Tuesday, 31 January 2006

Almost ready to go.

Chris's mum's packed, the kitchen is ready to receive the new cooker and fridge/freezer and thanks to Adrienne, the flat is newly painted.

Thanks for your prayers, everyone.

Monday, 30 January 2006

If a job's worth doing:

It's worth screwing up well.

Parenting is curious

Especially when you find yourself caring, and loving, other people.

As a teen I couldn't imagine why parents would get fussed about you. "It's my life, my body, and if it goes wrong (push me too hard and I'll make sure it does!) I'll carry the consequences."

Now I can't stop caring about people, not that I want to, of course. I read a book quite some time back by Charles Simpson called 'The Challenge To Care'. He mentioned how there were so many managers, supervisors, leaders etc, but few fathers.

Well, I'm a father.

I'm unlikely to head up a church community, my gifting isn't significant enough to make me essential to a leadership team and I upset enough people through bad administration and eclectic sense of humour to keep it that way.

I can care for people.

Four things - tagged by Randall

Four places I have lived
Vienna, South Norwood, Thornton Heath, Somerton.

Four places I have been on vacation
St. Anton, Biarritz, Thessalonica, Windermere.

Four jobs I’ve had in my life
Audio-visual/lab technician, factory worker, photographer, scientist.

Four movies I can watch over and over
Blazing saddles, Mars attacks, 2001 a space odyssey, Flash Gordon.

Four TV shows I love to watch

Four websites I visit daily
CMR, Harmony Central, Randallfriesen.com, smiliekita.blogspot.com.

Four of my favorite foods
A large seared and bleeding steak, Chicken shashlik, Stollen, Sherry trifle.

Four places I would rather be right now
I'm happy at home, but: Vienna, St. Anton, Stoupa, Randall's place.

Saturday, 28 January 2006

Poor Chris

Is feeling really lurgified today.

Friday, 27 January 2006

I have just been described...

by my managing director as being still 'Ertl intacta'.

This laptop remains unravished by bug-ridden, high-overhead corporate software. Not for much longer, I suspect. But then this laptop is due for retirement soon anyway, and hopefully I'll get something with the muscle to cope with the corporate load.

Random web picks

A record company realises that litigation does not help artists.

Cingular is trying to patent emoticons. :-p

Not so many Brits believe in evolution after all.

Finally - if you get asked to help your boss get ready for their presentation you'd better watch out!

Thursday, 26 January 2006

Had enough of this blog?

Well NUKE IT then!

Or drown out the wretched thing.

This one seemed especially appropriate for a dear friend of mine.

And finally, for a lovely lass who occasionally would like to un-say things after they've got her into trouble.

When we looked out it was like Narnia

Well, that's not STRICTLY true, but it was snowing, and the world did look cold and bleak.

This morning is the inquest into Sarah's death. We'll be in Oxford for the morning, then probably Banbury this afternoon for Ben's check-up after the heart thing and Chris to have some checks. Not sure what I'll do - there's enough round the house to fix.

For those who've been praying - thanks. If you particularly want to pray for Dan, that would be great.

Wednesday, 25 January 2006


The Christian Union at Birmingham university has had it's bank account frozen and is likely to be re-recognised by the student's union guild there.

The reason?

They refer to 'men and women' in their statements, thereby excluding trans-gendered and cross dressing persons and exclude those of other faiths from voting. It was in today's 'Times'.


Just heard in the office

A certain person just said "the happy feeling is rubbing the thighs".

To remain nameless (unless I'm bribed appropriately).

Loads of thoughts to blog last night

But like mist, they've all evaporated this morning.

Actually it's been bloomin' cold the last couple of mornings. Not 'dry-cold' but sharp and frosty none the less.

Glad the rayburn is running now.

Tuesday, 24 January 2006

Monday, 23 January 2006





Who would ever guess?

Back online again.

