Sunday, July 31, 2011


I'm working on something big right now.  Something impossible.  If I don't achieve it, well, it was impossible to begin with.  If I do achieve it, I guess it wasn't impossible, which will make me very glad I gave it a shot.

I know a lot of people who never try impossible things.  That's too bad.  Life could be so much bigger and better.  I imagine it would be quite sad to live life in a self imposed cage of limitations that only exist in one's mind.  (Actually I don't have to imagine.  That's exactly how I lived much of my life, and yes, it was sad.)

And hey, if us dreamers fail, we usually accomplish more than if we just sat back and said, "That's impossible."

Monday, July 25, 2011

One Of Those Days

Car troubles
Work troubles
Money troubles
Scheduling troubles

I know it could be worse but it feels like a lot of little annoyances have been building up and up and up and now, here I am.  Incredibly annoyed.  I am not usually a grumpy person but I feel a little on edge.  All these little things have got me down, and yet I know life is good.  I suppose I am most frustrated by the fact that I am annoyed by the things I wish didn't annoy me.


Just one of those days.

Well, if the purpose of this blog is to allow myself to be known, here is grumpy me.  There's no point trying to hide the fact that sometimes things could be better.

I'll be fine tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fireflies and Introverts

You may not have heard of Owl City but you have probably heard them. They have a very interesting style that I can't say falls into my musical preferences but I have to admit I find it hard not to be happy listening to them. Their front man, Adam Young, is an unabashed Christian, which is cool. However, he is also an extreme introvert. It always gives me a little boost to come across other introverts doing well in their field. Somehow I feel like I am validated when one of my people (introverts) breaks out in this extroverted world. I came across the following entry here on Owl City's blog which is mostly cut and pasted from Carl King's blog. I thought I would copy most of it and post it on Utils.  Of all the writings on introverts, this brief section is the most concise summary of how I have felt and how I feel others sometimes think about me as an introvert.  The writing in blue is my commentary on the commentary.

10 Myths About Introverts

I recently stumbled across a blog written by Carl King about the phenomenon known as the introverted human being and it struck a major chord with me. After each bullet, I felt like standing up and shouting “YESSSSSSSSS!” at the top of my lungs because these points (made by author Marti Laney, Psy.D) are total home runs. As an extreme introvert, this is like sweet manna from heaven.
I was lucky enough to discover a book called, The Introvert Advantage (How To Thrive in an Extrovert World), by Marti Laney, Psy.D. I feel like someone has written an encyclopedia entry on a rare race of people to which I belong. Not only has it explained many of my eccentricities, it helps me to redefine my entire life in a new and positive context.
Sure, anyone who knows me would say, “Duh! Why did it take you so long to realize you’re an Introvert?” It’s not that simple. The problem is that labeling someone as an Introvert is a very shallow assessment, full of common misconceptions. It’s more complex than that. (Since Carl King is talking about it, it has to be.)
Unfortunately, according to the book, only about 25% of people are Introverts. There are even fewer that are as extreme as I am. This leads to a lot of misunderstandings, since society doesn’t have very much experience with my people. (I love being able to say that.)
So here are a few common misconceptions about Introverts (I put this list together myself, some of them are things I actually believed):

