Friday, September 26, 2008

Happiness is …

I have been trying to get back to posting at least once a week and so far it isn’t happening.

I have at least 4 major projects that are consuming my time

I am teaching the adult class Sunday mornings, I am spending 2 days or so a week helping with the addition at our building and I’m teaching a course in Systems Analysis at Algoma University.

Of course life goes on and there are many day-to-day household tasks that need to be done and sometimes are getting neglected. So it is no surprise that I’ve not had much time for “NET surfing” – visiting with my friends in discussion groups, on blogs and via Facebook.

Speaking of the building project, we have been kidding our chief planner Lloyd Hotchkiss about “raising the roof”.

We are using mostly volunteer labor and with a wall height of 14 feet it was a bit daunting to think of putting up the trusses “in place” so Lloyd came up with the idea of assembling the roof on the ground and then lifting it into place with the crane.

Lloyd is shown here after completing the rigging before starting the lift.

It worked amazingly well – although we learned some lessons about the need to do better measurements of “what was there” rather than depending on the design plans.

I'm the one one the left holding the rope to help "steer" it into position

In the last picture, I’m the one looking out the doorway (the one that I originally had framed at the top of the wall –see later in this post )

I have built up a long list of topics I’d like to write about – things like my thoughts on The Shack, some ideas on how building buildings might relate to growing churches, sharing some ideas from another forum on how generational differences affect our relationships.

However, I’m resisting the “buffet table” and keeping closer to biting off what I can chew.

To-day I want to share some recent thoughts on happiness. Some may remember the ongoing “Happiness is ….” Sayings by Charles Schultz the creator of the Peanuts comic strip. In fact he published a book called “Happiness is a warm puppy” One of the ones I remember best is Linus saying “Happiness is a thumb and a warm blanket”.

One (out of about 400) of my favorite Bible passages is found in Philippians “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”. About 2 weeks ago I came across a blog by Silas Shotwell where he discusses (in his post for September 13) this idea of being happy in all circumstances. He discusses the Preface to the “The Little Book” which is the simple statement “Be Light Hearted and Happy”. I have posted this above my desk in a renewed effort to let the Spirit have fuller reign in my life and to fuller experience the fruits of letting Him reign in my life.

It does help keep things in perspective when life closes in. When things happen that seem depressing and might put me into the dumps – seeing this statement and thinking about all the blessings I experience each day remind me that I need to “Rejoice” – not rant and rave about how bad things are. However, it isn’t always easy and I also struggle with the balance – The Bible says to “weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice”. How can I be happy and light-hearted while”weeping”?

Linda has had a really bad cold the past 2 weeks and it has been depressing to her. If I go around all “Pollyanna-ish” it seems to lack sympathy and understanding for her circumstances. How can I be light hearted and happy when she is feeling so miserable?

As mentioned, I have been helping with the construction of the addition tour church building – I’ve made my share of mistakes. One day we were roughing out a wall on the ground and I put the opening for a doorway in the top – fortunately my friend Len who is overseeing the framing work noticed it before we sheeted it in and was helpful in tearing it apart and doing it right.
I have always had a hard time “moving on” when I mess up. I tend want to re-hash "why?" and often try to "rationalize" my stupidity. If I just say -- "well no matter" and I am lighted hearted and happy” - am I diminishing the cost and effort that others had to put in correcting that mistake?

This morning I came across the story of DQ in the blogpost by Wendy my “down under” INTERNET friend – As I read about DQ I thought he seems to personify this life principle of “Being happy in his skin” no matter how difficult his life may seem.

I do want to avoid making my happiness be based on comparing my circumstances to others whose circumstance may be worse. We likely all have heard the saying “I cried because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet.”. I wonder if it is a good idea to use the fact that there is someone worse off than I am to “shame” myself into being happy. I think we need to base our happiness on knowing that we have peace in Jesus – not because we perceive that we are in better circumstances than someone else.

