Friday, December 16, 2005

... deafening

i've been interested to see and hear the reportage and discussion surrounding the recent racial unrest in sydney, and what's being said, and who's saying it.

i've never really been one for the beach, slightly remarkable given my childhood in the illawarra, an area noted for its near-heliotheistic worship of beach life. just saying the word beach makes me feel like i've got sand in my underpants. (excuse me...) so in a sense, i really have very little invested in a discussion of the tribal conflicts of sydney beaches. on the other hand, i have a keen investment in orderly society, and as a Christian i have an intensely keen interest in a society of justice and compassion. tolerance is all very nice, but there are some things that should not be tolerated.

i've got to gather my thoughts about this. i'll be pondering over the weekend, putting my thoughts in order. chances are i won't have that much to say, given how little i think of what i think in the grand scheme of things. Still, i have begun writing in this forum and it's something i'm thinking about and want to say something about.

stay tuned...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

... premature

i think that in light of the weather in the sydney basin yesterday, perhaps my rant about the weather on monday was a tad premature. however "unprintable" my feelings on monday, my feelings yesterday would probably have been labelled "obscene and unfit for publication". i hate this hot, humid weather.

on the other hand, i love sauteed mushrooms on toast and my new favourite cafe, vanilla bean & lime (61 howard rd, padstow, +61 2 9774 3875). lou does them in garlic butter, and i could barely see the plate underneath them this morning, as with saucer-eyes i beheld the procession of delicious delectables that made up my breakfast: mushies on toast, olive and cheese melt (yummy!), and my perennial mocha coffee. with abba music in the background, i don't think i could have enjoyed breakfast any more than i did.

it was exactly the springboard i needed to make a better job of my day. i even slept well last night! (who'd have thought?)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

... unprintable weather

when i first read isaac asimov's foundation series, one of the things i found terribly quaint and humourous were the instances of the word "unprintable". i occasionally asked myself, what was so bad that it was unprintable? given that i was about 9 or 10 years old when i first read foundation, i suppose i hadn't really thought too creatively about it. now i'm a bit older and far more cynical than i was then (starry-eyed i was at that tender age... well, before i turned 9 at any rate), and thinking creatively i can guess what "unprintable" might have meant. rather a lot like i feel about this weather we have in sydney at the moment.

i drank 4 gatorade bottles' worth of water yesterday - roughly 2.5 litres - just at work, notwithstanding the other liquid i consumed before and after work. if anyone has a work position available on a ship bound for antarctica, i'm happy to peel potatoes, sort screws, whatever it takes to get to somewhere colder...

Saturday, December 03, 2005

... ch-ch-ch-changes

i've added a couple of links to the right-hand side here ---------->
for some things i've seen that have really made an impact on me. the creating passionate users site i linked to from cafedave, and it looks like it's going to be well-worth trawling through in times when i feel like having a quiet, brain-fertilising read. the piled higher and deeper page is another comic strip that i fell in love with while i was away on holidays.

(erk, as our latest phd condidate, it may prove useful reading for you!)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

... glorious

read about this blog when i was on the train tonight coming home. definitely worth a look.

grab your fork

a blog you can sink your teeth into.

... already?! (2)

well, i'm back from the states and already it's been over a week since i blogged! i can't believe how quickly the time flies. just a few notes... hopefully i'll have a bit more tomorrow.

1. the trip from jamaica center to jfk in the "airtrain" was pretty good... reminded me a lot of the monorail around sydney, although it also put me in mind of the l-train in miami in "driver". i was sad leaving, but glad to have had the opportunity to be able to leave... i at least was there for a while.

2. united are way cool... i like them a lot. everyone was very helpful and friendly, even when they were really tired (and i liked that they could admit to being that tired!). if i travel to america again, i'll definitely be flying united.

3. when i check in at jfk united bumped me to an earlier flight to lax, and i ended up sitting two seats to the left of where i was when i flew lax-jfk! then boarding the plane at lax for sydney, i was sitting one seat to the right of where i'd been coming over!

4. i've got hooked on hot apple cider, and (to my shame) i have been into starbucks (twice) to imbibe. once i've found a sufficiently sweet apple juice on its own that i can nuke in the microwave, i won't have to visit... there... again.

5. work has been very busy, and already i want another holiday. roll on Christmas hols! (only 22 sleeps until the last work day of the year!)

as an aside i now see what erk was talking about viz. the time- and date-stamping for posts. i guess i'm just going to leave it in the lap of the gods. for the record, my time is 13h46 (EDST) 1/12/2005.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

... almost

well, one more sleep and then i'm back off home. new york city has been a whirlwind visit... or maybe i should say hurricane, after the rain and extreme winds up on top of the empire state building today. the rain let up this afternoon, and julie and i did some rather more serious shopping. we looked around macy's, checked out a rather nifty french language librarie, and had dinner at a particularly nice risotto restaurant. after the risotto dinner, we meandered around to the cupcake place... ummm... magnolia bakery(?) and got some cupcakes. i'm sure we'll eat them in the morning on the way to the met.

after the met, i'm off to catch the air train to jfk. julie wants to pack me onto it at jamaica center, which sounds like a fair enough plan... it'll be touch and go if i can find where i'm going to when i get to jfk anyway, but if she has any doubts about me finding the right terminal, i suppose she'll feel it incumbent upon her to make sure i get there ok. which of course means i feel it incumbent upon me to make sure she doesn't have to.

it's snowing in ithaca (bugger!!!) and julie is hoping to get back there not too late, so i'm equally keen to make sure she gets on a reasonable bus home. neither of us is travelling particularly light (i have souvenirs and julie has... stuff), but all in all i've had a good time here in new york city.

i'll blog again later about my overall impressions... i think it'll make for a fairly lengthy post and one i'm not about to waste my meagre internet cafe time on now. i'm due to arrive in sydney between 8 and 8:30am on friday morning (25 november) for anyone who's interested. if you're desperately keen to meet me at the airport (after all, i travel overseas ALL the time), you can email me at adam_lavery at operamail dot com.

