chrishansenhome: (Default)
I am amazed at the difference in mental attitude I have since I began putting together my week's pills on Saturday night rather than Sunday night. Gives a whole new meaning to the week.

Just sayin'.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
Oh well. The weather was atrocious, so we stayed in. This is bad (and we're doing it again TODAY, just to be cussed!)

The major suckitude came when our friend Bobby arrived from Hong Kong bearing two 1TB drives for my NAS box. The price was right and they seem to be working OK at the moment. Unfortunately, D-Link is really pretty bad when it comes to the software running its hardware.

I removed the previous drives (two 500GB drives) and installed the new ones—really great that they just slide in and lock themselves. Then I fired it up, and tried to log into the web page that starts them off by formatting the new drives.

Could I remember my password? Could I hell! I tried all the ones I usually try, and none of them worked. I swore like a trooper and HWMBO, who had just come back from The Well with dinner, ran away, the air was so blue.

I looked online, and a procedure for resetting the machine (a D-Link DNS-323, to be precise) was there, but a "reset button" was mentioned, without giving its precise position. The D-Link manual didn't have any reference to a reset button, so I was stumped.

Finally someone in a forum somewhere mentioned that you needed an unbent paperclip. Aha! I needed to look for holes in the box! There was one, on the back plate, well hidden. I had to remove one drive, keep the power on, and press the paperclip into that hole for 10 seconds. That initialises the firmware so that it sees you as a new user. THEN, and only then, could I get into the web page and start formatting the drive.

Wotta pain!

I had to apologise to HWMBO, and we both promised each other that we would go to bed early because we were about to go onto British Summer Time, three weeks behind our US friends. We went to bed at midnight, as usual, and I am feeling it this morning.
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One of the side-effects of beta-blockers is vivid dreams. I think this has more to do with affecting your wakefulness rather than making your dreams more vivid. When you are closer to being awake your dreams are more memorable, I think.

Anyway, I was on a flight, which landed, then instead of picking up my luggage immediately I waited a day (have no idea why). I found myself at a bizarre luggage carousel, which featured an airline employee standing on a flat metal plate above the carousel and hopping over any pieces of luggage that came by her. I expected my luggage to arrive first, as I had waited a day, but instead it came last. One piece was OK, but the other one was open and most of its contents were gone. I picked it off the carousel and was looking through the remnants when a mouse came by on the carousel and said, in a high-pitched voice, "Hi there, friend!" I woke up...I guess that even my unconscious mind could not stomach a talking mouse in my dreams and woke me up before anything even more absurd could happen.

Yesterday we went to the White Cube, Hoxton to see an almost totally forgettable exhibit centered around the economic crisis. The most memorable part of it was four pictures showing a Queen of each suit in a pack of cards being washed in a lavabo bowl. These were called "Washing the Queens". Oh well.

Then we took a 55 bus to the Photographers Gallery. It has moved from its split premises near Leicester Square (pronounced "LES-ter" for all you non-UKans) to an un-split premises on Romilley St. near Oxford Circus. The cafe is crowded beyond belief and is next to the shop. Much milling around ensued. There is no lift, and the main gallery is on the second (=USan third) floor. We huffed up and then down the stairs. The exhibit was photos, first of two transvestites gamboling in the dunes, then a woman with a baby. Not horribly interesting to me, but HWMBO liked it. We often disagree about the merits of art in the galleries we visit.

Then to a Coffee Republic down the street for coffee and a snack, and then home. We had leftovers for dinner, and that was our day.
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I haven't blogged much since I got back from Southeast Asia. I apologise.

The blister on my foot from Singapore turns out to not be infected. They gave me scads of antibiotics anyway. One good thing: at least they didn't give me the one you can't drink alcohol with. I asked the foot clinic for advice on how to prevent such blisters when I visit hot climates. They said that well-fitting lace-up shoes/trainers are probably best and that slip-ons like crocs may cause rubbing that can end up in a blister. Taking along a supply of antibiotics to take if I do get a blister is also a good idea. I go to the Diabetic Clinic at St. Thomas's a week from tomorrow. I expect that some change in my medication will happen then.

I have not yet been able to connect my Skype Wireless Phone from Belkin to our router. This seriously pisses me off. I don't know whether it's the router, the phone, or a combination of both. When I try to update the firmware in the phone, the computer complains that the phone isn't connected to it (by USB). Nothing I do gets it to connect. The firmware upgrade doesn't work with Apple (I tried, believe me). I may try with Ubuntu (see later item).

