2003-12-29

Atlanta in the early morning, from Stone Mountain

This morning I got up at about 5:15, drove out to Stone Mountain Village, and walked up Stone Mountain to watch the sun rise. Unfortunately, I could not see the sun until it was well above the horizon, but the clouds were beautiful. Walking up in the dark was fun - actually, the city glow provided more than enough light to see by, even under the trees.

For Christmas, I was at Stephen's parents' house in Birmingham, Alabama. It was a lot of fun, and nice not to be around here alone. We spent some time with his sister and her kids - Anna(11), Amanda(7), and Chris(5) - which was fun (and tiring!). On the 26th, we went to visit Stephen's grandmother and another lady - Miss Helen - at the old age home where they live, and played hymns and Christmas carols for the folks there. His granny is hilarious, and Miss Helen is really an amazing lady - I have been thinking about the things she told us constantly since then.

We saw the third Lord of the Rings movie - it's pretty much required viewing, eh? I thought it was okay - but after talking it over, I thought it was better, and now I wouldn't mind seeing it again! The cinematographic and sound tricks become a little tiring after the first two movies, but it is still fun.

Yesterday evening, I went with a couple of friends to see Big Fish. It was sweet! Family, go see this movie now!

That's it for now. Ciao.

2003-12-09

Pictures of You

I've been looking so long at these pictures of you
That I almost believe that they're real
I've been living so long with my pictures of you
That I almost believe that the pictures are
All I can feel

Remembering
You standing quiet in the rain
As I ran to your heart to be near
And we kissed as the sky fell in
Holding you close
How I always held close in your fear
Remembering
You running soft through the night
You were bigger and brighter and wider than snow
And screamed at the make-believe
Screamed at the sky
And you finally found all your courage
To let it all go

Remembering
You fallen into my arms
Crying for the death of your heart
You were stone white
So delicate
Lost in the cold
You were always so lost in the dark
Remembering
You how you used to be
Slow drowned
You were angels
So much more than everything
Hold for the last time then slip away quietly
Open my eyes
But I never see anything

If only I'd thought of the right words
I could have held on to your heart
If only I'd thought of the right words
I wouldn't be breaking apart
All my pictures of you

Looking so long at these pictures of you
But I never hold on to your heart
Looking so long for the words to be true
But always just breaking apart
My pictures of you

There was nothing in the world
That I ever wanted more
Than to feel you deep in my heart
There was nothing in the world
That I ever wanted more
Than to never feel the breaking apart
All my pictures of you

2003-12-06

I spent most of today so far practicing carols for our yearly church Christmas Party tonight. Earlier this week I made a list of potential candidates, chose six or seven, downloaded and collected the lyrics, and started practicing them. After several hours of googling, trying different keys, and playing around different chord variations, I think I finally have everything figured out except the transitions from one song to the next. Whew. Lots of work. Of course it doesn't help that my new toy is sitting right here too, distracting me.

Last night was the annual St. Paul's Christmas Polka Party. It was pretty fun - everyone seemed to enjoy Stayin' Alive and Billy Jean more than the polka, though. You can't beat disco music with an accordion.

2003-11-29

Whoa. Every now and then, I check what other websites are geographically near mine (the GeoURL link at the bottom of this page). Since I live in Midtown in Atlanta, that can be rather interesting at times. But check this out!

On Thursday, Chris and I went over to Alison's for Thanksgiving. I was in the kitchen chatting with Alison, catching up. As we were talking, she noticed something had dripped from the sink onto the top of the cupboard door beneath. Without thinking, she took a cloth, sprayed something on it, and wiped off the mark.

It was a very familiar action - I have seen it repeated in countless kitchens - but it struck me because it's not something that would ever happen in my kitchen! (I share a house with three other single guys...)

But it got me thinking, because really, that's what it takes to keep things clean. Not massive bimonthly cleanups, but immediately fixing small messes. As an engineer/math-person/programmer, as a gen-x-er/slacker, and as someone who usually cares more about thoughts and ideas than things, cultivating a habit of maintenance, of looking after things from day to day, is one of my greatest challenges. Usually I don't even notice what the room I'm in looks like!

And while of course the same rule applies for many other practical things, I wonder how much thought we give to cultivating our selves - our personalities, virtues, character, thoughts. Do we spray and wipe immediately when we see a blob of turkey grease, or just leave it to sit and work its way in, until we learn to not to see the mess anymore?

Of course, you're wondering whether my house is currently spotless then, eh? No, unfortunately far from it. But my room is a whole lot less dusty and more organized, I can tell you that!

Ask me again in six weeks or so, and we'll see whether this is useless blabbing, or whether I've actually changed my behaviour. That's the theme for this year.


As an aside - thanks to Tim Bray and his excellent blog (samples: less technical | more technical) for pointing me to shoutcast. I'm currently listening to "ambient psy chillout"—whatever that means! Sounds cool, though.

2003-11-21

Tonight I went to see Love, Actually. I enjoyed it - the actors and actresses were just plain fun to watch, and there were some super moments. At the end of the movie, the idea behind the film becomes clear (I suppose it would have been clear earlier had I been thinking about it), and you realize that they could have done the idea better with a more serious film. However, I'm sure there is a more serious film that does that same idea, floating around somewhere, so I thought Love Actually turned out just right! Okay, so I'm a sappy romantic at heart...

In other news, Drew lent me Jimmy and Wes: The Dynamic Duo. Ouch. I just dropped a chunk of cash on Amazon. Man, it's good stuff. I put it in my CD player, and didn't take it out until it had played through about five or six times. The only reason I took it out is that it's too good to risk spoiling! It has been running through my head all week, and the descent into jazz is inevitable.

