Tuesday, January 31, 2006



Flew to Germany today: Hannover. Arrived quite early - just after lunch - so walked into the old city, visited a nice church, wandered round a bit. Tried to get Civilization III working under Cedega. No luck, really, on my laptop, but then again I don't have OpenGL working properly, and it seems to work on my desktop at home.

Said evensong, and then went down and had a lovely supper with lots of fish. The only problem that arose was that Moo phoned to say that one of the taps in the bath had come off, and there was water everywhere. We had a number of phonecalls, where she couldn't find the stop-cock, then couldn't turn it, and then where I promised to get someone round. You don't often ring up a Turner Prize winning artist from Germany and ask him to pop round to sort out your plumbing, but that's what friends are for.

Monday, January 30, 2006


Jo's walking!

She'd been thinking about it over the weekend, and had managed a few steps on her own, but today, it just all came together, and walking seems to be the default mode of transport now (except when she decides she needs to have a Daddy- or Mummy-cuddle). Carolyn says it happened when she was round at Bailey's house, and just decided to walk towards the other children. They were walking, so she walked, too.

It's all very exciting, and we took a bit of video footage, just cos we could. Then we emailed or called lots of people, and now I'm blogging it.

There really isn't much more exciting than your first baby learning to walk, I'd wager, so I'm just going to be quite chuffed by it all. Walking, talking, and giving us kisses. We're so lucky. Now, if she'd only start sleeping through...

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Two sermons, one walk

Preached, as promised, on authority, and specifically on how issues of contextual interpretation impact on the question of women bishops. Whether or not we should have women bishops in the Church of England is a big question at the moment - I'm very much for it - and the main text is 1 Timothy 2:8-15, which is pretty uncompromising on the subject: women shouldn't have authority over men. The writer of 1 Timothy is almost certainly not Paul - but that doesn't mean that we should ignore it! The Bible, and the biblical canon, is all considered part of God's Word to us. In 1 Corinthians 11:3-16, Paul (and this _is_ believed to be Paul!) talks about how women should behave in church. In the last verse, 16, he makes it clear that he is contextualising his advice:
      But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no
      such custom, nor do the churches of God.
      (Authorised/King James Version)
Since Paul is keen to show that customs in this area should be borne in mind in the context of place of a society, surely the context of time of a society, must also be considered.

I talked about how the Anglican church values the Word of God, tradition and revelation through our own lives and societies, and that we must balance these. We shouldn't - we can't - just read scripture "neutrally", but should take the advice of the Book of Common Prayer when reading the words of the Bible: "read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them." So I urged people to bear in mind all three Anglican inputs (surely there's a better word?), and to listen to the Word of God, tradition, their own contexts when considering questions such as this.

I tried very hard not to present one view or the other as correct, but to show how both can be defended from a theological point of view. I'd rather assumed that I'd shown my colours as I preached, but after the service at Helion's, someone admitted that they didn't know what my views were, which suggests that I'd been very even-handed. I think I did a better job of it at Helion's Bumpstead than at Steeple, but I presented it differently there, and I'm generally pretty happy.

Took Jo for a walk today - about four miles - the first since Christmas (I've been very lax). She slept for 45 minutes or so, I walked, and really enjoyed myself. It was a lovely bright day: cold, but not too bad while the sun stayed out. I just love walking hard, and giving Moo some time to do things she needs to do (looking at job applications, in this case) was a bonus.

Liverpool have just conceded a goal to Pompey (Portsmouth), so it's now 2-1. You're probably reading this after the match has completed, but it's looking less certain than it was, and a little tense. Roast minted lamb shoulder for supper - should be ready for around 2000. Yum.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


Tumblewood, wedding

This morning, I went with Jo to Tumblewood, an indoor kids' play area. Met D. and Morgan there, and we had a good time, though Jo was very tired indeed. The plan was for Moo to get some sleep and look at a couple of possible jobs. She didn't get much sleep, but did have a bit of a lie in bed and a look at the jobs, so mission kind of accomplished. Jo didn't sleep very well last night, and although I managed to settle her once, in the end she needed a feed, and ended up going to bed with Moo, which meant that Moo ended up not getting very much sleep, either. Hence the trip out.

We had a call last night from a financial adviser to whom we'd talked a while ago about the fact that we think that we were mis-sold an endowment mortgage when we bought our first home. We'd lodged a complaint, which was rejected by the endowment company (I can't say who it was), but this financial adviser told us that this particular company always does, first time. He told us that a time limit's coming into place for appeals to the Financial Ombudsman, so, much as I hate doing this sort of thing, I spent some time sorting out the appeal and sending it out. Hopefully we'll be successful this time.

We're off to a wedding reception this evening, for Carolyn (Jo's nanny) and Tom (her now-husband!). D's going to babysit, which is very kind. We're not really going to know anyone, so we'll see how it goes.

Tomorrow, I'm preaching at Helion's and Steeple Bumpstead (at 0930 and 1100, respectively). The gospel text is Mark 1:21-26, and I'll be focusing on "he taught them as one having authority". It's a difficult text to preach on, for me at least, and I'll be talking about canonical authority, authority of the Bible, Pauline authority, church authority and the ordination of women (including to the episcopate - as bishops). Sounds like rather a lot, and I'm not quite sure how it's going to pan out at the moment, but we'll see. I'll try to write it up tomorrow.