I have not heard anything from work since I got back. People tell me that I shouldn't worry, but should be pleased that I have nothing to do but get paid for it. This is quite scary, actually, as my job may at any time just be eliminated (me not having anything to do makes that more likely, in my view). I will be starting to study for my ISEB Practitioner's exam (scheduled for Dec. 12) this week, so that, in a way, is work. We will be OK even if I lose my job, and I think I would be able to get contract work in training and consulting. But, no one wants to lose their job; more importantly, having something to do helps to keep one sane.

I have more than 500 pictures of the temples around Angkor Wat. I need seriously to get them categorised and put up on Flickr.

I have been bitching about Vista for quite a while. Thus, when someone suggested Ubuntu 8.10, I decided to give it a try, but on my older laptop. My immediate verdict is: apart from the fact that it wouldn't partition the (60 GB) hard disk to dual boot with XP, everything else was a dream. Installation was easy (once I conceded that I would have to give up the hard disk entirely to Ubuntu--I didn't keep any data on it anyway) and, more importantly, Ubuntu runs like greased lightning on this rather elderly (probably around 4 years old) laptop. It was a gaming laptop, so it's got memory to spare, but I was surprised at how fast it was. For example, downloading this .pdf newsletter from St. Michael's Church in Marblehead took about 6-7 seconds on Vista. The download on Ubuntu was almost unmeasurably fast.

Also to note is this fact: when this laptop was running XP, it was almost impossible to get the Netgear PCMCIA WiFi card to work correctly and connect up to our wireless router. Now that it's running Ubuntu, not only did the installation not need a separate driver, but it connected up first try (with the WPA key and SSID) and has continued to connect up seamlessly ever since. While downloading the aforementioned newsletter, I was also listening to a Hearts of Space radio program, and doing both over the wireless connection, not Ethernet. There were no dropouts on the music, and the newsletters continued to download quickly.

I still haven't tried all the features of Ubuntu, but I'm thinking that it might actually be a viable alternative to Vista and Windows generally. The price (free) is also right. The Register review was generally favourable. If you want to try it, the download site I used is here.


Sep. 6th, 2008 08:12 pm
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We had a very leisurely day today. At 1 we went out to Leicester Square to meet M, and then go to lunch. After a bit of a tussle over "where" that reminded me of Douglas Adams' three questions that denoted the three stages of civilisation:
  • What should we eat?
  • Why do we eat?
  • Where should we go for lunch?

we decided to go to Jom Makan again, and this time we did much better. HWMBO gave it 7 out of 10 this time, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. We had no dessert, which was better as all the desserts are chock-full of sugar or sugar syrup. I took pictures!

M and HWMBO:

My lunch: Hainanese Chicken Rice and Gado-Gado salad:

I'd eaten a bit from the left side of this!

HWMBO had Nasi Ayam Percik ("Grilled chicken with sweet spicy coconut sauce served with steamed rice, fresh salad, and prawn crackers")

and M had Nasi Goreng (I think):

Afterwards we strolled to the White Cube, where a forgettable exhibition called "Lesser Panda" had its last day today. The top level was full of people watching a movie about the psychologist for the Munich police during the 1972 Olympic Games (you may remember, that was when Black September took Israeli athletes hostage), and the bottom level had some rather geometric and abstract paintings incorporating things which might or might not have been rings.

Then to Waterstone's Piccadilly, where I bought an O'Reilly title: "Windows Vista Annoyances"--which have been much on my mind of late.

We parted from M there, he to Leicester Square again to enquire about a movie, and us home via Boots, where HWMBO got an "alice band" for his hair.

We had stew for dinner, and HWMBO was mightily annoyed that I hadn't eaten some cottage cheese which expired yesterday. I think it'll stay until tomorrow night, when I won't really want to eat much.

Now to reading about Windows Vista does seem that the book isn't quite thick enough to accomodate all of them.
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Gosh, it's gone by so quickly, mostly through my own silliness.

Yesterday was going to be a crappy day, with rain and wind. But, our friend M wanted to go to the Thai Food Festival at Greenwich Park, so we duly got on a 188 bus. Getting there was OK, but once we got there the skies opened. There was a lot of good food there, although the coconut milk wasn't very good (M said that the coconut wasn't fresh): I loved the Thai Green Curry and the mango with sticky rice. But the wind and the rain were so pervasive that the few people who were there along with us simply crowded under trees and ate disconsolately. It must have been a terrible disappointment to the organisers. I was disappointed too, as I like Thai food and we weren't going to get much.

We got on a 188 bus to go back to the Elephant, but what a mistake THAT was...the roadworks were all on that side of the street and it took us more than an hour to get back home, where it would normally take 20-25 minutes. I got off at home, and HWMBO continued on with M to central London, where he did a bit of shopping. We should have taken the Docklands Light Railway instead, or the 188 going the other way and changed at North Greenwich.

