Friday, October 31, 2008


A hard day

A hard day working - three meetings round Cambridge - and then back home. Jo was sick again - in Waitrose this time.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008


Jo's still ill

Poor Jo was sick again twice today. She's fine between times, but it's horrid for her.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008



Why can't I get the TPM in any of the three laptops I own to work? Well, I know the answer to one of them: the kernel modules included with the distro I'm trying on that box don't support the (fairly old) TPM chip. For the other two, I'm somewhat stumped.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008



(backposting) Another good work day, and after that some church work. Jo joked that Daddy must be confused if he was going to do church work, because it's not a Sunday. Usually I manage to avoid my evening church commitments from impacting on the girls' bedtime, but tonight I had to leave before 1745. Oh, and it was _chucking_ it down.

So, we started off with some marriage preparation. A couple with a young daughter - and my first baptism, which is going to be on Sunday. Went well, and we got on well - they stayed for 10 minutes or so after James (who was running the session) had left - which was good.

There was a communion service at 1900: four of us there. John (presiding), me and two others. One of whom is only a few months old: her mother has been having a hard time, and fancied some church, which is cheering. I got to hold the bubba for a while during the service, which made me happy.

Then a supervision over supper with John. We talked about the links between the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and ordination. I'm really enjoying my curacy, and the diaconal aspects of it. It's great to be part of things, quietly helping. Just there.

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Monday, October 27, 2008


I'm a sad geek

(backposting) This means that I really enjoyed a day of research into hardening. Of doing adversary characterisation (a phrase I use as often as I can, 'cos it's cool), and work on secure booting: all that sort of thing. I really enjoy my work, sometimes, and today was one of those days.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008


Three issues to cover

You (that's the thousands of readers I have, of course) don't often get 3 issues in one posting. Well, actually you often do, but I don't usually bother to separate them out. Today you do, and I am. Lucky you.


It's really hard having a child who's ill. In fact, Jo had finished throwing up by the time I got back home from church, but she had thrown up 4 times between my leaving at 0720 and my return around 1210. Moo had to deal with it. This is one of the nightmares about having multiple commitments - particularly ones I care about - is having to leave Catherine to deal with problems which a) it's not fair that she has to deal with on her own; and b) that I want to be involved with myself.

Anyway, Jo was much better by this afternoon, and managed to keep a simple supper down. Hopefully she'll sleep well. Hopefully she (and Miri) will sleep through past 0800. Yeah, right. Past 0600 would be a miracle.


I preached on stewardship today. It was a very hard sermon to prepare, and pretty hard to preach, but I was quite pleased. I gave a shorter version to the 0800, and the full version to 1000. I based it (to the surprise of James, the other curate!) on justification by faith alone. It's not an obvious starting point, I grant you, but for me, it made sense. The people who built - or caused to be built - our church in Halstead paid the church in tithes, and gave money in gifts, partly because the doctrine of the medi&aedigraph;val Catholic church was that doing good works helps in getting to heaven: alongside faith, of course. I won't go into current Roman Catholic teaching, but I'm firmly of the opposite view: that we are justified by faith alone.

I noted that as citizens of England, we have rights to use the church - the parish church in Halstead - for marriages, baptisms, funerals, and other services- as do all the other people who live in the parish. And I pointed out that we have a set of responsibilities that go along with those rights: to maintain that set of rights of ourselves, for those who don't usually exercise them, for those who came before us, and for those who will come after.

But more than that, we have a covenant with God - a new covenant, a new testament - and there are responsibilities entailed with that. And that's where we start with thinking about or financial responsibilities to God's church. And its people. And its God.

Not just at the front

During intercessions today, I left my seat at the front of the church and went to be beside someone who was crying. The details aren't important: I supported this person and put my arm around them. I thought about it - for probably under a second - before I did it. But it was abundantly clear to me that if I can sit at the front of the church, up three steps, and leave someone to cry, then I'm not worthy to be a priest. Or even a deacon.

We serve. Or we dishonour the Father, and let down the Spirit, and sadden the Son.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008


Jo's ill

Not too bad - in that she's immediately much more cheery after she's thrown up. But it's been twice today. Once in the car (Catherine's). On both occasions, Jo's told us first: second time round she told us, ran from the bathroom to her bedroom, and threw up in her bin. Which leaked. Bless her.

