Attention Grammar Police!

If you should find offenses to the English language in any of my articles please leave a comment and let me know so that I can obliterate it forever! Thanks!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Quote for the Day

Why be influential when you can be effluential?

Kerinthians 1:4

Fatherhood... again...

My daughter turns 3 on the day we celebrate the Queen's Birthday this year. Ok, so I know that it's not the Queen's actual birthday but it does seem somewhat significant that on the day my country celebrates 60 years of ignoring that we actually do have a Queen, I will be celebrating 3 incredible years of adoring this little girl who has been worth more than a thousand monarchs to me.

She is definitely of unattainable value. I can't imagine what life was life without her, or her sister come to think of it. Only last week I put on my Wedding DVD and the predominate feeling wasn't nostalgia but the weirdness that non of my kids were there! I asked myself the question even, "Where's my children" before realising I was an idiot.

I am greatful to God for entrusting me with these Human lives that have taught me so much about life, about me, about God.

There is something complete about being a parent. Something that makes life make more sense.

Maybe it's my Christian Faith that points my mind in that direction but certainly every Biblical reference to God being our Father in Heaven took a paradigm shift in meaning when I became a Dad, almost immediately. After a whole life of thinking of God as the Divine Authoritarian Patriarch in Heaven, in a heart beat, from the moment her hours-old eyes looked up into mine on that winter's morning in June 2009, I immediately understood God being a Father as a Father. With the fierce intensity of Love that only a Father can have for this daughter, with the vow to protect her from all the world's monsters and demons, and the desire to shelter her from falling mountains would it come to that, and finally the knowledge that should I have to choose between her life and my own, I would indeed shed my own blood to preserve hers.

I shake my head in utter bewilderment and shame that I live in a world where Dads walk out on their kids, where parents abuse their children in ways I don't care to write about. I cry about it sometimes. I cry and pray and take comfort that even Jesus says of such people, "... it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea..."

I complain often about some of the things that go hand in hand with parenthood - the rarity of date night with the wife, the common occurrence of broken sleep, the frequent diaper from hell. But to be honest, I tell people those stories because that's all they are, neat stories. When someone asks me how's my week is going and the first thing I say is "These kids are driving me crazy!" I'm not having a whinge. In the nano second that it took for my mouth to come up with a response, my brain simply decided that my personal horror stories about parenthood would be far more interesting than how many bills my fridge magnets are holding up or how cold the airconditioning is at work. My kids make for far more entertainment. But the truth is, I know this to be a fact, that were anything ever to rob me of my progeny, the burning brilliance of the sun itself couldn't evaporate my tears and all those sleepless nights, the fights over bed time, the playing Mummy and Daddy against each other to get their own way and the constant array of toys never put away; I would swim in a sea of these sorts of domestic troubles just to have my girls in my arms, safe and alive.

Getting too deep.

Today my 18 month old came up to me, arms loaded with a glow worm, a cabbage patch kid and a white furred bear with an Anne of Green Gables style hat on its head. I was lying on the couch and she carefully set her "children" on my tummy before beginning the treacherous climb up onto the couch and eventually onto Mount Daddy. Like a giant on Olympus I scooped her up and set her by my side and just watched her in affectionate wonder as she played with her toys one moment and rested her head on my chest sleepily the next. What heart wouldn't melt under the glow of such adoration?

Of course I have to bring this blog back to where I began, to the almost 3 year old who is counting down the hours to her "Barbie Cake" which she keeps reminding me that none of the other kids are allowed to touch on her birthday. When I sat down to type this it was with the eagerness to tell the tale of what happened at bath time tonight but got so carried away with the introduction and the deep ocean of my affection that now I don't know how to successfully tell it!

Thankfully potty training for kid number one took place over a year ago. Of course once you've trained them you've got to stay on top of the endeavor, otherwise accidents ensue. But then suddenly, and I didn't even notice when, you realise that hey, I can't remember the last time this kid haunted me with a number two outside of the toilet! Then again you suddenly realise that you're not the one asking them if they "need to go" and they stop telling you too, but just take themselves. Once again though, don't take your attention completely away, otherwise accidents ensue. Like tonight when after yelling out, "Daddy Daddy, come look at my poo, it looks like a leaf!" (for some reason she has a simile for most of her potty adventures, I have no idea where she gets it from, but it started one night when she said, "Daddy, Mummy! It looks like a stingray! I'm going to tell my Nanna!") I put her into the bath after painfully supervising the cleanup process and taking mental note that the smell in here might need a few matches, I finally sit down to read my book while she splashes about in the water next to me.

Then I loook up and see something in the water, something floating and sort of swirling around with the current, no bigger than a 20 cent piece but clearly visible with its brown tones against the white porcalin...

"Sweetheart," I say. "What is that?"
"What?" She returns.
"THAT!!" I point.
In a beat she declares, "Its a leaf"
"Is it really?" I question.
"Yeah." She says confidently as she tries to catch it.

At this point I've already decided there's no way I'm putting my hand in there to fish it out and before I know it she has it on the end of her little finger. Then comes the gross part when she brings the thing right up to her nostrils and scientifically analysis her sample with a few deep sniffs.

"Is it poo?" I ask.
"Yep." She says, and hands it to me, poised with an emergency tissue in my hands! And she happily goes back to playing with her rubber duckies and plastic toys, while I wash my shuddering hands and haste away to tell my wife about what just went down.

Its the kind of story you tell a single childless person and they vow never to have kids, and yet its the very type of experience you cherish and share in a blog or save as retribution to embarrass them as teenagers. But deep down you simply admire their matter of fact approach to the world, their honesty and hilarious innocence.