2003-11-11

Listening to Johnny Clegg and Savuka. Reading Laurens van der Post. I'm some kind of weird combination of the Africa where I was born, the UK where my ancestors live, and the USA where I now live. Have you ever noticed what a beautiful shape Africa has? I suppose if I'd grown up looking at either of them, those other shapes might have a feeling of familiarity, of balance. But as of now, they still feel a bit awkward to me, like you could understand them in your head, but not so easily in your heart.

UK, USA, Africa

2003-10-26

Baby Steps

Car: washed. Vacuum cleaner: repaired. Car interior: cleaned. Room: tidied. Mail: sorted. Bills: paid. Printer: installed. Silly Halloween costume idea: decided. Blog: updated.

2003-10-22

  • (re)Reading: A Story Like the Wind - Laurens Van Der Post
  • Reading: Desert Notes - Barry Lopez
  • Reading: Randald Bannerman's Boyhood - George MacDonald

I'm making a concerted effort to read in small chunks, and chew 32 times before swallowing... all these books are ones that need to be digested.

This weekend: camping

Next weekend: visiting New York

That's all for now. Coming soon: Pictures in less than 1000 words

2003-10-12

Thought Soup

Long, long time. Sorry. Lots going on, but all on the inside. It's just been a weird couple of months. Seems like 28 is a good year to play emotional archaeology... but it's good. Hopefully we can rip off the barnacles, trim in the sails, pull this thing back into the wind, and get going again! That's the royal we - thank God.

Which reminds me - flat out weirdest bumper sticker of all time: "God was my copilot, but we crashed in the mountains and I had to eat him." Spotted at Whole Foods. I knew that place was odd...

Looks like a busy month coming up, though - playing music with Andy at his church next weekend, camping the weekend after that, and hopefully New York over halloween. Crazy. Not to mention doing an internal launch of the new CDC website sometime this coming week.

  • Watching: Lost in Translation; The Man Without a Face; School of Rock
  • Listening: Changing Places, by Tord Gustavsen; Graham Cooke
  • Reading: The Wisdom of Tenderness; The Lymond chronicles, by Dame Dorothy Dunnett (sleeping: severely deprived. Meredith, I blame you! Current location of Lymond chronicle books: in a bag, in the back of the closet, pending more important things like eating, sleeping, laundry, paying bills, etc.)
  • Thinking: Damn if I haven't spent the last decade and a half scared of dancing. Gotta get over that. Deepest apologies to my ex-girlfriend for what must surely have been a couple of the most horrible evenings ever. It wasn't your fault.
  • Wondering: What does it mean that I'm an American now? Lying in bed, thinking about the people at Guantanamo Bay, and getting a sick feeling in my stomach. Do we believe in human rights, or do we simply look after our own? Two years is a long time to be away from your family. Red Cross; Interesting Protest

2003-09-19

Aaarrr!!!

Avast maties, today be National Talk Like a Pirate Day. Shiver me timbers.

Unfortunately, sometimes you feel like talking like a pirate, and sometimes you don't. I woke up feeling decidedly unswashbuckling this morning. Pirates aren't supposed to wake up feeling fragile and emotional!

But a pirate's gotta do what a pirate's gotta do, eh? Hoist the mainsail, ye scurvy landlubbers! Bring 'er round, that's the way, and we be off for adventure!

2003-09-07

Due to popular demand (more than one person telling me they wanted to buy me a book for my birthday, but didn't know what to buy), I've created a BooksForPresents page on my wiki. (What's a wiki?)

Today I drove up to Little River Canyon National Park, and hiked (okay, walked) down into the canyon at Eberhart Point. I did not take my camera (the point was to get away from all that), so you'll have to look at other people's pictures (hmmm — perhaps a trip in early Autumn when the leaves are changing is in order).

Little River Canyon is quite amazing - apparently it's the longest river in the US that runs along the top of a mountain (in this part of the world, a "mountain" is anything hill higher than about a ten storey building). The river is always surprisingly warm, and today was no exception. Although it seemed to be running somewhat low, there were still many large, deep pools. The threat of rain seemed to have kept people away, because I didn't meet a soul down in the canyon... wonderful!

I chatted with my cousin Con yesterday, and he encouraged me strongly to visit South Africa when they're down there. I shall have to broach the subject of unpaid leave again with the powers that be. Explaining to Con how little vacation we get in America compared with England was funny, in a sad kind of way.

Speaking of differences between America and England, I watched a good chunk of tennis this weekend. In South Africa, we used to watch Wimbledon every year, and I've hardly followed it at all since we moved here, so Wimbledon is still my picture of what tennis is supposed to be like. The focus on the prize money during the award ceremonies left me feeling a bit disgusted. It just seemed so crass.     However, I was totally drawn in by the tennis. I'd forgotten how enjoyable it is to watch. Some of the plays left me almost teary-eyed they were so amazing.

And speaking of tennis, last weekend was probably the first time I've actually  played  since the two or three times we hit around in college, and the lessons we used to take in Senior Primary (Middle) School. Serving is so much easier when you're 6'2''! I think I might have to play a bit more. I'm sure I could beat Andy if I practiced for - oh - about three years or so!

2003-08-31

I'm listening to Bosnian radio over the internet, and feeling weird. Technology brings pictures and sounds perfectly across thousands of miles, connecting suddenly with memories and feelings buried months and years deep. I can see the cobbled streets, smell the cevapi cooking, hear the trams rattling by, feel the snow and ice underfoot.

