Where you can read the relatively rational ramblings of a silly half-monkey, half-boy. This freak of nature is named Joel. He also responds to the name 'Bart Wang'.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cleaning out the inbox

I often send myself articles or links so I can read them again or forward them to other people. I had three sitting in my 'inbox' for a long time so I am now sharing them with you. Not that you check here anymore. It's been about three years since my last post, I think. When you do check, you'll be rewarded. Onward!

Making Movies To Change The World
A great article about some documentaries that were released last year. As you probably are aware, I love documentaries. I revel in real life stories. I want to learn about real people and how things in this world are affecting them so I can try to change the way I live in a helpful way.

I just watched Black Gold last night and it made me angry to learn how poorly Ethiopian (and, undoubtedly, all other) coffee farmers are treated. If you don't buy fair trade coffee (and as many other products as you can find), you should. Watch the trailer, get the film (I'll lend it to you) and calculate how much of the money you paid for that $6 mocha espresso lattechino goes to the farmers who actually grew the beans (it's in UK pounds). Interesting facts from the film... 1) It takes about four years for a coffee plant to grow usable beans. That's a freaking long time! 2) Coffee is the second largest commodity traded next to oil. The NY Stock Exchange sets the price, not the farmers.

Last Wish: Feed The Homeless
It's kids like this that give me hope for the next generation. They also challenge me because I'm way older and I have no apparent health issues to hold me back but I still manage to be way more selfish. He cuts through the complexity we've created and gets to the heart - people are hungry so let's give them food. Wow. If this doesn't make you tear up or feel motivated to go help someone, you've got no soul. I encourage you to make sure you have a soul.

Now Screening: A Sermon
The Hamilton Spectator came to the new theatre that our east Hamilton site of The Meeting House moved to from my old high school, Saltfleet. It was fun to see my graduation picture and those of my friends up on the cafeteria wall every week. This theatre is pretty sweet, though. In the picture, you can see my friends Matt (the pastor) and Len (the realtor) on the left caught in the same pose.

If you don't check PostSecret on a weekly basis, you're missing out on some interesting people-watching. Or, I guess, secret-watching.

I've had a good and relatively productive week off. I start my new position next week and am very excited about it. I got to workout a few times with Taxman and Chad, went out for breakfast four times with different people (Melanie, Jordan & Jesse, Justin and all of my former team), worked at Sophia House twice, bought a new fridge, renewed my license plates, watched a couple Lost In Space episodes (including possibly the worst television episode ever produced called 'Flight Into The Future'), cleaned out the fridge and did some general tidying around the house. Oh yeah, we also donated blood. You should donate blood. Blood. It's in you to give.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

We do! We do! We do!

Hello friends. It's almost the holiday season! Well, if you ask me, it's been here for a while. I started listening to Christmas music a couple weeks ago. In the last two years, there have been some great holiday tunes put out there.
This year, it's my favourite songstress, Rosie Thomas. This album (available only online at this point, as far as I know) is spectacular. The track, 'Why Can't It Be Christmastime All Year?', is probably my favourite fun song. Her re-arrangements of 'Silent Night' and 'O Come, O Come Emmanuel' are incredibly moving and display her skills well. The other one I like an awful lot is 'Christmas Don't Be Late', which you will know as a classic silly Chipmunks song. With Rosie, it's a ballad that grows and grows into a choral of hope. You can hear the whole album for free online here! My family is heading to Pontiac, Michigan to see her on her Christmas tour on December 6th. My sister is a big fan and has never seen her so it'll be fan-holiday-tastic!

Happy birthday last week to my boy, Bill Power!

A couple weekends ago, Melanie and I went to Amherst, New York (just outside of Buffalo) for our fourth anniversary/Christmas shopping. A good time was had by both. Not too much shopping was done, though much time was spent in the mall. I thought we had more to buy but, evidently, we didn't. That worked out well since the Canadian dollar has not been doing too well. I think we have everything purchased that we need now. Woo hoo! Simplifying is fun. We decided we would spend $50 for each person and also gave some of that $50 to charity in some cases. We are also not buying presents for each other. We buy stuff all year long when we want/need it so it feels weird to get 'Season 3' of My Name Is Earl on DVD wrapped up when I would have bought it if it were June. Besides, there is that whole 'poverty' thing in the world that I keep hearing about... Join in the Advent Conspiracy!

