Saturday 31 January 2009

Please pray for Ian.

Most of you won't know him, but life has just chucked him one of the most difficult things imaginable.

Monday I get my head tested

well, my eyes actually. I could hold out a little longer, but distance vision is no longer great, and I don't like struggling to read road signs before they get close. Old age here I come - now, where's that walking stick?

Thursday 29 January 2009

Today I was described as

"working like an ant".

I think that means I pull above my weight, rather than being a simple part of a hive-mind.

Tonight I have >500 sample IDs to tabulate out. Not a task I'm looking forward to, but better than doing it all at home. I want closure and delivery on this job.


About 350 completed. It's just gone 10.00pm here. Time to do my expenses claim now before bedtime, as I'm meeting the man who can sign off my bill tomorrow at 8.15am.

Wednesday 28 January 2009

Really pooped tonight.

I've worked from 8.15 to 5.00pm with 20 min for lunch and no coffee breaks, just to get everything done. What started out as a comfy 400 samples has grown to about 520, requiring me to work to the limits of 'normal' productivity. Tonight I shall start the enjoyable task of tabulating results, after a rest and some dinner.

What fun.

At least I know I'm really earning my money here.

Just finished a marathon 'EXCEL' session, inputting yesterdays rather unsatisfactory appearing data. The data reduction software used in this lab was once (and may still be) THE industry standard, but it's way too clever by half while hiding everything it's doing. The results as generated yesterday didn't look at all correct, and now I have proof they were not. This makes me feel a lot better too, as I want to give the best possible data to the lab, and the way it was going, a few 'explanations' were going to be needed.

There's still a lot of work to do, tabulating results with samples, but I feel much happier now about the reliability of the assays.

Tuesday 27 January 2009

Solitary pleasures this evening.

Today was hard work!

The good thing is that I'm gradually coming up to my usual speed for lab work, having been allowed to break in 'gently' yesterday. So today I had to complete the process I set up yesterday, plus set up a further 152 samples for tomorrow. The samples are all higgledy piggledy with labels that are hard to read, duplications and absences. A lot of care is required to ensure each one is identified clearly and the various numbers required are recorded correctly.

My back just aches from working on the bench all day, from both the effort of holding that position and the tension that precise working generates.

So what solitary pleasures?

Eating, of course.

There is a large immigrant population in Stockholm, and this has resulted in proliferation of kebab houses. I got off the bus half way back from the lab in order to walk, explore and find food. Maccy D was available, but I'll need to be really desperate before I sink to that subsistence level. A kebab house provided seating in the warm and quantities of tasty and enjoyable food. It wasn't exactly salubrious (distinct overtones of kebab houses in Croydon 30 years ago, actually) but it also wasn't (relatively) too expensive either.

I finished off with a lemon flavoured muffin from another 7-eleven. Good heavens, how DO they get so much grease into flour based food? Nice flavour, but I HAD to wash my hands afterward.

I could usefully work for a couple of hours this evening, both on the data from the lab and on homework from the pastoral training course. TBH I'm so tired I may just stick on 'I am leg end' for a couple of hours mindless entertainment. TTFN (or see you on your blog in a bit).

Monday 26 January 2009

The cookie I am munching

Came from a seven-11 just down the road. Makes Tesco cookies look like REALLY good value.

Snow flakes were drifting down gently while I was out in the dark. The temperature will probably drop overnight, which is fine by me, although the locals don't like it. There is an edge to the wind, but without the clammy British damp it doesn't suck heat from your bones within moments.

I like this city and so far, I like the people.

Tonight I was taken out for an excellent dinner of grilled sausages served on a bed of boiled potatoes covered in a creamy sauce with chives, plus a side of slightly pickled beetroot and a great local beer on the side. My hosts were great conversationalists, and all the more amazing for being so fluent in English, yet without losing any of their Swedish character. We talked economics, politics, business, the effect of the large numbers of immigrants to Stockholm was having and how they were being integrated. We talked about boating (a deeply Swedish thing) and skiing, about travel and farming. I didn't talk about Jesus, as this is the first time I've met Bo and you can't drive a 10 ton truck across a 1 ton bridge unless you're told to try.

Interesting place outside tonight.

