Tuesday, September 30, 2008



I won a prize in the raffle: an 8GB iPod touch. Seems OK. Won't play oggs, so I'm trying to work out how to put videos on it. Under Linux.



SANS Day 1

I'm taking a course on UNIX and Linux security in Las Vegas, which is very interesting. It's also hard work, and would be even if I weren't somewhat jet-lagged. 9-5, with things to do in lunchtimes and evenings, so we're keeping pretty busy. And then there's checking work emails, etc.

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Monday, September 29, 2008


25 hours

(backposting) Well, I ended up phoning the girls before I went to bed, an hour or so after they'd got up, which confused Jo more than a little. I was up for 25 hours, with a couple of short naps in the middle, with a day which went like this: It looks quite simple when you lay it out like that, doesn't it? Doesn't show the waiting times, either...

On the plane to Calgary, I read Alan Bateman's book They Gave Their Lives. about 12 different members of the Salvation Army who gave their lives for their faith. It was very inspiring, and quite emotional in places, too. I'd not had a chance to take communion today - I always try to do so on a Sunday, as is my canonical duty - and this, for me, was a kind of sacrament.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008


Places and spaces

(Fairly) recently, Sally sent Mark and me an email:

One of my MA modules focuses on Christian Community and Worship, I am currently reading about place and identity, the need for community and rootedness, I was wondering how you see the Cathedral in Second Life in the context of this Walter Brueggeman quote:

“Place is a space which has historical meanings, where some things have happened that are now remembered and which provide continuity and identity across the generations. Place is a space in which important words have been spoken which have established identity, defined vocation and envisioned destiny. Place is a space in which vows have been exchanged, promises have been made and demands have been issued. Place is indeed a protest against an uncompromising pursuit of space. It is a declaration that our humanness cannot be found in escape, detatchment, absence of commitment, and undefined freedom…Whereas pursuit of space may be a flight from history, a yearning for place is a decision to enter history with an identifiable people in an identifiable pilgrimage …”

…and this line of thought:

Philip Sheldarke points to the way that the world has effectively “shrunk” for many of us due to technological advances – but notes that space is an objective thing that is subjectively perceived and experienced differently depending on perspective.

It struck me that the Brueggeman quote could be used to both defend or to critique the Second Life Cathedral depending on your perspective.

Sally ran the question in her blog, along with Mark's response, in her blog. I've added a comment, which I thought I'd post here, as I think it's relevant.

So, I was one of the original people on the "To:" line, and I've yet to respond. Here's my attempt. I think I'm going to try to do so at two levels. The first is a response to Tim. I wrote a paper a while ago, which you can find as a post on my blog. I, too, struggle with the issue of sharing communion: and that's not the only sacrament which I find important, but which I struggle to situate in SecondLife. I hope you find the paper interesting: it attempts to deal with a number of the questions that I think you're alluding to, including, I think, the issue of sect-dom (if you will). Maybe it's not explicit, but I think the attempts we've gone to maintain an authentic Anglican voice, and to take all comers, mitigate against the (real) danger of a descent in the sect.

(15 minute hiatus while I take over putting one of the kids to bed)

The other part of my response is really to reject Brueggeman's view. I kind of see his distinction, and by his definitions, I'd say that the Anglican Cathedral in SecondLife fulfills both of them. But I think that a place - if it is separate from a space, and I think it's a useful distinction, then I think that a place is negotiated, and personal. That negotiation may be internal and personal, but as I take a postmodern view of "truth" and "experience", then whether a space is a (Brueggmannian) place is always already up for negotiation. Obvious examples are whether you find Stone Henge a "spiritual place" (and is that enough to people - even Christians - meeting there as a "church"?) or whether King's College Chapel, Winscombe parish church, a chapel in Iona, a mega-church in Orange County of the front room or your house is what leads you to "being church". In short, Brueggeman's definition - at least as presented above - is too modernist for my taste, and I think that if we insist on engaging with SecondLife with a modernist agenda, then we're sunk before we've begun.

