Monday, 28 November 2005

Hairy pot head.

Is my name for Harry Potter.

We saw the Goblet of fire last night - it's not bad, but not fantastic. The problem with making a film from those books is that the books are long and detailed, while the films are unable to take more than a small fraction of the stories woven through.

Maybe they'll do an 'extended edition' DVD?

We also saw the trailer for Narnia. There's a large dose of [Samwise Gamgee accent]"Oh look Mr. Frodo, they've made another moving picture thing without us"[/Samwise Gamgee accent] overtones.

Christmas cards

Aren't much fun to write.

Which is what poor Chris has been doing.

And you have to remember to only put three names, instead of four.

We realised there were a lot of people that we only have CC contact with that still won't know. So she wrote this year's news letter, has done virtually all the cards and taken it entirely upon herself to get the things out. There have been tears, particularly when the correct number of names were forgotten.

Me? I still hide my head in other things.

Friday, 25 November 2005

Calling Marc

You remember the debate we had at your place regarding how science makes dumb statements about the obvious. Someone clever has just 'discovered' beer goggles. Amazing - low lighting and smoke combined with alcohol make it a little harder to realise that someone's un-appealing.

We'd never have worked that one out.

People are just SO stupid sometimes.

Psalm 23 - a re-reading.




The Lord is my pace-setter,
I shall not rush, He makes me stop
and rest for quiet intervals,
He provides me with images of stillness,
which restore my serenity.
He leads me in ways of effectiveness
through calmness of mind,
and His guidance is peace.
Even though I have a great many things to accomplish today,
I will not fret for His presence is here.
His timelessness, His all-importance
will keep me in balance.
He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity by anointing my mind with his oils of tranquility,
My cup of joyous energy overflows.
Surely harmony and effectiveness
shall be the fruit of my hours,
for I shall walk at the pace of my Lord,
and dwell in His house forever.


Thanks to Sue.

Thursday, 24 November 2005

Day 2, Vienna

Be warned, there is a LOT of this - 4 sides in word. You may find it easier to treat like a swimming pool, dipping in and out as takes your fancy.

Saturday 19th Schoennbrun.

Here we are in the airport waiting to fly home. I got tired last night, writing about our first day (keep thinking of things I’ve missed, like the food shops in the underground) and finished about 11.00ish. We had a generally relaxed morning preparing to leave, and even packing wasn’t too bad. Vienna airport was hot, noisy and crowded on the ‘wrong side’ of passport control, but here by gate A50 it’s cool, calm and comfy. So on with the story.

I had arranged for a tour. I normally hate the idea, but this time it seemed good to help orient ourselves in an effectively un-known city to make the most of the time. We were collected a little late from the hotel, then transferred to a new coach at a deeply ugly bus station built in the 50s. The guide was a blond lass about our age called Jennifer (really her name?) with again excellent English. Something we noticed early on was how the Viennese have a soft accent. German people speaking English tend toward a harder tone, with sharply pronounced ‘Oww’ sounds. The Viennese is smoother and quite easy on the ears.

We drove through the city, out to the Prater (city fair-ground, rather like the Tivoli Gardens of Copenhagen) with it’s big wheel. This was my first real disappointment. As a 6 year old boy, the wheel had seemed enormous – it used tram cars as carriages! With experienced adult eyes, its 67 odd meters height seemed relatively unimpressive, and I wondered how I managed to remember all those roof-tops from my original trip. Still, it is the oldest wheel in existence.

The journey out to Schoennbrun was relatively un-attractive – lots of concrete buildings, housing that was clearly ‘low-cost ethnic’ and graffiti – the ‘un-seemly’ side of city life. While describing the various palace buildings as we had passed them, our guide also talked about life-style and income. Typical wages, it was suggested, were around 1200 euros/month take home, with about half that being spent on rent. More on that later.

