Friday, October 30, 2009
Zombies in drag!(backposting) Well, just one. That would be me. Amazing what the fantastic ladies at Age Concern in Halstead managed to drag up on a Saturday morning. Shoes, a dress, bra, fishnets, and a hat.
Moo insisted that cross-dressing wasn't spooky enough, but just deviant. So she forced me to make up as a zombie, too. The kids at the party were a bit confused. Not sure whether it was the dress or the cries of "Brains! Brains!". If you're a friend of mine on Facebook, you'll find the picture easily enough. The come with warnings.
Week in reviewWell, yet again, I've done less development work than I'd planned, but on the other hand, we're still on track, and, more importantly, we've been scoping out options for further projects, which is rather fun. That's all going very well, and hopefully my boss (and his boss) are happy with how it's all gone.
It's not much fun being away from the girls, but on the plus side, I'm at home for the next two weeks, and I should see lots of them then. And I'm typing this in the airport, so I'll be on my way home soon, as well.
Notes to self for next trip:
- pack swimming trunks (whatever happened to them?)
- pack lots of warm things - it's going to be really quite cold by the next time I'm here
- no need to pack the extra keyboard and mouse (lose some weight from my bag)
- do we have a better suitcase that I can take?
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Getting cold out here(backposting) ... I wanna put my clothes on (to misquote the song). The "(backposting)" doesn't really help with that, does it? Anyway, Finland is getting a bit chilly, and now that we're taking the train and walking from the station to the hotel, we're beginning to feel it. We went back to the "Sammi" restaurant where we dined on our first night in Finland. Another good meal, but we were sensible and didn't have a starter this time.
It's getting pretty cold, and the walk back to the hotel needed speed - to keep us warm - but adding that just made our ears colder.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Bad newsA friend is very ill. She and her husband know where things are headed, and it's all understood, but it's hard, so prayers, please.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
EmmerdaleWho would have thought that Emmerdale would be viewed on Finnish TV? Well, it is: not dubbed, but subtitled. Bizarre, it really is.
I do love a good sauna, too, I really do.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Finland, via hospital again(backposting) This time, the trip was to see a friend and member of our congregation, who's been in hospital for quite a time, and is expecting to be there for quite a long time more. I took a detour on my way to Heathrow airport for another trip to Finland, and was very glad that I did. She really needed some TLC, and it was good to see her as a friend, too.
An OK journey to Finland - the usual work stuff.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Emotion and service(backposting) By service, I mean both types: what one does for other people, but also a religious service. I had quite a day today. I did my first BCP (Book of Common Prayer) Holy Communion at the 0800 at Halstead, which was great. John, my boss, was there, with some good advice afterwards, including noting the fact that I'd used one prayer which he'd only heard twice in 40 years!
The 1000 was very emotional, for a couple of reasons. First, we had someone from the organisation Samaritan's Purse, talking about their brilliant Operation Christmas Child. She showed pictures: sad pictures of children, but lots of hope. I was far from the only person there with tears in my eyes. And I just had one of those experiences during communion - specifically during the distribution - where I suddenly became aware of what a privilege it all is. I took the time, before the final hymn, to tell people what a blessing I felt serving them is.
The afternoon brought a trip to Colchester Hospital. Miri managed to pull her elbow out again, and we had a long wait before an examination during which we got it back in. She was very good about it all, poor thing.
And in the evening, I went to an ecumenical service held, this time, in the Roman Catholic Church in Halstead, with friends and colleagues from the Baptist, Methodist and Anglican churches in the town. I arrived late, and shuffled in somewhat embarrassed, but enjoyed the service and had a drink with David, the RC priest, in a pub afterwards. A good chat and natter, including some interesting discussions about theology and liturgy: similarities and differences.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Indiscriminate InclusivityI urge you to read this post: Indiscriminate Inclusivity: Of Course by the Methodist minister Mark Sargent. As he points out, inclusivity can't be qualified. I'd say it's a bit like saying that someone's "a little bit pregnant": are you inclusive, or aren't you? I think that it's a badge were with pride.
Took the girls to the zoo today, and apart from the tears over the scary Hallowe'en "Forest", and the opening up of the lip on a tooth through hitting a metal bar on falling off a seat, it all went pretty well.
