Category Archives: blogging

It’s all about love…

Image result for love god love neighbourI normally just use this blog for things pertaining to books, movies, sport, and other daily kinds of mundane fun things, but I feel the need to do something different today.

I think that the events in Manchester this week, along with the aftermath, have probably brought me to this, although it’s been on my mind for much longer.

It all boils down to this – our world needs more love. There is too much hatred and it comes from all sides everywhere and is not monopolized by any one group, nation, religion, or whatever tribe people align themselves with. There are fundamentalists everywhere, who will do anything, to the point of killing innocents, to make themselves heard. History repeats itself over and over again with the same results. I don’t pretend to understand everything, or have the solution to all the woes of the world, but our world could definitely use more love, along with some understanding.

Each day I read posts on Facebook and the social media platforms where people argue about everything and everything, where there often seems to be too much shouting and very little listening. Things often turn nasty when someone doesn’t agree with another person’s thoughts or ideas. It would be a boring world if we always agreed with each other, but why do differences of opinion often have to cause cessations of friendships or resort to name-calling, or worse. People often try to hide behind freedom of speech, but this freedom comes with responsibility and doesn’t mean that anyone has the right to continually put down others or destroy their character. It’s not wrong to disagree with another person over something, but it is crossing the line when the disagreement takes a personal turn. C.S. Lewis always enjoyed a good debate and had no problem disagreeing with others on a variety of matters, but he never allowed such disagreements to lead to personal acrimony (for a good article on this read C.S. Lewis and the Art of Disagreement).

It seems lately, though, that some issues have become more polarizing than others. One only need to mention the name ‘Trump’ and things can soon get out of hand. Some claim he is God’s chosen man, others say there’s no way he can be, and then the barbs start flying and things often get out of hand. By the way, from where I’m sitting, I can see no evidence that he could have been specially chosen by God. First of all, such a claim doesn’t seem scriptural to me, and secondly, his life certainly does not reflect it, in my opinion. Nothing that he has done so far as the leader of one of the most powerful nations on earth has persuaded me otherwise. In fact, with each passing day it seems like his actions take him further and further away from the possibility of there being any reflection in his life of being a follower of Jesus. Even this week at the NATO meetings in Europe Trump has shown himself to be an ignorant boor, as he pushed himself to the front like a spoiled schoolboy, in the process shoving Dusko Markovic, the Prime Minister of Montenegro and leader of NATO, aside, then beaming like an imbecile when he got to the front. This shows a severe lack of respect and dignity, and is behaviour that belittles the position he was elected to. It’s hard to imagine Jesus behaving like this.

There are two key passages in scripture which point to the conclusions that I have come to. The first one is in Matthew 22 where one of the experts in the Law asks Jesus what the greatest commandment is. Jesus replies: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” If someone fails to follow these commandments then everything else they do negates any claims they may have to be a follower of Jesus. There is very little love for anyone but himself in the way that Trump shows himself on the world stage.

The second passage that comes to mind is in Matthew 25 where Jesus talks about the separation of those who have fed the hungry, given water to the thirsty, clothed the naked, looked after the sick, and visited the imprisoned from those who have failed to do that. To those who did these things he says: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Then he invites them into their inheritance. However, to those who have failed to do this things he says: “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Later he adds “I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Most of the proposals Trump has made so far will do little or nothing for the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, or imprisoned (i.e. the poor), so how can he be God’s chosen if he fails to follow the commands of God?

Basically, what I am saying is that it’s all about love, but not love of self before all else. If you are in doubt about the importance of this love thing, then take a few minutes to read the first letter of John. There’s enough in there to confirm, and add to, what I’ve already said. It’s not easy and I know there are times when I’ve fallen short in the commands to love, but I have to pick myself up and try again.

We live in a very broken world, but let’s not add any more hatred to it. Instead endeavour to follow the commands to love. In the end love will win. It may not seem like that at times, but it will.

Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts (May 4)

IMG_0603I seem to have hit a kind of wall lately when it comes to updating this blog. I’m always looking for ways to kickstart it again and found this weekly meme, which might be a way to get things going again. It’s called ‘Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts’ and is hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous. It just seems to be a list of updates and things from the previous week, some about books, some not. So I think I’ll give it a go and see what happens.

1. After a couple of slow months I think I’ve got my reading back on track again. I started off the new year pretty well, but somewhere in March things started to slow down a bit. Currently I’m enjoying Rob Bell’s How to Be Here, and am also finishing off a few others. I’m a little behind on a couple of my book challenges, but there’s nothing to worry about yet. It won’t take too much effort to catch up. The main thing is that I’m enjoying my reading again.

2. U2 announced yesterday what their special subscription gift is this year. It’s going to be The Joshua Tree Singles Vinyl Collection: 1987 & 2017, and it’ll be shipping out later this year. I’m looking forward to getting it then. Plus, it’s only 50 days until I see them in Toronto.

3. Finally Netflix put up some episodes of shows that I had been waiting for. I binge-watched season two of Better Call Saul in less than a week and I’m current getting through seasons 3 and 4 of Father Brown. I was disappointed that Netflix won’t be showing season 3 of Better Call Saul until next year, but I just discovered that the first four episodes are up on the AMC website for free (so I know what I’ll be watching for the next couple of days). *EDIT: I was only able to watch the first episode of the season for free. In order to watch the rest I would have to be subscribed to the channel on my cable service. Frustrated!*

4. Although my TBR pile keeps on growing, there’s a few good books coming out in the next couple of weeks that I’ll have to add to that pile. One that I’ll be getting for sure is Rob Bell’s What is The Bible? by Rob Bell. Hopefully I’ll be finished How to Be Here by then.

5. Today is, of course, May The Fourth day, when we celebrate all things Star Wars. With it being a week day we decided to hold off on watching anything Star Wars. Tomorrow night we are planning to at least watch Rogue One, which is fine because tomorrow is becoming known as Revenge of the Fifth day.

6. It was exciting watching the Leafs in the play-offs this year, even though they only lasted six games. Better days are ahead, I think. I’m not sure how much further the Raptors are going to go, as they are already 2 games down to the Cavaliers. Thankfully TFC are starting to find some rhythm now after a shaky start. They’re on a three game winning streak at the moment and it’s been great watching them recently. Thankfully Rangers first season back in the Scottish Premiership will be at an end soon. It’s been torture watching them recently, especially last Saturday’s game. Things can only get better and we’ll see if Pedro is the answer or not after the summer transfer window opens.

7. I decided to try a bookstagram challenge on Instagram this month. It’s a Seinfeld themed challenge hosted by The Nocturnal Reader’s Box. If you want to check out my feed I go by @wcs53 on there.

The Year Ahead

tolkien-realityI’m not that big on resolutions, but I like to sit down at the start of the year and set a few personal goals for the year ahead. This is the first time for a few years that I’ve written a post about it, but in doing this it might help me to be more accountable and to actually follow through on them.

2016 was a roller-coaster of a year personally. There were some really great moments, but there were also some times I’d like to forget about. It’s all in the past now, so there’s no point in dwelling on any of it.

So, on to 2017. Here are some of the things I want to work towards:

My health – I had my 50th birthday last year, which hardly seems possible, but it’s true. Most of the time I don’t feel like 50, but there are some things that remind me, although quite often it is those around me who remind me. I have found it harder to keep off the weight in the past year, so one of my health goals is to make sure that I exercise regularly. To do this I’d like to go for a 20-30 minute walk each day. If this is not possible then at least 20-30 minutes on the Wii Fit, either in the morning or the evening. Some days I’d like to even do a combination of both, but I’ll settle for one or the other. The other part of my health I’d like to work more on is my food intake. Being a vegetarian you’d be tempted to think that this wouldn’t be a problem, but I am probably about 20lbs heavier than I need to be. So, I’m working on my food intake and looking at changing some of my eating habits. If I could cut out my evening snacking that would probably be half the battle. At some point I’d like to explore going vegan, but I’m still working through all that this would mean for me.