Monday, November 21, 2005

... already?!

well, today's my last day in delightful ithaca, ny. it really is gorges here... lots of them. i walked down one yesterday called cascadilla gorge, and i think if i'd gone down it on my first day here i might have wasted all my time thinking up ways of staying here longer... instead of wasting my time... the way i have... ummm... yeah... anyway...

point being is that i've had a great time here. julie's been an awesome hostess, by which i mean to say that she's been as welcoming as i could possibly have hoped, introduced me to her friends and coworkers, which has been great, and all of whom strike me as being the good value kind of people i feel comfortable having around a friend. i've tried to be as low-impact as possible, and hopefully i've been a not entirely unpleasant guest to have stay.

ithaca by turns reminds me of kiama, and canberra, and wollongong. it's not as cold as i was hoping (not that i'm going to be looking for a refund on my gloves!) but it's been much cooler here than sydney... i'm SO not looking forward to the humidity of sydney after the delightful dry atmosphere here. julie's been complaining about frizzing hair, but i've not felt so healthy for some time. the temperature, the humidity, the distinctly relaxed atmosphere... melbourne is looking more attractive for me all the time.

tomorrow is new york city, then wednesday i'm off home. up until thursday just gone it felt like time was taking ages to pass, but in the last few days it's been hard to believe that time has gone by so quickly! relativity's a pain in the butt.

i've been writing, though, and i'm looking forward to going to mars hill when i get back. hopefully i'll have enough energy to enjoy it.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

... well, here we are

actually, if you read kim stanley robinson's novel red mars you'll see that those are the first words spoken by man on mars. in a way, ifeel a little like that's what's happened to me in the last couple of days... it's a bit like being on mars: you can look at it, think you're prepared, and when you get there it's not quite what you expected.

my flight was due to leave sydney at 4.25... it didn't actually leave until about 6pm. that meant that i missed my connecting flight in LA for NY. customs didn't take long to process us, and they didn't take the timtams i brought (very nice of them, as they were very well received) but baggage claim for rebooking took ages, and rebooking itself likewise took rather a while.

as i was standing in the queue, i took a moment to observe the departures board and decided instead of taking the next flight, arriving in NY at midnight, then hinewyork about 12.30am, then getting to port authority for 8am, i decided that a late flight would be better. i rebooked for the 10.10pm from LA, cancelled my booking at hinewyork, then bummed around LAX for 7 hours. i formed a few lasting impressions about the US, and about myself in the process, which i may decided to share later.

after a near miss at LAX, when i found out with 5 minutes to board that i was at the wrong gate, i boarded without further incident and headed east. what an awesome time to travel. i must have dozed from time to time - i didn't sleep as far as i know at any part of the journey, but i definitely dozed - but i did get to see the lights of many US cities. gorgeous. what during the day would have been generally drab green or blue/grey cityscape at night became dazzling gold stars on a rolling sea of black velvet. NY was great to see like this. by the time i got to the bus to port authority, the dawn was just peeking through road pylons and buildings, gibbous and orange.

the bus driver to port authority was cool, which might have been a good karmic opinion to form when, upon buying my bus ticket to ithaca, i realised that i didn't have my luggage! i ran out of PA onto 8th avenue, turned the corner onto 42nd, praying he'd be there still...

and he was!

arrived at ithaca about 1pm. i realised that from the time i was supposed to depart, to the time julie picked me up, i had been in transit for almost 37 hours.

but i can't express how glad i am to be here...

Friday, November 11, 2005

... straws

i just heard from my boss that a man in melbourne was arrested for firing oranges at houses from a p.v.c. pipe gun. apparently, frozen oranges, fired using sufficient accelerant or other explosive charge from the tube, could actually go through a car door! a wag has been heard to comment, "so would that constitute a navel attack?"

two sleeps to go until i fly off the city so nice they named it twice. i'm rather looking forward to getting away from this crappy sydney weather - i can do without the humidity that makes an ordinary temperature extraordinarily annoying. my level of keenness to be enjoying the closing weeks of a new york autumn is matched only by my dread at the thought of coming back to this foul, steamy, can't get away from it without air conditioning weather that we've developed here in sydney. as i write this, i am aware of a southerly change that has arrived, bringing with it some rain, possibly a storm, but pessimist that i am i can't help but think this is more fuel for the mugginess.

currently reading lectures by wittgenstein on the foundations of mathematics (oxford, 1939)... interesting, especially given the interplay by people like alan turing during the lectures...