Talk about hyperbole...
"These men here, these brave superheroes, they've raised money for Children's Hospital and it's going to help us build a brand new hospital," said Joanne Newman, the philanthropic officer at BC Children's Hospital.

This was the most incredible, fantastic effort ever made to assist other people. Never in the history of humankind have two people went to such amazing and risky lengths. I'm being entirely sarcastic. I found this article on Relevant, which used the phrase 'black market' to describe the chocolate bars and was laughable. That quote ruins any reasonable credibility this woman ever had at anything, if you ask me.

I had the privilege of hanging out with Matt Traxler on the weekend. He was kicking it in Toronto for a couple days, Melanie had to work and I had fossil fuel in the tank to burn. Matt and I exchanged e-mails way back but had never had a face-to-face. People are so much better in real life, that's what I've found. We wandered the streets of Toronto, visited Andy at Pick Your Poison, picked up some cheap CDs at Criminal Records, visited the Eaton Centre and chowed down on delicious vegetarian cuisine at Fresh (the one on Spadina, though). When I went home to see my wife, Matt experienced the wonderful Toronto night life. Hot nuts! Thanks for hanging out, yo! Happy birthday last week too!

My friend, Rick, is putting on a benefit concert next Thursday for Shifra Homes. He plays with Darin Martin, who we had dinner with on Monday. D-Mart's wife, Sarah, joined us at the future home of Darren & Nicole Salmond. Nicole reminds me that she's not married yet. Like it matters. Anyhow, this is the second year Rick has done this fundraiser. Shifra Homes provides a much-needed service. Go support them. Bart Wang gives his blessing.

It's snowing outside. I have an appointment for work in a half hour. I'm working at home and took time to fill you in on some shizzle in my life. I can't wait to talk to you soon.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why my wife rules

This past weekend was our fourth anniversary. Yep, the big Oh-Four in Oh-Eight. We went to the marvelously romantic city of Amherst, New York for two nights. Wow. Yes, ladies, you let this guy get away. Your loss, Mrs. Wang's gain.

Mrs. Wang is beautiful, smart, funny, caring, compassionate (she married me, right?), smells nice, the best baker/cook in the world, foxy and incredible. I am the luckiest.

To further cement her status as 'greatest partner ever', she sent me a response to a message I forwarded her. It seems, according to scientific research, that there may be a link between blood pressure and flatulence. Much like the childhood rhyme says, 'The more you fart, the better you feel,' and now it is being proven.

After sending her the article so that she would stop being mad at me and start being happy that I'm actively controlling my blood pressure, she responded with this, which reminded me of how much I love her.

I'm not sure what's funnier, that the researcher's name is actually Wang, or that he spent 5 years studying mouse farts... How would he talk about that at parties?
"How's work Wang?"
"It stinks but I'm learning a lot."

Are you kidding me? This woman's gold - pure gold! Marry me!

Friday, October 24, 2008

What rhymes with 'suck'?

I have no idea why I titled this post the way I did. It doesn't mean anything. And I know several words that rhyme with 'suck'.

I'm not doing a good job on updating this bad boy. Somehow, we've entered the Twilight Zone and even Blondel is posting more than I am!

I have a very kind friend who was gracious enough to send me MP3s of Denison Witmer's new album, Carry The Weight. Anyone who has met me for more than five minutes probably has heard me talking of the man. Well, if you've been foolish enough to not purchase every album in his extensive catalogue to this point, I suggest you start with this one. It is fabulous. The man has outdone himself in every way and has further secured his place in my heart (and CD player). You can pick it up on November 11th on iTunes or Insound or the Militia Group website. As well, to check out some cover songs DW has been giving us for free, check out Cover Lay Down. Bonnie Raitt, Red House Painters, Oasis, Van Morrison and Band Of Horses get the royal acoustic treatment from the king of my stereo. Wonderful.

I got some disheartening news today at work. A promotion I was seeking was given to someone else. And not just someone else but my great friend, who I respect and believe deserves it. Ever feel so conflicted as to be very happy for someone else and incredibly disappointed for yourself at the same time? That's today, friends. This has been years in the making and I thought this might be the time. It's tough not to feel like packing it in. I mean, how can I not wonder if I will eventually get a chance? And if I knew it would be another four years, would I want to wait that long? What else am I going to do? I haven't failed at too many things in my life so this feels extra-tough. Congratulations to my friend. She's magnificent.

