Friday, 30 March 2007
Regardless of whether they were in Iranian water or not (and I’m pretty sure they weren’t) the manner in which they are being used is taking everyone toward an outcome that no-one can afford. The papers are certainly playing a particular angle to inflame things here, but there is no doubt that the Iranians are using them as hostages and bargaining tools and that they are not merely being treated as foreign nationals that have strayed into sovereign territory.
I find it hard to see exactly what the Iranians can achieve if they keep pursuing this: surely it will spill over into a war that they cannot win, and with far less opposition than there was for the war in Iraq. Can the Iranian government really have failed to understand that the west is finding this action offensive, and will unite rather than squabble?
The world doesn’t need a repeat of the Iraq war, and with possibly much higher stakes. I hope British have good intelligence about this, because some very difficult decisions are going to have to be made soon. Lets pray for a righteous and peaceful resolution.
Thursday, 29 March 2007
Yesterday was quite hard, physically. Cycled to and from work, busy day in the lab, circuit training in the evening.
Chris and I got in around 8.30pm from circuits, and then Ben needed to remover the replacement beetle engine from the boot of the car he's been using. Now beetle engines are light - for engines - but they must weigh at least 100 kilos.
He could carry it fine. Me? I struggled.
Mitochondria act like the power stations in our cells, and they're all inherited maternally. As we age they die off, resulting in decreased strength. It has been estimated that a 65 year old man is about as strong (on average) as a 20 year old woman as a result of this.
Today I moved some bulk liquids - 49kg never used to be a big deal, even 5 years ago, but now it's a major effort. Katriona - if you're reading this - my muscles have missed your circuit class!
Now we have drizzle. Welcome to spring UK stylee.
Today was cool but not too bad this morning. This afternoon we had bucketfulls of rain, then hail. Tonight it was really COLD when I rode home.
Wednesday, 28 March 2007
Father of 2
I like Indian style food
Play guitar (badly)
God talks to me
None of those things are unusual in this day and age.
The last few weeks I’ve been very much aware that something has been happening inside. As Chris can tell you, I’m not the ‘examine my own navel internal inspection what emotions have I felt today and how do I feel right now’ kind of guy. I don’t do touchy-feely stuff really: much more kind of ‘pass the spanners and hammer’ sort of chap.
What’s he mythering on about then?
But like I said, something has been happening inside, and I’m not so totally insensitive that I can’t feel it. There have been more tears than is normal (almost any, that would be) and a sense of *sensibilities and focus* (the best word I can find) shifting and altering.
Our week with Martin and Jenny in France has actually brought things to a greater degree of clarity. Much of the time we were just resting, being and getting energy back (I slept 8+ hours per night for the first 4 nights) and this was probably preparation for later on. Sunday we went to church with them, and throughout the meeting I was aware of Gods spirit at work inside again. I was able to bring a word of encouragement, but apart from those few minutes (it felt like God gave me a little breathing space to say what needed to be said) more or less all I wanted to do was pray and weep a bit.
The overwhelming sense of this is a call from God.
Whenever the idea of God calling is mentioned I have a movie flashback to the Blues Brothers, but it’s not really like that – much more an increasing sense of purpose and *some* direction. Chris and I talked about this in the airport while queuing for the plane, and she feels somewhat similarly. She also has an interesting story to tell of people she met on the flight, but that’s for her to post. We both feel like we’re about to enter a new phase, and all this is part of the preparation and setting apart.
Now ‘for what’ is a very good question, and I’m not at all sure I yet know the answer. There have been plenty of things that have swum across my sites in the last couple of months: Youth mission, house group leadership, church planting, Banbury, moving overseas (Italy has been floating around since ‘89). I don’t KNOW right now. There’s a sense of calling, no question at all, but where it’s leading yet I can’t see.
But it’s more than a feeling – I have changed.
Back to the lab and the office on Monday. Same old, same old. Same issues, hassles, habits and sins.
Something came up – I reacted like I always did, but this time I SAW myself and was horrified. Went out to the lab – the challenge to work after a long break came up and I struggled, struggled with getting moving again when all I wanted to do was take time to gently get up to speed. Someone talked to me about certain things and I didn’t want to listen or take an interest in what they were saying. Everything was highlighted to me in a way I’d not seen before – made my failings really obvious. After the previous day I was starting to wonder what I heard – had I been kidding myself?
I really felt God say “this is how you are, these are the things you need to deal with before you’re ready for the next step”. So here I am, trying to work through stuff. If I’m therefore snappy, difficult or lazy it’s just God taking His grace away from me, OK? All part of me learning to be a better person. So just enjoy it while I’m grumpy – after all, it could be YOU instead!