In 4 days she will be 3, and I will be thinking to myself, "Please, don't grow up, please always be my little girl." That's the wish I will try not to make when she blows out those candles.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Quote For The Day

I was sitting outside reflecting on something; it was then that I realized that maybe it wasn't such a good idea to wear tinfoil!

Kerinthians 1:3
Ok, ok, I know! I said I wouldn't blog tonight! I didn't lie exactly... its just I got home past midnight and am so wide awake that sleep can't reach it's arms around me.

When my alertness loses some weight and some inches around its waist, as it's bound to in the next hour, I promise I will go to bed...

In the meantime I was happy to see that one of my recent blogs is featuring on a blogcarnival at My Wealth Builder with a few other interesting money related articles by other bloggers in case you want to check it out...

And while you do that... I'm going to tear my fingers away from this keyboard and force myself to bed!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Seeing as Blogging today is unlikely.....

My house is cold. I am tired. Standing on my tiled floor as I write this is like standing on a glacier. If I licked the floor right now my tongue would stick to it!

So seeing as I don't feel like Blogging right now and my night shift is going to suck the intent right out of my fingers, I'm sure of it... I thought I would share with my readers (surprisingly I do have readers! Just no followers... yet) a link to my Vlog channel on Youtube...

Most of it is complete rubbish of course but there are a few gems buried in the debri...

Until next time! God Bless!

Quote for the Day

A Christian who doesn't study his Bible, is a like a Doctor who never went to med school!

Kerinthians Chapter 1:2

Some Random Middle of the Night Type Thoughts

I was some where else, doing something else, in such a complete sense. My mind was firing signals like a fireworks display whilst I watched the whatever it was in my dreams as I lay like a mucus like paste in my cocoon of a bed. In case the metaphor is lost on you I was soundlessly asleep, snug, escaped, resisting consciousness like a running criminal resists arrest, when suddenly the screams from the room next door woke me up. Those blood churning, echoing cries of my almost three year old in the throws of a nightmare...

Naturally I'm usually the one transported from sleep into the realm of semi-consciousness. My wife was built with ear muffs permanently attached to her inner ear it would seem. So like a broken slinky I sort of rise and fall our of my bed and then crumple along the floor to my destination, the kid's room with all its horrors.

By the sound of the screams I'm half expecting to discover a kidnapping in progress but thankfully the only felony taking place here tonight is an unwanted dream and my 2.9 year old is shouting, "Mommy don't go away mommy! Don't go, don't go."

I should have guessed what was coming next. Her eyes open with a certain wariness as if someone had said the magic words, "Open sesame". But then slam shut again when seeing that the coming salvation is just dumpy dad in his thermal underwear struggling not to go completely zombie and threaten to eat her brains. She yells, "No I want Mommy! I want my Mommy!"

So we have our little war of the wills as I say she can come and sleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed but its not enough to quench the fire of her still burning nightmare and she keeps up with cries of "I want Mommy..."

"But come and see Mommy in bed!" I say, which is met with a half spirited attempt to rise before throwing herself back into her miniature bed and that same cry for the softer, lovelier, maternal one to come and save the day.

Meanwhile I look to the cot where my youngest is wrapped in the utter bliss of non-awakeness, perfectly oblivious to the tempest that swirls around her. I note that she too, like her mother, must have some super power that allows her to maintain her sweet sleep while the rest of us mope about like somnambulists.

So the long and the short of it is here I am at 2 in the morning typing on the couch in the cold damp living room, wondering if I could swim in the condensation on my windows, and my darling one is cuddled up to her mother in the bed that was mine once, less than an hour ago in fact, though it seems like another life time now.

I should be greatful I guess. I had promised myself I would give birth to a blog before I went to sleep and did that thing where I go to bed with my beautiful other thinking, I'll wait till she's asleep and then sneak out to hammer one out... and before I know it consciousness has run away from me and I'm blissfully ignorant of the fact... that is until the screaming reminded me of my forgotten intention.

The nightmares have been happening ever since I can remember her metamorphosing from that weird blurry phase between being a real baby one minute and a sort of not quite a baby but not quite a toddler stage. Just last week in fact I had the exact same experience, kicked away by cries that drilled through my ears that squealed, "Daddy, I want to go to the DVD shop! Daddy don't go, I want to come to the DVD shop!"

The infuriating part is, you are left to burn in the flames of your own curiosity when she can't tell you what happened or why on earth she was dreaming about a DVD shop, though it'd be my best guess that an animated Barbie Movie had something to do with it. That's another obsession I don't care to write about at this time of night! But I'm not even sure she even knows what a dream is at nearly age 3. I'm convinced she confuses them with reality as frequently throughout the day she will start a tale with the phrase, "Last night..." and then continue to explain a scenario that definitely did not happen and usually ends with, "There are Barbies in my home daddy."

Its not all unpleasant of course. There was one morning, early, when I came to the desperate child, crying in a heap of blankets and asked her gently what the matter was. She had the look of someone who had been frantically looking for something and shouting at me crossly she said, "Daddy! Where are the lollies? I can't find the lollies!" I had to laugh because I distinctly remember having the same dream when I was a child. Heck I remember having the same dream as a grown up, only the lollies are less edible and more spendable, round and money shaped.

This Easter past we broke a personal rule of mine, which was to not pollute my children with the notion that a giant rabbit comes bearing chocolate eggs at night. Especially in the present day when the idea of Jesus dying on the cross and rising again isn't even an association most children would hold up to Easter! But being nearly three and still old enough to believe in the marvelity and wonder of this strange planet I found myself going a long with the lie with both my wife and I explaining that the Easter Bunny was going to come tonight... and it did, only it was dressed like me and instead of just a chocolate egg I could not help but to buy her a novelty Barbie Egg that came with a Barbie Plate and a Barbie spoon. That would be an epic fail on my part concerning teaching her the true meaning of Easter! Sure enough while:

...all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Not me or my spouse

BAM comes the shout
Of wonder and glee
Of amazed young delightment
From the one nearly 3...

