Sunday, November 30, 2008


Water my couch with my tears

I got up this morning and sent Moo back to bed so that she could get some more sleep. I was due to deacon at the 0800 service, but texted James (who was presiding and had already told me not to worry if I didn't make it) to say that Moo wasn't well, and neither was I, so when Moo came down at 0730, I sent her back up to bed, where she went back to sleep.

At around 0820, she was awoken by tears - mine. I'd just lost it, and had suddenly burst into tears downstairs with the girls. I wasn't angry at them, but it had just got too much: Jo had been badgering me a bit, but nothing major. Moo came down, I burst into tears again, texted James to tell people I wouldn't make the 1000 either, and went to bed, where I slept for 3 hours. I couldn't put my finger on any rational issue - the only thing was that I felt I'd been saying "no" to the girls for ages, but that's not rational at all.

Anyway, we went out for lunch, and I took the girls to an indoor play centre for some of the afternoon so that Moo could do some work, so I wasn't that bad. Tomorrow, I intend to sleep even more, as I'm due to fly to New York on Tuesday.

We've not had a break without children for 3 and a half years, and we've all been ill, and we're all tired. It's just one of those things, and I'm about to go to bed. Peace be with you.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008


I remember Saturdays

They used to be calming, relaxing and de-stressing. Now we have kids. Not that we'd be without them, but we used to have quiet afternoons in front of the rugby, with tea - and maybe biscuits - at half-time. Too much of today seemed to be about asking - no, telling - the girls not to do things. Great quote from Jo, though: "hang on, I think I've found Jesus." to which both Moo and I had to respond, "Hallelujah!"

Yes, we got the nativity set out today.


Friday, November 28, 2008


Possible curate

So, we've got a possible curate coming to see us on Tuesday. James will be leaving at some point between now and July, as he's served his title post and will be moving along somewhere else. That leaves us without a full-time curate, and lots of work to do in the team which there's no way I can do, as I still work full-time. So, we're keen to have someone, if God's will is that we should, natch. So, I'm picking up a possible curate (currently an ordinand) on Tuesday, after taking the kittens in for neutering, and before getting on a plane to New York.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008


Watching a film

Moo's away, and I decided to watch something silly, so chose Mercury Rising. Rubbish, but fun, too. Look how big the mobile phones are!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008



That's what I've been doing all day. Eyes and nose, plus coughing. A man cold is a dangerous thing, and needs to be carefully handled. I think we can all agree that it's vastly to my credit that I raised myself from my sickbed and did lots of work.

Miri's much better, Jo had phlegmy vomit this morning but was fine by lunchtime, and Moo should be well enough to go to Birmingham tomorrow: but not being men, they don't run the risks we men do when we get ill. To be fair, I went to the chemist yesterday for a decongestant. I can't take sudafed due to hypertension, so he gave me a nasal spray. But I checked the instructions for dosages today, and it turns out that I shouldn't be having that either. See: danger all around.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008



Not feeling at all well, but discovered today that SCO have basically been defeated in their attempts to screw over the Linux community. This cheered me up considerably. Ha!

Monday, November 24, 2008



Hurts. Ow. Getting a bit snotty, too. Yeuch. Productive day at work despite that, though.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


More on the death penalty

A number of people have commented on my post The death penalty - and Baby P. I'd like to respond to some of those comments, which you can find at the link above.

The first is simple: I'm sure that quite a few people would be happy to admit to reading the Daily (and Sunday) Mail. That's fine. :-)

The second is a brief discussion on being "reformed" and being "redeemed". James talks about reforming alongside punishment, and that's a good liberal view, which I'd generally agree with, but for many, particularly those who generally wouldn't subscribe to the "liberal" tag, I think that reform isn't a particularly strong argument. Beyond that, there's the question of whether all are reformable: and, not being a criminal psychologist, I don't feel qualified to pronounce on this one, though I have the suspicion that not all are.

