Saturday, May 31, 2008
Jo, ballet and meJo's very first ballet lesson today. Moo, Miri and I all turned up, and Jo needed some help as she was a bit shy, and so both Moo and I (at different times) joined in. Yes, me in my Doc Martens, doing ballet and basic tap moves. We hadn't known that there was going to be tap, so we went off and bought her a pair of shoes for that, as her Crocs didn't really work very well.
Nice walk, then gardening. No, really. I got assaulted by a budleia branch. No, really.
Friday, May 30, 2008
13 hoursThat's how long the plane flight was. Watched Vantage Point (excellent), The Cleaner (good twists) and Die Fälscher (inspiring). Got 4 hours sleep at the beginning of the flight, which was pretty much was I was hoping for.
Got off the flight, got stopped at customs (they let me go...), went to the currency exchange booth, and immediately got a call from my boss asking me if I was coming onto the conference call that I'd thought was due to start half an hour after I landed, rather than starting at the time I was due to land (we happened to be early). I joined about 3 minutes later. Long call, then several more to other colleagues.
I do feel that Certicom get their money out of me.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Vietnamese and BrazilianNo, not new waxings, but the two meals I had today. Vietnamese for lunch, and Brazilian for supper. Preferred the latter, to be honest.
Work still not good.
Back home tomorrow.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
An old friend(backposting) Well, she's not that old, but we've not seen each other for around 19 years, so Carolyn and I got together in Singapore, where she lives. It was great to meet up, and we spent about 4 hours chatting over curry and Tiger beer. Who we'd been in touch with, things we'd done at school, things we'd done since, etc.
Work didn't go well.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
SingaporeGot around 5 hours of sleep, which isn't bad on a plane, going East. Read, watched TV shows on the media thingy. Landed around 0840 local - just under an hour late, as we'd been delayed leaving Heathrow. Picked up my bag, went to the hotel, showered, went to work. Woke up at 0400, and I'm still doing stuff at 1950 or so, but I'm about to get some food and a drink, and then go to bed, where I suspect I'll sleep pretty well.
Mentioned on Facebook that I'm in Singapore, and a friend from school who I've not seen for the best part of 20 years got in touch, as she lives here! We're hoping to meet for supper tomorrow. Where would we be without computers, then? (Answer: significantly less peeved than I am this evening, having struggled with them for much of the day).
Monday, May 26, 2008
Where did today go?(backposting) Oh yes: it was cut short, as I was on a plane to Singapore. The new A380, business class, too, which was very nice. Really ought to put some pictures up of it, I suppose. My only grumble would be with the media system on board. I seemed to have a dodgy one, as it needed rebooting a couple of times, but also, if you can put together a playlist of some of the hundreds of CDs they had on offer, why can't you put it on shuffle? Grrr.
Lovely staff, food, etc., though.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Ministry to the SamaritanGot up a 0800 - a serious lie-in. Then to Great Leighs church - which is nowhere near the village! - for the baptism of Lenny, Carolyn's second child. Her first, Tommy, died just a few months old, and they had a poem and prayer after the baptism part of the service, which felt entirely appropriate.
On the way back it was still raining, after a serious rain storm earlier, and a big pick-up truck in front of me spun around 225 degrees whilst negotiating a roundabout. I was rather glad to have left sufficient room. The guy seemed surprised, but hadn't hit anything, so I carried on.
As I drove through Gosfield at 30mph or less, at the front of a line of traffic, I came across a man staggering along the road, in the opposite lane, making no attempt to get to either side. After a second's thought, I stopped. First of all, I made sure that the cars from behind were slowing down, and wouldn't hit him, but he was staggering across to the other side of the road, too, so I called the police, and carried on walking after him in the rain. I then tried to convince him to stop and sit down for a while. He did indeed stop for a bit, and I tried to cajole him into sitting down. He guessed that I'd called the police, and explained that he didn't want to get into trouble. I explained that I didn't want to get him into trouble, but that they might be able to get him home. He talked about going home to get some heroin to kill himself. He kept on walking out of the main village, where the speed limit goes up to 40mph and people often drive faster than that. He kept swearing at me, refusing to stay out of the road, saying he wanted to die. He crossed to the other side of the road, looked like he was going to throw himself off the bridge into the river. He started walking again. I tried to stay close enough that I'd be able to reach him if a car looked like it might be about to hit him, but far enough away that he couldn't get me, particularly if he had a knife. He told me that he'd rather die than speak to the police. I called them again and asked them not to use blues and twos (lights and sirens) when they came. In the end, after about three quarters of a mile, a police came by. He knew him, and I handed over responsibility after explaining what I'd done, and what he'd said.