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Ska-ed for (everlasting) life

I couldn't resist the pun. Or the addition. I'm sorry.

I'm not much of a devotee of Christian pop/rock at the best of times, but this has opened my eyes. There's a whole new subgenre that I'm suddenly interested in exploring. I'm wondering if we can book them for our next Family Eucharist. Or whether I can do a stealth booking for Gary's church.

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Zoo time

Miri and some of me, courtesy of Jojo
Originally uploaded by MikeCamel

We had a lovely, lovely time at Colchester Zoo today: just Miri, Jojo and me. I took the girls to give Moo a day off, as I'm off on work travel for nearly 2 weeks tomorrow.

Jo was considerate, patient, obedient, sharing, kind, sensible and generally a joy to be with, and Miri toddled around happily. One of the things that Jo wanted to do was to take some pictures, and this is one of them. She still hasn't got the whole "framing" thing yet, but she _is_ little.

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Friday, September 26, 2008


Clearing the decks

I'm off travelling for two weeks from Sunday - more to come on that - and so I tried to clear the decks so that I could get nice and ready. It wasn't to be. Stuff just turned up. The customer visit I'd planned (well, yesterday, anyway), but there were emails, calls, more calls, and more emails. But it's done now, and bar the packing, I'm pretty ready.


24/09/2008 Originally uploaded by MikeCamel

This is young Johan, after a beer or two, and in sepia. The lovely hotel is the Gothia Towers, in Gothenburg.


Thursday, September 25, 2008


Good meeting

(backposting) One of those meetings where it's not what you expect, but it is interesting. Some possible things to get going with in a couple of months. Got home a little late, but luckily managed to avoid the problems with air traffic control that might have delayed us yet further. Stansted airport have added some new places for immigration officers, which sped things up a bit.

Oh, and last night I got myself a flickr account, after I got round to working out how to upload pictures straight from my phone.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Off to lovely Gothenburg

What a lovely city. I don't think I've ever visited before, and I've picked the right day for it: sunny, some wind, and around 21 degrees Celsius.

Just phoned home, and Jo's a bit sad: that's the way it is sometimes. She passed me over to her little sister saying, "Miri's a bit happier than I am." Seems she didn't want to tidy (know the feeling...).

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Men only

(backposting) That was what the invitation on the "Come & See week" flyer said. It was at the Five Bells in Colne Engaine, which seems like a lovely pub: definitely worth going to. It _wasn't_ at the Lion in Earls Colne, where I first went. Anyway: around 50 men, tables of up to 7, and a member of clergy or ordinand per table to facilitate discussion. Each table looked at 2 questions over the evening, and people could choose which table they went to.

I found it fascinating, and lots of discussion seems to have ensued. There were lots of non-churchgoers, not to mention non-Christians, and we tackled some good questions. Among them were:

So - good stuff. I see that there are plans to repeat it, which I look forward to.


Monday, September 22, 2008


Disturbing dream

Last night I dreamt about meeting a child who'd been sexually abused by her father and thrown out by her mother. Moo and I helped, and I got very angry at the police who said that they couldn't see her for at least a week. Moo was about to find someone else to help when I woke up.

It's been preying on my mind a little, and I need to work out why. Think I might need to engage with the issue somehow, but not sure how yet.


Sunday, September 21, 2008



Moo: "Given that you've got OCD, I'm amazed that you can't unpack a dishwasher properly."

I do, though not badly: and one of the things about OCD, as I understand it, is that it's not about rationality: I have ways of doing things, and I'm happiest if they stay that way.


We started off our "Come & See" week of mission today at the 1000 Eucharist. I really enjoyed the service, and had to do lots of deaconing things. Not just reading the Gospel, preparing the altar and clearing after Communion, but also coordinating two stations for communion, both of which ran out of separate elements (bread and wine) and had to have movement between them. I enjoyed it a lot, and actually had a great time during the service, too. I've been enjoying the services more and more in Halstead. In the afternoon we went to a "Jeux sans Frontières" team thingy at Gosfield. It wasn't really J sans F's, but we had fun and there was a service afterwards which we all stayed for, followed by a barbecue.