Which brings us to redemption. It's a very Christian word - at least in the way in which we were using it - and I'd been careful not to use any religious or theological arguments in my original post. That doesn't mean that we can't use it here: and I think that it's worth saying that I think we need to be careful about suggesting that by employing the death penalty, we're removing the chance that someone might be redeemed. God, of course, works in His own time, and I think this is a dangerous train of thought. In fact, noone actually said this explicitly, but no matter.

Last is the comment from Anonymous. I have no problem with people posting comments anonymously, as long are they're not abusive, which this one certainly wasn't. I do, however, disagree with the points that Anonymous makes. In the order that the commenter made them:

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Saturday, November 22, 2008


And if you were to take a bus...

Not a phrase you expect to hear from a 3 and 3 quarters year old, even when discussing "Pinkland", an imaginary location to which she was giving me directions. Good use of the subjunctive.



And we've only just started on the mixing bowl

Originally uploaded by MikeCamel

Jo and Miri loving the fact that they've got tea-spoons and a bowl.



Originally uploaded by MikeCamel

Well, he worked out how to use the catflap days ago.



Originally uploaded by MikeCamel

He's such a big boy these days. And he's _just_ worked out how to use the catflap.


Miri with head in bowl

Originally uploaded by MikeCamel

No - she's not throwing up: she's licking out the cake mixture.

Friday, November 21, 2008


The death penalty - and Baby P

I've been meaning to blog on this topic for a while now, and I've finally decided to jump on it and do so. In fact, I've been meaning to blog about it from before the Baby P story broke, but I think it's even more important now.

As you may have noticed, here in the UK, there has been enormous outcry at the death of a 3 year old baby known as "Baby P" at the hands of his parents, from terrible injuries. And that outcry has come, unsurprisingly, from people with small children: people like us. That's understandable, and no cause for alarm: there should be an outcry, as this should not have happened. However, it goes beyond that. There are calls for the death penalty for those responsible: or at least for the death penalty to be available to people who commit such crimes. A number of my friends on Facebook have signed up to groups advocating this, and similar. And I can see why. But I believe this to be fundamentally wrong: I passionately believe that we should not have the death penalty.

My reasons are many, and I'm going to try to lay them out here. Interestingly, I think, few of them are based on faith or theology. I realise that my general approach to ethical issues is a Christian one, but I don't think that this is a question that needs Christianity - or other faith - to be invoked in order to decide it. Why, then, should we not have the death penalty?

  1. The very top reason is that it brutalises. The ability to call for the death penalty allows us to dip deep into the animal part of us and ignore the rational, the thinking, the loving. And I would ask the question: "do you want your children to grow up in a society where violence is punished with violence?"
  2. It's not a deterrent, in many cases. Crimes that are, in other countries, punishable by the death penalty are not those which are avoided by thinking "oh, I might get the death penalty for this: I won't do it, then"
  3. It's unjust. It is the economically, socially, academically and intellectually disadvantaged who are by far the most likely to receive the death penalty
  4. It's unjust (2). In criminal organisations, it is those on the ground, the lowest in the chain, who are most likely to receive the death penalty: they're more likely to get caught, they're less likely to get off (see above), and they're more likely to have committed the actual crime themselves, rather than having ordered it
  5. It's truly a one-way ticket. Mistakes are made: history is littered with them. People who have been found guilty, received the death penalty, and have then been found not to have committed the crime. A confession is no guarantee, either: confessions can be forced, and some people confess because they want to die, even if they haven't committed the crime
  6. It's a betrayal. I believe that people have fought - and died - to leave us with a society where we have the opportunity to be decent, honest and just. The death penalty is none of those, and by lowering ourselves to the level of those who commit the crimes that are believed to merit it, we betray those people who have come before us.
I'm not even going to start on Christian arguments: I really don't think they're needed. Comments are _especially_ welcome.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008


Mel's still ill

Poor thing. Moo was supposed to be at her charity's AGM today, and I had a major customer meeting. She stayed away, and went. My wife is lovely.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008


The slide

As I put on my Facebook status this morning, Jo made a representation of Jesus on the cross using wooden blocks this morning. Then she added a slide for him. Which I think is nice. Bibically difficult to defend, but a kind thought, and adds a whole new slant to Luke 23:35 ("... He saved others; let him save himself...").

