April 3, 2015

A year ago …

… I had never cut down a tree.

… I had yet to light a fire using the embers of the previous day’s blaze.

… I had never owed a pool.

… I had never hung my clothes on my clothesline.

… my youngest uncle was still alive.

… I lived in Freya’s house.

… I was still an apprentice.

… I had never worked out of town and come home on weekends.

… I lived in the city.

… I did not have a church I called “mine.”

… I did not own a grown up car.

… I was not yet brave enough to permanently cut off a communicating with a relative.

… I had never read the New Testament in one fell swoop start to finish.

… I didn’t have “happy” days.

… I didn’t come home after a journey, close the car door, look up a the stars, and sigh with contentment.

… I did not have a library card for the place where I lived.

… I did not have a +5 proficiency in fire wrap

… I had never covered a duct with pvc.

… I had never worked a job from start to finish.

… I did not have to go for physiotherapy.

… I was not as satisfied with my life as I am today despite the tragedies and hardships that have come my way.

Review of the New Testament

Back in January I decided that my resolution would be to read the entirety of the Bible. Wait? Did you hear that correctly? Yes. The entirety. I wasn’t convinced I had read all of the minor prophets let alone all of Isaiah and there was a nagging suspicion that I never really did finish Hebrews. So I grabbed a Bible app and clicked about until I found a New Testament in 40 days reading plan. I figured I had read most of the New Testament and it would be a decent litmus test for my perseverance.

So I read the New Testament in 40ish days. Why the ish? Well we’ll get to that when I review the app. Why the delay in writing about it if I finished back in February? It’s called working tens. It is an evil shift that I despise because you are so exhausted that even if you live close to your jobsite you are not eating until 6:30/7:00 at night and you go to bed at 9 or so because if you don’t you will suffer from sleep deprivation and fall off a ladder.

My goal was not to be enlightened. My goal was not to increase my Spirituality or Holiness quotient. My goal was to read the New Testament. I sucked it in. I did not pause to contemplate much of what I was reading and I acknowledge that for some such an admission is sacrilege; however, as I’m a heretical Anglican with delusions of accepting that other religions have just as much right to exist as mine I’m bound for hell anyways so I don’t really care. I wanted to read the New Testament.

My thoughts in bullet point form:

  • There is a clear separation between the Pauline and deutero-Pauline books. I totally agree that they are not all written by the same person or group of people. Remember that not caring bit from before? Totally continues along here my single author friends.
  • The ending of Hebrews is a total add-on by a scribe. My first impressions are that it was written for a post-diaspora audience that was not super educated about their own faith background. I’m still undecided about whether the intended audience was Jewish. I need slower look for that decision.
  • James? I do think it was his brother but I’m not convinced that the church of Jerusalem was completely free of the “Pauline style” Messiah as spiritual saviour. There is a lack of dying for sins in the book but there is a waiting for a messianic return mentioned. If Hebrews was written a Jewish intended audience from the Jamesian school of theology (I don’t know the proper terms off the top of my head so academics can climb in the not caring bus with the fundamentalists here — try to keep the blood of the seats) then the shift was indeed happening, especially after the diaspora.
  • With that last bullet point in mind, I’m still not convinced by the Jesus as solely political figure theory. I do have a bias towards my religion and I see no evidence from the text that can pull me away from the idea that there is something to the whole religious saviour thing. I recognize that there is far more of a Jesus really didn’t intent to create a new religion thing going on but I’m already in deep heretical waters as it is so I’ll avoid jumping into the how much divine knowledge did he have debate just now thank you very much.
  • I agree with those who say that whoever allowed the Book of Revelations to be canon deserves a smack upside the head (I’m looking at you Jerome).

No I have no real plans to tackle the Old Testament, yet. I have a JPS version on the desk but I really don’t feel like going through Leviticus. Again. I swear it kills any and all momentum I pick up from the first two books. I might keep to the plan of reading the various sub-sections. Maybe I’ll start with the histories.

I should also mention I’m still on the fence as to whether I should call them the Old and New or Jewish and Christian. Forgive me if I do not remain consistent with my methodology.

