Christchurch Earthquake

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This is a copy of the email that I wrote to the Conlang List this evening:

Hello Everybody,

Please let me apologize for my tardiness in replying. I was house-sitting for a friend away for four weeks in Beijing and had set my account to nomail while I was away.

I do live in Dunedin. I felt the earth shiver. This was better than Christchurch at the same time where it toppled a Cathedral spire. I am more concerned for Wesley Parrish whom I believe does live in Christchurch. It may be some time before we hear from him as telephone lines are broken. I hate to contemplate Conlanger Down.

The death toll stands at 75, 20 unidentified, 300 missing. There are 7 sites where teams are still searching. Sadly the CTV Building, Canterbury Television, has been abandoned as too unstable. I think the bodies in there could be between 30-50 people. Another building, Pine Gould Guiness building looks like a crashed Star Destroyer yet they pulled out two more survivors today.

I was at a public seminar today. A Scottish professor who addressed us said his wife had been watching BBC which was showing the tragedy. Local media is showing the humanity and the restraint. A survivor coming out of a building was asked what it was like in there. Well, it’s not good, he said in the kind of tone I would only expect on Flight of the Concords.

Finest moment I’ve seen on television was doctors from Melbourne in Christchurch for a conference running to assist in the disaster. Humanity at its best. Ozzies can hug a medic for me.

Several historic buildings have been damaged. The saddest I’ve heard was the unconfirmed loss of the Lyttleton Timekeepers Tower. That upset me more than the damage to Christchurch Cathedral or the loss of Durham Street Methodist Church.

I think donations are best made to Red Cross and possibly earmarked for the Christchurch Earthquake. They are already in the city. I understand #eqnz is very busy on Twitter. I’m amazed at the activity on the internet. I was following it on facebook yesterday at work. We truly live in a new world.

The Almighty Johnsons

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Three episodes in and I’m glad that I caught onto this series early. Tragically I missed out on all five seasons of Outrageous Fortune. The Almighty Johnsons is making up for that.

Brief summary: the Norse gods walk among men. They are reborn in human vessels. After Christianity took over they sort of fell from power and can’t find their way back to Asgard. They emigrated from Norway and now live in Auckland.

The Johnson family are:

  • Olaf (Balder): grandfather of the Johnsons. He regenerates so he is eternally youthful and gets visions. He’s a itinerent surfer dude who bums off the rest. Initially I wasn’t convinced by the promo of a shaven-headed surfer as Balder, but he has such animal charisma he pulls the role off
  • Mike (Ullr): head of the family, god of the hunt and games. He can track anyone with a sniff and the probabilities favour him in any game he plays. Unfortunately it’s been revealed that early on he discovered winning has consequences that lead to his best friend being in a coma for fifteen years. With great power comes great responsibilities, and guilt.
  • Anders (Bragi): family arsehole, god of poetry. He can convince anyone to do anything, so long as deep down they want to do it. Likes the idea of returning to Asgard. Runs his own PR company.
  • Ty (Hod): god of things dark and cold, yay Hod! The god of fridges with the door closed, quite literally. He’s bitter getting the bum deal. This week his plotline booted up and it looks like it develops again next week. Fun to watch
  • Axl (Odin): just found out the family secret when he turned 21. His initiation was an entertaining scene. Not so much the All-Father as the god of munted stupidity. Can get his clothes off really fast. His quest is to find Frigg and if he doesn’t then the whole family is stuffed according to prophecy.
  • The balance of the programme is action and good comic writing. Tonight I watched from behind the bookcase as Axl thought he had found Frigg as Sonya the Librarian but she turned out to be a member of neo-pagan beer-party. Tragically I could see it coming. There was a good sword fighting scene. I also worked out which of the goddesses Ty met up with. Anyone who has read the Norse myths could guess it. Apple Martinis? Honestly!

    The enjoyable story telling and characterization make up for the fact that the Johnsons are mainly ineffectual at what they do. They are so far down the divine food chain that their powers are largely useless. This is in contrast to the gosh-wow special effects on No Ordinary Family, the American superhero drama which after one and bit episodes I’ve given up on. Take a lesson guys, this is how you do it

    Poem, attributed to Archbishop Oscar Romero

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    It helps, now and then, to step back
    and take the long view.
    The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
    it is beyond our vision.

    We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of
    the magnificent enterprise that is god’s work.
    Nothing we do is complete,
    which is another way of saying
    that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

    No statement says all that could be said.
    No prayer fully expresses our faith.
    No confession brings perfection.
    No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
    No programme accomplishes the church’s mission.
    No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

    This is what we are about:
    We plant seeds that one day will grow.
    We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
    We lay foundations that will need further development.
    We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.

    We cannot do everything
    and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
    This enables us to do something,
    and to do it very well.
    It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
    an opportunity for god’s grace to enter and do the rest.

    We may never see the end results,
    but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
    We are workers, not master builders,
    ministers, not messiahs.
    We are prophets of a future not our own.