Category Archives: Linkage

NaBloPoMo

Is this sudden deluge of posts after a long silence surprising? I’ve fallen out of the habit of blogging at all, so this is a last ditch effort to test if I want to stay with it or stop for a while.

Deeleea inspired me to join in with NaBloPoMo – National Blog Posting Month – and post every day of November. Following somewhat the dictates of William Morris, I’ll see whether what I manage to write by the end of November is either known to be useful or believed to be beautiful. If not, or if I don’t get a reasonable distance into the month, probably best to stop. Good thing you can schedule posts to publish ahead of time or I would have already missed a couple.

I’ve been away this weekend on a training course, learning more about preaching. They introduced us to some ideas from NLP (neuro-linguistic processing). I found it fascinating, but since it was the second session, I then spent a lot of energy during the rest of the weekend analysing the communication preferences and styles of the speakers rather than paying too much attention to the content. There were handouts, however, so I can go back and read them if I need to.

Greenbelt musings

This year, my Greenbelt was mostly about the people. My weekend centred on meeting up with lots of different people from across the country. Hot beverages were drunk, cake was eaten and the world was set to rights for another year. I also took some time out to go and see a few items from the programme – seemed only polite since the organisers work so hard to make it interesting.

I discovered Jude Simpson and spent the rest of the weekend trying (unsuccessfully) to get the Mango song out of my head. Possibly the most bizarre 90 minutes of the weekend were spent watching Zic Zazou – a troupe of french engineers making music from everything. Apart from being a little repetitive, it was amazing. I’m sure there will be some clips on YouTube. At one point one of them drilled some holes in a metal pipe, then picked it up and played it like a flute!

John Bell was there, of course, leading the Big Sing and doing some talks. Turns out he isn’t a big fan of the internet, Facebook, mobile phones or television – he pointed out a lot of the bad effects they have on people who become dependent on them, but was kind enough to suggest that we should use our own judgement about whether it is a problem for us. Francis Spufford was interesting, on the subject of British people doing Antarctic exploration (Scott etc.). My sister went to his other talk, on his book “The Child that books built” – turns out he grew up in the house 3 doors down from my childhood home, but moved out the year before I was born. One talk I was not planning to see, but went along to with some college friends, was a talk by Padraig O’Tuama about hell, particularly the effect on children of teaching them about hell. Very interesting. I did go to some other talks, but I forget which ones. My list of ‘to be downloaded later’ talks is quite long.

Beer and Hymns was a highlight, but we didn’t get anywhere near the front  of the queue for the beer tent, so we went to And Hymns instead. We (my sister and I) had Pie and Mash and Hymns – almost as good, but not as easy to wave in time to the choruses. A useful reminder was given to those wanting to start Beer and Hymns sessions in their home towns: Beer and Hymns is not just about introducing beer to people who like hymns, but about introducing hymns to people who like beer.

The thing that made me smile most over the weekend were two people dressed as angels, complete with wings and a Hallelujah soundtrack, on Segues gliding up and down outside the Tiny Tea Tent. Just watching the reactions of people was lovely.

Segue Angel

There was quite a significant knitting component to Greenbelt. I went along to one of the Greenbelt Angel knitting circle sessions. There was also a learn to knit session that I helped with where we all knitted beards or moustaches (inspired by Life of Brian) – I understand that there will be pictures somewhere.

One of the things I realised at Greenbelt is that I have a good memory for faces (and sometimes the names that go with them). I recognised a lot of people over the weekend who showed no sign whatsoever of knowing who I was. There were people from churches I was on placement at several years ago, people I sat in lectures with at college. There were random people (like some of your good selves) from the internet. I think there was someone I went to school with half my lifetime ago (she was coming out of a loo cubicle as I was going in and I didn’t have the presence of mind to greet her – I was wearing a hat, so she probably didn’t notice me). There was one woman who looked really familiar and I saw her a few times before I figured it out: Clare Short. Good thing I didn’t go over to find out how I knew her. Then as I was sheltering from the rain in the Church Times tent (marvellous cartoons by the way) I saw another real famous person…

Yes, it is Tom Hollander from Rev. My only camera was the one in my phone, so it is a little bit blurry. I liked how he had two minders, presumably to protect him from potential hordes of angry/over-exuberant clerical types.

All this, of course, now fades into the distance as I am back at work. My two essays were not completed before I went away in July, so I had a frantic couple of days typing – all done now. I also came home to find Mr F addicted to the Definitely Last Ever mini-series of Big Brother. Very disappointing, but a horribly easy thing to happen.

