Tuesday, January 26, 2010

in February..

in February i will start something new.

i'm going to post for 28 days on 28 things I LOVE about this city.

Today, though, this is the best thing I've seen so far. I love poems that capture a certain energy and urgency about life - whether they're ee cummings or this one from Longfellow:

A Psalm of Life

Tell me not in mournful numbers,
"Life is but an empty dream!"
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
"Dust thou art, to dust returnest,"
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us further than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act -- act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labour and to wait.

edit: I'm adding in the video of it I liked the most:

unfortunately, the only labour i'm doing this afternoon is analyzing squiggles on a page that represent heart rhythms. and there's value in that, as there is in all work.

but i have some more meaningful things planned in the next couple days too

  • - next Monday a few of us have resume night- people from my church from fields as diverse as early childhood education, retail and nonprofit getting together to make resumes and pray for the job search
  • - Hamilton Civic League meetings are starting up again and i'm really, really excited about the possibilities and plans for this year.
  • - tonight is Alpha - which i have a love-hate relationship with, but i think it's working in this context.
  • - i should, this month, be found qualified to study images on a monitor instead of just squiggles on a page which would be very helpful :)

and that's it for now :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Well said... well said

The councillor for my area of the city said this today:

This week the Public Works committee formally received a report on the state of the city’s infrastructure warning that the spending shortfall for roads, pipes, facilities and other structures exceeds $150 million a year.

That led to the following exchange between downtown councillor Bob Bratina and the general manager of public works, Gerry Davis, transcribed by CATCH.

Bratina: Gerry, how much does it cost to maintain a lane kilometre [of roadway]?

Davis: Summer and winter included, it’s approximately $10,000 per lane kilometre.

Bratina: How many lane kilometres have we added in the last ten years, roughly?

Davis: We’ve added, I would say, probably upwards 500-700 lane kilometres.

Bratina: A year, on average?

Davis: On average about 50 or 70 a year, Rick? [asking one of his staff] So 60.

Bratina: So if we can’t afford to maintain these lane kilometres of road, why do we add them? It begs the other question. It’s a bit rhetorical but we’re providing – do the development charges that we apply to development recover the costs?

Davis: Through the growth component, when a developer – they’ll pay for the hard services, the capital cost, primarily. There may be a local component – roads, water, sewers. And then that road is handed over to the municipality to maintain. And other services are then required by the municipality – and that’s public works, policing, fire. But what happens in areas – we have assessment growth generated by the property taxes. That doesn’t come specifically to the police or fire or public works for waste collection, road maintenance, but there is a growth in revenues. I’m not saying it covers everything but that is, the capital cost is, primarily paid by the developer.

Bratina: Okay, so the evidence is that this so-called growth isn’t working because we’re $145 million a year short. So who should pay for that? And what I’m suggesting is that we’re building cheap houses for people who work in other communities. We hear this constantly shoved down our throat about how many people leave the city every day to go to work somewhere else. Well that’s because somebody who’s got a job in Peel can’t afford, at his wages a house there, so they get a nice taxpayer-subsidized house in Hamilton.

A good example is Maple Leaf [Meats facility in Burlington], because the average, the 900 or so on the production line, mostly live in Hamilton, because they can’t afford on the wages they get to live there.

So we have to consider as a council, and get the accurate information. It’s fine to say well we’re going to get all these new taxes from all these new houses. There’s your proof that we’re not getting the money back. And if you look at a growing community – like let’s say Alberta – Edmonton and the oil boom – they’re desperately short of houses. And there’s new jobs, there’s new people moving in. They’ve got to build houses. We don’t. We don’t have all these new jobs being created. All we’re doing is subsidizing residences for people who work elsewhere.

Nicely said. And that's my councillor. I don't always agree with him. But I think he's pretty good at what he does, and I very often do agree with what he says - including this.

Monday, January 11, 2010

l33t runnings.

Of course, most people resolve to be healthier in the New Year. Me too.

My motivation isn't really weight or shape or any of that... but I know how I feel if I'm healthy.

I know if it I'm eating right, getting enough sleep, and working out - and if I have the energy that comes with all three of those.

