Friday, December 29, 2006

Why I'm Staying Clear From Vista

The new Windows operating systems has "bad" written all over it.

You know my position against DRM, and it looks like Windows Vista is designed for it!
Read that great article by Gutmann

Oh, and it looks like it might break your applications too...
Well, backward compatibility is always a problem, but still... there's that point that make it too much.

I love the comments on blogs that say stuff like "I've been doing this for years with KDE". My ubuntu system uses Gnome, so I'm not too familiar with KDE, but I'm taking it as fact when its repeated so much all over the place.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Why the USA is no longer a democracy...

Keith Olbermann says it the best:

At least there's a Democrat Congress now... lets hope that this Bill gets revoked soon...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

PHP Security Problems

Hmm... not giving me a happy feeling. So PHP won't be on top of my list when its time to learn a webapp-related language.

And Starfire isn't out yet... :(

Saturday, December 16, 2006

La boufonnerie chrétienne

J'ai fait une présentation à l'UQAM le vendredi 1er décembre.

J'ai décidé de mettre le vidéo avec licence Creative Commons sur l'Internet Archive.

Voici le lien direct:

Il est disponisble en plusieurs formats, autant pour téléchargement que consultation directe.
[Edit 2] Vous pouvez le regarder directement ci-bas
[Edit 2] Google Video retire les vidéos des utilisateurs, donc le "embed" est retiré

Friday, December 15, 2006

Another cool Colbert Snippet

"American Orthodox"... another one about religion and politics.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Theology Break

Last Friday, I taught on dualism at the CCF meeting (see my entry on Theothoughts). After that, I pretty much resolved a break from theory until January. Oh, and starting to enjoy myself a bit more.

So, on Saturday, we had a double-date to welcome a couple who was gone for weeks in Africa. They brought us Superman Returns, which I enjoyed watching for its pure entertainment value.
On Sunday, we had the Christmas banquet in Chambly, in a restaurant called Fourquet Fourchette... the food was great. I was wearing a traditional ceinture fléchée over my suit too! We had some good clean fun, dancing, and I was so exhausted I crashed in my bed by 9PM.
On Monday, I did volunteer work. The Richardson Centre was welcoming the German Choir. They sang for us Christmas songs that (for a change) did not annoy me to the nth degree. Then they served German treats to the residents (and volunteers).
On that day, we also started working on another research idea and I was getting pretty annoyed, reading compiler theory books that bored me out of tears.
On Tuesday, I continued that line of research reading graph theory books that increased my (already adamant) determination NOT to do a Ph. D.
But, I then asked some advice to a colleague in the lab who had a lot of experience with graphs and he just gave me an algorithm that solved one of my problems. Then, we discussed and defined a second one that solved the other problem. Now, that's something I love! So, my research is going well for a change.
I arrived home and cooked some stuff. A vegan lasagna and some pot-pourri of whatever was in the fridge, to which I added chick peas, shrimp and other stuff like that. That got me to bed late, but at least I'm eating better than pizza all week long.
On Wednesday, I had a good d-time with my evangelist. I guess that a baloon burst, and I let him know about many of the challenges I am living, but was in a kinda denial about. One unresolved conflict, some attitudes, some women issues, stress, you name it! He was glad to see I was at a crossroad where I could choose to be changed drastically by God, and that I was seeing the issues by myself. I told him of my decision to take it easy in the holidays and to do no theology until January. I'll focus on psychology and Christian living books (WHAT? you expected me to stop reading???).
In the end of the afternoon, I went back to the Richardson Centre for a volunteer's dinner where I enjoyed some food, some talk and then went to church. The message on evangelism was inspiring, and I got myself a book from Clement of Alexandria, The One Who Knows God, which I started devouring. Oh yeah, its THAT good.

So, that's what's new in my life. I'm targeting finishing that paper by Friday, and maybe start another before I take vacation. I don't know if they'll be accepted, but we'll try it.

100% Re-use Product

I stumbled upon this today...

TerraCycle is some kind of plant food/fertilizer made out of organic waste. Their packaging is made out of reused pop bottles. That's the way to make a product!

Monday, December 11, 2006


Here is my notes for a message I taught at CCF last Friday on dualism. Enjoy!

1- short story of heresies
Gnostics / Valentinians: pure dualism. Creation work of the bad god
They had their extra revelation, their own gnospels, and relied on their local guru for "truth"
Marcion: compiled a modified NT to fit his doctrine. Good god vs bad God
Mani: mixture of different religions where there was dualism.
Point: we are what we eat. We reach a conclusion based on the information available.
2- dualism: what is it, and why?
a. the doctrine that there are two independent divine beings or eternal principles, one good and the other evil.
b. the belief that a human being embodies two parts, as body and soul.
The first part is of interest to us
3- Logical refutation of dualism
Please refer to C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book 2, Ch. 2
4- "dualism" today
Dualistic perception is relatively widespread. Sometimes, we can share our faith
with someone who don't understand why God is so "cruel". Sometimes, we can
read the Bible and not understand what's written, because it feels like as
if God WAS cruel.
Lets look at one nearly-random passage of the OT:
The LORD is a jealous and avenging God;
the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.
The LORD takes vengeance on his foes
and maintains his wrath against his enemies.
(Nahum 1.2)
And of the NT:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17)
The main reason, in my opinion, is because we have been sold the idea
of Harlequin love, not real love.
Also, we have been taught about God the bearded guy in Heaven, which
is almost confused with Santa Claus. We made God into an ATM in our
society... he can give the good, never the bad, right?
We'll see that God is true to himself when He says:
I the LORD do not change. (Mal 3:6)
We'll see that he always was loving, always good, and always just.
Then we'll see that God's will, as expressed in the Bible, isn't
always God's will...
5- A loving God in both Testaments
Lets start with the first idea, which is that God is loving.
But first, what is love? The answer is tricky, but doesn't have to be specified formally... Since God's Word is inerrant, we can just look up moments when the Bible talks about God's love in an authoritative manner (vs. the Bible relating what people think of God).
A) In the Old Testament:
Then the LORD said to me, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes." (Hosea 3:1)
B) In the New Testament:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17)
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)
6- A just God in both Testaments
The idea of justice is relatively wide also. I will focus on one aspect of justice from God: punishing sins.
A) In the Old Testament:
"Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' Hear, O house of Israel: Is my way unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust? If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin, he will die for it; because of the sin he has committed he will die. But if a wicked man turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will save his life. Because he considers all the offenses he has committed and turns away from them, he will surely live; he will not die. Yet the house of Israel says, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' Are my ways unjust, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust?
"Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live! (Ezekiel 18:25-32) (Es 59:22)
B) In the New Testament:
But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them.bring them here and kill them in front of me. (Luke 19:27)
"And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will be brought down to Hades!
"The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me." (Luke 15:10-17)
7- God's will: "transitive"
Now again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, "Go, number Israel and Judah." (2 Samuel 24:1)
Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel. (1 Chronicles 21:1)
It is one of many examples in the Bible where God gets the credit for something Satan does.
Why? The answer is because God is almighty. Either he directly decides of something, or he allows Satan to do something. In that sense, he indirectly "wills" it.
8- Our personal responsibility.
"For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?'
Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?'
But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live [...]"
(Deuteronomy 30:11-14,19a)
We have the personal responsibility to know and practice. God, in both Testament, made that very clear. In the words of Jesus:
"If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; forI did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.
He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. Jn 12:47-48
"Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?
Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.
But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great." (Matthew 6:46)
9- Conclusions
1) Read your Bible, don't be like Marcion
2) If you are stuck in guilt, keep in mind that Jesus brings forgivenes of sins
3) If you are stuck in sin, keep in mind that God is just and that there is a consequence.
Appendix A- Extra difficulties
You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Deuteronomy 5:8-10)
In this case, we must look at what we saw at point 7. God warns us that sin has consequences,
and that God will not stand in those consequences. An example can be seen in addictions such as alchoolism, which tend to span accross generations. Our sins make us and others pay too.
But I will harden Pharaoh's heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 7:3)
It sounds like he was doomed from the start... Let us think about point 7 for a moment and read a bit more...
But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as the LORD had said. (Exodus 8:15)
NASB, NIV translations of the Bible (although mostly NASB)
Michel Theron, Petit lexique des hérésies chrétiennes, Albin Michel, 2005

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Ubuntu Powa!

oooooooooooooh yeah baby!

Ubuntu Linux 6.10 is on my laptop as I type this and I looooooooooove it.

It installed smoothly and it has not caused me any pain after the install for configuration.

Directly after install, I used the install CD to add a very important package: Network Manager.
Once this was installed, it automatically detected my wlans and configured my wireless networking in a snap... I just had to type in my password.
Now, I also used automatix in order to install the DVD libraries and all those very useful software packages too. Its a step along the way of having dev-buntu ;)
It took me only a few hours to have everything I wanted (and more), compared to the half a day or full day of before. Oh, and it was mostly automatized, so I didn't have to actually DO anything, really. Yay!