Friday, January 27, 2006


Jo's words

Jo knows, understands or uses quite a few words now, as well as some basic phrases, like "Take the book to Mummy, please", "Come here", and "Where's Daddy's nose?". She's six days and eleven months today, so I thought I'd record as many of the words she knows as I could think of. We're constantly amazed by how quickly she picks them up, and it'll be fun to look back in a few weeks or months to see how she's come on. Words with an asterisk (*) are ones that she says, or has said and I've included words to which she responds with the appropriate action (or, sometimes, refuses to!), or things which she can identify. The list's in no particular order: Unluckily, she's not feeling very well at the moment, and has also got four more teeth coming through, all at the same time: two in the top, at the middle, and two on the bottom, at the side. She's suffering somewhat, but manages to be good-natured most of the rest of the time.

After my trip to Singapore this week, I'm paying a flying visit to Hannover next week. Not quite as bad, as it's only one night away, but a bit of a pain, nevertheless. I've spent most of the day (which I'd hoped to spend relaxing and getting my head back on GMT) on this RFI, which I'll have to polish up by Monday, as it's due in on Tuesday. Not sure when (if!) I'll get the chance to do preparation for the Hannover trip, but I'm sure I'll find the time.

Car died today. Luckily, the nice RAC man was able to identify the problem as a faulty coil, leant me one until I can get it fixed at the garage on Monday. What a relief! Well done the RAC.

Tonight is Moo's first night out on her own since having Jo. Her friends from the ante-natal group are getting together for a night out in Sudbury, and leaving the husbands/partners at home to look after the baby. I'm very pleased, as she really deserves it.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Home at last

Got into Heathrow at 0650 this morning, and had to wait about an hour for my luggage. Only got three hours' sleep on the plane, partly because someone had a poor 8 month old on the flight (14 hours and 40 minutes), and the little mite really suffered. Got some work done, though, and when I finally got home (not driving myself, of course, which would have been plain dangerous), I managed to finish off a draft of a document that I would have spent the rest of the week doing if I'd not been in Singapore.

It was so good to see Jo and Moo again. Poor Jo's not very well, and Moo had to go straight off to take Willum the cat to the vet, so I took Jo to bed for a bit and she got about 40 minutes, I got about 15, but it certainly helped - and I did get some in the car on the way back. We went to see James, Claudia and Stella for lunch, and then I continued doing some work in the afternoon. To be fair, I'd really not expected to do any work today, so I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself.

It really is good to be home. If only Jo were feeling better (and, as a consequence, Moo had got a bit of sleep), everything would be great. But Jo's working on getting better, and hopefully I can carry a little bit of the burden, at least once I'm over the initial jetlag.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Heading home

A meeting with a partner in the morning, as well as some work on the RFI that I'd been intending to do if I'd not gone to Singapore. Lunch in a food hall (indoors, this time, not outdoors like yesterday), then a meeting with a local Systems Integrator (SI). Then off to Mustafa's, which is to clothing what Kim Shim Square is to electronics. Except that Mustafa's - in "Little India" - does electronics, software, white goods, etc. as well. Bought some presents for Moo and Jo, and a couple more small electronics pieces for me.

Back for supper - food hall, satay this time - then a quick massage, followed by saffron tea, and to the airport, having thanked Andrew for his hospitality. Checked in 3 hours early (just missed an upgrade, it seemed), wandered round a little bit in the duty free section, then sat down and did more work on the RFI. Oh, I'm so assiduous. Then onto the plane, helping a mother with her 8 month old daughter. She'd already come from Melbourne on the same flight, and wasn't looking forward to the next leg.

So, what about Singapore? I like it. A good mix of people - some Caucasian, but mostly Chinese, Malay and Indian. Everything's written in English, and everybody speaks at least some English. I was amazed by how many people who seemed to be of the same ethnic group spoke English by default. Food was good, and cheap. Friendly, not too hot (only 29-30 degrees Celsius, ~60% humidity when I was there), and I hope to have the chance to go back some time. If we win the contract, I expect to be back soon.

Really need to get back to regular saying of the office when I get home. And exercise. And eating better.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Busy day

Last night, I managed to read the assigned New Testament reading (I use the older (but not the oldest) BCP lectionary). I tend to keep a copy of the Psalms and New Testament in my main travelling bag, and used that, because what I prefer to use for the evening office, rather than carry a hard copy of the BCP and a Bible, is to use copies that I keep on my laptop. Of course, with my laptop pretty much dead last night, that wasn't really an option.

Got 7-8 hours of sleep last night, which was much more than I expected. Got up, then went for a very chilly swim in the condominium pool. Got dressed, cooked eggs and bacon for me and Andrew, and then we headed off for the big meeting. Can't really talk about it - maybe if we get it and it goes live, but not for now - but it went very well. Went for lunch in - of all places - Burger King (dear, oh dear, oh dear), then had a two o'clock meeting. Can't even remember what it was (I'm back-posting this on Thursday). Then went to Kim Shim Square, which is an electronics boutique (well, collection of probably a hundred little shops), and managed to spend much less money than I'd expected to. Bought a USB flash-drive reader (which reads Reduced Size MMC cards - like the one I have for my lovely Nokia 6680 - without a little snap-on converter, which all other readers I've seen require) and an external USB caddy for a 2.5 inch HDD. Managed not to buy a disk to go in it - I wasn't convinced that the prices they had were that good - or any of the much more expensive things that they had on show. Phoned Si to ask him whether there was anything that he wanted me to buy and bring back (and to offer the same other Posse members). In the end, the mid-price items (like the latest nVidia card, the 7800 GT and Seagate Barracuda 300 gig SATA drives) were close in price, or even a little more, than the current UK prices. The more expensive items, like cameras, seemed cheaper, however.