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Sickness - and not mine

So, the girls are fine, but Mel phoned early to say that she was still feeling a bit off. She decided to have breakfast and see how she was feeling. I took the day off to look after the girls, but Mel phoned me around 1000, very keen to come in: really bored, and not feeling too bad. So she came in, picked Jo up from pre-school with Miri, and looked after Miri while I took Jo swimming. And got a text from Mel half way through, saying that she'd been sick.

I arranged to have a call at 1400, as it seemed that Mel was going to be OK, and she was OK to sit in front of the TV with the girls, so I took the call and then sat with them until Moo came back, after which Mel headed off home. Lots of work, then. Mainly trying to get what I think is an Intel WG82567LM network card to work with Centos 5.2, which turns out to be harder than you might think.

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Monday, November 17, 2008



So much to blog about, but I have so little time to do it right now. Too tired, all that. So I'm watching Spooks instead. Usual quality of script, acting and characterisation.


Sunday, November 16, 2008


You do the thinking, I'll do the drawing

Today I was treated to a drawing masterclass by Jojo. She likes doing this, and the way it basically goes is that she does some drawing first, and then either demolishes your pitiful attempts at artistic endeavour or takes over and does it all herself. Today's title comes from her teaching me how to draw a jellyfish. I'd suggested that we draw it in the sea, but she said that we didn't need to, but that we really had to think about being in the sea: "you do the thinking, I'll do the drawing".

Previously she'd been showing me how to draw a face, had draw a circle, made one dot for an eye, and then closed her own eyes, put her fingers in them, and then put in the other dot and another one for a nose.


Saturday, November 15, 2008


Sleeping the clock round

I was going to blog on something major today, but I'm going to hold off. We're planning to go to bed, and it's not something that I want to treat without giving it the time it deserves. In the meantime, Moo got back with the girls late this afternoon. It's lovely to have them back, and Miri seemed very keen to cuddle up with me on the sofa.

I had a quiet day, and lunch with the clergy team, talking to a possible new curate. Did some shopping, spent some time on Facebook, did some reading, was disappointed in the England rugby team's score against Australia: that sort of thing. I'd slept pretty much round the clock, so I've felt pretty much OK all day.

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Friday, November 14, 2008


And home (alone)

Well, the girls won't be back until tomorrow, but I got home around 0845, having got into Gatwick at 0630, pretty much dead on time. I got some more sleep in the morning, and struggled to keep my eyes open in the afternoon. Luckily, I had lots of work to do, so that kept me awake.

Looking forward to seeing the girls tomorrow. Wonder how long I'll manage to stay up tonight.

Need to talk about the death penalty soon. It's come up in two contexts, and I'm vehemently opposed to it: I'm worried that the question of whether it should be available seems to be creeping back into the public sphere.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008



(backposting) On my home this afternoon, after a useful day of meetings, though I made little of the advertised programme. I'm really enjoying the PS (Professional Services) work that I'm doing. Still unclear whether I'm going be be off to New York in early December: it's up to the customer, really.

I also had an idea about how to sort out an architectural problem that's arisen in one of our other projects, which is rather pleasing. It came up yesterday, and we had a party at which I sought out the relevant people, and it looks like it's worth a try.

Sat next to Lee on the plane back, and after some time sketching out an architecture and some business plans for a particular prospective customer in the UK, we settled down into the flight. Air Transat (hmmm) don't have a particularly good selection of films, and it's not helped because there are shared screens, even in "business" (and I use the quotes advisedly), which means that you can't choose what you watch. So it was the (frankly terrible) Meet Dave, followed (luckily) by the rather amusing, if ridiculous, Get Smart. Then some sleep.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008



(backposting) Today a colleague asked me for spiritual guidance with a personal issue. They were concerned about some very negative emotions they have, and how to deal with them. I gave what perspectives I could, and it seems to have helped, at least a bit.