Through a Tough Two Weeks

We had to wrap up 3 academic papers last Friday (Dec 1st). That's fine and dandy...

Only that I had to wrap up my apologetic conference for the church too...
So, it was a rough two weeks, but I pulled through.

I had the chance of presenting before ~20ish people what was titled "La bouffonnerie chrétienne", essentially how Christianity went from religion to a politicized thing. I also compared how religion has been controlling people, and how its just imitating the rest of society.
After an historical interlude, we looked at the faith of the early christians and it was question period.
I did more than my allocated hour, and I slashed stuff a LOT... I don't know what to cut if I want to stay in the time next time I do it. Oh well.
Thanks to those who prayed for the success. Things went well, and I wasn't as arrogant as when I did the Da Vinci Code, thanks to faithful prayer partners before the event.

Brilliant Spiritual Illustration @ sinfest

Hi folks!

I couldn't resist blogging this. Ishida tends to mix Christianity with orientalism sometimes... but this illustration is right on the mark!

The road with good intentions

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"Vacation" with Family

Spent Saturday and Sunday in Québec city with my family.

But, my week was not void of action too. Papers and presentations, here we come!

On Wednesday, my supervisor told us to put aside all our current work to start working for a paper in an encyclopedia. So, I had to rush to the Concordia and McGill libraries, take books to widen our previous work a bit. So that was a bit of reading to do.
I still managed to invite people for Friday's apologetics presentation on archeology, which was interesting. There was a section on superstition that was interesting and that I never saw covered before. There were not too many people though :(
On Saturday morning, I used allo-stop and went to see my family. We saw the movie Babel, which is NOT disciple-friendly, but definitely interesting in the themes covered. Lack of maturity, lack of preparation to life, lack of communication, emptiness. I liked most of the Japanese girl, who's so void of love that she's on the verge of suicide. The role was well done to show her increasing despair. Its a great commentary on the shallowness of our society.
After, I spent time with my parents, ate supper, talked about their updated wills and mandate. I then worked a little bit on my presentation, filling in details such as dates and explanations of theologies. Went to bed at midnight, was woken up by the cat feeding at 4:30... grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
Church was good. The teaching was on the Holy Spirit! I loved it! Then, I ate and prayed for all afternoon with 3 brothers. Then, final meal with parents, and back I went.
Now, I'm back in paper-writing. Yay!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Pains and Pleasures

So, I spent pretty much all of last week trying to get an example using JAAS to work. The stuff on the web shows how EAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSYYYYYYYYYYYYYY its supposed to be.
Its not. I have some kind of lame bug somewhere that just makes things NOT working. Snif :'(

On Saturday, I did the standard exam for potential hires by the Québec government. Just reading skills and some basic math. Nothing hard, really, just a big waste of time, as far as I'm concerned.

On Sunday, a great day. We went to Québec City for the church service and it was inspiring. We welcomed a new brother, who was just baptized, and we learnt that quite a few sisters are now pregnant. Talk about a baby boom! The songs were super inspiring. They modified "Our God in an Awesome God" in a very poignant form, with the Hebrew names in it! The preach was good too! I got to share about my conversion and I was told I was touching, real and down-to-earth. We ate out in the Old Québec and the waiter started asking questions about the church and stuff... one of the easiest sharing of my faith ever. Anyway, that one did get me on a good mood.

I also solved a dispute with a sister, so things are pretty good.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Crazy Road Trip

So, after PST, I spent time with a sister before attending a midweek church service in downtown Toronto.

On Thursday, I took the bus to Detroit and was warmly welcomed by a brother and his wife. I was driven around and treated like a prince. I joined a Bible Talk in Wayne State University, had a great group date (the sister who did the cooking knows how to cook, oooooooooooooh yeah!).

On Friday, I had a prayer walk on Belle Isle, had a breakfast with my hospitable couple, and then was 'handed over' to another brother. We took care of the car rental, tried to purchase a Chinese Bible (the one thing I can't seem to buy without ordering from the web), went to a mall, etc. I bought a small chess board and some dominoes. On the evening, I took a sister to a campus devo and back.

Then, the road trip began. See pictures taken by a brother.

On Saturday, after a good quiet time, we left to Oxford, Ohio. We spent some time adjusting the tire pressure, etc. The road went well, although longish. We ate out in a Mexican restaurant in uptown Oxford, saw a hockey game at Miami State University.

On Sunday, we had a mini quiet time and went to church in Cincinnati. The preach was super good, talking godly living. After eating with the disciples there, it was time to head back.

I overall enjoyed the company in the car, although the whole ordeal was challenging for me emotionally (won't say more here).

On Monday, it was a looooooooooooooooot of bus, oh man! Detroit -> Toronto -> Montreal, 10h45 -> 24h15.
Suffice to say I didn't come to work too early today.

PST 2006

From October 30th to November 1st, I attended a conference: Privacy, Security, Trust, in Markham. The proceedings are not online just yet, but they eventually will. Both CCECE and PST aren't online yet... that's annoying!

I presented a paper there, which went well. Security Hardening of Open-Source Software. We described an onthology based on security engineering, defined 'security hardening' and showed examples in C. There were no hard questions or anything like that.

There were a few interesting things that I saw:

Sushil Jajodia presented the fruits of his team's research in a tool named CAULDRON, which maps your network's vulnerabilities, draws attack graphs to your crown jewels, and correlates Snort information with this attack graph. Very useful for any sysadmin. I don't know if it is publicly available though.
Brian O'Higgins presented the software sold by Third Brigade. Deep packet inspection in a driver, that works with a few rules that just WORK. Looks sweet too!
The paper of Horkoff et all, "Analyzing Trust in Technology Strategies" is one of the few "Trust" papers that won't put me to sleep by the end of the first page.
Folkerts and Bischof, in "A Comparison of Reputation-based Trust Systems" come up with metrics and a framework to evaluate reputation systems. I didn't read the paper through, but it looks like a turning point in the field.
Alam et al. propose a new form of access control, Constraint-based RBAC (CRBAC), targeted to service-oriented architectures. They developed a language to specify access constraints (as far as I understand) on top of classical RBAC. It allows for partial inheritance of rights too.
Kong et al. propose protected data paths by allowing the kernel to keep a cache on the behalf of the application, so that the application is not able to access the data itself.
One of the neat things I discovered is the Quero toolbar. I installed it on IE7. Its a convenient search toolbar, and it has an integrated ad blocker. I can get the same in Firefox, but its good to know I can have it in IE too. It allows to replace the standard address bar of IE7 so that there is no visual duplication between IE7 functionality and the toolbar. I like it!
I still need to sift through many papers... will keep on updating this page as I go along
P.S. some presenters very very boring... its almost shameful.

Good analysis by Olbermann

Remember, if you can still vote, vote Democrat!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Lecture Notes: Same Sex Marriage

Notes of a lecture I attended at Concordia University, titled "Blessing same-sex unions to save Christian marriage".

I have to say overall, that I want to double-check the claim about no marriage celebrations in early Christianity. Since I'm thinking of a very non-traditional model for Christian marriage, this could be helpful.
And in case you wonder, that model makes room only for man+woman... has anyone ever read Romans?

