Hobbit in Advent

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It’s December, what’s happened?

I went house sitting again.  This time up in Opoho, for friends going overseas.  Unfortunately for them they were going to Paris, just before the attack on that city.  Chaos and confusion on their arrival.  They were able to leave and stay with family in Germany.

A change from Manono House was restful.  I looked after the chickens.  Evans Street is about 20 minutes walking from work, half the time from Manono House.  There are a couple of houses on the street that I would call crooked houses.

At the end of November I visited Invercargill for the Burt Munro Challenge, our annual family gathering.  I will be back there for Christmas.

I caught most of this season’s Doctor Who, not every episode.  I had hoped that when the Doctor got to Gallifrey there would be changes.  I confess to being disappointed.  The Time Lords fought what appears to have been a standing war against the Daleks and nearly lost.  They have the powers of gods and no imagination to exercise it.

I guess Lord President Rassilon regenerated after the Doctor sealed the Master in the imprisoned Gallifrey.  This new Lord President gave the Doctor his new regenerations. The Master regenerated into Missy and  spearheaded Gallifrey’s escape from the time-loop.  The Time Lords have retreated to the end of the universe, maybe not the wisest choice as the fruit-jube Daleks also fled into deep time.

I had speculated on the idea of Time Lord renegades escaping Gallifrey, a revolution overthrowing the High Council’s power.  The chances of this look unlikely from what we have seen of Gallifrey.  It is under the control of a powerful aristocratic elite.  The ideas of change lie outside the agenda of the programme.

The idea of Missy / the Master as an agent of chaos makes sense.  Her motive is to undo the Doctor’s plans, a mean intellectual agenda, the Doctor’s antithesis.

I have returned to Manono House from house-sitting to find changes.  One person who was proving to be difficult has moved on, which has improved the house.  Another person who was away from the house for part of the year has returned, which I find good to see.  It promises better things next year.

My workplace at the Presbyterian Archives also changes.  The newest appointments have up-sticks and left.  After two to three years of their leadership this is a disappointment.  It means changes in the new year.  It may work out for the better.



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And that was the Easter that was for 2015.

A visit over the long weekend down to see my mother in Invercargill.  I tried to do some tidying up at home.  A bit Grimm’s Fairy Tale.  Once I had filled the rubbish bin there was not much more I could do.

Stayed with Southern Dave again and did a bit of family catch up.  At the last moment I rummaged through the shelves for something to take with me and pulled Hellboy: Oddest Jobs edited by Mike Mignola from the shelves.  It proved to be an excellent anthology of short stories to travel with.  The constant figure in these stories is Hellboy, a monster, a demon, a constant indefeatable champion for humanity.  They were a delight to read, and I would like to track down the earlier anthologies Odd Jobs and Odder Jobs.  I’m sure that they will have the same taste for comic book horror and superheroes.

I returned from Invercargill with loot, Southern Dave found me books:

  • Light in Dark Isles, by Alexander Don, NZ Presbyterian book on mission to the New Hebrides in 1918, lots of period writing
  • By Love Serve: The Story of the Order of Deaconesses of the Presbyterian Church of NZ, by J. D. Salmond, another one for my Presbyterian bookshelves
  • Spirit in a Strange Land: a selection of New Zealand spiritual verse, edited by Paul Morris, Harry Ricketts & Mike Grimshaw.  Excellent to have my own copy of this, my original thoughts on looking at this collection, some years ago, was that NZ poets view religion with a powerful hermeneutic of suspicion. I will be interested to see if that sense is still dominant in the collection.
  • Enduring Legacy: Charles Brasch, patron, poet and collector, edited by Donald Kerr, another book about Brasch for my collection at Manono House.

From mum, an easter egg and and a jar of relish from the Centre Street Dairy; and from my sister in law, a selection of Mama Jo’s Homemade Jams and Pickles: apricot, black berry, gooseberry and mixed berries jams, and capsicum and mango relish.  I have some serious sampling to do!