I had dinner at Chris and Andreja's the other night, with Dani. She's back after her first five-year stay in Sarajevo, which means it's been four years since I lived there on her first year. Visiting in January was wonderful, though. It's a bit of a discipline to focus on the goodness of those moments of feeling at home in different places all over the world, rather than to focus on the badness of those moments of feeling not-at-home in different places all over the world!

Updated words.

2003-08-17

We have a new sister! This weekend, Trent and Leah were married in Toronto. It was absolutely wonderful. I may write more later when I'm not wiped out, but here are some pictures for now.

Trent and Leah, in the Church
Trent and Leah, in the church

Trent and Leah, outside the Church
Trent and Leah, outside the church

Trent and Leah, with the wedding party
Trent and Leah, with the wedding party

Trent waiting for Leah
Trent, waiting for Leah

2003-08-02

Wow. What a long week at work. I thought I was through with the whole writing-design-documents-as-you-write-code thing when I left the consulting job. I guess it's just part of programming a lot of the time. Not so bad now, though — things are a little clearer now. Just a heck of a lot of stuff to get done rather soon

Tonight we watched Mansfield Park. I just about drove myself crazy trying to figure out where I'd seen the main actress before, until I could get to IMDB and realize that she was the mother in AI. As for the movie, I'm not entirely sure what I think about it. I definitely agree with the girls that it's a chick-flick. Some of the odd developments (like Fanny Price settling down happily to spend her days on the estate after being so obviously shocked by the horrors upon which its wealth was based) are apparently the result of placing themes into the story that were not there in the book (slavery), but which were evidently Jane Austen's viewpoints. Fanny's easy re-connection with her past and family seemed a bit too cute, and again, I believe that is not the case in the book. All in all, it looks like it might be a good read!

As a chick-flick, though, it seemed pretty standard fare. The plot (unrequited love with the perfect guy who doesn't get it until the end, when everything works out) was pretty predictable and, predictably, did a great job of having you thinking, "Come on Edmund!" — emotionally engaging if not particularly challenging. Overall, though, it was pretty decent. The characters were quite strong, and will stay with me for a while.

Now I just need to find some guy friends to hang out with!!

2003-07-30

Hmmm. I think God and Mom are colluding. Perhaps Mom has finally given up on perstering me and enlisted the aid of the Almighty.

I was praying yesterday morning, and I've been trying to ask God honestly to tell me anything—regardless of what it is and whether I particularly want to hear it—and to obey. As usual, He comes out of left field, and reminds me that I'm overdue (way overdue) for a visit to the dentist. Haha. So I'm off for the old scrape and grind thing next Wednesday.

Fun.

2003-07-29

Dumbass!

We had a rather large limb fall off a tree in our back yard, so today I borrowed the landlord's electric chainsaw, hacked it up, and carted the pieces to the pavement where they will eventually be collected (according to a schedule we have not been able to divine).

I wasn't sure if it was wise or not, but I wore my old glasses to protect my eyes. Who knows whether flying chips of wood or flying shards of glass is more likely, but it seemed like a good idea. I'd take off my glasses, throw them down on the grass beside the chainsaw, cart some branches off, come back, put my glasses back on, and resume the sawing.

I finished, came inside, washed my hands, made a sandwich, grabbed a tasty malt beverage, and—of course—realized I wasn't wearing my glasses.

I combed the grass, back and forth. I went back to the huge mass of branches, and shifted them from one pile to the other, shaking each branch in the failing light. Nothing. Finally, I took a flashlight, and re-combed the grassy area, hoping that the glass or metal would reflect the light. Nothing.

Out of curiosity, I threw down my new glasses (carefully noting where, of course), and walked around, shining my flashlight to see whether they actually do reflect — no.

And there, as I gave up and bent down to pick up my new glasses, were my old ones, less than a foot away. Weird.

I'm sure there is some kind of meaning — I've been drowning in allegory lately. The disordered mess my room has been in for the last month or two feels most unfortunately allegorical. As do the juggling balls Jim has in the cube he and I are sharing at work.

Aah, but so are the George MacDonald books I've been reading, and the stories and pictures God has been showing me, and it's all good.

That's all for now. (Hi mom.)

2003-07-04

Yeah! I pretty much showed that Peachtree Road Race who's boss. To quote weatherman John John Mackie... [er, better not]   Anyway, I ran the race in 46:05, which comes out to 7:25 minute miles! I was grinning all the way home, and I'm proudly wearing the t-shirt right now.

In other news, granny turned 80 today. I gave her a call and talked with her and with grampa. They both seemed to be doing very well, which is good to hear. Grampa's quote was the best. When I told him that I'd run a race today, along with 55,000 other people, he responded, "That's not a race. That's an evacuation!"

Which is interesting... I've grown sick of hearing about "the events of September 11th" parroted back by everyone from politicians to companies trying to explain their failed business plans. But with that many people bunched together on in one place on the 4th of July, I have to admit I was paying a slightly more than casual interest to the tiny figures atop the surrounding skyscrapers, and was glad to see a cop up there too. Of course the five or six news helicopters buzzing around looking for stories (and pretty much drowning out the national anthem) are probably even more effective at spotting trouble!

It does make one think, though, that what America really is is a bunch of people, who are mostly concerned with living out their lives, having barbecues, raising kids, and occasionally getting up at five in the morning to run a race with 55,000 other people just for the fun of it. In all the sparkle and glitter and hype of the media trying to sell us an even bigger thrill than last time, you can forget that real life happens down on the ground, and that there really is something magical about seasons and holidays and celebrations.

Happy 4th of July!