In other news… A knitting competition started yesterday that I am taking part in. It is a race to knit 6 pairs of socks, but before each pattern is released you have to solve some puzzles. Very good fun. I am in a lovely team for the puzzle solving, but the knitting is all individual. I don’t expect to progress much beyond round 2. I really would like to finish round 1 – I have until 17th September or until 90% of the participants have completed it.

Just grazing

Warning – Don’t read any further if you are hungry and out of range of food.

I’m currently sitting at my desk (catching up on non-work paperwork and the internet) and every so often my hand creeps off to a small cardboard box next to me. Inside are four trays with really, really nice food in. There is a tray of olives, a tray of pecans in honey, a tray of chilli rice crackers and a tray with dried fruit and pumpkin seeds. Seriously delicious.

Where do they come from? They arrived by post on Tuesday, from Graze. The deal is that you sign up to receive a box per week at £2.99. You can look through their entire range and decide which things you want to receive and which you don’t. Each box will then have a selection. My first box had  lots of raisins, accompanied by different things such as dark chocolate covered pumpkin seeds, almonds and white chocolate drops. Anyway, if you like the idea of healthy (mostly) snacks arriving in your letterbox then I have a discount code that will let you have one box free and one half price. Just enter GG1334T at the checkout. As well as you getting free/cheap food, I’ll get a pound off my next box. Go on, you know you want to!

In other news, I have located somewhere that will make me a decaff latte. Only 4 miles away!

A Miscellany

First of all, thanks Ian for your comment on the previous post. I can’t really recommend a good place to start with Thomas Merton, since The Seven Storey Mountain is the first thing I have read by him. It is, my comments from the other day notwithstanding, very readable and interesting.

I’ve had a really busy couple of days in the parishes, so did not see twitter at all for 48 hours or so. Lots of interesting things to read. Here are a few of them.

It seems there was a Panorama programme about chocolate, more specifically about child labour within the cocoa trade. The fairtrade chocolate people have been responding (here and here and probably elsewhere as well), pointing out that the part of the programme showing a fairtrade producer was dealing with how the fairtrade organisation stops child labour when they find it happening. Good. I shall continue to eat Dark Divine.

An incredible knitting project has finished. Most people knit one sock at a time. Some knit two at a time on one long needle. This guy knitted 14 at a time on one humongous needle. One pair for each day of the week – makes sense when you think about it. His knitting bag is even bigger than mine.

I don’t often blog about maths but, given I studied it first time round at uni, I feel the need to reassure Joe Taxpayer that their contributions were not in vain and I am still interested in the subject. A famous mathematician (yes, there are others) has apparently refused or is about to refuse another big prize for his work solving the Poincare Conjecture. He is Russian, and some Russian charities are asking him not to refuse the prize, but to accept it and donate the cash to good causes in Russia. Interesting. Should charities hold people to ransom like this? I don’t think so. Should people turn down legitimately earned money because they have enough? Maybe if the money would then automatically go to support another mathematician and further the course of human knowledge. Maybe not, if they can see a better use for it that they can influence. I’m in danger of siding with the charities here, and I’ve not even started in on the relative merits of academic work and child poverty.

Finally, I’m very excited about this software. Openshot: A non-linear video editor for Linux. I’ve looked at video editing stuff for the Mac and rather liked the look of it – this seems to be a start for Linux. I’ll install it after my next Ubuntu upgrade. Why do I always seem to have a hankering for upgrading a month before the next release? The end of March/beginning of April seems to send me into software envy every year. It is worse this time – I didn’t upgrade to Ubuntu 9.10 since I was too busy when it came out. I’ve since tried it on a live cd and found that the touchscreen on my laptop works! I cannot overstate how cool I find this to be. My laptop has a turny-roundy screen that folds down so you can use it like a piece of paper. I’ve never actually used it because it only worked in Windows up to now and I only use windows once in a blue moon and have no data on that partition at all.

In other news, I’ve nearly finished the book my book group started reading in December. Villette by Charlotte Bronte. I read it 10 years ago and loved it, but could remember nothing about it. Loving it even more this time. I suggested a Jasper Fforde book for this month, on the grounds that I have read it and so get a month off! I hear it is being quite well-received.

http://www.traidcraft.co.uk/news_and_events/news/panorama_response

Not so WISE

My lovely W.I.S.E. parcel arrived well before Christmas (well before my offering had even been sent off – oops) and contained instructions to open straight away. Inside there was a lovely Snowman Christmas decoration (with the name of a city on) and a smaller parcel with instructions to wait until Christmas Day before opening it.