Dr. Mark Jordan, Emery University
Concordia University, H-110, Oct 12th, 2006
============ Introduction
narration of first gay marriages authorized in San Francisco.
Grim statistics show decline in marriage. Eagerness of same-sex couples sounds very good.
Why threatening? Many feel an attack religion.
Religion was involved in the SF experiment.
Real marriage experts are organizers, photographers. church is backdrop.
In the SF case, churches weren't backdrops.
Seriousness was frightening: churches support same-sex marriage, glimspe of religious-free democracy.
Churches supporting same-sex marriage: there is a fight between two positions in christianity. Speaker doesn't like that one side claims having it right.
issue of marriage show problems of matters of states vs religious responsability. Cannot easily split church and state.
Many want more of marriage than just the ceremony. Wants us to dwell IN the confusion.
Wants to persuade: we can scrutunize the confusion, understand the quarrels in Christianity.
Same-sex marriage stris up history of Christian marriage. Took centuries to establish, same-sex brings up the ugly history.
For the secular side, same-sex couples point out to ambivalences in our existing arrangements.
Instead of picturing christian marriage of a big banquet with exclusion, christian marriage should be seen as a big family quarrel.
============ Ambivalence on the religious side
Christian theology on marriage have weak Scriptural fundations. We do not see a detailed portrait of marriage in the NT.
Apostles: follow Jesus as single men, tell not to get married
Mary: "perpetual virginity"
Jesus dismisses familly for spiritual family.(Mt xyz, Lk: let the dead bury their own dead...)
They are family values, only when family is redefined. Church is abolition of family to a new definition. Where does marriage fit in there?
According to Paul, only Jesus' teaching on divorce was from him about marriage. Early christians debated on whether they should be married at all.
Gen 2 insufficient. In many case, multiple partners. By nature 1-1 contradicts Hebrew Bible. Laws set for polygamy in Israel... can't be against God's will. Problem to describe why its OK for patriach, but bad for christians to be polygamial.
Other thinkers: sex for procreation... but what about premarital, or sterile?
Same-sex pleasure is unjustified by reproduction arouses strains of christianity who is weary of pleasure.
Real issue: issue of pleasure in Christianity. Many acts OK today that was considered as sodomy before. The definition of "bad" shrunk to fit with homosexuals.
The supporters of same-sex marriage: deal with similar issues that Jesus (think Lepers). NT homoeroticism in Revelation.
Slow to develop theology and rites. Christians relied on other insitutions for marriage and welcomed the married. Assumed pluraristic society.
Ritual was at home only or government. Before 4th century, there was no christian wedding evidence in church. When it appears: jewish+roman+localisms. Wedding mass in 7th century. Church weddings were typically for virgins, others had to be wed outside.
Wedding theology emerges from civil+ethnic interactions
Priests deal as agents of the state too easily.
Requests for blessing from within the church, w/o legal gain. Opportunity to bring fully the redefinition of the family. Blessing of erotic desire. From compromise to counter-cultural.
=============== on the secular side
A big business. Time to arrage wedding overlasted the marriage in many cases. 15 B$ annual spending on marriages. In wedding shows, total subservience of church. Elements are culturally christian, recent eventions added to christian weddings, etc. Wedding planning treats christianity as a decorative in the master plan. God of wedding planning: God of romance that draws many worshippers.
Victory of true love over adversity. That's the creed. Queer wedding seen as more romantic than straight one. Evidence of power of religion to shape sex. Religion not just authorization/prohibition.
Can't resolve ambivalence in marriage, as it is inherent. Always was church/state hybrid. Protecting traditional marriage is protecting old political compromises.
We need to save christian marriage from itself by redefining it. What would the Savior want to bless? Christianity not erotic regulation but erotic inspiration.
All have a stake in asking churches to bless SSM. They will find that christian marriage will take a new life. In some churches design new rights to accomodate ssm, but first couple to show up is straight.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Strong Evidence on Bush Administration's Unpreparedness for 9/11

This is something well researched and very strongly presented by MSNBC... how the current US government has been lying and has simply not taken care of terrorism at all

Sunday, October 29, 2006

UK Pictures of Me

So... here's some proof I was in the UK. More pictures to come. I'm thinking of using Flickr to host my pictures in the future...

The famous London Bridge:

In Greenwich, with a ship behind

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Nice Linux Wallpapers

Have a look at some beauties:

Friday, October 20, 2006

Spin, Media and Fading News...

I loved Colbert!

Very smart commentary on how the hot stories just fade away...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Computer Pains

So, I committed to fix that sister's computer.

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOh ye rebelious little one! You are putting on such a fight!
I spent the whole weekend working on it and I'm still not done. I had problems with Ubuntu... kept on getting corrupted images!
Well, it turns out that my problem is (I suspect) my DVD/CD burner. Using different software and media don't fix the issue, and burning the same CD at work works OK...

Gotta make a phone call to Dell tech support. I hope I have some warranty left.

As a sidenote, prepare to be scared: Jesus Camp is a documentary I have to see! Go watch the trailers. I am just... scared. I have this gut feeling that those kids won't end up as evangelizing soldiers of Christ, but more the kind of M-16A wielding soldiers of the government...

(Edit) It turns out that I did a Memtest86 on the little machine, and the RAM is bust. On the bright side, I installed openSUSE on my laptop and it even auto-configured my wireless connection... hmmm...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Couldn't Help It...

This was too funny to pass! See what happens when you don't learn math right?

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Geek Time! Family Time!

So, its the Canadian thanksgiving weekend!

I had my parents in town... but you'd think God would let that in the way of a few adventures? Think again!

The summary:
- some progress in my research, yet my prof goes unrealistic again
- campus devotional goes great!
- help a guy move in a... convicting... way
- got a hold of a sister in Lausanne on Skype. Its been a while I was trying to encourage her.
- music, music, music!
- movies: Syriana, Return of the Street Fighter, Animatrix
- first lab monitoring time goes as a breeze
- API madness

Before I get started with the rest of the week, let me say I had a good time for the Thanksgiving holiday.
My folks and I had a good meal on Saturday. My mom went to church with me and we had a great buffet at Casa Corfu afterwards. Monday was a day off, and I helped a sister who's trying to get wireless internet in her business, and was well thanked for my efforts by a nice meal!
On Tuesday, I went with my mom to the Botanical Gardens' China Garden. They have, every year, 'La Magie des Lanternes', chinese lanterns all over the place, built around a given theme. This year was celebration. I'll put the pics online soon enough.

some progress in my research, yet my prof goes unrealistic again

So, I managed to work a bit with my colleague and we hammered down the biggest parts of that paper ok at this point. Obviously, we could cut 4 pages of extra English if we really got down to it, but that's not the focus now.
At our weekly meeting with our supervisor, we had once more the whole argument on how we'd specify what we had to specify, although I thought we agreed on that months ago. No big change in the end, so things are still OK.
The thing is... he wants more examples done by next week. Nevermind the fact that I need to actually research that stuff, implement it, test it, refactor it, document it, convert it, build a performance benchmark around it, etc.
The other thing he requested will be relatively easy to do, although its just gonna be time consuming.

campus devotional goes great!

So, one brother shared one of his quiet times, and we did a game to discover each other. We had to write down a secret about ourselves on a piece of paper, fold it, and put it in a basket.
Then, we all picked a name, and we had to guess who the person behind the secret was. Lots of laughter, and nice discoveries.
Also, we had a birthday cake ready for one sister's birthday.

help a guy move in a... convicting... way

Someone I met a long time ago. He calls me and asks for some last-minute help packing. It should be quick, he says, because its just a room... just need to pack his books.
I swore when I entered the room. A tiny space, covered with books, newspapers, and whatever else.
And there were a lot of books. Mostly Bibles. In all translations, in multiple copies. And it was fullllllllllllllllllllll of it!
Suffice to say that I left feeling my hands so dirty that I didn't want to open my apartment door with them and that I really really want to have a clean room and household now. As much as it is sad to say, I just don't want to be like THAT nor anywhere close to it. I know it sounds like judgment, but it really is discernment.

got a hold of a sister in Lausanne on Skype. Its been a while I was trying to encourage her

Won't say too much of it. I just find it neat that God has got me there first, so that I can be of some use to her (I hope). Maybe He wants to take our friendship for great purposes? After all, the world is a small place, and God doesn't see our role to play in it as a small one.

music, music, music!

Listened to a mix and match of the Fulda Symphony Orchestra. There are some legal CDs on the web. I'll keep you posted with that I liked.

movies: Syriana, Return of the Street Fighter, Animatrix
After the devo, we watched a part of Animatrix. I like that DVD so much! You can learn the history behind the Matrix.
I watched another tidbit of Return of the Street Fighter, which is in the public domain now. Sometimes, I just need some gore.
For my brain, with my parents, I watched Syriana, from George Clooney. Very good movie about how the US' thirst for oil is messing up the world, with political plots left and right. A lot of mixed storylines make it very interesting.

first lab monitoring time goes as a breeze

So, this week, I had my first lab monitoring time. I actually stuck in 2 sessions, because I never really stepped in the labs before and I needed to figure out how things would work out.
So I discussed a few things with a colleague, and looked upon my dear friend, sourceforge for a solution. What did I find?
Super SSH!!! Ohhhhhh yeaaaaaaaah, that's the stuff!
Now, let me give you a hint of the problem: we have about 20 computers in that room, and they all need to be configured for our students. Do I look like a guy who'd like to log into each of them to type the same boring commands?
No! My lab monitoring time is all about being paid extra to do my work... oh, and helping the students. That too
;) (kidding). But, in my non-student-helping-time, I want to learn about tools and technologies that make my resumé more attractive, read my Bible, catch up on the 10'000 things I got to do in my life. Typing the same commands 20 times over isn't on that list, you'll notice.
What's when sssh comes in handy. In no time, I was able to configure all the computers into a farm, create a SSH identity key for automatic authentication, and use sssh to configure all the computers to accept my connections WITHOUT asking for a password. OOOOOOOOOH yeah!
Thats in my toolbox. Can you tell my geek side is happy?

API madness
I had some compiling issues with AFC and thus decided to transition to uthash after looking at some APIs. I transitioned one module fine, but the second was just causing me too many problems, so I rolled back to AFC and started working a bit on the code to fix it to my liking. That's neat about Open Source software. Maybe I'll end up contributing a lot of things to that project, who knows?

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Bluetooth Works!

I purchased a Motorolla H 700 on Ebay... it was a good deal overall.

I was struggling to use it on my PC however. When I connected, it was doing some annoying noise and the voice was not carrying through. I read Skype forum posts, googled... nothing!

Today, I tried another Google search, found back an old article I read already, then bothered looking at the user comments. I saw this thing about pressing the button after connecting by the PC. It wasn't for my model, but I tried it anyway... and it worked!

