Thursday, September 30, 2004


Playing God

I am more and more convinced the world is going straight to hell.

To begin with, we have an article which I read in Monday's National Post. This is part 1 of a 6-part series which is titled "Extreme Babymaking". The Monday article focuses on Jennifer Thomson, who paid US $15,000 to have a genetically-engineered baby girl. The process, called "gender selection", involves a process whereby scientists separate x-chromosomes from y-chromosomes in order to maximize the probability of a specific gender being born. Another process, called Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), is a wonderfully unethical procedure that uses good ol' In-Vitro to create embryos. They will then determine which embryo has the right genetic makeup of the child the parents want and then implant that embryo. Couples have also used this process to reduce the possibility of giving birth to a child with genetic defects.

Tuesday's article focused on grandparents using embryos/sperm from dead children to create "grandchildren from beyond the grave"

Wednesday's article focuses on the possibility that "fetal tissue would be most likely to come from an aborted, miscarried or stillborn baby, the “mother” of this child would never have been born." THERE's a pleasant thought.

Thursday explores the possibility of conceiving children when both parents are HIV-positive. Doctors believe that impregnating an HIV-positive woman with anonymously donated non-HIV sperm will dramatically reduce the possibility of the child being HIV-positive. At least this one has some redeeming qualities.

Who knows what Friday and Saturday will bring?

When will people, especially scientists, get tired of playing God? I have nothing against science and am always amazed at the progress mankind has made in both saving lives and extending lives. Scientific advances have ensured that my two premature-born children not only survived, but thrived. However, genetic engineering, like cloning, stem-cell research, and the like, are messing with things I cannot imagine God ever wanted us to mess with. The gift of life is God-given ONLY and should remain as such. If you have all boys, all girls, or some combination, God has blessed you with those children for a reason and you should be thankful for them. If, for whatever reason, you cannot have children/grandchildren, God intends for you to do something else that will allow you to have impact/influence. I truly believe that. I know some people who have willfully chosen NOT to have kids and continue to lead fulfilling lives. I also know couples who have tried for years to have kids only to have them when they stopped worrying about it.

Long story short.....let GOD control things. You'll be glad you did.



Yesterday, Aaron celebrated his 1-week birthday. Here's a better picture of our little guy:

We have moved to St. Joe's hospital, which is a Level 2 NICU, as of yesterday. We went about a week earlier than expected. Aaron is back to his birth weight, although the move was a bit traumatic and knocked his temp down and caused him to shed 5 grams. He's breathing totally on his own and self-recovers from any "spells". Basically, that means he remembers to take deep breaths whenever he gets tired from the hard work of breathing. He is only being fed nutrients through his IV and I suspect that will come off once he starts nursing, which could be as early as next week.

Christine is also doing well. Her recovery is progressing from her c-section and she WILL be driving next week (Christine is not a good passenger). We have been blessed with a number of friends and family who have been able to pick her up and drop her off during the past week, and we already have transportation arranged through next week. We've also started arranging home care for Aidan once I go back to work. That is starting to come together, but I am not sure that I will get to work at home for 2 days each week. That is something we are kinda counting on, so please add that to your prayer list.

We have been so pleased with the prayers and encouragement we have received from friends and family and ask that it continue. We will keep the updates coming.

Brian, Christine, Aidan and Aaron

Sunday, September 26, 2004


How are we doin?

Just a quick update. My son is doing very well. He is virtually breathing on his own and they have increased his feeds of Mother's milk twice in the past 24 hours from 3 ml every 3 hours to 9 ml. There is evidence of a heartmurmur, but this is normal in preemies and will be monitored. All antibiotics have been discontinued and we are hearing that Aaron may be transferred to St. Joe's mid-week, which could mean about a week of hospital time will be shaved off our estimate of 4-7 weeks.

Christine is healing but remains in a lot of discomfort. We hope she will come home Sunday.

Your prayers and encouragement are, as always, appreciated.

Thursday, September 23, 2004


First photo of Aaron


Aaron Jacob Benallick

The word is out, but for those who have not yet heard/read, Christine and I welcomed Aaron Jacob Benallick into the world yesterday at 12:58 PM. He weighed in at a healthy 3 lbs. 14 oz. and he is doing fine. Mom had a c-section, but is doing well. Both are at Mac. Your prayers and encouragement are, as always, appreciated.

Monday, September 20, 2004


Big Day Tomorrow

So, the original Star Wars trilogy is hitting the stores on DVD tomorrow. All three movies are in the set and each has commentaries by George Lucas, Carrie Fisher and others. A fourth disc contains an assortment of goodies including a 2 1/2 hour documentary, a preview of Episode III and some other odds and ends.

