Monday, January 30, 2006

Not a bad weekend :)

So... on Friday evening, after class, I joined a devotional on finances and prayer. I kept a few pointers of things I should check to optimize my costs of living. But, overall, its mostly stuff I was doing already.

On Saturday, I had the chance to give myself a good me-time by reading the first half of Paul Meets Muhammad. Afterwards, I went to the CIBC to open my investment account. I should make my first Mutual Funds RRSP investment very soon indeed. Afterwards, I got to work a few hours on a paper with another author, and we got to the point of something like 44% of our review done. Then, I got to a supper that was organized by some marrieds to encourage us Campus people :) They even gave us a fruit bowl!

On Sunday, I went earlier than usual to church, and was filmed for a Campus video. I'll see whether I can make it available online. The service was great, with a brother from Hamilton preaching on growth (aka sanctification). Afterwards, I ate out with some other disciples, then did some more "counseling" with a brother who needed it.
We then got barely on time for the leader's meeting. Afterwards, I got home and had time to chat with two disciples in orther cities. I wish I had more time for that kind of phone calls! It did me a lot of good, for sure :)




Saturday, January 28, 2006

OpenBSD Pains

So, I downloaded and installed OpenBSD, the most security-conscious operating system out there (as far as I know).

The installation proceeded smoothly, even though I had to go for a ftp install for some weird reasons. I am running it on a Pentium 100 MHz, which does not make things that great.

Nevertheless, the installer is on a floppy and works very well. It is not user-friendly, but the walkthrough on the website compensates for that. Because of my old platform, I could not install a GUI, so it was very "old school" computer system, with the text-only environment and the need to know all the commands by heart. Yay for my geek side... boooh for my time.

The real problem that I have: very few precompiled packages and patches :'(
That means I gotta download the source of everything and its dependencies and compile it. I gave half a day to DansGuardian to compile and it wasn't done yet...

So I decided to move to another OS (maybe a Linux that _works_) that has a lot of precompiled packages ... this thing is just too slow to compile anything worth mentioning on its own.

Oh well, I won't be able to say I'm running the safest OS on the planet just yet...

Anonym.OS

So, after reading a hyping-good review on Wired News, I decided to download and try out Anonym.OS.

In short, this is a live CD preconfigured for the privacy zealot/freak. It is really interesting, because it really has all the good things there by default, including Tor and Wi-Fi support. The underlying OpenBSD operating system is meant for security, so we are talking about a strong solution.

However, it is slow. How slow? Very very very very slooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow. I tested it at work, on a fairly solid machine, and I was waiting and waiting and waiting.

Thus, its useful, but only so much. Maybe it will have a proper maturity in a few versions...

Monday, January 23, 2006

Some Chillout and Stuff Done (finally

So, I managed to get some things done, after a while feeling nothing was going anywhere...

And I got some enjoyment too.

First of all, I decided to leave my computer in the hands of my roomate for a week. I was tired of the level of distraction this was putting in my life.
So, no more emails at home, or reading the news or listening to radio on the internet... but its not like I lost that much.
I got some more reading done on class stuff (I think I am getting ahead a little bit. I just need to keep it up).
I got to have a great time with brothers on Friday after one of them gave a show at his university's christian group.
I finished reading Wild at Heart, The Culting of Brands early on Saturday.
Then I got to the CLC and purchased 2 books, one of which I devoured, the French translation of Between Heaven and Hell . I was done reading it on Sunday.
Something tells me I gotta start writing the reviews now. *sighs*

Monday, January 16, 2006

More medical matters

Got to see the specialist this morning. He prescribed some medicine (salinex + bactroban mixture, manually done by the pharmacist, none the less; nasonex), nasal sprays basically. He also prescribed some X-rays of my sinuses.

I was lucky enough to get all that done this morning. We'll see if that takes care of my constant cold-like symptoms.

On the good news side, I had a discussion of about 3 hours with a guy and he's interested to know more about the Bible. It was not wise of me to invest that much time, but I'm glad of the outcome. I have a lot of discipline to work on nevertheless.

Please pray for my health: both the infection (or what seems like it) and the sleep.

Exhausting Weekend

So...
This Saturday, I refreshed myself with Vivaldi, then worked on my investments, before going to a wedding ceremony.

