Monday, January 30, 2006
As I say, every six months or so I put her on and almost invariably she hits the spot. Tonight she was the background to a candlelit (ha!) MSN conversation with a very good pal and accompanied by the end of the Chianti from Saturday night.
For the rest of you, I really encourage you to listen to it. I can't summarise his point anymore eloquently than how Jim has already spoken it.
But I've removed some of the more trite aspects of the original entry. Actually, I've rewritten it a whole lot.
Thanks, Jim. That was something special.
Assuming I could explain it, somehow explaining it via text message didn't seem the best forum...
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Tonight at hOME, Jim preached on the presentation of the infant Jesus at the temple. In preaching on this, he talked about the four stages of the development of a movement. I'm thinking I'm going to have to listen to this again. There is a podcast of it here. Anyhoos, Jim referred to the fours stages of the development of a movement. Those four stages being:
I: The man/woman who has an idea. If you like you can go with Jesus as the man/woman. The man/woman with the idea generates...
II: ...a movement. Going with the Jesus analogy you can go with the disciples and the crowds who in turn...
III: ...generate a machine. Sticking with the Jesus thing, this would be the theology. Finally, the machine needs a house so we get...
IV: ...the monument.
And somewhere along the line we sucked into a position where we worship the movement, the machine or the monument. Where they became sacred and we can't tinker with them. Because they're scared. It's a bit like a celebrity who is famous for being famous. And Jim made the point that we are not only called to worship the man/woman, but also to follow them too. Which isn't to say that movement/machine/monument are bad, because they aren't in themselves, but to recognise where they are assisting our understanding the man/woman. It reminds me of the R.E.M song where Michael Stipe sings 'I can't say that I love Jesus, that would be a hollow claim. He did make some observations and I'm quoting them today'. Sometimes I think I walk a very fine line between loving the man and loving the idea of Jesus. Maybe that's the narrow path.
In describing the four stages, Jim tried to reconcile the four stages to the very recent and very raw death of a close friend of his. In reminding us that we are called to follow the man, not the movement, we are invited to see how we can walk with our fellow men and women when they suffer. He quotes Churchill; 'when you find yourself walking through hell, keep going'. Jim then invited us to follow Jesus as we share the pain with those in suffering
Geddit? Oh damnit, just listen to the podcast. It's only thirteen minutes long.
Just some food for thought on a Sunday night.
The second was with Jim and Anne last night over dinner. Jim's a great fan of technology. Anne would rather it wasn't there at all. We had a very pleasant evening over a bottle of Chianti and a chicken pasta dinner. Anne questioned the whole point of blogdom, and finds reading them rather invasive, much like another friend of mine. Jim's response is that blogdom is what you make it to be and that in my case mine has always been rather personal. Except for that period where I went through a series of badly written gig reviews. What was I thinking?? Anyways, the conclusion that was arrived at was that it's good to talk about stuff out loud, but there is a time and a place for it. It's useful for people to talk about their issues, and I think we all should do. However, I think I've taken it too far. So... let's just acknowledge that there is some crap in my world, and that I'm talking about it with people. I'm just not doing it here. And that's why some posts have mysteriously disappeared.
Now that feels better. So less angsty drama queen stuff here.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
I know that in the end, God will forgive. He will forgive your father, me and you too. I hope you can do the same. Forgive your father if you can. Forgive me if you wish. But most important, forgive yourself."
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
And how will passengers respond? I bet they respond by not checking in anything and carrying bigger and bigger pieces of luggage on board as carry-on baggage. The amount of people currently dragging oversized bags on board and blocking the narrow aisles is already frustrating, and this is only going to make things so much worse.
They're having a giraffe.
I started on the latter book first and I am loving it. It's the story of a rather selfish boy growing up in the 1970's in Afghanistan and his relationship with his servant and his father. I'm only a hundred pages or so into it, but I am absolutely taken by it.
I should point out that on Saturday night after returning from Borders I didn't actually read any of the books. Oh no, I watched the Peacemaker with Clooney and Kidman, and followed it up with Match of the Day....
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Apparently it needed to be smaller.
Then this morning I went out to scrape ice off my car. When I reached my car I discovered that I no longer had an intact rear windscreen. Instead it was all over my boot and backseat.