2003-07-03

Here in Washington, we like to think we�re important. But what�s great about America is that whether you�re a senator or a bus driver doesn�t make you a better person. You just have different jobs.

America is not a nation of kings and commoners, masters and servants. We�re a nation where every person has equal value, every dream deserves an equal chance, and every soul should be as equal in the law of the land as it is in the eyes of God.

(From a speech by John Edwards mentioned on Lawrence Lessig's Blog.)

Those are definitely some of the beliefs upon which America was founded. I'm just not sure we act like we believe them very much nowadays

Here in Washington, we like to think we�re important. But what�s great about America is that whether you�re a senator or a bus driver doesn�t make you a better person. You just have different jobs. America is not a nation of kings and commoners, masters and servants. We�re a nation where every person has equal value, every dream deserves an equal chance, and every soul should be as equal in the law of the land as it is in the eyes of God. John Edwards

2003-07-02

notes

The last few days, I finally sat down and worked on tuning my piano. It's quite difficult, although with the aid of the little electronic tuner, not too bad. Since it was quite flat, I'm sure I'm going to have to tune it twice — once to bring it up to pitch, and then again in a couple of weeks after it's settled a bit. I'm almost done with the first tuning — just the highest octave and a half are yet to be done.

On Monday, I went running in the rain for the first time. Usually I'm not that hard-core about running, but it had been a week since I last ran, and on the way home, I passed a couple of runners who seemed to be enjoying it. Actually, it was easier than usual, because the heat had abated. It wasn't raining hard, though — I'll have to try it at least once when it's royally bucketing down in true Georgia Summer thunderstorm fashion.

2003-06-15

Wow. In the last eight weeks, I've run a total of 74 miles. (I love spreadsheets!) That's about 9.25 miles a week. It's also probably about 9.2 miles a week more than my average for the preceding five years. Today was awful, though. I ran the full Peachtree distance of 6.3 miles for the first time. It was warm, and very humid, and my pace was over 8 minute miles for the first time in four weeks - way over. There is nothing pleasant about running (yet) — the pleasant part is having run. And let me tell you, that feels darn good!

In other news, if you're a friend of mine and wondering whether I've dropped off the face of the earth, I apologize. I have been out of contact with just about everyone I should have been writing, calling, and spending time with. I promise to start chasing you down in the next couple of weeks, okay?

2003-06-14

On Wednesday night, my friend Meredith gave me a book called The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. Unfortunately, it was very good. I say unfortunately, because of the 16 hours of sleep I should have got between Wednesday and Thursday nights, 7 of them were stolen staying up reading.

The funny thing is, you don't even fully enjoy a book when it's two in the morning and you're exhausted. Maybe next year I'll work on my reading addiction. I've got other things to think about right now! Nevertheless, the book was excellent. Very sad, but the kind of story that sticks in your mind and causes you to come back and dwell on it later. Highly recommended. Science Fiction your mom would like — at least I'm pretty sure mine would. (hi mom!)

Tonight Meredith came over to hang out. She'd just got done with a conference at Grace Ministries, and was totally stoked about God. Very sweet. I'm starting to get my own stoke on again, which is cool — keep it coming, Lord!

Gotta go running sometime tomorrow. I've been putting it off. I ran last on Tuesday, and before that it was a whole week. The weather hasn't exactly been helpful — varying between overcast, drizzly, or pouring with only occasional gaps of sunshine — for the last month or so now.

2003-06-11

Screen on the Green

Last night, I got home from work, changed, drove to the park, ran 5.4 miles (3 times around the park), raced home, showered, hopped on my bike, and rode to Piedmont Park to meet friends for 2001: A Space Oddysey at Screen on the Green

Unfortunately, it was a "school night" so by the time we'd waited for darkness, and watched a couple of previews, a couple of ads and a Daffy Duck cartoon, there was no way I was going to make it all the way through and still get to bed on time after biking home. I left just before HAL started going nuts.

I have to say, the first time I saw the movie, I felt like every scene was interminably boring. But this time, I just lay back and watched the story unfold on the big screen, enjoying the choreography and artistry. I thought it was absolutely stunning, and I was sorry I couldn't stay through the end.

Well, that's all for now — nothing too personal, but I wanted to start getting in the habit of updating my blog again!

2003-05-26

On warm nights, with the waves washing up against the sand, and stars sprinkled dusty across the sky, the rules are relaxed, and the beginnings and endings and edges of things run together. Walking along the water, you can pass unknowingly from one beach to another, across time and distance. The ribbon of shoreline ringing islands and continents is twisted up upon itself and winds unbroken across years and miles. Silently, you pass along the shorelines of India, of China, of Ireland and Australia. Past Columbus, moored just offshore in the darkness, the ripples lapping up against the wooden sides, waiting to explore a newly discovered world. Past battles and lovers and tragedies and victories and dinosaurs and pirates. Past father Adam and mother Eve discovering ocean sunsets and constellations yet unnamed. Slipping quietly onto any of the thousand million beaches of a thousand million years.

In the almost-darkness, I passed myself five years ago, walking with my closest friend. I almost caught a snatch of their conversation, that couple on a moonlit Florida beach, but I passed on, and they are different people now, and strangers.

I passed the sleeping dunes of a coast in Africa, still ringing with the voices of our daytime play, and for a moment I was back on holiday as a child. I felt the evening coolness, and the mysterious excitement of carried sleeping bags and limpets for bait as we set out to catch crayfish and sleep beneath the sky.

Back, back across the years, the shoreline stretched like memory beneath the feet of these almost-strangers, with beach below and God above unchanging companions on the walk, immune to the effects of time, helping to pull together the thread of continued experience that somehow adds up to me.