This Sunday, I was dead tired, and things did not get better...

Please read the previous entry about my Vivaldi experience. The wedding was nice and inspiring, with the sister married being around for 10 years before it happened. They were all dressed a bit French Colony style, and the music was real good. Touching wedding altogether. Afterwards, I went on a date with one sister to a vietnamese restaurant. She is very nice. I was very the tie she gave me for Christmas.
I'm letting my beard grow because I've been told a few times that it looks good on me. I had a nice look with the suit, the fancier tie and the little beard. I don't often find myself good-looking when I look in the mirror ;)
On Sunday, I set the book table by myself and took care of things on my own. I served in the service for the plates, and translated for a sister. Then had to worry about a few things about the book table. Then a small group of the campus went to pray for a sick sister. We grabbed some KFC (I mostly took salad, even though some of the junk too) and we prayed for about 2 hours. I had to go get some rest because it was too much for me.
Then, it was the leader's meeting at church. We made the commitment to read the full Bible in a year and were offered a few plans to help out. Then we were working on the Campus calendar. Afterwards, we had chilli and football. I was too tired to enjoy it really. I worked on my Bible talk message on the table as much as I could in the context. It took me everything to not break down in the bus, and to try to be uplifting, serving and caring.
God knows I'm doing as much as my strentgh allows me. He'll have to give me serious healing for more to happen. I need to be fully surrendered on this and its hard for me to be, I guess.
I was at a point that I was too overwelmed with tiredness to feel like doing anything but my little thing, do some introspection (regarding the feelings that have been going on in me these days), watch the end of that kung-fu movie. And then, it is THE time my roomates really want to talk. In short, this sunday has been very much unlike me.
I felt a bit frustrated at serving and all that, in the end. I'm sure the tiredness doesn't help.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Vivaldi

I finally took the time to listen to the CD I was given by my uncle.

We are talking about The Baroque Experience, Volume 1, by the Academy of Ancient Music, directed by Christopher Hogwood.

It includes works of Vivaldi:
. The Four Seasons
. Concerto for Flute & Strings No. 2
. Concerto for Strings in G Minor, RV 153
. Concerto in G Major 'Alla Rustica', RV 151
. Concerto for Four Violins and Cello, Op. 3, No 10

Only the first was an original digital recording, the rest came from the analog world.

You can read more below.

My summary review: OOoooooooooooooh yeah, baby.

The Four Seasons
I particularly liked the Spring, 3rd mouvement (Allegro) ; Summer, 1st movement (Allegro non molto) ; Winter, 1st movement (Allegro non molto) and 3rd movement (Allegro). I need to re-listen to it to double-check ;)
There was also the final concerto that I enjoyed.
I had some shivers of pleasure while listening it.
Added on Feb 15:
Wikipedia has a decent recording of the Four Seasons, even though not as strong as what is on the CD.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Evaluating the Despotism in your Community

Very interesting video from 1946, full of truth for today, from Archive.org:

Despotism (1946)

Measures how a society ranks on a spectrum stretching from democracy to despotism. Explains how societies and nations can be measured by the degree that power is concentrated and respect for the individual is restricted. Where does your community, state and nation stand on these scales?

Note to my reader: the knowledgeful of you will realize that our societies are sliding towards despotism. This is more obvious in the US than in Canada, but it is so a bit here too. Just think about the Asper family...

Wasting Time over financial matters

So, yeah, its the RRSP season!

I've shopped around for socially-conscious mutual funds, now I just gotta get myself a broker that won't kill me with fees to acquire one of them for my RRSP.

I also have been looking at insurance for my household, and I'm thinking of looking at health insurance while I'm a it (since I'll have to buy one, sooner or later).

I also made phone calls for vehicle rentals for a church outing. So very very much of my time is going away on those things that I sometimes wonder why I should go for in the first place...

Anyway, I encourage you to look for socially conscious funds for your RRSP. They are listed all here (for Canadian investors, that is) :
GIR (French)
SIO (English)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Review: SimpleD Budget

I had the chance to work out a bit with SimpleD Budget , an open source budgeting tool for Windows.

It has a few bugs, is unmaintained, but is overall cool.