Our net connection at home is down, and has been since Saturday. If you've been trying to get hold of us, then sorry we couldn't get back to you.

Thursday, 19 January 2006

Not quite sure how I want to post this.

Chris and I have noticed a trend and a change over the period we've been married.

When we were young - say late 70s and early 80s, where there was marital strife, affairs and divorce it usually seemed to be down to the male half of partnership. Stereotyped certainly, but definitely present.

That balance seems to be getting shifted.

More and more recently we seem to be finding partnerships and marriages being broken by the female halves. It may be a 'blip' and it certainly isn't total, but it's defintely real. I wonder if this is a legacy of the de-repression of the 60s and 70s coming to fruition in the children of parents that grew up in those eras?

I don't often offer bible passages here, but we've also been kicking this one around in the context.

33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5 v33 (New International Version) www.biblegateway.com

It's particularly interesting because men are called to love their wives and women are called to respect their husbands. These are areas that the genders seem to have trouble with: men loving on an ongoing basis and women really respecting their husbands. Respect is something that seems to be harder and harder to find in popular media these days, and I genuinely wonder if this is a key root.

Any thoughts anyone?

Well, the rocket is running again.

Darn, it's taken a long time to get it fixed though. But dint of some careful re-engineering and a replacement pump that was approximately similar to the original unit (hence the engineering: new mounting holes, re-alignment of the high pressure feed etc) we have ignition. Mind you, I thought it wasn't going to work at all - there's no air bleed on the new pump - semi self-priming - and it took several goes for the fuel to come through enough to catch.

Pretty sure that's it though. The hot water pipe seems to be getting warm much quicker than before. Here's hoping.

What do we mean

when we say 'I love you'?

As an early teenager I was puzzled to recieve gifts with 'love from....' written on them. I was sure these people couldn't love me - not like my parents did. I even remember asking my mother about it at the time.

Later, there was a first Girlfriend (she's on Friends reunited now, but I'm not planning to contact her) to who I mentioned the concept of love, as feelings ran very strongly through my testosterone-fuelled brain, but I certainly couldn't have said that I DID actually love. Good job too, as we only lasted 3 months.

And there was my wife - initially girlfriend - who I definitely didn't love to begin with, but after a period of time and various ups and downs, realised that I did.

Friends have come along in that time, for whom I've definitely known love, both the feelings and the determination to do them good.

Then there were my children, for whom love was semi-automatic after they're born, but also takes a time to build and grow as they did.

There is also my extended family, for whom love is growing as I get to know them better.

It's worth asking this question because the word 'love' is used in all sorts of circumstances and between all kinds of people. The conventional meaning - I have strong feelings for you - and the Christian meaning - to determine to do the person good over and above your own needs - aren't incompatible, but certainly aren't the same either. The Greeks listed 7 different kinds of love - I won't get boring going into that now, but they included brotherly (family) love and physical love.

We just have the one, often mis-leading, word.

But it IS worth thinking about what we mean when we say it. Do fancy the pants off (literally ;-) the other person, want to be close to them, want to do them good or just say it because it sounds better than 'yours faithfully' at the end of a letter?

Wednesday, 18 January 2006

My birthday- message from Ben

hey people...
A fair bunch of people who read this know it was my birthday on tuesday, if you didn't, your slow! lol
Anyway, on friday, I and others are going ice skating at Oxford Ice rink.
This is open any of you who want to come, have a laugh, meet people, or whatever. Enjoy yourselves, without getting too hurt (I hope).
The session is from 8-10.30pm, obviously you can leave before the end, it is £5.50 for skating, including hire. Feel free to come if you want to, no invites, so as said, its open (no age limit either Matt!).
Enjoy, and feel free.
Lastly, for anyone who knows Annastasia, you can come too (although your likely to know me anyway...).
thanks people,
signing out

Anyone else had enough?

Then push the big red button and turn off the internet.

Monday, 16 January 2006

Oh yeah?