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.  I don't like talking for the sake of talking or filling in the silence.  I prefer purpose to my interaction with people. 
Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.  I do prefer people start up a conversation with me, that way I know that the interaction is desired by the person interacting with me.  However, part of that probably has to do with the fact that in addition to being an introvert, I am also shy, and have to work through a little social anxiety every once in a while.
Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.  This is why I am not a fan of small talk and the purposeless exchange of words.  Many times I find myself wondering when will "that" person will just get to the point.  I think in addition to coming across as rude I may also come across as impatient.  Sorry.  If I initiate an interaction, usually there is a specific purpose to it, and I jump right in with no pleasantries.  I can see how that may take some people aback. 
Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.  Yep.
Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.  Yep.  I remember so many times growing up as a kid going to weddings, family gatherings, parties and begging my parents to leave early. I don't think my extroverted parents understood what was going on in my head.  Many times I would just wander off by myself to the parking lot, or park, or even the car and stay there for hours until they were ready to go.  
Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.  Yep.  I am always thinking and I do prefer one on one interactions to a group dynamic, most times.
Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.  I don't see the point of doing something just because everyone else is doing it.  That also means that many times I feel left out because I don't want to do the thing that everyone else is doing.  Which means sometimes I just want to be like everyone else.  There have been several times in my life where I have tried to be like everyone (extroverts) else.  I hated it.  I wasn't me.  And I was exhausted.
Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.
Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.  Think of Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory.  I can relate to him some times.
Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.  I may have a little adrenaline junkie in me, but I prefer to do my extreme sporting by myself, or maybe with one other person.  Most of the things I do, mountain biking, marathons, iron man, skydiving, snowboarding, etc... are individual pursuits, or at least I prefer to do them by my self even if there is an option to go in a group, most times.
Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers. That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.) Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.
It can be terribly destructive for an Introvert to deny themselves in order to get along in an Extrovert-Dominant World. Like other minorities, Introverts can end up hating themselves and others because of the differences. If you think you are an Introvert, I recommend you research the topic and seek out other Introverts to compare notes. The burden is not entirely on Introverts to try and become “normal.” Extroverts need to recognize and respect us, and we also need to respect ourselves.
This has been the question I have struggled with most of my life.  Am I broken and need to be fixed or am I normal and need to be accepted?  I have come to terms with my introversion and learned to function in this extroverted world while overcoming most of my social anxieties.  It has taken a while but things are coming along nicely.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I like numbers.  They are factual.  They can tell a story.  They can remove emotion and commentary from sensationalistic journalism.  They unlock secrets and give new insights into the universe.  However, numbers can also be twisted to tell lies and manipulate public opinion.  Like Homer says, "People can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. 14% of people know that."

Here's some numbers I found intriguing.  Some may be true.

7 000 000 000 - earth's population by the end of 2011
6 000 000 000 - earth's population at the end of 1999
5 000 000 000 - earth's population at the end of 1987
4 000 000 000 - earth's population at the end of 1974
3 000 000 000 - earth's population at the end of 1960
2 000 000 000 - earth's population at the end of 1927
1 000 000 000 - earth's population at the end of 1804

What does that mean?  
Currently there are more people alive now than the sum total of every person who ever lived on earth before them. Human population up until the early 1800's was rather linear.  Boring.  However, from 1800 it only took 123 years to double to 2 billion.  After that it was a mere 47 years to double to 4 billion.  Earth's current population took about 40 year's to double from the 1970's.  Expressing the growth as a function is boring but the truth the numbers tell when graphed show that earth's population is heading for (what calculus would call) a limit where earth's population doubles faster and faster until it reaches infinty around the year 2350.  Of course there are natural limits to the sustainability of the human population and the rate of reproduction which would never allow for that, such as disease, nutrition, and gestation.  However, if those issues didn't exist, mathematically by 2350 there would be an infinite amount of people in the world.  We would not have enough room to breathe, literally.  

Realistically, seeing as only half the world's population are women (approx), that gestation is around 9 months, most pregnancies lead to one child and that only 60% of women are of child bearing age at any given moment there is a biological limit that trumps the mathematical limit for reproduction. That's the fancy way of saying the least amount of time possible for the human population to double is about 3 years. So, instead of running out of room on planet earth by 2350 we're probably good until 2500. Whew!

              1 400 000 000 - China's population
              1 200 000 000 - India's population
                 400 000 000 - Facebook's population
                 310 000 000 - United States' population
                 230 000 000 - Indonesia's popultation
                   35 000 000 - Canada's population
                   35 000 000 - Estimated population of the world in 2000 BC
                        600 000 - Aproximate population flying at any given time
1 400 000 000 000 000 - Aproximate population of ants in the world

0.5% - Canada's share of the world's population

Saturday, July 9, 2011

VBS Day 5


I can't believe it's over.  It felt like it was just starting.  I was just getting to know the kids.  I was just getting to know the leaders.  It's a real possibility I won't see any of the people who passed through my life this week for another year.  That makes me sad.  They are so awesome.  Frick.  I'm not good at good byes.  I'll do a post about that later.

Today was good.

After everything was finished today, the organizers ordered pizza and we did a bit of a decompression lunch and then cleaned up.  You know you are surrounded by an amazing group of people when even the clean up is fun.  I volunteered to sweep the gym.  One of the kids, a daughter of one of our leaders, asked if she could clean the floor with me.  How often do you hear kids asking to help clean up anything?  It was special to me.  I have a lot of those little special moments stored in my memory banks from this week.  Today one of the boys from the games came and sat down beside me while our intrepid leader was explaining some rules.  It was special to me because I was not sitting with the other kids, but off to the side to keep on eye on everyone, and yet this boy went out of his way to come sit by me.  It may sound strange but some of my favourite times were taking kids to the first aid station and putting band-aids on them.  I know that sounds a little morbid, but you can't organize games for 150 kids and not have a few scratches and bruises.  The band aid time gave me a few moments to just be one on one with some of the children and chat about "life" and what they were up to, how they were enjoying the games, and things on their minds.  As the week went on I found it was the kids I had brought to the first aid station that were starting to gravitate towards me more and more.  That was special to me.