Schoennbrun was pretty much what we’d expected. There was a smaller market there, compared to the version outside the Rathaus, but it looked great, as by this time it was snowing as hard as I’ve seen almost anywhere. To keep warm, Chris enjoyed a Kinderpunsch and I had a Jagertee: basically strong tea with even stronger rum added. The buildings here were as ornate and over-done as one might expect from the rulers of a very substantial eastern European empire. Some of it WAS beautiful, while some was just ‘knee-deep-in-decoration-because-we-can’.

Just an idle thought. Apparently a mark of the Habsberg family was a protruding lower jaw. My lower jaw has always stuck out – kids at school used to make fun of me because of it. I dreamed, as one does in early teenage fantasy, that I might have been part of such a family, long lost, and due to inherit some forgotten wealth. Fat chance. My father’s sister once had the family trees examined, hoping for exactly such a thing. It turns out that, rather than being royalty in name, some of our ancestors were hung for street-robbing. Apparently there are lots of Habsbergs around the world today, all independently wealthy and none of them recognised by Austria as having any ruling rights. And of course, that’s not to say that a Habsberg didn’t pass a few genes along, via the wrong side of the blanket.

Apres tour we had lunch in a Restaurant called Rosenbergs on Maysedergasse. This was a bit of a cop-out, and it was all self-service with most servitors speaking good English. The cuisine was reasonably authentic Austrian, and that made up for it. We played ‘dumb tourist’ and had snitzel, although I managed to get some dumplings and mushrooms with mine, rather than the universally acceptable potatoes. It was good too.

Since we’re on the olfactory side of things, one of the things I always do when visiting a new country is to sniff the air. Stockholm I mentioned was kind of sharp and flinty, whereas Vienna airport’s air was almost odourless – fresh and clean, but without any particular smell other than airports generally. However by this time I’d been collecting and processing a lot more data from my nose, and can say that Vienna smells like nowhere else, being rich and varied, and with a strong sense of having been lived in for a very long time. There’s a gentle spiciness to the air that comes from Apfel strudel and Goulash, rich coffee and frying food, gluhwein and frankfurters. And tobacco smoke. Smoking is relatively rare in the UK, and the cigarettes all smell similarly unpleasant. Austrian tobacco smoke would sometimes get too much, but was warmer and sweeter generally, with a cigar-hint. I don’t know that I’d recognise these smells again immediately, because they take time to filter through the senses, but both the food and the smells reminded me intensely of my childhood, even though we were in England, with my mother cooking Austrian-style. Even now, all that she touches has a hint of Austria.

On the coach we’d met an Australian family – Ian and Di (not another Sue!) with their daughter Heidi and granddaughter Juliette. They were friendly, and we talked a bit going round Schoennbrun. Then we bumped into them again in Rosenbergs. Turned out the next leg of their ‘round the world’ trip was in England, with them staying a week in the Cotswolds. It seemed a good idea to give them our address, and who knows – maybe we’ll see them sometime next week?

After lunch we explored a little more, wandering down to the Naschmarkt and the flea market that is held behind it. We’d been warned on the coach ride to go there “it’s not nice” and “what is stolen in the week in Vienna appears there on Saturday”. This is where we saw the other side of Vienna – the true poverty. The Naschmarkt was interesting, with all kinds of foodstuffs available, Austrian and Turkish (Austria has many Turks) plus Chinese restaurants and a large fish section. We even saw cooked fish being sold for consumption in the same way as kebabs are sold in England. I bought a couple of bottles of wine here, just for fun really – who knows if they’ll be drinkable? Prices were noticeably lower here to – the first time we’d seen anything like discounts.