While Miri had a sleep before lunch, Jo and I played. She wanted me to a little sister, and her to be Mummy. Which meant that I was basically Miri. She wanted to put me to bed, and I played at being Miri while she was patient and loving. When she thought I was "asleep", she went out of the room (as we do), and then came back a little later to give me a kiss and put a teddy in my arms. It was just beautiful.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008


Trip to Anglesey

(Abbey, that is). Although I did worry that if I told my GPS phone thingy to find our way there, we might have been half way through Wales before we realised. Anglesey Abbey is another National Trust property, and we took the girls there today. Had a lovely, lovely time, mainly chasing each other and having our socks and shoes stolen (well, that was mainly me).

Jo really got it today. Not all the time, of course, but mostly. Kind, sharing, polite, thoughtful, listening.

Watched Merlin on BBC1. Good stuff: a romp, without any historical reference at all, as far as I could tell. Who cares?

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Friday, September 19, 2008


Old work colleagues

Popped round to Citrix today as I had a meeting in Cambourne. Put a clerical collar on (had one in the glove compartment). Fun and good to see some of the folks from years ago.

Moo's back home, we're both knackered.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008


How tired can a little girl get?

The answer to this question is "very". Jo's back at pre-school, and doing 5 mornings a week (today was her fourth). She's not been for 7 weeks, Mel's away, my Mum's looking after the girls, and Moo's away, so it's all rather difficult for her. So she's so tired that pretty much as soon as she gets back from pre-school, she's beyond herself. That thin veneer of rationality just vanishes away like a puff of smoke when kids are tired or ill (and, of course, she had a set of vaccinations on Tuesday).

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008



For a meeting. M25. Grrr. Tired.



Planning a trip

(backposting) Just a short trip - a day and a half. Gothenberg next week: should be interesting. More discussions about what I'm going to be doing in the medium term. Lots of sales stuff. And I cycled to Stambourne to catch some of Jo's swimming lesson, which was both appreciated and good for my health. And Jo had a set of vaccinations today. I took her, and she cried, 'cos it really hurt. But she was very good, poor little thing.

We've got my mum here helping looking after the girls this week as Mel's still on holiday after her wedding. Lovely to have her around, and the girls aren't behaving _too_ badly. The fact that Jo's back at pre-school, and now 5 mornings a week, is helping.

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Monday, September 15, 2008



Hmmm. The job's very busy at the moment, and I'm being pulled in at least two directions. One is a more sales-oriented pre-sales technical support role, and the other is the more purely development-led role. A careful balance to strike: recently there's been less of the former (holidays throughout Europe), and I've concentrated on the latter, but things are hotting up on the sales front (which I'm very pleased about, because that's good for the company). Hmm again.

Had a good chat with Nick (Harkaway/Cornwell) about his book today. It's really very good. People who've read it will recognise the reference in my introduction (at the top of the blog page).

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Sunday, September 14, 2008


Hellfire and damnation

(backposting) Today I preached on hellfire and damnation. It went down really well, and I got lots of approving comments afterwards (including "that was a damn good sermon" and "brilliant"). I finished it off on the positive note for John 3:16-17, pointing out that although Christ said that deserved/were subject to/were liable to hell (Matthew 5:20-22), that's luckily not what God sent him to us for. I really enjoy preaching, and I think it was a good sermon. I'm beginning to worry about the sin of pride, and I spent some time this evening retching over the bathroom loo, but decided that this may have had more to do with the unlimited kebabs and cakes available at the toddler's birthday party we had in the afternoon than God's judgment on me.

Or maybe not.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008



Well, _obviously_...

You are a Sage, characterized by a thinking or head spirituality. You value responsibility, logic, and order. Maybe that's why you were voted "Most Dependable" by your high school classmates. Structure and organization are important to you. What would the world be like without you? Chaos, that's what! Your favorite words include should, ought, and be prepared. What makes you feel warm and fuzzy? Like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof it's tradition! tradition! tradition!

