate customer.  In many cases, these people are Catholic, and the backdrop to many a middle finger is a rosary dangling from a rear-view mirror.  That's what other Christians know as Catholicism.

Now, I know many Catholics who live a spirit-filled, vibrant faith.  Their love for Jesus can't be denied.  Most of them accept the hidden glories - the poopy diapers, the late night shifts in the adoration chapel, the echos of prayers whispered in quiet prayer corners.  These indeed are praiseworthy, and more Catholics would do well to follow these examples of selfless love.

But my heart cries out for my estranged Protestant brethren, and I long to see them witness the same Truth which was revealed to me.  I suggest that every authentic Catholic should make at least one Protestant friend, and be willing to engage him or her in a frank discussion on the issues that separate them.

Maybe then my coworker won't be the only person in that classroom of young Protestants who can say, "I know one!"

Friday, February 11, 2011

Big Dipper Science Project

For her grade five science project, my daughter decided to take a look at the Big Dipper from a different angle.  I had been discussing with my kids how constellations only look like they do for us because of where the various stars are in relation to Earth.  To help them understand, I had put three beads on threads and hung them from the kitchen ceiling.  I arranged them so that from one angle you saw them in a straight line, and from another angle they formed an equilateral triangle.

That little teaching moment blossomed into this science project.  We discovered that the seven stars in the Big Dipper range from 78 to 124 light years distant from Earth.  Through trial and error, we scaled that down to 0.8 cm per light year, and came up with this model.  Shown here are the 'front' view, from Earth, and the view from the 'right side.' If you were plotting a course on the USS Enterprise, that would be bearing 45, mark 0, at warp factor nine for about 34 days - a distance of around 140 light years (we didn't put the Star Trek trivia in the project though).

This was a fun and educational project, both for me and for my daughter.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pale Blue Dot

I stumbled across this image the other day on a blog called "a simple prop."

It's a photograph of the planet Earth, snapped by the Voyager in 1980 on its way out of our solar system (still within a razor's edge, astronomically speaking). Astronomer Carl Sagan famously commented on the ramifications of the perspective this photo brings:

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

I've pondered the significance of our place in the cosmos many times; I even found a prior blog post on the subject.  It's entirely true that the scale of our planet to the others in our solar system, and that of our massive sun to the majority of its stellar neighbours, is minuscule.  It's also true that the distances between stellar systems make even the superlative sizes of Betelgeuse and Antares seem like specks.

But I take issue with Sagan's belief that humanity has no privileged place in the universe. I don't consider the vastness around us to be a sign that the odds are against God reaching out and encountering us.  I rather consider his revelation to be all the more miraculous.  Looking at the minute nature of our world compared to the rest of the universe can spawn one of two reactions: we are either very fortunate (i.e.fate thrust upon us with no guiding force) to have had our primordial ancestral soup be in the right place at the right time, or we are very blessed (i.e. a benevolent, involved creator immeasurably beyond our comprehension) to have had our primordial ancestral soup be in the right place at the right time.

I can't imagine going through life thinking that life itself is a giant series of coincidences, like the final destination of a Plinko disc.  Far better to grasp the extended hand of God and embrace the infinite mystery of his love.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My Ten Favourite Christian Songs: 7/10

This Christian musician is probably the most obscure of my favourites, even taking into account my affinity for Rick Cua.  He is also the most recent addition to my list of favourites.

He is Mark Mallett, a small-town boy who grew up to marry and have eight kids (so far).  I was first introduced to his music when I sang with the worship team at St. Mary's Church when we lived in Ottawa about ten years ago - our worship leader had attended John Paul II Bible School with Mark in Radway, Alberta.  Just a few years ago, I met him in person at a small Christian music festival called "Rock The Grott" in St. Malo, Manitoba.  I purchased some albums and a songbook, and was drawn to his prayerful worship style.

One of my favourite songs is Let The Lord Know (follow the link to listen to a snippet of the song).  It's got a catchy tune, and the lyrics are based around the seven sacraments in the Catholic Church, which I thought was very clever.  If you like it, you can purchase it from Mark Mallett's website.

I'd highly recommend it, if for no other reason than he's a professional Catholic musician from Saskatchewan.  His wife told a joke at Rock The Grott: What's the difference between an professional Catholic musician and two extra large pizzas?  Two extra large pizzas can feed a family of ten.