And now it's over.  I miss everyone already.  I'm not good with these feelings.  They're relatively new to me.  I'm not sure how to handle them.

I will definitely be back next year.

Friday, July 8, 2011

VBS Day 4

I can neither confirm nor deny the rumours that I jumped in a bouncy castle with a bunch of kids today.

Today was the first day I actually felt tired.  Part of that was just not being able to sleep because of the temperature.  It was a lack of sleep tired, not a lack of energy tired.  Having said that, I'm sure I wouldn't be able to run this current schedule indefinitely.  One more day to go.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

VBS Day 3

Ice Cream!

That's how we finished our day today.  And it was good.

More games, more kids, more on the fly adapting.

It does feel a little weird to me because most, if not all of our leaders, know each other, except me.  And most of the leaders know most of the kids, except for me.  So I feel a little behind the curve in that area, but I am still getting to know new people and I suppose that is the important thing.

Beyond all the fun though, I am praying that God is reflected through us to the kids.  I pray that eternal truth and a salvation relationship are nurtured and reinforced through the crafts, games, worship and interactions that are happening every morning.  Amen.

VBS Day 2

Another day in the books.

Officially we had 148 registered kids pass through our program on the first day.  Today was similar.  I can't believe I ran around with 148 kids all morning and still have energy today, after finishing up 8 hours at work to boot.  It really feels good.

I am finding shades of my personality are revealed to me as VBS goes on.  Although I really like working with all 5 groups of kids (divided by ages), I find that I would prefer to help lead one group through all events instead of lead an event for all five groups.  That is just who I am.  I prefer deeper relationships with less people and that is reflected in my preferences for VBS.  Having said that, I'm still having a blast running the games and working with my 3 junior high leader guys.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

VBS Day 1

Today was the first day of VBS.  I'm really impressed with the entire organization and program.  The church is great.  The people are great.  The weather was great today too.  We're expecting mid 20's and sun all week long.  Things couldn't be better.  I'm working with awesome kids and a great adult who has a similar style and philosophy as I do when it comes to working with kids and games.  We met up at 8:15am, started the actual VBS at 9am and ended at noon.  It was great.  I spent all morning playing with over 100 kids and left for work with more energy than when I started my day.

There are some things that just make me tick.  I like numbers, math, stats, economics, financial stuff. I like science.  I like bike riding.  I like movies.  I like politics.  I like kids.  Get me involved with any one of those things and my excitement level starts to rise.  It's just a part of who I am.  It has taken me a long time to figure that out.

I said previously that I am slowly finding places I feel I fit in this life.   Working with kids is definitely one of those places.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Dear Diary,

Wow.  It feels like I just blinked and June passed me by.  Where did it go?

Let's see, over the last 3 weeks I've helped NH move, volunteered to help CK move (but got bumped by an ambitious prayer group that helped move him a day earlier), spent the night in Baker Lake, Nunavut, had a birthday, attended a wedding, attended C&C, attended small group, attended several BBQ's, helped lead worship 3 Sundays in a row, went to a 24 party and worked about 50 hours a week.  Crazy.  Yesterday two of my former youth group girls (now women) got married and my oldest friend got engaged.  Life is really happening all around me.  I hurt my knee badly.  Surgery may be necessary.  And I got to talk to J and A, the two kids I still miss from my life in the North, on the phone.  It was good.  We're going to try and get together next month when their family passes through town.

This next week is going to be insanely busy.  It's all my own doing so I will take the blame, or credit.  I volunteered to take all night shifts this week at work.  Most people would rather work the mornings and afternoons than evenings so it was easy to trade with my coworkers.  Why did I do this?  I am now free every morning for Vacation Bible School.  Yes!  I am excited.  It's been years since I've had the opportunity to work with kids like this.  I had a reintroduction to it back in October when I helped at my church's Children's Fall Festival, but that was just for one day.  I'm going to be helping with games and sports all week long, with kids ages 6 to 12.  I'm excited.

I can't afford to procrastinate this week.  I need to keep to a strict schedule to make everything work.