Friday, November 04, 2005

... eight sleeps to go...

i'm just a little bit excited because i only have a week to go until i leave to go to new york. it's only just kind of settling into my brain that that's actually what's happening... it's been a plan for so long, i don't think i'll really believe i'm going until after i've come back and had the pictures developed!

judging by the amount of sleep i've had this week, i'm not really expecting to get much more next week, which (hopefully) means i'll be snoozing all the way to america... which would be nice.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

... time marches on

not in a "for whom the bell tolls" (metallica) kind of way, maybe. circumstances have reached a kind of ... intersection in my life where i've been thinking a bit about what kind of life i've lived and where i've been and, to a certain extent, where i'm going.

in the short term, i'm going to america! (only 11 sleeps to go!) this has actually been one of the things i've been thinking about.

the last time i went overseas, i went to china with a group from my old school. that was in january,1993. thinking about it, i have memories that feel like only yesterday, although some memories have devolved into those facts-and-figures style memories that aren't true ones, but rather the stories that one tells about some past event, stories you remember better than what they actually describe.

in other news, it's my birthday this month, but other people are also having their birthdays earlier than mine... (happy birthday for friday, motherly type person!!! heheh) i turn 31, which feels kind of... old. it's the stupidest feeling in the world, because i'm the youngest person at my workplace by about 4 or 5 years. what i think it is, is that when i look back on my life thus far, there's more to catalogue than i can actually remember.

ask me what i did this week just gone, and i can remember in broad strokes what i did, but my memory is beginning to fail in the details. i wasn't actually expecting to notice that kind of thing until, oh, i had kids, or some other life-changing event. i find i'm longing for the kind of memory that sax russell (one of the main protagonists of kim stanley robinson's mars sequence) worked to develop, with more room and better filing.

i don't think i've actually lost memories. i think i've just lost access to them. i often in conversation refer to my brain as a library using old-fashioned file cards to index it. while the library itself is theoretically infinite (given the laws of functioning l-space, viz terry pratchett's discworld novels), the file card box i have for indexing it is proving to be about the size of the shoebox a kindergarten kid's first school shoes come in!

curiouser and curiouser...

(i should say more curious and more curious, but even then it doesn't make much sense...)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Thursday, October 20, 2005

... t-minus 24 sleeps...

i've had a request for travelling details. i'm making two trips in the near future.

trip number 1: melbourne.

whoop-di-doo, i hear some people breathe, but it's this weekend, and i'm flying down - first time i've been in a plane since i went to china (and for those who don't know that was a good 12.5 years ago)... it's a bit of a dry run to make sure i don't freak out in the enclosed space. i know i probably won't, but it's also a nice excuse to visit a city i really enjoy being in. i can also catch up with a few friends down there, barb, sally and sue-ellen.

trip number 2: new york state.

i leave on november 12 and arrive back home on november 25. i'm flying to new york city, staying overnight (since i arrive 9:30pm local time) then catch the bus to ithaca, where i'm going to be staying with julie for a week, then i believe we're both coming back to new york city where we'll be another two nights looking around the place, then i'm back home. bit of a whistle-stop visit, but there you go.

i haven't been on holidays overseas for ages, and it's kind of exciting now to actually be going again. i always had an excuse - my sister's been living overseas for ages, but i hate enough that we have trouble getting along while she's here in australia, i couldn't bear having fights with her while i was overseas. julie was gracious enough to say that i could stay with her, and i'm taking her up on that. it'll also be nice to see someone i only get to talk to in the morning when i'm journalling over my coffee... not that i get much of a reply that way, but i do hear stuff after a while! :)

i'm looking forward to getting away from my life here in australia for a little while, hopefully making a good start on some writing ideas i have, and thinking through stuff that's on my heart to think about. God's been doing so much in my life, in my thoughts and my heart, it'll be nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and just ... be.

and i'll be seeing my best friend, which is always nice.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

... gordon greenwood... i mean, graham goldsworthy...

i've been having a terrible time lately telling people that i'm reading gospel and kingdom by graham goldsworthy. every time i try to say graham goldsworthy, i go to say gordon greenwood. "who is gordon greenwood?" i hear you ask... well, he wrote a book called the modern world, which we used as a textbook in 2- and 3-unit modern history when i did the hsc in '92.

anyway, a bit i read in g&k today gave me pause, and i thought i'd blog it. i journalled it too, but my reader won't get to see it for a while, since it's in the interim journal!

...[w]hen we allow the whole Bible - Old and New Testaments - to speak to us, we find that those subjective aspects of the Christian life which are undoubtedly important - the new life, faith and sanctification - are the fruits of the gospel... [it] is rooted and grounded in the history of redemption. It is the good news about Jesus, before it can become good news for sinful men and women...

[ just before the end of chapter 1 ]

i don't know if i've ever really considered my faith or new birth as fruits of the gospel - gifts from God certainly, but not as flowers on the orchid of the gospel! the importance of the gospel is then... proportionately (?) so much greater for looking at it like that!

also exciting but not quite so much is reading it explicitly said that the gospel is about Jesus before it is for people, sinful people (to use a tautology). to see it written down explicitly in black and white... exciting.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

... travelling

after many years of poking and prodding by my family, i am travelling again. twelve years ago i went overseas for a couple of weeks, and now, in november, i'm going to be travelling again. i buy my ticket this week, and i'm actualy starting to get excited.

t-minus 32 sleeps and counting?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

... oi, oi, oi...

well, i finished seven ancient wonders yesterday morning, not early after midnight, but early after breakfast. it was a great read...

... but it's the first matthew reilly book i've read that hasn't blown me away.

i can't believe i'm saying that, but that's how i feel. even hell island was impacting. that was like an awesome ten-minute preview to a movie, or one of those awesome advertisements that's almost better than the movie you're going to see at the cinema. (the advertising campaign "revolution" for the sega saturn game console was like that... shame the console never really took off - it was a brilliant advert... )

it was fast, but not that fast. it was exciting, but not as exciting as temple, say. i think... i think it would've been a better follow-up book.

maybe if i'd read a novella or something about jack west, jr, beforehand? about what happened at basra? it all just seemed a little bit... contrived?

i wish i wasn't saying this, but it's the first matthew reilly novel i've kind of felt a bit... unsurprised at.

it's good. don't get me wrong. it's good.

i'm just not sure it's as good as his other work. it's the latest, but i'm not sure it's the greatest.

sorry, matthew. please believe me when i say, i'm a fan of your work until the day i die.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

... reilly! reilly! reilly!