On the other hand, I decided that, for various reasons, I should install Vista on my computer, now that I've had it for more than a year and SP1 is out and running. I first discovered that the 64-bit version won't upgrade; you have to install it on a new machine and lose all your settings. I declined and installed the 32-bit version.

It took quite a while, and I didn't leave the computer until around midnight (from 7 pm).

The computer work continued today, after church. Some of the difficulties include:

-- The desktop icons are too large, and I couldn't get the screen to accept all of them at one time. I've had to put some folders on the desktop and use them to contain icons of similar use, such as "Website" and "System utilities". I now can see them all on the desktop.

-- Everything was so slooooow. I turned off the Aero and went back to Windows Classic, and that seemed to help no end.

-- I kept getting messages from the MDM, a debugger. They have now stopped. I don't know whether that's because I've fixed it, or because the machine is tired of showing them to me and will start again when it gets a second wind. I haven't tried a Google search yet. Too spaced out.

-- My Creative Sound Blaster Audigy didn't work (known driver problem). I had to download the drivers and spend about 3/4 hour jollying them along until they worked. Now they're fine.

-- My HP printers didn't work at all. I had to reinstall the HP Photosmart 3210 software before that worked; I had some difficulty with the Bluetooth-connected HP Laserjet 4P as HP doesn't keep drivers for it around any longer, and the item that appears in the Device Manager is the Bluetooth adapter, not the printer. I managed to fool it into thinking that the 4P was directly connected and got that working.

The next step is to repartition the disk and get all my data onto one partition, and all the programs into another. Then I should go through, uninstall the programs I don't want, and then take a backup of each partition. Oh, and I need to get rid of Ghost, it really sux.

I have heard that the Olympics are going on now, but haven't had a chance to see any cute swimmers or gymnasts.
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I apologise for not blogging much lately. I suppose I should be blogging on the train going to Nuneaton, which is where my current assignment is. Once we leave Euston Station and I have read my email, I usually slip into a reverie and don't bother to do much until I get to the office, where I am fully employed doing some process improvement and release procedures. When I get home, I'm usually exhausted so I just read everyone else's blogs and fall asleep, to dream of really weird things such as people who walk around with pantographs on their heads drawing power from overhead lines just like trains do.

The Pendolino trains that ply the rails between London and Nuneaton (ending up in Liverpool) are quite good, actually. They get up to pretty good speed, and lean into curves mechanically, allowing for faster speeds overall. The cost for a day return ticket is £107 (that's about $214 US) but I prefer that to staying in Hinckley (which is where the office actually is) as there is nothing to do there and I like sleeping in my own bed.

We had an interesting weekend. Our friend M was staying with us Friday night and then coming to Brighton Pride with us. I left my mobile phone at home that morning, so I didn't find out that we were meeting him in Chinatown at 6:30 PM until I got home at 6:20 PM. An irate phone call later I ended up getting to the Korean restaurant on Charing Cross Road at 6:55 PM. The food wasn't really great; I liked a kimchi pancake, but my beef hotpot was not overfull of beef. We went to Costa for a coffee and dessert and then home to bed. I couldn't sleep very well, so woke at 4 and stayed awake. Rats!

When slicing a bagel for M at breakfast Saturday morning, I managed to slice my right thumb up as well. This was not very bright. It bled like a stuck pig but I managed to staunch the blood and put a dressing on the wound. It still stings a bit this evening, and I managed to get it to bleed a little when adjusting my backpack at Nuneaton Station this afternoon, catching the dressing and opening the wound. However, I think it'll be OK.

I wore the kilt I bought at Brighton Pride last year. Here's a picture of the three of us at Preston Park later on:

The kilt was surprisingly comfortable, fit well, and was air conditioned (of course). I shall wear it when appropriate. It's a very heavy denim from Union Kilts, and I think it was a good buy.

HWMBO, M, and I went to London Bridge Station and waited for [ profile] dangtri, Alex, and Bob. [ profile] dangtri arrived well in advance of our departure for Brighton, but Alex and Bob just made it. We got on the 0911 to Brighton, and we all got seats. My seatmates were a couple, one a bear the other a hunky Brasilian or Portuguese man. They ended up stroking each other's feet once our party consolidated itself and they had privacy.

We got to Brighton, had a pastry, and repaired to the waterfront. It was pissing down rain as only England can piss down rain. It wasn't big drops, and it wasn't torrential, but it was steady with enough wind to make it unpleasant. Alex and Bob were going to march, with Alex doing his usual acrobatics (he was gymnastics champion of Singapore in a bygone time) but it was too slippery and wet, so they didn't march. The rest of us repaired to Harry Ramsden's for lunch. At least it was dry.