In the Flea market we were amazed to see what appeared a cross between a jumble sale and a boot fair, with piles of clothes, shoes, phone chargers, computer parts and miscellaneous household debris strewn on the damp ground or bits of cardboard. More amazing was how people were avidly rummaging through, looking for useful, reusable items. This was an intense contrast to the way clothes were displayed in shops, often in splendid isolation with low stock and high prices (or commonly, no prices at all – if you need to ask, you can’t afford it). One of my mother’s memories was of the elegant clothes shops ,where on entering she would be greeted with the words “I kiss your hand gracious lady”. If one did not show an inclination to buy then you ceased to be a “gracious lady” fairly quickly. It is likely she was only shown this deference because of her non-local status, and that they would not have been sure of her financial status.

Diverting from the main topic here a little, but adding thoughts, we had both wondered about why some of the large and obvious differences existed between Vienna and London. In London every thing is fast food, regardless whether it’s sandwiches, pizza or burgers, and the whole place is full of cheap clothes, fancy trainers and far-eastern produced electronic toys. Vienna by contrast has a little of the fast food concept, but tied it firmly to local style products, prepared freshly and suiting local tastes. They’ve blended in some of the Turkish flavours, but kept them in the same style, rather than abandoning national dishes. And everything with a hint of luxury is more expensive. It seemed to us that Austria has rejected the ‘supermarket culture’ that France and England have fallen in love with, instead preferring the ‘traditional’ ‘handcrafted’ things, made by local people at a living wage. We saw 2 ‘supermarkets’ there, one being an Aldi and the other on the Herrengasse (can’t remember the name). They were maybe half to a quarter the size of Bicester’s (small) Tesco. This approach is very much a double edged sword, as it tends to keep prices high and local people relatively hard up.

I think I rather admire a society that has apparently rejected the “give me more for less” attitude and *appears* to value the work of the hands.

One long trudge back to our hotel, a snooze and short interlude later, we head off to the Rathaus market again. This (Saturday) evening it’s crowded with people drinking, talking, snogging (Chris was a little shocked to see two girls at it) and buying stuff off the stands. It’s much more familiar now, and we only notice a few ‘new’ things. We managed to find a stall selling Gluhmost (spiced lower-alcohol apple drink) and that was nice.

There were some ‘interesting’ things we saw named on the food stalls that we just didn’t recognise: Fladbrot, Ungarische Langos, Kartofelblumen. We ordered a Langos, and it turned out to be a deep-fried bread, smothered in salty garlic butter – very messy and antisocial, but quite delicious. I passed on the Kartofelblumen – potato pancakes, as I didn’t want to eat too much, and instead we had spicy, smokey Grillwurst, again in the compulsory French bread, washed down with a Kinderpunsch for Chris and a Gluhwein for me. This time we hung around until they closed the stalls at 9.00ish

As we were leaving we could hear a cacophony of horns deliberately playing discordant notes across the road outside a theatre. Our view was blocked by a tram car, but we could see a large crowd gathered, intently watching something happening there.

We made our way over, and were greeted by the sight of a mocked up crucifixion scene: ‘Jesus’ - a blindfolded, barefooted man - was stood with his arms strapped to a bar, supported by a man on each side. A tall rectangular wooden frame rose above his head, and supported from the crossbar was a cow’s carcass, split open and bloody. The event was directed by a guy running back and forth, shouting orders and moving people around. He started pouring artificial blood on the ‘crucified’ figure’s mouth so that it ran down his front. A bunch of guys then came out carrying 5 bamboo poles about 20 feet long, each with a sword mounted on the end. They placed a cushion with a blood bag inside on ‘Jesus’ chest and then pushed the swords into it so that blood spilt and ran out. Finally they got rid of those and came back out with flaming torches. While some crowded round, others (around 40) picked up the wooden framework and started to carry it round the building.

I should mention at this point that the temperature was well below freezing, and all these people were dressed in tee shirts and thin white cotton trousers. We were feeling the cold, dressed in winter clothes, and the wind had picked up quite a bit. The actors were clearly shivering, and ‘Jesus’ must have been in a bad way. Because of the weight of the framework they could only carry it around a ¼ of the way before stopping and resting. It must have taken nearly 15 mins to complete the circuit of the theatre and finally escape. The actor playing Jesus had remained blindfolded throughout, and appeared so cold that he had trouble moving from his position after being unstrapped. They were finally able to support him back into the building. His feet were still bare on the freezing cobblestones.