JUST bought matthew reilly's new book, seven ancient wonders.

at k-mart.

for $26.95.

in hardback.

(until i actually read it, i don't think there's much else to say. why are you stil here? go buy the book!!!)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

... temple

temple is the second of matthew reilly's books that i ever read, ice station being the first and contest being the third. anyone who knows me and who's heard me talk about his books knows i get very evangelistic about them. (not infrequently do i wish i could bring myself to be so engaged about the Bible!)

i finished reading it again this morning, on the way to work. it would make an excellent film (of course, all of his books would - be looking out for news about the production of hover car racer, once hollywood gets its butt in gear...)

i was thinking who i would cast the film with. frank nash would easily be played by brian cox (slight typecasting, but i don't think he'd mind). the other cast would be a bit harder, but i was thinking william race could be played by edward norton... similarly to the character in primal fear, but instead of swinging wildly between the two, norton would show a gradual strengthening in the face of opposition as race discovers just how heroic he could be. brendan fraser would be too nice, i think, although i still haven't seen the quiet american yet.

and for ice station readers, how about rob morrow from numb3rs and northern exposure to play shane schofield?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

... rhyme

This is the house that John built.

This is the rum that lay in house that John built.

These are the rats that drank the rum that lay in house that John built.

This is the cat that hid from the rats that drank the rum that lay in house that John built.

This is the dog that shamed the cat that hid from the rats that drank the rum that lay in house that John built.

These are the pigs that followed the dog that shamed the cat that hid from the rats that drank the rum that lay in house that John built.

These are the sheep ruled by the pigs that followed the dog that shamed the cat that hid from the rats that drank the rum that lay in house that John built.

This is the game played by the sheep ruled by the pigs that followed the dog that shamed the cat that hid from the rats that drank the rum that lay in house that John built.

These are the snakes that win the game played by the sheep ruled by the pigs that followed the dog that shamed the cat that hid from the rats that drank the rum that lay in house that John built.

This is the weasel that charmed the snakes that win the game played by the sheep ruled by the pigs that followed the dog that shamed the cat that hid from the rats that drank the rum that lay in house that John built.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

... memememememememememe

this is my long-promised book meme, which, as i explained to my best friend last night, has been somewhat frustrating to put together, since every time i sat down to do it, my "last book bought" entry has changed - every time!

now, as i understand it (or as i remember it), the meme consists of (i) total number of books owned in my lifetime, (ii) last book bought, and (iii) five books that have impacted me somehow (not necessarily my five favourite books). so here we go.

(i) total number of books owned in my lifetime: about 1,250.

i arrived at this figure by a kind of circuitous route. before i moved to chatswood from kogarah, i engaged in what can only be called a massacre of my bookshelf. my current library is made up of several semi-discreet sections of books. one section, my "christian" bookshelf, escaped the cull. another section, my cookery bookshelf, also escaped more or less intact, sans one or two books. the rest of my books have been gradually added to over the last sixteen months, by a disturbingly not-small amount (about forty to fifty books, i think...). what arrived in chatswood as "the rest of my bookshelf" amounted to roughly 20% of my books before the cull. say, 180 books. so, about 900, pre-cull. plus the other two bookshelves, that's about 1,050. plus what i'd lost, loaned, sold, before the cull - let's say about 150. that makes about 1,200. plus what i've acquired since my move north of the bridge - let's say 50. that makes about 1,250 books.

notwithstanding comics. add my former comic book collection to that, you're looking at upwards of 2,100 books.

a few interesting things to note. i've bought matthew reilly's book ice station six times now. (can i get a free book, matt?) i've replaced lost-in-loan books in my terry pratchett collection on a few occasions. i finally found the cybernetic samurai after fifteen years of searching for it secondhand.

(ii) last book purchased: edward lear - the complete nonsense & other verse, vivien noakes (ed.)

bought it for $6.95 down from $24.95 from basement books, in the devonshire street tunnel, railway square, sydney. one of the best bookshops insydney, and where you'll find all kinds of cool stuff. were it not for basement books, my ipod would still be another interesting gift i'd never put to use...

two poems from edward lear to give you an idea (if you've never heard a limerick about a man from peru, i suppose)

"She sits upon her Bulbul"

She sits upon her Bulbul
Through the long long hours of night -
And o'er the dark horizon gleams
The Yashmack's fitful light.
The long Yaourt sails slowly down
The deep and craggy dell -
And from his lofty nest, loud screams
The white-plumed Asphodel.

"The Quangle Wangle's Hat" (a fragment)

On the top of the Crumpetty Tree
The Quangle Wangle sat,
But his face you could not see,
On account of his Beaver Hat.
For his Hat was a hundred and two feet wide,
With ribbons and bibbons on every side,
And bells, and buttons, and loops, and lace,
So that nobody ever could see the face
Of the Quangle Wangle Quee.

(iii) five books that have impacted me somehow.

1/ c.s. lewis, the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe - the first fantasy story that i ever really was caught up into, so that i never wanted to stop reading it. i think the original copy that i had was a Christmas gift in 1978, or maybe 1979. i later gave it to my best friend, duc, in maybe 1982, or 1983. this book, along with the rest of the chronicles of narnia, was formative in my journey into the realm of fantasy and science fiction, the wonderful world of s.f.