I am always astonished and humbled when people seek to confide in me, and ask for guidance: particularly at work. But it does highlight how my ministry _does_ extend beyond the obvious church-based work I do, and how people are aware of my ministry within the work context. It's so buoying up, and shows how the SSM ministry model can work, even when - as in my case - my work is not officially classed as part of my ministry. I'll be praying for this person, but also for my ministry.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008



(backposting) So, this evening I had a mentoring session with my boss. It's the first such session that I've had for, say, 9 years, which is pretty scary. He asked me when my last performance review was: that was about the same length of time ago (he was horrified!). We started work on a skills matrix - management, rather than the technical kind. Quite a lot of focus on people's perception of me, and how to be more aware of that. It's not the first time, won't be the last: one of the prime issues, I think, is that I tend to default to a position of expecting _other_ people's preferred mode of interaction to be the same as mine. And that tends to be fast engagement, rattling back and forth, a style which many see as aggressive, arrogant and also as not paying attention to other people's views. I think the danger is that I don't give people who aren't happy with that style the _chance_ to express their views enough. And just polling them for their views later in the conversation doesn't cut it.


Monday, November 10, 2008



(backposting) Up early - I heard children's voices outside the door, and did one of those bolt-up-right-in-bed-where-am-I things before realising I was in a hotel and the neighbouring room's kids were in the corridor. Got up anyway, and before long Lee (a colleague) and I were off to Gatwick. Air Transat wasn't too bad, watched Hancock (ridiculous, fairly amusing) and The Incredible Hulk, (just plain silly). Managed not to watch "PS, I love you", which I'm not even going to grace with a link.

After a stop-over in Montreal (grrr), when we didn't even get off the plane, on to Toronto. We arrived a little early, so I managed some meetings, which was very useful. I really miss the opportunity to stand in front of a white board with someone else, designing stuff on the fly: it's one of the kicks of the job. Anyway, got the chance to do that today.

Back to the hotel, drinks and round-table discussion with our CEO, then Brian drove me, Dan and Craig (whose first day it was, though Brian and I knew him from his previous job) to Brian's place. I beat Mackenzie, Rachel and Brian's 7-year-old, at Wii tennis, which is a relief, because he beat me rather convincingly last time I was over.

We then had a lovely meal - just the adults - and Rachel and I drank the nice bottle of Pouilly-Fumé that I'd brought along, as Brian would be driving, and the other two didn't want to drink. Yay! Then, whilst Brian, Dan and Craig had a dull chat about work, Rachel and I had a great long natter about stuff. Ranging through child sex education, faith, preaching, jobs, virtualisation, etc., etc.. It was great to catch up, as although we Facebook each other quite often, we've only met once before, but get on very well.

Then Brian drove us back to the hotel, I managed a single Lagavulin, and hit the sack around 2300.

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Sunday, November 09, 2008


Preaching and nerves

I'm usually a little apprehensive before preaching, and that's as it should be. But I was really very nervous before preaching this afternoon. We had civic Remembrance Sunday service, starting at the war memorial in the town, and then processing up with the uniformed organisations to a service in the church. The different churches in the town were represented, and I'd agreed to preach.

I chose to preach the following trajectory:

I think it went down OK, and was fairly accessible to the children in the congregation.

Moo brought Jo and Miri to the 1000 service, and Mark and Jen turned up, too. I'd not met her, and she seems good.

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Saturday, November 08, 2008



Originally uploaded by MikeCamel

Jo drew this: she's suddenly got figurative representation (is that the right term?). What a star she is: she's developing so much in so many ways at the moment.