2003-05-22

Florida here I come!

Sun (hopefully), surf (not likely if you mean waves - it's the gulf coast) and sand (I'm almost certain!), here we come. Pulling out tomorrow at 6am, and cruising on down before the worst of the traffic to Destin, Florida. Now all I have to do is finish doing washing, pack, shower, figure out what music I'm taking, and just about everything else. It is going to be good to get out of Atlanta. And Ash and Carrie will be super company for the drive. Hasta luego. Pics when I get back

2003-05-17

Alright. So, I gave in to my temptation and went to see it with some friends.

Let's just say that the third movie has an awful lot of explaining to do. And it better be good...

2003-05-15

A Matrix
[Hit F5 to Reload]


Okay, so I'm feeling a bit silly! (and no, I haven't seen it yet) Sorry for the long delay in posting. I've been doing a lot of figuring lately - the sort of stuff I don't feel happy writing on a web page for the world to see — just working through a few year's worth of thoughts and feelings, and trying to make sense of it all.

On the running front, I'm up to 5.4 miles! Almost there. I think I'm going to be able to run the Peachtree at 8.5 or maybe even 8 minutes a mile, if all the other people don't get in the way too much. Last time I timed myself, I ran 4 miles at 8.5 minutes a mile, which I thought was fabulous.

I've decided to try to tune my piano myself. Luckily, it's an old beater of a piano, so I'm pretty sure I can't do too much damage. It turns out that tuning a piano is quite difficult — not the sort of thing you can learn to do in an afternoon. I think it's probably about as hard as learning to type if you've never typed before - it's going to take practicing that asdf jkl; over and over again. Except with a piano, it's learning to hear the "beats" that occur when two strings vibrate and they're not quite perfectly in tune. The beats get harder to hear as you go from unisons to octaves to fifths. Also, your hands have to learn how to use the tuning lever, and feel what's going on with the strings and pins. Should be fun.

Well, that's all for now - I need to bust out the old camera again. It's just that I don't find Atlanta quite as novel as London - although I suppose that's the whole point of walking around with a camera!

2003-04-26

Hi mom! I hope you guys enjoyed camping!

Nothing too much new. Just in case any of you were wondering just how much of a geek I am, I thought I'd let you know. The other night, I dropped into bed at about 11:00 or 11:30 or so, intent on doing nothing but falling asleep as quickly and soundly as possible. As I lay there, I started thinking about programming languages, and how easy or difficult it would be to get my computer to understand a new programming language. I still regret not being forced to write a compiler at Georgia Tech, so every now and then I read a bit about it, but so far it just hadn't started to click. Well, unfortunately, it started to click at about 11:30. Truly, I wanted to go to sleep, my brain just wouldn't let me. (This happens with other things too, not just programming.)

The really sad thing is, this kind of occurrence makes me happy, since it convinces me that my mind is gradually recovering from my previous, numbing job. For a while there, I could actually feel myself getting stupider. Having eaten a fair amount of beef while in Britain, I couldn't help wondering whether the first sign of your brain turning into a sponge is that you start getting less and less sharp?

In the keeping-your-brain sharp vein, I highly recommend the book Seeds of Change, by Henry Hobhouse. It's the story of five plants — quinine, sugar, tea, cotton and potatoes — and how they affected history. The more I read, the more narrow and one-sided I realize my history classes have been.

That's it for now. I have to bake some brownies for the coffee house at church tonight, and prepare for playing music at church tomorrow. My method of figuring out which songs to play is half trust, half work, and so far it seems to come out more or less okay. I think brownies take less of both.

2003-04-21

Yeah! I just got back from running 3.6 miles (I drove it one way in my car on the way home). Unfortunately that's still more than two and a half miles less than what I'll have to be running on the fourth of July. Fortunately, there's quite a bit of time left. Being the geek that I am, I opened up my computer's spreadsheet program, Gnumeric, and created a quick table to lay out a plan of distances and dates. Looks like I need to add just over 3 tenths of a mile each week to hit 6.3 miles two weeks before the Peachtree. Not too bad. I might even be able to do better than that - if I can hit 6.3 miles earlier, then I can start working on getting my speed up. I think the trick is to run a route where I have to get home to finish — laps just don't seem to work for me!

2003-04-17

... "fire" does not matter, "earth" and "air" and "water" do not matter. "I" do not matter. No word matters. But man forgets reality and remembers words. The more words he remembers, the cleverer do his fellows esteem him. He looks upon the great transformations of the world, but he does not see them as they were seen when man looked upon reality for the first time. Their names come to his lips and he smiles as he tastes them, thinking he knows them in the naming.
-- Roger Zelazny, "Lord of Light"

Okay, so I promise to post more than bi-monthly. Sorry about all that - I've been busy.

What provoked me to post today was an article on kids and computers and India. Read it!

In other news, I'm afraid I've been geeking out horribly lately. I have the latest version of Linux installed on my computer, I've networked all the computers in our house to the DSL, and I've been learning about fascinating but esoteric computer science principles like continuations. Don't ask.

Oh, and I've actually been exercising. Something possessed me to sign up for the Peachtree Road Race (10k = 6¼ miles). Although I don't know whether I sent my application in on time, I nonetheless have to be able to run the distance by the 4th of July. Almost every time I've run in the past 3 or 4 years, it's been the 2.2 mile loop around my neighbourhood. I think I've trained my body to run exactly 2.2 miles and no more. When I pass my house again, it's all over. I think I need to find a different route!