"Mommy! Daddy! The rabbit came on my bed and left me a Barbie! Mommy Daddy, the rabbit been in my room and left me a BARBIE!!"

Sometimes it can be a bit scary though. Two nights ago I slinked late into the house after a long shift at work and everyone was in bed where I should have been. But I couldn't resist the urge to wind down to a midnight feed and some YouTube. My current vice on the tuberverse being a crack pot show called Ancient Aliens. Well this night's installment just happened to be an exploration of the idea that Leonardo Da Vinci had been visited by aliens. Hey it was late and at this stage anything was worth watching. Anyway, I got to this bit where they were showing these ugly grotesque pictures of deformed people, gross people, almost not people. Even I was surprised by their strange quality that seemed to belong to a death metal album cover rather than the notes of the once great renaissance man. They made me feel strange, like I was looking at something more evil than artistic - then came the scream from the next room. At the precise moment that I considered the spiritual awkwardness of these pictures my little girl began to cry, "No, no no no!" In the next room. I hit pause and the cries stopped, so I pressed play again and the cries resumed. I decided I had had enough of Ancient Aliens for one night and turned it off, having what we used to call "the willies", mildly frightened and praying for the Lord's protection over us all.

I am looking forward to the day when over a bowl of wheat-bix we can discuss the dreams of the night before. Her imaginary world astounds me and keeps me in the realm of broken sleep which has become my current cross to bear. It would be nice if I could know and perhaps understand the imagery that seems determined to turn my waking brain into a cornflake. For now I can only speculate, awake, in the cold damp lounge, surrounded by the condensation and taunted by my sleepless cats.

Good night....

Monday, May 28, 2012

Quote for the day...

The scientist who says, "There is no God, because I can't put him under the microscope" is like a rat saying, "There is no scientist, because I can't put him under a microscope."

From the book of Kerinthians chapter 1:1

Saturday, May 26, 2012

26th May 2012 on Planet Me

I feel as if I have just woken up from some kind of cryogenic sleep, like in the opening scene of Alien, I’ve stepped out of my foggy sleep-pod and am now doing the “this steel floor is cold” dance in my space undies.

That best describes what coming back to blogging is like after so long of not doing it, the foggy sleepy parts at least, don’t let the metaphor lead you into thinking I’m typing in my undies or doing any sort of dance! Although I would like to own a pair of space knickers, that would be cool I think.

The things that threw my spaceship of life off course and away from the blogger-system were pretty straight forward. I became a Dad and then became a Dad again and somewhere in the jumble of all the priorities that went with early fatherhood, my desire to blog got buried under a mountain of soiled nappies, work, and otherwise more important goals. The only time available for me to write found itself the battle ground on which fought my desire to sleep and the often stronger craving to lose myself in Fall Out 3 on the old Xbox; a game which sucked up most of my fantasy life and no doubt saw the condensation of my imagination dissolve in the dehumidifier of idleness.

Actually, as in most things the cause for my quitting is over-determined. My brother is a teacher at a well known private school here in New Zealand, which looks like it has nothing to do with anything I am about to tell you but that would have been the case were it not for my Facebook page, the one I used to promote my blogs… well, I would add people randomly, knowing that when I posted a link to a new blog as a status update that it would appear in multiple news feeds. Is that abuse by Facebook standards? Probably. Anyway, one Sunday morning, after probably a few hours of sleep no doubt, I found myself at Church sitting next to my older sibling who admonished my efforts. It seems that students at his school were asking him if he knew who “Kerinthians” was and one girl quite seriously told him she thought I was “scary”. He advised me that perhaps I should stop promoting my blog this way…

I’m one of those poor sods whose “love language” is affirmation. Hearing that a 17 year old thought that I was scary, while I was quite innocently trying to promote my site, was more than I could take along with the 6 months of not clocking Fall Out, sleepless nights and earning 1 cent every other day on Google adsense made me do a serious re-evaluation of the worth of my blog life.

And so, as has been my habit throughout life, I gave up.


I want to spare you the interstellar journey that brought me back. There were a few meteorites along the way and a Russian tin can with a dead monkey wearing a spacesuit inside. But I can write about those another time perhaps. The long and the short of it is that after stepping on a few stones across the pond of the last two years, I found myself last week reading through some of my old blogs and wondered, “Why on earth did I stop doing this?”

And so I’m back. Hope you missed me!

So let’s get straight into the me you are probably used to and talk about farts. Earlier this week I couldn’t help but to chuckle while my nearly 3 year old was playing with her little sister outside on the porch, and I was pre-occupied in the bathroom. I could hear them doing something they weren’t supposed to. Probably murdering my pot plants again or my new least favourite thing of tipping over the cat’s cookie tray. When suddenly I heard Haydn crying out like a kid whose just had a surprise visit from the Wiggles, “You farted! You farted just like my daddy!” She screamed excitedly. Apparently she was talking to our cat, Felix, upon whom she had just pushed over the clothing rack we keep on the deck and as it squashed his tummy he tweaked out a toot which so amazed my innocent child that she just had to compare his gas emissions to my own. It makes me wonder how old I was when I discovered that animals farted to, and why can’t I remember? You would think that would be up there with the top ten things you found most exciting as a child. She certainly found it exciting and worthy of revealing to all our close knit neighbors!