If Kim Shim Square's anything to go by, mp3 players with video (mp4?) are going to be the next big thing. Not quite sure what you'd use them for, but hey.~

Went out to a food hall for supper. Food hall doesn't really cover it. There are a bunch of communal tables, with centralised cleaning services, and a set of small kiosk-like shops selling different kinds of food. "Self-service", which means that you order and pay for your food, they cook it in real-time, and then you pick it up and eat it. Good food, quick and cheap.

Moo had an interview with a communications company for a job today. It sounds like they were looking for someone with a health experience and account experience - Moo has the former and not the latter, but they may be able to use her for consultancy, which would be good.

I had a bit of a brainwave this evening, and decided that if I stopped trying to fix the dead partition, and just didn't mount it, things might be OK. I'd had problems with Windows yesterday (though that's on a different partition, natch), but it was worth a try. And, wonder of wonders, it worked: Linux (Ubuntu) booted up fine. Decided not to trust the hard disk, so made sure that the USB drive was where I saved things. Always. As well as putting files on hard disk.

Very tired, didn't, I'm afraid, say the evening office.

Monday, January 23, 2006


Where did Monday go?

Seem to have lost it somewhere. Was met (slightly late) by Andrew, our reseller in Singapore, and we went back to his company apartment where he'd kindly agreed to put me up. Of course, before we could even go out for supper, I needed to rewrite the presentation that my computer lost. I used Andrew's machine, and made sure that I saved it to my USB disk. I'll be doing this rather a lot from now on. Went to a Thai restaurant for a late supper, then went to bed.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Flying off

Took the 0930 at Tilbury-juxta-Clare this morning - not preaching, but I did play the hymns on the organ. A nice single-manual (no pedals) little instrument, though it didn't help that the B flat below middle C came off during the second hymn. Luckily, the third and fourth didn't have B flats, and I chose a voluntary at the end which didn't, either.

We went out to the George in Cavendish for lunch, and had a lovely meal. There was a family with a 10 week old and a 2 and a half year old, both of whom Jo was very interested in. The management's pretty new, and we've been very pleased with the place so far. It was good to have some time together before I headed off.

The car came at a little before 1700, and we were off to Heathrow. The driver swore - and, to use an old term, blasphemed more than I like - but the drive went OK. I managed to get some sleep, too, and arrived nice and early for the flight. For some reason, my ticket was booked as Mr Bursell Michael, so for both the out and the return I had to check in as Mr Michael. Somewhat confusing. The flight left 2115, on time, with me in World Business Class (the equivalent of Virgin's Premium Economy). Flight was OK, but I pretty much lost Monday: 12 hours 30 minutes, and Singapore's 8 hours ahead.

On the flight, I was very good, and wrote the presentation for Tuesday before going to sleep. I put the laptop into hibernate. When I woke up, the presentation (and, in fact, all the data on the hard disk) was gone. The same "transient" fault that had appeared when I came back from Nice. So I gave up, and started to read Stamping Butterflies by Jon Courtenay Grimwood. I really like his stuff, although this one's a little strange.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


Singapore part 2

I'm on 24x7 support at the moment, which means that I try to make sure that I have my mobile in hearing range when I'm asleep. So, when a call came in at 0257 this morning, I heard it, and took it. It was our guy in Singapore, to say that the potential customer had brought the presentation opportunity forward by a day, so that if we wanted to present, I'd have to leave tomorrow, Sunday. I checked out what I could, then went back to sleep. Jo'd not had a good night, so all in all, it wasn't great.

Took at lot of work, but managed to get a flight out on on Sunday evening with BA, in the class between economy and business (the equivalent of Virgin's Premium Economy), which means that I should get some legroom, and power for the laptop.

Ah, the laptop. Of course, I was going to get one sorted on Monday, but that's too late, now. I rang Peter (my boss) and discovered that he was back in the country, so he agreed to give me back my laptop. I met him at work this afternoon, I swapped my old disk back in, and everything worked fine.

So, I head out tomorrow night - as yet unclear when I get back - but by Friday, at least. I hope to have lots of access to email, and also to blogging.

Had Si, D. and Morgan round this afternoon/evening for supper, and Si fitted a stairgate and doorgate. ("Why?" you ask. Because I'm absolutely useless at DIY, and Moo's learnt that it's just less stress to invite Si over, feed him , and get him to do the work instead of me). We had a lovely curry and a good time: nice to see them. Jo's getting better and better at playing with older children, and apart from the fact that she's more physical than Morgan seems happy with from time to time (which is odd, given that he's over a year older than her), he seems to be able to play with her a bit now.