2/ william gibson, neuromancer - still to this day, i think, the best science fiction novel i've ever read. gibson's vision of a future where the internet is such an integral part of everyday life that he coined the term "the matrix" decades before the film was made that used the matrix as the means for all humans to interact with one another. "cyberspace. a consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts..." tell me that's not where we're going.

3/ dr. seuss, the cat in the hat - nothing else matches this book for sheer poetry. if i'd never before had a love for rhyme or rhythm, this book alone would have given it me. everyone should read it, everyone should learn to recite it.

4/ robert browning, selected poetry - one of the two poets we studied for the hsc in 1992, browning created characters delivering dramatic monologues, characters who were (apparently) "morally reprehensible". the bishop, the duke and porphyria's lover all showed me the power of story and atmosphere to overcome formal boundaries - the rhyme and rhythm of his poems never stood out for me; they always blended into the background, such that a goal of my own writing has always been (even if rarely if ever achieved) to use traditional forms of poetry with modern and more naturalistic language pattern. ironically, while i loved browning for his characters and form, the poet i loathed while studying her (for whom i now have much respect, gwen harwood) achieved in numerous examples exactly what i wanted to do.

5/ edwin black, i.b.m. and the holocaust - a deeply impacting book for me, which utterly underlined the incredible unlikelihood of a corporation acting out of any motive barring the profit motive. i am gradually entering the world of non-fiction thanks to this and books like richard preston's the hot zone and naomi klein's no logo, and hopefully i won't be limited to books that address what may be called sensational issues, but also less exotic ones as well. sitting on top of my e.e. cummings selected poems 1923-1958 (faber & faber), is a book by edward hirsch, how to read a poem, and fall in love with poetry. these books are gradually awakening in me a desire to read more about the world around me, not in newspapers or magazines, but in researched and considered detail. i don't expect unbiased opinion, but i want to be made to think about what i'm reading, as well as what the writer has written about. if that makes sense.

honorable mentions should go to:
- matthew reilly, ice station
- lewis carroll, alice's adventures in wonderland
- stephen king, it
- clive barker, the books of blood, vol.1-6
- terry pratchett, (everything he's written, basically!)
- john bunyan, the pilgrim's progress
- j.i. packer, knowing God (my own personal everest)
- anne rice, interview with the vampire
- j.r.r.tolkien, the lord of the rings (of course)
- richard adams, watership down
- betsy byars, the cybil war (which condemned me to be a romantic for all time...)

so there you go, that's my book meme. i have no idea who to tag for this. if you've got this far, why not do one yourself?

Friday, September 23, 2005

... grace for dummies?

bible study last night was very good. romans 12:1-8. it made me think about a few things, one bing that i need more to consider the grace shown me in the work of Christ. i know in my head that an incredible price was paid for my life, that i could never repay, but which my heart contantly fails to keep front-in-view. i forget (or ignore) the cost, i forget (or ignore) my complete in ability to repay it, with the knock-on effect that i am overwhelmed sometimes by the fear that i will lose my salvation! how can what i do lose it, any more than i could have gained it in the first place?!

the passage last night, though, makes that truth of assurance the biggest boost and the greatest... obligation. paul says he is a slave of Christ Jesus, under obligation both to the greeks and barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish, not ashamed of the gospel. why not? because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. the power of God. it's not just the effect of God's power, the gospel, but it is also the affecting force behind the effect.

i'd not really though that way about it before. so caught up am i in my own fears and worries that i effectively rob the gospel of its power, claiming that my foolishness is greater even than God's ineffable wisdom! how insane is that?!

another thing i've never thought that much about is the guilt paul must have felt about those whose stonings and deaths and imprisonments he'd approved. i can say that i've never actually murdered someone, not even at arm's length; paul had. i'll have to think about that some more. my understanding of grace is so incredibly limited...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

... lunch

i always get a little bit antsy (antsy? don't you mean more antsy...?) if i haven't started lunch by about 1.30pm. when i'm buying lunch, as i did today, my meal of choice is szechuan chicken and fried rice, from padstow inn (112 cahors rd, padstow; ph 9774 2475). their lunchbox is a yummy $6 and the food is always delicious.

i've had a miraculous ten minutes to sit down and ponder my week. last week started out disastrously and improved gradually to the end - i could in all honesty say that friday had been a good day! - this week started out a bit better. i definitely think that much of it is due to my regular Bible reading each morning, reading in a circular fashion through paul's letters to the churches outside rome (gepc1t2t). read in conjunction with the studying we've been doing on romans these last few months, i've found them incredibly helpful. echoes of galatians in romans; being so encouraged by paul's letters to the thessalonians; craving the joy the paul feels for the philippians... these are things i'm continuing to pray for myself, that i can have paul's heart for those he ministers to.

unfortunately, the sinful nature lends itself to being easily distracted (look, something shiny!) and it's easy to turn away to other things and forget the amazing truths of scripture. i read them and wonder that i don't trust in them more, and more solidly cling to them. i sometimes wonder i put more faith in cityrail's timetable than in the truths of the Bible!

like the proverbial chinese meal, half an hour later i feel like i'm spiritually starving. the sad truth is that it's probably not that far from the truth. how many of us, i wonder, read the Bible like a chinese menu, picking the same numbers all the time and not ever feeling as full or nourished as we could be?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

... yippee-kai-ay...

oh! oh! oh, joy! oh, bliss!

i finally got my copy of the new ikea catalogue!!!

life's sweet, and heaven is where the ikea furinture doesn't need instructions!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