Because you love words, written or spoken, you enjoy a good lecture, serious discussions, and theological reflection. Prayer for you usually is verbal. You thrive on activity and gatherings of people, such as study groups. Sages on retreat likely would fill every day with planned activities, leaving little time for silence or solitude.

We need Sages for your clear thinking and orderly ways. You pay attention to details that others overlook. Sages make contributions to education, publishing, and theology. You often are the ones who feel a duty to serve, give, care, and share with the rest of us.

On the other hand, sometimes you seem unfeeling, too intellectual, or dry. Can you say "dogmatic"? You may need to experience the freedom of breaking a rule or two every now and then. God's grace covers Sages too, you know!

Famous Sages:

Mr. Spock | Dilbert | Elrond | Dietrich Bonhoeffer | Maya Angelou | Linus (Peanuts) | Yoda (Star Wars) | Andy Griffith | Mr. Miyagi | The Buddha | Rodin's The Thinker | Moses | Ross Geller | Matthew (the Gospel writer) | Tiger Woods




Today we had problems finding a parking space when we went to Sainsbury's today. When we finally found one, Jo said "My bugger". We assume she meant "Oh bugger". I downplayed it and told her she probably meant "my rugger", being a different word for "rugby". Moo didn't help as she was almost paralytic with laughter in the passenger seat.

Jo's come up with some good questions recently, though.

It's amazing how many questions can be answered with the words "atoms and molecules" or "DNA".

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Friday, September 12, 2008


Back home

(backposting) We were heading home and decided to pop via Snape Maltings to have some coffee and cake. Clearly the café was closed. But we noticed that they have apartments for sale. We'd like one. They're rather out of our price range.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008



Today we took the girls to BeWILDerwood, which they loved. We were pretty impressed, particularly as they had good bits for little ones like Miri. Jo really lost it after lunch, but recovered in time for the hot tub.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008


The Gone Away World

The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway is an astonishing book. I used to know Nick very well, and I'm not surprised by the book: he's a very bright, funny and imaginative guy, and the book sounds like him. It has his voice.

It's funny, learned, complex, exciting and many other similarly descriptive words. I can't rate it highly enough, or encourage people to read it enough. I'm trying to think what more to say, but I suspect it's going to be one of those books I read again and again. Think: Tibor Fischer, John Welter, Neal Stephenson, Iain Banks. All of these are favourites of mine (and should be of yours).

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008


You can't get seasick on the Norfolk Broads

Moo and I decided that as we'd booked a holiday near the Norfolk Broads, it was only sensible to take a boat out. The weather looked half decent this morning, so we went off to Waveney Water Centre and hired a putta-putta boat for half a day. Life jackets all round, five minutes' instruction: you get the picture. And off we set.

And so did the kids. Zeugma there, in that we set off, and the kids did, too. I let Jo help steer a bit, sitting on my knee. And then she tried to steer into the reeds, so I had to steer the other way, and she hurt her wrist. Not badly: just enough to cry. Miri wouldn't sit still, or keep quiet. And after a while, when I asked Moo how she was feeling, she told me that she was feeling seasick. I know that she sometimes gets carsick, but seasick - on the Norfolk Broads? No swell. Seriously: nothing. We made it to Oulton Broad, and decided to tie up. Stern first, as per instructions. I had difficulty getting us backing in straight, so was hoping that Moo would leap personfully onto the bank, and she was hoping (against hope) that neither of the kids would attempt to follow her (and end up in the water, between the propellor and the wooden mooring posts).

We gave up, and motored back to the hiring place, phoning ahead so that they could jump aboard and tie up for us. They were very nice about it, and it was the right decision, and I hardly feel emasculated at all. It stopped raining once we tied up (or were tied up, to be more honest) - it had started about 5 minutes into the trip. Good work. The only positive outcome of this trip was the realisation that our decision _not_ to hire a boat for the week, but to stay in a cottage instead, was generally a good one.

We went to a pub for lunch, and I cried because they had a lovely Newfy who was very like Buster.

