Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Tuesday, July 22

Kids Talk 4

My five -year old spells the word "result" as "wizult". I can see where she is coming from, and blame Michael Gove's over-emphasis on phonics.

Sunday, July 20

Criminal Israeli atrocities in Gaza

It is not acceptable for Israel to claim 'self defence' in the current aggression.

This started because the Israelis blamed Hamas for the murder of three teenagers, without any judicial process, and then proceeded to carry out extra-judicial reprisals against those they have imprisoned in Gaza. Yes it is true that the Palestinians have fired a few rockets, which barely tickle Israel's defences. Israel claims a right to self defence: Palestine, including Gaza, has a right to self defence. Palestine has a right to shoot rockets into the territory of the nation that is throwing far more ordnance at them, with far more devastating effect.  It is grossly unequal, grossly unfair.

How many more innocent children must be killed before the West, and Christians in particular, realise that what Israel is doing is wrong? Why do Christians support Israel at times like this? Fair enough, let Israel exist if you see that as a fulfilment of Biblical prophecy (it's not, by the way). But if the scripture is so important, then read:
  • Exodus 12:49 The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you. 
  • Exodus 22:21 Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. 
  • Exodus 23:9 Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt. 
  • Leviticus 19:10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.
  • Leviticus 19:33 When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. Leviticus 19:34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. 
  • Leviticus 23:22 When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the Lord your God.
  • Leviticus 24:22 You are to have the same law for the foreigner and the native-born. I am the Lord your God. 
  • Leviticus 25:35 “‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you. 
  • Numbers 15:15 The community is to have the same rules for you and for the foreigner residing among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the foreigner shall be the same before the Lord: 
 And I could go on. I will stop at this one:

  • Deuteronomy 1:16 Hear the disputes between your people and judge fairly, whether the case is between two Israelites or between an Israelite and a foreigner residing among you.
I think that is all pretty damming.  The Hebrew scriptures require the Hebrews to treat the Palestinians in their occupied territories as equals to themselves.

They should not forget that their God is a righteous judge who sees their every action, knows their every thought.

Yes, He threw out the Canaanites for their sin and gave the land to the Hebrews.  But then he threw out the Hebrews when they sinned, sending them to Babylon, and gave the land to other nations.  Do the Hebrews of today think that God will change?  If he ejected them from the land for their sin before, he will do it again.  I believe their time is running out.  The cries of the oppressed (in this case Palestinians) do reach heaven, and they get fast tracked straight to the open ears of the God of Justice.  Israel has very little time left to repent.  Christians that love Israel must warn her of her impending doom, not endorse her sins.

Wednesday, July 16


Spent my Birthday in Grasmere. What a lovely place!

Typing while asleep

Mrs asked me to type up her latest MA essay the other day. It stretched late into the evening, with her dictating and me typing. It went past the time I frequently fall asleep in fromt of the TV. So, while she dictated, I fell asleep. This did not stop me typing - I still typed 4 words. When I woke up again, I had actually typed the right words in the right order: each word having two spelling errors but still remarkably good, considering I was asleep at the time I typed! (I don't type that much better when I am awake.)

Later in the eveing I performed less well, giving her three lines of KKKKKKKKKK in the middle of a paragraph.

She is proof reading it today, so we will see how angry she is when I get home tonight!

....but is it right?

..... to collect model railway track, engines, carriages and scenery, all costing £££, when there are stariving people in the world? I don't believe God expects us to ONLY feed the poor, but when it comes to the last judgement, the one who has fed the poor will go to heaven ahead of the one who has a finely-modelled train layout.

Monday, July 14


Triple-B Q?

The extra B stands for 'British'. That means that once we had decided that the long dry spell could be relied on for the afternoon and we had set all the stuff out in the garden and got the charcoal going nicely....


Playing with trains

When I turned 40 I started listening to Radio 4.*

When I turned 45 I started listening to Classic fm.**

Now that I am turning 50, I have a sudden urge to play with toy trains again.