I'm probably not going to watch the World Series but I certainly am hoping that the Phillies win. Matt Stairs was traded before the deadline from the Jays and he's a class act in every way. Plus he's a Canuck. And with lots of cool people in Philadelphia and none in Tampa Bay (at least, that I know), I'm pulling for Rocky's hometown.

We're going to drop in tomorrow at Sophia House, the new transitional housing co-op that finds my old pal, Karen Elliott, in director role after a year of life and training in Colorado. It is run through Providence Network Canada. Their website is down so go check out the U.S. site. Amazing work.

I tried to listen and understand a two part lecture given by Stanley Hauerwas on the abolition of war. Bill had told me about his experience hearing the professor in person. He immediately gets my attention because he cusses and causes many Christians to be uncomfortable, a position I often seek. After listening to him explain his big ideas to my little brain, I share Bill's response at points. I believe it was something like, 'What the fuck is he talking about?!?' And not because Hauerwas wasn't clear or brilliant. It's that we're not nearly as smart as he is. Good times!

The temperature dropped significantly in the last two weeks. It is supposed to rain a lot this weekend, which is terrible. On the first cold day, I suddenly had the urge to listen to Christmas music. I felt like Chad Tomlinson (except without the fascination with pre-teen music and Clay Aiken). I've been playing Roger Whittaker and His Ambassadors in the last couple days. You can download the latter at that link. It might sound cheesy and dated but I like it because we used to have some of the people in the group stay at our house when I was growing up.

I talked to Jon Belanger the other day for quite a while. What did we end up talking about the most? This.

I'm heading to bed, friends. Hope your Friday was better than mine and that we get to talk soon.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

God, if I pray so long so loud, it's that most days you don't make a sound

If you haven't seen these videos yet, make sure to visit Bill's site and behold the tragedy of Christians trying to be hip. I think the dude in the first video can be described as a true 'try-hard', as my sister-in-law Katie would say.

And speaking of Bill, he wrote an awesome entry on his blog last month. You need to read it in light of our respective countries' upcoming elections.

We had a wonderful time on Friday evening with Todd & Bridget. They were fabulous guests and we thoroughly enjoyed our conversation, ranging from goofy to philosophical. We watched Doug Nagy by way of video (Bridget has not yet met Douglas) and talked about how dreamy Dave Blondel is when he wakes up in the morning. And, as usual, Melanie prepared the meal that would satisfy any death row inmate as their last meal this side of eternity - Thai mango salad, pad thai and a delicious assortment of baked goods. I do have the best wife ever. That's no lie.

I spent part of the day on Friday with Jordan Fox because he was off and I was off and I needed to do some yard work and he needed to do some yard work on Saturday. It was a good trade. We moved a lot of dirt from my driveway to the yard. It was sitting there for over a year. Then I offered some meagre assistance on Saturday as he worked on the grade beside his home. I also got to meet Robin's parents, who were lending their time and energy as well.

This may or may not lead somewhere fun and exciting... Jordan asked me to participate and, of course, as someone who wishes desperately to be accepted, I agreed. I hope I don't drag down their credibility.

We had our first run at the new east Hamilton site for our church this morning. It was really chaotic and didn't occur as I had hoped or expected. Too much going on. Of course, some of it was unplanned (i.e., setting off a breaker). Anyhow, we're meeting at the new site of my high school, Saltfleet, so it was kind of cool to see our graduation composite on the wall. I should have cut my hair and exercised a bit more back then. The foolishness of youth - I'm sure you've met in your own journey.

Whitney and Matt Baldwin (Whitney is formerly known as Masters) are going to Ethiopia in a couple weeks! I hope they are able to connect with Christina Vandermark as she is working in the capital, Addis Ababa, for the next year with MCC. It would be fun and interesting to meet up with a friend in such a far-away place.

After way too long, I finally caught up with Blondel last week. He posted another Bart Wang piece of memorabilia on his site. We're going to see a Jays game on Tuesday with Chris Vyn. That will probably be the first time I have seen Dave in easily one year and probably, more likely, two years. Insane. Dave and Melody are hoping to travel to Holland in the near future - and staying for multiple months. The ever-hospitable Allison Parker has offered the home of her and her family to the Blondels, a move she may yet regret when she learns how Dave's personal hygiene routines have deteriorated over the years. It's at the point that his routine is actually the absence of a routine. Sick.

Until next time, I suggest you check PostSecret every Sunday for new stuff. Always interesting.