The other thing I've been thinking about a lot lately is my reluctance to become close to people. I don't understand it, but I'm tired of it. I think it's partly still holdover from our family leaving everyone we knew behind in 1992 to come to the States. Partly still holdover from being engaged — and then disengaged. Partly still holdover from being misunderstood by not a few people at my old church.

Nothing that isn't common to mankind, I know!

So, that's probably my number one thing to pray about, and trust for, and work on. Being close to folks, and being close to God. And in Atlanta it sure does take work!

2003-03-29

Finally, I have internet access at home. After some drilling, running cables, crimping end connectors, wiring jacks, and configuring computers and a router. Hopefully that means that blog entries should come more often than once a month now. How exciting!

2003-03-12

"Freedom Fries"  

I couldn't resist this one. "Freedom Fries?" Ridiculous. What's next? Democracy Braids, Equality Horns, and (ahem) Liberty kissing? Hmmm. Let's hear it for Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.

In other news, I'm getting along swimmingly at the new job. I like CDC, I like the location (the CDC facility at Emory for the time being), I like the people I've met so far, and I like the fact that I'm going to be able to ride my bike here once I get access cards and badges all squared away, and convince myself that I actually am well again.

Sorry for the lack of updates - I need internet access at home, but first I have to set up a router to share Drew's DSL, but first I have to run cables, but first I have to drill holes in the floor, but first I have to borrow a drill, that lives in the house that Jack built... Soon.

2003-02-22

keyboard   Trent and Leah got engaged this week! Trent is two months out of university, still looking for somewhere to put his Architecture degree to use, and so had to sell some CDs to help pay for a ring. But who cares about money, if you're in it together? Come on Trent, let's have a decent picture of the two of you on the web site, eh? I think they're planning on August some time, before the weather gets cold again.

Speaking of weather, today in Atlanta was unseasonably warm - t-shirt and shorts weather in February. A crazy wind was knocking branches out of trees all over the place. All we needed was an electrical storm to make it pure Ray Bradbury. Apart from a couple of hours walking today, Tuesday at the office, and a few quick trips for groceries or fast food, I haven't left the house since Sunday night. Working from home is certainly better than dragging yourself, sick, in to the office. But it has its limits. Hopefully I'll be well by Monday.

I've decided to put a bit of effort into learning some jazz theory and practice. I've been throwing some unexpected chords into the mix lately, and I'd like to actually know why! Rob's quick primer on two-five-one kicked it off, and hanging out with Drew Matter (I still can't believe the guy has a real piano in his bedroom!) got things rolling. My miseducation started with some freebie internet tutorials on jazz piano (okay, if you hadn't figured out that I'm a geek yet, then the joke's on you, alright?), but got started in earnest today with the purchase of Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue." I feel like I'm standing with one foot on the ground, one foot on the first rung, my hand about to grab another - I've never even seriously listened to jazz before! Well, we'll see what happens...

You know, I really miss all of you in Bosnia and England. It was wonderful to see you again, everyone. If you're reading this, send me an email, okay? And Waco, and Toronto, and Kailua-Kona, and New York, and Florida, and South Africa and everywhere else. Sometimes I could almost wish I was one of those people who'd never been more than a hundred miles from home.

Almost.

2003-02-19

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. - Dwight D. Eisenhower, U.S. general and 34th president (1890-1969)

For those of you who I haven't told yet, I'm going to remain in Atlanta until I switch jobs - no travel back to London. Considering the fact that I'm working from home, sick, right now, I'm extremely glad not to be in London, sick.

2003-02-14

heart Valentine's Day. Last night, I mistakenly went into a "Christian" bookstore to look for a wedding card. Yikes. I just can't take the blend of religion and commercialism. Enjoy-your-retirement cards where the punchline centers on enjoy-your-401k, with a dollar-like president picture on the front. Highly embossed, ribboned monstrosities with verses on the left and blessings on the right.

At the store where we bought the wedding present, Stephen and I were chatting about whether Valentine's Day is celebrated in South Africa (it is). He said it is also celebrated in Latin America, so it must be a worldwide thing. When I mentioned the crackdowns in India, and Stephen asked why, the lady in line behind us chimed in, answering that it's because Valentine's Day is a Christian celebration (or began as Christian). More or less.

Not that I have anything against Valentine's Day in particular. It's just that it's the first major holiday/celebration since I came back from overseas, and the commercialism gets a bit trying after a while. It's amazing how much it permeates America. As soon as I arrived, I found myself looking jealously at the next guy's palm pilot or spiffy laptop, thinking, "Man, I want one of those!" I have to keep reminding myself how unimportant that junk is.

Although I do want a palm pilot...

2003-02-09

Well, I gave notice at my job on Friday. I left in in the hands of the London project management whether the expense of flying me back to London until the end of the month is worth it. So I'm not sure what exactly I'm going to be doing until the end of February. After February, though, I do know - working 40 hours a week, or close to it! Sweet. Time to start exercising regularly, get the house looking more tidy and organized, get on a better schedule for cooking and eating more healthfully, and perhaps even thinking about taking a class in the evenings. And praying to see if there's anything specific I'm supposed to do with the extra time I've been given. Exciting stuff.

2003-02-05

Home Again (for a while)

Well, I'm home again in Atlanta, for a week at least. Then back to London, either on Sunday evening, or whenever I get a work permit. It's nice to be back here, to see friends, to meet our new roommate, Andy, to go to my church, to be able to play my keyboard and guitar - just everything. (Well, except constantly being on the verge of a sore throat because of the air quality - but I think Sarajevo and hours on airplanes may have been partly responsible for that!)