... unfortunate

went to go see unleashed last night (God bless cheap tuesdays!) and about fifteen minutes into the movie both sound and picture failed. (much hubbub around the theatre...) picture was restored about a minute later, but sound not for about five minutes, during which muzak - sorry oasis ("don't look back in anger"?), i always mistake them for muzak - was playing. ironically, it kind of matched what was showing onscreen.

excellent to see bob hoskins in a movie again, even though he was so thoroughly malicious. jet li competent as always, fight scenes superb (first of the end credits was to yuen wo-ping for fight choreography), and morgan freeman subdued in his supporting role.

jet li has hit an interesting groove with his english-language movies (romeo must die, the one, kiss of the dragon, cradle 2 the grave, and unleashed). interesting characters, and while the stories are, on the whole, fairly predictable, each works to be quite entertaining as a whole. having never been able to see many of his chinese films, i'm looking forward to giving my dvd player a good workout at some stage renting some chinese dvds with subtitling going on (the subtitles are almost as entertaining as the films!).

very violent. excellent fight scene with token white martial arts dude (who i'm sure someone will be able to tell me is some world champion or something or other) in a small toilet adjacent to a bathroom in which similarly token female was showering until she was terrified by the fight that burst into her quiet little artistic world.

big kudos to kerry condon, who was excellent as the de facto sister/love interest (victoria) for jet li (danny). one to watch out for.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

... and you'll miss it

i met dave for coffee last week, and as we discussed the various things going on in our lives, he pulled out a book called blink. the thesis of the book is that there are a whole host of decisions that human beings make on a day-to-day basis without necessarily consciously knowing how or why we come to those decisions. examples were given of "priming" (giving a person particular stimuli that gear thought processes toward a particular approach to a subsequent situation) and snap-judgements (like an art critic looking at a ten-million-dollar statue and recognising it as a fake... without knowing why he knows that, or articulating a reason).

it's not a hard book to read - i finished it in under five hours or reading yesterday - and it's kind of strange because i've always had a theory that the things we learn by reflex are often more... useful? helpful to thinking? i don't quite know what i'm saying.

example: i firmly believe that rote learning of times tables is intrinsically helpful to learning and understanding algebra. i also suspect that it helps in understanding chemical equations in high school science as well. i have no hard data to support my theory, except that of the people i went to school with, and the people i've tried to help with their homework, the ones who needed little help with algebra were ones who knew their times tables. from the little i've read about neurophysiology and other psych- and neuro-sciences, the learning that happens early in our lives has a lot to do with how easily and what kinds of skills we learn later in life.

so the snap judgements discussed in the book made a lot of sense to me. they might make sense to you too. it's worth reading. i wish i could remember the author's name.

thank you google! malcolm gladwell - think - the power of thinking without thinking

Sunday, August 21, 2005

... top five

after seeing a friend's blog entry i was moved to quote alice:
"i weep for you," the walrus said: "i deeply sympathise..."

and in said vein, a quick top 5 from me:

1. drivers seem to be given a licence to solipsism along with one for their car these days. they seem to think they're the only people of consequence on the move in this city, and as a dedicated pedestrian and public transport user, i'd like a 193 number to which i can txt the licence plate numbers of anyone i feel unfit to be driving a car.

2. we have brilliant public transport in sydney, but all i ever hear are complaints. don't you get to where you're going? that's one better than a lot of users of public transport elsewhere around the world. given the complexity of the network, i'm amazed it doesn't all slip sideways into a parallel universe at some critical juncture (as i'm sure some people think their urgent connection already has!). get a book; get a walkman; learn to snooze standing up; get an earlier bus/train/ferry if you have to.

3. we don't need a desalination plant. we need a more mature approach to the use of water in this city. i read an article in a newspaper a little while back which talked about the author growing up in western nsw and occasionally being allowed to have a "sydney bath", which consisted of water about three inches deep in the tub. wow! three inches! we can use less: we just have to think more. (oh, yes, i see the problem with that...)

4. winter's too warm, the rest of the year is too humid. did sydney move a thousand or so kilometres north without anyone being told?

5. people in sydney seem about as friendly as prisoners in a maximum security gaol. eye contact is taken as aggressive or critical, and heaven help you if you smile at someone: people cross the street, or do that scrunched up eyes plus raised eyebrows plus frown thing (as if they're trying to pass a really difficult... umm... exam). my experience of other cities around the traps (and i know i'm not the most travelled of bods, but i can only speak from my limited experience) is that a smile will often produce a smile back. it's not that hard. people who know me will agree (i think) that i'm not necessarily a natural optimist (my half full glass is usually half empty, and a good deal smaller than i thought it was to begin with), but when i see people smiling, my first impulse is to smile as well. i have to admit, i don't usually wonder why they're smiling (so that t-shirt phrase, smile - it makes people wonder what you've been up to doesn't necessarily point to me), but i'm almost always glad that they're smiling. sydneysiders generally seem to be preoccupied with everything else to the exclusion of serendipity. maybe it's just me.

not very quick, i suppose. (i'm sure i've been sitting here for half an hour... i guess i'm not really that riled about it all...) but there you go.

i really should get a move on on that book meme i got tagged to do...

Saturday, August 20, 2005

... finished

just finished the cybernetic samurai and boy, i'd forgotten what a good read it is. (and who would have thought that tokugawa was darth vader's father...?)

thank you victor milàn... and thank you alices at north carlton, victoria. most helpful.