We then took a shuttle bus up to the park, where it had begun to clear. We walked around the stalls, not buying much but looking. I bought two pair of Havaianas in green and yellow (Brasilian colours). We did not admire the Conservatives' float and booth. I was flabbergasted to see a full-fledged float in the march with people partying on it that was labelled "The Conservative Party". The denizens of this float were wearing wife-beaters that said "I came out. I'm a Tory". No eggs or other missiles were thrown, as far as I am aware. Brighton is a Labour stronghold, I believe.

We got a couple of glasses of Pimm's and a Kronenbourg for M, who promptly spilled HWMBO's Pimm's on our beach blanket, which we had spread on the ground to sit on. [ profile] dangtri promptly fell asleep, we drank our Pimm's or beers while Alex and Rob joined us. Many hot men were spotted, but as it was kind of chilly there was less overall nudity than there would normally be (no backless chaps that I could see, for example).

We walked to the railway station, encountering my former yoga teacher, Kym, on the way! I was so glad to see him and got his email address. I may join one of his other classes, as I think I did much better during the classes than I had before or since.

Sunday was quite quiet. His Reverence the Rector is on holiday, so we had Archdeacon Stephen from Nigeria to celebrate and preach. He went on for 25 minutes but I can't remember a word, both because of his heavy accent and also because he treats his sermons like an adult Bible Study rather than sticking to the readings set for the day. HWMBO went jogging with a former co-worker (straight) and had lunch with him. We stayed in for the rest of the day and retired early.

So that was our weekend and welcome to it.
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Last night I got back from Nuneaton having discovered, by chance, that it is at almost the exact geographical centre of England. W00t! HWMBO was seeing a departing co-worker off, and didn't manage to get home until 9 pm! So instead of home-cooked duck we had Indian food at the shopping centre. Back home and to bed, warmly and with a fan.

This morning we had cereal instead of toast because we forgot to buy any bread yesterday...such an exciting life we lead. We went to Tate Modern this afternoon to see the Cy Twombly exhibition. We got separated inside it, and I thought HWMBO was behind me when he was actually in front of me. I sat there until I got a phone call in the middle of the exhibit (very embarrassing). I rushed through the rest of the rooms, which didn't annoy me too much as I have trouble appreciating Twombly. I suspect I didn't miss much.

We then had a drink at Starbucks, and walked to Waterloo Station so that HWMBO could get some cake for himself from Marks and Spencers. They didn't have the exact kind of cake he wanted, so he got strawberry cheesecake. I won't be having any...

Duck, corn-on-the-cob, and carrots for dinner. I then started ripping massive amounts of CDs to my new iPod and HWMBO is watching Ugly Betty. We have also discovered that there's a problem with our Sky (either the antenna or the box). We don't pay for maintenance, so I expect we'll be paying a bundle for someone to come out. However, it should be less of a bundle than if we paid a maintenance fee.

Tomorrow I'm preaching at St. John's, then vegging. Need to buy train tickets for Brighton Pride next Saturday, and for Nuneaton all week.
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My foot seems to be healing up fine. I changed the dressing this morning and while it still looks a bit weird, the skin seems to be unbroken and things are progressing. I had my last antibiotic injection this afternoon and hopefully my innards will return to normal within a few days.

We had a lovely dinner with our friends Daniel and Pei on Friday evening. We arrived around 7:45 pm and left at 12:15 am Saturday. The menu included melon with prosciutto, spaghetti with pesto and pine nuts, and a Thai curry with rice. I couldn't drink any wine, but Daniel thought that the wine we brought was very good. The talk went thick and fast, and we really enjoyed it--thanks, guys. Next month we are going to try to go to Kiasu, a restaurant at Queensway which is Singaporean/Malaysian and supposed to be extremely good.

Yesterday I did almost nothing except relax and finish writing my sermon for today. It is often good to do little or nothing in a day.

Today I preached the sermon, then relaxed all afternoon.

It would seem quite boring to many people, but it's my weekend and I enjoyed it.

Tomorrow, I will start a four-day course leading (I hope) to an ISEB Intermediate Certificate in Software Testing.
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We decided we needed to go out today, so we walked to Tower Bridge (using some streets I rarely walk along, which was nice: Trinity Street, then Tabard Street, then up Tower Bridge Road to the bridge itself.

There was some sort of children's thingy going on in the part between the bridge and City Hall. Just between Strada Restaurant and City Hall we found the Telectroscope. You queue up and put a pound coin into a booth. Two hands "write out" a ticket and it then emerges from a slot below. The obverse and reverse of the ticket are at the end of the entry.

It was cloudy in New York, and we saw only a few people there (it was 9:30 am in New York, so perhaps everyone was still asleep).