You scored as Mathematics. You should be a Math major! Like Pythagoras, you are analytical, rational, and when are always ready to tackle the problem head-on!





























What is your Perfect Major?
Yet another damn stupid quiz from the pillocks at QuizFarm.com

Thanks Randall. So all those exam results were apparently lying, and I didn't actually get a U (unclassified) for maths O level.

Typos? How about wordos?

Just heard in the office here. A colleague describing a temperature monitoring system as having romantic monitoring software (he meant remote).

Sends e-flowers, e-cards and offers such great services you'll just fall in love with it!

What a pants weekend.

Saturday was spent raking through the past life of Chris's parents again.

We always feel emotional and a little upset when we're there at the moment. I'm not sure if it's because her mum doesn't seem to be (on the outside - there is stuff inside) or because we are being forced to go through the collected litter of 2 lives trying to decide what to keep and what to chuck. Last time we found stuff dating back to the 50's - useless stuff, like failed exam results. This time Chris came across her driving test failure certificate (she passed 2nd go).

Every surface still seems covered in papers, even after it's been cleared the week before.

Sally and Sue very kindly lent us one of the Picnix vans, Dan came over as well, and we loaded some furniture up to take to a place that recycles it for those on minimal incomes. Chris's mum wants to keep all the significant stuff, but there is no way it'll fit in that flat.

It was odd after we'd left, we were just so tired, and it felt like it must be much later even though it was only 4.30ish. Dropped into Tesco Northampton and bought something for dinner, which we ate at 5.45! Normally dinner is around 7.00, but it just felt so late.

Yesterday morning we went to the Oxford celebration where the focus was very much on how we need to change our shape to fit the new wine God's bringing. I won't talk about most of the content, but there is one thing that came out that I'm learning to hate. The phrase *The Lost*. The lost are an amorphous and unreal bunch of waif-like creatures that hover at the very edges of our vision and have no meaning, solidity or reality. The lost aren't 'real people' with loves and lives and ambitions and desires, that we might be friends with. I almost want to ask why they haven't been found yet. I know there are reasonable grounds for using this expression, but like 'evangelism' it's another phrase that doesn't belong in our thinking.

BTW rant not over yet. Don't sigh with relief.

For Christmas I asked for, and gratefully recieved 'a Generous Orthodoxy' by Brian McClaren. This weekend I tried to start reading it, and oh, what a bowlful of flavourless papp the first chapter is turning into. It's full of 'there are many things about which I'm sure I'm right, yet I'm probably wrong, and you may not agree with me and might be right instead, and it doesn't really matter what your background is because that's all OK too, and GK Chesterton weighed 300lb and was even more overweight that I am AND was a much better writer than me.


I can see where he's coming from and what he's trying to do, but after a bit it becomes too much. I will persevere as much as I can bear, because I think he HAS caught hold of the sort of thing that we've seen God doing in Bicester (with the churches working together) but in a way that lacks (for me) bite and strength. This may be a great injustice, but I can't imagine people dying for their faith on the basis of this kind of stuff. Missional? But to bring people into what kind of church? So they can disappear into a blend of pop-songs of the last 20 centuries and we can do religious practice as men have created and handed it down but to a background of power-point, bangin' choons and light shows?

Sorry - my feelings about 'alternative worship' coming out there.

Maybe things will improve later.

Now the rant's over. It's safe to breath again.

Oh, just one more thing. Ben went to Bury St Edmunds on Saturday evening after work. He came back yesterday with a bent car. :-( He's 18 on Tuesday (tomorrow) but it's not looking like a great deal of fun so far. We had other plans, but his birthday present will probably be repairing the car now.

Thanks for staying with me.

Sunday, 15 January 2006

Since I'm putting up funny trivia

here's a definition of a few mis-spellings:

Beelzebug - satan in the form of a mosquito that enters your bedroom at 3.00am and refuses to be cast out.

Osteopornosis - a degenerative disease.