As I walked back, I came across a woman who'd seen me stop, and had turned her car round, stopped it, and then walked after me, I discovered, trying to slow the cars down so that I wouldn't get hit either. We talked about what we'd done, and I told her that I'm training to become a priest. "Maybe this was God giving you part of your final exam," she said. Maybe it was. I suspect that she wasn't a Christian, just from what she said, but when we parted, I said, "If God asks, you passed, too." She seemed to like that.
Sometimes, you just have to do the right thing. This was one of those times. I was careful of my safety. I avoided the traffic, I kept well enough away from the man that I wasn't in danger from him. I phoned the police. I had a walk in the rain.
But it was a good walk, and for the right reasons.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
SecondLife Cathedral(backposting) Woke up at 0545, 15 minutes before the alarm. I wasn't sure if we were supposed to be meeting in Guildford at 0930 or 1030, so left lots of time. Even getting lost didn't stop me arriving before 0910, so I had a second breakfast, courtesy of the Bishop of Guildford and his wife.
The Bishop was hosting a conference on "Web 2.0 and the Church", to which Mark (Arkin Ariantho), Gareth (Gareth Janus), my Dad (with his church law hat on, metaphorically) and a variety of folks from i-church, the diocese of Guildford, and others (not all Anglicans) were invited.
Although it was mainly to talk about the Anglican Cathedral in SecondLife, we were careful not to restrict ourselves to that. We had a tour of the cathedral, we talked about responsibilities, duties, team structures, authority, discipline, finances, resources, theology, succession, and just had a really, really productive meeting. We came up with four groups that will work on their respective pieces: charter/constitution group, legal group, resources group and theology group. I'm engaged with the first, and hope to work in the future on the fourth. I can't do justice in the blog to what a great and productive time we had, and how good it was to share communion with many of the people there. I think that the church - or at least parts of it - are really keen to engage, and see the developments we're part of as being of significant importance to the future of the church: more so than we have so far done ourselves.
At the end, some of us went to the pub for a drink. One of us collapsed, which was interesting. Not from alcohol - he just seemed to faint. I looked after him, called the ambulance, etc. People seemed surpised that I'd know what to do, but that Rescue Diver training just takes hold, I guess.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Aunty Kitty's funeral(backposting) We left around 0900, and got to Liverpool a couple of hours later. We met at Karen and Paul's house: I'd met him before, but not sure about her. They're lovely, the two kids we met were both great, too.
When the funeral cortege arrived, Jo - to whom we'd explained about the funeral being about saying goodbye to Kitty - had lots of questions. Really good questions for a three year old, I thought. She wanted to know what was in the box (coffin): "just Kitty's body: she doesn't need it anymore". "Why doesn't she need it anymore?" "When will we see her body?" "Why's that lady walking in front of the car?" This about the funeral director, who, it being Liverpool, walked the first 100 yards and the last 100 yards of the journey in front of the hearse. I explained about tradition, and Moo and I talked about the importance of ritual. Much of the funeral ritual that's common in Liverpool is pretty alien to me, and doesn't really do much for me, but it _does_ for other people, particularly Kate in this case, and if that's what's needed to help people say goodbye, then that's fine. It was really helpful for me, actually, from a ministerial point of view, to learn this.
The funeral was quick, and Kate managed admirably with the eulogy, and we headed off to the cemetery for the burial. The free church minister who'd taken the funeral said a few words at the graveside, a few people said a few words, and Jo - who, like all of the kids, was a paragon of good behaviour throughout - blew some bubbles over the grave, which was lovely. I'd been pretty anti having her put anything in the grave: despite what I've written above about ritual, I don't like the imagery of putting things in a grave as if they're needed, or might be going somewhere.
We had a meal afterwards, and then Moo drove us to East Leaek with Kate in the back with the girls. I had a bit of a sleep, had a cup of tea, said goodbye to the girls, and drove home. Pretty tired when I arrived.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Off to Kate and Mac's(backposting) Jo's not been very well for the past few days: running a temperature, that sort of thing, and when it became time to take the girls to Kate and Mac's in two cars, and she asked to go with me, it was pretty-much a no brainer, as she'd been in - or close to - melt-down all afternoon. Just a thought - presumably the phrase "melt-down" didn't exist until the nuclear age?