And I have never read more stuff complaining about something than this.

Now don't get me wrong, I love the Star Wars movies. I still remember seeing the original for the first time at the old Centre Mall theatres back in the summer of 1977. The only time I ever cut a class in high school was ditching my Grade 11 accounting class to see the 4:00 showing of Return of The Jedi on opening day in 1983 (I actually got permission from my teacher to miss the class. GEEK!!!). I have the original films on laserdisc, the 20th anniversary edition on VHS and, in less than 48 hours, I'll have the latest version on DVD. Hello, my name is Brian and I am a Star Wars geek.

But not like this.

There is a number of articles written about how the films have been "damaged" by George Lucas and his changes. Apparently, the biggest problem is with the confrontation between Han Solo and the alien bounty hunter Greedo in the cantina on Mos Eisley. In the theatrical release, Solo fires first, effectively establishing him as a cutthroat badass. Later releases are altered to have Greedo fire first and Han firing to defend himself. Seems like a minor point to me. Other things include the addition of Jabba to Star Wars, more consistent images of the Emperor (using the same actor) in Empire Strikes Back and Jedi, and changing the face of Anakin Skywalker at the end of Jedi from Ian McDiarmid (who was the actor in the Vader suit when Luke took off the mask at the end of Jedi) to Hayden Christiansen, who plays Anakin/Vader in Attack of the Clones and the upcoming Revenge of the Sith. Supposedly Lucas will employ a Jedi mind trick in Revenge to explain why we get young Anakin alongside very old Obi-Wan and Yoda.

Lots of stuff. None of which will change my enjoyment of the films. But it's affected a few folks with WAY too much time on their hands. Visit There, you will find a petition with 62,645 signatures asking Lucas to release the films in their original format.

Some folks need something better to do. I think I may fall into that category.

Friday, September 17, 2004



"Show: A Night In The Life of Matchbox Twenty" DVD Review.

I love live music. Whenever the opportunity presented itself when I was younger, I leaped at the chance to go to a concert. The atmosphere of a concert cannot be matched and, if the band was "on", it transformed their music from sound to EXPERIENCE. Today, I no longer find the atmosphere as appealing (too crowded, too loud, too freakin' EXPENSIVE).

Thank goodness for DVD.

I would have a very hard time justifying paying $100 for two tickets to a Matchbox Twenty show. My wife and I both like the band a lot (me more than her), but tickets, dinner, parking and crowds add up to "Let's do something else". $25 for the concert DVD, now that's something else. And let me say that, while I do have an extensive DVD collection, this is one of the few DVD's I would have gladly paid more for. It's THAT good. Let's start with the concert, shot at the Philips Arena in Hotlanta.

Before viewing this DVD, I suggest getting familiar with MB20's latest album More Than You Think You Are. Of the 20 songs performed, 12 songs are from the new CD (So Sad So Lonely is actually tacked on to the of the last song on the disc, The Difference, which is also the only song not performed live. If your familiarity with Matchbox only covers Mad Season and/or Yourself or Someone Like You, you'll recognize the hits, but not much else.

The show opens with Cold, from the new disc. This is the only song not totally consistent with the album, as the layers of fuzz the album version is buried in is stripped away. The cleaner sound works a whole lot better as the song really drives without the effects and makes a great opener. It's cool to see the first closeup of Rob Thomas, as he just looks so thrilled to be doing the show and the excitement on his face is so obvious.

The band then draws their first major cheer of the night with opening strains of Real World. Following that, 7 of the next 10 songs are from the new album, the exceptions being 3AM, whose opening acoustic guitar lick draws huge crowd response, Mad Season and a stripped-down If You're Gone, which ditches the horn arrangement and is played on a solo guitar by Kyle Cook. Thomas and Cook also do a smart job on the vocals for If You're Gone, displaying tight harmonies and tremendous sensitivity.

The transition from Gone to Bright Lights to Bent is a bit jarring, especially since they slow it right down again after Bent with Unwell and Back 2 Good . I would have inserted Bent after Feel and then ran off Back 2 Good, If You're Gone, Hand Me Down, Unwell and Bright Lights. The set proper closes with Downfall and a slamming You're So Real. The encore starts with So Sad So Lonely (the unnamed track from More Than....) and then the show winds up with two MB20 staples, Long Day and Push.

I expressly left out the early middle of the show because I wanted to spend some time writing about this. In order to fully appreciate the stretch between All I Need and If You're Gone, you really need to sit down and listen to More Than... because you will be better prepared for the awesomeness of this section. As I stated in an earlier post, I foolishly dismissed More Than... and as a result, fast-forwarded this segment of the show the first couple of times I listened to the DVD. Big mistake. This is now, easily, my favorite segment of the show. The band is really into these tunes and two in particular, Soul and Could I Be You, stand out above the rest for the sheer joy and exuberance the band puts forth in performing them. The bass line at the end of Could I Be You is astonishing live and the power the band puts forth in this sequence just blew me away. The concert disc earns my highest recommendation.