The snowman hung on our tree (indeed for some days it was the only decoration on there – December was right busy here) and entertained Rusk. The smaller parcel contained Scottish tablet – yum! Excellent choice all round.

I meant to take pictures over Christmas including the decoration and the parcel, for display from the 25th onwards. I appear not to have done so and the decorations are now packed away in my wardrobe. So there is the lack of WISE on my part. You will have to take my word for it that it was most tasteful.

The question is… who to thank? I’m going to go out of a limb here and say … is it Surfing? If so, thank you very much. If not, do let me know who you are.

In other news, I am competing in Sock Wars, starting tomorrow morning (well the patterns go up at 1am, but I need some sleep), so for the next few days I will mostly be knitting socks.

Worship

Just saw this on Tall Skinny Kiwi and thought you would appreciate it.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3K4fveLQZZQ[/youtube]

Very busy writing the dissertation. Back later.

[Edit – well that didn’t work – here is the link instead.]

[Edit again – think I have it this time]

Peculiar Old Cake

I took a cursory glance into my baking cupboard before sending Mr F out to the supermarket this morning, but discovered later there were some key ingredients missing for making Nigella’s Chocolate Guinness Cake (very easy cake – from Feast). No Guinness and very little cocoa powder. Not to worry, I have improvised. Half a bottle of Old Peculiar replaced the Guinness then I replaced the dry weight of cocoa powder that was missing with extra flour, then grated in some dark Divine chocolate to add extra chocolate flavour. The cake is now cooling and I am drinking the other half of the OP to avoid wastage. It seems to be OK. I’ll keep you posted.

I’ve been tinkering with a post on the Roman Catholic announcement this week, but I think I’ve decided some things are better left unsaid. I will just have a quick link: Dave Walker (@davewalker) drew my attention to this article by Frank Skinner in the Times. Very interesting point of view. Go have a quick peruse.

The other thing going around the web today is the whole BNP – Question Time thing. I’m sure most things have been said but, having stayed up to watch it last night, I was left wondering at the use (overuse?) of one particular word: elite. The “politcal elite” was mentioned by the BNP leader more than a few times, meant in a derogatory way. What does it mean? Presumably those in the main political parties. Do you know what? I think I want the country to be run by the political elite – those who are best at it, those with the skill, experience and talent to sort things out. Inverse political snobbery perhaps on his part. There are of course many other reasons for not voting for them.

Just saying

There is some irony in having spent an afternoon this week in a ‘caring for self’ session and then having a preliminary to-do list of 10 items that absolutely must be done today before it turns into the study day it is meant to be. This is of course because the time I would normally do a good many of these things was the afternoon I spent in that session. Ah well. It was a good session and I was reminded of much interesting and useful information (such as the benefits of setting aside time to study). Still a little frustrating.

In case you were wondering, blogging is not on the list of 10 things. I am doing that as a nice extra, since 5 of the 10 things are done or delegated.

Today would also be the day that my copy of the new Diana Gabaldon book, An Echo in the Bone, arrived. Despite not being published here until January, there was a deal with the UK publishers that if you pre-ordered a copy from Amazon or similar  and sent them your receipt, they would send an export copy at the same time that it was published in the US. There is absolutely no chance of getting to read it today (well maybe if I write 500 words of dissertation this afternoon I might read a chapter or two… or three).

So knitting – Daisy asked for a picture of the hat. This will be forthcoming in due course, as will a work in progress picture of my Strictly socks. Not socks to be worn while watching Strictly Come Dancing, but socks to be knit in the bits where you don’t actually need to watch it. With half an hour of Strictly It Takes Two to watch every weekday, as well as the weekend shows, these are growing nicely and the Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock is doing something very pretty and spirally with the colour variations.

While on the subject of Strictly, my favourite Strictly results site has moved to here: http://bit.ly/VhoCR. Why not go and have a look?

Update on No-Cake Month. One cake of pastoral necessity eaten and three biscuits (including one malted milk that I was tricked into eating). I think I might make it – only 4 days to go.

OK back to sorting out things for Church tomorrow. I have just ordered a book of intercessions that has emergency intercessions written for each Sunday, all tying into the lectionary Gospel reading. This will make last minute changes of plan and personnel easier to cope with, but will not help with the intercessions for Sunday evening since a) there are no more postal deliveries before then and b) I am not using the lectionary reading. Lord, in your mercy…