Friday, January 20, 2006



At 1215 I wasn't going to Singapore next week, and by 1245 I pretty much was. By 1500, the tickets were booked. We pitched to a potential customer via a reseller on Wednesday (heard about it last Friday, got the details Monday, wrote it up Tuesday, sent it off that afternoon), and they liked it. Enough to ask us to pitch on Wednesday. It appears that Singapore's even further away from the UK than I'd thought (I checked on a map, and everything). 12 and a half hours out, over 14 and a half back: these are serious flights. I talked to Peter, my boss, and he agreed that it would make sense to book a non-economy ticket so that I can do some work on the plane (power and space aren't really available in cattle class), as long as it wasn't too expensive. After lots of searching, Cambridge Business Travel managed to find a cheap enough flight there and back (thanks, folks).

The problem about working on a plane is that it kind of assumes that you've got something to do the work on. But, as you'll recall if you've been following this blog, I lent my laptop to Peter. Who's not back till Wednesday. And I leave on Monday evening. Hmm.

So, we were planning to get a laptop for Fiona at some point (Peter had OKed it), and now that's been moved forward so that as long as it gets to us on Monday (which it should), we'll have time to get it set up enough for me to take it. It'll probably end up with Fiona when Peter gets back and leaves my old one for me. Or something like that. I'm a bit confused by it all, but we think it should all work out logistically.

So, Singapore. I've only been there before on stop-overs on the way to other places, and I'm looking forward to it. Need to check the temperature, humidity, etc. to find out what to wear, but I'll travel in comfy clothes and pack a suit for the meeting(s). Yes, it appears that while I'm out there, we might be able to arrange a couple of other meetings. I wish we had some spare cash, cos I'm sure there are lots of nice, cheap electronic bits and pieces that I could pick up.

I'll be missing next week's tutorial - or, at least, I'll have to reschedule - but the worst, of course, is being away from Jo and Moo for 4 nights. At least, these days, mobile phones mean that I can be touch with them whenever, and that they can call me if they need to (well, Moo can).

Speaking of Jo, she got her first proper shoes today. We're trying to encourage her to walk, partly so she's more tired of an evening and sleeps better, and the shoes seem to be helping. Moo walked her to the swings this afternoon (most of the way, anyhow), which Jo loved, and she's been taking the odd step here and there today, and without prompting at times, which is new. I'm so proud of her, and love her so much. I'm so proud of Moo, as well, who's just landed another interview, and I love her so much, too.

Thursday, January 19, 2006



Moo's on the job-hunt, and good for her. She's looked at a couple of different possibilities which haven't quite worked out, but she's now started to follow up with some consultants that she'd spoken to a while ago. Immediately, a few options have opened up, so she's off to see someone on Tuesday in Cambridge, and tomorrow she's going to meet one of the consultants who, in fact, I met a while ago, when I was looking for a job. She (the consultant) specialised is in jobs in the Cambridge, and is the person who found the Tuesday interview. I think Moo's got a much better chance from this kind of opportunity than "cold" ones from the Health Service Journal or the Guardian (though that's always the case). So, I get the chance to meet her and Jo in Cambridge over lunchtime, and to llok after the Jo for a while, which is a lovely treat in the middle of the day.

In fact, I dind't get to see much of Jo this morning, because we didn't wake up till 0810. As I tend to leave for work at 0815, this meant that I really needed to get moving. She'd not got to sleep until around 2045, but had only woken once in the morning - and then at 0415, which meant that she just wanted a quick feed before going to bed. And I had a tutorial tonight, so I didn't see her before she went to bed (down and asleep by 1815, in marked contrast to last night). So, a bit of time tomorrow will be lovely.

A tutorial tonight, as mentioned above. This on Mark's Gospel (and, tangentially on form criticism, which, though I'm not hugely convinced, has been an important tool for biblical criticism in the past), and the theology therein. We looked in particular at the use of rhetorical criticism, which tends to concentrate on how the rhetoric - or at least story-telling devices - of texts can help in its understanding. For instance, in Mark's gospel, there's a lot of language around seeing, looking, and watching. There are also lots of occurences of stories about the healing of the blind. One of the key issues in Mark's gospel is how the disciples take a very long time to realise Jesus' role as Christ. Jesus gets quite exasperated by their taking of time to understand, and often has to explain parables (and their significance to them), and these parables are quite often juxtaposed with the stories of the healing of the blind men (I think it's always men, though there are some important mentions of women, including that of the Syrophoenician woman). Another example where rhetorical criticism can provide some interesting insights is in looking at the juxtaposition of the large-scale and small-scale. Jesus' example of the woman giving two small coins to the temple fund occurs just before the prophecy of the destruction of the temple (which is, of course, a parable for Jesus' death and resurrection).

The upshot, then, is that Mark's Gospel, which has historically been seen as either a simple summary or (if you follow the four-source, two-source or Q hypothesis of gospel sources (which I favour), rather than the Griesbach hypothesis) an unsophisticated source, has a lot of interesting theology to offer us.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


The Big Smoke

In London today, meeting a project manager from one of our customers, just to keep up-to-date with what's going on, and also a journalist from Computing magazine. Interesting chat, actually - we discussed a variety of issues around security in general, and authentication in particular (e.g. - what about mutual authentication - can it be made to work?). He seemed very appreciative of the fact that I didn't spend the time trying to jam marketing for Cryptomathic down his throat, and that we managed to have a wide-ranging (and hopefully interesting meeting). He asked me questions, I tried to answer them. Seems like an obvious way to do business. I hope that he'll feel that he can give me a call at some point if he's got questions I might be able to answer.