Anyway, we got there, and Jo in the end didn't stay up to wait for Mouse and Turtle, but voluntarily asked to go to bed. She woke up when they arrived at 2350, but ended up in bed with me, as she was running quite a temperature. Poor little thing.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
London(backposting) To London for Wireless 08, which would have been a complete wash-out if it hadn't been for the fact that I found a couple of leads. Got home early, though, and got a good amount of work done.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
More sleep0720 from Jo. Wow.
Went into Cambridge, bought some books for work, returned some to the UL, handed in my final essay, attended a security seminar in the Computer lab, and ran into (the lovely) Scarlet, who'd not seen for around 10 years. They've moved back to Cambridge, and we intend to meet up for a barbecue, and to let the kids get together.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Sleep(backposting) Jo suddenly seems to have got the whole thing. She's averaging 0700. That's about an hour's improvement. And Miri's not doing to badly, apart from her cough. Long may this continue.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Today, I shall mostly be ...
- ... sleeping in (but not as long as Jo and Moo)
- ... taking the girls swimming with Moo
- ... spending more money than I meant to in Waitrose
- ... clearing the dog poo off the lawn
- ... mowing the lawn (first time this year, if you exclude the two strims it's had)
- ... stepping in several instances of dog poo that I missed
- ... barbecuing with Si
- ... drinking beer with Si
- ... eating the barbecued food with Si, D, Morgs, Boo, Moo, Jo and Miri
- ... drinking wine with Si and Moo
- ... geeking with Si
- ... whilst drinking more wine with Si
- ... going for a walk with the girls, Moo and Buster
- ... having a bath with the girls (but not Moo and Buster)
- ... putting Jo to bed (very quick!)
- ... clearing around a bit
- ... loading the dishwasher
- ... doing some washing up
- ... and ... finishing my last essay for ERMC. YYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSS!
Saturday, May 17, 2008
A great womanSome people are known to all, and some are great in a quiet way. Moo's Aunty Kitty died this morning with a member of family at her bedside, though Parkinson's meant that she'd not been able to know anybody for quite a while. She was always the mainstay of the family. She never married, but was always first on the scene for a family crisis. She worked all her adult life for Littlewood's - and for everybody else. And noone could wield a hoover or clear plates like her at 0730, even if people were still in bed.
She's where she should be: in God's hands, where she will finally know herself again.
Friday, May 16, 2008
WritingWrote a major report for work today, and another 2,200 words of essay: I'm within 600 words now, and have just a conclusion to put together, so that's about right. I think I'm very pleased with it, but I'm absolutely on my last legs and off to bed soon, so can't really tell.
Had a good chat over lunch with Tim, the area CME (Continuing Ministerial Education) Officer, who will be overseeing a fair bit of my training over the next 3-4 years. Got on very well, and we've got lots in common in terms of background and academic interests, so I'm very pleased about that, too.
Got to stop now, as my typing accuracy is going to pot...
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Synchroblog - Human rights (and Christian responsibilities)
Ramblings of a proto-ethicistAs a liberal - and I live in a country where the moniker is not an insult, at least not yet - I am drawn to the discourse of human rights. There is a strong calling to recognising the rights of the inidividual, particularly as against the State, and to a consequentialist ethics which, at root, exists to ensure - or to try to ensure - the best outcome for the most people.
An example: there are rights around whether I should be allowed to exist in a smoke-free environment. I believe that I have a right to health. You argue that you have a right to smoke if you wish. The arbitration tends to be - and has been, in the UK, at least - that the benefits to society as a whole (in terms of healthcare costs for smokers, for instance) outweigh the rights of smokers to injure those around them. This is a good argument, but there are problems with it (not least issues of how you tax smokers, and why you allow tobacco to be sold in the first place). For me as a Christian, however, I am beginning to question how I feel about the consequentialist argument.
