Sunday, June 29, 2008

Kenny Belaey

So Dave and I were out riding in Wadi Digla this morning, and after we'd got back to the car park, bright red and sweating from our two hour ride up in the hills, this chap turns up, unloads the most bizarre looking bike from the back of the car, and proceeds to bounce around on some rocks balancing just on his back wheel. I found him quite personable.

It's the silly season

Fantastic news story on the BBC Web site. What is the world coming to? If Magnus doesn't want to invite Lars to his party, why should it need to go to an ombudsman?

Birthday party snub sparks debate

The case has sparked a debate in Sweden about civil liberties

An eight-year-old boy has sparked an unlikely outcry in Sweden after failing to invite two of his classmates to his birthday party.

The boy's school says he has violated the children's rights and has complained to the Swedish Parliament.

The school, in Lund, southern Sweden, argues that if invitations are handed out on school premises then it must ensure there is no discrimination.

The boy's father has lodged a complaint with the parliamentary ombudsman.

He says the two children were left out because one did not invite his son to his own party and he had fallen out with the other one.

The boy handed out his birthday invitations during class-time and when the teacher spotted that two children had not received one the invitations were confiscated.

"My son has taken it pretty hard," the boy's father told the newspaper Sydsvenskan.

"No one has the right to confiscate someone's property in this way, it's like taking someone's post," he added.

A verdict on the matter is likely to be reached in September, in time for the next school year.

Flowering Trees

One of the wonderful things about Maadi, the district of Cairo where we live, is that it is so green. It was laid out by the British and the French about eighty years ago, and one of the planning rules that they used was that you could only build on 25% of each plot, which meant that 75% of each plot was set aside for gardens. Sadly most of those villas and gardens are long gone, replaced by streets lined with appartment buildings. However, the trees remain. It is so amazing to watch the different species of exotic trees come in to bloom through the spring and early summer.

Most of these pictures were taken by my decidedly lo-res cameraphone, but at least they'll give you an impression.

First, in late February, come the Dogwoods (Camel Foot Trees)Then these frondy pink ones
Then these ones with pink puff balls of flowers
Then in late March we get these nice yellow ones
Then, through April, one whose name I know. Jacaranda. There are two outside our bedroom window and they are amazing clouds of lilac that you glimpse all through Maadi.
Then May is the month for the flame trees. We have a really old majestic one in our garden outside the other bedroom window; intense colour!

Finally, in June these beautiful pink garlands emerge. Absolutely stunning.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Daydreaming fosters creativity

Ben Elton, a British novelist and stand up comedian who invented alternative comedy and set the anti-Thatcher political agenda when I was growing up in the eighties, is quoted in Third Way magazine...

And now it is possible to take a television with you wherever you go and watch it at all times… I have begun to wonder what will happen to us.

I really do despair for children today. I don't think there's anything we can do, any legislation, but I think we are disenfranchising an entire generation - and all generations to come - from their own imaginations. I know from my own experience that if I can flip on a screen and doodle on the internet and look up crap, I will. I've got a very weak signal on my Wifi deliberately so that I can't just hop onto Google the minute my imagination runs dry. We need to be able to stare out of windows.

I totally agree. My kids don't watch tv - we don't have a dish hooked up or cable or even regular broadcast - instead they read books, draw pictures, play imaginative games with each other and their friends, and every now and then watch a movie or a recorded tv show on dvd. Holly always has her nose stuck in a book, or else she's doing exactly what Ben Elton suggests - staring out of the window. Her little ten year old mind is full of ideas and schemes and plans and stories and pictures that come pouring out at every opportunity. It's inspiring.

As for me, I spent my entire school career staring out of the window, and here I am as a guy who gets paid to be creative for a living. I still can't quite believe it. But the minute I get drawn into the tractor beam known as the interweb, an hour or two can pass by, and none of the creative things I ought to do or want to do have been done. No songs written, no poetry, no mind maps of projects and grand schemes to eradicate poverty or some other 21st century demon, no technical problems solved, no prayers prayed, no worship for my God, no love demonstrated to my wife or kids, just self-absorption in stuff that is very very interesting, but a complete waste of time. How depressing.