Prayer as a form of co-operation with God

I read this on an insert in the bulletin from church and liked it a lot. It is both challenging and inspiring. I am the first to acknowledge that I suck at prayer. I don't spend enough time praying, I am easily distracted and likely bore God with lame prayers because I don't treat it as a real experience of communing/hanging out with God. This makes me want to be better. This was taken from a book called The Meaning Of Prayer by Harry Emerson Fosdick (1962).

"The experience of life is clear that some things God chooses not to do until he finds a person who prays. Indeed, Meister Eckhart, the mystic puts the truth with extreme boldness: 'God can do as little without us, as we without him.' If at first this seems a wild statement, we may well consider in how many ways God's will depends on human co-operation. God himself chooses not to do some things unless humans think. He never blazons the truth on the sky that humans may find it without thinking. Only when people gird the loins of their minds and undiscourageably give themselves to intellectual toil, will God reveal to them the truth, even about the physical world. And God himself chooses not to do some things unless people work. Will a person say that when God wants bridges and tunnels, wants the lightning harnessed and cathedrals built, he will do the work himself? That is an absurd and idle fatalism. Recall the words of Stradivarius, maker of violins, as George Eliot interprets him:

'When any master holds 'twixt chin and hand a violin of mine, he will be glad that Stradivari lived, made violins, and made them of the best... For while God gives them skill, I give them instruments to play upon, God choosing me to help him... If my hand slacked I should rob God - since he is the fullest good - leaving a blank instead of violins... He could not make Antonio Stradivari's violins without Antonio.'

Now if God has left some things contingent on humanity's thinking and working, why may have he not left some things contingent on our praying? The testimony of the great souls is a clear affirmative to this: some things never without thinking; some things never without working; some things never without praying! Prayer is one of the three forms of humanity's co-operation with God."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Could it be? Really? A post?

Yes, it could be. In fact, it is! Everyone and their mom is blogging more than I am. I feel like a dunce. So many times I have thought about fun stuff to post but, honestly, Facebook is way easier. And less meaningful, I recognize that.

So, how have you been? I'm relatively not unwell, thank you for mentally asking. We had a good day so far (hopefully there will be no problems in the next four hours before bed). Chatted with Douglas Nagy this morning, enjoyed the sermon at church, went out for lunch with Matt & Jess (whom we have missed greatly over the summer), checked out some junk at the mall, Melanie mauled a kitten in the pet store, watched half of 'Solaris' but turned it off because Melanie lost interest (it was quite slow moving) and then picked up some groceries for a dinner we're hosting tomorrow. We're also having Todd and Bridget over on Friday for dinner. It's been way too long since we have seen them. And, honestly, I don't know if I've been able to hang out with Todd in a quiet, non-communal setting more than a couple times for as long as I have known him. Shame on me. I'm really looking forward to it.

The only bummer for today so far is that I tried to order some shirts and music from P Is For Panda and the blasted site told me it wouldn't ship to me. I've e-mailed them to see if we can't work something out. Lucky for me, I got to chat briefly with Craig Douglas, who was watching 'Oldboy' at the time. That movie (save the one very uncomfortable scene - do you know which I'm referring to now, Craig?) is awesome.

We've done a lot of travelling this summer. In May, we visited Bill & Ronee Lynn in Nashville for a week. We saw the sights of downtown, visited the Frist and the Loveless Cafe, ate plenty of BBQ, took a road trip to Atlanta to hook up with the wonderful and generous Chad & Candy, toured The King Centre (and saw Ebenezer Baptist Church - at least from the outside), CNN and the World Of Coke. The latter two were fun and full of propaganda!

The World Of Coke was fun because it had all-you-can-drink Cherry Coke. Mmmm, Cherry Coke. Here's Bill doing a suicide (that's what the Americans call 'swamp water')...

Then, in July, we travelled to Portland to see Whitney and Matt tie the knot, which was excellent. Both of them are fabulous. We visited Imago Dei, I lost my debit card, got to spend time with the marvelous Jenn Moreton, Lindsay Kunkel, Natalie & Mark (I still don't know their last name), saw the Masters clan and ate twice at Helser's. While in the state of Oregon, we travelled to the coastal town of Astoria, best known for its role in 'The Goonies'. We tried to see as many of the places they filmed as possible. We saw the house, the museum, the county jail and Cannon Beach. Awesome trip.