Here are some more pictures - a completely random selection, dictated mostly by which ones came out the best

Sutka and Dani
Sutka and Dani, playing with fruit.

Dado and Jenny width=
Dado and Jenny. How lucky - Dado and Jenny happened to visit from Canada while I was in Sarajevo. They are doing very well. It was a real joy to spend time with them, catching up, hearing how God's been teaching them all kinds of stuff. Maybe I can go visit them in Victoria, Canada, sometime when I have more vacation.

Mostar
Mostar, from a hill above the city. Even in Winter, Mostar is still very beautiful. Although actually warmer than Sarajevo (it hardly ever snows), the city feels freezing, because of the strong wind that seems to cut right through your clothing. I spent a day in Mostar, visiting Dado Zarak, and had the pleasure of meeting Corey from the 'States (instead of just hearing about him), and Naomi from England (who I'd met before, but just in passing). We went to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and then hung out in a couple of coffee bars, one of which is called Stolica ("stoleetsa" - "chair" - doesn't quite translate in English!)

Ibro Hasanovic
Here's my friend Ibro, at their new house, with chickens, a vegetable garden, bee hives, and mountains in the background. Ibro is more photogenic than I will ever hope to be. I guess that's fitting, since he's a cool art student, and I'm a corporate drone!

Neil Arner
While we're on photogenic, here's a shot of Neil Arner. This was taken on the train from Sarajevo to Zagreb, an eight or ten hour affair. Luckily, it turned out that the Nada i Zivot (Hope and Life) team from Sarajevo was taking the train up the same day I needed to, so I had good company, and a place to stay the night. The conductor even had them stop the train longer than usual at lunchtime so we could jump off and buy food and drinks!

Drew Matter
Another of the highlights of my trip was getting to spend time with Drew again, after not seeing him for just over three years. He's planning on heading to seminary, and - as much as I'm usually disappointed when hearing that everyone and their brother feels the need to go to seminary - with him it feels like a good thing! I think he'd make a good pastor and preacher. The young woman in Drew's thoughts (actually it's just a reflection in the window) is Rachel.

england-from-plane
Alas, all holidays end, and almost always too soon. This is England from the plane. It doesn't quite come out in this picture, but snow and Winter reduce the landscape almost to a black-and-white, or brown-and-white. I'll be back in England in a week or so.

2003-01-27

Sarajevo, I love you!

Being in Bosnia has been absolutely wonderful. With a couple of exceptions, and presuming things go smoothly tomorrow, I'll have somehow managed to visit everyone I wanted to see! I don't have enough time to write much now, and I'll have to wait until I get home to put up more pictures (although I haven't taken too many - digital camera or no, I'm still my old non-photo-taking self, I'm afraid).

On Wednesday, I'm joining Drew Matter and his crew on the train ride up to Zagreb. I fly to London on Thursday, and Atlanta on Friday. Traveling is wonderful. I'm hoping I don't get lulled back to sleep when I return to America. Anyone know what's been happening on Friends?

2003-01-24

Sarajevo
Sarajevo from a hill
Sarajevo, from a hill above the library.

This is a picture from my first day in Sarajevo. The city was covered by fog/smog, as well as by a blanket of snow. Unfortunately, my feeling that there is less optimism and hope now than there was three years ago is turning out to be correct. I have had people tell me they would happily leave to go anywhere that would give them a visa, just so they could work. When I've told people my opinion that what the country really needs is just one honest man as president, who will do what is right and set a standard for doing so, the reply has been that they fear no such honest politician could exist. Is there no one righteous, not even one?

Hum

Nonetheless, there is still lots to love about Sarajevo. This is a picture of the view from outside Lawn's house, looking over Velesici, and up to the top of the hill, at "Hum". I'm not sure if Hum is the name of the hill, or of the interesting radio tower at the top. Drew Matter said when he saw pictures of it, he thought, "That is the ugliest thing I've ever seen in my life," and that when he came to Sarajevo and saw it, he thought, "That is the ugliest thing I've ever seen in my life." Here's a closeup:

Hum, Closeup

Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours wandering around town with my friend Ada, catching up on the last three years. It was wonderful to see her again. She is doing well, and seemed even happier and more buoyant than I remembered her. We walked from Skenderija (a mall) to downtown and back twice, and then stopped in to check out an art exhibit that we found in Skenderija. Here's a couple of pictures:

Mary Ann and Ada
Mary Ann and Ada. Mary Ann is a friend of Ada's, who she was meeting to hang out with. I thought this picture turned out really nicely.

Ada and Zellyn
Ada and I. Oops. I guess we should have taken one sitting down, so we'd be about the same height. Oh well. This way you get a glimpse of the mountain behind Skenderija, with houses climbing up it.

Andreja and Chris
Here at last, a picture of Andreja and Chris. Sorry it's a bit blurred - I took it at the studio while they were having the real pictures taken, and didn't want to use my flash and disturb the real photographer!

Finally, the coffee update. Sorry. I've completely lost count. No more coffee updates! Although, when I hung out with Ada, we didn't dring coffee - she doesn't like it!

2003-01-20

Oh. Two more things. For those of you with fast connections or who don't mind waiting, check out Trent's portfolio. Very cool. http://www.ald.utoronto.ca/~hunter_t/ - click on the folder in the bottom left corner.