Foreploy - misrepresenting yourself to get laid.

Glibido - all talk and no action.

Ignoranus- someone who's not just stupid.

Smilie of the week.

Since both Chris and I feel a little emotionally tender right now, rathjer than share some of that, I wondered about a little bit of trivia - smilie of the week.

My thanks to the 18 watt forum for contributing this image.

Friday, 13 January 2006

BTW, my feet have appeared.

Yesterday I viewed this blog through a different browser - Opera 8 - instead of my preferred Firefox. I noticed there was a broken picture link up the top on the left, which firefox was obscuring. The site I'd been using to host had gone 'paid users only' and as their service un-paid was so slow I decided I wasn't going to pony up.

Unfortunately I'd forgotten that the image was hosted there, as I'd also been using the excellent Photobucket at the same time.

I didn't really notice the image wasn't there anymore, as I tend to be more content and conversation focussed than anything. So my apologies for running a site with a scruffy broken image link. As you can see, I'm determined to keep standing on my own 2 feet.

Oh, while I think of it, a quick question - should I give the site a facelift Like Randall (well, not sepia/poo colour/ghetto design) or is everyone not keen on everything getting moved round and basically happy with the present un-fussy design?

What is it about making promises?

I've just heard from a Christian guy I know through a forum that his wife wants to try a separation. While there are reasons for this that are obviously complex, all the evidence I have is that he both was and is determined to be good for her and still loves her very much.

Don't people make promises when they get married these days? Like "in sickness and in health, 'till death us do part'" or similar.

Or maybe there are new vows that can be taken, along the lines of "as long as your bank balance holds out" or "as long as your skin is smooth and your breasts firm".

It seems weird to me that you can promise one thing, but as soon as there's an issue then it's OK to renege. After more than 24 years of being married, I KNOW there are times when you'll drive each other nuts, but what were your promises worth if they can't keep you together through that. I'm not talking about domestic violence or infidelity here, but the sort of strain that is normal at times in any marriage. How is it that promises have so little value - or we walk with so little integrity - now?

I'm not sniping at anyone in particular in this. I know BOTH sides of a marriage have to want it to work before it can. I just don't get why they won't. Let me say that I do honour and respect those that DO stay together through their differences and difficulties.

Thursday, 12 January 2006

My Laptop has 'issues'.

Someone is sitting on the 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hyphen key.


I detect a possible change of computer very soon now.

A little chilly snap here.

It looked rather lovely this morning. The sun was rising over the valley, shedding warm-looking golden light on the white sparkly landscape.

Glad I was still in the car with the heater on.

We went circuit training in the village hall last night, and as I was walking back down the hill I could feel the air getting colder on my bare legs, even though the cars by the hall were already frosty. The second part for the rayburn arrived last night, so hopefully I can get it fitted in the next couple of days, and we'll have heating again.

Wednesday, 11 January 2006

Another day, another assay

G'morning. Back online today.

I've never kept any kind of stats on this blog, deliberately, as I didn't want to know how many visitors there were. If there were a lot I might have got proud or 'played to the crowd', and if no-one I might have been discouraged. However Fernando (he with the desk) does record all his visitors, and he's listed this site at the top of his referrer list.

More than 76,000 visits per year to his blog.

I idly wonder how many this gets. I've no plans to put a counter in place, but I'm just a little curious. It's also interesting that with all those hits, there can't be more than a dozen of us that comment there. If you've participated in the conversation here by commenting - thankyou. If you've only read - that's fine too.

Now, I've got some cells to grow and some samples to test.

Tuesday, 10 January 2006

I'll be offline today

This is the only time I'll be on the internet on my own behalf today - I'm fasting the net again, so sorry if I don't reply to any blog posts. If it's urgent then email me.

Jon - yes, we're on for this Thursday.

Olivia - sorry not to reply to your post yesterday. Keep hanging in there.

Normal service resumed later.