Don't stop reading yet. We have Disc 2 to do.

Now Disc 2 is in some ways, forgettable. I have no use for still pictures, as it requires way too much of my attention to be worthwhile (I tend to do other things while watching DVDs), so the photo and lyric galleries are useless. However, I liked the multi-angle presentations of Soul and Bright Lights, which are great fun. For the multi-angles, a camera was trained on each band member for the duration of the song and a sixth camera shot the bulk of the footage used in the concert video. By using the "Angle" button on their remote, the viewer can flip from band member to band member. This gives the viewer an idea of what each band member is doing during a song. It was actually from the multi-angles that I got an appreciation of how much these guys love their music, as drummer Paul Doucette just loses himself in the performance of Soul. This is all good, but there's something a whole lot better.

If the concert is the ice cream, the documentary on disc 2 is the chocolate sauce and cherry on top of the sundae. MB20 includes a 40-minute documentary showing the band on- and off-stage, preparing for sound checks, planning the show and a lot more. The doc was shot over the duration of the tour, winding up with the final show on the 4th of July (where they were playing escapes me). The viewer is introduced to the entire crew, gets a pretty detailed look at life on the road with MB20 and, in general, gets an appreciation for how arduous (and fun) the road can be. There are some very funny bits (Paul and Rob negotiating bus bed assignments with their head of security, Paul damaging his hand (bad for drummers) while worrying over the lighting for the show, Adam Gaynor touring the viewer through the #2 bus, Rob spoofing on the York Peppermint Patty commercials) and a lot of stuff that really drives home the level of camaraderie shared by these guys. This doc is worth the price of admission alone.

One disclaimer I want to make here. The boys are a little foul-mouthed. If you are watching with kids, fast-forward the intro to Unwell, since it is peppered with f-bombs. Also, in the doc, there is a sequence at the start where Rob and Paul are giving the stage manager a hard time and use some, shall we say, less-than-tasteful phrases to describe him. Buyer beware.

If you haven't figured it out yet, I HUGELY recommend this DVD, especially if you are a Matchbox Twenty fan. My quibbles over song order are minor, the disc looks and sounds AWESOME and provides an unbelievably detailed look at a band that is a crossover success and, I think, on the verge of major superstardom.

Concert - 9/10
Sound Quality - 5/5
Picture Quality - 4/5
Extras - 4/5 (Gotta dock a point for the useless galleries. If they had just given me the multi-angles and the doc, it's an easy 5/5.)

Overall - 22/25.

Slightly below what I rated Michael W. Smith, but awesome nonetheless. Available online by clicking here (

As always, thoughts and feedback are welcome and encouraged.

Later, all.


A little breather

So, Aidan is at pre-school and Christine is the "Duty Parent" (aka slave for the teachers). This means that I get a little "me" time. Well, except for the fact I have to sweep the floors, fold the laundry, do the dishes and clean the cat boxes (No smart comments, Duane). I should be able to get in another episode of From The Earth To The Moon. For those unfamiliar with this DVD, it chronicles the U.S. space program through the Gemini and Apollo missions. Very cool stuff. It's also fun at parties, as just about every b-list actor appears in it. In the first 6 episodes, I saw Tim Daly, Cary Elwes, Al Franken, Chris Isaak, Kevin Pollak and so many more. I even saw the guy who played the dad on ALF!

Even though this may be a case of tooting my horn, I encourage you to read this post at my brother Mike's blog. The reason is not because it's about me, but because it shows how much one person can influence another without realizing it. It's important to remember that someone is always watching and learning from you, and it is even more true when that someone is one of your siblings or kids.

Another one is from Amy's blog. This is such a great post and I think everyone in our little circle has already made reference to it, so apologies if this is a bit stale. It made me think of my childhood and how I used to pick out the brightest star in the sky and mark it as my Mom. Now I look for a bright cluster and mark it as Mom, Dad, Aunt Jean, Nana, Papa, Grandma, Grandpa, my Grandma Mayer and my cousin Don. Amy's post made me think of all these people and both how much I miss them and how exciting it will be to see them again in Heaven.

Finally, Christine hit 30 weeks in her pregnancy and we're thrilled to get to this point. According to ultrasound, the baby is closing in fast on 3 pounds and everything is looking good. And, lastly, tomorrow is our 5th anniversary. I can't believe I have been married for 5 years to such a beautiful, caring, compassionate, Godly woman for 5 years. And, what's better, I love her 100 times more now than I did the day I married her.