We then walked along the shore, stopping at a Starbucks for a coffee, before getting to Tate Modern, where we saw the Street and Studio exhibition. HWMBO liked it more than I did. Again, it's one of those exhibits that is oversupplied with very small works that you have to get right up to the wall to see. But, some of it was good. I'm waiting for the Cy Twombly in a few weeks. Should be good.

We then talked to the Royal Festival Hall, across the river, and to Quizno's at the Embankment. As usual, they were out of meatballs, so I had a tangy steak sandwich and HWMBO had a chicken sandwich. Both very good.

Underground and home.

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The Archdeaconry Service on Thursday night was good; the Archdeacon preached a very good sermon and the Cathedral was packed. There was a bit of confusion over who had been elected Churchwarden at St. Matthew's which perhaps has not yet been settled. I may say more about this later.

Friday HWMBO woke up in more pain than he had been experiencing previously from his tooth extraction, so we called Kings at 9 am and they advised him to come in. We returned there and the verdict was that the extraction site was infected, so they gave him amoxicillin. He's still mostly eating soup and soft stuff, but I think the pain has abated and he's speaking normally. So that's good. However, it pretty much has made the weekend a drab affair.

Yesterday was the Mayesta (church fair) at St. John's Larcom Street, where I often preach on Sundays. It never actually poured, but it was stubbornly sodden all day, with mist one minute, small droplets the next, and no rain the next, repeat all afternoon. I was on the door and I think about 200 people attended, which was good. As to how much money they made, I'm sure it was respectable but perhaps not as much as last year. We all had fun, though.

Today we had a confusing day at church, of which perhaps more later. It's cool, but sunny. Now it's rest and relax, gym later on this afternoon, and perhaps I'll mow the lawn again. *sigh* The life of a country bumpkin.
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We had a very stress-free Saturday, mostly. We decided to go out and sit in the park, as the weather was so good. So, we collected two Subway sandwiches (a BMT and tuna, as it happened) and sat in the park and read and listened to our iPods, as well as watching the cute men walk by. Lots of very casually-clothed guys, as it was the first really nice day of the year.

After that, went to the White Cube at Mason's Yard to see the Gregory Crewdson photo exhibition. His photos remind me of stills from The Twilight Zone, except they're photographed someplace in Massachusetts (I couldn't tell where, exactly). Whoever wrote the exhibition notes was NOT from Massachusetts as he referred to "upstate" Massachusetts. There is no such place. Massachusetts has some areas: North Shore, South Shore, Boston, the Cape, the Berkshires, but no "upstate" unless they've added something since I lived there. Perhaps he was referring to New Hampshire?

Edit: I did a Google on one of the businesses shown in one of the photographs, and it's in Pittsfield, so the note should have said "Western" Massachusetts, or perhaps "The Berkshires"..

Then, we walked to Old Compton Street and had dinner at the old Pollo Restaurant, across the streed from Ed's. I can't remember what they call it now but it's some combination of pig and cock...HWMBO had cuttlefish risotto (black with ink...his mouth was starting to look very Goth by the time he was finished) and I had a calzone, which was absolutely huge. I didn't remember it being that big the last time we were there. I ate the middle but left the ends. I had an Italian beer (Messina, it's forgettable [could be its advertising slogan]) and when that was finished I asked for a Diet Coke, but she brought another beer. When I protested that I'd ordered a Diet Coke, she just said, "Really?" Then off to the Number 1 bus and home--they're grubbing up New Oxford Street so it's pretty well impassable, in case anyone is around there.

Sunday we had Pentecost at St. Matthew's, and the Rector decided to put everything but the kitchen sink into the liturgy. There was more there than there was at Easter. This is pretty annoying, really. It's as if the more stuff he puts in (there was an anointing, a kind of rededication liturgy at the end, and various other bits in the middle) the better the liturgy is. That's not what liturgy is about.

Lazed around in the afternoon until Mark Ch. called--we should meet at the gym as early as we could, so I trotted off there, had a good workout, then we walked back to the Elephant and had Chinese food at the Well with HWMBO before Mark went off up North.

Today is pretty nerve-wracking: HWMBO has to have a wisdom tooth extracted, and I have to accompany him as he'll be pretty heavily sedated and anesthetised. Hopefully it will go well but I foresee a couple of soft-boiled eggs in his dining future tonight. I shall bring the newspaper and a good book.
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Sorry I've taken so long to do this, had lots of little things to get out of the way.

First, here's two pictures of the Saturday night dinner.

[ profile] besskeloid, HWMBO, and me on one side of the table.

Me, Nicky, and HWMBO.