Chris was fairly disgusted by all of this, and glad to get away. When it was finally over we made our way back to the hotel, grateful for the first time that our room was so warm. Thus ended our second day.

It's alright for some.

Free SG anyone?

3 news pages worth visiting:

Black metal.

Stupidity over pollution


If she can't remember, how does she know it was rape?

Wednesday, 23 November 2005

The more things change

the more they remain the same.

Apparently our meeting in Minnehopeless is still happening, and the email apparently cancelling it didn't mean what it said.

There's no time to book a flight to Canada now, and I'm going via a party at Houston (at least it'll be nice to see everyone again - maybe I can play Jenny's guitar once more).

I guess Chris won't divorce me after last weekend.

A light break between weekend travels

I've just received a flier from a publishing house offering various scientific books and journals all relating to human reproduction. There was one title that caught my eye as the most unlikely one might imagine:

WHO laboratory manual for the examination of Human semen and sperm cervical mucus interaction.

Tuesday, 22 November 2005

Weekend away episode 1 - The snitzel's revenge.

This is a little trickier to write than I’d anticipated. The hotel here was supposed to have a net connection in every room, but instead there’s a single booth in a lobby near the foyer. The plan was that I’d blog daily (and brought a laptop specially) but because the connection wasn’t available it became too much effort to do so. Also we were quite tired from walking continually, and as a result, were most inclined to just crash when we got back to the room.

So here I am on Sunday night, trying to re-collect all my thoughts, feelings and impressions from the last 3 days. To help do this I’ll try to cover each day individually. You may therefore find it helpful to read each day’s entry as if it has been made fresh.


Friday 18th Nov, Day 1.

3.10am is a harsh time to start any day – one is inclined to ask while showering “do we never learn?”. Catching a plane for a 6.45am departure is a dumb thing to do. However we did actually succeed, and arrived in Vienna at around 10.20 local time. Walking through the terminal to baggage collection I could already tell we were in Austria: the ceiling covering had been removed in the corridor, and I could see how things were made. No other country in the world would bother to make small pine boxes with careful dovetail joints to encase the PA speakers in this kind of ceiling.

I arranged a cab to take us from the airport to the hotel (chickened out of the train: too much hassle and we had a case which doesn’t roll that well). The woman on the taxi stand had good English (they nearly all had good English) and talked me into booking the return by cab as it was cheaper both ways. Our driver was friendly, chatty and told us he hoped we’d brought coats, ignoring what we were wearing, as the temperature would drop to minus 10’C on Sunday. We passed through the industrial outer areas and the Vienna woods on the way in, then into the city proper, round the ring and finally to the hotel.

I had a sense of anticlimax.

If you’ve seen a number of European cities, as I now have, after a while they all begin to look the same. The houses by the Vienna woods look just like many around Stockholm. Most of the buildings would pass un-noticed in Budapest or Copenhagen. The Hofburg and some of the other palaces are grand on a scale that few other cities could equal, but the city buildings themselves, while opulent, aren’t unusual on the outside.

Our hotel (the Hotel de France) was a large old building, actually purpose built in the late 1800s on the Ringstrasse, very close to the centre. Check-in was fine, and despite being early, we were given a room. It was here that my impressions really started. The room was decorated ‘traditional’ style, and because of a high ceiling, darker walls and being very warm, felt quite small. I flicked on the TV, and the first thing that came up was a 1960s version of Cinderella in German. This immediately set a tone for me – I felt as though I’d been transported back in time. The d├ęcor, manners and even the TV felt as though they belonged in the time of our parents. This feeling was to return frequently.