Wonder where we’ll end up?
Monday, 26 March 2007
Like the Archbishop of Canterbury recognising the role that organisation played in keeping slaves even after the abolition of slavery.
It is hard to imagine the theological loopholes that must have been jumped through to justify such ownership, or miss the breathtaking irony that the money those slaves generated was used to pay for missionary work. Talk of reparation in terms of hard cash also sounds similarly like opportunism to me - the same attitude to making money from the efforts of forbears as the slavers had.
It seems to me that, just as we remember war as the terrible thing it is, so we should remember slavery in the same manner. My one fear with this: that it will be treated as lightly - something to be adopted in the future as we perceive needs must.
Sunday, 25 March 2007
Sunday, 18 March 2007
Saturday, 17 March 2007
It charges cells INDIVIDUALLY to their full capacity. It isn't fast, but it gets a lot more in there than my fast charger. It also does alkalines, which is great because quite often a piece of kit will fail and previously we'd just simply replace all the batteries. What I'm finding now is that often only a single cell (out of 3 or 4) has gone west, and the others can be refreshed while the duff one is swapped for another.
Normally I used NiMH but occasionally Alkalines work better. This is really handy.
Thursday, 15 March 2007
I've found myself saying things over the last few days here at work that I don't necessarily mean and are provocative relating to the manner in which we are approaching our health and safety processes. H&S thinking in the UK IS stupid and ill-considered: it's all about protecting anyone from having to take personal responsibility for their actions.
In other places I see people behaving the same way. There's someone on a forum that, when he sees a view that doesn't match rightwing conservative politics, immediately assumes you're a gay communist and posts accordingly.
Guess this is useful for helping me understand why people do what they do. Wish I could find a way of dealing with it personally, other than to grit my teeth, smile falsely and try my darndest not to say what I think. It doesn't help when you don't trust that person to do the right thing, and I can feel respect is going to be the next casualty. I seriously wonder if I need to move on, but that is just dodging this SPECIFIC issue?
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
The bad news is you have to download real player, I hope you have more success with it than I did!
PS I think you have until Sunday to listen, after which it gets replaced with the new program.
Tuesday, 13 March 2007
The topic of discussion? That hoary old chestnut, Women in leadership.
Why am I disappointed? Words like 'subservient' and 'power and control' suggest to me either an experience that the church is like the world, or a failure to understand the nature of life as it should be in the body of Jesus. Submitting to one another in love is not like the stronger party pushing the head of the weaker under the bedclothes when they've broken wind, yet that's how it is discussed!
I truly wonder if people have any understanding of partnership and service?
However that's not what prompted this. I had to collect a prescription and medication for her, and it was while I was out that it happened.
There's a Sainsbury supermarket at the top of Crystal Palace with a pharmacist inside. When I came out having collected the medication there was a girl in her early 20s selling 'the big issue' magazine. I bought one once, and it was full of rubbish really - the kind of 'progressive thinking' that leaves me feeling slightly sick in my stomach. So my instinct as I walked past was to say "No, thankyou" and walk on by.
I got about 10 feet before I felt a gentle 'tug' inside.
Funny how God speaks over things that aren't important to ME. It was almost like an audible voice "go and give her a couple of quid" (God doesn't need to pretend to be posh and say 'pounds' to me). As I turned round all the arguements that used to sit there ready (she'll use it to buy booze/drugs/fags etc) kind of melted away. I felt again like God said "maybe she needs those things right now to make it through. I love her enough anyway - I loved you enough to not worry about your issues". A raft of different thoughts and 'minds eye' images floated past.
So I turned round, went back to her. She was thing faced, a bit grubby and looked a little hungry but had decent clothes that looked warm enough. She started to hold out a magazine but I said "I don't want the big issue - here's a couple of quid", dropped the money into her hand and smiled at her.
Then I turned round and walked away.
That was it.
No amazing spiritual epiphany. No choirs of angels. No 'speaking words of salvation' and seeing tears welling up.
Just walked away, went back to my mum with her pain killers.
But I just feel like God's doing something inside and I'm changing. There's an aspect of Fathers heart I'm catching that is there for a few minutes, then fades like my memory. Sometimes I have an idea of how He cares, and the things we do are less important than our response to Him. Then I'm back again, normal, argumentative, difficult, insistent Toni.
I talked with my mum about all kinds of stuff into the evening. She mentioned someone she knew who was in ministry that had made a terrible mistake in trying to correct for a smaller one. 20 years ago I'd have said "they have no place in ministry" and brought out a whole bunch of 'good reasons' why they should be treated such and such a way. Now I think I know a little differently, and there can be an answer in love instead of judgement. I'm learning, a little.