Sunday morning we had a small breakfast (thanks, Novotel, for the coffee fixings and shortbread in our room), then went with Nicky to the Trafford Center. It's said to be the largest shopping center in Europe. It is certainly larger than Bluewater. By the way, that Bluewater site needs a major redesign. It looked like a placeholder web page for a minute, and not a good placeholder at that. We bought shirts, trainers (for HWMBO), shorts (for Nicky), and lunch at this restaurant. The burger was only fair and the service was, well, forgettable.

We then went to Nicky's place to meet his housemate, Martin, and see the house. It's a boardinghouse, with high ceilings and great decor. It's almost all new and is very well done. More and more of it is being done as the landlord gets time and funds. We had a coffee and a long chat, then back to Manchester, to dinner with [ profile] celloboi!

I only knew Glenn from his blog, but he turned out to be a really great companion. He steered us to a good restaurant where we could eat and talk without much interruption. Then we went along to a bar on Canal St. (I don't remember the name) where we sat and talked for hours, nearly closing the bar! I haven't closed a bar in decades and this weekend I came very close. He loves music, his car, and the cello, but doesn't care much for Manchester or the UK...sob! We parted and we hope to see him again either up there or down here in the future.

Monday we got packed and checked out. The hotel kept our luggage and we walked around downtown, and walked, and walked! I was quite footsore by now. We had lunch in a restaurant called Tampopo, near the Orbis museum. Good, but the service was only fair and they charged us for something we had ordered but they didn't bring.

There is a Ferrris wheel around the corner from the restaurant. It seems that every world-class city now has to have a Ferris wheel after the success of the London Eye. There is one in Singapore, and there is about to be one in Beijing.

We also strolled around Manchester Cathedral (C of E). Quite a cute little building, squat really. Not very long but quite wide. Some nice modern stained glass.

Got a picture of HWMBO that I thought was characteristic:

Then we struggled back to the bus. We got there in plenty of time, got our luggage stowed, and sat in the empty front seat (there were lots of other empty seats but we thought this would be nice). The driver, after everyone else had gotten on, came on board and told us that we couldn't sit there. We then had to sit separately for the entire trip. Of course, after the rest stop (we at least got a rest stop here) a lady got up and moved to the front seat, and the new driver didn't say anything. I was really annoyed.

To Victoria Coach Station, where I managed to drop my Oyster card and not discover that until I had paid 20p to use the restroom. Back out to find the card on the floor, but I had wasted the 20p. Finally, home!
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We had a very busy weekend. On Friday, I decided with HWMBO that we needed to get away for Bank Holiday weekend next weekend, so we booked a trip to Manchester. We're leaving on Saturday morning on a coach, not a train (the trains are FOOBAR this coming weekend because the train companies decided long ago that the best time to do lots of maintenance work was on weekends when the majority of the population wants to travel, natch). Staying until Monday afternoon. If anyone is in Manchester or environs and wants to dine with us, we've got Saturday and Sunday evenings open for bookings. Friends may actually meet other friends of ours that they don't already know. I hope that is fine.

Saturday we lazed about until early afternoon, when we got our arses in gear and trotted over to Tate Modern where we met Daniel and Pei (Daniel is my former boss when I consulted at Morgan Stanley, and Pei is his partner, a Taiwanese musician) for the Duchamps, Man Ray and Picabia exhibition. It was OK, if perhaps a bit crowded, and we then walked to the Cantina Vinopolis for a really great dinner. We have only known each other for less than a year but I think we are drawn to be firends from common interests, including the fact that we are both long-term biracial couples.

Sunday we went to The Well after church, accompanied by Derek, [ profile] fj, and Chris W. Enjoyed it tremendously.
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Good Friday was quite peaceful, if cold. The entire weekend has been colder than a witch's .... well, you know what. I went to St. John's to preach, and gave my two-minute sermon. We didn't go anywhere in particular on Friday, just chilled (easy enough in this weather).

Saturday we went shopping; I got a pair of shoes at the Natural Shoe Store in Covent Garden. We had lunch at Thai Square on the Strand, as HWMBO wanted some Thai food. I had green curry pasta, and he had just plain green curry. It's not too bad and is filling without being too hot or too expensive. We walked all the way to Goodge Street for a Starbucks that wasn't full, later on.

I got St. Matthew's ready for Sunday services on Saturday evening then went to St. John's for their Easter Vigil. As the weather was horrible (did I forget to mention the hailstorm we had in the afternoon?) we did very little else on Saturday or Sunday.

White Easter indeed...

Today we needed to buy some health food stuff and I suggested that we go to the Embankment and share a footlong Subway sandwich then go to the Holland and Barratt's store there. When we got there, we discovered that a Quiznos has opened there, so since neither of us has tried one, that's where we had lunch. We shared a meatball sub and a chicken sub. Both were very nice; we'll go there again. Off to the Heyward then to see the Russian photography exhibition (pretty boring Russian socialist realism to me, but HWMBO liked it) and the tail end of the Laughter exhibition, which we abandoned 3/4 of the way through last time because there was just so much of it.