Friday, August 19, 2005

... forgiven

sometimes there are days when i feel... unlovable. not because i think that i'm unlovable, but because i've become... aware of my own sinfulness. anything can trigger it - i hear a song on the radio, or a commercial, or hear a snatch of conversation... or for one reason or another i'm reminded of things i've said or done that i know have been wrong, that i know have been offensive to God. i feel that i am unlovable to God, that he will turn his face from me and no measure of tears, no sea change in living will turn his face back to me again.

and yet i know that that's not true. my heart is so full of bitterness and hate i'm turned against myself and made to forget - sometimes for an instant, sometimes for what feels like an age - what my head knows with utter certainty:

"that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." [romans 8:38-39]

and that:

"if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. if we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives." [1 john 1:8-10]

it's easy to have these in our heads but not grasp them in our hearts. when we know what we are supposed to do and do not do it, the power of sin can create in us a tremendous sense of guilt that distorts everything inside us. yes, our sin has repercussions, but i think that if i could have lost my salvation, i would have done so before now, and those words of paul in romans would be no comfort for me now, no point of arrest in my downward spiral of self-loathing and self-pity. yet they are such words, comfortable and giving me pause. if i could lose my salvation so easily, could i not have won it by my own efforts? i don't know for sure - not for dead certain, i don't think: i'm still turning it over in my head and wrestling with it in my heart - but my increasing suspicion is that my role in my conversion was to confess the truth that Jesus is my Lord and i am not. full stop. my role in my sanctification is to trust, obey, and repent at all stages. and my role in my glorification is to turn up and praise God for his justice and mercy and love.


so what made me think of this? the band, sons of korah. their album, redemption songs, is an awesome collection of psalms set to contemporary music, and their version of psalm 32 is an awesome and touching reminder to me that i could not pay for my freedom from slavery to sin - i was redeemed by one who could: the LORD.

psalm 32: forgiven
of david. a maskil

blessed is he who is forgiven
who sins are covered
blessed is he

whose sin the LORD won't count against him
in whose spirit there is no deceit

when i was silent i wasted away
through all my groaning
every night and day

your hand was heavy upon me
my strength was weakened
as in the summer heat

and then i acknowledged my sin to you
and i didn't cover my iniquity

i said "i'll confess my sin to you"
and you forgave me the guilt of my sin

so let everyone who is godly pray to you
while you may be found
while you may be found

and then surely when the mighty waters rise
they will not reach him
they won't reach him

you are my hiding place
and you protect me
and you surround me
with redemption songs

redemption songs

Thursday, August 18, 2005

... book

when i was in high school i read a novel called the cybernetic samurai, by victor milan (the "a" has a accent grave, but i can't remember how to put it in). it was about the birth of a machine intelligence named TOKUGAWA, and of course, as in all SF stories about such things, humans try to pull the plug and hijinks ensue.

i've been looking for it second-hand for about fifteen years.


(thank you, ohmintsofa!)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

... sin city

went to see sin city last night... very interesting movie. i've always loved what i've read of the comics, and i'm very much thinking about buying them now i've seen the movie. it was like watching a comic book come to life - everything that the batman/spiderman/x-men resurgence should be but isn't quite achieving. my greatest hope is that with the awesomely successful delivery of sin city to the screen, we will sooner than later see grendel on the big screen as well. that might be a long bow to draw, but it's what i think.

one of the things that surprised me most about the film was how little i was involved in it. the very medium of cinema means that without distractions - a ringing phone, dogs barking outside, needing to check up on the oven - it is possible to be more fully immersed in the film you're watching than in virtually any other mode of viewing. maybe vr will one day approach this, but that's mindstorm territory and i'm not about to go there today. so it felt a bit strange that i felt so little pull to enter the movie.

i did film study at university for a while, so i'm pretty well able to dissociate myself from many things i view, but that's usually against a pull to enter the world of the movie. i didn't feel that pull at all with sin city. rather, the very artificiality of its look, the outlandish story, and persistent voice-over narration all combined to make it somethign watched rather than something one became caught up in.

don't get me wrong. there were gasps and laughs aplenty. bold, stark characters of unspoken origin and intent. the closest i think we have to this in any other film so far was in detective story in the animatrix.

very good film technically. hard to believe it was all shot against green screen, but it really couldn't have been done any other way. story wise - there's nothing edifying about this movie. Christians beware - this film is a descent into the sinful nature in a way that makes me personally glad that i have been brought into the kingdom of God, and which (if it has a grain of truth at all) confirms my bitter and pessimistic view of human nature. sin city is well-named, a great and terrible film.

two thumbs up.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

... devotion

just got back from devotion. singing was great as always, and there were more people there tonight than i've seen since i've been going. very encouraging.

it's good to have such ecumenical events like devotion (which i've misspelt every time i've typed it in this post). next month, on the first weekend in the month, is the big exoday event, and devotion, which usually meets on the first saturday in the month, will be going to that instead, and meeting on september 10 and not september 3. it's also where united are going to be recording their new live album (apparently) so it'd be an interesting thing to go along to. i just might be there.

i've been so tired this week, but it was good to hear "it's great that you made it" when i was chatting after devotion tonight. i didn't hang around long, and i'm heading home from this internet cafe now, after i post this.

devotion is a big word. you don't hear it used a lot these days, and i think it's because it's regarded with a bit of suspicion. i mean, if you're devoted to something or someone, then you're going to be focussed on that more than anything else (i suppose). which means, unless you're devoted to tolerance, your very devotion is going to alienate you from some people.

but even those who claim to be devoted to tolerance, to the idea that everyone's opinions are worthwhile and have an intrinsic value because they're opinions held by a living breathing person (i think this is the thinking (if much) behind the idea), even these people are very often completely intolerent of those who aren't similarly devoted to tolerance.