Friday, October 23, 2009
PhewMainly because when I finished work at 1740, things were in a bad state. Things weren't running as expected, and I'd had to leave things far from fixed. But it was Moo's turn to put the girls to bed, and I spent 40 minutes or so sorting things out. And it's all much, much better now. It doesn't all work, but I hadn't expected it to yet.
They didn't come to sort out the final radiators today. Grrr.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
PrayersThe other day, on Twitter and Facebook, I requested prayer support for me so that I can offer more prayer support to others. Things are great for us at home at the moment: the girls are thriving (and beginning to sleep in better...), Moo's loving her job, I'm loving mine, we're all getting on brilliantly. So, it's not us that need the prayers. But I'm praying for lots of other people, for various reasons. So, please keep the prayers coming, but not all of the news is good. Thank you.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Taking on more...(backposting) Not much, and nothing worrying, but my boss has asked me to get a couple of up-coming projects moving along, which is very flattering. The only thing is that I've got quite a lot of development work to be doing at the same time on the main project I'm working on.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
In town(backposting) You know: the big one with lots of railway stations and underground trains. That one. Good meetings, but spent several hours submitting nearly 3 grands' worth of expenses. Which got approved. Phew.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Poor MiriThe little one's very, very tired today (not that Jo hasn't been, but she's been at school), and we've had lots of tears and clinginess. It's a sign of exactly how tired she really is that she went straight to sleep this evening after two separate naps during the day. I suspect she's got a little bug of some type, and hopefully she'll be better soon. But I'm going to take all the cuddles I can while she's like this!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Good things, bad thingsGood things, lots: church with the girls; moving the girls' beds around so that they're both in the same room, ready for decorating and the arrival of the bunkbed; taking the girls swimming; spending time with Moo; a lovely autumn day; cooking and eating pancakes.
Bad things, few: the main obvious one being tidying my office. I hate tidying.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Tired, tired(backposting) Well, yes, me. But mainly the girls. Jo had ballet - twice (practice plus an exam), and I took Miri shopping during the second excursion. I also had to take Danny, one of the cats, to the vet, but he was fine after all. Great, great tiredness from Miri and Jojo.
Friday, October 16, 2009
A decision - and flights(backposting) So, a decision was made. And I think, for the project, that it's the right one. It's not the one that I originally came up with, and I think that there was a suspicion that I - and maybe we, the company - might pressure very hard for the one that I/we came up with. But no: I think this works well, it's a good architectural compromise (they were all going to be compromises), and it works in terms of effort of the project.
I also booked flights for the week after next, and flew home. Remembered to call the girls and Moo before heading off, bu was back well after their bedtime. Good to be home.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
A new approach(backposting) Had one of those, um, interesting conversations at breakfast with one of the folks from the customer and a colleague, and on the drive into the office, where a radically different approach to our major outstanding issue was presented. We spent some time on it, and then did the right thing: which was to run the numbers. And the numbers didn't work, so it was a no.
But it did force us to re-evaluate the options, and to come up with a couple of new ones. So then I wrote a discussion paper. We hope to make a decision tomorrow.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The rich young man, the camel and the needleI should really have posted this in the Sunday entry, but I only remembered it last night after posting then, so I thought I'd add it today. Last Sunday, the Gospel reading was Mark 10:17-31, which is the story of the rich young man, who asks Jesus what to do to inherit eternal life (and I've just thought: isn't "inherit" an interesting word here?). This is a very challenging text for almost all of us in the Western World, particularly those who are employed and financially stable, and I'd preface all my remarks by pointing out that I'm very aware that I run a great risk, here, of falling into an analysis of the text from a position of power and privilege: something which we must always do with scepticism and a hermeneutics of suspicion.
I read the Gospel having been particularly struck, in Sunday's service, by the power of the Summary of the Law in the Dominical Commandments ("love God above all others, love your neighbour as yourself", from Mark 12:29-31). And then I read the Gospel. And in the passage, Jesus recites some of the commandments to the rich young man. But he does not mention loving God above all others - or, in fact, reference the need to love your neighbour as yourself. And this means that the rich young man never gets to say "I've always done those, too!"