Idris insists I had a meeting with karma. But I think he's a hippy.
Friday, January 20, 2006
Thursday, January 19, 2006
"The Blues isn't about feeling better, it's about making other people feel worse
This still makes me smile.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
So today I feel ok. Not so naive to believe I'm fixed.
I ran three miles at lunch with my friend Wiki. Did it in 24 minutes and 47 seconds. It's the first time I've run in months. Two blisters to show for it and after an hour I am finally regaining some strength in my arms. I'm not sure if I feel better for it!
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
If my airing of things that affect me in public bothers you, or makes you uncomfortable, too bad. Deal with it. I am.
On the Daily Show tonight, Jon Stewart interviewed Eugene Jarecki who has made a film called "Why We Fight". The film is an examination of why we go to war. In the film he quotes a speech made by Dwight D. Eisenhower that was made three days before he finished his second term as President of the US. For those of you who don't know much about Eisenhower, he was the mastermind behind the D-Day landings and was the supreme commander of the allied forces in their attempt to defeat Hitler. So a man with a lot of background in the armed forces, and one who had been initmately involved with them for fifty years.
In the speech, made in 1960 he makes the following extraordinary warning about the Military Industrial Complex (indeed, I think he coined the phrase):
"Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society."The next bit is particularly astonishing for a man in his position to declare:
"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."
Fate? It's a crock of shit, isn't it?
Further to this and the title (only) of this, I have the following:
I am not content anymore in Oxford. This discontentment has been around since about September 2005, which is coincidentially about the same time as I got back from my last trip home. To New Zealand, that is. In reality, this is probably no coincidence. The discontentment rears its head in various forms and at various times. It's not a consequence of how I cam feeling today, or yesterday, or last week, rather I am sure I have noticed a pattern developing since September. And my gut feeling right now is that something has to change. At the moment it seems that it is the UK that is most at risk and I am feeling a very strong desire to return to New Zealand.
Last October I made an agreement with myself, and with Jim that I would not leave from something, rather I would have to leave to go to something. I don't want to be in a state of feeling that I am running from something. It's an agreement this week I also asked Megan to hold me to. But there are a lot of people in NZ that would be worth leaving to go to. But I'm not so naive to spot that a move to NZ would result in the grief of people left behind here. Once upon a time I used to mock some of my friends who's OE lasted less than a year. Now, to some extent at least, I envy them. The decision making process for them was a no-brainer. They went on holiday for a year and then they came back. NOT, I would stress, that I regret any of my time here. I have, for the most part, had a great time here. I've made friends I hope I will have for life and I've learnt things about me and my world that I could never have discovered if I'd stayed at home. There are places I've seen, one just across the border from Botswana, that have astonished me. And there are communities and ideas that I have learnt about that I would never have been open to had I stayed in NZ. But my thoughts right now is that maybe it is time to knock it on its head, hell, it's been over four years.
As Justice said to me last night there is no good time to go home. But you have to make that decision at some time. A valid decision being, of course, to decide to not go home. Today, I am closer than I have been in four years to deciding to go home.
Fortunately, I guess, it would take about three months to pack up my life so this would not be a rushed decision. Besides, I really want to be here for A and J's wedding in June.
He was holding the hand
That had fired a gun at his heart
Oh, will we live to forgive?
I saw the eyes
And the look of surprise
As he left an indelible mark
Oh, will we live to forgive?
Come find release
Go make your peace
Follow his lead
Let the madness recede
When we shatter the cycle of pain
Oh, we will live to forgive
Come find release
Go make your peace
I saw a man
With a hole in His hand
Who could offer the miracle cure
Oh, He said live
Monday, January 16, 2006
Born before 1986?
According to today's regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were kids in the 60's, 70's and early 80's probably shouldn't have survived, because our baby cots were covered with brightly coloured lead-based paint, which was promptly chewed and licked.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, or latches on doors or cabinets and it was fine to play with pans.
When we rode our bikes, we wore no helmets, just flip-flops and fluorescent 'spokey-dokey's' on our wheels.
As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or airbags and riding in the passenger seat was a treat.
We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle and it tasted the same.
We ate chips, bread and butter pudding and drank fizzy juice with sugar in it, but we were never overweight because we were always outside playing.
