Thursday, June 30, 2005

And it keeps on going...

I spent some day at work and did some constructive restructuring of the text I was on. Otherwise, I spent a lot of time to finish my boxes.
In the evening, I got to the midweek late, and I had a good talk time with a sister, who gave me useful encouragement and help.

All sisters plainly see how exhausted I am/look like right now.
I am just living an emotional mess right now.
I prayed God to put the pressure on to make me grow... and he's doing it. No point in complaining too much about it.
Good will come out of this. I need to persevere and learn what I have to learn.

In the short term, here are useful news: I'm moving today (finally) and my Palm was found back in Boston...
I just need to send someone to pick it up from the person and mail it to me. I'm almost joyful of that.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Emotional Avalanche

It just so happened, this monday, that I was hit blank with the realization that I was carrying my burden with me, instead of letting go and accept God's grace.

It has been a few hours of cries where I was jumping all over the place emotionally. One brother close to me came when I called him, and he helped me calm down and re-focus on the core issue at hand.

I don't know how I will learn to let go, nor how I will find the solace of Grace, but I'm praying for it. Its a necessity.
Prayers welcomed.

Vacation and Conference week

Our team submitted its final report on the 21st, and I was on the bus for Boston on the 21st.

I spent some time resting in Lowell, visited Cambridge and a bit of Boston, chilled out more before the New England Churches Conference in Worcester. I needed those vacation real good, and here is a report.

Pictures to come.

So I took the 23:30 bus to Boston... and can tell you to not do the same silly mistake I've done! We did not cross the border before ~1:00, and then I didn't sleep all that well in the rest of the trip. Of course, the fact that the driver calls the stops on the intercom won't help, even with earplugs.
Nevertheless, I arrived at 6:30 in South Station, Boston, took the metro to North Station, then took the train to Lowell. A brother was waiting for me there.
We spent some time together, chilling at his place. I asked him to show me the big deal about World of Warcraft,and then we gave ourselves a short LAN game of Starcraft. I never managed to go through his protoss line of defense :'(
I then took some time to rest, before showering and joining the rest of the singles' ministry for their midweek time. We split the brothers and siters and we studied 1 Thessalonians for directions in how to have a working discipling group.
One sister gave me a welcoming gift: a photo album. I don't have an excuse not to have one now :D
I then moved to my "permanent" hosting place, two brothers in Lowell.
On Thursday morning, I'm meeting the same sister who gave me this gift, and we end up on the side of the highway, trying to salvage a cellphone and its sim card (long story I won't detail). Suffice to say that this gets close in adventureness to me begging for change for my metro ticket in Milan! Afterwards, we meet another brother and go eat breakfast together.
Afterwards, I'm in the train and I'm going to Cambridge. I spent most of my day visting the campus of Harvard University. I then saw the LongFellow historical site's garden, the Cambridge City Hall, and the MIT Museum.
In the bus and train, I had the chance to read a book my roomate in Switzerland gave me, Homo Faber, by Max Frisch. Of course, not the German original, but a French translation. This book is disturbing, in a sense. First, there is the sense of fate and closing, about how the book starts and ends on a stomach pain (read it and you'll get what I mean), and how it feels like Fate put the strings of events together to bring closure to the past.
In short, the main character is an engineer for UNESCO who's totally blasé. On one routine trip, an accident happens, and he's stuck in the desert for days, and he builds a frienship with a German dude... who's the brother of a college-day friend. Then starts a chain of events where all his past is revisited, and gets to a pinnacle point of meeting a beautiful young woman in the boat, to finally discover she is his own daughter.
The emotional disconnect of this man is striking and painful, in a sense. When facing anything, he turns to statistics... someone is sick? Why worry, your chances of going through that are 9 in 10! He is the kind of man who live in Paris for years and never saw the Louvre, never went to the Opera, etc.
How he ever seduced a woman is a mystery.
It is an interesting read for any engineer or scientist, a reminder of how we don't want to turn out.
On the evening, I met a sister of the Campus ministry there, and we shopped near Government Center.
On Friday, I chilled out. I spent some time watching the first half of Upside Down, this musical on the Acts of the Apostles. I then spent time with a brother and we visited Lowell. We went to the tourist office, then to the Revolving Museum, that does outsider art of the community. I saw a very *dark* bedroom that sreamed out loud "I'm a goth and I need God!".
Afterwards, it was more hang out time, and some shopping as well. Finding a gift for my dad is soooo hard. Maybe I could make a name for myself in the world of mathematics by proving that a perfect gift for my dad does not exist. I guess I'm lacking faith on that one.
We ended up on the river side, in a park, just talking.
In the evening, we went for the conference. We had a lot of performance, and an initial teaching on faith. Summary: we receive in the measure of our faith. It is the parable of a man on a frozen like: with little faith, he'll tiptoe his way out, with a lot of faith, he'll put skates on and have a lot of fun!
On saturday, I'm blessed to spend more time with a close friend of mine, who's leading the church in Geneva. I love him very much, and distance always impacts a friendship. So our time together was particularly sweet. There were three class sessions, and I picked one on leadership, sexuality (from a Biblical perspective, worry not), and the spiritual gifts.
I still have to digest my notes before putting a summary of my learning. In short, however, here is the biggest point
. Leadership: people-pleasing is a big risk for the congreation. One must move beyond that fear in order to lead effectively
. Sexuality: human sexuality is a reminder for our soul's desire for God. Also, lust and love cannot coexist in a dating couple.
. Gifts: gifts are from the Spirit and, as such, we are commissionned to use them for the benefit of the Church, period. There is no need to wait for any external approval, simply we must identify them and put them in practice.
In the evening, I ate lunch with a few brothers and we went to the singles' event. The performers were good (we had a room with guitar and song, and another for the dance floor), and I went from one to another. One sister actually got into my dance style (very martial arts) and it was funny: for a song we had a sister playing referee, and that other sister and I were "dueling" over the music. It was AWESOME.
On sunday, we arrived super late in the morning (still on time), because we were all so sleep deprived. I deepened my relationship with one of the brothers hosting me. We had the service, then a lot of fellowship. One more meal at the 99 to escape the blazing sun, and we went with a few bros to Boston and hanged out with them.
I had a good chat with someone who fled the world of politics because he felt too much pressure to conform to the system.
In the evening, in the train, we invited a guy for a Bible study, and invited one more in the train station afterwards. I promised myself I'd bring the gospel to people in my trip, and I did it, albeit just a little bit. :)
In the evening, I finished watching Upside Down. There are quite a few lines of added romance in the musical, but nothing that deviates too clearly from the book of Acts. I was touched at times by the courage of these early men of faith.
On monday, it was time to go back. I took the express bus at 9AM from South Station. We had a stop at White River Junction and I felt inspired to talk to some girl about my faith. Turns out that she had just wrote in her note book "the reasons why God doesn't exist"... what a timing! Followed were at least a full hour (if not 2) of apolegetics. Suffice to say that I got home emotionally, physically and intellectually drained with all that together.
It was a great vacation. I hope to do that again.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Freak out, ok, freak out, ok, freak out...