Fluke of Nature

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And a thousand thousand slimy things lived on; and so did I

Some local sectarians left a tract on the steps of Manono House last year.  I flicked through it a couple of times before leaving on the front porch’s pew.  One page caught my eye.  To paraphrase it was about the whale’s fluke and how it is so beautifully adapted to it environment that engineers study it to learn about hydro-dynamics.  Therefore there must be an intelligent designer behind creation.  This can’t have happened by itself.

Laying aside the arguments for and against intelligent design I was struck by a thought that I would be tempted to ask a helpful door-knocking evangelist one day: What is your sect’s doctrine on whaling?

Think about it.  If a missionary’s sect does not actively oppose whaling then they are complicit in destroying evidence for the Creator.

Imagine the scene on the Last Day when Jesus comes back and he says, “Hey, shouldn’t there more whales and dolphins in the oceans than that?  I spent a good hour on the first wet Thursday afternoon of creation week designing those.  They were a cool design!”  There may be some re-thinking on who’s a sheep and who’s a goat after he says that.

Instead we have become comfortable in a technological world.  Invented by human hands and science; not reliant on a sectarian god.  It’s comfortable, and the cost is hidden from us that is our own consumption of the world’s resources.  We turn a blind eye to the sin that undergirds our society.

What did you do on Waitangi Day

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I wasn’t going to write anything on the topic until I was inspired by the discussion on Public Address on this topic.  I realised that I used the day like a lot of other New Zealanders — I had a half-day holiday in the middle of the weekend, an extra Saturday.

I stayed in bed an hour late, then got up to take advantage of the House laundry room so I could do an extra load of washing in the middle of the week.  My devotions looked at two readings from the Holy Bible for a national holiday.  They did not inspire me to new insight.

I made the mistake of turning my computer on and browsing early in the day.  I would have been better to have gone out for a walk.  Especially as the afternoon was spent listening to Matinee Idle on my bedside radio, an institution on National Radio that celebrates playing exceptionally absurd music that wouldn’t get air-time otherwise.  Once I had finished my work-avoidance activity I wrote up some notes from Pastoral Committee from the beginning of the week and posted them out to the appropriate people.

I managed to go out for a promenade for half an hour after Matinee Idle was over, before tea.  I had prepared some pork ribs at the start of the week so I had one of those with vegetables, tasty if not adventurous.  In the evening I surfed between Pub Dig on one channel and Wild Columbia on another.  The latter, hosted by the exuberant wild-life presenter Nigel Marven, caught more of my attention.

I did not attend any Waitangi Day events in the city.  If I had been alert early in the day I could have ventured into the Octagon for the celebrations there at mid-day.  Instead I took the day like many others, relaxing and enjoying a fine day.

Physio Performance

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I was at the physio on Wednesday morning.  She looked at how stretchy I was doing side stretches and bending forward and backwards.  I had twisted my hip slipping on the steps out of Manono House.  Those slippers will have to be retired!  To compensate my hip muscle had gone tense to protect the hip.  It now needed to relax.  She gave me a session of dry needles to allow the muscle to relax; and gave me some stretches to do: ten side bends each side, and two buttock stretches, thirty seconds twice, both of these twice a day.  I will go and see her again next Wednesday morning and see how I have progressed.

Post-Anniversary Day

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No gym on Monday for Otago Anniversary Day.  I stayed at home for most of the day.  The weather was fine so I spent some of the morning on the porch outside the front door of Manono House reading Absolute Midnight, the third book of the Abarat series by Clive Barker.  It was enjoyable enough that I wanted to finish it in one attempt.  In this title the baby-murdering Empress of Midnight wants to plunge all the islands of the Abarat into eternal darkness.  I don’t know where Barker can take this series after this one.  There are two more titles to follow it.  The first I imagine will be a couple of years away as he is quite involved painting illustrations for the series.  He has already given the fantasy world that he has created for the series quite a battering.  I wonder if he can rebuild the world after this book?  And in what shape?

