Saturday, 31 July 2004

Sorry for the lack of posting

Been busy.

Harmony Central has some interesting things going down sometimes. We've been discussing sex before marriage and a pile of different things. Plus I've been putting together a song sheet for the church to use. Friday I had a day fasting from the net.

Today was a good day. See below.

It's been a good day.

Left home this morning at 8.00am to go on a bike ride with some of my 1XV friends. I haven’t been able to get to a 1XV ride since February, and although I’ve managed the odd ride locally, maintaining fitness has been impossible.

We were riding at a place called ‘The Lookout’ just outside Bracknell, Berkshire. It’s just over an hour’s drive for me – about 65 miles each way, hence the early start. The lookout is an area of Crown land that has been opened up for public use, and is mostly forest, with a number of bridleways running through it. A local MTB club has worked with the authorities to create a number of routes that run through the woods, and provide some interesting trails. It’s all rolling countryside, so although none of the hills are huge, they are still high and steep enough to make you work hard for your height. The ground is very sandy, draining well, however this also causes riders to have interesting ‘moments’ with virtually zero grip available for steering or braking.

When I got there it was still reasonably cool – the calm before the storm, so to speak. We headed off into the woods, and I was quite pleased to be able to keep up, although that only lasted for the first hour. Fortunately Paul, our ‘guide’, was also not at an absolute peak of fitness, so I didn’t get left behind.

What can I tell you about it? We climbed. We descended. We swooped. We railed the berms (except for those that were just piled up sand). We slipped and slithered and scared ourselves a little. I remember starting a descent that would match some of the better trails in Wales (albeit much shorter) with some words of warning echoing in my ears. Partway down was a drop off (i.e. ledge). It was only about 18” high – no problem one would think. But this was on a trail about one foot wide, descending at about 35 degrees, covered in roots, shale and very loose under tyre. And about 8 feet after the drop was a 180 degree turn with a steep slope beckoning if you got it wrong. Only one of the group actually did it: big up to Nick Cummins. The rest of us: Paul ‘I’ve just come back from the Alps and it were much steeper’ Cooper, Jay ‘I like big steep descents’ Tejani, Andy ‘plastic fantastic’ and me all bottled it. Further down the trail I had a brief handlebar/tree interface moment, but survived.

There was one other section that we all bottled. At the bottom of a very steep descent someone had placed a large tree trunk across the trail. Earth was banked up to it in a ramp, and the intention was obvious – it was a jump. That wouldn’t have been too bad – it was too high to just roll off, but with a decent bit of speed it would have been OK. The problem again was the landing area: all sand, tree stumps and pot holes. Prudence prevailed. I’d like to think that if I’d been on my usual bike with 5” of suspension travel both ends I’d have done it. As it was, I was on Sharon (as the Saracen hardtail is known) with shorter travel forks, no rear suspension, and I’m just not familiar enough with that bike to risk it.

I was pleased with some of the riding I did toward the end of our time though. As I got more used to riding and relaxed, so I gradually settled down and started using the terrain. On one steep descent there was a small lump in the ground, followed by a steeper slope after that I could jump off. There’s a great feeling you get when all the rattling from the bumps stops for a second or 2 while the bike’s airborne and you’re sailing through clear air. There’s another section too, where to the left of the trail there’s a large bomb hole with a near cliff-edge. The slope into the bomb hole goes down at about 65 degrees, but is actually fine, provided you relax and just roll down. I’d done this before a couple of years ago, and although I wasn’t the first to do it this time, I had no hesitation in rolling over the edge and seeming to disappear into the ground.

After nearly 3 hours I was thoroughly saddle sore (it’s VERY bumpy) and managed to get everyone to head back to the car park.