I'm now able to use my headset on Skype without using Vitaero, and record voice. The latter is actually the reason why I got the device in the first place, as I want to record sermons and put them on the web.

Two words for the non-techies: Happy Geek.

Monday, October 2, 2006

About to Break Down

Don't freak out just yet. There are good things happening in my life.

This Sunday, the church paid a bus to get us to Sherbrooke. We have a couple there trying to save a few souls, and they need encouragement every now and then. There, I meet someone I met in Switzerland and with whom I did that Vezelay experience.

Also, a workplace relationship has improved from fighty to understanding, so that's great!

I have a patched up frienship. The sister acted in a way that made me feel tossed out and we had a chance to explain each other and bring forgiveness in the equation. It still has a negative impact, but there is no beef anymore.

I feel I'm out of sleep, out of energy, and overly challenged in everything... school (not much getting done), ministry (same thing), household chores (roomates complaining that I don't clean up the place enough), contract (no action in the last 2 weeks), etc. They got down on me real hard at our household meeting yesterday. I hate cleaning. I'm not good a it, it takes time, and it doesn't look that much cleaner when I'm done with it. And I don't want to change, I want to have enough money to afford a maid to take care of that for me. I don't like infrastructure work very much. It comes down from my solitary past when my apartment was where I slept, worked and ate and that was it. I wasn't LIVING there, per se, so why should I care about the non-functional attributes (say, cleanliness) when the functional attributes were there? And yes, I did clean... just not that often.
My roomates joke about it telling me they're getting me ready for my wife. Although they are right, it doesn't change the fact that I'd gladly offer my future wife a break from household chores by outsourcing the responsability outside of our couple.

I need prayers for discipline, organization, health.

I went to a career fair, submitted a few resumes, took a few cards, and we'll see about that later. The purpose was just to get myself in the HR systems of those companies so that things would be faster to find myself a job when I'm finishing my degree. I am debating doing the governments' tests, since their timing is just bad.

At school, I've had lots of problems compiling some code that was working fine a month from now. I changed the API I used for the hash table to something lighter that didn't cause me trouble but I still have problems with AspectC++.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Pachelbel Goodness - Bach Boredom

I got another CD from the library: Pachelbel Canon & Gigue Chamber Works, by London Baroque. The label is harmonia mundi.

I really discovered Pachelbel's work (everyone knows his Canon) and I was well-pleased. Pachelbel is definitely under-exploited!!!
I loved this CD, although I have a good feeling that the performers pumped up the rythm big time.

Track 1. Partie 5 in G Major: the intro is already good! It has nice, fast movements inside
Track 2. Musicalische Ergötzung, Triosonaten, Part 1. It starts well.
Track 3. Musicalische Ergötzung, Triosonaten, Part 2. Nice violin in the first minute. I hear "glory to God" in the 2nd.
Track 7. Partie a 4 in F sharp minor. near 4th minute has a nice rythm that draw your attention.
Track 10. Canon & Gigue for 3 violons and a bass. although speedy, the canon is some sweet music.
One thing that was weird is how Musicalische Ergötzung was cut off by different other pieces.

I also got a CD of Bach played by Yo-Yo Ma, The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites. Hhmmm... Bach is still a good composer. Yo-Yo Ma is still a great celloist.
Its just that the tunes were... boring. I couldn't really enjoy them. Maybe at another time in my life.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Literary Classics to Download

The Université du Québec à Chicoutimi has built and interesting digital library

Check this out:

I just downloaded Machiavelli :D

Monday, September 18, 2006

Report On The Conference in England

I spent most of last week in Oxford and London, here is what happened to me.

