Archive for November, 2004

peace and love

Tuesday, November 30th, 2004

A few years ago, 1996 I think, I was singing in the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Chorus (RSNOC) (and please excuse their horrible website) and was lucky enough to be part of their tour to Israel. We sang a couple of concerts and a Christmas Day radio broadcast from Bethlehem University. Some bizarre places to see, and some odd people to meet. I was particularly struck by how unpleasant the face of religion was there, especially in Jerusalem itself, which theoretically should be the holiest, most peaceful place in the world. Yeah, right. The most obvious people there were very arrogant, strutting around in a “we own this place” kind of way and although we met some very friendly folks the overall atmosphere of the place was a bit stressy. This was before the latest troubles, but even so it was a high-tension place. When we went to Tel Aviv, which is much more secular, the atmosphere very obviously lightened.

Anyway, the point of this post is something I came across today: Jerusalem clerics in punch-up row. We visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, as you have to do really. It’s down in the middle of a bazaar – lots of Honest Abu’s House Of Miraculous Souvenirs type places around (and I’m not exaggerating the names of the stores). Coolest souvenir I saw, and I wish I’d bought one, was an inflatable Yasser Arafat. Anyway, once you fight your way through the crowds you get into the very very old church which is owned by six different sects, none of whom really get on (guys, aren’t you missing something?). It is quite an amazing building, all very interesting architecture, but I didn’t get much of a buzz off it, although going down to the crypt and seeing the markings on the wall made by the ancient Crusaders was quite moving – when you think about what they went through to get there, although don’t think too much about the havoc they caused en route. But as an actual church/religious experience I have to say it was a bit of a let-down. The most moving experience I had that way was when we went to Nazareth, to the Church of the Annunciation. It’s an incredible place – it was initially built over the grotto where Gabriel is said to have appeared to Mary, and the church itself was destroyed several times. It’s now quite a modern structure and is owned and run by the Roman Catholic church, so I imagine that having just one group in charge adds to its feeling of cohesion and peace. I’ve never been so moved by just going into a building, it was quite incredible and I needed an hour or so to get over it.

kids today

Wednesday, November 24th, 2004

Toby’s learning loads of things at daycare that we’re not keeping up with. He keeps saying or singing things that we haven’t heard. For example he’s been going on about Cookie Monster and I know for a fact that he hasn’t seen CM at home. Yesterday, more surreally, he was saying “Applesauce! Applesauce!” again and again and killing himself laughing. We have no idea…


Wednesday, November 24th, 2004

Thanks to TiVo we saw an interview with the great Eddie Izzard on the Late Late Show last night. He was quite amusing in a laid-back sort of way. One thing I particularly liked was when he was asked about the US elections, and he said he’d noticed that all the places which voted Democrat were located close to large bodies of water. He said that clearly the water has a soothing effect and people are like, “Ah yes, I’m relaxed – I understand now”. Whereas people living far from water are more, “I’M TENSE! GIVE ME THAT GUN! VOTE BUSH!”


Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004

A couple of months ago I sat an exam with the Quality Assurance Institute to become a Certified Software Testing Engineer. It was kind of tricky Рas well as having experience in the field of testing, you also have to learn the stuff in their own way, not necessarily how you might do it in real life, and there was a huge book of stuff to get through. I amazingly managed to buckle down to study for a couple of hours a night for about a week and a half before the exam, and ploughed through the four hour test, which was two multiple choice papers and two essay papers. Finally, yesterday I got the results Рcame through just fine and I can now put CSTE on my resum̩.

the power of cheese

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004

A couple of years ago the American cheese marketing people put together a fun series of ads, the tagline of which was “aaah, the power of cheese”. I don’t think they were counting on divine power though. Note to you, my readers: Never ever buy anything whose description has entire sentences in capitals, and/or more than two consecutive exclamation marks.

water baby

Monday, November 15th, 2004

We’ve wanted to get Toby swimming lately – it feels like it’s kind of make or break time for him to get used to it before he’s an age when he’d be nervous about being in the water. Someone at work gave me a free pass to the YMCA that she won in a drawing at work, so yesterday we took him to the Southdale Y. It’s a nice facility, with family changing rooms, which was ideal to stop him from running away. He seemed a little uneasy going through to the pool, and of course it was a bit echoey and noisy which made him nervous. When we got into the water he kept saying “ayayayayay” which I’d never heard him say before, but the water was warm and as long as we were holding tight he was OK. After a couple of minutes we started moving about and saying that he was being just like a dolphin which helped him, and when we made him jump up in the air and splash back we seemed to have a good breakthrough. He totally loved playing with a couple of the balls they had there, throwing them back and forth, and towards the end he was lunging to catch his ball, not minding if he went under the water, and also kicking his legs as we pulled him along. We had to stop after we’d been in for an hour because we didn’t want to wipe him out too much. Afterwards we went out for a quick cheap bite to eat, and we were very proud that Toby insisted on eating Emma’s brocolli – we felt like superparents! He slept very well indeed last night, and we’re planning to go back soon. All in all a big success.


Monday, November 15th, 2004

Just posted a few pictures of Emma’s parents’ (nice pluralisation!) visit here earlier this month. They are of course at


Monday, November 15th, 2004

You may have heard or read about the Sorry Everybody site, wherein a whole bunch of people say sorry on behalf of approximately half of America that Bush is still emperor.

nice machine

Friday, November 12th, 2004

I’ve been thinking of upgrading my home machine for some time now. It’s almost 6 years old and works quite well on the whole, but to do decent video and photo editing it’s not really keeping up. New machines are of course kind of pricey, but I’ve heard from various sources that the thing to do is to build it yourself. So I’m quite excited to come across this little beauty from Tiger Direct. Looks like a very powerful and expandable system for a great price.

too nice

Wednesday, November 10th, 2004

During the last election I, and probably many other people like me, were bewildered by the fact that my church felt the need to try to be calm and see the good in both/all political sides. I think this is caused by a mixture between “love your enemy/adversary” commandments, general liberal-seeing-all-sides attitude, and not wanting to alienate people from our church. However it was in sharp contrast to the picture of fundamentalist evangelical churches who were proclaiming “victory” in getting constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, and re-election of Bush etc. How to they get to have all the moral certainty and not be concerned about upsetting people? And even though they may not be the majority of Christians in this country they make the most noise. It’s quite frustrating to me, although (there’s always an “although” I do appreciate the way the Episcopal Church allows me to come to my own conclusions rather than telling me precisely what to believe or what to make of my beliefs).

So I was heartened to see this in the Washington Post today, where liberal Christians are saying that their values are not just the “moral” things that the right-wingers have been banging on about lately. For example:

Battling the notion that “values voters” swept President Bush to victory because of opposition to gay marriage and abortion, three liberal groups released a post-election poll in which 33 percent of voters said the nation’s most urgent moral problem was “greed and materialism” and 31 percent said it was “poverty and economic justice.” Sixteen percent cited abortion, and 12 percent named same-sex marriage.

I think that we’re just afraid to call it like it is.