Level Complete

One of those odd professional moments happened yesterday when I worked on a job from start to finish. I have been there for the opening and the closing but never for both on the same job. This particular job took five months, a bit longer than the eight to ten weeks I was originally told. The last few weeks were rough. I miss my home. I have lived in this house for a year less a week and I have been working out of town for seven months. I couldn’t find a mixing bowl the other day. I had no idea where we kept them. 

Luckily the site itself was quite good. There weren’t any serious arguments and no one really failed to get along. That’s not to say it was perfect. We got the “the site is going to disappear so you better be done” about a month ago with no real heads up and a bunch of work to complete on the roof, in winter, beside Lake Huron. Thanks to a “why the hell didn’t we get this earlier” bit of overtime on Tuesday we pulled it off.

The other fringe benefit to working the same site for five months is that I gained a +5 proficiency to working with fire wrap. While the others were slaving away on the roof I was working like a madman inside the building. When I gained an apprentice I realized that my speed was substantially higher than I thought it was and I could just yell out measurements for odd sized spots without having to spend much time thinking about them.

I’m still going to be working out of town for a bit. I’m headed back to Burlington. The boss offered me the chance to take a lay-off and see if anything pops up in my direction but I’m not a gambler. Hell, I’m barely out of being a late adopter of technology (my phone is fancy although it did take me ten years before I upgraded).

Snow Day

Snow days for work are similar to snow days in school: you go to bed at your regular time and wake up at dark o’clock as you normally would. Then you live in stasis. I’m out of town so it’s not like I can just putter around the house doing the miscellaneous chores that pile up. Hell, I’ve only been here three days so it’s not like I even have enough laundry but I nevertheless threw a load in just to have something to do.

Exploring is pretty much out of the question. I could brave it but for what purpose? Work is closed because the visibility on the roads is optimistically described as poor. I can see across the road but I’m in a tree-lined, secluded neighbourhood. We went for breakfast and couldn’t see more than a block when we go to to the main street in town.

It still feels a shame to waste a day of light, diffused throw white flakes as it is. I think I’ll bundle up and walk to the corner. By then my brain should clue into the fact that doing so is a really stupid idea and look forward to watching netflix or reading an ebook (because of course I didn’t bring a real one for the first time in months).


The solitary life

I’m staying out of town for a spell, a camp job close to home. It is a 3 hour drive home each night, crossing all of Toronto and then some. I’m staying in a hotel.

The boredom inherent in seeing the same bland walls is starting to creep in. I had a nightmare about someone else’s pain filled life which segued into the final acts of a domineering corporate entity destroying the last vestiges of someone’s soul.

I am at that point.

I tried to get technology to assist me out of my doldrums but the inherent setup of motel wifi is proving frustrating. I brought my mini-router to act as a bridge but cannot get it to connect to the antenna somewhere in this building. I bought a chromecast last night to ease the pain of tying my laptop into the tv with an hdmi cable across the room from where I sit. It requires me to use my router as a bridge. Are you sensing the problem yet?

The work itself is not bad. It’s a commercial site. Drywallers and their inability to understand the concept of the equal sign are the bane of our existence. So situation normal.

I don’t watch a lot of television at the best of times and even with compelling baseball on the tube I find myself frustrated at the sedentary nature of existence thrust upon me.

I’ve booked a different hotel for next week. I’m hoping that change will make things better. That and having access to a swimming pool.


Over the past 5 weeks I have been travelling to Markham in the afternoons for my final round of trade school. The class is, thankfully, idiot free and made up of learning interesting bits of geometry that allow me to turn a flat piece of metal into a sculpture-like creation of three dimensions.

The course also includes supervisor training and first aid. I learned that everything must be written down and that most of the principles of first aid have been dumbed down because people are too stupid to save lives. I am not exactly encouraged.

My aim has always been to be the top of the middle of the class and I can safely say my hands on work is putting me in that category. I’m not the greatest but I’m competent and you can leave me alone for a while without worrying too much.

The greatest discovery, however, is that I need 299 hours to complete my apprenticeship. I am almost done. Five years ago I started this with no idea about the industry or whether I could do it. I’m now three months or so away from saying that I fully belong. Quite an accomplishment.

vignette of camp life

I just saw an old guy fill a paper cup with pink bathroom soap to wash his clothes. Only in a place where you live for free, with food, can men be so cheap.