Melanie went to see Catherine and Mark get hitched (congratulations!) in B.C. a week after we came home from Portland. She had a lot of fun while I starved at home and cried a lot from loneliness.

In August, I travelled with Taxman and Chad to Purple Door Festival in Lewisberry, PA. They went to see a lot of bands that I did not. Hahaha. I went to see two people - Denison Witmer and Derek Webb. Along the way, I got to meet Conrad & Julia, Scott Hatch and Greg from Foxhole. Taxman and Chad were gracious to put up with my "boring" music and they shared a bed for old times' sake. Chad also enjoyed the all-you-can-eat waffles. Well, until he ate all the waffles he could then it wasn't such a great deal. Though he didn't have to use the porta-potty at all, so that's a small victory! It was great to catch up briefly with Denison, hear his new songs, meet Scott for the first time, meet Derek Webb and learn that he is friends with Mindy Smith but has never heard her music and see that Christian kids are still trying hard to fit in with their heathen peers (even if they're going about it in many of the wrong ways). Doug Van Pelt made a great comment when he introduced The Showdown, as the kids booed him for giving the band's latest album four out of five in his review. He said that, if the kids still liked it in five years, he'd reconsider. Hahaha.

I've posted all the songs from Denison's set on YouTube. Here's the first song for your listening pleasure. The new album, Carry The Weight, comes out on November 11, 2008. The first single, Beautiful Boys And Girls, is on his MySpace page and it's dreamy. You can also hear a new cover tune he posted of a Bonnie Raitt song.

I suppose I should spend some time with Melanie now, as I've been posting here for about an hour. I'll talk more about our time at the cottage and other junk that pops into my mind next time. I promise, it won't take ten months. Maybe eight. No more than nine.

Until then, enjoy Blondel's new site. Listen to my hilarious, rambling messages on his voicemail.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Get yer WAZ-WAZ out!

Hey friend. I just returned from a quick trip down the I-90 to Cleveland, Ohio with Mike & Josh. We had a splendid time. We spent a couple hours at the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, which was so rad. We saw lots of memorabilia and learned interesting facts on various artists we enjoy so much. I particularly enjoyed the special exhibit on the Beach Boys (including the original, handwritten lyrics to 'God Only Know', my favourite song). I also appreciated the various items related to the development of soul music (particularly in regards to Stax-Volt, Otis Redding, Muscle Shoals, etc.). If I had $1,000, I could have bought a lot of cool books and box sets in the gift shop.

From there, we went to see the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Portland Trailblazers. We had an excellent view from our upper level seats. The game was good (they won) but less exciting than I had hoped. Somehow, Lebron had a triple-double and we didn't even know. However, somewhat less important than the win, there were only a couple exciting plays. No dunks by Lebron - disappointing. This is the second game Josh & I have attended this season and I could stand to visit regularly. I like this team. Except, sadly, Ben Wallace. He was phenomenal a couple years ago. Last night, he played like I smelled yesterday - awful. I blame the chicken shwarma. What does Ben blame? Back spasms, apparently.

For those of you interested in my recent musical love interest, WAZ, here's the audio of his online CD release party. I hope he doesn't mind me posting it. I streamed it from The Stream TV, where you can go and watch the show instead of just listening to it. It's well worth it.

Since Mike Vandermark is home for a couple weeks, we've been hanging out a lot, which is fabulous. I'm jealous that Sandi, his wife, gets to spend so much time with him. I'm trying to make the best of this opportunity. Mike and his sister went to see U2 3D last week and Mike wants to see it again. I'd like to see it a first time since Bill told me it was awesome.

Speaking of Bill, Melanie and I are stoked to be spending a week in the Nashville area in May. After watching Eric (a.k.a. Taxman) and Amanda be joined in the bonds of holy matrimony, we're flying down to Tennessee for a week. We haven't seen them since their wedding (and that was only for a few hours) so it's going to be great to hang out for an extended period of time. Melanie and I are going to take a short road trip while there as well, likely into Atlanta. I'd love to check out Macon and Muscle Shoals. Since reading 'Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm & Blues And The Southern Dream Of Freedom', I've been really interested in the genre and its history. Anyhow, whatever we do, it'll be great to do it with fabulous company.

Melanie's watching an episode of 'Gilmore Girls'. As I was passing through the room, I commented that the discussion taking place on screen seemed to be the same as had happened a month or two ago when she was watching it (she's borrowed the series on DVD). She didn't like that comment. Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?