Arrival at Heathrow at 7ish AM. It took forever to go to customs. The flight was OK. I slept nearly 2 hours, which is good for me. I saw Mission Impossible 3 in the non-sleeping part of the travel.
I went to the airport's prayer room to read my Bible and to pray a little bit.
Afterwards, I booked my hotel. I got a B&B in the area where the church service will be on Sunday. All this took more time than I thought.
I took the 10:10 bus and arrived in Oxford near 11:20 or so. I found Jesus College easily, checked in, and got in my room.
Afterwards, I did some shopping (tea!!!) with a british colleague. I refused to pay 10£ (more than 20 CDN) for an Ethernet cable to use in my room. I guess I'll have to borrow it from someone else.
In the afternoon, I fell asleep quickly, and was awoken at the sound of a piper playing near the college.
Walked about Oxford and took pictures and then went to supper. I missed the sessions, and my supervisor didn't pay for me to attend the workshops anyway. After the supper, I grabbed my umbrella and walked in the city in a tour lead by the organizers. We finished in a neat pub called the Turf tavern and I had a "White Horse", a (surprisingly) non-blonde British beer. Got back to my room, watched a bit of that Star Trek fan movie.
(Star Wreck: In The Pirkinning)
Woke up early, prayed, read Bible. Watched a bit more of the Star Trek spoof.
Got to breakfast and tried Assam + Lapsang Souchong mix... very good.
The first presentation was by Steve Cook of Microsoft about domain-specific languages. It seems that their IDE allows for the easy creation and configuration of such languages/systems. He has a blog and there are some resources on Microsoft's website that I'll investigate.
After a 30 minute break, there were 4 other presentations: some new features in C# (extended foreach and a new thing: forall that supports parallelism) for multimedia applications [Böszörméyi presented it, I think], implicit and dynamic parameters in C++ [Heinlein of University of Ulm], virtual classes with genericity [Ernst of University of Aarhus] and oberon script [Sommerer of MSR UK].
The first was an implementation idea: foreach and forall in C#, the latter supporting paralellism in the background. The second is something I wouldn't use per se, as I feel they don't bring that much. The third I understood almost nothing and I don't feel they have a real practical use.
The latter was cute: a JavaScript compiler for Oberon that translates it in JavaScript and allows Firefox to render Oberon programs.
I lunched, borrowed a network cable and reviewed the presentation I had to make. Then my plans broke apart, because my mind went blank... I forgot the important parts of what I needed to present. DOH!
So, I barely attended the next session, the time for me to reabsorb the contents of my presentation.
I saw the end of a presentation about reusable components [Acona, University of Genova] that reminded me a little bit of VHDL structural programming, but only so much. It allowed to define unspecified types that can be defined in other modules, and merge them as needed.
It was time for another break, so I got myself a good tea, breathing deeply to take care of my stress. Then, I went to the presentation room and prayed until it was time to talk with the session chair.
My presentation went well and was on time. The questions were simple and I looked like a real expert! One question I could answer quite certainly, the other required me to make a guess based on what I knew, but I think I was accurate nevertheless.
The guy after me [Burgstaller, University of Sydney] presented formal symbolic analysis of programs (something about Control Flow Graphs). I missed half of the screen because of where I was sitting and he was talking to the screen, so I was not getting much. Also combined to that is the fact I'm not good at formal stuff. It allows to combine all program paths in one symbolic notation.
The next speaker [of ETHZ] introduced an extension to Oberon (currently named MathOberon... still in the works) and Zonnon (for .NET). Essentially, an array/matrix library for that language.
The talk afterwards [of Linkköping University] was about another language for maths: MetaModelica.
Modelica allows to model complex physical systems, with a claimed efficiency compared to C. Interestingly, it allows reuse by acausal equations... it keeps R* i = v as an equation, and the compiler will bother about which needs to be assigned based on which data is known. This looks pretty cool! I know what I'll use if I ever need to do real modelization.
MetaModelica adapts Modelica to define semantics of programming languages. You write your language specification, and you obtain a compiler for your language. There is still work to do, but this could be of some use. It even has an Eclipse plugin.
Brian Shearing did an improvised presentation on malleable software. He states that the problem is that information hiding is wrongly done... as it should be about relationships. They are moving architecture specification languages to a smaller scale. Those were slides that he did in collaboration with Peter Grogono (one prof I love at Concordia).
The basic idea is to have process-based organization, in "cells".
A few principles:
. same notation at all levels
. properties are not part of the object model
. arguments should be passed by value only, and let the compiler decide otherwise
. objects normally have encapsulation, relationships and identity. The cell should have encapsulation only. Cell have data, methods and processes are all private. It has ports and they can be imported by another cell. ports = capabilities. They are defining interfaces: ports, protocol. It is process-centric. instantiation of cells is very tricky.
In the evning, we had the banquet, and Niklaus Wirth (the man behind Pascal and Oberon) was present to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Oberon. He made a short speech that concluded in the importance of the artistic side of programming, making things beautiful and understandable.
First prsentation from Oderski (EPFL) presenting the new Scala compiler. He introduced a new thing from a type theoritical perspective: path-dependent types. He also talked about the Scala compiler, written in Scala. Their solution was to have abstract classes and abstract types with mixin composition. They introduce self-types, which will be the type of the this operator. The advantages is generality, documented interfaces for dependencies, allows multiple instanciation. They also implemented pattern matching over classes. Functions are all objects, etc.
The scala compiler works over Java, and generate Java executables. It can be downloaded at
Then, we had a presentation on a new language by Bläser (ETHZ) that allow to specify components with interfaces for solid parallelization. It allows to dynamically arrange components network. The performance level for very large networks is great, whereas C# crashes. It is still in the early stages, and can be downloaded from the web. There were many questions and many looked very interested.
The next speaker was Puntigam (TU Wien) on token-based synchronization. He first described the types of synchronization.
Internal is about atomicity. External is about protocol sequences.
His tokens are based on petri nets, although it just looks like a Java-like syntax with a precondition specified in the signature. From this older research, he moves on to some other issues.
Internal synchronization is solved by a lot of tokens everywhere, and "atomic" blocks. Then he talked of tokens on "this" by the concept of internal and external tokens.
After the break, Wolfinger (Johannes Kepler University) showed a component plug-in framework for .NET. It is called CAP.NET. It supports contracts and contraints in source code, hot plugging, plug-in unloading, updates without restarting. However, it is not downloadable for now, as it is part of a larger project. There was a few comments about making it available, which is to be seen.
It was followed by Schwarzinger (Racon Software GmbH Linz), who talked about connectors. Its an architectural style with fancier connectors than I saw in the Siemens model. Connectors are sets of interfaces, support config files, can be symmetric or assymetric, light (interface declaration only) or heavy (including non fonctional services such as logging and profiling), they can be single-part or multi-part, and there is a matching notation. Light and heavy connectors can be interchangeable too. Its architecture has a connector manager, that allows dynamic management of connectors and functional components.
We had a demonstration of Starfire by Garaio (Garaio Technologies) and Gutknecht (ETHZ). Its a language for web application that runs over .NET.
It starts by the problems we see in webapp development.
1. "Tower of Babel": many languages and techonologies mixed together.
2. Noise & Overhead: unnatural complexity (ex: OR mapper, binding, integration, etc.)
Assumptions: 50% of code is overhead/noise, complexity increasing
one language, integrates helper languages under the hood, good model for GUI/dialog-oriented interactions, integrate DB and webservices.
The demo was way cool: We had a database query that was AJAX enabled and could go through the list very smoothly. A single click on a record made an editing menu appear too. It allows to put HTML in, but that's optional.
One of the samples was 15 lines long... I know for sure that the same thing in Perl would have taken forever. We would have needed to put the HTML, receive the GET/POST query, save each input query somewhere, fetch it, etc. Database interaction was super simple... only one example he showed was more than 20 lines long.
If I'm moving to webapp development, this is a technology I'll consider.
From the security standpoint, there is work to be done. At least SQL injection is taken care of.
It is in beta testing, with final release in 2007.
After lunch, Ulrike Glavitsch demoed AOS (Active Object System). It is an operating system that supports multithreading (multiprocess kernel), UTF-8 output, etc. Their programming language allows localized programming (i.e. chinese variable names if you want).
Then it was Reed who demonstrated an Oberon live CD. It is... minimal. I tried it beforehand on my laptop and I wasn't impressed by it.
The next session was on automatic object colocation, presented by Wimmer (Johannes Kepler University Linz). Object colocation is for heap optimization to improve data locality. The project aims to use the dynamic behaviour of the VM. Problem: what to colocate? They detect the hot fields and optimize those. They have "read barriers", every time a field is read, a counter is incremented. At a certain point, the barrier is removed and the field is put in a special table and stored in a special part of memory that is optimal.
The next speaker (Hames, University of Sydney) is about register allocation. The central element is the live ranges of the variables. Their approach is different from typical interference graph. They use partioned boolean quadratic programming. They manage to have about 1% more optimizations than classical methods.
Then, it was the turn of Pereira (University of Victoria) telling us about partial redundancy elimination. They identify "hot regions" and "warm regions", and you move the redundant computations to all the entry points in the cold regions.
I chatted in the break with Brian Shearing, an old friend of Peter Grogono. The latter is a professor I looooooooooove at Concordia.
After the break, Gutknech (ETHZ) revisited the dining philosophers problem. He starts saying that his result is useless, but its the methodology that is interesting. Uses the generalized Peterson algorithm for mutual exclusion. He presents a proof for his solution. He uses only atomic read and atomic write, and no concurrency constructs like semaphores.
Then, it was Paulino (Universidade Nova de Lisboa) talking about mobile agents. The system is called Mob and looks complete enough to be useful.
It operates on an abstract machine. It is however built from a calculus... useful, but headache-causing in my case. The system design is interesting nevertheless.
The final talk was by Glavitsch (ETHZ) on active objects. It is based on Active Oberon on AOS/Bluebottle. AOS is a multi-processor kernel, and Bluebottle is a thread-safe multimedia and GUI framework. Active Oberon is a variant of Oberon for multithreading.
An active object has its own thread of control normally. In Active Oberon, its an object with a body that runs in a separate thread. She described how she implemented a multithreaded file search tool using those technologies.
After the conference, I chatted with a guy from MSR Redmond that was working on Project Singularity, that looked very interesting. Let's see if Microsoft will actually go through and offer that.
We went punting by the park and it was nice and relaxing.
I afterwards went to take the bus. I left one hour early to get my ticket and eat a nice thing. There were no ticket office open at that time, and I had to go to the ATM to get some £££ to pay the driver directly. When that was done, I barely had the time to order a panini and get going.
I was the only one on the bus, which was quite a weird feeling.
I was welcomed by one brother in Hounslow Central and he took me to his place. I slept at his apartment, although the noise of the street made it an issue on the sleep quality side.
On Saturday, we woke up late, read our Bibles and had a prayer walk. We got to a traditional British restaurant for breakfast. Going back to his place, dropping my luggage to the B&B and blablabla took forever. On our way to Hounslow Central, we met a guy doing some street preaching. That was pretty cool. We went to London's core and straight to the Parliament building and the surrounding area. We walked along the Thames, and were in the Thames Festival. There were quite a few clowns, shops and so on. There was a lot of people and we weren't walking fast, so we crossed at Blackfriar's bridge and got on a bus because our feet started to hurt. We went to Liverpool Station, then to the Tower of London. Time was running by, so we just looked at it from the outside. He took a picture of me with the Tower Bridge in the background.
We returned to the public transit and passed by Canary Wharf (the tallest building in London) to go to Greenwich. We had a meal there: Mashes and Pies: meat pies with mashed potatoes. Quite filling. Then, we went to a brother's birthday party.
I met a sister I lost touch with for more than a year and we talked a lot, although at some point I forced the conversation away from McKeanian matters. There was some techno music that played and I had a good time dancing over those!
I went back to the B&B and crashed on my bed.
On Sunday, I went to the church service in Hounslow. From 11AM to 1AM, in a hot room... that was brutal. Combined with my generalized lack of sleep and a very hurting troat (sincerely, and the pharmacy wasn't selling zinc lozenges!!!), I was out of patience. Then, after the service, a sister starts giving me the specs of the husband she'd like me to find her. "hmm... I need to go to the airport"... "I mean, I need to go now" ... "look, my flight is in 2 hours" ... "are you coming with me to Heathrow or what?"
Once there, I had to wait forever for the luggage drop-off because the Air Canada employee did something that wasn't her job and that took 10 minutes. Then the security check was overly full of people. They had those videos of what to do to make it faster and I made sure I complied with them. Once cleared, I saw that my flight was boarding now... more than 5 minutes in advance! So I hurried there only to find... a room full of people who aren't boarding. No seats left, I sat on the floor. Here goes last minute shopping in the tax-free zone.
No, I'm not complaining too much :P Don't worry.
My trip back was fine. I saw
The Sentinel. The rest is too average to be documented. I'm glad that my roomate picked me up at the airport. The first thing I did was to go to the pharmacy to buy those zinc lozenges to take care of my throat!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Twisting Plans

So, I had my back-to-school time all figured out. Or so I thought.

School starts on Tuesday. The plan is simple: go to school, evangelize half an hour up to an hour every day, pick my bike from the repair, work hard on finishing a paper by Friday, have a blazing hot devotional on Friday, and there you go, we have a powerful start to the semester.
That's not what happened.
On Tuesday, I'm being told I have to go to the UK to present that paper. So I gotta book the flight and learn the bloody thing I'll have to defend. Then, I have to address a situation with a brother and he can't come to church at midweek, so I have to take apart time during the day for that. Then, I learn that most people booked prayer times during the time prepared for the devotional, forcing me to cancel it. We have a campus group Bible study time allotted on Saturday and only one person comes. It goes on and on. I did barely any useful work during the week, although I did evangelize a bit.
Its very frustrating to me. Not only all my plans were seriously messed up, but I also feel that my semester start just... sucked. Not the powerful, momentum-building colective experience I wanted to see...
I was told by my evangelist to focus on love in the group. That's what August was supposed to be for, and didn't happen. Now... will it work in September?
Prayers welcomed, both for my character, and the well-being of this ministry.
Speaking of prayer, I enjoyed the 48-hour prayer chain that we did as a church this weekend. It was great: we had a tent set, with a wall full of the congregation's pictures and prayer request. I prayed with a brother for a full hour and we were far from having prayed for everyone! It was a great experience, and I'll definitely keep on prayer for God's saints in Montreal.