BUT, won't let you do any real planning beyond the current month, which is a fatal flaw in my opinion.

So, if you want to be a little bit bohemian, but not too much, then you can use this. At the beggining of your month, you set your expense objectives, you keep track of the spending, and at the end of the month your balance is carried forward to the new one and you repeat.

Nice, but not powerful enough for me. I have two options left: my custom Excel/OpenOffice file, or I can try the steeper learning curve of a more serious accounting program in Linux. I saw a few and I found them rebarbative...

Saturday, January 7, 2006

Prayers for 2006

So, as promised, here are things I pray for happening in my life in 2006

Evangelization: be a standard-setter
- That we can see 12 guests at my Bible Talk by August
- 3 Bible studies lead per semester
- Inviting at least 3 people on a daily basis
- Baptise my first brother
- 1 public lecture
- That everyone in my classroom has been invited at least once to know God
Character: be wedable
- Deep joy in the Lord
- Full submission to God
- Self-affirmation, rock-hard, bullet-proof self-esteem
- Maturiy, making the right spiritual choices on a daily basis
- Sincere satisfaction and thanksgiving for my life as it is, including celibacy
- Grow in servanthood
- Grow in patience
School: rock that world
- Complete all classes with flying colors
- Sucessfully reprenting Canada to a standards body
- Publish 5 academic papers
- Have a strong thesis foundation
Ministry: source of strength, love and unity
- Sincere love and friendships within the Campus and the church
- 12 book reviews
- 1 teaching before the congregation on a Sunday
Health: be fit and looking fit
- Regular, healthy sleep
- Healthy diet
- Exercising at least 4 times a week
- Fall beneath 190 lbs

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Grades are in!

Praises to the Almighty, the greatest source of wisdom!

I passed all classes very well, it seems. I give Him all the glory for that (even though I feel a little bit proud, honestly).

I'm 2 years old now!

Yes, its now official.

I was born again two years ago, on January 4th, 2004. I have officially graduated from being a baby christian :P

A huge lot happened since then, and even more since I started studying the Bible (something in the fall of 2002). I couldn't regret the blessings and the maturity.

And, since this is so close to the new year, I had the chance to reflect on the blessings of last year. I hope this testimony brings some sunshine in your day!

It was the end of my time in Europe. I finished it with a tough semester at school, having a teammate drop the course, struggling in another... a challenge!
It was also when I came back from there, changed. And more changes came, as God was faithfully working on me.
There was a lot of academic success, finishing my degree with distinction, starting the Master's, getting a bursary, etc.
But, on the more important things...
A year of firsts:
- First "official" discipling time happened
- First time I would lead a Bible talk
- First time I delivered a message, not just a communion message (it was at a devotional)
- First time I lead a Bible study
A year of love and serving:
- Strenghtened and deepened friendships
- Started serving at the church's book table
- Did some organization for the campus ministry
A year of knowledge
- Deepened my understanding of the Bible
- Learnt and memorized important passages to explain and defend faith
- Read on apologetics, other religions and beliefs
A year of growth (last but not least!)
- I learnt that I could not live my life as a productivity machine, that I needed some balance
- Started to make my life more balanced
- Been consistently exercising
- Maturity of character
The very last point is really the grandest of it all. You need to be close to me to know how much really happened, and all the pain I had to go through for that.
To God be the glory!
In short, the promises of God really did happen!
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." (Romans 8:28-30)

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Vacation Summary

So, I'm back at work today. My sleeping has not recovered yet, and my supervisor lets me a few more days off to rest.
I took an apointment with my doctor, we'll see if sleeping pills are the way to go.