We shared one drink with four friends, from one bottle or can and no-one actually died from this.
We would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps and then went top speed down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into stinging nettles a few times, we learned to solve the problem.
We would leave home in the morning and could play all day, as long as we were back before it got dark. No one was able to reach us and no one minded.
We did not have Play stations or X-Boxes, no video games at all. No 99 channels on TV, no videotape movies, no surround sound, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no DVDs, no Internet chat rooms.
We had friends - we went outside and found them. We played elastics and rounders, and sometimes that ball really hurt!&n bsp; We fell out of trees, got cut, and broke bones but there were no law suits. We had full on fist fights but no prosecution followed from other parents.
We played knock-the-door-run-away and were actually afraid of the owners catching us.
We walked to friends' homes.
We also, believe it or not, WALKED to school; we didn't rely on mummy or daddy to drive us to school, which was just round the corner.
We made up games with sticks and tennis balls. We rode bikes in packs of 7 and wore our coats by only the hood. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was unheard of...they actually sided with the aw.
This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.
We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all. And you're one of them. Congratulations!
Pass this on to others, who have had the luck to grow as real kids, before lawyers and government regulated our lives, for our own good. For those of you who aren't old enough, thought you might like to read about us.
This my friends, is surprisingly frightening......and it might put a smile on your face:
The majority of students in universities today were born in 1986... They are called youth. They have never heard of We are the World, We are the children, and the Uptown Girl they know is by Westlife not Billy Joel. They have never heard of Rick Astley, Bananarama, Nena Cherry or Belinda Carlisle.
For them, there has always been only one Germany and one Vietnam.
AIDS has existed since they were born.
CD's have existed since they were born.
Michael Jackson has always been white.
To them John Travolta has always been round in shape and they can't imagine how this fat guy could be a god of dance.
They believe that Charlie's Angels and Mission Impossible are films from last year.
They can never imagine life before computers.
They'll never have pretended to be the A-Team, the Dukes of Hazard or the Famous Five.
They can't believe a black and white television ever existed. And they will never understand how we could leave the house without a mobile phone.
Now let's check if we're getting old...
1. You understand what was written above and you smile.
2. You need to sleep more, usually until the afternoon, after a night out.
3. Your friends are getting married/already married
4. You are always surprised to see small children playing comfortably with computers.
5. When you see children with mobile phones, you shake your head.
Having read this, you are thinking of forwarding it to some other friends because you think they will like it too... Yes, you're getting old!!
I come in as Buraimi airport in Oman.
|World Area Code||:||658|
|Longitude||:||55° 47' 0" E|
|Latitude||:||24° 15' 0" N|
Well, it killled five minutes. And then I started looking up my friends... Your website resource is www.world-airport-codes.com. No, really.
Note: The winner for the most interesting airport so far is my colleague, Sue. Her SDA gives her, wait for it, Baghdad International...
Sunday, January 15, 2006
So... I'm going to try and create a list of the best things and places in Oxford. I was thinking pubs, clubs, walks, barber shops, shoe shops, bridges, parks, live venues, indian restaurants, oxford bands, coffee shops, punt wharves, corner stores, music shops, cinemas, theatres, places for Sunday breakfast... Whatever it is that makes this place great.
I'm going with:
Pub: used to be the Marlborough House till it changed hands so now I'm going for the Lamb and Flag
Clubs: Pass. Maybe Anuba?
Walks: Across Hinksey Park to Hinksey Village
Barber Shops: the one above the department store on Turl St
Shoe Shops: Jones
Bridge: Folly Bridge. At night. In the Snow.
Park: South Parks in the summer with a frisbee
Live Venue: The Zodiac. By default. A serious weakness in Oxford
Indian Restaurant: Aziz
Oxford Band: Radiohead
Coffee shop: I don't drink coffee so will go with the Nosebag tea rooms
Punting Wharf: Cherwell Boathouse. Go upriver from there
Corner store: Londis on the corner of Newton and Abingdon Roads
Music Store: Polar Bear because the staff take the piss out of you.
Cinema: The Phoenix. By default.
Sunday breakfast: The French place on Little Clarendon St.
Your answers and suggestions for extra fields on a postcard please!