Back home again and to dinner, roast chicken with cornbread stuffing and peas. Now to bed, and back to the grind tomorrow.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
On Friday night, I bartended at the Burns Night at St. John's, Larcom Street. It wasn't a serious Scottish Burns Night, but an occasion for friends of St. John's to get together and sing, have a laugh, eat some haggis (if you like such things), and have a drink or three (wine only on the alcoholic side, plus OJ and soda). We had a sing-along, mostly old music hall numbers like "Doing the Lambeth Walk". The church took in more than £850 for the evening. The restoration and preservation of the church benefits.

Saturday was pretty quiet, really. In the evening I went to St. Anne's to help lead a seminar on liturgy for the parish. It was quite illuminating.

You know, I thought I would have more to say, but there is very little of interest in my weekend, so far. Oh well. Next week I hope it will also be quiet.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
Friday was uneventful. HWMBO had to go to a stag party for one of his co-workers, and he wasn't due home until after 11 pm. No news of Friday then, except that he did return and hadn't overindulged. His other co-workers stayed out until 5 am Saturday, in true British style.

Saturday was the first day of the Thames Festival weekend, and we decided to go to lunch at Southwark Bridge. The bridge itself was turned into a kind of funfair, with stalls selling various types of food, some entertainment on the upriver side, and tables to eat. Part of it was covered with sand and part was covered with artificial turf. HWMBO had a seafood noodle dish that he said was just average, and I had a beefburger with cheese (£4) that was, again, just average. But, it was the atmosphere!

We walked along the riverbank until we got to Queen Elizabeth Hall, where we had hot chocolate and dessert to finish.

At 4 we went to our friend Pat's 80th birthday party. We had been by the Southbank Shop next to the Royal Festival Hall, and of course what do you get an 80 year old lady? We bought a tea towel in a cylindrical box that was printed to look like an old Penguin novel cover, and a refrigerator magnet. As it was the Thames Festival, we also got a goody bag for spending more than £10 in the shop. There was a print of an Ansel Adams photo and various other goodies.

The party was nice; we had very little to eat, as we'd already eaten our fill, and had lots of Diet Coke and lemonade. We stayed for 4 hours, and got home exhausted, although we'd only sat down most of the time.

Sunday at church we had a Nigerian archdeacon celebrate and preach. He preached for almost 25 minutes, and besides having a very thick accent that was difficult for many to understand, his preaching style was not culturally-sensitive to most: it was a Bible-study delivered as a rant. Luckily he didn't get onto the homosexual topic, but stayed with the "lost sheep". Many were grumbling afterwards, but I fear we'll have more of him as he's around for a year, I believe, doing some post-graduate work. All the more incentive to go to St. John's or St. Anne's.

A cat dropped by the backyard at around 9 pm; HWMBO wanted to feed it, as he thought it was hungry. We put down milk and tuna, but it wasn't hungry--we think it just wanted company. I petted it for a while and then went to bed.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
We went to Tate Modern this afternoon to see the Dali exhibit, and also the Cities exhibition. We found the Cities exhibition to be overcrowded (it was free, natch) and jam-packed with information. If you want to go, go at a time when the tourists are elsewhere (Friday Changing of the Guard, for example).

The Dali exhibition was fine--however, there were too many people and too many items to see. Dali's paintings are very detailed, and to get all you can get out of them takes a long time. You don't have that with the press of many hundreds of people who want to stare at the paintings too. The films were interesting (Destino, especially) but again, overcrowded.

This evening we went to a French restaurant with Alex and Bob; I enjoyed the steak et frites, and HWMBO had fish (natch!). He exclaimed over the quality and the portion size, and gave it 8 out of 10. We dined in Soho, where Alex and Bob live, and bemoaned the fact that it's likely to be so wet tomorrow that no one will have a good time. Next weekend looks good, though--for a Bank Holiday weekend that is almost a first in Britain!

Oh, and I finished the sermon early this may not be my best sermon I've ever preached, but it still says something and I hope that people will respond to it.

But the next time I agree to preach a sermon on a Marian feast, please shoot me.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
On Sunday I met my friend Rosemary in Hackney for Eucharist at St. John's Hackney and a picnic (not at the same time, mind you!).

