early morning post

banh xeohahaha i love my new macbook pro. not only can I do just about anything with it super easily—like manage photos, create songs, remix video, run IM and IRC clients—I can also carry it around wherever I go and jot down things when they pop into my head. suddenly i feel like my life is a lot more organized. i’m sure this is something of a honeymoon period, but it’s a nice one %)

things are going well. work is set to be busy this month, with a rather challenging deadline at the end of October, but that’s nothing I haven’t seen and dealt with before. I’ve been going to the gym fairly regularly for the past two months or so and I seem to be losing some weight now; several people have commented already about that. I love getting the exercise, it keeps my mood on the up-and-up too. children’s classes have started up and are having a rather rough start, probably because I’ve been dividing my attention between preparing the lessons and working out logistics—calling the parents, trying to find a new co-teacher, etc. such is service sometimes. also, i am hard at work hatching some dastardly plans, but those are still under wraps. you’ll just have to sit and wait for now. other than that, the past few days have been pretty good. went to Louis’ Pizza with Nathan (new Baha’i in our neighbourhood) last night and then mosied over to starbucks for a little while; we also got to have a brief visit (and introductions) with Jay & Diana, who are our long-standing Baha’i neighbours. on Sunday, I went to visit my parents; my dad was busy digging up the front lawn, so I joined him with that and we ended up busting the pipe for their sump pump (whoops). after that, I helped dig up potatoes from my mom’s garden, and we all enjoyed a dinner of turkey pot pie and apple crumble. yum! looking forward to thanksgiving next weekend. it should be a wonderful family affair. ok, it’s getting late and I need to go to work. more soon!

cultivating the roots

wi-fiHowdy. I’m currently reporting from the Cultivating the Roots conference at Bosch Baha’i School in Santa Cruz, California. So far, the sharing has been awesome. Everyone has has amazing insights and ideas for different types of projects and collaboration tools—all to help Baha’is develop better ways of interacting, collaborating, and channeling their energy into systematic action. I’m currently posting up a bunch of photos from the conference; check them out on flickr. Big ups to prema for letting me use her laptop.

It’s fascinating to ponder the holes out there in the Baha’i community that could be filled by judiciously chosen and developed IT initiatives. Throughout the day today, we’ve been talking about the needs out there—from tools to benefit Baha’i Institutions (for example, accounting software that operates according to the 19-month Baha’i calendar, or geomatics software to aid in planning various types of community campaigns) to software to sift through the Sacred Writings of the Baha’i Faith, to collaboration software to help Baha’i institutions, communities, and individuals to work together more effectively… there are so many ways that computers and the Internet can help us do our work better, yet there’s so little time to accomplish them all. A few projects that were put forth in one of the last workshops this afternoon: a functional Baha’i events database (similar to bahailocations.com) that can be used by Baha’i communities throughout the world to track their core activities, holy days, and various gatherings; an online presentation platform (similar to webconferencing) for holding formal or informal talks and “fireside chats”; and a process for providing technical and material support for Baha’i communities throughout the world who wish to develop their first websites.

So yeah, some really intense consultation here. The workshops have been the best—that’s why I really came to this conference. This morning, I attended a workshop on blogging by the authors of bahainine.com, the growing online portal to Baha’i blogs everywhere. That was awesome, just to be there and to be able to talk shop with them about blogging software, search engine optimization, content management systems, and miscellaneous Web 2.0 hobbledyhoy. The whole project is really interesting—creating an online portal to basically aggregate all the Baha’i-related content on the Internet, giving the “Baha’i blogosphere” a friendly face. The current site just contains a map and a searchable index of Baha’i blogs, but there’s a lot more in the works—photos, videos, full tagging capability, and so on. Speaking with the team that’s working on this mammoth task is immensely uplifting and exciting, and the possibilities are endless. I’ll be sure to post more later; remember to check back—apart from photos, there’ll also be videos (and/or mashups) for your enjoyment and upliftment.

collecting e waste is an interfaith effort

arthur sniffs the keyboardHere’s an article from the Baha’i World News Service that describes the participation of various faith communities (including the Baha’i community) in a high-tech equipment recycling program down in the States.

Collecting “e-waste” is an interfaith effort

MARQUETTE, MICHIGAN, United States, 11 May 2006 (BWNS) — Just nine years old, Eve McCowen was dwarfed by the huge piles of unwanted electronic equipment that quickly accumulated in the parking lot of the Messiah Lutheran Church on Earth Day 2006.

But she was nevertheless one of the first to run up to an arriving car that needed to be unloaded as residents brought old stereos, defunct computers, and broken television sets for recycling.

“Recycling is good for the environment because when you throw stuff away it can get in the earth’s soil and water and that isn’t good for the earth,” said Eve, the daughter of Dennis and Lisa McCowen of Marquette.