Not the best day, and Jo's going through "a phase". Luckily, Miri doesn't seem to have concussed herself when she fell off the dining room table and hit the back of her head on the chair behind her. So, the day ended on a good note.

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Monday, September 08, 2008



Yet another National Trust outing: this time to Dunwich Heath and Minsmere Beach. We've got some holiday, and so off we went. The girls had a lovely time on the beach (it's always nice when the water's a little warmer than you might expect, due to the nuclear power plant visible just down the coast), and there was a little trail for us to do with flaps to lift up to identify likely wildlife. Though most of the wildlife fled at the sound of the four of us coming, or course.

Still not feeling 100% - sore throat, blah - but much improved by kippers at brunch and having lots of fun with the girls. However, getting them to sleep in under an hour would have been nice...


Sunday, September 07, 2008


Communion helps

Wasn't feeling great. Took the girls to the 1000, taking communion and having a pray helps. Hmmm.


Saturday, September 06, 2008


A proper Essex wedding

Mel and Dean got married today, and, as it was a proper Essex wedding, there was a reference in the best man's speech to a kidnapping. None to "shooters" (or "shoo'uhs"), which was a disappointment, but way to go.

Jo was a bridesmaid, something she'd been looking forward to for months. Possibly over a year. She looked gorgeous. So did Miri and Moo (there will be pictures to come, hopefully), but Jo looked just the way a 3 and a half year old bridesmaid ought to look. Beautiful and gorgeous.

Well done Mel and Dean.

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Friday, September 05, 2008


Tomorrow's the day

The only reason that Mel's wedding is important is, basically, that Jo gets to be a bridesmaid. We've been looking forward to this for months, and I really can't tell you how excited she is about it. If you ask her what her dress colour is, she'll say "burgundy". Actually, it's white with burgundy roses, but it sounds good, doesn't it?

Work's getting madly busy. Which is interesting and good, but still.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008



Things are really hotting up at work. Lots of sales stuff coming along, but more and more non-sales stuff, too. I need to work out how this is all going to work together. Or not. We'll see.

I forgot to blog about an incident on Sunday. At Ickworth Park there was a small zip wire for kids, and Jo had some gos on it. There was a boy of at least 2 years older than her, whose parents were being, shall we say, somewhat more protective than we are. When he was called away, he had a complete hissy fit. We just wouldn't put up with it, and as they went out of earshot, one father said to his kids: "if you acted like that, I'd throw your bike in the river. And if you didn't have a bike, I'd buy you one specially." We laughed. A lot.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008


God on Trial

(backposting) At 2100 today, BBC2 showed God on Trial. It was astonishing. The acting, script and cinematography were astounding, and it was extremely moving. I'm still trying to process it, but it's the sort of programme that I'd like to show the girls when they're old enough. That'll be a while. I wept.

I came across a stubble fire today, called the fire brigade and told someone who might know the farmer. It's a while since I saw a stubble fire. They spread quickly, they really do.

We had a "ministers fraternal" meeting today, where the clergy from Halstead - Baptist, CofE, Methodist, Roman Catholic and URC (notice how I sorted them alphabetically?) get together. The Baptist guy didn't make it, which was a pity, but it was good to meet the other clergy. We do a number of services together, and there's a "Churches together in Halstead" group (also including lay people) which meets to arrange other events, etc.. I also called someone from the town of Haubourdin, near Lille, which is near Halstead's twin town, and got them to agree that we might try to have some coordinated prayer events with them during the Week for Christian Unity next January. Did that in French. I was quite chuffed with myself.

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Monday, September 01, 2008



Yesterday I realised, in the middle of the 1000 service, how much I was enjoying being a deacon. The chance to help - assist - in the ministering of the service, both in the classic deaconing role, but also in things like taking the first part of the service, handing over to John for the absolution. Helping is an important part of being a deacon, and, for instance, I offered to help John consume the excess elements at the end of the service (that's the bread and the wine). Helping. Being part. There's a real ministry all of its own there, and I'm beginning to find it.


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