Two little girls

Miri's going all 2-year-old tantrum practice at the moment. She's tired, and when she's tired, she has problems expressing herself. Unlike Jo, who was talking quite well by this stage, she can't express what she wants, and is getting rather frustrated by this. If you give her time, and give her options, she can usually explain, as she understands lots and lots. Pretty much everything, these days, but if you haven't got a _clue_ what she wants, trying to get on her wavelength can be very difficult.

Jo, on the other hand, has recently got reading. She's spelling out words for herself, and she's now at the stage where you can tell her to pick something (a menu option on a computer, for instance), based on what it says, as she can have a good go at idnetifying the relevant word. We also took her swimming today, and, well, she can swim. On her front and on her back. It's still a little frantic except that she's now worked out that if she kicks more slowly, it works better and she gets less tired.

About 20 minutes ago, Moo heard something outside the sitting room, and went out. She called me, and said it was Jo. I thought she'd discovered Jo dead or severely ill at the bottom of the stairs. She'd made her way through the stairgate (she's never been known to do this before, though she's said she could), and come downstairs. She was fine, and said that she'd been woken up by the bangs (fireworks). Moo put her back to bed. We think that maybe she'd been sleepwalking, or nearly so.

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Friday, November 07, 2008



We all went to the dentist today.

Today's question: what's the level of support for TPMs in the BIOS of Dell's Optiplex line? Hmmm.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008



I was going to blog on a real topic today: I was considering pro-life/pro-choice.

Unluckily, I started watching Office Space, so it'll have to wait. Sorry.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Well done the U.S.A.

You should all be proud of youselves.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008


The United States of America

Citizens of this country vote, as I'm sure you all know, for a new president of their country today. The United States of America is a great country, a noble country, an inspirational country. It is a powerful country, a dangerous country, and a broken country.

It is, like all countries, a reflection on the humanity of its citizens. It is not a perfect country. It is not a blessed country. It is not God's chosen country. This is true because God has chosen all of us. We are God's chosen people, a holy nation, a royal priesthood.

Every citizen of every country has a duty to their country, and, I would argue, to God - as expressed through their relationship with every fellow human whose life they touch. Which is every person on God's Earth.

We are all redeemed. And we have a responsibilities that accrue from that. One of those responsibilities is to vote: thoughtfully, prayerfully and hopefully.

I don't care who you vote for. But please vote.


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Monday, November 03, 2008


Fed up

Tired, not feeling great, hemmed in: just generally fed up. Thanks to James for agreeing to have lunch. Just needed someone to bitch at, really, and he did a good job.


Sunday, November 02, 2008


N., I baptise you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit

Those are the key words in the baptism service, a service that I took for the first time in my life. It's the first sacrament that I've ever administered, and I'm very humbled to have had the chance.

You'll notice that the words start with "N.". This is where the person taking the service puts in the first (Christian) names of the person to be baptised: the baptism service has always been partly a naming service.

I should say "this is where the person taking the service is supposed to put in the first (Christian) names of the person to be baptised." I forgot. This isn't so good, and it's something I won't do again in a hurry. Luckily, I remembered while we were still at the font and remedied the situation in time. John, my training incumbent was there, and was fine about it. I 'fessed up to James, the other curate, and I expect to get some stick from him. I was expecting to get a whole lot of stick from my father, too, but it turns out that he did exactly the same thing at his first baptism. :-)


Saturday, November 01, 2008


A bad decision

I made a bad decision today. CME (Continuing Ministerial Education) day in Chelmsford on Funerals and Bereavement. Jo threw up at 0900. I left, after consulting Moo, at 0940.

I got to the meeting at 1025, 5 minutes before I thought it was due to start. I'd had an unhappy drive. When I got there, they were well underway, and I was nearly in tears. I knew from the second I walked into the room that I was in the wrong place, and 15 minutes later, at the first opportunity, I excused myself and headed home.

This was the right thing to do. Things are getting too close to wrong, Moo and I are very tired, and she's been spending too much time looking after the girls while I've been spending too much time doing things which aren't being with her and the girls.

My first ministry is to my family.

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