I have to say at this point that I am finding fatherhood very satisfying. Deeply so. How can I describe it? It’s like being punched in the face with a diamond studded glove or having your butt bit daily by the goose that laid the golden egg. What I mean is, it’s the only hardest thing you’ll ever have to do in life that you know you would gladly and willingly do again and again because after the pain and misery that comes from the sleep deprived nights and the myriad of misunderstandings that sprinkle every day – you get to keep the diamonds left in your bruises and you still get the golden eggs; the “I love you daddy” that comes with a cuddle before bed time and the quirky little things they say.

Here are some examples. Haydn is about to turn 3 and some time ago my wife had shown her a “Barbie Cake” in a Birthday cake book we own. A Barbie Cake is a sort of beehive shaped caked that you insert a Barbie into (after the cake is baked I’m reminded) and then decorate the cake to resemble a flowing ball gown or fairy dress. Well that settled it. My daughter is obsessed with Barbie like a scab that just won’t heal for too much picking! Every day its “I’m getting a Barbie Cake for my birthday.” I have to pretend to cringe being the only male in my abode but to be honest it tickles my tear ducts every time I hear her go on about Barbie this and Barbie that. She had two of them in the bath the other day, role playing a Monte Pythonesque dialogue that went something like this:

Brown haired imitation Barbie with huge Bulbous head: Hello what’s your name?
Blond Barbie: Oh hello, my name’s Casserole
Brown haired Barbie: Your name’s not Casserole!

I’m still trying to figure out how Casserole became a name but what a clever little imagination!

So with the birthday on its way and the Barbie Cake about to be given birth to in our kitchen we give her some Barbie Invites to give to her friends at daycare. She was not happy when I told her that other boys and girls were coming to her birthday and when I asked her what was wrong she declared crossly, “The other children are not going to play with my Barbie Cake, if they touch it I’m going to say, ‘Hey, STOP THAT! Don’t touch my Barbie cake!'” Clearly the other children are a very real threat and I’m wondering if I should perhaps hide the kitchen knives before we bring the cake out on the big day? Or maybe I should bring some bouncers in for the occasion?

Cuteness is such an every day event when you have toddlers, which is just as well because it balances out the un-cuteness of being in the bath and having to keep the door unlocked just in case you’re now completely potty-trained 2.9 year old suddenly needs to go. But wait, she managed to use a plastic potty she found in her room and now wants to carefully balance the sploshing container into the bathroom so she can tip it down the loo all by herself just inches away from where your head is, and you can’t do anything about it because your hands are busy trying to cover up your embarrassing bits while you shout out to your wife, “A little help here please!”

Oh dear, this entry is becoming a bit convoluted, and now you're thinking of me in the bath! At this point you should probably go get yourself a glass of milk and some cookies before I continue...

At least doing a balancing act with a potty fill of pee is balanced by her ability to make up songs, which is a trait she shares with the three year old me from 30 years ago. Except where I was making up songs about Battlestar Galactica destroying Buck Rogers she sings:

Hey diddle diddle
The cat did a poo poo
The cow dumped over the moon
And washed the spider out.

That's no joke, that is actually what she said, just not in that particular order. And the sad thing is, when those amazing solar flares of creative genius leap from her lips I'm not allowed to laugh because it'll shatter her wee confidence!

One of my favourite things to do with my girls is take them to the museum. I get a kick out of a) knowing they have no idea what they're looking at and b) knowing that I have no idea what we are looking at and that they don't care. Instead of trying to explain everything I can take a stroll and just enjoy their reactions to the great big stuffed elephant they have or the stuffed Orangutan in the tree house who my daughter tells me is a naughty monkey. Its great, I don't even have to try to explain the difference between a monkey and an ape because we've already moved onto the stuffed Rabbit trapped under the tree... There's a particular section that I think everyone who visits the Auckland Museum loves and that's the Toys through the Decades display where behind thick, probably bullet proof, glass they show toys from the olden days, like the 1990s. Where Haydn will instantly find the Barbies and beg me to lift her up so she can get a closer look. There on a glass shelf above my eye level are two blond plastic girls carefree in the front seat of a convertible Cadillac, and mesmerized, Haydn says, "Daddy can I play with them?" "No." I said, "They're trapped behind this glass." But not to worry because Haydn knows just what to do, "Daddy, we have to ask the lady to open the glass so we can play with them." For serious.

So I try to change the subject and upstairs in the discovery centre and viewing the "yucky" dead things in the preserve jars we find a dinosaur puzzle and I ask her, "What type of dinosaur is this one Haydn?" She thinks about it for a second and tell me, "Its a casserole." There's that word again, what is going on inside that little head of hers? At least she didn't try to tell me it was a prehistoric Barbie!

So before this entry turns into an epic tragedy I had better flee to the bed that calls out to me from not too far away, it's saying, "Come, lie on top of me and squash me with the hefty dead-weight of sleep, you lazy piece of banana cake!" My head is saying, "Take me to your pillow!" And I am all like, totally... let's go!

Until next time remember this - If your kids are a reflection of you then you are pretty darn cute!

To prove that I really did take my girls to the museum here's a video of us discussing Cockraoch society...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Blogger App - a Review

I thought seeing as I'm already mucking around with the thing I might as well "text" a quick blog about the blogger app with all it's pros and con...

I say Pros because of it's multiple positives such as being able to quickly upload a pic of me doing the magnum pose (or blue steel depending on the angle...) It's also relatively easy to view/delete posts and more importantly posting things is easy to... Though I can imagine using my wife's iPad right now would be much easier with it's superior keyboard... But if you can stand texting with your thumbs then that shouldn't put you off as much as it does me, a t-Rex with an iPhone!