Monday, 12 March 2007
In reply to Ineke, & anyone else who has wanted to listen to the journeys program on the internet, it seems that the BBC are having a little problem! For some reason they have been unable to load up the new programs that started last weekend (& one is by the deputy editor of Radio Oxford who is not best pleased!)
They are trying to fix it so you could check the website (bbc.co.uk/radio, 'listen again' facility) again later in the week. However I have requested a copy of the recording, primarily for Toni's mum to listen to, but if anyone else wants to borrow it (or maybe we can copy it?), you'd be welcome.
Sunday, 11 March 2007
Feel free to ask questions if you wish to. However please understand if we don't necessarily answer them immediately.
He's been playing guitar for 1 year, and just bought himself a new Mexican-made strat (with a little parental loan). Just now he learned to play 4 songs that he didn't know plus I showed him a scale and spent time setting his guitar up a bit.
This boy is going to be GOOD.
He's going to play in the worship band this afternoon. He already knows about compensating and leaving space for other musicians: I could hear him altering strumming patterns to fit in. Last thing we covered was a basic blues scale. Because his hands are so small he's finding it difficult to cover a 3 fret stretch, but as he grows it's going to get easier.
It's a good first time together. Next time we'll have to look at the spiritual side of playing in a worship band - technical ability isn't *that* important compared.
Saturday, 10 March 2007
Sharp, clean, fresh.
Things have moved on somewhat with blogger 2.0. It's all coded in xtml and no longer html. Haloscan comments didn't get upgraded with the transfer to the new template and wouldn't work when edited in (and I'm not such a dummy that I can find the head etc of an XTML doc).
So no new blog layout yet. Maybe manana. Any blog-jockeys out there are welcome to suggest a solution.
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
One of the bands that played for that open air festival last September had a get-together again Monday night. Just for a change I took the Heritage and a strat but ended up playing the Heritage all evening. I've not played a guitar with big tones and lots of sustain at decent volume and gain levels for a long time - it felt GOOD to rock.
Anyway. In the airport on the way out I picked up a couple of cheap CDs, including 'Stagefright' which was a recording of Motorhead's gig at Düsseldorf in 2004 (ironic as I was flying to Düsseldorf). Bored in my room last night, I bunged it in the laptop.
As soon as Lemmy spoke for the first time I thought "he sounds like he's had a part in 'last of the summer wine'".
But I was amazed that:
a) The music was SO simple and yet they could get away with it.
b) Lyrical content aside I really quite liked it, and wouldn't mind playing that kind of stuff.
Now I couldn't do a 2 hour set of that stuff, as it's just too boring. But to rock out for 30min like that would be HUGE fun. Now these guys came across as sounding OLD - not when they played (they had energy and drive) but when they spoke and the way they looked made me feel young! Who knows? If Mick and Keef, Lemmy, Phil Campbell etc can keep rocking at their age, maybe I can too.
Suffice to say, it rained. The Germans speak much better English than the French but their hotels are not necessarily any better - just different. I stayed in a place called De Handweberei - the hand weavers. They hand-produce their own cloth, including making robes for the pope (don't forget the present pope is of German origin).
It was clean and comfortable and therefore a lot better than the Ibis at Cergy Pontoise.
Oh, just one more thing - the lass in the lab we visited looked JUST like my first (and only other) girlfriend would have if she'd reached her late 20s/early 30s and kept her figure and looks from when I knew her. Curious. Sue Budworth - if you read this, apparently there could be another you, born around 15 years later in a different country.
Anyway, a good friend of ours has set up her new site: Lauralea cooks. And she does.
Bear in mind she's not in Europe, so some ingredients may be hard to find under the names she'll be used to. I have eaten her food though, and it's good.
Monday, 5 March 2007
Nice and early.
The flight leaves at 9.05 (in theory) from Heathrow, so that's reasonably civilised (out of the house at 5.00am).
p.s. the'good' thing is that I have a 'new' mobile phone - a Nokia 6021 - provided as a corporate tool. And it's on a contract, rather than PAYG, so it won't run out of credit in countries where topping up is not possible, and should even work in the US.
Sunday, 4 March 2007
It's about different people's spiritual experiences, and not just Christians, although they do feature significantly in the show.
Next week we're on there, talking about Sarah's death and how it affected us.
9.00pm, Sunday 11th.
The site is here where you can re-listen to programs from the past week or stream live (you'll need realplayer).
This was the first celebration I've been to in a long while where the worship team actually looked like they meant it, instead of being passive participants. And they had a sense of humour too - starting 'To God be the glory' with the guitar riff from Quo's 'Sweet Caroline'. It's been a long time since the band has helped me want to worship rather than having to struggle to worship regardless.