Sunday, 8 January 2006

Chris just made me laugh and smile

when she tried to fit a vacuum cleaner nozzle on the wrong pipe.

Today I've shed more tears than for the last week or so. People who've lost people. People I love who've suffered at the hands of others. And I miss Sarah: in some ways it STILL doesn't quite feel possible.

Guess I'm tired tonight from the driving and playing, and tiredness can make me slightly maudlin. There are lots of things I ought to do.

Guess ought just got bought.

Baptism in Peterborough

Chris writes (at Toni's request whilst he puts hundreds of Christmas tree lights back into those little holders that are meant to keep them safe until next year!)

Well, we made it to Peterborough, we didn't really feel like making the effort but we are glad we did. Despite Toni's fears, the roads were clear & we made it in only an hour and a half, despite minor difficulties finding the right way in to the town centre.

The reason for the trip was because we were going to the baptism of an old friend, John. John gave his testimony & was great to hear how God had guided his paths & drawn him to Himself, and we are grateful that God used us a little on the way.

John had various positive encounters with Christians throughout his younger years which made him think of Christianity/God as a good thing, but not as something for him. But God was after him, & it was after the tragic death of his wife in Sep 1996 leaving him with their 4 year old daughter, Emily, that God was able to really break into his life. Some months later John cried out to God (in anger as much as anything) 'God, if you are real, show me!'. God doesn't ignore prayers like that & part of showing John that he was real involved causing us to meet him.

In August of 1997 we were on a camping holiday in the Lake district & our kids made friends with Emily. This broke the ice, & soon we had got to know John, and over the next few days spent quite a bit of time with him & Emily. Early on he saw our bible in the caravan & immediately wondered if this was part of God's answer to him. We talked with John about God & things, but I can't honestly remember what we said, although it was clear to us that he was on a journey.

We were by no means the only Christians in John's life. On the anniversary of Elizabeth's death he decided to visit the church where they had got married & a Christian friend of his went with him. The church was locked but just then the vicar turned up, he would not normally have been at the church at that time but he 'just happened' to have left something behind the previous day. The Holy Spirit really inspired that man's words as he spoke with John that day & later that evening John gave his life to God.

It was really good to be there today, & to once gain see God bring good out of tragedy. It also made me think of all those times when we plant seeds, & carefully water them, as some people certainly did with John when he was young, and never see any fruit. But God's word does not return void & there may be many occasions when the seeds we plant do bear fruit many years later although we do not see it. This time it was us who saw the fruit although we had done very little sowing or watering.

A reminder to remain faithful, & not be discouraged in continuing to do the work he has called us to.


(P.S. Toni has finished doing the lights and managed, with some difficulty, to get the tree outside, so I'd better go & hoover all the needles up I suppose!)

Saturday, 7 January 2006





Shower cubicle completed 10 mins ago.


Calling John Osborne

If you're reading this, can you call us ASAP. We need to check arrangements for tomorrow.


Couldn't understand why the house was so cold today

Didn't *look* bad outside - light drizzle.

About 9.30 this turn to sleet, then by 11ish heavy snow. It's back to sleet at 1.30pm, although the grass is still a little snowy. We're supposed to be driving to Peterborough tomorrow morning to see an old friend and his daughter - wondering about shelving it because of the weather and that we must get back for the afternoon meeting. The Peterborough road is slow in good conditions...... Tomorrow it'll be virtually stopped I reckon.

I've spent nearly 2 hours driving to Oxford, just to buy a shower enclosure. None of the Banbury stores had a white bi-fold door type. Now I've got a fun afternoon ahead.

Friday, 6 January 2006

Thursday, 5 January 2006

Gibeath Haaraloth

The namers of places in the bible had a certain sense of humour sometimes.

I was reading Joshua this morning. In chapter 5 they recount how Israel, after 40 years in the desert and the old generation being replaced, needed to be circumcised.

That's probably a million males.