I don't have good stress management skills... 'nuf said!

This is weird to say that I've lead a Bible talk about worry, and living in a worried state... At least I'm open about it :D

I spent a good chunk of my monday working on my ethics paper. I'm too much of a perfectionist for my own good.
I submitted my Ethics paper on Digital Rights Management technology on tuesday. Way too many hours for too little. I also had the bad habit of researching more stuff even though its way too late for that. I've not been as efficient as I should've been in this.
Nor was it that good at work. I need to talk to my boss about things.
I wasted a bit of my week in a bad direction regarding my research, as I kind of missed what was our real short-term objective, and thus focused on the long-term objective. And when I finally spend some time with my boss, I'm being told that there is an expectation of finishing that before I leave for vacation... :'(
On Wednesday, I lead a Bible talk about worry. I saw that I need to pick a passage that is more challenging, or at least act in a more challenging manner. One guy left, saying that he knew the passage, when, in fact, he missed a huge chunk of it. I did not act very strongly (I tend to lack spine on things like that).
The good news is that I'm learning and being humbled... this is good for a prideful guy like me!
Friday, was a good day for work. I made tangible progress :D
I also resolved the questions about utilities and ordered the phone line. I just have the internet connection left to take care of.
In the evening, I spent time with a brother and a siter at a haitian film festival. I learnt about the dictature years of Duvalier. This is crazy to see the stereotype of the good peaceful doctor turning into the stereotype of the bloody dictator.
I installed UbuntuLinux, but I'm running into problems with the wireless configuration, as WPA is not inherently installed. I followed steps on the forum, but to no success :( Quite a few hours wasted on this...
Otherwise, this looks like a major step up from RedHat and Fedora Core that I saw.
On this Saturday, I went to a store selling roleplaying games to sell back my old books of Vampire and D&D (2nd edition), and they told me they did not buy back books on saturdays! I was MAD. I had this heavy heavy box in my hands, and I was supposed to meet the brothers for soccer afterwards! I went to the metro, just to miss the bus to get me to the field. Double mad I got. I just went back in the metro to get home. While waiting in the metro, I took the time to look at my emotions, what they resounded and so on. I was then able to give all that to God, and to thank Him for that challenge I had. I felt aleviated afterwards.
In the afternoon, I wasted a lot of time with internet connection problems on both Linux and Windows. I decided to work on a teaching to be published on the church's bulletin, so that I could be productive.
And then, I realized that I just had a network cable unplugged! :'(
But, it was all good, as I could meet a sister on Skype. We had a good conversation, and I was happy to encourage her. She told me that I was gifted a lot to be able to see things about her so clearly. I think it was just the work of the Spirit, because I know that I'm quite dense about people typically.
In the evening, I had a brother for a meal. I cooked some fish with veggies that were quite good. I'm surprising myself with the good food I cook sometimes. It was the first good meal I cooked myself in a LONG LONG time. We took a four fruits pie with ice cream too! Yummy!
On sunday, we had a service about the final missionary trip of Paul. The message focused a lot on Paul's leadership, and the brothers who were following him. The shorthand conclusion was "lead, or be lead, or get out of the way" ;)
We ate with brothers, and I took some time with a brother afterwards for a private conversation. He needed some encouragement.
I had the chance to take a LONG nap afterwards... that is something that brings the true meaning of the shabbat to life :D
Now, I'm off to synchronize a few more things about my upcoming trip to Boston.
Oh, and I'm crazy about that. I sooooo can't wait to be there!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