I'm such a hick, in some ways. Embarassingly, I managed to turn the wrong way down New Oxford Street on coming out of Tottenham Court Road tube station, and so wandered for five minutes or so away from Oxford Circus. Heigh-ho. And is it just me, or is £9.00 an awful lot of money to spend to get into St Paul's Cathedral? I only wanted to pop in for a prayer or two and to enjoy the ambience, but felt that this was a little steep, as I only had about 15 minutes to spare.

On a different note completely, I'm very much in favour of women bishops in the Church of England. Isn't it odd that this is an area where it's considered fine to air one's views, whereas homosexuality is an altogether more dangerous subject. They're the two main issues that most people see as facing the Church of England, but I only feel "safe" discussing one of them. It seems to me that the theological arguments against are too specious, and too obviously an example of Paul being very much set in his own societal context. This seems a lot more obvious than the case against homosexuality (though I do wonder...), and I think that the C of E is bending over a little too hard on the compromise here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


More laptop woes

So, my boss came in today, and his laptop's broken. And no, it wasn't me.

Peter, really, really needs a laptop. Quite apart from anything else, he's doing a lot of travelling at the moment. On top of that, he goes into withdrawal if he's away from email for more than 30 minutes, so he really, really needs a laptop.

So I suggested he use mine. They're pretty close in terms of models (his was/is a ThinkPad T41, mine's a T42), so Oli swapped out the HDDs, made some driver changes, and Bob's your uncle (well, mine, actually, but that's another story). Hopefully, a new one will arrive on Monday, and although I'm angling to keep it, I suspect that I won't be allowed to. But, quite apart from the sheer altruism, it's got to have earned me some points, hasn't it?

It is a pain, though - I get to use a crappy old desktop out in the main open area of the office, and I can't use it at home. I can access pretty much everything I need to from home (note to self: set up VPN connection), but it's a pain. Heigh-ho, it was the right thing to do.

I meant to write a little comment on "Aaron", the George Herbert poem that I quoted a couple of days ago. It's just a great description of the unworthiness that I, at least, feel, when taking services or preaching. A friend said that she felt the same, and then pointed out this poem, and the brilliant resolution that Herbert provides.

Monday, January 16, 2006


Mentor meeting

After a busy, but very interesting day at work, I had my yearly (well, I'm told they're yearly, but this was my first) three-way meeting with my ERMC mentor, who's Holger, and my supervisor, Keith. We all got the chance to talk about the course, my parish context, the academic side, and how it all combines. It was interesting, and nothing particularly concerning came up, so that's good. I did learn that the course prefers that we only preach once a term, which is somewhat amusing, but Holger seemed unconcerned that I'm doing some more than that, particularly as I'm managing to keep the course-home-work balance OK (I think).

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Finish, then home

Last night, I went to a concert in the chapel at London Colney Pastoral Centre (where we were having the weekend) by the St Alban's Chamber Choir. They sang Palestrina's Missa Hodie Christus Natus Est and a selection of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany motets by Palestrina, Lassus, Guerrero and Vittoria (or Victoria). The acoustics in the chapel are good for that kind of music, and it was a real treat for me to hear some live choral music. Afterwards, in the bar, Sarah, a good friend on the course, introduced me to the George Herbert poem, "Aaron".

            HOLINESS on the head,
    Light and perfection on the breast,
Harmonious bells below raising the dead
    To lead them unto life and rest.
            Thus are true Aarons drest.*

            Profaneness in my head,
    Defects and darkness in my breast,
A noise of passions ringing me for dead
    Unto a place where is no rest :
            Poor priest ! thus am I drest.

            Only another head
    I have another heart and breast,
Another music, making live, not dead,
    Without whom I could have no rest :
            In Him I am well drest.

            Christ is my only head,
    My alone only heart and breast,
My only music, striking me e'en dead ;
    That to the old man I may rest,
            And be in Him new drest.

            So holy in my Head,
    Perfect and light in my dear Breast,
My doctrine tuned by Christ (who is not dead,
    But lives in me while I do rest),
            Come, people ;  Aaron's drest.

Today also went well, but I was, of course, glad to get home. We've had a nightmare putting Jo down tonight. In fact, she's really sleeping rather badly at the moment. She's always up twice during the night, and sometimes three or four times.

Bit of a random blog - don't really feel that I've processed everything from the weekend, so we'll see how we go over the next few days.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Racial discrimination

Yesterday we started, and today we continued, our work on racial discrimination. Bishop Joe Aldred has been leading the weekend, and is brilliant. He provides a very interesting view on British black identity, and is keen to move away from a solely oppression-based theology to one based around Respect (note that his book with this title was published before Tony Blair started to use the phrase!).

The Taizé service went well last night. We'd intended to do four songs, but ran out of time, so only did four. I'm so out of practice, and, as on previous occasions, had to rely more on technique than I would have liked, but I was generally pleased, and other people were very complimentary. It's a gift that it's fantastic to be able to share.