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Friday, October 24, 2008



I have to write a sermon for Sunday. It's on the issue of stewardship, as I mentioned a couple of days ago. This is a very difficult sermon for me to write: very difficult indeed. We, as a parish, are short of our parish share - what the Diocese of Chelmsford expects us to provide - by quite a lot of money. Not so much that we can't do it - in fact, it's a fairly small amount per family per week - but it's not a subject that resonates, and it's not a subject about which I have a strong moral or emotional feeling. It's not that I don't believe that giving is important - on the contrary, I do. But I don't have a strong attachment to tithing or any particular framework for giving that I can point to theologically. I tend to preach from the heart, and if I don't have a strong feeling about something, I struggle with preaching about it.

Oddly enough, watching The West Wing helps. The quality of the writing is astonishing, and there are lots of speeches. These are guys who really know how to write, and how to write about difficult issues in ways which allow the speaker to maintain his (or sometimes her) integrity. But to speak with inspiration, and emotion. And belief. I really enjoy preaching, and I always try to speak with integrity and with emotion, and rhetoric - often a maligned art - can help with that.

So, I hope that I can come up with something for Sunday. There'll be something, but what will it be, and how well will it glorify God? That's the gold standard.


Thursday, October 23, 2008



(backposting) I met James for lunch today. We get on very well, and we had lunch in a pub. Unluckily, the pub we went to only had one pudding, and neither of us fancied it. So, we went to another pub for pudding. That makes sense, doesn't it?

It's one of the best things about my curacy so far is the friendship that has grown between James and me. He's full of support, and at the same time, we get on very well: lots of jokes at each others' expense, that sort of thing. I hope that the next curate we get - assuming we get one - is someone with whom I can get on as well. Because it's a real help: he's a good man.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008


New project

(backposting) Started an interesting new project for work today. Hardening, secure boot, that sort of thing. Already interesting.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008



As I'm going to be away from my home parishes, staying with my in-laws, I've been in contact with their local priest, and it looks like she'll be able to use me for something. I'm pleased about that, as it's difficult juggling work, family and ministry. And Christmas is an important time.

On a different note, I'm supposed to be preaching on "stewardship". This is what the Church of England means by "encouraging our congregations to give to the church". This is a hard thing to preach about for me, and I need to work hard on it.

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Monday, October 20, 2008


I'm tired

But coming to terms with it. I'll get there, and I've got a lovely wife (really: a lovely, lovely wife) and two fantastic children. I enjoy my job, I'm privileged and humbled by my ministry, and I'm healthy.

I think I've got enough to thank God for, and little to complain about. That's fine.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008



Two reasons:
  1. we had a confirmation this afternoon, in Halstead church. We had 21 candidates (of whom 4 were baptised in the same service), and 2 people received into the Church of England from another church. I was emotional because it has a lot in common with my ordination service, and that's not that long ago. It brought lots back, and, however, odd it feels, I keep knowing that I'm doing the right thing.

  2. I missed the girls' bedtime again. Second night in a row, and although Moo was fantastic about it, she shouldn't have to be. It's not so much missing putting the girls to bed, as much as the fact that Moo ends up doing it on her own, and it can be really hard. This made me feel sad.
I'm doing too much at the moment, and I'm not sure how to calm it down. But I need to.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008



Every few years, we manage to get a group of the members of the Posse mailing list together for a meal. Tonight was one of those occasions, and we headed off for a meal in London. There were 12 of us and one partner. A good night: the only downside was that I ended up missing the girls' bedtime, which meant that Moo had to do it.

Best line? A (somewhat obviously geeky) "Can someone reboot Chris, please?" (after Dan had been talking to him about "furries" - if you don't know, google it: but be careful).


Friday, October 17, 2008



Finished it. It's pretty good - not easy, and I'd say that to get much out of it, you need to have a decent background in philosophy, or it's really going to be pretty hard going. Not as good as Nick's The Gone-Away World.