Jeremy B and everyone else - well done guys.
Inventor. Businessman. Genius. Metal worship guitarist.
Become a saddo like us and take the Superhero Personality Quiz
Another daft quiz brought to you via Jonathan. I presume I didn't resemble a female superhero because I answered 'NO' to questions about wearing bras and thongs. These are obviously defining factors for gender determination if you're in the superhero business.
Saturday, 3 March 2007
The answer for this machine was to install W98, sound card drivers, IE 5.5 SP2, then IE6, then run windows update to patch IE6, direct X and a bunch of stuff. The latest version of Nvidia detonator drivers repeatedly cause crashes and even prevented booting into safe mode. Eventually I tried an old version (2004 - 56. something - current version is 89. something) and it will now boot with only a single warning message.
I'm leaving the system effectively stripped down as much as possible: just the OS, minimal drivers, Opera for when I need drivers from the net (IE 5 and 6 are just SO dreadful, so slow and clunky) and direct X. Because I'm using a widescreen with an OS that wasn't designed for it, text is almost illegible and the graphics card can't offer native resolution. The down side - games seem to spread off the screen, which is a drag if much of your info goes off with it. I might see if this monitor will find a good use somewhere and try to add one of more *conventional* resolution - 1440X900 is a dumb set of dimensions.
Oh - one funny thing: after the last round of updates, Microsoft automatic update rejects my PC, suggesting that it is a mac, and that I need to visit their version of the site for macs. Still makes me want to shake my head in disbelief.
Friday, 2 March 2007
Well it’s been a long time since I blogged from an airport.
Here I am, having just enjoyed the pleasures of a ‘garfunkels’ finest breakfast.
Gatport airwick (as it’s affectionately known) was not a great place to fly from this morning, and I’m really glad that I got here so early. 50mins queue to check in with BA, then 15 min through security is not impressive, but at least I’d left myself nearly 3 hours from arrival to departure so there was still good time for food before finding the gate.
Kind of bizarre – our MD returns from
Right. Breakfast (slightly icky) consumed. Last time I came over here I ended up going without lunch, so this seemed a good idea. Lets go find a gate.
OK – I’ve made it fine.
My French colleague was late meeting me, but not by too much. He has about twice as much English as I have French, so there’s lots of nodding, d’accord-ing and generally pretending we understand each other when we don’t have a clue what the other is on about. I’m the one hunting for things to try to talk about during dinner for heavens sakes. His phone going off repeatedly is a blessing as it covers the awkward silences while we stare out of the windows.
BTW it’s whazzing down here :p
And BTW the hotel is another Ibis flea pit. It’s kind of clean, not too smelly and pretty central. Liveable but not great. And there’s no internet access.
I’m going to informally request next time I visit (if I ever do again) that the hotel isn’t one of these.
After we’d set the assay up in the lab and the French people had had their chats (in French – native French that dull and slow English only speakers don’t understand – boredom noted!) we went out. Took cable care from the centre of the city up to the bastille (fortified citadel) that overlooks
Philippe’s blue entrecoate steak was the ‘blue-est’ I’ve ever seen. The pan may have been just heated and the steak given 30s a side. I seriously doubt it was even warm when he got it. My Poulet forestiere was fine, and fortunately not affected by the French passion for all things rare. Crepe Normande was rewarding though, with a quite substantial serving of calvados poured on top and generous portion of stewed apple inside. Setting light to the calvados was visually exciting, but a waste of perfectly good ethanol, and the waiters muttering of c’est magnifique a little too optimistic. Did taste fine though.
So here I am, billy no-mates, sat in this moderately manky room, proving I’m a saddo writing up a blog entry I can’t post, with a phone that’s run out of money (I mis-spelled that and wrote monet just then – seems funny to me right now). Wonder whether French TV is any better than ‘The Rutles’ on DVD?
Disappointingly, considering the cast, the answer was ‘about the same'.
In fact both were so poor that I ended up dragging out the WiFi card and slapping it in this PC. 5 wireless networks found! 3 were locked down, 1 kept on dropping out and 1 was the hotels own that required registration and payment at the front desk downstairs before access was possible. I’d already taken my shoes and socks off, having rather wet feet from out walk round the city, and laziness won out in the end: probably a good thing really: free net access, being alone in a hotel room and a bit of alcohol in the system are a bit of an invitation for surfing the less helpful parts of the net into the small hours, and I think this was also a factor in staying un-connected.