When I got home I took a couple of hours to thoroughly clean both Sharon and the Diamondback thoroughly, perform some maintenance and generally remain being a teenager for a few hours more. By the time I’d finished they looked good enough to want to eat ;-)

Finally washed the dirt and sweat off my poor old bod, had an hours sleep, then made dinner. I wanted something a little fun, so I made a Pizza with tomato, sweet red peppers and tuna on the bottom, cheddar, sliced salami and oregano on top. Smelt wonderful J Sarah is sleeping over at a friend’s house, and we were able to sit outside in the warm evening air eating dinner. I’d opened a bottle of wine, and with music drifting gently over from our neighbour’s house, it was like being on holiday, only cheaper. We sat out there until the sun disappeared and Chris got too cool to stay out.

I’ve got a CD playing in the PC, and one of my all time favourite tracks has just come on – Snowy White’s ‘Bird of Paradise’.

I was going to post this but we just had a call from my sister in law to talk to Chris. Now ‘While my guitar gently weeps’ has just come on. I used to play this with the first band I ever played in when I was 17 – oh the memories.

The end of a good day. Thank you Father.

Saturday, 24 July 2004

Please pray for Sarah

Ben's 10,000 miles away and I'm more concerned for my daughter.

She's recently been buying trashy magazines, mostly for the freebies on the front. However last weekend she came home with 'cosmopolitan', which is nothing more than an instruction manual on how to pick up men and get laid, plus how to deal with the consequences of feeling cheap afterward. I was aware of if, and while mentioning my displeasure at it, didn't do enough at the beginning. She has also been extremely 'protective' about it, and I guess that started the warning bells going.

Last night I got hold of it while she was out (can't condemn it if I don't know what's in it) and it was fully as bad as my worst fears - definitely not for under 18s. I'd left it out so she could see I'd read it, and of course she the tried to hide it, refused to talk to me or look me in the eye. I perceive this is all guilt, but by using 'whatever' as a tool to brazen things through, she's hoping to come out as if she's done nothing wrong. I KNOW this kind of thing is insidious, changing attitudes covertly, and it's worth a bit of pain now to see her pull through without significant harm.

But please pray for us, to work things through to the right conclusion.

Wednesday, 21 July 2004

Recycling in the 3rd world

Came across the following article today:

In April of 2003 Mike meets Richard Robbins at a conference in upstate New York. Richard has written a book on corporate globalization, and he offers to organize a lecture by the WTO for his students at the State University of New York in Plattsburgh, where he is a professor.

Andy and Mike are happy to accept this invitation—especially since they already have been invited to speak to some trade experts in Australia. They feel they have come up with the surefire reaction-getter, but since it's likely to be their last chance, they'd better make sure. College students will make an excellent test audience before the real thing in Australia.

Just before leaving for Plattsburgh, they hear the conference in Australia has been cancelled. This is no longer a dress rehearsal.

The whole crew (Mike, Andy, Matt, Caz, Wolfgang, Snafu, Andrew, Rich) drive up from New York and arrive in Plattsburgh. Richard shows them the venue. Andy and Matt put on standard WTO business suits, while Mike wears a McDonald’s uniform.

Richard is kind enough to foot the bill for more than a hundred McDonald’s Hamburgers, which Mike passes out to the students at the beginning of the lecture. Andy introduces the talk by asking that important basic question: “Why is starvation a problem?” Matt’s illustration of “poverty guy” stands shrugging on the powerpoint slide. Andy explains with candor how WTO agribusiness policies (like the policies of the British during the Irish Potato famine) are causing widespread starvation in the Third World today. He suggests a solution that—unlike protectionism and so on—remains within the logic of the free market.

The solution, as elegant as it is simple, is to provide Third Worlders with filters that allow them to recycle their food—extending the lifespan of a typical hamburger up to ten times.

In answer to one student’s outraged question, Mike explains that McDonald’s, in partnership with the WTO, is already experimenting with this technology in its products, and has been including 20% “post-consumer waste” in many of its hamburgers. Patrick’s 3-D animation of Ronald McDonald squeezing Menu Item Number Two from his colostomy bag erases any doubts about what is actually being said: the WTO believes that the poor should eat their own shit, or perhaps eat the shit of the rich, if an efficient pipeline can be established.