The place they were done was Gibeath Haaraloth.

It means 'Hill of foreskins'.

How big a hill would a million foreskins make?

Wednesday, 4 January 2006

Since I'm not superstitious

to the point of doing things BECAUSE they're meant to be bad luck, I'm going to say it:

I feel cheerfully optimistic, and will keep acting as if it's going to continue this way.

So I've commenced a mammoth task - tidying the lab.

Tuesday, 3 January 2006

A great new-year post

From Sue over at the country life blog

A New Year

From "Word for Today" 31st Dec 2005'...


I NEED that grace.

Good morning all.

Back at work (how odd, after 9 days off) and coffee time has arrived.

I'm headaching gently at everything that needs to be done - there are a few tasks to squish in that aren't compatible time wise, but what the heck. At least Jon's coming in to run some assays that I can't add in too.

I've been reading MOJO magazine over Christmas - they often have cool cover CDs and the articles can actually have a bit of weight to them, rather than being NME style dross. This months issue had a review of Phil Lynott/Thin Lizzie and interviews with Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey of the Who. Some of the most interesting parts were comments made by Townshend about social circumstances and the influence of WWII, rather than talking about the band itself. He was referring to a post-war generation that was traumatised and in denial, suppressing their emotions to keep up appearances of normality. He also mention the effect of the war on child abuse, and how the thought that they might lose removed people's inhibitions to do the unthinkable. He was also a victim of abuse.

Another comment that was really only an aside had me thinking. Townshend was talking about how the mods thing really was youth culture - indulged by those who hadn't yet grown into the accepted 'norm' of behaviour for adults, for whom there was a very clear pattern laid down. This was compared with a comment by the interviewer about the way society now has 'eternal' youth culture. I can see reasons quite clearly why, despite the media pressure to buy and conform, that there is an aspect of 'eternal youth' to adult and even geriatric culture. I feel this, being part of the generation that rejected it's forebears way of doing things and chose to carve their own culture. Actually it's interesting that my mother had also hooked into this, being a young communist with strong ideals in the post-war years.

It also reminds me that middle age is the age of compromise, softening and a strong danger of mediocrity, but that's another rant.

On a different note, I've always found that Christmas tends to be a time when I drift further from God, rather than closer. I just stop trying in all areas, relax and let things go. I know I should push deeper into Father during the time of relaxation, but instead I tend to treat it like time off from God. A psychologist could probably interpret this to explain how I see Him, but that's probably not useful. But somehow Christmas and Jesus are divorced for me. Maybe that's why I was so strongly opposed to Christmas as a new Christian. Like I said above, middle age can be the time of compromise and mediocrity. Sometimes it can bring greater gentleness and acceptance, but there are times I wish I was energised and radical again, rather than old, self-absorbed and lazy.

Right, coffee finished. Back to bulk reagent preparation, colony picking and QC assessments.

Sunday, 1 January 2006


Chris writes:
On the way to pick up Ben this morning we saw a rainbow. It is quite some time since I've seen one of those & it reminded me of Gods promises.

New Year has been very hard. I think this is probably partly because people were praying for us over Christmas but maybe didn't really think of New Year as a problem, so stopped.
And partly because New Year is a time for looking back & looking forward, neither of which brings me much joy this year.
And maybe partly because I have been able to relax a bit over the Christmas break, which is good, but have therefore had time to think, which is bad.

Anyway, it has been hard, I keep thinking of what a difference a year can make.

It was good to be reminded that God has many promises for us, & his word is true.

Chris looked out this morning

..............and I asked her what kind of day it was.

It was a blank day.

No wind.

No rain.

No snow.

No sun.

No blue.

No dark clouds.

This morning started as a blank canvas, and I wonder if there's a potential prophetic edge to that? We don't have a lot of choice about what the final result is, but we're going to try to put the outlines on the paper carefully to shape the way this year goes.

Happy new year everyone

Lets hope so too.