However, the fact is that keeping this note of encouragement in front of me has helped me be more positive about life and spend less time worrying about the problems we encounter. I want to face those things with the attitude I will do what I can to overcome and I will leave the rest to God – and because He is there I can “rejoice always”

Well that’s it for to-day
God Bless

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Yeah Dr. Melissa –

I am thrilled to announce that, as of approximately noon yesterday (September 16), there is a newly minted Dr. (Ph.D.) in the Whitfield family

Yeah Dr. Melissa – Mom & Dad are very proud and very happy for you. ( This picture of her with her grandfather taken when she was home in June is one of the most recent I have. I hope we will have one of her graduation - with the hood and all in a few months)

A couple of weeks ago I received the following notice by email from Melissa who, up until yesterday was a (civilian) graduate student at the Royal Military College in Kingston

(The notice is slightly edited – removing the French version and scientific units since I don’t have the proper character sets and they came through garbled)


TRANSFER OF POLYCHLORINATED BIPHENYLS (PCBS) FROM CONTAMINATED SOIL TO KEY PLANT SPECIES IN REALISTIC FIELD CONDITIONSImplications for the application of phytoextraction as a persistent organic pollutant (POP) remediation strategy.

Melissa L. Whitfield ├ůslund Candidate PhD, Environmental Science
Supervisors: Dr. Barbara A Zeeb & Dr. Kenneth J. Reimer
16 Sep 2008 9:30 hrs SB4301, Sawyer Building, Module 3
The uptake and translocation of PCBs in plants was researched over three years in a field trial of PCB phytoextraction. The soil was contaminated with a mixture of Aroclors 1254 and 1260. The study species were Cucurbita pepo ssp pepo cv. Howden (pumpkin), Carex normalis (sedge), and Festuca arundinacea (tall fescue).

Plant and soil samples were analyzed both via gas chromatography electron capture detection (GC-ECD) for total PCB concentrations and via gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) for individual PCB congener concentrations.

For pumpkin plants, the PCB concentration was observed to decrease exponentially within the shoot as distance from the root increased. This pattern, and the preferential mobilization of two pentachlorinated co-eluting PCB congener pairs (93/95 and 105/127) in pumpkin plant shoots, suggested that the primary PCB transfer pathway was root uptake and translocation. The PCB concentration in pumpkin plant leaves and stems increased significantly from 5.7 and 3.9, respectively, in year one to 10.1 and 9.3 , respectively, in year two. These high shoot PCB concentrations were maintained in the third year. In both years two and three, the lower parts of the pumpkin shoots achieved PCB concentrations that were greater than the soil PCB concentration. This had not been reported previously in any part of a plant shoot for PCBs. Therefore, pumpkin plants are excellent candidates for further PCB phytoextraction research.
Relatively high PCB concentrations were observed in sedge and tall fescue shoots (concentration of 20 and 39 , respectively, were observed in year 3 of the study). However, the primary transfer pathway of PCBs from soil to these shoots appeared to be soil particle contamination. Application of a sand barrier between contaminated soil and growing shoots was found to significantly reduce the shoot PCB concentration of both species and the PCB congener pattern in the plant shoots was found to be nearly identical to that of the soil. Therefore, these species may not be appropriate for phytoextraction. However, their interception of soil particles may make them good candidates for groundcover of PCB contaminated sites in future phytoextraction applications.

KEYWORDS: Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), phytoextraction, bioaccumulation factors (BAFs), uptake pathway, phytoremediation, field study
Melissa is our youngest and I suppose will always be our “baby”.

Many of my posts about our journey through life have focused on our children and grandchildren.
The entire family is mentioned in the posts about Melissa’s “re-wedding” in September 2007 (CLICK HERE and HERE). Interestingly her thesis defense occurred a year and a day after the “re-wedding”
Another post featuring Melissa is our summer visit to Kingston in 2006.

I need to say that while I am boasting and swollen with a special pride and a special joy about Melissa’s accomplishment it doesn’t take away from the fact that we are especially proud of each of our children

(Those who have read “The Shack” by William P. Young may remember the phrase “I am especially fond of … that is often used by “Papa” (his personification of God). The point being that God loves all in a special way without that “specialness” meaning that any one person is more important or more deserving of love based on their “performance”

I’m sure that I failed many times in communicating this aspect of God’s love to my children but as I grow older I begin to understand more and more what it means and I pray that as I seek to let Jesus live more fully in me that I will be able to show that type of love in my relationships with my children and with others.

God Bless