Friday, January 13, 2006


Izza girl

So, Nik and Tosha are having a girl, and the scan shows that the baby is all safe and well, so that's excellent news: a little sister for Digi to come in the next few months. I'm sure he'll be a lovely brother.

I'm pleased to say that my laptop isn't broken after all - the fault seems to have been transient, as after some (extended) backup work, we risked a normal boot-up this morning, and all seems fine. SMART isn't reporting any problems at all, so I'm glad to say that all's back up and running. My desktop's struggling to do all of the stuff it ought to be doing: Dapper seems to have broken a number of things (printing, sound, stuff like that, as well as the more obvious lack of network interfaces at boot-up, etc.), and I'm definitely not going to upgrade the laptop until things are a mite more stable.

Off to London Colney for an ERMC weekend this evening - racial awareness is the main topic, and we've got some interesting activities planned. I'm also acting as cantor for the service this afternoon, which I'm a little bit nervous about, but I'm sure it'll be fine.

I heard last night that Frances, the wife of Mike, our Reader in the benefice died at home yesterday afternoon. She'd been ill for a long time, and this wasn't unexpected, but my prayers are very much with Mike and his family. Please join me.

Thursday, January 12, 2006



I've been asked to be cantor for some Taizé songs tomorrow night, which I'm flattered by. I've little experience of this style of worship, and it's helpful that I've been sent a tape and some music to look over, but I'm going to need to discuss exactly what they want, as I suspect that there are a number of different ways to do it! I'm looking forward to the service, which, from the service sheet, should be pretty free-form. In fact, it'll be good to see the rest of the ERMC crowd - it's been a while since I've seen them, apart from the few that I met at the Chelmsford Diocese ordinands evening. It's not great that it falls so soon after my trip to Nice, but that's just the way it goes, I s'pose.

In other news, Tosha and Nik should, by now, know the gender of their little baby, but I notice that's she's not posted yet (he rarely bothers, of course), so we'll have to wait to find out. Oh, and we're trying to recover as much as possible from my laptop, so I've been stuck on a nasty desktop machine at work all day.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Laptop dead

My laptop's dead, which means that I have to use a nasty old desktop machine at work, and that if I want to do anything at home, I need to go up to my office or use Moo's laptop, if she's got it downstairs. I tried to turn it on whilst on the plane on the way back from Nice, and fsck.reiserfs reported a nasty problem (which it thinks is a hardware issue), so I turned it off and will look at it with Oli (our sysadmin) in the office. Got home around 1915, so had lots of time with Moo, which was a welcome surprise, as I wasn't expecting to get home till later on.

Moo's a bit down, as she didn't get short-listed for one of the jobs she's applied for, which I have to say is also a surprise (though unwelcome), as I thought that there was a good match. Watched West Wing to cheer her up a bit.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006



I'm in Nice, sitting in a meeting and trying to stay awake. Really not very much to report. I've failed to find my pdf version of the Book of Common Prayer, so had just to use approximate OT and NT readings last night instead of saying a full evensong, which I try to do every day.

Monday, January 09, 2006


Flying off, and academic involvement

I'm flying off to Nice this afternoon with a bunch of colleagues for a sales and marketing meeting, which should be very interesting - it was last time - and worthwhile (ditto). However, it does mean being away from Jo and Moo, which is less happy. I'll phone them a couple of times a day, at least, which is something.

When Dad was over with us for the weekend, we talked a bit about the House of Bishops' pastoral statement on Civil Partnerships. As a chancellor of a couple of dioceses, he has a legal interest - mine is more general. All-in-all, I have to say that I find not only this statement, but the whole position that it reflects, deeply unsatisfactory, and I'd love to find a way to engage in the theological discussion that's going on. We so need strong a strong academic theological discussion on Christianity and sexuality - particularly homosexuality - to help us to ground the broader ecclesiastical discussions that are taking place. As a fairly "safe" voice (I'm in a happy heterosexual marriage, I'm not a bishop, and I'm not strongly aligned with any of the more forthright parties), there are lots of things I'd like to say, and I think that I might have some interesting perspectives, particularly given my multi-disciplinary background. There are two major dangers, however: the first is finding the time, what with family commitments and the amount of training and work I'm committed to, and the second is that I'm in a difficult position, in that I'm not yet ordained. Not to say that things are necessarily any easier for those who _are_ ordained, but I'd put myself in a dodgy position to start publishing on this topic at the moment, I think.

I'm really not sure how to proceed on this one. There are a number of ways forward, I think, none of which is particularly satisfactory in and of itself. These include:

Note that even discussing this on my blog yields some possible dangers, but I think I'm safe at this level: I'm not being too outspoken, I'm not condemning anyone, and I'm not holding up any views too strongly. Importantly (and to quote from the selection criteria for ordinands), I'm able to "respect the teaching of the Church of England on matters of sexuality". Let's leave it there for now.

Music today

Sunday, January 08, 2006


Baby excretions and Dapper Drake

However much you may try to avoid it, you have to spend a good deal of your time as a new parent discussing baby wee and baby poo. And vomit, probably. Jo has been providing us with lots and lots of poo recently. It's really astonishing. This led to the following exchange with Moo after Jo had gone to bed tonight: How your world changes when you're a parent.