Maybe I'll just have to go dark for a while.

Interesting footnote; Felicity nearly became the editor of Third Way about ten years ago.

This entry is part of Creative Chaos at Ragamuffin Soul.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

All the adults have gone, and left me in charge!

Well, that's how I feel at the moment. I've been working here at MCC for five years now. I joined the church at the beginning of a season of fast growth, and had the privilege of learning from a team of great pastors - Dave, Larry, Bill and Murray. Dave died two years ago, Larry and Bill left in January and Murray left last week. Our new Senior Pastor, Steve is away on holiday for three weeks, as is Travis, our Youth Pastor and Jan our Kids Ministry Director. So there's just two of us left; me and Elijah, our African Cells Pastor.

I get to hold the MCC reigns for the next two weeks.

Right now I am feeling a weird mixture of the weight of responsibility of being in charge, and a huge sense of liberation and freedom to do whatever I'd like to. I wonder which way I'll go; freedom or restraint, liberal or conservative, liberty or conformity?

Let's have some fun!

Any suggestions?

This post is part of Watercooler Wednesday over on Ethos.

Monday, June 23, 2008

40 Day Fast - Season 2

You may remember about this time last year that I participated in a blog-carnival called the 40 Day Fast. Kat dreamed up the plan and it went down a storm, and so we're doing it all over again this year.

The idea is that forty bloggers will each fast for one day and on that day they will highlight a cause that we will all pray for. We'll then all fast and pray together on the 40th day, August the 1st. The purpose behind it is to give people an opportunity to:

1. Experience a bit of need
2. Learn about the need in the world
3. Do something about it

So are you up for it?

You can keep up to date by looking at the widget in the side bar to the right, check out the information at Inspired To Action and I'll try and post updates as we go along.

Kicking off the fast is a post by Brant Hansen, one of my favourite bloggers, about a trip to Kenya he made with Compassion International. Go and see.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Frangipani flowers

We have an amazing Frangipani tree in the corner of the garden. Sadly it is mature, which means it's flowers are high up, and so you can't get the benefit of the second-most beautiful thing about a Frangipani which is the amazing scent of the blooms. It also faces out of the garden which means that people on the street have the best view of the beautiful geometrical delicacy of it's yellow-centred white flowers.

So we bought a small one in a pot and it lives on the steps to our front door. This is the first year it has flowered. It is breathtaking.

Red Zastava

I was so happy when I spotted this in the next street to my house. One of my colleageues, John, has one of these, and they are basically just about the cheapest car you can find in Egypt. John is very proud of his Zasatava, and runs it on a shoestring, often stopping every few hundred yards to top it up with water. I made him change the tyres once because all the tread was totally worn away, but he thought this was a little premature because there wasn't any canvas showing through the rubber yet.

Anyhoo, this guy has taken his Zastava to the limit and gone all Mini Cooper cool with it. He still needs to work on the mechanicals a little because a few days after I snapped this, Felicity saw him pushing the car through a busy junction with a couple of friends.

Low Res cameraphone photos are so cool - how come the red of the car has made the camera think that the street should be turquoise?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New apple iphone 3g

I am SO glad I waited.

It's better.

It's faster.

It's cheaper.

It's going to be available in Egypt.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Garments of Praise

Flicking through my email this morning I come across the e-flier for Worship Leader magazine, and there, buried in the side column for advertisers is this little gem.


I've been out of Western Christian Culture for some time now, but even so, hmmmmmm.

I had a quick look at the web site, and at first glance it doesn't look so bad, but really, do people actually wear reversible mid thigh ephods and metallic wing collar capes in church dance routines? And would anyone actually wear a special shirt for praying?

Doesn't the Bible say "pray without ceasing"? If so, would you really want to wear this without ceasing?

Fabric: MicroMatique 90%Polyester, 10%Spandex. Machine wash cold, hang dry.
Description: Uni Fit full shirt with 4 snap yoke. Long full sleeves with cuffs. Perfect generous cut for both men and women. Side openings for ease of movement.

If any of you wear special clothes to pray then please let me know - I'm genuinely interested in the reasons.

This post is a part of Watercooler Wednesday over at Randy's blog, Ethos.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Holly Self Portrait