I can't speak for other phones but the iPhone 3GS I'm using forces me to write this blog using the smaller keyboard aspect ratio... I would definitely prefer to be able to tilt the phone and increase the length of the keys... But oh well, it's still pretty cool and beggars can't be choosers.... Or can they?

The app developers have been wise enough to include a feedback function which allows for a multiple choice approach to "dogfood" the application, along with a few text fields for you to be a bit more specific, like I was with the one thing, the "con" that really bugs me about this app - I can't view my stats... And if you're anything like me, I'm a stats junkie, finding myself with a free moment I tend to want to hit refresh like one of those psych rats pressing the euphoria button in a lab experiment... You should see me with my adsense this way, every hour I press "refresh" to view the one cent that I made that morning to watch with hopeful displeasure how it changes throughout the day to nothing but the same one cent it was an hour ago!

Finally if they could do something about the spelling I just had to fix... But that's probably more to do with my ancient brain attempting to use this new infernal device than the app itself...

Now if I could just get them to make my kids breakfast so I can stay right here on the couch...

Check out this application on the Apple App Store, search for "blogger"... I would have included a link but I'm dumb, lime a dinosaur...

In the meantime heres me doing blue steel in my intelligence boosters (glasses)

A Pic From My Phone

Putting my new Blogger App to the test...

Pimp My Twenty Bucks - Part One

I want to tell you about a certain love of my life. She is delicate and yet rough enough to have a tattoo on her face, of The Queen. She's not scared to pay for her man (that's me) and my wife is more than happy to allow me the freedom of her company... ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to the New Zealand twenty dollar note. She's not that bad a gal to keep in your wallet for a cold day and might even get me more than a couple cups of of coffee.

But let's face it, she's lost some of her lustre. Although her plastic nature has kept the wrinkles from her Queen Tattoo I can't quite get her to stretch as far anymore with her financial power. What used to be enough for a paperback novel, 20 litres of gas or my monthly mobile phone bill won't even get me two thirds of that Novel I've been wanting to buy, can only squeeze less than 10 litres into my tank and while it still covers my text messages she only leaves me with 50 mb of data for Internet usage, which barely lasts me a week. Nope, shes' just not the fun girl she once was.

You see, I'm a man with needs! I could do with a new pair of shoes... I went to a fine dining experience with my elegant spouse on a recent evening wearing everything the right way above my ankles. As I walked into the fine establishment with its flashy waiters and rich poncy people sitting at their tables sipping a $19 glass of whatever all I could think of was, please don't let anyone notice I'm wearing tramping boots! On the other hand I would quite like to visit my dear old mother who lives about a $60 petrol ride away, but $20 will get me just far enough out of Auckland to end up being the guy in a horror movie that starts with his car running out of gas on a lonely rural route. I don't want to be that guy so I think I'll stay home and wonder how I'm going to cough up the cash to neuter my cat. He's a big ginger 6 month old nightmare called Felix who I should have named Jubba the Cat. Just looking at him its not hard tom imagine a miniature Princess Leia chained to his fat stinky exterior. He's a nightmare of testosterone and fleas and needs to be dealt with. Twenty dollars will get me a rubber band to do the job myself but to be honest I think he would agree with me, its better to pay the vet bill than even think about going there.

So the challenge is, how do I turn this $20 of mine into something more spendable? How do I transmogrify this green Queen clad bill into something red with a picture of some moustached up dude from my country's past whose name I can't remember right now, but he must have been important because where our Queen got the worthless twenty dollar note, he took up residence on our rarely seen $100 (rarely seen in my back pocket at least).

I've put a great deal of thought into this over the past year and am now ready to invite you, the reader, on a journey of multiplication. I'm going to test a theory I've developed, and blog about it. The theory is so simple its almost stupid, not because it works but because it took me 30 years to realize it, and amazingly it takes most people a life time never to even make it that far. My theory is that anyone can turn a little amount into a bigger amount if they just use their brains a bit...

It began over a year ago when I walked into an op shop in Aussiestralia (spelt that way on purpose) and I was thrilled to discover that here I could get a paper back for a meager dollar! What joy filled my heart when I discovered they actually had some decent titles by the likes of Michael Crichton and Dan Brown (though Dan Brown isn't really that great, his books are rubbish), but by decent I mean popular - for a dollar!

And so the seed was planted in my brain and remained long enough to grow into a money tree... I began to realize that I had resources at my disposal and certain interests that I should be able to benefit financially from. The resources being the Internet and the interest - my love for books.

And so I poured the concrete of this idea into the foundation of this endeavor and as it set here is what it looked like:

Having been a semi-avid reader for many years and also a clerk in a bookstore in my younger days I have developed a certain knowledge of books, what is popular, what is not, but more importantly I know what I like, and if I like something then surely someone else out there must like it as well?

Secondly with opportunity shops all over the place surely they are a source of cheap books? What if I were to purchase some with the intention of selling them for up to three times what I pay for them?

Thirdly with tools like ebay (or here in New Zealand we have Trademe) I can cheaply list these items and, well, sell them.

I told you it was ridiculously simple.

So I looked and found in my own neighborhood an op-shop with a hoard of books that seems to be replenished weekly and purchased paperbacks for 50 cents a piece! Authors like Tom Clancy, Crichton, Wilbur Smith, Jack Higgens... you name it, the list goes on. I listed them, and slowly but surely found, well, not success exactly, I didn't go on to build my Trumpian empire, I didn't found "Virgin Books" and buy an island to retire on but I did find a way that a simple chap like me could double his money, painstakingly over a few weeks, money that actually came in handy when I found myself in need.

I know what you're thinking, it goes something like this, "Yeah but the time you invest in going to the shop, listing the items and actually posting them, just isn't worth it." That's fine if you have a better idea you are actually implementing. But at the end of the day I ended up with a fist full of dollars I would not otherwise have had, money that I made out of my own God given ingenuity.