The classic alternative to the consequentialist argument ("do the best for the greatest number of people") is the de-ontological argument ("do what is right" - sometimes over-simplified to "the end justifies the means"). This is an argument from the Law. And, for Christians, it is with a capital "L", typically. There are a number of problems with this: not least the suffering of individuals who are often trampled underfoot, and the problems with being certain that you know _what_ is right (and what "the Law" really commands). But one way to balance these issues is to remember that with rights come responsibilities: they are always balanced the one against each other. For some, this can move us into an approach labelled "virtue ethics", but I'm not yet sure that I want to move down this line.
I don't have answers this month (do I ever?), but I think that if we remember that rights _always_ entail responsibilities, we are at least part of the way there.
SynchroblogToday's post is a "synchroblog" on the subject of "human rights". If you've liked what you read here, or, more particularly, if you didn't, and you'd like to read some other opinions, please visit one of the other participating blogs:
- Sonja Andrews on Human Wrongs
- Adam Gonnerman on Guantanamo Bay in the eyes of God
- Julie Clawson on Human rights and Christian comfort
- Steve Hayes on Human rights and Christian faith
- Sally Coleman on "If"
- Adam Gonerman on "My Charade is the event of the season"
- Janice Fowler on "Voice Overs Needed" (or "Wake up - Speak Up")
- Mike Bursell on Human rights (and Christian responsibilities)
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
ExCelToday I was speaking on a panel of four plus chairman at the IET GSA International Semiconductor Forum at ExCel in London. Finally managed to catch up with the chairman 20 minutes beforehand, and when I got there, I discovered that there were only two of us plus him, so more work. But it went pretty well, I think. Some nice give-aways at the exhibition, and some interesting leads, so a good day, all-in-all.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I give inYup, I've done it. The new barbecue arrived today, and it's a gas one. It's just going to be so much quicker to have barbecues, particularly for the girls, who aren't great at waiting for food. Tried it out for Moo and my supper, and it worked very well. Put it together all on my own, as well.
Started on my final ERMC essay tonight. 6,000 words. I've got the first 1,000 or so done, which I was dreading. The next 3,000 or so shouldn't be too hard, and we'll see after that.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Email and finalisations(backposting) I spent most of the day sorting out email. Not just processing it, but getting work email to a point where I could use it again. Work has move away from Lotus Notes to Exchange, and I've had various problems getting it to work (I'm using Linux, of course, just in case my life were too easy), from accessing the server properly (which I just about sorted last week) to importing all my old emails. I'm used to having these hosted online, but that's now not possible, so I had to jump through some hoops go get them into Evolution. Specifically, import them into Thunderbird on Windows, flatten the folder hierarchy, copy all the files onto my Linux partition and then move them back into the right hierarchy again. I'm very pleased to say that I discovered that you don't need to import each folder individually in Evolution - a (long) Internet search led me to the discovery that if you put them in Evolution's mail hierarchy, it'll work things out for itself, which it does pretty well.
We (Moo and I) had a meeting with John, my training incumbent-to-be, and Hilary, the SSM coordinator, in the evening. It was much less fraught than it might have been - Moo was initially quite anti - and we got pretty much everything sorted out, including my working agreement. I'm looking forward to meeting the CME (Continuing Ministerial Education) officer for the diocese on Friday.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
And then home (again)It seems that a goodly percentage of the posts I'm writing at the moment involve saying that I'm going home, but I don't have plans for any more trips in the next couple of weeks. This morning we had a couple of excellent sessions on Child Protection, which were very useful. Talked, among other things, about how paedophiles groom adults as well as children. Also about ways to make children safer from predators at the same time as making adults safe from false allegations.
Got home a couple of minutes before the girls and Moo. We got the paddling pool out, they splashed, we all had a barbecue. Good stuff.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Ethics(backposting) An excellent, excellent couple of sessions on Christian Ethics with the Rt Revd David Atkinson, the Bishop of Thetford. Arguably the best sessions on any topic over the past 2 and a half years at ERMC. During the afternoon the choir rehearsed the music for tomorrow, and then looked at the Stanford in G Nunc Dimittis. We'd really hope to do the Magnificat as well, but unluckily there's not going to be time to fit it in at the June weekend. I felt for Susannah, as she was going to do the solo for that, but also felt a little guilty, as I'll be doing the solo in the Nunc. However, it's shorter, easier, and fits better with the service we'll be doing it in.
We had the ERMC Ball in the evening, which was fun. I even danced. Question: should we have "The Spirit in the Sky" for the Leavers' Service at the June weekend?