Later that day I visited the Warehouse to buy a new electric jug.  I took it back the next day for a refund because it leaked.  Since then I thought it would make better sense to use up my loyalty points and order one online.  I’m waiting for the chain of shops the loyalty card goes through to get one in.  They will contact me.  The plastic jug I’m using is so old the spout is beginning to crumble.  I’ve probably ingested enough plastic from it for the good of my health.

Lenten Study was in the evening and we were discussing ‘church’.  There is a general agreement that there is a difference between ‘the church’ (negative, institutional, external, isolated, physical) and ‘church’ (the work of the people).  The discussion was lively.

Politics in the New Zealand government is have sanity issues, i.e., it’s not showing any.  On Infotainment Tonight (commonly called any News programme on television) today it was reported that the majority of our diplomats around the world have signed a letter critical of the government’s plans to cut spending on foreign affairs.  They claim it will reduce New Zealand’s credibility in international diplomacy, and it affects opportunities for looking at foreign affairs as a career choice.  This has come in the same week as one minister of government told the opposition leader that his choice of Finland as a model for New Zealand to follow was country of criminals, suicides and abusers of women.   This is not a verbatim quote.

It seems in New Zealand Home for left-wingers is no longer England, but whichever part of Scandanavia they favour at the moment.  The minister (on the right-wing of government) who made the quote says it was meant at the expense opposition in good humour, and not at the Finnish people.  Finland doesn’t seem to see it in good humour, at least in one comedian’s reply.  It strikes me as funny as Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson’s comments on which to do with strikers, also claimed in be in good humour.  Even as we speak I imagine Nokia Black-Ops Agents are planning to irradicate the minister’s thoracic cavity with radiation from his cellphone, ‘the little bit of Finland he keeps next to his heart’.

Grace Notes

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I have a new SIM card for my cell phone as I have changed providers. Telstra-Clear are claiming that they provide better service. We shall see if I’ve made a wise choice. I thought I had lost my contacts list on my old SIM card. Fortunately a friend showed me how to copy my contacts list from my old SIM card onto the phone then onto my new card.

The bad news is that the fridge in my room at Manono House has died. I phoned the landlady late on Friday but haven’t heard from her yet. Maybe they haven’t checked their office over the weekend. I will try them again on Monday. In the meantime I have everything that I can stuffed into the freezer compartment to keep it manageably cool. In the end all the meat has had to go into the crockpot to be cooked as they were too far defrosted. I can see I’m going to have a high protein diet for the next week.

Any how I’m looking at the interesting links for the last week.

  • Steve Salyards at GA Junkie looks at the theological documents of the New Reformed Body of the Presbyterian Church (USA). I like his rant about making theology and not using it. The same accusation could be thrown at the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand. Theology used as a cudgel not a crutch.
  • Snow over the Marches of Norway north of Oslo, really cool photos.
  • Left-wingers often cite Scandinavia as the country to emulate so to read an article that sounded like asset sales of a television channel in Norway left me feeling confused about which country I was reading.
  • Dim-Post reports that the Prime Minister endorsed the Literary Heritage Trail because our literary heroes will never be as great as our sporting heroes. Imagine what that first fifteen would be like! It sounds a bit Brave-New-Worldly to me: The Prime Minister and our sporting heroes are Alpha class; our literary heroes are Beta class; and the rest of us punters are Gammas and Deltas.
  • Robert Guyton linked to the Rise of the Tricycle Pushcarts. I never mastered cycling myself. Not having to keep my balance might help, although those big baskets on the front would disorientate me, at least initially. On Guyton’s own blog evidence of the death of Spongebob Squarepants is reported.
  • Science actually makes an appearance in the new Sherlock Holmes movie, abeit briefly
  • Eric Tenin from Paris Daily Photo has this piece of graffiti. I can remember a sticker I had at intermediate school which was STOP TH EF and a stick figure like this one running off with the I
  • Slinkachu’s Little People are sweeping up Dead Leaves in London; with the extra bonus of cleaning up broken beer bottles in Antwerp