As a bloke it made me proud I must say, and my wife smiled at me with a certain adoration her ancestors might have given her great great great great great great.... granddad upon bringing home a freshly killed zebra or the like.

For the purposes of this blog I have decided to start again from scratch so you can follow and participate in my little financial adventure. Beginning with only $20 here's what I have done...

I have credited my Trademe account with $10 to cover my listing fees. With the remaining $10 I have purchased 16 titles which I have placed on a 7 day listing here: (just for the extra curious among you).

For as long as it takes I plan to document in a series of blogs my success or failure to turn my meagre $20 into a handsome hundred!

Why books you may ask? As alluded to up the top, books are something that I know about and am comfortable trading with. I'm not exactly going to buy a mating pair of rabbits and encourage them to have babies so as to increase the thickness of my wallet, because I'm not particularly interested in rabbits and don't even know if I can get 2 for $20... my point here is if you would like to put these hopelessly basic principles to good use then do so with your own interests, whatever it is that gets you going, utilize that interest and look for ways to make it work for you.

In the mean time we're all just going to have to wait a week and see if my little scheme works...

Click here to read Part Two in this series...

Click Here to follow me on facebook!

Click Here to listen to a completely random song that I wrote which has nothing to do with this blog!

Wish me luck and stay tuned... and click the "like" button for good measure!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Demise of the Christian Artist

I was braving the traffic in my trusty steed of a Cefiro, almost upon my destination. Work. That industrial vampire that sucks the life right out of my veins with daily regularity and only my salary as recompense. Not like those “real” vampires that seem to offer perpetual life without end with the slight side effects of needing a coffin for a bed and the eternal misplacement of one’s soul. The Vampire known as “work” rather makes you prefer a coffin and reminds you, for what feels like eternity, that you are destroying your very soul just by being there.

So that’s the mood I was already in, which should have been reason enough NOT to be listening to my least favourite talk show. While the choice was mine not to turn the radio on in the first place I didn't have the option to change the station. For some strange reasons the radio in my car hates me enough to allow for a dusting of a few minor AM stations that are either boring or in another language that also happens to be boring – not like those other alternate language stations that have the high pitched middle eastern wailing and sound like someone has been trying to teach their cats how to sing in multiple ranges. So I settle on the Christian Radio station we have over here known as Radio Rhema.

Now don’t take me the incorrect way, I actually rather like this station for its various shows; the odd Chuck Missler spot, he’s always fun with his extreme interestingness and late night on Sunday with Ravi Zacharias who is a weekly reminder that being a Christian and throwing your intellect down a drain are two completely different notions. They also have the daily News Run between 4 and 7pm every week day which is actually brilliant, because they focus on the news and not the mews like secular media tend to do. I’ll actually hear the stuff the secular media won’t talk about because they want to protect their sacred leftardiness to the extent of telling the half truth and nothing like the truth.

The problem however, about Radio Rhema, is that the music is cringeful. If I’m listening to the station at work and some poor fellow wanders into my department I will run to the radio, even if its 50 meters away, just to dive bomb the volume control. Not because I’m ashamed to be listening to the Christian radio network, not at all, it’s because most of the music is cruelly awkward. How do you explain it? It’s like when you’re 15 and you bring home a girl you are desperately in love with but she has no idea (or at least you think she doesn’t) but somehow, and you don’t know how, your mother has figured out that you feel this way and she does everything found in the Book of Total and Utter Humiliating Things You Can Do To Destroy Your Teenage Son’s Life, except she thinks the book was called, How To Be Totally Awesome When Your Son Brings A Girl Home. If you can imagine that feeling then you might be able to understand how I feel about the Christian Music Scene.

Man when I sat down to write this Blog I was going in a totally different direction, but I’ve taken the fork down a one way street and I’ll have to keep going until those roads of thought re-meet!

Maybe the reasons can’t be helped? I get that as Christians we have the message of God’s Love for a disassembled World and his sending Jesus as the only viable method of reassemblage. So the Christian Artist feels that he HAS to communicate that. However the result is that in the end only Christians will listen to your music and non-Christians – won’t. On the other hand you get the artist who, acutely aware of the above problem, thinks our message needs a rebranding so forces his songs into the mould of whatever the secular music scene is pumping into the populace… and the effect is like when you’re 45 year old dad tries to sing hip hop in front of your bros, either that or Abba’s Dancing Queen. Personally I’m not sure which mental picture is worse. Maybe my finger still isn’t on IT. Of course there is music and song written for the lone purpose of praising, worshipping and just plain adoring the Lord, and I think that’s lovely and enriching, but I’m talking specifically about Christian Entertainment – there’s something unbearably wrong with it, it’s as entertaining as the emperor with no clothes. It has no teeth, its delinquent somehow its… it’s... FORCED! That’s the word I’m looking for, forced!

Now I’m a creative chap as you can probably tell by this bucket I’m wearing on my head with holes in it for eyes. You can’t see it? Oh well, I did however successfully create an image in your head that you found either funny or disturbing, but that’s what I’m good it, creating images with words and employing your brain to do half the work for me. That little spark from my creative lighter was as easy as a sneeze on my part and is still keeping you guessing as to my point. Well let’s say in that one sentence I needed to impart to you a grand spiritual reality, actually I believed that I absolutely HAD to and it would be a megalithic peccadillo were I to just randomly throw out a line about holy buckets; suddenly the creative process has been perverted in some way, suddenly I’m not an artist but a salesman and the whole act of creating now has regulations that go against the hair follicles of spontaneity. The result is you will get a message like this:

"Now I’m a creative chap, made in the image of God, that’s why I’m creative because God creates and so do I, just like God. You can tell this by the bucket on my head that is red, symbolizing the precious blood of the lamb spilt to cover my sins. So in the way that this bucket covers my head, so does God’s love."