Several bars had sofas outside, usually occupied by people in thickly padded jackets.

I walked all the way down the Birger Jarlsgaten (staying in the crystal plaza hotel) to Dramaten and Berzelii park, before heading back up. I'm unlikely to get much time for photos on this trip compared to last time, so instead looked for opportunities in shop windows. Not sure any were worthwhile, but it's better than complaining about it.

Guess bedtime should arrive soon. TTFN.

Sunday 25 January 2009

Stockholm looks cold and damp this morning.

According to the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute it isn't going to get any better.

If I'd not known better I'd have said Austria was warmer than England this morning, even though it was -6 at the bottom and as low as -13 at the top of the mountain. Here we've got a steady 4-5'C with rain, and it sucks the warmth from the bones. Think I'll be taking my walking boots and thick socks, especially as they support my ankle (not too good after a fairly fast wipeout).

Just finished printing my travel itinerary so I can check in. Unusually for a BA flight I can't check in online, but as I'm alone it doesn't really matter where I sit.

Friday 16 January 2009

Packed and ready

Well mostly.

Niederau, here we come.

Thursday 15 January 2009

Would it worry you?

To know that the name of the hotel you were planning to stay in sounded like 'half-wit'?

Halfenwirt apparently means harp player. I'll try not to harp on about it.

And I have to say that software that will 'seamlessly' transfer addresses across between Outlook and Entourage suddenly looks good value. I have spent most of my day correcting contact information that entourage did not import correctly.

Ho hum.

Still, I am getting to play guitar tonight at Heyford Park, and rather looking forward to it - let's hope I don't create a trainwreck.

Wednesday 14 January 2009

I am getting used to the Mac now.

There are certain things that have really come to be a huge boon.

For the first time ever, multiple desktops have a reason for existing, and I'm using 3 and 4 finger swipes to move between programs and files. 2 finger scrolling is great, although tap to click is a little hit and miss, and especially right clicking.

I'm noticing the blurry fonts less, except when I get back on windows and am amazed at how sharp and clear everything is.

All the faults remain (blanking screen on VGA output, broken mail client etc). I haven't managed to migrate all my outlook addresses very effectively yet, and much have another go. The phone and Mac sync fine, but because of the limitations of the Mac address book data flow is one way only ATM. I also like the ability to create web clippings (great for ski resort reports etc) even if Safari will never be my browser of choice.

But it is now a fully workable tool, and one that is being made to work for me.

I am a little nervous.

I shall be abroad for 2 weeks on Saturday.

Week 1, as I've mentioned already, is skiing in Austria. Great fun, great snow (they're due a load the day after we arrive) and great company.

Week 2 is making me nervous.

Week 2 is a working week. In a 'strange' lab. In a country whose language I cannot even get by with. With public transport system I've never used before.

I have to travel approx 3-4km across the centre of Stockholm, probably in the snow, and on Monday, carrying a certain amount of kit with me.

I have no doubt it can be done OK, and I'm sure it will be 'fun' to do. But the anticipation right now feels like nervous butterflys in my stomach.

My approach to problems is to dive in, and that feels so much more comfy.

The trip is something to look forward to, but it will require a big dose of 'right first time' and while I don't doubt my ability, I am far from perfect.

It's going to be an interesting 2 weeks.

Hope I don't break a leg skiing!

I'm still here.

And that's it really.

New, expanded housegroup was good last night - it's great when people contribute, especially when they've come for the first time.

Me: I feel very inadequate, which is not a bad place to be necessarily.

Friday 9 January 2009

On a day of freezing fog

A well behaved wood burning stove is a thing of pleasure and beauty.

This one was a little grumpy to begin, but after asking nicely, it's now making the living room a good place to work.

The phone saga continues, hopefully now to a conclusion.

Well, I've requested T-Mobile take the phone back and cancel the contract. That left only one possible player, so I now have a SIM-only contract with O2 with 30 days notice. If anything goes wrong I can easy just stop the contract, and the deal is pretty good. I REALLY don't care about having a fancy phone, so will probably just pick up a cheap one to replace the rather banged-up Nokia 6131 I'm using now.

That, apparently, has it sorted.

I hope.

Tuesday 6 January 2009

Today my T-Mobile phone arrived.

