Sunday, September 30, 2007


20 Months Old!

Amado has reached the grand age of 20 months old! It took a couple of days to get the right photo of the speedster though. And there is still some discussion in our house about whether or not this actually is the right photo. So ok, now you have the full story.

Support the Monks' Protest on Facebook

For those of you who are Facebook users, there is a group to Support the Monks' Protest in Burma. Go to Facebook ( and search under groups. It already has more than 180,000 members and is growing at one new member per second. Here's the address, but I think you will need to sign up for Facebook first.

Support the Monks' Protest in Burma

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Viva Superman!

We caught Amado reading Superman comics on the Internet yesterday. He opened the website all by himself. (I'm not quite sure how he did that!)

Upon closer inspection, it was the site of the amazing Tex(t)Mex, who is offering a free copy of his crazy book to anyone who can produce the January 1972 issue of Superman. This issue (click on the picture above to read a page) features the Man of Steel saving a Mexican-American farmworker camp, and then teaching them all a lesson in self-sufficiency.

"You don't need a Superman," he helpfully instructs the farmworkers. "What you really need is a Super-Will to be the guardians of your own destiny."

I didn't realize Superman was a Republican, but I guess this proves it.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Subject: They're shooting monks in Burma

A petition from MoveOn to stop the violence in Burma. Please sign it and pass it on to others.

Subject: They're shooting monks in Burma

Have you seen the news? After decades of brutal dictatorship, the people of Burma are rising. In the past few days, hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters, led by Buddhist monks, have flooded the streets of Rangoon. But yesterday, the military started shooting monks and journalists. This is a true emergency. and have launched a petition demanding Burmese generals negotiate rather than crush the demonstrators. They're focused on getting United Nations Security Council members--particularly China's Hu Jintao--to intervene. Thousands of people from all over the world are adding their names every hour -- will you sign? Click here:

Pass it on! Thanks!!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Dear Mr. President

Nice letter to the President by my former boss at Sojourners, Jim Wallis:

Dear Mr. President,
When I first heard that you were vowing to veto a bipartisan bill to expand child health care, my immediate thought was more personal than political: What has happened to you?

I vividly remember a call at the office, only one day after your election had been secured. It was an invitation to come to Austin to meet you and to discuss with a small group of religious leaders your vision for "faith-based initiatives" and your passion for doing something on poverty. I had not voted for you (which was no secret or surprise to your staff or to you), but you were reaching out to many of us in the faith community across the political spectrum who cared about poverty. I was impressed by that, and by the topic of the Austin meeting....

I remember you asking me, Jim, I don't understand poor people. I've never lived with poor people or been around poor people much. I don't understand what they think and feel about a lot of things. I'm just a white Republican guy who doesn't get it. How do I get it? I still recall the intense and sincere look on your face as you looked me right in the eyes and asked your heartfelt question. It was a moment
of humility and candor that, frankly, we don't often see with presidents....
Read the whole thing here.

Good Morning Burma

Myanmar Forces Fire on Protesters: Further casualties were reported today as government security forces cracked down on protests for a second day, firing shots and tear gas.
-- The New York Times

Burmese Monasteries Raided: Forces intensify crackdown, dispersing demonstrations led by anti-government monks.
-- Washington Post

Some reports said the dead included monks, who are widely revered in Burma, and the emergence of such martyr figures could stoke public anger against the regime and escalate the violence.
--Toronto Star

Witnesses told the AP that five men were arrested and severely beaten Thursday after soldiers fired into a crowd near a bridge across the Pazundaung River on the east side of downtown Rangoon.

Soldiers fired automatic weapons into a crowd of anti-government protesters Thursday as tens of thousands defied the ruling military junta's crackdown with a 10th straight day of demonstrations.
--San Francisco Examiner

Up to 10,000 Burmese Buddhist monks and civilians have defied police tear gas and live bullets on the ninth day of protests against the military rulers.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"Please Pray..."

We did an interview with CTS today for a program they are doing on Emerging Spirit. (Well, my boss Keith did the interview and I "produced.") Part of the interview was filmed at Metropolitan United, which is a big, old downtown cathedral in the heart of downtown Toronto.

In the short time we were at Metropolitan United I saw a man pass out on the church steps with a donated peanut butter sandwich between his lips, two guys smoking crack openly on the church lawn, and young, pretty waifish girl throwing up against the church bulwark. Just inside, the massive organ was making twisted sounds as it was being tuned and American guests from Alabama lamented to us how "the Bible belt has really slid in the last couple of years."

Metropolitan United is located in the area where Wendy does a lot of her needle exchange and counselling work with addicts, half the time in the middle of the night. I always try not to think too much about what she is encountering while she's working, because I will just worry. But what I saw today will make that impossible. Like every city, Toronto is filled with so many sad stories that have never been told.

Above: A photo I took on my Treo of the Metropolitan United guest book.