Speaking of parents, mine left after lunch. We had a lovely time with them, and they enjoyed spending time with Jo (and hopefully us, too). I went with Dad and Jo to Long Melford church for communion. Jo was made very welcome, and we had a good time. There's an excellent organ, coupled with an excellent organist, so we had a good voluntary at the end. A line I noticed in one of the hymns suggested that as well as love being a worthy offering for God, so is truth. I liked this. There's something about standing up for what's true and right which works for me, and I need to have more of a think about this.

I've decided to try the latest Ubuntu release (well, pre-release, anyway): Dapper Drake. It's currently on my desktop machine, and we'll see how it goes before trying it on my laptop, which I really need to work pretty much all the time. So far it's going OK, though I'm having the odd problem, which is to be expected with a pre-release. Problems I've noticed so far:

Nothing major, and I'm thinking about whether to install it on my laptop. I'm going to go through the Ubuntu bugzilla entries and see what else comes up. There are good reasons for going with it on my laptop, as there are some issues with USB that I've not ever managed to work properly on it yet which might be fixed in Dapper.

Saturday, January 07, 2006


Snow again

Just briefly, but we had snow this morning. I was amazed. It didn't settle, but Jo enjoyed watching the big, fat flakes falling onto the garden. Jo was up at 0430 this morning. At 0500 we tried turning the light on for a few minutes and then getting her back to sleep, but it was not to be, so after a little negotiation, Moo took Jo downstairs, and I got another hour and a half's sleep, for which I was very grateful. I'd got to bed around midnight (my fault), and not slept very well (less my fault), so this was a good thing. Moo got to have a sleep in the afternoon while Dad did some work for next week and Mum and I took the Jo for a 3 mile circular walk to Tilbury-juxta-Clare and back.

For lunch, we had a very, very nice meal in Cavendish, at the George (01787 280248), which I'd gladly recommend to anyone. The new manager has just taken over this week, and it's all going swimmingly so far. Fast, friendly but not in-your-face service, and most excellent food. They were also very welcoming of Jo, which is always good. We intend to go back.

A lovely meal of smoked salmon on wholemeal bread with champagne, followed by a roast chicken with some Australian chardonnay which wasn't over-oaked. We're all knackered, so expect to go to bed soon.

Friday, January 06, 2006


Mailing lists for groups

I hate to think what the header above is going to do to my AdSense adverts, but I've been having a bit of a think about use of a mailing list that I run. At ERMC, my theological training course, we're split into eight cross-year groups of about 12-16 people. These groups act as a locus for some of the discussion we do on the weekends and during the Summer Schools, and we're encouraged to support each other at a personal level as well. At the beginning of the academic year, I suggested that I set up a mailing list (email, obviously) for the group, and people agreed. Much to my surprise, all but one of the group have contributed - some much more than others, and the only non-contributor has been ill. We've used it for ERMC-based activities (organising worship activities), course-based activities (discussing essays), group-based activities (asking for prayers or support, which is part of what the group is supposed to do) and personal activities (Happy New Year emails, etc.). I'd say that we're a more effective group because of it, and I'm keen to find out from other members of the group what they think of it. I'm keen for four reasons, as I explained in an email to the group today:
  1. to think about how we could use it even more
  2. to think about what other similar resources we could use (shared website, shared blog, for instance)
  3. to think about how we could use such resources in our wider ministry, both now and in the future
  4. to think about whether we should present our experiences (in the longer term!) to other members of ERMC to see if they'd like to adopt email lists or other resources as a standard tool.
I use mailing lists regularly for work and pleasure, and it's been interesting to see people who don't work in IT using them, too, and just the way I hoped they would.

I think that mailing lists can be very powerful tools to coordinate projects, or just to keep in touch with people, although there are dangers of people being alienated by them, which need to be closely monitored. It might feel odd for a "normal" parish with a full-time priest to use such a tool, but for a part-time priest to be involved in projects, it might make sense, and it could be a way of getting wider community involvement in a parish context anyway.

Other resources offer interesting possibilities, too. A shared blog for a youth group, tied to a group web-page, would allow people to chat about what they're doing, tell people about new issues, and point out things that they've noticed. I really need to think about this. Could be good - and it plays strongly into my academic interest in how churches - and, more importantly, their members - use the Internet and online tools in general.

Thursday, January 05, 2006



Our cleaner's been on holiday (fair enough!), so there's been a mountain of ironing growing. Added to that, my Mum's coming to stay tonight (to be joined by my Dad tomorrow), and the ironing was in the spare room. So, as Moo was very tired last night, I sent her to bed immediately after supper and West Wing episode and stayed up, clearing up the spare room a bit, fitting another child-lock to one of the kitchen cupboards, and doing lots of ironing. Luckily, I can iron and watch a DVD (sometimes using the rewind button, obviously), so I watched The Negotiator, which is an excellent film. Samuel L. "We are not worthy" Jackson, Kevin Spacey, "Leo" from The West Wing and "Brass" from CSI:Miami, so lots of familiar faces. Good plot, keeps moving, exciting. Kept me up too late, but hey.

Lunch with Si at The Wrestlers, an _excellent_ pub. I had a pint of Broadside (well, nearly a pint, as I didn't finish it), and a green chicken curry. Hot, and yum! Popped into PC World afterwards. I know, I know, but their bargain basement can be very good value, and I picked up a half-decent scanner for under 30 quid. Nice to have, as we didn't have one before.