My family – I moved to Canada almost 23 years ago and in five years time I will have spent half of my life here. It’s not a move that I have ever regretted and life here has been pretty good for the most part. In many ways, I now see myself more as being Canadian than Scottish and would find it hard to ever move back again. One of the downsides of the move has been feeling gradually distanced over time from my family (and friends) on the other side of the Atlantic. I have to admit that I’m not always the best at keeping in touch, so some of the distancing has been my fault as well. I always enjoy my visits back ‘home’, although quite a few of them have been for funerals, which can be kind of bittersweet visits. My goal this year is to make more effort to keep in touch with family and friends overseas. When I first moved over here it was harder to keep in touch, but now with many different means of communication available it should be easier to do so. As well as family over there, I always need to remember that I have my family here as well, so I need to continue to find ways of spending as much quality time with them as well. Our oldest child will probably be heading to University after the summer this year, so we need to make the most of her time at home in the next few moths as well.

My spiritual life – this is an area I’m constantly working on, but I made some personal breakthroughs in 2016 that have helped me move forward in a number of ways. It’s a little personal to share here, but I have shared some of it with those who need to know. For some reason I have started to waken up at no later than 6am each morning, with no need for an alarm. I have started to use extra early time in the morning more wisely and most days I manage to spend 15-30 minutes then developing my spiritual life. Some of what were my core beliefs have been really challenged over the last year or so and this has been a good thing. I’m not as dogmatic in my beliefs as I used to be and I’m finding that my spiritual priorities continue to change for the good. One of the things I really want to try and fit into my schedule this year is a silent retreat of at least 3 days. I’m working on finding something like this that will work for me. Another thing I’d like to work on is a personal rule of life and I have gathered together some tools that will help me develop this.

My working life – for the last few years this has been quite frustrating for me. Most of the time I’m fine with what I do and where I am, but there are times when I’d prefer to be anywhere else doing whatever. Most people probably find this happening to them, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I really need to do something about it. Conversations have taken place and I’ve put in writing some of my hopes, dreams, concerns, and so on, to those who need to know how I feel. I really can’t share here what this means, but am hoping that things become clearer in the year ahead.

My reading life – it would probably be an understatement for me to say that I really like books and reading. Last year, however, I really struggled with my reading and fell quite short of the goals I had set for myself. As I enter 2017 I’m feeling better about my reading. As I write this I’m still working on my reading goals for this year and am working out which reading challenges I want to sign up for. I’ve found a few that really interest me. Once I’ve worked this out I’ll add a tab at the top of this blog with links to the challenges I end up joining. I have a lot of books that I really want to finally get to this year, so I’m looking at challenges that can help me accomplish this. One thing I’d really like to do is to write more reviews of the books I read, even if some are only a paragraph or two.

Blogging – I started my first blog (Once Upon A Time In The North) in 2005 and have kept up some form of blogging ever since, although there have been time when I have posted very little. It’s something I enjoy doing, so I’d like to continue doing this in some form or other. My goal is to post more often, not for the sake of posting, but to try and make it more meaningful in some way or other. I’ll just have to wait and see where it goes, but I hope I can keep it up.

Photography – I enjoy taking pictures, even if at times the results aren’t the best. Over the last few years I’ve tried to maintain a photography blog with varying results. I did manage to complete a 365 type blog for one year, but it became more of a chore than it was worth. I still like the idea of having some kind of photography blog, but I’ll never attempt a 365 again. Instead I’m working on something else that I have referred to one friend as a 365ish blog. Once I’ve worked it out I’ll add a link to it somewhere on this blog. Making sure I have a camera with me wherever I go would be a good start as I work all of this out.

So, these are some of the things I’m working on at the moment. I have a lot of optimism as I move forward into 2017. If you got this far, then congratulations! I hadn’t intended for the post to be this long. If you have any ideas or suggestions as to how I can accomplish any of my goals then feel free to make a comment here or drop me an email. I appreciate the input of others, so any input would be more than welcome.