Thursday, October 16, 2008



I'm really enjoying Anathem, by the masterful Neal Stephenson. I bought it at the airport on the way home from Toronto, and it's a big, but interesting book. It's difficult to talk about what the subject really is, as that only becomes clear through the course of the story/narrative(s), but there are similarities between this book and my current favourite, Nick Harkaway's The Gone-Away-World, which I still strongly encourage you to read.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Curates get-together

This evening, we had a meeting of the 6 curates in our diocesan area. That'll be me, Terry, Mandy, Iain, Mark and Paul. It was convened by Tim, who's our CME (Continuing Ministerial Education) Advisor, at his place. We used the first meeting to get to know a bit about our stories, and wow: some of us really _do_ have stories. I don't count myself as one of them. One great snippet, which I don't think the relevant person will mind my mentioning:

"So I had my meeting with the bishop, and he said, 'so it says here that you were a mercenary in Africa. Obviously that's a misprint for missionary. So I said, 'actually, no...'."

A good meeting: we're going to have three a year, and use them to discuss whatever we feel is important or useful, rather than going over-structured.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Florence, Frankie and Nina

I had the chance to see Florence, Frankie and Nina today. Frankie looks more and more like Jim (his father) every time I see him. Florence insisted on whispering to me throughout the visit. Nina was great. Unluckily Jim wasn't around: another time.


Monday, October 13, 2008


Supervision, and back to work: and an anniversary

(backposting) Spent most of the morning going through emails and getting pretty much up-to-date again. The afternoon was taken up mainly writing up a report on an audit I've recently done. Or getting most of it done, anyway.

I also had a supervision with John. We worked on preparing for the confirmation on Sunday (I'll be the Bishop's Chaplain), then on my first baptism (my first sacrament!) next month. And also about the past two weeks, when I've been without Communion or any other church interaction. This is common for many, and rare for clergy, and it's been an interesting and useful experience. I've found the Daily Offices (morning and evening prayer) very important during this time, and have found it tough. Something I'll be reflecting on.

On another topic, Moo came up to my office around 0930, and mentioned the fact that today is our engagement anniversary. 16 years, we decided. Luckily, she'd forgotten, too. But we managed to get Mel to baby-sit, and arranged to go out for a curry in Clare. It was only around 1715 that we remembered that it wasn't our engagement anniversary (which as we both knew very well is on the 13th Feb., not October). But we went out anyway. We're rubbish.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008


Harvest - and no communion

(backposting) I was up at 0500 with Jo. Moo and Miri (I'd moved out around midnight when Miri came into our room) managed till around 0755. Bitter, table for one. That'll be me.

So, I took the girls to the 1000 at Halstead, hoping to receive Communion. I'd missed the last two Sundays, despite trying, but Harvest Festival is the only week in the entire year that we don't have communion, so I missed out. I was still very tired, and not really into it.


Saturday, October 11, 2008


Back into routine

(backposting) Jo to ballet, shopping in Freeport (some boots for Moo), lunch, playing in the garden because it was lovely. And we let the kittens out for the first time, as they're now up on their vaccinations. Back home. Great.

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Friday, October 10, 2008


Packing and God

Yup, because it's time to go home!

On another note completely, I had some very kind responses to my post Where's God? the other day. The more I think about it, the less I'm concerned. I think that part of my faith is a waiting, and as long as I'm quietly faithful - and, believe me, saying the daily offices regularly _really_ helps me on this one - I don't worry. God's there, and I can feel His presence in the undercurrent, if you will, and it'll only be a matter of time before I can wade in again and let myself flow with Him.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008


My own fault

(backposting) It's probably kind of OK to have a beer and then some wine with my meal, but it was definitely a mistake to go back to my room and unpack the bottle of Ardbeg. Kudos to Cady, who put up with my ramblings. So, that was last night, and so I took things easy today.

Had a very good meeting with the CEO, and talked about future directions for the company in Europe, which was very positive. I also had a good meeting with my (temporary) boss over dinner, where he probed me really quite hard to find out what I'm looking to do in the short, medium and long term, and how we might get there. Very cheering indeed. Our CTO turned up while we were in the bar, and we stayed chatting to him. My boss left after a while, and the two of us who remained chatted some more. I do like Certicom: I think we're a good company, and there are opportunities to make a difference, doing stuff that I enjoy and I'm good at, and that's excellent.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Where's God?