I started dropping hints to the kids some time ago, and so they clubbed together and got me the Western Master Hornby set. And I am very pleased with it. Or at least I would be if it worked! My first train set as a child was clockwork, then I got an electric one, but now this is the computer controlled age. No longer do you just wind it up and let it go, no longer do you plug it in and turn the 'go-faster' dial. Now you have to upload the software, set the com port, connect to the internet to update the software, etc, etc. And of course it does not work. The computer will not talk to the DCC controller; it denies its existence. No matter whether I follow the instructions to the letter, or apply common sense, or get my Oxford Engineering student son to look at it, it doesn't go. The 14 year old boy did get it going while I wa sout, but then unplugged it, and it would not start again.

So I am currenlty a very disgruntled and dissasitisfied Horby customer

* A British radio station that focusses on mature discussion

** A British radio station that broadcasts well-known classical music

Who can explain ....

.... why my son, who recently dropped out of his Spanish class because it was 'too difficult', is now trying to teach himself Japanese using an on line course?

Friday, July 11

I didn't strangle the Design Manager

But I don't know how.

Last year I wrote a report, which was checked and reviewed by my boss. He is a notoriously vigorous checker/reviewer. His catchphrase is "Let's check that again". So by the time it had got through him, it was a pretty good report.

This was then passed to the project's Design Manager, who broadly accepted it. It was then passed on to the Senior Design Manager - a man from a different engineering discipline with a slightly different outlook. He reviewed the report again, and this time it required a lot of changes and it went backwards and forwards between all those involved many times before it was good enough to satisfy him.

The report had in effect been reviewed to death.

Time passed. Things happened on the project site; some of the recommendations of our report were implemented. But the Senior Design Manager and the Design Manager moved on to new roles. A new Design Manager and a new Senior Design Manager move in. The project has languished for a year, waiting for someone to drive it and for other things to happen on site. So the Design Manager asked me to update the report and provide a baseline for the current position. Which I did, making quite a good job of it if you don't mind me saying. Of course my normal checker/reviewer is now busy on other jobs. The next person in line for the role is off on long-term sick. So they bring in a stand-in: one of the top engineers in the field from a major consultancy: a national expert. (When I say 'bring in' I don't mean literally. He spent three days here, but since then he has been in an office 200 miles away which does not help communications). So I get my updated report reviewed by the national expert. And like I say, it’s now a good report so it only has to go through two iterations before he's happy.

The report is now even-more "reviewed to death"

I submit it to the Design Manager.

He replies; "It's very hard to understand .....", and provides a list of queries.


I called my boss over for a chat and basically said: "Look, this report has been reviewed to death multiple times by some of the best people in thecountry. It is now a gold-standard report. If this chap can't understand it, is that because none of us are capable of writing a report, or is the problem that the Design Manager is not competent to do his job?" we are, after all, a professional engineering organisation, and if we write a professional engineering report to professional engineering colleagues, surely we don't have to dumb it down to primary school English? Surely it is possible to assume that the recipient does have some experience of the standard processes in use in his field?

My boss did not provide consent for me to strangle the Design Manager. In fact, being a better Christian than me, he was able to calm things down and arrange a meeting. By the end of the meeting, the design manager understood much of what he had failed to get the first time round, and on those issues was happy to accept the text as it was. There were also a few additions which I do agree were beneficial. And then we made some changes to the report which really shouldn't be necessary.

I have now sent it back to my far-away reviewer for him to approve the changes. I hope he does not still feel a need to justify his salary with a red pen!

Wednesday, July 9

Bombing the Vicar's garden party

It was the Vicar's garden party.

I only found out because my kids went.

To be honest, whilst we want them to be free and they are only going to be with their Friends in the youth, it still hurts.  Going to church is one thing - its relatively neutral ground.  But his garden party is on his house, using his utensils, his food, his toilets, his chairs.  It hurts to thing of our children fraternising with our worst enemy, when he is the cause of all of the things that cause them distress - such as our desire to move away form the area.

So I have had to work quite hard this evening to silence the voice in my head that tells me to ring the police with a hoax call about a bomb at the Vicarage........