i rather suspect that it has something to do with responsibility. that if tolerance is to be the universal law, all action has value. taken to the logical extreme, then, any action is valid if it forms an integral part of a person's worldview and not provable to be a whim. how can this kind of view prevail in a nation that respects the rule of law? doesn't rule of law mean that there are things that a society does not tolerate? doesn't "tolerance" therefore inevitably lead to a relativism that white-ants respect for the rule of law and then allow for the corruption of that system into uselessness and self-aggrandisement?

responsibility, on the other hand, accepts difference exists, but does not deify it. responsibility accepts the rule of law, and a variety of rule exists where responsibility is instrinsic to those systems. where responsibility for enforcement of rule of law is surrendered (willingly or not) to the state, the same handwashing as that encouraged by tolerance occurs - again, not what a healthy society needs.

the midst of these two extremes is where the devotion sung about and prayed about at devotion is to be found - forgiveness. i guess i'd like to be devoted to forgiveness. i know it's why i'm still here, walking and talking and typing on this earth. without it, i'd have been dead in a bathtub 15 years ago, not here right now.

i'm tired and i'm rambling, but i think i might have the tail of a thought nailed down here. it's wriggling a bit, and hopefully the lizard it was attached to hasn't got away. pray that i'll be able to sort it out, get it down on paper or something.

Friday, August 05, 2005

... astonished (when i shouldn't be)

we were looking at romans 9 last night, considering the sovereignty of God along with paul, as he effectively makes a nonsense of the (seeming) conflict between God's choosing of people outside of their opinion, and our responsibility for our own actions. it made me think a bit about my relationship with God and whence it came.

years ago, not long after i decided to trust God with my eternal life, if i was asked how i'd become a Christian i would say that God knew me so well that when the time came he arranged things so that my natural choice would be to choose his will for my life over my own. he knew i would choose him when the time came. if i am asked now how i became a Christian i say that God chose me for himself before he created the world, and he enabled me to choose his will for my life, and he continues to make me more and more like Jesus.

there is a difference here, not unlike between the "deep magic" and the "deeper magic", in the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe. the deep magic refers only to what we can see for ourselves. the witch knew that a substitution could be made by an innocent for one who was guilty (aslan for edmund), but she did not know that by doing that aslan did not have to be bound by the ordinary rules for that punishment. the life he laid down for edmund he was free to take up again.

when i first became a Christian, i thought i understood the "deep magic" of the relationship i have been reborn into; as a more mature Christian i know realise (in my more insightful moments) just how little of the "deeper magic" i understand.

when it comes down to it, understanding is a blessing not everyone receives, and not always in the same measure. understanding is a gift from God - but it pales into insignificance beside the gift of salvation that we have from him. we should not be ignorant about it, but full understanding of it is not needed to glorify God with our love and obedience.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

... tired

not terribly marvellous that someone should be tired, but i'm surprised at how much moving my bed ninety degrees seems to have changed my sleeping patterns. i'm finding it incredibly difficult to get to sleep, although whether that's things in my mind needing to be thought, or just junk being defragged by my brain, i have no idea.

the frames all got sorted out, and my wardrobey thing is working fine. i need to reorganise my desk space, and get an anti-draught curtainy thing set up for my verandah doors... maybe i'll sleep better then.

but work awaits.

(thanks madam dragonfly for letting me post your link!)

Monday, August 01, 2005

... tidying up

in my never-ending quest to be less weighed down by stuff (yet still maintaining a measure of stuff to live comfortably with), i went to howard's storage world to get some elfa frames to match the ones i already have (which i inherited from my dear departed dad's dear departed (bankrupt) video shop business). the ones i have are probably about 20-25 years old - i'm sure they weren't new when dad bought them - but the age of my frames were not even in my thoughts.

i lugged the enormous bag home (with all of five items inside, including "across the nightingale floor" and a bonus book, matthew reilly's "hell island", which he wrote as a giveaway for the 2005 books alive push here in australia), put the frame i'd bought together, only to find when i was joining it all up that my old frames are 35mm too shallow front-to-back as you slide in the drawer!!!

well, i wasn't a terribly happy camper with this, given that i'd already worked out that morning that buying cheap frames from ikea wasn't going to work because their frames are too narrow for my old basket to fit into lengthways, so hsw was going to be the only place for me to easily get to, to get my elfa frames. i ended up buying another frame, returning the hanging rod connector for a refund and making arrangements to get a different style hanging rod connector from hsw in hornsby.


and i still have tidying up to do after i fix those, because all the moving around required me to disconnect my computer, and i have to type out the Bible study i wrote for youth group...

Saturday, July 30, 2005


well, this is my first blog and although it's not my first website, i still have some butterflies about the whole thing. not for no reason did i stop using the internet as much as i was, but i feel ... somewhat confident i can restrain myself and be responsible now.

so i have butterflies.

a great movie, a midwinter's tale (dir. kenneth branagh), has one of the characters commenting that people often talk about having butterflies before a performance but that she always had snakes. which makes me think, "snakes... why did it have to be snakes...?" the guy who flew the biplane at the beginning of raiders of the lost ark was actually flying supplies into a town in central america while it was suffering from a terrible storm, delaying filming of a movie being produced by kathleen kennedy, and while the cast and crew were stranded in this little place they were fillming, this guy actually helped get them all out and an operation that might have taken weeks was actually all accomplished in a couple of days! oh the joys of being a movie producer... (thanks kathleen, and the british doco series on movie making that's been screening lately on abc-tv here in sydney...)

i guess i rabbit on a bit when i'm nervous... :-P