As usual, I have a lot to talk about and no time to do it. I've done this before, but here's a list of things I want to cover in my opinionated fashion:

A look at what I like and don't like about George Bush's economic platform.
Why Canadian health care is doomed
A review of the following DVD's: Show, Boomtown Season 1 and Peter Gabriel: Secret World Live.
Major League Baseball playoff predictions
Fall TV preview (I'm really looking forward to doing this one).
.....and so much more.

That's it. Until next we meet.

Monday, September 06, 2004


It took 5 days to write this.

Sunday, September 5.....

Yesterday, I was helping my neighbor put down posts for his deck. We have a guy in our 'hood who's kind of a "jack of all trades". He's built decks and finished basements for 3 or 4 houses and has saved me from a couple of lighting-related problems. He's taking the lead on the project and coordinates everyone who comes to help.

So, here I am yesterday mixing and pouring cement for the first time in my life. I can honestly say I am not used to working so hard. I spent most of the afternoon hauling 30kg bags of cement...........

...Fast-forward to Thursday.....

......when we realized that the three 20-year-old guys in attendance were running the hose, while 36-year-old me and my 40+ neighbor were doing the hauling and mixing. Something wrong here. The situation was quickly resolved and the youngsters took on the heavy work while I shoveled cement into the postholes and my neighbor made sure everything was level. Much better. Still hard work, though, and the plan is to finish this weekend.

So, it took me four days to write that one up. Let's see what else I've accumulated in the last week and a half.

My prayers for Christ's return are becoming louder and louder, especially in light of the tragic events in Russia last week. When terrorists no longer are concerned about the well-being of women and children, I fear there is not much left to deter them. Q107's morning man, John Derringer, suggested that any terrorist who puts children in harm's way should, if identified, have their kids killed in retaliation. Personally, while I don't have a solution to stop terror attacks, I think that solution sends the civilized part of the world down the same slope these psychos are travelling.

On a much more upbeat note, we have passed the 27-week mark in Christine's pregnancy. In fact, Saturday marks week 30. I suspect she won't be working past the end of September, but c'est la vie. Thanks to those of you who are praying for and encouraging us. Please don't stop.

If you are a fan of Matchbox Twenty, you MUST run out NOW and buy Show. This is a 2-disc set. Disc 1 chronicles their show from the "More Than You Think You Are" tour at Atlanta's Phillips Arena. That alone is worth the price of admission, but then you get a faboo 2nd disc with a great documentary of the tour, multi-angle presentations of 2 songs ("Soul", my new favorite song of theirs, and "Bright Lights") and other goodies. "More Than You Think You Are", the latest full-length CD from the 20, gained a whole new appreciation in my ears once I witnessed this show. "Disease" was OK and "Unwell" was a pretty good tune, but the rest of the album was, to me, forgettable. Not anymore. I now have this album fused into my MP3 player and listen to it non-stop. Seriously, I could write ten pages about how good this show is (and one day I might).

Haven't watched a total of 10 minutes of the World Cup of Hockey, couldn't care less. However, I know that Canada's rolling over everybody and the U.S. needed a miracle night from Keith Tkachuk to salvage their tourney. Kudos to Brett Hull, though, for locking up the Village Idiot award before the playoff round started. You gotta wonder about the state of a person's brainpan when, in a year that looks like the NHL is going to do everything it can to shaft the fans, Hully comments that he could care less about the fans (or something to that extent). Must be all those years wearing a Red Wings jersey. That'll turn your brain to mush (right, Mike?).

All you 24 freaks need to know this. The Season 3 DVD (which streets in December and is available for pre-order from contains a special goodie. As you may or may not know (or care), all of the cast from season 3 has been turfed (except Kiefer). Some may make short appearances in season 4. However, in an effort to explain this transformation, the producers of 24 are giving loyal fans a bonus. From The Digital Bits:

On the Fox front, we've learned that the studio's 24: The Complete Third Season (due on 12/7) will feature a special "half episode" written by the show's creators and shot with the cast. It's designed to bridge the time span between seasons 3 and 4, and introduce some of the new characters and situations that will appear in season 4.


Well, that's enough. I will try to post more often, but vacation is next week and it will be chock full of day trips and AIDAN'S FIRST DAY OF PRESCHOOL, which is next Wednesday. Not sure if I'm ready to start letting my little guy go (sniff).

Also, NBC's Medical Investigations starts tonight, starring ex-Boomtown assistant DA Neal McDonough. Gotta make sure the VCR is set. I love the fall.


P.S. Anyone who wants to wish me a happy birthday, I accept all best wishes and wisecracks, since I turn 37(!) on Sunday.