And, a quote I saw a while ago in a horribly geeky interview, which I thought was interesting:

A thought. I would say that "to want is only authentic when it's translated into an action". There is something wonderful in God's creative process (you can check that in first chapters of the Bible). When God says, "Let there be light", he creates light. The greatest problem of artists is that they say, "Let there be art" and do nothing. :)

In Bosnia - quick update

Chris and Andreja's Big Fat Croatian Wedding was wonderful. The actual wedding activities lasted about 12 hours, from four in the afternoon, until about four in the morning. Much eating, drinking, dancing, singing, and general celebration. I felt lucky to have been invited, and I'm sorry to all you many folks who would have liked to have come but couldn't - I was thinking of you and wishing you could have been there. I'll post some pictures when I get a chance.

Last night was church, and apparently there has been some amount of buzz about my coming to visit. It's really quite strange - I don't feel like I warrant that much excitement! Most of the people from my old church in Atlanta are not here at the moment - only Dani and the Jones family. But I have more than enough Bosnian friends to visit! I'm going to consume litres and litres of coffee, I can tell!

I got to drive back from the wedding with Dani, which was wonderful. We talked and talked and talked, catching up on three years of all sorts of everything. Oh, and I found I had managed to lose her car registration somewhere in the craziness of driving back to the airport to find my lost luggage, changing for the wedding, and finding my luggage again at 4:30 in the morning. That made border crossings and police checks nervous and painful, and meant she has to go through some difficulty and complication to get things straightened out. Oh dear. Sorry, Dani!

Today was my first full day in Bosnia. And it certainly was full. This morning, I had coffee with Asmir (who's staying here) and Sutka (who came to clean) here at Lawn's house. Then I went off to give Dani my passport so she could get me registered at the police station. She was at a cafe, so that involved more coffee. Then, Asmir and I sat and had lunch at another cafe until his language lesson with Caroline. (Coke this time, not coffee!)

I went walking downtown, and climbed up the hill to get a view of the city. Unfortunately, in winter it's largely obscured by fog/smog. Maybe it was that, and lack of any kind of green plants, but it felt like the sense of optimism and new recovery of three years ago has dissipated, and life is just ticking over. Then again, it's hard to tell when you're wandering around a city by yourself, in winter, in the early afternoon on a Monday. It's quite strange to be back - the city has changed, and I certainly have changed, and I suppose I'll have to get to know it again. Many of the hopes and dreams and thoughts and wishes and fears I had when I last saw all these people and places have passed behind.

I figured if I could find my friend Ibro hanging out at the bookstore cafe (coffee) where Dani told me I might find him, he would help me to understand what's going on in the spirit of the city. He's an art student, drinking coffee, studying aesthetics, and plotting to change the world. It was good to see him again, and I had to drag myself away from our conversation. I can't wait to see some of his art.

So, one conversation about beauty/truth/globalism/art/family/Sarajevo/politics/life later, I was walking back home, wondering where meaning and beauty comes from. Do you recognize it, or create it? Maybe it feels like you created it while you were working hard to find it. If you recognize it, then maybe you have to look hard before you see it sometimes. And maybe you can find beauty or ugliness in most things. I think this is going to be my Polyanna year, playing the "glad game" - find something to be glad about in everything

Six o' clock brought dinner with Drew Matter, and a chance to catch up for the first time in - oh, ages - probably since college, four or five years ago. Ten Cevapi and a glass of yoghurt at Zeljo (first day, Chris!), and I felt like I'd arrived for real. After stopping in at a cafe (coffee), Drew and I went back to their place, and played piano and sang and praised God.

As I said, it's a bit strange coming back to Sarajevo. But nice. I have no agenda, no plan, no work, and no schedule. There's absolutely nothing I'm supposed to be doing, and no goals except to relax, enjoy myself, stay close to God, and manage to visit all my friends. And to somehow be a tenth as generous to everyone as they are to me.

That's it. Except for one public service announcement: If you have friends over in here in Bosnia, write to them, call them or email them. Now. They need to know you're thinking about them. Living here can be difficult, and news from home infrequent.

2003-01-14

St Paul's, and the Millenium Bridge
St Paul's, and the Millenium Bridge

Nothing much to say. Today, I went for a walk at lunchtime, around St. Paul's, and across the Millenium Bridge. It's amazing how much building is going on. The skyline is ragged with cranes.

2003-01-13

Cranes against the sky
Cranes against the sky, Docklands, London

Years ago, Dad gave me a blue bookmark with Joy Dawson's Principles for Effective Intercession printed on it. I've had it in my Bible for about as long as I can remember, and I probably need to re-type and re-laminate it before it frays away completely. Joy Dawson suggests that you should ask God to clear out your own thoughts, feelings, desires, and imaginations for what you want to pray about, and pray whatever God puts in your mind. Pretty scary, huh?

What if the important things don't get covered?

Sometimes the important things, evidently, are simple: Why don't you give your friend Stephen a call? Now.

Usually, I'm too busy thinking about the things that seem important to me at the moment. My mind ends up feeling like a rubber band, when you twist it up tightly, hold each end between finger and thumb, and move your hands apart and together. As it shortens, it suddenly jumps into knobs and kinks and coiled bumps. As you stretch it, the knots are pulled out again, as the tension increases.

For me, a big part of growing older is learning not to do that. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."

2003-01-08

Hehehe

Snowing: View from the Office
Sweet. It never gets old.

2003-01-07

This Way
Traffic Light Tree
I like this one - I caught sight of this from a distance while wandering around the Docklands, and just had to check it out. It pretty much describes how I'm feeling right now, big-picture-wise.

2003-01-04

Wow. I hate this job. 8:40pm on Saturday night. I'm beginning to see why people start their own companies. Everything else being equal, I'd rather work like crazy to solve some stupid problem that I caused than work like crazy to solve some stupid problem somebody else caused. Or even better, eliminate the somebody else, and don't cause the same stupid problems over and over (and over) again.