The Lizard Cage

My friend Nicole emailed to recommend a book that sounds really good. One of the ways I became interested in Burma was through cooking Burmese dishes when I worked at India Joze in the '80s, so I am definitely going to check it out.

(The other way I first became interested in Burma was when I wanted to become a, um, missionary and read the autobiography of Adoniram Judson, the first Protestant preacher to go to Burma in 1807.)

Dear Friends,

I'm writing to recommend an amazing book called The Lizard Cage, by Karen Connelly. It's not out in paperback yet, but it is worth buying in hardback or picking up from the library.

The story takes place inside a Burmese prison and does a remarkable job of exposing the brutality of the military regime while celebrating the beauty of Burmese culture, food and buddhism. While the book is so deeply about Burma, on the grand scale, it explores humanity - in all its brutality and beauty. I found the book hard to put down and had to devote an entire morning one Saturday to finishing it in one go. I followed the end with a profound sense of sadness and hope - and then a Burmese lunch to savor some of the food that is so well described in the book. My hat is off to Karen Connelly who has translated her obvious love and concern for the Burmese into a skilled novel which exposes the current military government.

In light of what is happening right now in Burma, this is a perfect time to read this book. My heart and mind go out to support the monks and people of Burma as they make a brave stand against a brutal regime. May peace prevail. May they be safe.

A link to the book:

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"Love and Kindness Must Prevail"

...this statement was seen on a sign carried by a protestor last week in Rangoon, Burma.

This uprising has been a long-time coming for the people of Burma. In 1988 there were similar protests and the ruling military junta massacred at least 3,000 nonviolent protesters. The New York Times has a chilling article on the preparations of the military to end the current protests and infiltrate the monks. I'm glad to see the U.S. add new sanctions on the government today. That's a step in the right direction. Pray for justice and a peaceful end to the terrible rule the Burmese have had to live under all of these years.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007

St. John Coltrane

Lately I've been listening to John Coltrane's Stellar Regions album and his song, "One Up, One Down" and am still not surprised at all that a congregation chose this jazz musician as their patron saint. His playing is truly transcendent and transforming.

Happy Birthday St. John Coltrane.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Cute Dude

This is one cute little dude, right? I mean, he threw up in my lap three times after daycare yesteday, but still he's pretty cute, right?

I think he's doing better today.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Britney Spears Stoned

I haven't really followed the whole Britney Spears saga, but I stumbled upon this and it made really feel sorry for her for the first time. We're watching a young woman being eaten up by the star machine.

Za Za Za!

Tacos El Guero Sexi + Birria de Chivo. Nice!

You can look it up, but this roughly translates to "Tacos of the Sexy Blonde" + "Goat Meat"

And it's obviously all been blessed by the Virgen de Guadalupe.

Yeah man, now that's what I'm talking about.

Only on Taco Hunt.

Good Morning Toronto XIII

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Freedom of Information

The New York Times will stop charging for on-line content! This is great news for Times-lovers like me...and another sign that the days of charging for on-line information are coming to an end. The web is proving the old-axiom that it's better to give it away!

What groups express concern about climate change?

Research from the Barna Group, an evangelical research organization:

What other groups express concern about climate change?
The types of Americans who are most concerned about global warming include atheists and agnostics (69%), Democrats (67%), residents of the Northeast (65%), Hispanics (65%), and unchurched adults (64%). Those least likely to describe the problem as a major issue include evangelicals (33%), Republicans (38%), those who are economically downscale (48%), and those living in the Midwest (51%).

At 33%, evangelicals were the least concerned about global warming among more than 50 population groups studied. Among Catholics and mainline Protestants, 59% were alarmed about global warming.

“…the environment is a potential area of common ground between Christians and non-Christians. Like it or not, if outsiders do not see Christians embodying biblical care related to creation, a Christian’s influence is significantly diminished."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Hi, I'm Amado!

Amado started daycare on Sept. 4 and he's been sick every day since. He had one cold, then got another, different cold on top of that one. Can that happen? Anyway, at night he's coughing like a 59-year-old smoker, but he's jolly enough during the day.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Our New Emerging Spirit Site

By the way, the new Emerging Spirit site was launched last week. We worked most of the summer on this and I'm really happy with the way it turned out. There's a nice blog and other interactive features on the site about the work to make the mainline church more relevant and welcoming in a postmodern culture.

If you're into CMS, the site's build using Drupal, an open-source CMS. It's really flexible, transparent, and is working out really well for us. Thanks a lot to Andre and Danielle at Web Networks for all of their expertise!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Happy Birthday Aunt Beki

Today would have been my Aunt Beki's 60th birthday (see my Mom's post here.). I can't imagine her as a 60-year-old.

Most of my memories of her are from the summer(s) she babysat us on Dobson Street in El Monte. We watched Bewitched, Beverly Hillbillies, and Let's Make a Deal all day long, and my Aunt Beki would make us laugh and laugh with her running commentary on the shows.