The message is now convoluted, strained and nearly unpalatable. I don’t think this is how God ever really intended the Artist to live, not equipped as we are with brains that flit about like fantails after a myriad of sand flies. My mind is like a hyper-epileptic massage chair, it can’t sit still. It’s like living in one of those lottery spheres, the ones with colorful numbered balls bouncing around and there I am standing in the middle trying to catch one that I can work with. I can’t force a ball to appear, I can’t turn off the vibrating chair, I have to roll with it.

The best things I ever made, the best songs, the best bits of prose, the best twinkly moments on the piano, they were all things that just came to me. But when I sat down and said, “Right, I’m going to write a worship song now.” You could almost hear the crickets chirping as nothing would come and anything that did was not worth the carbon emitting from my frustrated ears. The depressing thing is, I am convinced, that this is what a lot of Christians do, they spew out the stuff they feel they HAVE to make which is concocted and second rate and ignore the greater masterpieces that are just shoved on the sidelines because “they don’t glorify God” but somehow the crumbs that fall from their table do?

It has taken me years to learn this lesson. There have been times in my life when I have ran with the whim of whatever idea came to my mind and I made things that even now I marvel over how little old me could have made something so remarkable. But then there were other times when I married the idea that God wanted me to serve in the Church so I lined up all my greater works and sacrificed them on the alter for “the glory of God” when in actuality I was just scared of what my brothers and sisters would say if they knew about the Zombie movie half written in my brain or the witty tome I had jotted down about my personal history of nose picking.

Apart from the fear of man was this idea that I had to please God. A religious attitude forced the Willy Wonka like factory line of my head to change its impulsive approach to creativeness and demanded that the Umpa Lumpas take a more ordered and self-righteous approach to my talents. And as a result only a few things fumbled their way through the creative loading-bay of my brain. The Loading bay that was supposed to be shipping truckloads of my own original morsels throughout the world was instead collecting dead spiders and dusty dead skin cells.

I’ll try to get to the point, if my brain will let me. The world is not the same… duh! The once great Christian West has become the not so great “just West”. The Christian West produced Shakespeare, Handel, Beethoven, Mozart, Milton, Dickens, The Renaissance driven Rermbrant and Michael Angelo. More recently we can thank Christian minds for Middle Earth and the Chronicles of Narnia. This is just a cursory glance of the illustrious and prolific personalities that came from the Christian World. Back in the day men and women with a Biblical mindset dominated the arts and their works are still with us and almost immortalized! I don’t think they necessarily tried to be Christian about it either; they just gave us what was already inside them to give.

Why can’t we do the same?

Somewhere along the line the artists living in the Christian Bubble turned inside and started producing works for only us to see, and the world just kept on going, and forgot Christian artists even existed... We have lost our influence.

If I could write one brilliant book, not a Christian story necessarily, just a tale that somehow captured the imaginations of a million men, and it be known that I, a Christian, wrote that book – I would rather that than write a mindless piece of Christian Propaganda heard by only a few and soon after forgotten. If something I write influences no one for Christ then praise the Lord! Because the money I make from it will succeed in its stead, not to mention, as Solomon put it, my good name will be sweeter than a fine perfume! Let the World know that Christians smell fantastic! Make something amazing and make them notice!

Jesus said, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” I say we store up the good. Store it up until the walls of your brain are straining to the point of bursting, and when the inspiration comes - run with it, and let the good naturally flow into the thing that you’re already making. Within moral limits create whatever is on your heart to create. Make something marvelous, not something cheap; don’t cheapen the gospel by forcing it into a trinket. It is enough that you are a Christian and that you acknowledge him when the world acknowledges you.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Children and Pets are Not the Same

As most of my subscribers are aware I am the proud father of two wonderful children. Now recently a friend suggested to me that having pets was somehow synonymous with having offspring! I realized that I've actually heard people say this before, and it also dawned on me that most of these people actually believe what their tongue is suggesting, unaware that if ones tongue could cross its fingers when telling a fib, it would certainly be doing so at the mere suggestion that a Human Child is even remotely anything like a four legged subservient creature that can double up as a mega-city for fleas and would prefer to use it's mouth when washing it's.... well, you get the point.

 Nevertheless I still feel compelled to now take you on a journey to explain the spleen bursting absurdity of that belief. Please note these comparisons are for "normal" otherwise responsible pet owners and parents.

 The last time I checked pets can be obtained from a pet shop, an ad in the news paper or by catching them with a net in a pond. Legitimately speaking children can not. No level of intimacy is required for obtaining a pet except the affection I feel for my wallet; children on the other hand require the co-operation of 2 people, sometimes a doctor or in extreme cases an adoption agency after rigorous background checks that can be quite painful and time consuming. Come to think of it one can obtain a pet whenever they want to, children on the other hand come either when you don't necessarily desire one or don't come when you emphatically do desire one. Children and Pets - are not the same.

 Once you own a pet its entirely up to you whether you keep it. Should your cat or dog for example develop a personality not suited to the tranquility of your home you can a) give it away, b) sell it or c) eat it (provided it is actually edible or you belong to an ethnicity that enjoys the meat of that particular entity) and society won't frown on you as long as you have a respectable excuse like, "My job's hours were too much and it wasn't fair to keep him/her at home with no company so, although it was a painful decision I had to give it away" or, "I was made redundant and my personal debt was making it impossible for me to even afford food, so although it was painful, I had it slaughtered and now I have enough meat o get me through till June, but at least he will always be a part of me this way." As long as you have a similar good excuse most of your friends will nod in agreement and even applaud you for doing the right thing. With children on the other hand, as soon as their personality becomes apparent, and the moment you realize certain aspects of their individuality conflict with your own - none of the above options are open to you without definite consequences. You can not give your child away, sell it or even eat it without your friends and family directly or indirectly ostracized you to some degree. Children and Pets - are not the same.