So... so... so... annoyingly hot!

The summer is officially started in Montreal.
It has been a few days that have been very hot, and I DON'T like it hot.
I'm a winter guy.

But still, life goes on, especially with air conditioning in the lab!

This week has been busy with my Ethics class, mostly. The fact that it is a 2 credit class makes me fear about my next semester, with a 3.75 credit class coming. Still, Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow, and he's quite right!
I'm gonna talk about my music news, some update about my research, my ministry, and the personal growth that has been happening this week.
Besides the trip at the Opera I told you about and the Beethoven MP3s I got myself, I'll start off by saying that the BBC's recording is really good. I listened to it while I was working and loved it. I gotta take some time to _just_ listen to them at some point.
I started listening at the recordings of the University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra while I'm working and I have to mention that some have room noise. I deleted more than one track just because of that, notably the Bartok Dance Suite ... it was really bad. It is still a good lisening, even though the recording is not the best around.
In the end, I am happy just to have an MP3 of the Ride of the Valkyries... hehe.
My Ethics class has taken me more time than I was hoping. I spent nearly 8 hours on this on Saturday, a few on Monday and so on, and I don't feel that ready to submit it yet. I'm satisfied, but see lots of room for improvement. The worst was that I did not track well my references, and was scrambling to regroup that information. This is OK on text references, but when it gets to audio and video recordings, this is another story. Still, my initial opinion is being validated by the tools that I used, even though it is hard to analyse things in a truly neutral manner in this case.
Otherwise, I've started working on software vulnerabilities as part of my research. I worked with a colleague on this, and this is helping me structuring ideas regarding the bigger picture of my research.
I had the chance to invest time to strenghten frienships with a brother and Bible student... those are well-invested lunch breaks! I also went to two birthdays this week, and I love those. It is crazy how much love flows around in those events. My brothers really feel loved! I also have been on the phone with three European sisters who needed listening and encouragement, and those tend to take WAY more time than you plan for... a LOT more time than planned. But I am certain that God is merely using me as a tool for these sisters' well-being, and that, as such, there will not be bad consequences with the rest.
This week has been truly important on personal growth. I realized that I had some bad motives in my servantship and ministry (people-pleasing), and this prompted me to beg God to change my heart about this. I also had my first meeting with my therapist on Tuesday, and my emotional disconnect showed up real quick. What popped up is that there are the two mes: the rational, calm, loving me; and there is the big out-of-control storm me. We will look at things together on emotions... which are a bit of a Pandora's Box in my eyes. I am definitely challenged, and I'm faithful that all this is part of God's plan to make me grow, and shape me to be truly useful for him.
My reading of Purpose-Driven Life has been slow this week, as the last 10 chapters talk about ministry and mission, and they expose what I am mentionning. Combined with my state of busyness, I did not read every day.
What matters, in the end, is to stay in the course. I will finish that book, and I won't botch that. God has exposed a lot already, and I know that there is more to come. Of course, like with anything else, I both fear it and desire it... isn't human nature weird?