I've always been rather suspicious of the argument that Jesus is warning against idolising money above all else, and that we're safe as long as we don't do that, though this fits in well with Paul's warnings about idolising money, or possessions, or sex. However, I think that it's probably a fair one, as long as we keep in mind the dangers.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
And back to FinlandSet off from home around 0740, got to Heathrow a couple of hours later, and did meet and greet parking this time. Just because it took ages to get back to my car last week, and, on top of quite a drive home on Friday night, time is precious. In Duty Free, I bought the 3 Shrek films (on offer) for the girls, and the second series of The IT Crowd for me and Moo. Watched some of it on the train. Just marvellous - had me laughing out loud on quite a few occasions.
Caught the very efficient bus to the hotel, and got a double bed this time: I'm so unused to sleeping in a single that I keep nearly falling out (and yes, I'm talking about on my own here). I also joined the hotel's loyalty programme. They give you vouchers. Which you can spend on beer. This is a good thing.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Home improvement(backposting) This home improvement is not, all will be pleased to hear, being attempted by me. But we decided a few months ago that the whole "struggling to keep much of the house above freezing in the winter, as our heaters are very inefficient/don't work at all" was too much, particularly with the girls. So, we ordered some radiators, booked the fitting for this week, and basically set aside 5 days.
Well, Kevin and his two guys turned up today, had all of the old ones in the skip by lunchtime, and had most of the new ones fitted by 1700. They didn't get it all done today, but it was pretty close, and we were able to turn them on immediately. Moo and I just kept wandering around the house muttering "but it's so warm" to ourselves. Bizarre. And although we'll be able to keep it warmer, we also know that it's going to be cheaper. We're getting insulation in the loft, repairing the windows at the front of the house (at least one of which we know hasn't shut properly since the 1950s), and getting some secondary glazing done over the next weeks and months, too, so it's going to feel like a different house altogether.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
An old friend(backposting) Today I was taking two services in Earls Colne: a quiet 0800 Holy Communion, and a quite energetic Family Service at 1000 (note to self - I must check the words of a song before encouraging people to clap along when it says "I will clap, clap, clap", because the next verse might say "dance", which means that I have to dance..., and yes, I did, in the aisles, fully robed). At the end of the latter, Pamela, who was a chaplain (then a deaconess, since priested) at Bryanston when I was there, came up and introduced herself. We'd not seen each other for about 22 years, so it was a bit of a blast from the past, but great to see her. She had a strong impact on my faith at that time, and although we've recently got back in touch over email, she lives in New Zealand, so it was a real bonus to be able to catch up with her in person.
In order to give Moo a bit of a break in the afternoon, I took the girls swimming. Jo was back in the big pool, and Miri consented to spend a bit of time in there, too. Miri is now quite a strong swimmer, underwater at least, and we must look at getting her some swimming lessons.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Ballet(backposting) We all went along to take Jo to ballet this morning, as I'd not seen much of the girls - or Moo - for a while. The rest of the time was just, well, bits and bobs, really. Moo's not feeling very well - a very nasty cold - and the girls aren't 100% either, so a trip to Sainsbury's, doing some tidying (ready for the radiators' advertised arrival on Monday), and that was about it. Definitely a Buffy night in.
Friday, October 09, 2009
The Beaker Folk make the Times OnlineI've long been associated with the Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley, though my involvement has been reduced of late, and it's good to see them getting a mention in the Times Online, thanks to Ruth Gledhill. I must remember to read the blog more often...
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Knee - ow(backposting) Woke up this morning, and my knee was really painful. I think I'd overdone it on the exercise bike, and then slept awkwardly on it. But it really hurt. Ow.
A good day, but it's good to know that I'm heading back home tomorrow. We came up with quite a problem today, but I think we've found a way round it. Work can be fun.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
A real sauna this timeSimilar day to yesterday, but when I went to the sauna this evening, it was baking. No hotter than yesterday, but a lot more steam. Within a couple of minutes somebody else came in, and immediately put more water on the coals. 75 degrees Celsius is warm enough for me even without a great deal of steam, and a very refreshing 5 minutes was all I could manage. Phew!
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Sauna(backposting) A good, challenging day at work, but very fulfilling. In the evening, I went to the gym for 20 minutes or so, and then headed up to the 9th floor for the pool, intending to do a few lengths. Got changed, slipped my toe in, jumped out. 17 degrees Celsius, which is _cold_. So, decided to try the sauna, instead. Men only, no clothes, but that's fine. And after 15 minutes or so of great sweating, I decided to try the pool again (with trunks on). This time, though very cold, it was really refreshing. Not sure I could jump in a frozen lake, as some Finns do, but I can certainly see the point now.