Music today

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Back at work

Sheesh. I'd prefer not to be, if I'm honest. Not helped by a somewhat broken night from Jo, so both Moo and I were a little bleary-eyed this morning. I'd also got used to spending lots of time with Jo and Moo, and I find that I'm missing that. Oh, and I'm at work. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I'm having to concentrate extra hard to get my brain round stuff after the Christmas break.

It's going to be a hard couple of weeks. Mum and Dad are coming for the weekend, which will be lovely, but may not give a huge amount of time for relaxation. On Monday, I'm off to Nice for a work sales conference till Wednesday night. On Friday night, I'm off to London Colney for another ERMC weekend. These have all been very rewarding so far, and I'm looking forward to this one, but they don't half keep you working. I get back on the Sunday afternoon, and have a meeting with my tutor and Holger on the Monday. Then a supervision (first of the term) on the Thursday. Come to think of it, I need to start work on the reading for this term quite soon. Phew! It's the New Testament, however, which I'm really looking forward to. It's obviously very relevant to me as a Christian, and I've already done quite a lot of New Testament theology, so there should be opportunities to go deeper into some areas that I've not had a chance to touch much before.

Haven't posted what I've been listening to much recently, so I ought to do that today. I wonder if it'll make an impact on the Adsense? I have to say that I'm watching with interest what adverts get put up.

Oh, and downloading and re-encoding (to ogg) some music from emusic. Some Rachmaninov, and some bluegrass. That's how you spell "eclectic"...

Music today

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Last day of holidays

We'd hoped to do lots of things over the past week or so, but because Moo's been doing work on her CV and applications, and I've been supervising Jo and doing essays, it's not really worked out that way. No problem: we're very happy that we've got it all sorted, and with the acquisition of the car seat for Jo as well, all's well.

In the morning, I took Jo to Clare, did some general shopping, and took her to the church for a bit to give Moo some more time. We wandered round, had a bit of a sing, and then looked for animals to have a beak at in the church. Very little stained glass, and not much else around the church, either. In the end, Jo enjoyed the lecturn a lot: a big eagle on top, with three dogs around the bottom which Jo thought were excellent. Came back, remembered to post the essays. Phew.

After lunch, and Moo doing some more work on the second application, we headed off to Braintree. Krazy Kids was insane with children. Just mad. Jo had a good time, and then we headed off to Freeport outlet village. Got some shoes (at last: I've needed to throw some out for a while), a new laptop bag from Samsonite (eleven quid ten pee, which ain't bad!), a high visibility (fluorescent and reflective) bomber jacket for under 20 quid, a muffin tray for Moo to make Jo more muffins and something else I can't remember.

It sounds like poor Tosha's starting to suffer from SPD, poor babe. Hope it doesn't happen, m'dear.

Monday, January 02, 2006


Front-facing seat

Today, I took Jo to Kiddicare's real-life shop outside Peterborough (though it took quite a while to find it: why are there two different A15's that both run North-South to the north of Peterborough?) and bought Jo her first front-facing carseat, now that she's old enough to use it safely. It's an Isofix one from Britax (their Isofix Britax Duo), 'cos it got lots of good reviews for safety, and Kiddicare had it nice and cheap. They're really good on range and price, and we often buy from them. They even checked that it would fit the car properly and showed me how to do it, so I'm very impressed with them. Moo stayed at home working on a couple of job applications, one of which she managed to get off tonight, the other of which she intends to do tomorrow: good work. Jo loves her carseat: in particular the fact that she can see what's going on. I also got a little mirror which sits on the windscreen (out of the way) and allows you to see her, and her to see you. She spent most of the time when she wasn't asleep on the drive back waving to me.

In the afternoon, I put the finishing touches to my two essays, which I'll send off tomorrow. The 1500 word one came in a little over 1400, and the other something over 4000, so I'm pleased with that. Tosha's blog entries for the past couple of days are lovely. There are some particularly good photos of Digi's first birthday party. I'll link to a couple of them...
Digi and Jo look surprisedDigi and Jo concentrate

Sunday, January 01, 2006


Preaching, early bed

After a somewhat bad night's sleep (Jo in with us, in the end), off to preach at Stambourne for the 0930. Ended up preaching on the doctrine of justification by faith alone (as you do), taking the issue of observance of the Law within the first century Jewish tradition (as evidenced by Luke) as my queue. Seemed to go down well.

Bacon and egg butties for brunch, and then off to Tosha, Nik and Digi's for Digi's first birthday party. We arrived early (1318 - Moo had thought it started at 1300), but I was enlisted to move logs and coal around, as Tosha's pregnant and Nik has a slipped disk (ow!). We had a lovely time with lots of babies and their parents, though Digi (pronounced "Diggy", I discovered) was the only boy. Nice planning that lad.

I was sent to bed soon after Jo as Moo announced that I was in danger of spending the evening "moping around". I resented this somewhat, which kind of betrayed how tired I was, so gave in. Lights off by 8pm (though I did wake up a little later, to be fair, and spent some time with Moo). Moo did a fantastic job of removing the Christmas decorations and doing a general tidy, for which many marks.

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