 Moving on most animals we keep as pets such as dogs and cats will be cared for by their own mother until they can walk and eat solids. This generally takes a few weeks. From here on whenever your dog gets hungry you have the following options - pour some food into its bowl, throw something at it or put the animal outside and promptly forget about it. You will/should never have to carry your pet around with you for several hours a day (unless it is a torso only pet which as far as I know does not exist) because you will never have to teach your pet how to walk. You will/should never have to breast feed your pet on demand and should your pet demand it, again you can throw it outside or consider having it put down. You can not put your child outside and you can not have it put down. Children and Pets - are not the same.

 Your pet will have accidents on your floor but will generally learn to "go outside" or "use the litter tray" within its first year, and should it fail you can rub its nose in it and say, "Bad Dog" or "You stupid cat!". Your child however will leave its waste in plastic pants called "diapers" for you to personally deal with yourself - daily, for the first 2-3 years of its life. When he/she has an accident you are not free to rub their nose in it and say, "Bad Dog!" or "You stupid cat!" because this will make you a bad parent, robbing your child of their confidence, prolonging the time required for potty training and leaving them with scars that will never heal but will find their way onto a psychologists couch when they reveal the reason they have never succeeded in life is because you treated them like an wretched naughty animal. Not to mention you will be personally responsible for the cost of their therapy. Children and Pets - are not the same.

 Come to think of it your pets will NEVER have to have therapy, because your pet will never hate you. Actually your pet will never love you either. As far as your pet is concerned you are the other entity in the house who can scratch its hard to reach places and tell it to "sit" for the occasional treat. Your child on the other hand starts life loving you more than anything else in the world, but their continued love is anything but guaranteed, as you will have to tread the tight rope of the next 18 years of his/her life, ever so carefully and strategically, in order to retain that love, knowing that at any point you could make even the most subtle of mistakes to mar them for life and cause them to hate you or distrust you for a very long time if not forever. Your dog on the other hand will still want to lick your face after you given her puppies away. Children and Pets - are not the same.

 By the time your dog is 1 year old it has already lived the equivalent of 7 human years. Put into perspective your dog will be a baby for 1.7 months. It will be a toddler for 3.4 months, a preschooler for 3.4 months. By the time your dog is old enough to be a teenager it will only have been alive for approximately 20 months and within 3 years, were it a human being it would be old enough to receive a 21st key and the suggestion that maybe it should leave home. Your child however will be a baby for one whole year. It will be a toddler for 2 additional years and a preschooler for 2 more years. He or she will be considered a child and in need of constant adult supervision for 14 years and will be an absolutely abominable concoction of rogue hormones, tantrums and acne for the next 8 years, and will not be a proper adult until some time after the first 25 years of his/her life. At no point in that 25 years do you stop being responsible for their actions or caring for their hardships or wishing that you could just put them in a box and leave them there until they just grow up or stop asking you for money. At least there are times you are allowed to put an animal into a box. Children and Pets - are not the same.

 Your cat will never grow up to be the next Einstein, Mozart or Mother Teresa  Conversely your dog will never grow up to be the next Hitler, Mussolini or Dr Phil. And whether they become one extreme or the other entirely depends on your parenting. The pressure is entirely on you to make sure your children become good functional and upright citizens of society. Your dog however will die within 12 -14 years and no one will care. Children and Pets - are not the same.

 If a cat gets run over it is put into a plastic rubbish bag or box and buried under a tree in your backyard. No one has to be notified. No prayers said. And while you may be sad for a few weeks you will get over it and eventually buy another one and call it "Lucky 2", hoping that this time round he/she will have better luck. At the same time you might be the only person in your household who actually liked that cat and discover to your horror that some family members are actually relieved or even happy that that miserable filthy feline is finally fertilizing your lemon tree. Your neighbor might have even run over your cat on purpose. You will never, however, put your child into a clean sack and bury them in the backyard, why - BECAUSE CHILDREN ARE NOT THE SAME AS PETS! You will never get over it and you will never find a single family member who is happy about the departure, and you will never ever give a child a name like "Lucky!" No, children and Pets - are not the same.

 Your pet will never wake you up at 3 in the morning to tell you its had a nightmare or that there is a monster under their bed and you will never have to sing it a lullaby or sleep on the floor next to it until it calms down - unless of course you are a complete weirdo.

 If your dog eats its vomit you encourage it to do so because you don't want to clean it up yourself. If your child tried to eat its vomit you would have a sort of panicked frenzy of a fit before possibly vomiting yourself.

 You will never have to stop your pet from sticking things into power sockets, from eating dead flies or say things like, "Get that finger out of your nose". You will say at least one of those things at least three times in one day to your child.

 If someone offered me a thousand dollars for my cat - I would give them my cat.

 If someone offered me a thousand dollars for my kid - I would call the police!

 Your dog will never vomit in your face. Your child probably will.

 Your pet will never sit on your lap and while having a cuddle suddenly look at you with the intensity of someone who is creating world war three in their nappy!

 You will never ever have to suck the mucous out of your dogs nose but your child's.... Well, that's something I've had to do at least once before...

Finally consider this scenario: You die in your house with no company but your pet. Eventually your pet will eat you. Your child will not. Why? BECAUSE CHILDREN ARE NOT THE SAME AS PETS!