Off to a Lappish restaurant for supper. Lots of food, much of which was reindeer. Rather glad that we walked back to the restaurant, as we were all stuffed.
Monday, October 05, 2009
Off to Finland(backposting) I'd really hoped to finish (sorry - no pun intended) a piece of work this morning, before heading off, but it was not to be, so I left in rather a hurry for Heathrow, in the pouring rain. I was rather pleased with myself for booking some parking, so at least I didn't have to worry about that when I got there.
I arrived in lots of time, and met Ryan (my boss) and Miguel (a colleague), and, at the gate, someone from the customer, called Mike. Had an OK flight (partly helping a woman from Nokia come up with a some questions and answers for a pub quiz), and arrived 3 hours later in Helsinki. Mike drove us to hotel, the Scandic Continental, where I checked in. Then bed, after setting the alarm.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
Fantastic sermon(backposting) Sometimes, you turn up for a service, and get a brilliant sermon thrown in, too. Today was one of those days. I went with Kate to the 0930 at St Mary's, East Leake, and the preacher gave us a sermon which that she really cared about. It was about the careful line that the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (which we were using) trod between the Catholic and Protestant theological camps and the language it employed, particularly in the Eucharistic Prayer. It was a subject which she clearly cared about a lot, and she had me in tears at one point. At the end, I wanted to stand up and applaud. After the service, I went to tell her how much it had meant to me, of course.
In the afternoon, Kate and I took the girls to a Harvest Festival service at All Saints', Rempstone. I'd been prevailed upon to sing in the choir, and the girls joined us there. Miri had a little accident (of the liquid kind only, luckily), which led to some hilarity, but they did very well (despite Jojo falling asleep on me).
An OK drive back home, and then to bed, pretty tired.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
Abigail's Party(backposting) I've never seen the original "Abigail's Party", but Kate and Mac (with whom we're staying this weekend) have copy on DVD, so we watched it last night. Very funny - quite a twisted genius is Mike Leigh - and the ending was a real surprise. Moo had to go up to bed - Jo came down and was rather insistent - so she's not seen the ending yet: hopefully we can borrow it from them.
I've tried to log on to the VPN of the customer that I'm working on at the moment, in order to finish something off before tomorrow, but it doesn't seem to be available at the weekend, which is a right pain.
Oh, and Jojo was very sad when she discovered that I won't be around next week, particularly as I won't be around to read her the Hobbit, so I've recorded some sections of it on my phone, which I must remember to put on a CD so that Moo can play it to Jo.
Friday, October 02, 2009
Car sound - and reading(backposting) A few weeks ago, I had a bluetooth handsfree set fitted in my car. My previous phone had voice recognition, so when I had my bluetooth headset on and pressed the button, I could say "Home", and there was a good chance that it would dial the right number. However, my new one, nice as it is, is lacking this feature, so use of the phone in the car - if being legal - is restricted to receiving incoming calls only. So I went to Halfords, and got them to fit a bluetooth handfree set.
It's very good, and I'm very pleased with it. I noticed, however, that I was losing sound on the right front speaker. And then I'd go over a bump, or brake sharply, and it would come back. And sometimes the left speaker would go, and sometimes I'd lose both front speakers and only have the back ones. And reception seemed pretty awful.
So, as I was back in Huntingdon for a day (and that's where I had it fitted), I went in and asked them to sort it. As it was clearly just a loose connection, I was expecting it to take 2 minutes if they had the right tool to remove the head unit. They had, but it didn't, and after 35 minutes, I got a mate to pick me up. It took them a couple of hours, and involved removing most of the fascia. The guy who did it explained it to me when I went to pick it up spent some time explaining it to me, in the mistaken belief that I might feel confident enough to do it myself.
Bigger news - the readingI don't often use a second heading, but this is big news: Jojo has suddenly "got" reading. Long words, sentences, full comprehension, rather than just single words. She'll try different pronunciations for awkward words until she gets the right one, and remembers "sight words" really well. It's fascinating, and I'm so proud!
Thursday, October 01, 2009
I love it when a plan comes togetherNothing in particular: just had a rather productive day at work, which I'm really loving at the moment. Challenging, but fun. Deffo off to Finland on Monday: flights booked, and everything.