There were a couple of things we needed to do to obtain some travel cards and confirm a tour for the following day, so out we went on what turned into a long walk. Eventually we wound up at die Wienerin in Wallnerstrasse, enjoying Goulash soup for a late lunch. This soup tastes very much like a spicy oxtail soup, but is quite salty. It was served with beautiful bread, which had salt crusted on top. I (not so beautifully) managed to save the last, saltiest bit of bread until we’d just got ready to go, them popped it in my mouth. Eckk. Crinkled mouth syndrome.

We headed back to the hotel for a rest, recouping our strength for the Christkindlmarkt at the Rathaus (town hall).

The Rathaus and market were only about 10 mins walk from our hotel, and we headed over there about 6.00ish, when it was properly dark. A few flakes of snow were falling, but nothing very much. The first thing we noticed as we got near where the number of lights in the trees. These resolved into different shapes: hearts, stars, balloons, faces – all kinds of things. Next there was a ‘train’ carrying children and their parents to an area with buildings containing Christmas ‘themes’. Then we finally came on the market itself.

Since it was Friday the market wasn’t too crowded. The stalls were set up in wooden huts, all side by side in the grounds of the Rathaus. Some sold wood carvings, usually of nativity or religious figures, some sold baubles, others toys (many hand made from wood - Santa’s elves had been busy!) and all kinds of things. There was a stall selling scented candles that had very oddly shaped candles, which the proprietess held out for all to smell. My initial reaction was “must be my dirty mind”, but it was actually called ‘love’ and was shaped like a vagina. Europe has a very different view on some things compared to the English. Bizarre lights aside, it was really very special, and produced a certain level of anticipation. I can't say that it felt like 'Christmas' because there wasn't much of Jesus visible, but it covered the word 'magical' in a way that Disney could only envy.

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We bought sugar-coated nuts, Gluhwein, Bratwurst in bread, munching and stumbling our way round the market. By about 8.30 we’d seen most stalls, and were ready to drop, so headed back to our hot little room, incomprehensible TV and sleep.

Monday, 21 November 2005

We're back!

Again.

Vienna was good for us, and very interesting. It's a place that smells, sounds and tastes familiar, yet I barely recognise any of it. I've written quite a lot, and there's much more yet to write. Hopefully I'll be able to post the first section tomorrow.

Bye for now.

Thursday, 17 November 2005

Sue has excelled herself.

Since that quiz mentioned the language of diplomacy, I've been utterly impressed by her latest post "See u 4 lunch fresh bread and sexy wife Yum Yum"

You can tell that there's a euphemism buried there, and a hidden story, but the subtlety with which she's written makes it almost impossible not to overlook. Nicely done, dear lady. Very impressive.

Now I understand.

Apparently:

France Modern (trois fleurs-de-lis)
I am 'French'. In the nineteenth century, it
was the international language of diplomacy.
It is a 'beautiful' language, meaning that it
is really just a low-fidelity copy of Latin.

You know the importance of communicating
'diplomatically', which for you means both
being polite and friendly when necessary and
using sophisticated, vicious sarcasm when
appropriate. Your life is guided by either
existentialism or nihilism, depending on the
weather. You have a certain appreciation for
the finer things in life, which is a diplomatic
way of saying that you are a disgusting
hedonist. Your problem is the French have been
obsolete for a long time.


What obsolete skill are you?
brought to you by some bored geeks with nothing better to do.

I can't tell you what a relief it is to have my disgusting hedonistic character out in the open. Now I can misbehave in the most obscene fashion and people can say "Oh, it's OK, it's because of his French character">

And tomorrow we go.

But I'm here at work, wishing I was getting ready now.

In 13 1/2 hours we'll be getting up to go the the airport.

It's here.

But lets not shout about it too much.

Wednesday, 16 November 2005

Today I'm like.....

A badly overdrawn bank account.


I've 'lost interest'.