Friday, June 10, 2005

Beethoven... to download now

The BBC has decided to release MP3s of Beethoven concerts. They are gradually released, and only available for a little while.

And you will need to visit their page frequently...

But, but but... we are talking about live performances from the BBC Philarmonic Orchestra... they have a reputation to uphold, don't they?

I've sent a comment about my disapointment about the licensing, especially since the BBC has committed to support the Creative Archive program it has set itself.
Let us keep hope to see the BBC to come to its sense and distribute this content as Vorbis files through bittorrent (with, of course, other methods and formats for the less technically minded)

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Photos de Milan - Histoire & Archéologie

Et oui... il y a bien des églises et de l'histoire à Milan... voici davantage!

Ensuite, j'ai brisé une de mes règles personnelles (ne rien acheter dans un bâtiment religieux) pour visiter le site archéologique paléo-crétien. On y voit les traces d'un endroit de rassemblement du 4e siècle, incluant le baptistère séparé, l'endroit même ou Ambroise baptisa Augustin.
Augustin (St. Augustin, auteur des Confessions) a grandi dans le giron catholique de son époque et a sombré dans la débauche sexuelle alors qu'il devenait prof de réthorique. Pendant un temps, il argumentait même en faveur des hérétiques Manichéens. Il s'est converti et s'est fait baptisé vers l'âge de trente ans. Sa philosophie et sa théologie ont marqué la pensée occidentale... il est devenu un héro de la sainte doctrine après un passage dans l'hérésie, chose très intéressante. Il est à noter que, malgré que sa mère soit très dévote, il n'a jamais été baptisé contre son gré comme bébé, alors que c'est maintenant la tradition catholique. On voit que, malgré une certaine dégénérescence religieuse au 4e siècle, tout n'était pas mis aux poubelles encore.
Ensuite, c'est la Galleria. C'est le gros truc pour acheter bien cher! Néanmoins, j'ai trouvé des CDs à rabais au Recordi Media Stores à l'intérieur. Le corridor aboutit sur une place devant La Scalla, le célébrissime théatre de Milan. Il y a une statue à l'honneur de Da Vinci entre les deux. Il y avait un line-up pour le magasin de Gucci la première fois que j'y ai passé... c'était choquant.
Une place à l'honneur de Léonard de Vinci
Et, bien sûr, La Scalla, le théatre le plus célèbre du monde! Enfin, c'est ce que les milanais disent...
Ensuite, j'ai marché jusqu'au Castillo Sforzesco, la résidence des Ducs de Milan. Vous pouvez voir que la dimension militaire est bien présente dans ce château, contrairement à plusieurs châteaux français que j'ai pu voir. Il y avait même un chat-gardien ;)
Quand on entre à 16h30, on peut aller gratuitement dans le musée du château (qui ferme à 17h00... il faut faire vite). Je n'ai pas pris de photos, car je crois que les prises de vues sont interdites. Il y avait plusieurs salles médiévales (je crois) qui étaient superbement décorées, une ayant même un look de forêt!
Ma prochaine visite, après avoir rencontré un homme par hasard à la poste, était la cathédrale San Eustorgio, nommé à l'honneur d'un moine qui fut exécuté par les gros-méchants-hérétiques. Le musée adjoint et la cathédrale est assez évocateur sur plusieurs aspects: il y a beacoup de bustes contenant les cendres des saints représentés... et c'est un gros line-up. Je surnommais ça le stock d'idoles. Il y a aussi une grande collection d'argenterie, etc. Le budget était au rendez-vous! Il y a aussi un site paléochrétien qui n'est pas aussi excitant qu'à Duomo. Il y a une des plus anciennes références à la chrétienté trouvées à Milan: le jeune homme qui prie les mains vers le ciel. Il y a aussi le sarcophage "authentique" des vrais de vrais rois-mages... la "tradition dit" que c'est vrai :D Selon mes lectures sur les reliques de Vézelay, mon interprétation me dit que si la tradition dit que, alors c'est faux... à vous de faire votre recherche là-dessus ;)
Une des dernières visites que j'ai faites, c'était d'aller voir Il Ultima Cena, de Leonardo Da Vinci. Le tout est une fresque murale dans un monsatère Milanais, dont j'ai pris une photo. Les prises de vues étaients interdites. Néanmoins, vous saurez reconnaître les monastère de l'extérieur! Oh, et n'oubliez pas de réserver à l'avance, car il y a beaucoup de monde qui veulent voir!

Toreador, prend garde!

I've had the chance to see two thirds of the Carmen opera this Monday. A friend from the University invited me to join her for a free viewing.