As might be expected, the students react violently to these concepts. But what is more surprising is that they have been reacting—with hisses, boos, even a spitwad or two—ever since the beginning of the lecture. Long before Andy tells them that they have eaten shit, they are appalled at the version of reality that he is asking them to swallow.

This is the only negative reaction Andy and Mike have gotten for a lecture. But the strong reaction clearly isn’t because the lecture is any crazier, since the students started reacting from the very beginning: it’s because the audience is smarter. All along, the problem has not been with the lectures, as supposed, but with the audiences themselves.

Years of neoliberal “education” and experience seem to make people stupid.

This realization causes Mike and Andy to abandon the lecture they planned for the agribusiness conference in Sydney (cancelled, but a special luncheon just for the "WTO" has been scheduled in its place), and to devise a whole new approach to the problem of representing the problems of free-market orthodoxy.

The original link is here

I was intrigued by the line near the bottom "
Years of neoliberal “education” and experience seem to make people stupid." I wonder if this is what I've been experiencing with some of the statements I've seen on blogs - 'respected' and respectable people saying things that are clearly stupid and wrong. Guess that wasn't really what it meant, but anyway.....

BTW this WAS a spoof, although the way I feel about Maccy Ds, they might well be operating the recycling program already.

He's gone!

Ben left this morning for the expedition to Kyrgystan.

For those who are not geography graduates, Kyrgystan borders China, Kazakstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and was once part of the USSR. He'll be gone for a month, doing a mixture of Jungle and mountain trekking, local project work, and then relaxing afterward.

The trip has been organised by World Challenge, which specialises in taking teenagers on expeditions like this. We have met a number of people with sons and daughter that have been on a WC trip. Ben's school have combined with another school about 90 miles away to provide sufficient numbers for the trip. It's far from cheap - the expedition has a basic cost of £2700, on top of which a full set of equipment has had to be purchased. I reckon all in it's run to about £3300, and Ben's paid most of it himself - certainly well over £2000 of it.

He's never been away from home this long, but I'm sure he'll be fine. It's just us I worry about ;-)

Thursday, 15 July 2004

That's dinky.

Ah, but does making it BOLD affect the colour?
Ah, make it bold first, THEN change colour.
Font seems to make no difference though - I've probably got a "" tag somewhere in my template.
That explains the BLACK Shrek

We saw a film.....

Shrek 2 tonight
And I can say, it's a good film.
Chris thought it came rather too close to the truth at times though, and she missed all the 'quotes' from other films. I sure I didn't spot many of them too, but Ghostbusters and Mission Impossible were the most clearly un-missable, with little bits of xXx too.
Casting was good, and I'd NEVER have recognised John Cleese.
Just as good as the first film, but different.
If you haven't seen it already, don't leave the cinema until after the first credits have finished.

Tuesday, 13 July 2004

So many things.......

once again.

This week is full of meetings. Last night in Oxford for an area leaders meeting, tonight back to Oxford to pray for the kid's school, Wednesday Bicester CC body meeting, Thursday I *think* is free, and I'm sure there's something on Friday.

Last night was a good follow on from the Oxford Celebration a week ago. Steve Thomas was describing his conversation with God while he'd been 'away up the mountain'. About asking God where He saw the church was, and God's reply about "if I tell you, will you take responsibility?" before showing him Revelation 4 - Laodicea. Ouch!

The future is looking interesting.....

Thursday, 8 July 2004

Well, we've been plastered.

The living room has been done, and last night was in a filthy mess when I got home. Much elbow grease later, it's 'tolerable' and decorating has commenced. Now if only we could afford a new carpet too.

Pics up sometime soon.

Tuesday, 6 July 2004

Thin posting time ahead.

We're having some building work done in the living room this week, so I've had to dismantle the PC.

No internet at home:-(

No ebay for Ben to surf :-)

Every cloud etc.....

Sorry everyone if I don't get round to checking your blogs very much.