Happy New Year and may 2017 be a good year for us all.

Top Ten Doctor Who Episodes

Three years ago I posted this post, my Top Ten Doctor Who episodes, on my previous blog as part of Sci-Fi month. Since then, of course, there have been quite a few more episodes released, as well as a change in Doctor. I think there would be at least one or two Peter Capaldi episodes that would make my list now, plus ‘Blink’ would probably make it to number one. At least it’s just over a month now until we see the Doctor again. He’s been gone for far too long.

Two weeks from everywhere

Doctor-Who-50th

This weekend is, of course, the 50th anniversary of the first broadcast of Doctor Who. To celebrate this, I have attempted to put together my favourite 10 Doctor Who episodes. I have only included stories form Doctor #9 onwards, because it has been too long since I saw any of the shows from before then. I do remember some of the Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker stories, but it would be hard to compare them with the more recent episodes as I was much younger when I saw them and my memories of them are too distant.

I have re-watched all of the newer stories in order over the past four months or so, but there are so many good ones that it has been hard to narrow them down, so here goes:

10. The Fires of Pompeii (Doctor #10) – this was the second episode of series four. In…

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Catching Up

It has been an unusual year so far and it still has over a month to go. We started off the year living in half a house, as we were still undergoing renovations. Finally, in mid-April we were able to do most of our unpacking, almost ten months after we got here. We still haven’t got any of our pictures up yet, but I’m working on it. Besides all of this, we also had a lot of visitors (family and friends) visit this year, which was great. We never had many visitors during our 14 years in Elliot Lake, but now that we are in St Marys we are more accessible. It’s always great catching up with family and friends, so we’re just thankful that the house was in more of a state of readiness by the time they all visited.

When we moved here last year I had hoped to blog more regularly, but with all that was happening and things we had to unexpectedly deal with, I just got out of the habit and just didn’t feel like it at the time. However, that has changed and I now feel in more of a better place to post more stuff here again. A lot of it will probably be book or movie related as I enjoy taking part in some of the memes that go around a number of the blogs that I follow. Plus reading and watching movies are two of my favourite things to do in my spare time, so it’s kind of natural for me to want to blog about them.

My reading did kind of suffer there for a while as well. There were times when I couldn’t focus or just had trouble remembering what I had just read. Thankfully I am getting back to enjoying reading again, but I won’t reach my target of 75 books for this year, although I will still probably be close to 50. Fifty is a fitting number for this year as well, because I turned 50 in April, which hardly seems possible, but is true nonetheless.

At 50 I think I’m in better shape than I was at 40, but I’m finding it harder to keep off the weight these days. Once all the rush of Christmas is past, Pamela and I are considering signing up for Forks Over Knives. If you are wondering what that’s about click on the link or watch their movie, which is available on Netflix.

Getting back to my reading, my habits have started to change again, although one thing that hasn’t changed is that I buy more books than I read. I’m seriously thinking of giving up my participation in The Classics Club as I haven’t been able to keep up with it. I also have found that I’ve not been enjoying some of the books as much as I expected to. I’ll make a decision on it soon. One unusual thing that has happened is that I have discovered that I enjoy the odd romantic novel. During the summer I received a free romance in a giveaway, read it, and discovered it was a good escape for me. I’ve read a few more since then and they haven’t been all that bad. It’s only a certain kind that I enjoy, mainly contemporary, inspired, suspense, and sci-fi. The other categories don’t really appeal that much to me at all. I’ve found that I can get a lot of what I like for free or cheap on the Kindle or Kobo apps, so that has given me enough to read. Also, on the reading front, I joined the Renovaré Book Club this year again after taking last year off. The four books chosen for this year look like great reads and I’m enjoying being a part of it again so far.