I loved it. I definitely will consider going to the opera (if my finances support it). I found it as entertaining as a movie, and, in general, much better.
This opera has a few great classics in it. "Toreador prend garde" is one, and "L'amour est comme un oiseau" (not sure if those are the official titles) are well-known.
The story is about a young brigadier who's seduced by this Carmen. He is putting aside the love of his live, gets jailed, leaves the army, etc. A strong lesson of what could happen to any man who tries to fight the Devil off by his own strength.
The character of Carmen is very strong. She is a bohemian, and someone with deep romatic issues... "if you don't love me, I love you, and if I love you, beware". There are Carmens, male and female, out there, suffering in the World, and corrupting people based on their whims...
This opera was an outrage when it was first performed, and it is still shocking today. The social commentary, however, is still good.
Like Salomon said... there is nothing new under the sun.

Sunday, June 5, 2005

Uplifting week

So, this week we had the special collect, and a guest teacher from Boston. I got a lot of encouragement as well, so I can say that, despite the professional pressure, things have been looking good.

Oh, and I submitted my first paper too :D

In general, this week has been focused a lot on finishing that paper for publication. Its a "rush and wait" kind of environment, when you scramble to make something good, and wait for comments...
Our team project in my ethics class has made some progress (yay!), and I found some good references for my personal project. Its due in a week... and its far from being done. I'll have to put some focus on that this week.
On entertainment news, I found a funny animated cartoon: Swiss Trick... its hard to be more stereotypes than that!
Also on the Archive, I found recordings of University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra , and the offering sounded really great! I just listened to the Ride of the Valkyries to convince myself! Most of the stuff is in Vorbis format, which meets my purist desires :D I do have to mention, however, that I do not have a very refined hear... so that I could be wrong in my judgment. So, go try it yourselves, hint hint :)
On Tuesday, I was blessed by meeting a sister on Skype, and she was needing encouragement. I was eager to answer that need :D It really breaks the "my life s---s" mood that I can get sometimes. The church is definitely the best morale booster around.
On Wednesday, we had the special collect evening, and everybody had a godo time. We had some humour, a few performances, etc. The karaoke did not pick up, sadly. I danced on the stage too! I had a GREAT conversation with a sister, who really encouraged me. I felt I was going crazy, and she told me how inspired she was that I was accomplishing all those things I did. Work, study, ministry, personal growth... only God's mighty hand can make this work!
On Friday morning, I spent time with a brother and two Bible students for a breakfast, and I was really glad that I did that. It is nice to be building frienships like that. In the early evening, we finished our paper, and I left my colleagues with the responsibility of sumitting it. I guess its done now! So its my first academic paper. My first REAL publication... hehehe, that is sweet!
I left my colleagues in order to go to a soccer game with someone I know, who used to be studying the Bible, with whom I keep a friendship. The Impact was facing the team from Toronto. It finished 0-0, but it was a good agressive game and I enjoyed that moment a lot.
This Saturday, after working a little bit on my Ethics class, I went to our Bible Jubilee. We started sudying the letter of Hebrews, and we finished on Sunday. The guest teacher was Kelly Petre from Boston... and he's AMAIIIIZIN! The depth of knowledge he transmitted is beyond my capability to fully absorb. I'll have to review the notes and so on :) I really loved the analysis on the "beyond recovery level" that is implied. This is when you are beyond your capability to repent after rejecting Jesus.
So, for Sunday, I spent all day studying Hebrews. During lunch, we were a few brothers leading Bible talks that met with him and he gave us advice on how to be more effective.
As a summary I share to you all:
a) Make sure to start with a good question to involve the guests
b) Make sure that the talk is lead by the questions instead of the narration
c) All passages should be explained
d) Illustrations should be used when needed
e) Everyone should leave with a feeling of how to apply Scripture in their lives
He also reminded us that sharing about our struggles and sins was very powerful, as powerful as the victories that God gives us.
The Campus leader also proposed a new schedule for the activities of our ministry, which will allow us to build better frienships with both the brothers and sisters and the folks studying the Bible. I love the idea... after all, our love for one another is what will distinguish us :D
Right now, as I'm typing this, I'm watching The Pianist, the story of a great Polish musician during WW2. So far, I find the story well told, even though I feel that the theme (jews suffering under the nazis) has been done quite a lot. The intesting part is how this man becomes a witness of the Polish resistance. I wonder if all those movies will not banalize those events, creating a sense of "whatever, enough of this" in the general public. I hope that I don't develop that kind of feeling.
Even though my sleep has not been that good during the weekend, I'm feeling well... something rare in this context :D