Started well enough with a meeting with Jon - good brisk and efficient. Very motivational. Then came the lap-top upgrade that didn't happen. Software didn't work, ditto hard drive enclosures, and 4 hours later we're in exactly the same place we started from.

Tuesday, 15 November 2005

Happy Christmas everyone

Thoughts on hugging

Or the MANNER of hugging.

Last night Olivia was round for dinner before going to the 'Soul Survivor' group. Knowing she was there, on the way in from the car I was thinking about greeting and hugging her as well as Chris and Ben and the way we hug. This consideration got extended to Dan and Kita too.

I realise that I hug them all like they're my children.

Dan, Kita, Liv - I don't want to take this too far, but it really feels like you're part of our family. There's something different about how I feel about you vs how I feel about most people. I guess this is what extended family feels like, or maybe I'm getting a little of God's father heart.

Celtic - christianity chap on the radio this morning.

BBC Radio 4's "thought for the day".

He used a lot of carefully constructed sentences to say that 'Big Organised' religion was self-seeking and had it's own agendas quite apart from God's. He also suggested that God was more likely to be at work in the small and the peripheral than the grandiose and organised, and that stylised irrrelevant religious forms were pointless.

Of course he was a great deal more polite.

He was from a celtic community - Iona something or other. While I think he's probably mostly right, if church history is known then there may have been a little axe-grinding going on.

Monday, 14 November 2005

Why am I always hungry

after I've finished lunch?

Fully thawed now

but by gum, it was cold this morning (on a motorbike). 60mph was as much as my poor face could stand from windblast.

Waiting to hear if a guitar is available. At Music live I spent best part of an hour on one stand, trying diff guitars. I spent most of the time playing one of these. At the time it seemed good, but not great, however the memory of it just kept coming back. Eventually called the manufacturer to ask if it had been sold (the one I played was slightly different, with 2 humbuckers, rather than the standard 1 bucker, 1 P90). Now I'm waiting to find out if it's still there.

What makes it special?

It played like it was alive a little. Plus the PUs can be switched to single coil for stratty type tones, but without the usual thin, weedy nasal sounds that split buckers usually make. JJ have some custom tone circuitry that keeps the pickup tone balanced, and these are specially made Dimarzios that can't be found anywhere else. It'll go from a fair rock attack to a rich funky feel just by pulling the tone knob. The fingerboard was tight enough grained that I initially though it was ebony, and the finish is really nice too.

We'll see.

It's not free, but the Gibson V is up for sale if anyone wants it (£300 obo).

Winter has officially arrived here.

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My poor bum's still thawing (that's bottom or butt to my north-American friends - I don't have a personal tramp) from sitting on a frozen motorcycle seat.

Anyone ever walk away from a situation realising they've made a mistake? Well when I went to that motorcycle show I didn't buy an insulated 2 piece suit, instead opting for a slightly cheaper unlined 1 piece. I realise that was a BAD MOVE now. Never mind though, I'm sure I'll thaw out soon.

It's certainly rather lovely out there right now - when you're warm enough to enjoy it.

Saturday, 12 November 2005

I've just finished recording.

Made a bunch of demos of that amp I built a couple of weeks ago. You can find them in 'The Rhyme Of The Ancient Mariner' (see my links). Recording always reminds me why I'm a better 'live' guitarist - in live performance no-one can rewind and listen to your mistakes.

Olivia - there's one dedicated to you there too.

Some are just a bit raucous, as they're demoing the drive channel for rythm work. I was pleased with bits of both versions using the clean backing track. The clean one (November Saturday) has lots of space and feels quite sensitive. The version with the overdriven lead (Olivia's song) was a slightly more conservative take. With some there was a definite Gary Moore thing happening - unfortunately spoiled by mistakes later in the take.

If you listen I hope you enjoy them.

Friday, 11 November 2005

I'd better watch out.

There's a new guitar player on the block.

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You look good together, Liv.