It does not get any signal in the kitchen or livingroom.

This is quite disappointing, but at least I can send it back under thei 'unsatisfactory signal' scheme.

Well, here I am at work.

Who'd have thought it?

A bit of the grace of God to us, I'm installing a piece of equipment up here and training people to use it.

And getting paid to do so, for which I'm truly grateful.

Monday 5 January 2009

I can't tell you

How much I enjoyed playing for worship yesterday.

Even though the first song was a trainwreck (wrong key, keyboard laying a different song altogether). It was just so good to be back with a guitar playing songs with the right rhythms at the right speed with the right feel for them. One of my favourite strats (they're both favourites) 18 watter, acoustic for a couple at the start.

I've really missed playing for worship this Christmas break.

I just feel I need to put some more info into this. We were talking last night, and it seems there's a much wider context to take into account. I think a lot of the fun actually came from God enjoying what we were doing: the slight lack of musicality didn't matter compared to the way everyone was giving themselves. The bible talks about everyone having something to bring when the church comes together, and while not everyone can speak out, everyone can actively participate instead of spectate. There was a lot of participation rather than just watching for what the leader would sing next.

Saturday 3 January 2009

Fascinating view of Africa and mission

By Matthew Parris in the Times. Via Linea.

Excitement all round tonight.

We had some friends come over. They wanted to see the Macbook, and so we enjoyed some cows bottom to celebrate the event. Cows bum and baked potatoes. YUM.

One of them works for T-Mobile. Their network has reasonable reception in the house - more than can be said for Orange, Vodaphone or 3mobile (none of which work for speech at all). Only O2 is better, but their tariffs are steep and coverage poor elsewhere. Looks like a T-mobile phone is in my (near) future for work.

Hey Canada...

... we're trying to catch up a little.

-7'C according to the car this morning: that's chilly for round these parts.

+7'C in Bicester this afternoon.

Not a facebook fan.

I shall continue to use it.


Sorry - I rarely delete posts, but those weren't helpful things to say, and came out of a wrong heart.

It's interesting that the people with most of the worthwhile things to say appear to barely use it.

In a way I guess it's revealing a side of people that is hidden by the need to communicate and live with other adults. On FB the conventions drop, virtual reality takes over. I suspect that having been a net user for a very long time I've developed a strong sense of netiquette, and FB cuts through that. Or maybe I just don't like what's really inside the people I know superficially.

Rant over.

Friday 2 January 2009

So the lovely Hayley

is now fully installed.

Thursday 1 January 2009

We're putting stuff away now.

Hayley is coming back today from her time with family and friends, so we're industriously tidying the place a bit. I've had to take boxes out of her room clear up the screen and Macbook from the kitchen (so there's space round the table) and the residual presents from the living room.

We often seem to leave gifts in a pile in the livingroom after they've been unwrapped - sometimes they never even get moved far. There's still a copy of Stephen Hawking's A Shorter History Of Time, unloved and unread sat in the corner. While popping a bottle of whiskey away in the larder I came across an empty bottle, now all washed up and clean, with the label 'sloe gin - light Autumn 1999.

The thing that made me stop and think for a moment was the plastic cap.

Coming back from a camping holiday in Southern France probably in '92 or '93 we stopped off in Bordeaux for a wander and dinner before driving through the night to the ferry. We had dinner in a little brasserie (I always want to call them brassieres) in which I ate the famous Andouillete (there's a story) before finding a tiny supermarket to get provisions before the drive. In this supermarket we bought a cast iron fondue set - still in use - and 3 bottles of wine at about 75p a bottle. If the wine was junk then I'd cook with it, but if it was drinkable then all the better.

Well, the wine was excellent. Probably some nearby vineyard dumping their excess production locally. And yes, the cap came from one of those bottles. Somehow it always seems to have found itself on top of things that are good to drink. Long may that continue.

I'm going to put the empty bottle on the wine rack in the loo, where it'll be ready for next autumns sloe gin.

So welcome in : the new year.

I am more than a little nervous at this point in time.

As a couple, we are having to push out further from the shore in the direction we started moving in '08. This is the year when the church switch will be completed. This is the year when I find out if I can get a business going.

They say 'the more things change, the more they stay the same'. I wonder if that will be true?