Nevertheless, here is a summary of my vacation

Dec 22: I do some massive cleaning in the appartment and in my room. I was getting tired of living in a storeroom for the household, and I had no excuse not to do it, since my semester really was over.
Dec 23:, I spend some time packing, then chatting on the phone with a sister, then its time to leave with a buddy from school to Quebec City.
I find my parents there, and we go home.
Dec 24: We had a Christmas supper with my family
I tried chilling out a bit. I spent my afternoon writing merry christmas emails while watching a Star Trek movie, then a documentary on sugar cane workers in the caribean (here is the summary: they're slaves) on RDI.
We had a Christmas supper as a family. Afterwards, I did a message, and we watched the movie Indochine together. It was nice, but we found flaws in the directing and the story telling. Its a French movie, so most of you won't see it ever. In short, its a tale of the consequences of passionate decision-making: its messy. We see Vietnam during the French rule, how things started getting out of control, the exploitation of locals by the colonists, etc. The central story is about a woman who falls crazy in love with a soldier... to then see her daughter fall in love with him too. She manages to get the soldier assigned far away, but only to see her girl run after him. They become lovers, criminals before French law, hiding with the communists and having a baby. I won't spoil it more!
They also gave me my gift: a hand-carved nativity scene from the caribean, which my mom brought from a cruise there.
Dec 25: Did some ski with my dad, had real fun. We are bonding closer and its great!
My dad and I are the fast skiers, so we did most of the day without my mom. We worked a bit on my technique, especially on straightening my back. I was not too rusty, and my dad was impressed that I wasn't loosing much technique despite the fact I do not ski very often. It also shows that I have been doing some jogging, as I was not tiring quickly. I had a lot of fun. I especially love the feeling of going down the hill pretty fast, and having to battle your skis a bit to have things go your way, instead of theirs.
For those of you who don't know about alpine skiing, please note that the new generation of skis, when used as they were designed to, will more or less operate on their own (its an exageration, but only a minor one). But, let it be known, I am the master of that pair of skis!
Coming back home, I saw on Arttv a recital of Händel's messiah, recorded by Radio Canada in 1999. It was a very good performance done in Quebec City. I enjoyed it very much. We had a good supper as a family while Händel was playing.
Dec 26: Spent some time with a couple of the Quebec City missionnary team. We updated each other about our lives, prayed for each other, though of blessings for 2005 and wishes for 2006. Afterwards, we watched The Downfall . This movie shows the last few days of the Third Reich from the point of view of Hitler's secretary. The images are very strong, but most of it is not battlefield stuff. We see the characters exhausted, in nervous breakdown, lead by a dictator that lost touch with reality
Dec 31: Spent time with sisters from Africa and showed them the Old Port. Then we went to the party in the east end of the city with the disciples. The sister organizing really has a gift for making things fun. We had a few games to play, a wine and cheese, some dancing, etc. I took some time to speak with my evangelist, to tell him I was fully supporting him, and that too I am willing to see repentence in my life.
Jan 1: Went back home and studied Scripture a little bit, watched a few movies with my roomate. One of them was Supersize Me, which I only saw a part. It was really shocking. The guy developped an addiction, destroyed his health physically, mentally, his sex life, etc. Also saw The Divided State, about the controversy Michael Moore caused by accepting to speak in Utah. It is always surprising to see how hardcore conservatives tend to like to impose their viewpoints... no wonder they voted so much for Bush! The overall intolerance and lack of knowledge of the folks involved was making me sick (nearly)... imagine people booing a professor after mentioning that Irak had no weapons of mass destruction.
Note to my reader: no, and its official, there were no weapons of mass destruction: report from The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction , read page 2. If you still support a weasely administration after that, it'll be my pleasure to refer to you some details about a CIA leak and some illegal spying of US citizens...
Afterwards, I had a time with a brother to reflect about the blessings of 2005, and to see together what we'd like to see happening in 2006. I'll put my list on a separate page.
Jan 2: Watched Hotel Rwanda, which was truly inspiring. During the Rwanda genocide, we focus on this hotel manager who takes the decision to use every possible tool he can find to save the life of many. His high-class hotel becomes an unofficial UN refugee camp, and he witnesses first hand the atrocities of it all, and especially the disdain the Western World had for the situation.
Note to my reader: there is something almost as bad happening in Congo right now and you should know about it.
Jan 3: Had a discipling time with my evangelist, had a study with mormon missionaries that did not turn very well, but not bad either. I was glad I was able to hold up as I did. I need to deepen my knowledge and convictions, that is clear. Went to volunteer at the Richardon Centre and had lots of fun dancing and talking with one elderly lady.
Jan 4: Went back to work, had a Bible study with a guy from UQAM. We'll see if he's really interested.
All that I did not document was probably centered around cleanup, study the Bible, and read about mormonism.