Thursday, 10 November 2005

At last it's arrived.



I should be able to start recording properly at last. Up 'till now I've been using a guitar processor as a mic pre-amp, which is highly unsatisfactory because it colours the sound. This will give a degree of control not available before, while hopefully producing a more accurate sound.

Maybe.

It's a 10 channel mini-mixer BTW, VERY cheap.

Your wish etc. etc.

Couldn't find a movie.....

Wednesday, 9 November 2005

How to wash a cat.

What is post-modern?

There's someone I think I could call a friend (we've not met in 'meatspace', nor spoken directly, but I appreciate him) who's on holiday in Dubia. He described it as the most post-modern city in existence.

The most recent description I heard of postmodern was the word 'unprincipled'. Postmodern seems to mean that "whatever works for you is OK, as long as I can do anything that works for me". To me, that would imply a city of readily available vices, each to suit a different taste, but kept clean and neat in appearance. Certianly it would seem that if golf is your vice that it will be fulfilled in many and pleasant ways.

Being an Arab city, I doubt it's the overt den of vice that somewhere like New Orleans was reputed to be. However some cultures have an ability to turn a blind eye for paying customers. I wonder if this could be the case, or whether he really meant that they've built a city from scratch in the last 40 years, no expense spared.

Tuesday, 8 November 2005

Olivia's been trying to find

a decent pic of her new Tele.

The best place is here. Click the guitar for a larger image (not linkable).

However that's not actually the instrument she has, because although it's equipped like a Custom II, the neck actually says 'Standard' IIRC.

Liv - you have a true 'special'.

Monday, 7 November 2005

Many and mixed

I'm doing thw house group bible study tomorrow night. Read through the notes Vic Gledhill produced on RiISK (faith in action really) and ended up thinking "is that all? Sounds like a version of 'prosperity gospel'". I've added a couple of questions I hope will help, rather than hinder true faith.


We were at a funeral in London today. My 'Great Aunt' (actually not a blood rellie at all, but never mind) died just over a week ago.

Winifrid had served God in her generation, right through to her 90s. My mother had been close to her, and knew her better than many: knew her struggles, knew when she was baptised in the Holy Spirit (it wasn't called that at the time) and a pile of stuff we talked through. We met her son, Ian - me for the first time in about 25 years, Chris first time ever IIRC. We also met the Austrian side of the family: Gerhardt (who looks like the real father Christmas) Monica (Winifrid's daughter) and their children Marcus, Andrea and Johann.

I'm ashamed to say that I wasn't feeling especially robust, and didn't make a decent effort to talk to them all properly. I now seriously regret my failure, but that's just how it is sometimes.

I had a lot of people come up to me, telling me how I looked like my father.

The 'church' hall they had the service in is a curious building. Knocked up in the post-war period, it reminds me of every British 'shack-built' church, with saggy, fibreboard ceiling and questionable paint choice. There's a particular smell these buildings have too: not necessarily bad, but characteristic. Quite a few people there, which was great, and from many different ethnicities too.


I went to the 'Music-live' show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre on Saturday. I didn't buy anything, at all! Although now in retrospect I'm starting to wonder about a particular guitar I tried. I need to make space though - anyone want a Gibson flying V at a bargain price?

Friday, 4 November 2005

Just had an email from Steve Beegoo

I thought it was worth sharing up here:

4.11.2005


Dear Church!


Today I have felt God speak a very clear word to us in the midst of this exciting time of growth, but also battle.



There is much to praise God for:


* People are become Christians! Moving from the Dominion of darkness into the Kingdom of Light. Adults and teenagers!
* There is a great sense of family and life when we gather on Sundays and at other times.
* A special unity between the churches, demonstrated through various events.
* There is momentum and potential with regards to a community centre in Keble Road, with the potential for a Christian pre-school.
* We are having regular visitors, and new people wanting to come along.