Friday morning we’d arranged to return to the lab at . This proved to be a little over-optimistic in the end, and with us getting mildly adrift (lost is too strong a word) in downtown
At first all was well, then I managed to slightly mess up an incubation timing (which I recovered, but very, very embarrassing!) and we went on to complete the assay without incident. We discussed the results with the lab directeur – he was quite surprised that they appeared fine, and almost disappointed, however both Isabel’s and mine were similar, in terms of numbers (my assay had developed more cleanly with tighter replicates, but then it should). So we batted stuff back and forth, them in broken English, me in Fanglais (there’s not enough real French to even call it Franglais). They had been ‘not friendly’ about this assay and the company previously, but we left eventually to a chorus of ‘merci, d’accord and au revoirs’ with plenty of hand shaking, smiles and nods.
On the way back, Philippe tried to find an hypermarche for me to buy cidre to bring home. So we spent a ‘happy’ 50 mins exploring one of the remote communes to the north of grenoble before he got back on the road we’d previously used and went to the Carrefoure hypermarche we’d passed 3 times previously in the last 24 hours. Ho hum.
Lunch was a delicious calzone, shopping (for the cidre) and then back to the airport, mission accomplished.
Déjà vu for last night. Billy nomates, nice modern departure lounge with a tiny news agents (90% mags in French – fair dos) ‘sports’ shop local specialities shop and a well stocked sandwich bar. There’s an unsecured wireless network here, but it won’t let me connect to the net L. So here I am. Arrived around , flight leaves . Probably. Check in hasn’t started yet either. And this laptop is down to 19% remaining power (3 years old, and it sinks FAST).
And to cap it all, the departure lounge is full of noisy, boisterous and intrusive English school children (many of whom are injured) that are returning from a ski trip.
There’s just a chance I can check in now. Well, it’s something to do.
Right, bags checked in. Now my seat in the hall has been acquired, so a little nibble is in order – tarte au citron and some water – the tarte is pretty much up there with tescos finest so no complaints. However the water is cold and there’s quite a bit (half litre) and when I get called to go through security I have to leave the remaining 1/3 behind. I feel very sorry for the people left behind in the hall – the Monarch flight (due for London Gatwick at ) hadn’t left
BA are still nicest to fly with in terms of the actual flight (good seats, better stewards, tolerable food and drink supplied. However for the ‘bargain basement’ flights the little luxury of free newspapers has disappeared. I can’t blame them, but this is one cut that I regret, as it was always nice to pick up the Times or Independent when boarding.
And talking of enjoyable experiences…. this airport has been pretty decent. I can’t remember another airport where staff have been SO nice, friendly and just enjoyable to deal with.
Here we go – 77%, time to get on (still 45 mins before departure – in case you thought I was the type to hold the plane up on a whim. My next post will either be from home, or on the plane because its delayed and I’m bored!
OK, I’m bored already.
The bad news – this is a Boeing which means badly designed folding tables and the forward seat I requested is directly on top of the left engine. If this was an Airbus then I’d have been infront of the engine and it would be much quieter. Plus the tables wouldn't be designed to hit your legs when folded out. There is quite decent legroom for one of these ‘sardine specials’ so that’s pretty good.
I’ll turn off in a mo to conserve the batteries in case I get extremely bored in flight. Right now I want to be home, snuggled up to my wife in a very married fashion.
Boredom won again.
Between putting the laptop away and before taking off I became desperately sleepy, drifting off, then jerking awake for about 45 mins, just rousing a little as we pulled off the gate, then returning to sleep while the plane waited on the runway before waking fully once take off started.
It’s about 6.00pm
While we were waiting for take off some great smells were wafted back from the galley up front. Dinner for first and club class I’m sorry to say – we got 2 sandwiches, Chicken Tikka and Tuna mayonnaise. To my considerable surprise the Tikka sandwhich was quite excellent, with real pieces of chicken, crisp crunchy salad and bread that was neither dry nor soggy. And it had reasonable flavour too.
Apparently this is a new service for BA, which is probably why the plane is less than 1/3 full. They have obviously been careful with the timings, as both journeys arrived in good time (we’re due in at , but have been told we’ll land around ). Pretty fair really.
I have to confess to being tempted by the free drinks on this leg of the flight. The passenger just across the way (worked most of the flight on his laptop) enjoyed a bottle of red wine with his supper, then had a miniature of whiskey. Wine would have been great, but not when I must stay alert for a minimum 1 ½ hour/100 mile boring motorway drive. Ah well, have to call Chris when I land, see if she’ll sort dinner for me and maybe I’ll enjoy a drink then.
Seat belt signs will be on soon, 10 mins to landing announced so I’m signing off. I hope I’ll see many of you soon.