Eve is also a Baha’i, as are her parents, and they were among the nine Baha’is from Marquette who participated in the second annual Earth Keeper Clean Sweep on 22 April 2006, which is designated as Earth Day in the United States and many other countries.

The effort collected more than 300 tons of “e-waste” — electronic equipment like television sets, computers, VCRs, and the like that are not otherwise easily recycled — from various sites in across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a sparsely populated region north of Lake Michigan.

Goodness knows, we need less e waste in this world. [in-joke. -d]

Read the entire article.

varia ria ria ria ria ria

today was national jam tasting day at work. i brought homemade jam, and we tasted it. on host pieces (square sheets of cracker-like substance used to make communion wafers – also called retailles d’hosties in french. that was good for a few laughs. (p.s.: several sheets of this stuff have been swiped by well-meaning francophones so far.) the jam was good – most people seemed to like the blueberry-cranberry variety. the mixed berry jam came in a close second and the cranberry jam won its own share of converts, too. heheheh. converts.

so my family and I celebrated Mothers’ Day by going out to see the tulips at the Canadian Tulip Festival. It was a beautiful day – bright sun, cool breeze, and lots of very pretty tulips all around. I got lost in the flowers and just took picture after picture. I screwed up the focus on some of them, but most of the close shots were fine. see some of them on my photoblog.

noticed recently: farshid is posting new updates to his website again, after a long hiatus. check out his pictures from the National Baha’i Convention in Montreal. also found on his website is a link to payamos‘s blog (payam aka payou). also, if you’re a fan of Google Maps‘s satellite feature, why not check out the Baha’i Temple in Wilmette, Illinois, or the Canadian Baha’i National Centre in Thornhill, Ontario?

lastly: for those of you interested in hunting (for or against it), you’ll be interested in this article about the… well, bizarre practice of computer-aided hunting. uhh. visit a web site and shoot an animal with your mouse? I could think of more fulfilling things to be doing with my time, like… collecting toenail clippings. now, while i’m not a big fan of hunting, I recognize that it has its place, particularly hunting out of necessity (i.e. gathering food, etc.) I have to admit I’m against hunting for sport; isn’t it rather crass and disrespectful to take the life of an animal just because you want its head on your wall? Furthermore, if you’re going to hunt and kill something, it’d be honourable to at least be there when you’re doing it, no? Or even to do as early Native American hunters did and say prayers of thanks to the animal’s spirit for yielding its life in the hunt. anyway. that was a rant. a rather blunt rant, too. sorry if I’ve offended anybody. I’ll be off now. I’m going to go kill something and eat it.

chillin at best buy

so we’re hanging out at best buy with the crew. I’m sitting here with a wireless keyboard blogging. arash is being beaten with sticks right now for trying to jack an x-box. the guards have tasers and they look like they mean business. this is pretty cool. i’m sitting on a couch looking at a six-foot-wide display. my website is bigger than life. phil just logged in to the local wireless network with his laptop, and jaleh is checking her emails.

Arash writes: “Dan is a little too excited right now…must get away from him”

Thanks, Arash.

network trouble

gah! my router’s acting funny. such are computer networks – always getting messed up. all it takes is for something to happen out of sequence, and suddenly your router thinks it’s 1970. I’m running a wireless network, too – first time I’ve tried that. It’s quite convenient. We borrowed a laptop from mom and dad, and we can use it in any room of the house and still have a connection to the internet. of course we’ve had some problems getting the wireless adapter to work, and the network connection is sketchy at best. So there are advantages and disadvantages. I suppose it’s better than the alternative.

Recently, I was appointed to the Baha’i Community’s Sector Management Team for Ottawa’s Sector 9 (Vanier – Overbrook – Cyrville – Beacon Hill). We had a meeting tonight; it was similar to my experiences serving as members of Spiritual Assemblies. It’s basically a mini-Assembly (except that it has a mandate restricted mostly to logistical questions). It was a nice experience; plus, two good friends of mine are also on the team so it’s cool that I get to hang around with them. I’m not sure of much right now (since it’s my first time) but I know that if I want to keep this up I’ll have to re-evaluate some of the things I do. I was comfortable with just a children’s class every two weeks, weekly meetings, some social events, and some work during the week. but this isn’t just one new meeting to go to; it’s all the homework that you take back home. I’m wondering whether I’m able to handle all of that homework right now, and where my limits are. I know that at the beginning of this year I had taken on too much, and I suffered greatly because I was trying to live and work beyond my capacity. So I ended up getting very depressed, up til the point I realized I had to fall back and make a change. So… what I’m hoping now is that I can avoid that last part and just make wise decisions as to how many commitments I take on. Good luck so far, good luck so far. i’ll have to make more time for meditation in my life. I get the feeling I’ll need it.

I’m a month away from being 25. I think it shows… I sound old. 😉