All these things are what we have prayed for, and God has brought this about for His glory. But as we have pressed on and battled in these areas, it is becoming clear that there is an enemy who will contest the growth of God’s Kingdom. (Ps 17 v 8-12; 1 Pet 5 v 8)


The clear word I have heard from Him is, “Be Alert”.


As we speak, the battle is clear to me in these areas:



* Health, and related fear: Attacking our capacity to serve him.
* Weaker family members: Attacking the weak or young.
* Niggling minor conflicts: Attacking relationships in the church.
* Lack of sleep: Attacking capacity to live for Him.
* Lethargy: Attacking our motivation to serve Him.



I believe God wants us to take heed and “Be Alert”, for our own family’s sake and the wider church family. As any church begins to grow and develop the enemy will try and subtly creep in. He is, however, defeated! Our prayers and words spoken in Christ’s authority, combined with our alertness, will see his strategy come to nothing. God can always turn such attacks into victories for His Kingdom, growth of relationship and increased trust in Him. But His call to us together is to “Be Alert” at this time.


I would encourage you to personally consider these scriptures: Josh 8 v 1-4; Ps 17 v 8-12; 1 Pet 5 v 8; 1 Thes 5 v 6; Eph 6 v 18


God bless you and keep you alert, as you pray into this.


Steve Beegoo

I feel especially righteous

Every Friday morning there are cream cakes available in a meetings room here to encourage the building tenants to meet and network with each other.

I like cream cakes.

I want a narrower girth.

I didn't go.

1 minor demerit - ate a bourbon biscuit from the box behind me, but only a single one.

Well, I'm only 'practically perfect'.

Happy birthday

Sue

I have a suspicion the chocolate boob recipe was more for Ian's benefit that yours.

Thursday, 3 November 2005

Harmony central

Occasionally throws up the funniest threads. This had me literally laughing out loud. Funniest thread I've seen for a long time.

Warning
HC is a place where 'grown up' musicians let their hair down. This is a thread about someone's new girlfriend. Language and ideas there can be more than a little 'strong'. Do not click that link if you've got delicate sensibilities or you're under 16. It IS worksafe, in that (when I linked) there was no pron up but some of the words can get X-rated.

Even my computer knows I'm a bloater

We've just had a sudden rush of viruses here, and this poor little laptop appears to have been infected with the Sobig virus.

Calling Dan, Liv, Kita....

I'm sorry, but we've got to call off tonight's get-together.

Chris's mum is coming over to go house-hunting tomorrow (Friday). We managed to double-book ourselves without realising. We're both really sorry about that.

Will try to arrange something again soon.

Wednesday, 2 November 2005

Now official

I'm a BLOWTAH!

13 stone and a bit this morning.

Significant overhang above the belt.

No wonder my bum is so sore - all that extra mass grinding it mercilessly into the saddle.

Luther had his diet of Worms. Wonder if it helped him lose weight?

Tuesday, 1 November 2005

November's here

A pinch and a punch for the first of the month to any readers before 12.00pm, and no returns.

I'm so puffed I can barely use the track-ball this morning, having cycled (in) for the first time in a year. My chest is a little tight and the legs feel very jelly-like.

My bottom is also most displeased.

The saddle I used to know and love is a thinly padded job that provides comfort by flexing of the Titanium rails supporting either end. After 5 mins it was starting to feel like some kind of blunt device used to seperate the buttocks for medical purposes. To cap it off, the bike I rode was set up for Ben with flat pedals instead of clipped. When I arrived I popped the front wheel up on the curb and then tried to lift the rear wheel by jumping as I normally would. Instead of lifting the rear of the bike, my feet simply left the pedals: what goes up must come down, and my poor, tender bot hit the (hard) nose of the saddle.


Anyway, I won't be around online today - I'm fasting off the internet. If your thinking God thoughts, please pray for Helen Davis - still not well after giving birth to Samuel.

TTFN. Love to all.