For my 50th birthday my family gave me a turntable, so I now have something to play my vinyl on again. I now have to work out how to get my collection of vinyl that is still in Orkney over here. Now I spend some of my spare time checking out thrift stores for records. I’ve found some good deals there so far. Also, there’s a great vinyl store in Stratford, which is only 20 minutes away.

One other thing that happened this year is that we have TV again. For the past few years we’ve been relying on Netflix, DVDs, and the internet for our occasional viewing, but a few months ago we discovered that we could get a good deal with Rogers for their basic TV and signed up for it. We had been with Bell for our internet and home phone, but their prices were getting ridiculous. Being fed up with this, we shopped around and discovered that Rogers offered phone, internet, and TV for less than the two services we had with Bell. So, we changed to Rogers and haven’t looked back. We also gained unlimited bandwidth with Rogers internet, so we don’t have to worry about going over our limit like we had to do with Bell. We’re still not watching much TV, but we are enjoying the on-demand feature, which is something new to us.

Well I think that’s enough catching up for now. Hopefully I’ll keep up more with the blogging now and make keeping this site up worthwhile.

Sci-Fi Month 2015 – An Introduction

sfm15_5

This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2015, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by Rinn Reads and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

A couple of years ago I took part in the first annual Sci-Fi Month on my old blog, Two weeks from everywhere, and really enjoyed being a part of it. I had planned to participate again last year, but life conspired against me and I had to postpone my participation. This year I decided to give it another go, so here I am writing this year’s intro post.

I have had an interest in Sci-Fi for as long as I can remember, going back to the early 70’s when I would get my black and white fix of Doctor Who on a Saturday evening. In the years that have followed I have had more than a passing interest in Sci-Fi, although I would never describe myself as a die-hard fan. My main Sci-Fi interests tend to be fairly mainstream, enjoying such things as Star Wars, some of the Star Trek, Doctor Who, Douglas Adams, Ray Bradbury, and so on. I kind of remember reading a fair bit of Sci-Fi in my early teen years, but, sad to say, I can’t remember much of what it was. I do remember enjoying it, though.

When I took part in Sci-Fi Month 2013 I discovered that there is so much of the genre about which I am ignorant, with much to be discovered. This year I intend to pay much more attention to this and to try and discover some new authors for me to explore. I haven’t really worked out my own schedule for the month in any kind of detail, but I intend to include a few posts on some of my favourite things, as well as a few on some of the discoveries I make as the month progresses.

I really enjoy reading short stories and it seems that there is no shortage of Sci-Fi short story anthologies out there. So, one of the things I intend to do this month is to read at least one short story each day in an attempt to find some new (to me) authors that I enjoy, which will hopefully encourage me to check out some of their other works. I’d also like to be able to  write at least one post each week describing some of these discoveries. To help me with this I downloaded an anthology to my Kobo (The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Five ed. Jonathan Strahan) and borrowed another from the library (The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction: Sixtieth Anniversary Anthology ed. Gordon Van Gelder).

I’m looking forward to a time of reading, sharing, and discovering. Let the month begin!

New month, new blog

With today being the start of a new month I decided to start blogging again, after a hiatus of almost three months. It has been a busy summer as we have settled in a new community. After spending the past 14 years in Elliot Lake we moved to St Marys, ON, at the end of June. We are slowly getting settled in, although we haven’t done much unpacking yet, as we are waiting for some work to be carried out on the house. Hopefully it will all be completed before winter sets in.

St Marys is a beautiful little town on the banks of the Thames River. It is a different kind of beauty than Elliot Lake, which was more isolated and nestled in the bush. We will always have good memories of Elliot Lake, as our son was born there and we watched both our children grow into teenagers. It was the right time to move on, though, and we look forward to a set of new and different challenges/opportunities in St Marys.

I really haven’t fully worked out what I’m going to do with this blog yet. I’ll probably still do some of the same features/memes as on my previous blog, Two weeks from everywhere. I’d like to try some different things as well, plus I’d like to get back on track with my book reviews.

Thanks for reading this and I hope you’ll stick around for journey.

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