D'oh: all around, clearly. But I've been away from home - and church - for coming up for two weeks, and although I've been saying the daily offices - always a helpmeet, and rarely a burden - I'm missing the opportunities for more frequent "visible" interaction. Services; church events; prayers with Jo as she goes to bed; prayers at night after I turn the light off next to Moo. I'll cope, of course, but it's an interesting lack.

I'd hoped to get to church last Sunday, but it wasn't to be. Maybe God's given me a chance to reach out on my own, and discover a different type of spirituality. I've travelled lots before, of course, but this is the longest since we've had the girls, and I'm lonely and hurting. God's here, but there's a difference, and I'm wondering how it will feel when I get the chance to do the more obvious: the more visible.

It's another reflection on what it means to be non-stipendiary, from my point of view.

On a closing point: I've been watching the US presidential candidates' debate. Why so personal? Why not more love and charity? We should be so lucky.

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Monday, October 06, 2008



At our HQ in Mississauga, and very, very busy. Everyone seems to have things for me to do, which is cheering at one level, if worrying at another.


Sunday, October 05, 2008



(background) I went out and walked the strip last night, and got really lonely. Thought about getting good and drunk, but resisted. However, I ordered a burger on the strip, started eating it and was already several bites into it before I realised that it was a cheeseburger. I sent it back, and had a proper one (I can't do melted/cooked cheese), but last night, I was not at all well. Didn't throw up in the end, but it all came out, one way or another.

I'd hoped to go to Communion this morning, and had found a church, but I was worried that I'd continue to be ill, and it wasn't worth the risk, so I got up slowly and drank lots and lots of water. I got on a plane at 1200, by which time I was doing OK, and we arrived in Toronto at 1710 local, 4 hours or so later. Picked up a car, drove to the hotel.

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Saturday, October 04, 2008


Next stop Toronto

I've finished my course, so it's next stop Toronto for four days in the office. Missing the girls, tired, but it's been very useful, and I also expect to get lots done next week.

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Friday, October 03, 2008


I have never ...

Visited Bogota or any part of Argentina. No matter what withdrawals of around £2,000 on my debit card may say. Many thanks to HSBC, whose fraud section called me to warn me.

There shouldn't be any problem getting the money back, but it makes you think.




(backposting) I won a wooden katana (martial arts sword) today, for "Best Defense" over the 3 days. Tonight I stepped back and tried to help coordinate the attempts of the two new team captains, offering help as required. It was great fun, and I learnt lots and lots. I'm really, really chuffed with the katana. I was really impressed with the guys from White Wolf Security, and there was also a Lieut-Col from the US Air Force who was observing for all three days: they seem to be taking a major interest in the whole area. Much credit to Fortinet, whose firewalls we used, and, of course, Larry and Paul from Pauldotcom, whose podcast I need to start catching.


Thursday, October 02, 2008


More training, more hackery

(backposting) I've been very impressed with my SANS course, which is 506: Security Unix/Linux. And it's been useful on the ICE II exercise, which I took part in again today. This time we had more defenders (there were more attackers, too!), and George (a guy on another of the courses) and I took a team of defenders each. We thought we got completely hosed, but at the de-brief afterwards, it was interesting to discover that we'd been in better shape than we thought. It's easy to panic, and we did, particularly at the beginning.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Hacking games

(backposting) This evening, I took part in ICE II, which is a "cyber exercise". Two teams of 8-15 each. One team (the defenders) gets given a network that they need to keep the other team (the attackers) out of. Before they enter their respective rooms, neither has seen the network or what's on it. The attackers get access to a bunch of tools: the defenders have to make do with what's on the (old, and generally very exploitable) systems they're looking after. And when I say old, I'm talking Windows 2000 and more. A mix of Linux and Windows, a SCADA (power) box, a couple of VOIP phones, and IP camera and a PABX box (running Asterisk).

I ended up leading the defender team. We got lots of help from a Larry Pesce from PaulDotCom, but then again, the attackers had lots of help from Paul Assadorian (also from PaulDotCom). Both sides did well: we managed better than I thought we had. Lots of credit to everyone on the defenders team, and also to the folks who set it up.

I ended up with a Wi-spy. Geek-a-rama.

All very useful indeed in understanding how threats play out: the scenario basically tries to put you in the place of an incident team parachuted (metaphorically) into a NOC (Network Operations Centre) which is under (virtual) siege from malicious attackers.

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