Vacation Report

Sorry for forgetting you.

That is what I did in my second week of vacation, after the fishing time.
There is not much to say, except that I did not rest all that much.

First, we saw a documentary about Cavalia, this circus show based on horses. This was really inspiring. In a sense, its the power of love... they decided to respect the horse and its personality, and worked around it, instead of whipping a behaviour into it.
On Wednesday, I got to Québec City by bike (not the full trip though) and I went with a brother to the midweek service there. It was inspiring. They were dealing on how their love for one another would get into work. I slept at that brother's place and, the next day, I went back by bike, the whole way this time!
I stopped in St Romuald and chatted with an old friend of mine, whom I lost track of for a while.
Then, it was back home. My calves were aching. Why? The brakes were too tight, so I was constantly braking lighty against my will. So that was a pretty good feeling to finally be home!
On Friday morning, it was time to get back to Montreal. I left at 12:00 using Allo Stop. The trip went well. I arrived home, got some more stuff in my bag, removed some, and left off for the Campus Ministry mini-retreat.
So, on this Friday evening, we have a good meal and a games night, followed by a movie, Glory Road, an inspiring movie about the racism that had to live a team of black basketball players, who eventually won the NCAA championship.
Then, we slept in the tents and another day came.
On Saturday morning, after a great breakfast, we all shared based on the message each prepared.
The theme was: Love, Growth, Evangelism, and I asked each person to prepare a 10-minute long message/sharing centered around a passage in the Pastoral Epistles. You guessed it, I'm the one who assigned the themes and passages. The result was really inspiring indeed. Especially about fleeing the desires of the youth and pursuing righteousness. During the lunchtime, we played mini golf, and we had a good lunch together. Afterwards, I tried to brainstorm and set things in place for the new semester, but everyone was too sleepy to be into it.
I wasn't happy about the ending: I had prepared a second message and I wanted the input really badly!
Overall good, but with not a great ending.
As of me, I was working on exhortation. This is an area of my personality that needs to grow, since I'm leading this group, and I need to address issues when they arise, instead of letting them linger and eventually explode.
Sunday and monday were focused on trying to get Linux to work on my laptop (Ubuntu's installer goes black during the install process... gggggggrrrrrrrr) and getting the HP printer to print in black only.
I've not been successful at the first, and only partially at the second. I don't like it when my beloved darling works against me. I love computers, its my field, and it feels really nasty... like a backstabbing.
Anyway, then it was time for school.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Strong Commentary on The Dismissal of the African Situation

This is something I scanned from Le Soleil of August 5, p. 29.

This is a great commentary. I think it should be shared with the world.

Oh, and its also online too if you want to save yourself this not-that-great jpeg.


Canadian Bike and British Plane

I learnt yesterday that I had to attend a conference in Oxford (yes, THE oxford) to present a paper of one of my teammates. So I rushed to make travel arrangements. In the end, It is cheaper to stay in the UK for a few more days than to leave immediately. That gives me a two days' break Ennglaand :)
I was mad on the spot when I learnt that. I really would stay in Montreal to evangelize more and take care of my ministry. I tried to convince my prof to go instead of me. I even offered to teach his lecture for him! Nothing worked. So, I decided I might as well enjoy the whole thing!

I got my bike back from Velomaniak, an under-advertised bike shop close to the corner of Ottawa and Murray (ok, not helpful... go see the map). They are cheap and friendly... and they know their thing. Its a major step up from Canadian Tire (yuck).

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Fishing Weekend

So... my vacation was about to really start.

Yes, I was off from work since Monday (with the exception of two critical meetings) and I spent it doing a lot and a lot of things. Biking, running some errands, catching up on some paperwork, trying to get the tax people happy etc. I had a full day dedicated to ministry-related things as well.

Didn't feel like a vacation, really.

That being said, I still had some fun. Notably, I watched The Count of Monte Cristo and Holst's Planets, a DVD done by the BBC. I love my library!

But, moving in for the fun part.

On Saturday morning, around 9:30 or so, my dad arrives from Québec City and picks me up. I barely had the time to pack.
We go up North, in Lakeview, for a family party. Thing is... we forgot to gas earlier in the travel and there isn't any gas station in sight... remember, we are NOT in a urban area... no cellphone coverage (at least not with my provider), one store per town, lots and lots of shacks by the lakes, and I doubt you'll have a high-speed internet connection anywhere over there. Its a different world... two hours of driving from you!
We got directions and managed to find a gas station. On the way there, in Montcalm, we saw a fire station with a library. The library part seeming smaller than my apartment. I was wondering if I had a personal library bigger than the entire town... although they must have a high book density in that little facility.
We got to the family party, with a full tank of gas, and enjoyed ourselves. In the evening, we went to settle ourselves at the Pourvoirie des Quatres Chênes, in Huberdeau. The chalet we used was comfy enough, although not super hot (actually better than expected).
Comes Sunday morning... it rains. I spend some time with God in prayer and reading my Bible. I have time because we're having a lot of rain. So, afterwards, my dad and I play cards for a while, we chat. I ask him a lot of questions about himself... kind of catching up with all the adolescence we kinda skipped.
The rain goes to drizzle and then stops, and we start preparing ourselves for fishing: put the boat on the lake, get the rods ready, dress up, etc. And then, the heavy rain comes back, and so we wait more.
Another accalmy comes, and we get on the water, from 11:00 to 16:00 or so. The rain had come back at that point. So we just enjoyed the feeling of peace and calm on the lake, letting our lines drag in the water as the electric motor was propelling us slowly, with a beep from the sonar every now and then. We ate supper, chatted some more, then we split, reading. I guess we blew our quota of words for the day or something.
In the end, I opent he TV and watch a show on Katrina by Découverte.
We both go to bed early, feeling tired.
Monday morning comes and we have sun! I take a prayer walk by the lake. At first, I see the vapour from the lake dancing in the sun. I hear no sound, almost. Then the birds start singing, and the mosquitos start liking me... so I finish my quiet time in the shack where I won't be eaten alive.
My dad didn't wait me and he was on the lake already. When I was ready to join him, he fetched me on the side and we continued until around 11:00 or so, as our battery was dying. It was a slow pack and lunch, chatting more. On the way back, I slept for a while, and worked through a conflictual relationship with a brother, found some Scriptures related to the situation, etc.
The overall experience was very good to me. I got to tune out for a few days from my techy world, tune in to nature (those who know me know how much I love that), get to know my dad a bit more, and have a moment where my brain is effectively on "pause".
Now, I'm at my parent's place... far from a lot of things worrying me, and fully planning to care as little about them as possible until I'm back on Friday :)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Interesting Argument in Favour of Paulinian Autorship of Pastoral Epistles

You probably faced someone already who told you that some parts of the Bible were fake...

Some scholars will say that, but with fancier words... and one of their likely tarted will be 1 Timothy, 2nd Timothy and Titus (known as the Pastoral Epistles).

I read something interesting that I stumbled upon by chance today, a websie dedicated to their study. Its author has a blog and brings some interesting arguments against the claim of stylistic difference between the unanimously agreed Pauline corpus and the Pastorals. Warning: I didn't double-check his facts though.

So, there you go Rumors of Pseudonymity Greatly Exaggerated

Monday, August 21, 2006

I'm on Vacation

My dear beloved readers... I'm sorry I did not blog that much recently. I was working hard at work trying to tie loose ends so that things wouldn't be too bad when I'd be gone in vacation, which is the state I'm in now.

Its really really good to be able to have a nap in the middle of the afternoon on a Monday when you feel like it!

What happened on the way to this blessed time?

Lets look at things from the reverse order...
Sunday was my last time taking care of the babies at church. I did the communion message for all the folks doing the babysitting. The rest of my time was dedicated to recovering (sleepwise). In the evening, I joined others at Rockaberry's to celebrate the upcoming departure of our campus ministry leader, a close friend of mine. I had a Toblerone pie... way too many calories for my own good.
Saturday, I started having a special time with God. I walked up the hill next door and let one worry after another on the side of the road (the pink flowers for love, that tree for my ministry, etc.). On top, I read a few chapters of Job, prayed only about God and my relationship with him. Going back, I started praying for all those things I let by. It was a good experience, one that I'll repeat for sure! I then attended a wedding of two members of the congregation, and then denied myself to have a mini date with sisters to a restaurant. I was too tired and too cash-strapped to really want to, but I felt it was the thing to do. I wanted to encourage that sister for so long. In the end, she's the one who did most of the encouraging!!! After, I went home, got some sleep, and then met my date for the wedding reception (actually, the latter part of the reception, I was not invited to the whole thing). We came in for desserts and the dancing and we had lots and lots of fun. There are rumours that say that I do, indeed, dance... don't be misled by such things ;)
On Wednesday, we had a brother coming for the US that preached a powerful message about prayer that shocked me deep. I felt I was trying to get all the benefits of a relationship with God without the most important part... being close to Him. My prayer and my repentance now is focused around that. Please join me in prayer.
Workwise, we did enough progress so that my coworkers will be able to work on two papers and get them mostly ready by the time I come back. I'll just have to put in a finishing touch before submission. Yay!
That's an OK summary. I hope this keeps you in context!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Contre les Chats

Funny advertising parody. As a sidenote, I looooooooooooooooove cats.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Guide for Geek's Girlfriends

Some friends told me about this website Saturday... both in French and English. Mandatory reading for my future wife!