This doesn't come naturally to me.
For example, I am definitely not a running pastor.
Despite my height, i'm not a basketball-playing pastor.
(I'm more the sit-on-the-couch-and-watch-hockey pastor... maybe flood-my-backyard-for-a-rink even, if I had one. ).

That's as far as it goes... for a few reasons.

My depth perception isn't good.
My peripheral vision ain't so hot.
My balance is... questionable.
My reaction time and reflexes are sloooow.
And while I don't have asthma or anything like that, I have the natural aerobic capacity of a particularly narcoleptic sloth.

This means, of course, that watching me play volleyball is an awful spectacle - and pencil-and-paper gaming is more up my alley.

But not entirely. There's been a progression here:
  1. Elementary-age track and field competitions (Long jump was great, high jump was fine... unfortunately I could only make it halfway running around the 400m track before dropping down into a walk.)
  2. Jr. High gymnastics (except for being 5'7" at the time, that could have worked out. No leotard stories... this time. If there are still pictures, I'll provide bribes ;))
  3. Everyone's favorite.... Grade Nine gym class (and the no-name shoes that slid me into the walls on every suicide drill.... a ray of hope hit with buying my first pair of brand-name shoes - Nikes - and realizing that shoes with traction and cushioning might help things out a little...)
  4. In Grade 12, finding a sport I could play... rugby. - I don't need depth perception or speed. I run and hit people, someone else deals with the catching and speed. And the running drills got me up there.. a little. And I bought some trusty New Balance trail runners that are most certainly are far too worn out for me to still be wearing.. but I do.
  5. Discovering strength training. With the decidedly-not-for-my-age-category Strong Women Stay Young I also discovered dumbbells and rowing machines around this time
  6. Dorm life with a gym downstairs - and learning to run - my first real routine. I moved to Toronto. The Couch-to-5k got me running - for the first time in my life - for 45 minutes to an hour at a time at a good pace... four days running a week, three days of weights - doubling up on Saturdays, with Sundays off. I even worked at the Nike store for a while.
  7. Then I moved to Bathurst and Sheppard and did nothing exercise-related for a year.
  8. The year of glory - I got married, we moved closer to downtown, and we bought Goodlife memberships - and spent a great year and a bit using them at several shiny Toronto locations. Lifted heavier and heavier weights. Even did some personal training. And it fit in seamlessly before/after work and school. Too bad it was not to last...
  9. Then we moved WAY out to a lovely and very rural area... the equivalent of Winchestertonfieldville. It offered me the potential, should I choose, of an 11k bike ride to work over some very exciting hills... and that was about it. (I did it a few times though).
  10. Moving back to civilization... where I've been for a few years now. And it's time to get back at it. There's a lot of good side streets and trails nearby - and I need to do this. I walk a lot, but the strength training's gone out the window, my back enjoys complaining a majority of the time now, and I'm now only able to huff and puff my way through a few minutes' running.
But that's ok. I've been "out of it" before and got back into it. I can do it again. (and living at the top of a 3 story walkup does help quite a bit - especially when one has to carry their groceries up it. my muscles are in good shape, just not my lungs so much)

So tonight I started fresh.

Back with the Couch-to-5k.

Back with the 60 seconds jogging/90 seconds walking.

Back out in the fresh-fallen snow and (surprisingly) beautiful night. (Though I'll go for mornings most days). One drawer's full of my workout clothes again, and my dumbbells lie in the closet, waiting to be moved to a more strategic spot later tonight.

And it was awesome.
It hurt. It was tough. I'm so out of shape it isn't funny. I shouldn't be out of breath after running a minute or two. But that's ok... I'm starting from scratch again.

And the time flew.
I went up every flight of stairs at home feeling lighter than air.
I stretched out every muscle feeling a good burn.
Endorphins are a nice bonus.

And even in a day or two when it gets stiff and sore, that'll pass - and my body will build up the muscles that have broken down, bigger and stronger - along with bones and lungs and the hundred(s) of other benefits (This isn't the specific list I use to motivate me, but it's close enough.)