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
My colleague Emily wanted to know how many combinations could be made from a set of five objects, where you could not repeat any of the objects and where order didn't matter. For example, if you had the objects 1, 2 and 3, then the following combinations were available: 1, 2, 3, 12, 13, 23, and 123. That is, there are six. Now I know I could do them all by hand, but say for a large number of objects, eg 100, that would be a lot more tricky. So after trial and error I triumphantly came up with:
Number of combinations = Sum from 1 to i of nCi, where
i = the number of objects that can be chosen
n = the number of objects to choose from, and
C = the combinations derived from n!/((n-i)!*i!), where n!=n*n-1*n-2*...*n-(n+1)
Solving this makes feel less thick, despite the fact that the maths are not that complex...
Yes, I know I'm a geek.
With a small car.
Last night they had an hour and a half long investigation on why we (the UK) went to war. It began in 2001 with (an actor playing) Tony Blair in Brighton being told to turn on the TV only for him to see the second tower being hit. From there it went through the discussions that he had with GWB and his cabinet. From the very beginning he appeared to declare to GWB that he/we (an important distinction that no one seems to pick up on) were with him/the US (another distinction we need to clarify) from the very beginning and would be with him to the end. Even when GWB states his intention to attack Afghanistan, then Iraq, and then "we will see", Blair tells Bush that "no matter waht you decide, we're with you". At which point one of his advisors asks what exactly he has just committed to.
Throughout, as increasing pressure was placed on Blair from his colleagues and from the public (not to mention France, Germany, Belgium...) he seemed increasingly backed into his corner of solidarity with the US/GWB. Every now and again GWB would through him a bone when things got tough domestically (agreeing to the second UN resolution or publicly declaring the special relationship between the US and the UK) but as time wore on the impression you got from the Blair was that he wanted to be seen to validate the inevitable US invasion of Iraq so that they weren't seen to be acting unilaterally, and thus show that it was an international response. At the same time, the impression I got of the US was that to have the Brits onside was a nice bonus, but to them it really didn't matter. At one point GWB is alledged to have to Blair that if he wants he can back out now but that he could feel free to come and help clean up the mess. Blair pauses before spluttering a reminder that he/we were with them from the beginning and would be with them till the end.
The resignations of Clare Short and Robin Cook are desparately sad.
The documentary ended with Blair alone in his office and the phone ringing. He answers it. He says "what? OK, but I thought we were starting tomorrow night?". He turns on the TV to discover that the war has started. GWB hadn't the decency to inform the other part of the 'special relationship' when the war was starting.
Looking back, I find it mindboggling that this actually happened. There seems a need to pinch myself to be sure that this is true. I'm astonished that these decisions were made and I remain frightened of what is to come. And I am upset with myself that on the day of the anti-war march I decided to play cricket. I should have been in London.
So why did we go to war? Don't tell me it was the WMD or Al Qaeda 'cos that aint it...
Monday, January 09, 2006
The tip of Valletta looking across Marsamxett Harbour
Young Maltese fishing in Grand Harbour
The WW2 Siege Memorial and Grand Harbour. When this bell rings (as it does at 12pm every day) it is loud.
There are lots of guns and walls in Malta. This gun is manned by a bear. Maltese beer was very drinkable, unless of course you bought it off-site and stored it in the hotel mini bar, because if you did the Maltese hotel staff would lock the fridge.
Chris and the funky cold Mdina. Mdina is known as the 'Silent City'. Not when it's being repaved it isn't.
The Dingli explosives factory. I kept out.
The par 4, third hole of the Giant's golf course. 640,468,500 yards, includes a siginficant water hazard.
The direction of the green for the third hole of the Giant's golf course. Rain is coming in from the Med.
A Canadian with a View
A Kiwi ignoring the view
The Temple at Hagar Qim. Together with the temple at Mnajdra these are the oldest free standing man made structures on earth. They are reckoned to have been built in 3600BC.
A Kiwi with a Mnajdra temple complex
The Blue Grotto. The boat trip was worth the admisson price to Malta alone. If you go to Malta, you must see this place by boat. The colours in the water do your head in.
Would you trust these people to do your spray painting? Look very carefully at the next picture (you might need to click on it to magnify it).
A contemplative (posing) Kiwi with a sea view.