En français: copinedegeek
In English: geekgirlfriend

I do admit that some of it is using stereotypes... but only so much!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Something to think, something to smile

Disclaimer: I don't hate people from India. I just liked how the video was portraying the living conditions (although in an exagerated way) of some of the poorest there.

Go see The Singhsons!

Also, this is interesting, although sad... both the newscast and the person interviewed went overboard. It starts with a weirdly framed question (asking to justify... that's not his role to do that), and a very condescending reply. Still, when you cut through the name-calling, this guy has interesting information on the conflict in Lebanon.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Lebanon + Bible + Friendship :)

I guess that's the best way to summarize my weekend.

I had two Bible studies scheduled during the weekend, but one guy was a no-show. The second study went quite well and I'm praying about it.

I spend the evening with a couple from the church. We ate in the park together, attempted to go to a free outdoors feature of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, but couldn't (just a way way way too long file). We then retreated to their place and watched Hidalgo together. Interesting movie for sure, and its hardly believable to be a real story.

On Sunday, I prepared a few passages so that I could get everybody involved in the upcoming campus camping weekend... to find out that MORE people were cancelling. So we'll be moving the event. Still, that was really annoying, and far from the 'may your yes be yes'. People who know me know that I don't like broken commitments.
I arrived late for the Kid's Class volunteers message, and then we had more kids than normal with less people than normal to deal with them. So, we adapted, and I can say that my babies kept me busy :)
Seriously, I'm starting to like them, although I'm not fluent in "baby-speak' just yet...

After, I went with a few other Christians to a march for peace in Lebanon. I read in the morning paper that 15 000 were in this march. I felt like I was a citizen!

Then, I got right on time for the leader's meeting and the following BBQ to celebrate the birthdays of two of our leaders. I helped with the cooking too, and I can safely say that I didn't loose my BBQing skills after all that time :)
Back home, I called a sister outside of Montreal while I was cleaning the bathroom... there is a virtue into turning a chore into pleasure :)

Other than that, my week has been pretty uneventful.
I am thinking of when I'll take vacation, and I'm not decided yet. I am feeling the need for it in an increasing measure.
My reading on Emotional Intelligence is really helping me be able to pick my emotions/moods better, and I think I'm getting a bit better at reading body language. I'm not at the point of be able to be emotionally detached in difficult situations yet, but it'll happen.
For those of you who wonder why I read that, there are two things:
a) a lot of the things associated with emotional intelligence related to godly character (think patience and self-control)
b) I was suggested to build those skills up before I start leading the campus ministry of my church in the fall. I see this as an opportunity to test myself on wheter or not I should pursue my dream of being a minister (eventually, at least), and I need those skills (and indestructible time management) so that my experience doesn't leave me burnt out and drained.
So, I guess I'm setting myself up for accelerated character growth, eh?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Bon Cop Bad Cop

I saw the premiere of Bon Cop Bad Cop at Fantasia this Monday. The director, executive producer and two actors were there.

The movie has his dose of nudity and sexual content, as well as swearing, but it also has a strong dose of laughter and action scenes that leave you begging for more. I particularly laughed duing the swearing lesson. (Well, we use it as an adjective, but it can also be a noun. Then, there's also a verb form...)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Nice weekend with my folks

Will keep this very short.

I spent the weekend in Québec City. I did some biking with my dad, participated in an African night, had a nice service + BBQ on Sunday. There has been some emotions flying on the air for me. There was just a lot of my youth that was flooding my memory once more. Like if those memories rebelled after being put away for so long.

I also listened to The Brandernburg Concertos of J.S. Bach, interpreted by The Brandenburg Consort/Roy Goodman, under a Hyperion Dyad label. I like the 3rd much, the others less.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Crazy Adventure

So... I thought I had my evening plan set yesterday... I was wrong.

A brother calls me and tells me there's a guy who'd do a Bible study NOW. And it seems that any other moment was not much of an option. After telling him that I had plans, I told him to call me back if noone could join him. It looks like I was his only man.

So, in a flash, I cancelled my previous engagement and hopped in the metro to go to a place of Montreal I wouldn't spend that much time on normally. The guy walked us to his place and we studied until 23:45. The direct metro line was closed at that point. :'( So, we walked to another metro station (much longer route for me on the Orange line) and I got home past 00:30. Yay for my unstable sleep :(

Anyway, I'm kind of proud of an insane adventure like that. This is the kind of stuff that should happen in a disciple's life every now and then!

Now, we just need to pray for him to take the decision to convert.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Challenge in Surrender

How to put it?
There were sisters coming from the US, and I took care of them. Why was it challenging? Because nothing worked according to my plans! Then, there were communication issues that made me wait a lot, and walk a lot more than expected (remember the sprained ankle) and a few more things I'm not putting there (lets just say they don't give me a good image). So yeah, you can say that I was more of a control freak than a godly surrendered man.
As a sidenote, I enjoyed when one sister gave me advil!
Anyway, we visited the Old Montreal, a bit of the Quartier Latin and Village, fireworks, Mount Royal, etc. We ate at the 3 brasseurs and this is a good place to go eat if you have a bit of money.

Also, the heat worsened my sleep, so I ended up being overly tired on everything. We had a good service on Sunday, but I can testify that I had no desire but to sleep afterwards ;) (buuuuut, that's due to the heat... not the sermon).

As of today, we finished the paper and submitted it. I was supposed to have a Bible study this morning, but the guy was a no-show... but that was cool, as a guy started talking to us. He was resistant to have the Bible as the supreme authority of his life, and we parted peacefully. Now, I'm moving on to read some work done by the ISO.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Creativity and Butchery

Professionally, I had an interesting week. Health-wise, its a mixture of love and hate. Spiritually, let me smile.

We had two lectures from a visiting scholar. One was on time management, and one was on software watermarking
We spent some time working on our theoritical language, and things went the way I expected with my supervisor: simple, elegant, but very hard to implement. Our previous work was the reverse, although I fully expected things to turn this way and supported it to a certain extent. We also started working on the camera-ready version of that paper we need to submit Monday. It turns out that we used the wrong template to compile the document... and that with the needed template, we ended up with 6 pages, whereas we were accepted for 4.
And the butchering began... its not the first time I have to do it, and this is getting annoying. There are limits to what you can chop off when things are already quite compact, but you need to go somehow beyond that. Anyway... enough complaining, I have another publication. Maybe I'll even go to Markham to present it.
I am satisfied with my level of productivity. Things went well and I had a lot of focus.
I started physio. I have to do exercises. First with the rubber band, and now about equilibrium. I have some stretches to do. The therapist was surprised to see me on one of those. She told me I was one of the least flexible cases she saw on that particular stretch... that means that my knee is much more messed up than I thought it was.
Anyway... I don't like the process, but I have to go through it.
So, what was so great spiritually? I prepared a strong exhortation for the brothers' midweek, reminding about the spiritual warfare and the need to be a band of warrior-brothers. I gave pratical challenges for the next 2 weeks: 1 d-time , prayer time, and evangelization time with another brother at least, for each week. I finally made a follow-up phone call (after being lazy about it) and I'll meet the guy for a study on Monday. Guuuuuuuuuuuuut!
I also prepared a super-time for sisters coming in town from Albany, NY.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Letter to MP

It is done! I wrote about Darfur. Here's is what I sent him (with a few CCs)

I gotta watch the video of the conference myself:

Irwin Cotler
Chambre des communes
OTTAWA (Ontario)
K1A 0A6
CC: Mr. Harper, Mr. MacKay, M. O'Connor, Mr. Duceppe, Mr. Layton, Mr. Dallaire
Date: 11 Juillet 2006
Sujet: Appel à l'action face au Darfour et à la mise en place d'une politique claire d'action internationale.
Je suis un simple citoyen vivant dans la circonscription de Mont-Royal, et je vous écris en réponse aux nouvelles que je vois concernant le Darfour. De plus, une réflection personnelle me laisse l'impression que le Canada est en train de renier ses valeurs fondamentales dans sa politique étrangère actuelle. J'espère que la courte exposition de la situation et de mon analyse, dans cette lettre, stimulera votre action parlementaire. De plus, j'amène des suggestions qui me semblent concrètes
C'est avec horreur que j'ai lu que mon gouvernement avait refusé de supporter une motion condamnant l'état d'Israël dans sa politique punitive face à la population palestinienne. Cela me semble en contraste direct avec plusieurs valeurs bien canadiennes et plus précisément la compassion.
Avec réflection, je me demande si notre gouvernement a précisé quelle était l'idéologie qu'il allait employer dans nos relations internationales, et si cette idéologie était en phase avec les valeurs de notre société. Hors, il me semble voir une idéologie quasi-guerrière qui n'a rien en commun avec les désirs de mes compatriotes et moi-même. J'ai la certitude que les Canadiennes et Canadiens sont d'un fort altruisme quand stimulés par la souffrance et l'horreur. Les réactions de la population lors de crises du passé ont bien démontré une solidarité autant locale qu'internationale.
En tant que député de l'opposition, j'aimerais que vous questionnez ce gouvernement sur ses réelles valeurs quant à son action à l'international. Le Canada sera-t-il à l'avenir une nation défendant sans relâche les droits humains, sans discrimination quant à l'origine, la race et la couleur de peau de ceux qui sont opprimés?
Je vous prie de faire pression pour des actions concrètes sur un dossier qui représente malheureusement trop bien l'indifférence occidentale: le Darfour. Comme vous le savez sûrement vous-même, les actes montrent un réel génocide, mettant en vedette une population déportée, massacrée, pillée et violée au vu et au su de la communauté internationale, avec la collaboration directe du gouvernement local. Les troupes de l'Union Africaine, selon des observateurs indépendants, sont incapables d'avoir un impact réel sur le terrain.
Nous sommes moralement obligés d'agir, et ce ne sont pas les quelques dollars offerts précédemment qui arrêteront les milices de tuer.
Il sagit bel et bien d'un 2e Rwanda, malgré que la communauté internationale a juré de ne jamais laisser un 2e se produire. Advenant que vous ne soyez pas familier avec l'horreur de la chose je vous encourage de lire le livre de Mr. Dallaire ou de discuter avec ce dernier. Quant au Darfour, les pages du site web de CBC vous donneront un portrait assez juste de la situation, bien que je vous encourage à consulter les témoignages des observateurs sur le terrain.
(footnote: L'Université Concordia a organisé une conférence sur le sujet. Voici un lien avec les informations:
Je vous suggère, monsieur, des idées pratiques à suggérer à nos gouvernants:
Appel aux soldats des forces régulières et des réservistes volontaires à servir à une mission de stabilisation.
Leadership au sein des Nations Unies pour obtenir des sanctions exemplaires contre le gouvernement Soudanais pour sa complicité
Leadership aux Nations Unies pour l'établissement et le déploiement d'une force de stabilisation déployée à l'intérieur d'un mois. Si la communauté internationale a su réagir en un instant pour la première guerre du golfe, elle est toujours capable d'agir rapidement et efficacement aujourd'hui.
Considérant les antécédents de ce genre de mission, passer par l'OTAN si le processus est bloqué à l'ONU. Peut-être cela donnera une leçon en efficacité à cette organisation reconnue pour sa lenteur à décider quoi que ce soit.
Restructuration de l'armée afin d'établir un Corps de Paix et Stabilité, spécialisé dans ce type de mission. Cela règlerait le problème d'image associé à l'affirmation que nos troupes sont étirées à l'extrême, puisque les troupes pouvant être facilement déployées seraient visiblement comptabilisées.
Adoption d'une politique d'adoption d'un État. L'idée n'étant pas courante, je vous l'explique ici: plutôt que de séparer l'aide aux pays en voie de développement en de petits morceaux qui n'ont pas toujours de l'impact localement (ex: les sacs de nourriture de l'ONU vendus au marché au lieu d'être distribués), je propose un partenariat avec une nation précise. Cette dernière reçevrait la part du lion de l'aide internationale, mais surtout quant à des contributions en nature: juges, policiers, médecins, infirmiers, ingénieurs, enseignants, experts en agriculture et développement durable, économistes, etc. L'objectif étant simple et bien défini: édifier une nation sur tous les points critiques: éducation, infrastructure, économie, droit et intégrité à l'intérieur d'une génération. Une telle aide servirait les besoins les plus immédiats (santé, nourriture) tout en gardant une vision à long terme. Plus l'action étant concentrée, plus tangibles seront les fruits. Le résultat serait une nation forte, apte à aider celles de sa région moins bien nanties. Une telle politique, une fois la paix et l'ordre rétabli, pourrait être appliquée avec la région du Darfour (à défaut de s'occuper du Soudan au complet... il ne faudrait pas non plus récompenser un gouvernement désirant la mort de son peuple)
En résumé, monsieur, je vous appelle à défendre l'idéal Canadien de la solidarité et du la défense des droits humains fondamentaux. Prenez le taureau du Darfour pour les cornes et démontrez au monde que chaque vie humaine est précieuse! Nous sommes capables, en tant que nation, d'avoir un impact énorme sur le monde.
Des grands hommes nous y dirigèrent dans le passé, il nous faut maintenant de grands hommes pour le faire pour l'avenir. Faisons-le!
Sincèrement vôtre,
Marc-André Laverdière

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Strong Brotherhood

Here is sermon notes for a men's midweek that I preached this summer

"I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
you were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
more wonderful than that of women." - 2 Samuel 1:26
David was a man who loved women very very much... yet he loved Jonathan as a true brother, and loved him more than he loved even his wives. Is there a man you love more than your wife or desire for a wife?
Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. - Matthew 5:37
Now, what are the things that you said yes to when you became a disciple? Here is some things I did commit to:
- carry your cross every day
- make disciples (every day)
- have daily contact with brothers and sisters
- submit to what the Bible teaches
- read my Bible every day
- pray every day to my God
What are things we preached to you before? I think that, for some of them, we made it explicitely clear that you should change church if you didn't commit to those. What were they?
- involvement at sunday, midweek and family group meetings
- discipling
- evangelization
- and I dare add, loving one another
Those are things that you implicitely commited to, that each of us had commited to. Now, it is a simple matter of holding the commitment that you made.
- Have a d-time or d-group this week
- Evangelize with a brother for 30 minutes this week
- Pray with a brother at least once this week
- Decide to be open about your life and your struggles
- Fight sexual impurity together by prayer

Friday, July 7, 2006

Great Movie at Fantasia

The Fantasia Film Festival is going on right now, at Concordia. The line up of movies is interesting. Too much, actually. I need to fight the urge not to buy 10 tickets on my own!

Yesterday, I went to see Seven Swords with a brother and we enjoyed the movie tremendously. Not only they had awesome fight scenes, but they also gave important to secondary characters.

I needed to have some relaxation, after the big mess I had to deal with this week. Won't say more on this blog at this point.


I really think that our government is nuts at this point.

So, Canada votes against a motion condemning the actions of Israel recently. Please keep in mind that Israel is destroying civilian infrastructure in the process of retrieving a kidnapped soldier. Power plants, Palestinian leaders' offices, etc. are being blown up for this sole purpose, handicapping further the Palestinian people. How many will die because of that?

Then, it makes lip service in improving things in Darfur, by donating money while not really pushing for things to change on the ground.

And shame on me for delaying to write to my leaders demanding things to change... Email me if you don't see me posting my letter to them by Tuesday to keep me accountable.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Double :(

Germany lost today...

The other :( is that I got to the doctor's today, who diagnosed a sprained ankle. He prescribed some painkillers and some physio. I am not too happy about that, but I needed to make sure that my ligament was not torn or anything like that. Something tells me that those nice shoes will see a decreasing level of mileage in the time to come...

Monday, July 3, 2006

Saint Saëns Goodness

I got at the library a CD of the Symphony #3, Danse Macabre, an exerpt of Samsom and Dalia, and "Trois Rhapsodies sur des cantiques bretons". The works were performed by the Royal Stockholm Philarmonic Orchestra, conducted by James DePriest.

I can say that the Maestroso of Symphony #3 is breathtaking, and the Danse Macabre is great too. I enjoyed the rythm and explosion of sounds. My style.
The performing was good too, and I just enjoyed it.

I also took Händel's Solomon. I listened to it, but didn't put the attention needed to it. I recognized some things from the Messiah and Water Music. Like the Messiah, it needs to be really listened to. Maybe I'll take it again later, when I can consecreate more than 3 non-stop hours to listen to this.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Got a Paper Accepted

Good news this week. I got a paper accepted for the PST 2006 conference (PST = Privacy, Security and Trust), which will be Markham, Ontario (not far from Toronto) on October 30 until November 1.

We have some modfications to make to the paper in question, as they accepted us as a 'short paper' of only four pages... also known as an introduction, previous work, and conclusion... grrr.
Its funny how we are asked to make a shorter paper with more references! :)

We'll see who will be presenting the paper. Pray that it is me!!!
Still, I prayed (and asked for prayers) for acceptance to this conference and another one, and it was answered. Yay!