I took a train from Liverpool Street Station, and then walked from Hackney Downs. I could have taken a bus from London Bridge, but wasn't sure where it went. Oh, well, I now have an unresolved trip on my Oystercard as I had no place to touch out at Hackney Downs. When I got to the church, as Rosemary is a bellringer, I went up the tower (which contains a ring of ten bells) and watched a peal for the first time. It is fascinating, especially if you've read Dorothy Sayers' The Nine Tailors. The ringers stand in a circle, and you sit in a corner hoping you won't be in the way. They begin, pulling the ropes down until a large purple plush sausage through which the rope passes (called a "sallie") is to their eye level. Then they begin: they pull the ropes, holding the end of the rope coiled in their left-hands while letting the sallie travel up to the ceiling to half-disappear into a hole in the ceiling, then catch the sallie again as it travels back down to the floor. It's fascinating! And then, to a mixture of horror and fascination, I realised that the entire tower was trembling and swaying, as I could feel it through the chair and the floor! The mathematical changes (thus "change ringing") produce a music that is quintessentially English and Anglican. Roman Catholics don't seem to go in for it. It also seems like good exercise. Wikipedia on change ringing is here and here.

I asked Rosemary afterwards, "Hypothetically, if one wanted to learn how to ring, how would one go about it? I have too many appetites I can't satisfy, but this is fascinating stuff." I should turn up Monday night at 7 pm if I want to learn. Oh dear. I didn't turn up tonight but who knows?

The service was not led by the Rector, who is on holiday preparatory to retirement; it was led by a woman priest, who unfortunately seems to have missed out on Homiletics classes. Her sermon began: "As the month of August begins with an 'A', I've decided to preach this month on themes beginning with 'A'. Today I'm going to preach about 'Accessibility'." It went downward from there, folks. I was mortified. Perhaps she should have preached about being a horse's Ass.

The congregation was sparse (it is August and many are away), and the church was quite gloomy, because due to a fire last January the electrical systems are mostly on the blink. The organ is now working, and there were a few lights in the sanctuary, but this church, which is a huge Georgian barn built in 1790 and seats 2,000 (including the gallery), was mostly grey in the gloom. The blank walls next to the altar window cried out for a mural or some imaginative artwork. But the congregation was very enthusiastic, and communion (as always) inspired me.

Afterwards we went to Rosemary's for a quick brunch and on to Lammas Fields in Waltham Forest near Leyton. These were ancient marshes that, after WW II, were filled in with rubble from bombed buildings and used as sports and grazing land. However, this article gives the current picture, detailing how winning the Olympics is going to ruin the landscape of East London. The picnic was being held by a local organisation which opposes using the fields in this way. Allotments are local common land, set aside for people to grow crops on. The fact that the land is full of rubble which could contain asbestos, heavy metals such as lead piping, and even radium paint from an instrument factory which was bombed close to the site doesn't seem to bother the council.

In any case, we were the first to arrive, and soon there was a merry band of activists, all of whom assumed I was an American tourist. But we did have fun, eating, drinking, and singing on the field while horses grazed neargy and young men played football across the road. A good time was had by all until the rains came, drenching those who couldn't fit under the tent. A wayward dog, who bit one of the revellers' fingers, and various walkers and runners, kept us amused. A rendition of the Lammas Fields Campaign Song by Rosemary was followed by a lusty "John Barleycorn Must Die" by another gentleman and several other tunes.

Thanks to Rosemary for hosting me and bringing me along to such a wonderful event. I may even turn up in the belfry someday.
chrishansenhome: (Chris at Nettuno)
In order to keep our Bess happy, here's another picture of me, smiling (I don't know whether it's a Fozzie smile or not, whatever that is...).

It's Friday, the first day of my four-day weekend. I find that even with two extra days the weekend is still too short. Today I need to finish the laundry (fold the previous one, hang the new one), get a hard drive ready for a friend, go to the gym, go to the friend's place for a massage and some PC fixing, then get home ready to greet HWMBO as he comes home from a long day of toil. Then the regular two days, during which I'll have to wash, starch, and iron a bag of altar linens, go to a meeting at Southwark Cathedral of Lay Chairs (of whom I am one, for Southwark and Newington Deanery), Rural Deans, and Methodist area chairs in order to work out how we'll coexist together when the union agreement happens. The Methodists are almost wiped out in England so they needed to find a partner fast--however, since the C of E doesn't allow woman bishops, the Methodists, who are not "episcopal" but do have women in positions of high authority, are going to have to come to an agreement with us on how that would work. Then Sunday St. Matthew's at the Elephant, of course, followed by a lazy afternoon of vegging without which I'd be shattered. Monday I have a business meeting down in Hayward's Heath with some old chums; all of us are investigating the feasibility of offering consulting and auditing services for ISO9001:2000 (and other ISO standards) to small businesses. Tuesday it's back to the same old saltmine.

So why am I smiling?

August 2017

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