A few if my missing things

So far there are only a couple of things that I’m missing and most of them are just annoyances.

  • Milk — lactose free milk does not exist here and neither do personal refrigerators
  • My water bottle — while there is no shortage of water dispensers and paper cones I do not feel like paying $2.50 for a plastic bottle that will taste wretched in a couple of days. I looked at mine twice the day I left and still regret not bringing it.
  • A mug. Seriously I miss being able to drink tea out of something other than styrofoam.
  • Shoe deodorizers — I know, tmi, but my room is tiny.

Flying to my future

I am not an experienced air traveler by any stretch of the imagination. I have flown twice, a round trip from Ottawa to Hamilton. Two regional airports, one a little classier than the other. I’m used to rail. I’m used to the rolling gait of the rails under my seat whether on a long distance journey or a daily commute. I am used to having a modicum of leg room, albeit not during rush hour, and I know how to position my body so I can pee standing up even with the occasional lurch.

The trip to the airport started with a final dinner with my wife. We stopped at Boston Pizza in Pickering, normally a safer bet for service, and managed to have our order mucked up, our server seemingly forget to take our payment for fifteen minutes, and their televisions were set up the wrong way so the football score headers were cut off the top of the screen. I’ll let you decide which was the most egregious offence. Despite these set backs and traffic being slow in a couple of spots we made it to Pearson with more than plenty of time. A couple of hours worth of spare time all told. I checked my bags and set off the oversized baggage alarms. Over the summer I cut up laminate flooring and subfloor in the garage and covered my toolbag with sawdust and other particulates and the scanners at the airport have issues with that sort of thing. Luckily I had my key accessible and after a quick scan it was dropped onto the conveyor belt and off to $diety knows where.

With everything settled for the foreseeable future my nerves started getting the better of me. My dutiful wife shook her head, kissed me goodbye, and sent me off to security so I could sit down beside my gate for the remaining time. She knows me. I slipped through security without a hassle (after you’ve worked nuclear for a while you get used to the procedure), sat down at my gate, attached my iPod to the wifi and listened to the Friday’s sports radio show that I missed. With ten minutes to go I used the bathroom, got a drink of water, and promptly figured out that I had been sitting at the wrong gate for an hour and a half. I walked the quarter mile to where I should have been, discovering the concourse that could have distracted or caffeinated me (hello Starbucks), to hear the call for boarding.

Flying unnerves me more than the wait. Humanity should not be stuck in a tin can hurtling ourselves through the air thanks to a quirk of physics. My body tenses at every change of speed or altitude. I can feel when we level off. I tighten up when we dip forward to start the decent. We turn slightly at the Manitoba boarder. I feel every second of the brief course change in my body. The plane is cramped. There are only two people other than myself walking around to hold off cramping. I am happy when we settle down on the tarmac, happier still when my aisle-mates offer me a ride for no reason other than being good people. Thank you again Drew and Kelly.

I check into my hotel and email my wife to let her know I arrived. A few hours later I’m asleep and first leg of my journey out west is complete.

Five Year Cycle

Five years ago,  June 5 2008 to be exact, I sat on my friend Joe’s porch in the middle of a rainy night and made a choice. I was presenting at the Archives Association of Ontario conference, the highpoint of my career thus far, and couldn’t afford to buy a beer. I chose to change my world. I joined the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators as an apprentice and found that I loved it. I enjoyed the ability to be in charge of nothing but an entropy-busting jigsaw puzzle.

Two days ago I made another choice.

My apprenticeship is stalled. The Ontario economy is ok but not booming and as a result my employment has been sporadic at best. If it were not for getting my type three asbestos removal and people at the nearby nuclear plants spreading asbestos everywhere I would be stuck at third year and out of EI. As it is, year five of my four year apprenticeship begins on November 5.

Today this changes.

I have officially gained temporary work in the Alberta Oil Sands. I don’t know if I can handle it but I have to try something. It will mean that I’ll be away from home, living in a work camp for a month assisting one of the more environmentally invasive forms of natural resource ‘development.’ I could hate it. I could find it appealing. I don’t know. Right now it’s a giant mystery.