And if I keep doing this, it will continue to be awesome.
And if I keep doing this until the spring, I will get new running shoes and let the old ones retire.

That's just about all the motivation I need.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year --- 4 days later.

Of all the Christmas gifts I've received this year - whether large or small, practical or frivolous, lovely or absurd, this watch mechanism necklace is my favorite. And appropriate too around this time.

It's 4 days into the New Year already. Wow.

Already in this new year I've seen friends get married and my brother move across the country. Another couple I know gets married this Friday!

It's a new year and new things all right.

And that's good. 2009 was good for me. It's been a settling-down, a calmer year on a more even keel than the first couple ones in this city.

I'm very thankful for all the good things in my life. I inhabit a great city. My home is amazing and located perfectly for me. I have a great marriage. This last year has seen the development of some solid friendships here. Going back to school has turned out to be a program of surprising quality. I've been able to find work last year in everything from painting to my dreadlocking to landscaping. I've been able to volunteer and give my time a few places. And I work at a church with visionary, solid, compassionate, and hardworking leadership that also keenly understands this particular city... and I could not ask for more than that.

However, there are a few things I hope 2010 brings. They're all big, and they'll all require help from other people - not me alone.
  • I want to read at least 2 books a month. I love reading and don't have time for it like I used to. I want to make more time and buy/borrow more books.
  • I want to write more. Last year was different, but most years I write a lot. I want to get back at it this year.
  • I want to be more effective and intentional in how I lead youth ministry. We've picked intentional topics to focus on - I want to take more time so they're creatively presented, discussed, retained and practically lived... with time to keep all my leaders on the same page and pray through every part of that.
  • I want to spend more time to preparing the message when I preach. The content/research is fine... but the creativity takes time for me. And same here... I want to make sure I can stop, relax... take time to listen in prayer as well as speak... go to a coffee shop and review.. let it simmer a bit.
  • I want to network with more people in my field. There's a few pastors around who I've had a conversation or two with -- but I want to hear more from them. And I have an inkling there's some conversations I could contribute to, but I'm just not around to say anything most of the time - whether online or in person - and I'd like to be.
  • I'd like to bring some livable money in. You can't do anything without money. So either an exceptional summer job, an increase in one of my current jobs, or a very good job right out of school this spring - something, no matter what, that's stable and steady - constant hours, constant pay, not wondering when I'm working that week.
  • I'd like to be paying a mortgage instead of rent down the drain. Even with all the additional costs, owning is so cheap here... if we find a really good broker, this just might happen - and it makes financial sense.
  • I'd like to take a vacation. Jarod and I haven't taken a vacation together since our honeymoon - four years ago this April. The best we've gotten since then is a day or two at home alone together, but it would be nice to get away even for a weekend.
  • I want to start some type of running/weights again. Since I left Toronto and my gym membership, my six-days-a-week routine is now just a half-hour walk most days - and that's not really hitting cardio or muscle/bone mass.
  • and finally.... I want to slow down and make more time for people. I have no problem working real hard... but I don't want to become a person in the process who finds it impossible to turn that off. And starting with a bulldozer temperament (sad but true) and a driven, task-oriented personality -- I've become good at listening if I'm in a conversation, but I need to slow down and allow space for more conversations to happen.
If there was one word to sum it up... I've settled here, but I want to become better established.

More solid friendships, doing better at my current work, owning a house. And finding better routines to manage my time and taking care of my own body.

I want to end this year more established in every aspect than when I started.

Jarod and I were talking a day or so ago, and reaffirming that we're here in Hamilton for the long-term. Neither of us plans on returning to our hometowns. We liked a great deal about Toronto, but never felt we were destined to stay forever there or anywhere else we've lived... until we got here.

And although we don't know what the future holds, we think we're carving out a niche for ourselves that we'll fit in for years to come - and that it's a good, good city to carve that niche in.

We love this city. And we both plan to stick around a while, God willing.

And for those reading. I hope your year coming up is great. If possible, I hope it surpasses the last in every way - personally, professionally, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and more.

And if you're reading this you probably have a connection in some way - whether it's a friend of mine, through work, church, online or just because we both live in this great city. So to all of you...

Happy New Year!