My aunt had babies herself in those years and if I could tell her anything now, I would tell her how much I learned about raising kids from her.

Now that I'm a dad, my mind always rushes back to her caring for her own children -- these were really first babies I remember being around. To me she was the archetypal mom and I thought she was the greatest. She was the one, afterall, who introduced me to Cheese Wiz.

In later years, she ceaselessly talked about how my brother and I were the greatest kids in the desert and how all the girls were after us--and if they weren't, they should be. That's what aunts are for.

A couple of years ago, my Mom wrote a brilliant piece eulogizing her sister Beki and Johnny Cash. KUSP in Santa Cruz recorded her reading it for their "First Person Singular" piece.

Go here to listen to it on-line (click the "play" arrow). You can also download it, but you will have to register on the site to access the file.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Dragon Chicken

I still cook a couple of India Joze dishes on a regular basis. (I was a chef at this famous Santa Cruz cultural landmark in the '80s.) Coptic Chickpeas even made it into our regular dinner rotation.

Last night I made Dragon Chicken, one of the best-loved Joze dishes. It didn't come out that well in my opinion, mainly because somebody stole my bunch of cilantro at the last moment. Instead of posting the recipe, you can watch the creative master of India Joze, Jozseph Schultz, (the artist formerly known as JSFTW) cook it himself. (Fans of "cross contamination" watch this video closely for an incident!)

Above is a photo of my favourite brand of fish sauce, one of the key ingredients in Dragon Chicken. Fish sauce is basically fermented, distilled anchovy juice. And as if that wasn't bad enough, this brand's icon is an old dried squid. However, they do note helpfully that "this product contains no squid."

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Phelan by Satellite

Here's the Google satellite photo of Phelan, California. It's almost a piece of art itself. Click to make big.

By the way, the dark "V" in the middle is what is left of "The Slide" that took half the mountainside down above Wrightwood in 1969. Down in the desert, it hardened into the infamous mudbeds where us P*Landers congregated on certain summer evenings.

Pearblossom Highway

Speaking of P*Land, I came across this David Hockney piece, "Pearblossom Highway" which was taken a few miles west of Phelan, where I grew up in the 1970s. Yup, this is pretty much what it looked like.

Anatomy of a P*Land Layback

My brother Sol laying down a perfect layback at the top of the P*Land ramp. Laybacks are one of the hardest vertical moves, but he is totally shredding it.

I believe these pictures were taken by one of Nadalin brothers for the Mountaineer, which ran a highly damaging expose on the P*Land Boyz in 1981 or 1982.

Friday, September 07, 2007

George's Ne'er-Do-Well Son

I found this tidbit on the blog of Santa Cruz columnist, Bruce Bratton. Did Reagan really write this? He obviously had quite a sense of humour. In fact, we're still paying for it.

"A moment I've been dreading. George brought his ne'er-do-well son around this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the political one who lives in Florida. The one who hangs around here all the time looking shiftless. This so-called kid is already almost 40 and has never had a real job. Maybe I'll call Kinsley over at The New Republic and see if they'll hire him as a contributing editor or something. That looks like easy work."

-- Ronald Reagan in his recently published diaries, May 17, 1986.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Playa

Mom and Irene are back from Burning Man. More pictures here. I'm not sure the brownies made it back though.

Toddler Daily Report

Yesterday was Amado's first full day of daycare....quite a traumatic event for all of us, but we survived. Here's his report card:


Toddler Daily Report

Name: Amado
Date: Sept. 5, 2007

Snack (a.m.) - Not in
Lunch - 2 servings of milk; didn't eat pasta & tomato sauce; didn't eat carrot
Snack (p.m.) - cheese sandwich & juice

Diapering: 11:00 & 2:30

Sleep Time: From 12:30 to 1:20

Today's Activities: Creative Arts, Colouring, Book Centre, Sensory, Cognitive, Outdoor Gross Motor

How was my day?
He tried some activities with dad. He did enjoy kicking the ball outside.

Monday, September 03, 2007

A State of Wonder

Glenn Gould's famous 1955 recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations is all heart, all beauty.

And I don't care if I sound like Dr. Niles Crane when I say that.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


Apocalyps is a great Toronto photoblog that happens to feature a lot of excellent photos of our own neighbourhood on the westside.

In fact, this picture I pinched from the site features our former apartment building on Bloor St., where we lived for 5 years. Our former bedroom window is the one on the top right. Even more, the woman who I gave my empties to is right in the centre of this picture too. Plus, that's my car!

Ok, just kidding on that last one.

Check out Apocalyps to see some great photos of what I see everyday.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Happy Birthday Mom!

Still riding the rails after all these years! It's so much fun having a Mom who's actually younger than I am. We hope you're enjoying Burning Man! Happy Birthday!! We love you!

19 months!

On Aug. 28, Amado turned 19 months old! And as you can see, he's growing up FAST.