Friday, May 09, 2008
ERMC penultimate weekend(backposting) Yes, our penultimate weekend with ERMC, and the last one at Ditchingham. Stayed up till 0200, which didn't feel that late, as I was still a little lagged.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Not what you want to hear(backposting) That the person supposed to be picking you up from your 7 hour flight (during which you only got 30 minutes of sleep) thought that you got in at 2045, not 0845. So I took the train to Paddington, the tube to Liverpool Street, the train to Braintree, and a taxi home. Managed another short sleep.
It was lovely to see the girls, although they'll be off tomorrow morning to Kate and Mac's, as I've got an ERMC weekend.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Off homeOnly one session this morning, then I hitched a lift with one of the guys from the office via SquareOne, a big mall, where I bought the girls some books and clothes, and myself a rather nice jacket. Infrastructure stuff at work, and some discussion of exactly what I should be looking at first with my new role that we're planning out. Rather pleased with how it's going, actually.
Airport, checked in, picked up my headphones (I'd left them on the plane, but got in touch with Air Canada, who'd kept them for me), went through security (they checked my bag and laptop: I can't see why people get stressed about this!), had some supper, did some work in the Air Canada Lounge (gotta love that Elite status), then on the plane. Watched Jumper, which was fairly diverting.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
WineryAfter another full day (starting at 0500 for me - at least I managed a good swim), we went to Hillebrand Winery. Quick tour and tasting, then meal with wine. The food was very good, the wine palatable. We each got a bottle to take away, but I don't have a sensible bag to take it in, so I'll probably give it to a friend.
Last night, we - my boss, the CTO and the head of engineering - came to an agreement about how I should be spending my time. Still needs to be formalised, but looks interesting. The main question is the extent to which it'll bounce up the amount of travelling I do. We'll see.
Sunday, May 04, 2008
White OaksApparently I'm somewhere near Niagara Falls. Sales conference, anyway. Minicab to Brixton tube, Victoria Line to Victoria tube, Circle to Paddington, walk to Heathrow Express ticket office, fail to buy a ticket (they've suspended services), walk to cash machine to get money, walk to taxi rank, taxi to Heathrow Terminal 3, Air Canada flight 857 to Toronto (watch Charlie Wilson's War - rather enjoyable, sleep, leave headphones on plane), arrive at Toronto Airport Terminal 1, drive with colleagues to White Oaks Conference Resort and Spa.
Saturday, May 03, 2008
The lapping of water against a hull(backposting) It's a long time since I heard that sound, and it was a joy to join Victoria (Miri's godmother) and Sennen (her 3-year old) on her 25 footer in Brightlingsea harbour, even if we didn't get the chance for a sail, as we had 3 toddlers with us. The lapping, gentle slapping when a wash hits, and the slight rocking. Just beautiful.
I even rowed the dinghy back to shore - quite a strong current at that time of day, most of the effort was just trying to keep the direction right.
Moo had spent much of the day getting an essay done (it's not just me!), and so my taking the girls out gave her a chance to do that. We all left for Jen's, where we had a barbecue and a fair amount of fizz before heading to bed around 2200, just 45 minutes after the last of the girls (who were _so_ excited) had fallen to sleep.
Friday, May 02, 2008
PreparationsSo, next Monday is a Bank Holiday. Clearly, I'm away on work. Flying to Toronto on Sunday, and being driven to Niagara by a colleague for a sales conference. At least I don't need to drive when I get there. I'll be leaving around 0800 UK time, and arriving at Niagara maybe 1945, so didn't really want to be having to drive for over an hour when I get there. Oh, and I can have a drink or two on the plane, too. Made sure that I had all of my ducks in a row for the travel, and had finished any obviously outstanding documents, etc.. I'm also giving part of a presentation, so had to agree that with a couple of colleagues. Good news from work in this Press Release. Honestly don't know much more about it, but we like this.
Went for a lovely walk with Moo, Buster and the girls after their supper: we're trying to make a habit of this, as it's good exercise for everyone, and now that the evenings are drawing out, it's plausible.
Embarrassing Bodies(backposting) This has been great TV, and it could quite easily have been awful. A bunch of doctors go around talking to real people about embarrassing problems from baldness to acne to erectile dysfunction and beyond. The people were very brave to appear, and were treated with humanity, dignity and humour.
Brave, worthwhile television.