20170623

Timothy

Timothy was re-admitted to hospital as a precautionary measure after "spiking a temperature". This is not totally unexpected especially in the first "100 days" but just to say that dear boy continues to need our prayers or, put more accurately, needs the grace of God working in his life.

20170618

Thou shalt not nine




Timothy, yes I think there is no further need to hide his name, is discharged and back home. True I had hoped he would not have had to endure this treatment but, who knows, he may end up stronger for it. Tribulation works character. I certainly hope and pray so, else what was it all about? Perhaps I did not tempt God. Perhaps I did not fully understand. And it is still not the end of the road but I am so thankful he has made it this far. Here are some quotes from his parents' last news letter:

After two months living in Bristol while Timothy received a bone marrow transplant at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, we're back home. Timothy is in good form despite a low level of stamina and a bit of sickness...

He was diagnosed with a one/two-in-a-million condition with bleak prognosis unless he received a bone marrow transplant in Bristol. The search for a bone marrow donor ultimately led to a young German who matched perfectly: 57mls of life, delivered fresh by a volunteer courier! Timothy would have life-threatening leukaemia today if it wasn't for that bone marrow donor...

This guy is our hero. He's gone through so much so far [you can see a short video of him ringing the 'End of Treatment' Bell on the ward the other day here. He'll need patience and protection in the restoration to come. Forgive us when we avoid you if you're sniffling! God is good. So please keep praying for Timothy's protection and complete restoration - he could take months to fully recover, and simple illnesses can still be dangerous to him. Pray for God's glory in the story.

Through all of this, hundreds if not thousands of people like you have been praying for our son and family. Thank you. God's peace, hope, love and joy are real.

Father's day

Today is Father's Day which makes me particularly want to honour each of my wonderful children. "My" is undeniably true and yet my part was minuscule. To be a father must be the greatest honour a man can achieve and children must be the greatest investment in this life. By it we understand in some small part what God is like. Thank you Jonathan, Christopher, Sarah, Kate for being who you are, for your love, for your belief. My heart is saying much more but how to write it I know not. I want to include Ali in this list but cannot as it is not Husband's Day.

Sometimes I am aware that I have not posted for ages but have nothing to say. Today my mind is teeming with stuff. Not that it takes many thoughts to count as teeming for me. It's all mixed up with A and T's plights (BTW T's course of hospital treatment has been completed and A's hands are healing well albeit with only two and a half fingers on one hand) and a preface to MacDonald's Phantastes in which Lewis remarks that "the relation of Father and Son is of all relations the most central" and this morning's sermon about the glory of tribulation (as opposed to whingeing about it), patience and perseverance and wot not, and my general malaise. As usual I am finding it hard to even figure what I am feeling myself, let alone try to communicate it to anyone else. It would require a listener with remarkable empathy for me to convey it verbally. Thus is the raison d’être for this blog. That few read it is neither here nor there. The case of the cardboard cut-out engineer comes to mind (see note below).

Why did I cycle 48 miles over mountains yesterday? I suppose that people here think I do it for pure enjoyment. I sometimes wonder about people. In fact the idea occurred to me after lunch, realising that I had no further duties and no set time for an evening meal, but it took me at least 15 minutes to pluck up enough courage - thoughts of all those hills, and of others here who spend their free time lying in the sun doing absolutely nothing, were putting me off.

I finally set off. The incline to the Sally Gap is gentle enough to start with but gradually gets more and more intense - struggling up that last stretch I wondered whether I would make it before feinting or something worse. I told myself I could always turn around. But I didn't. I persevered.

The prize was of course the generally downhill stretch to Laragh with its wonderful wide scenery. Then followed the ascent to the Wicklow Gap, a climb I know well but is still so hard. I purchased 500ml of Club Orange in Laragh for an outrageous €1.60, set myself for the one hour climb, habitually stopped to consume the drink half way at the rocks. Once again I wondered if I would make it. I could hardly turn back now! But here I am to tell the tale.

Why did I submit myself to such agony - was the prize really worth those two climbs? I don't have a clear answer, except that exercise generally is good for one and it's a bit of a challenge. It is sort of mixed up with this glory of tribulation (is this a euphemism for masochism?)

---------

The cardboard cutout engineer.

Working on some engineering issue at the BBC Research Department there were times when one needed input from another engineer. It was a common experience that, after you had made the effort to find someone and then had conveyed the problem in words, the answer came to you before the other person had had a chance to chip in. And so we reckoned it would do just as well to have a room containing a cardboard cut-out engineer to whom we could share our problems.

The hottest day so far


Yesterday was the hottest day of the year both here in Ireland and in the UK. I celebrated this with a gruelling bike ride over the Sally and Wicklow gaps.  Stats: 47.9 miles, 11.6mph average moving, maximum elevation 498m (Sally Gap), total duration 04:31, one litre liquid, very hot but very beautiful especially the Old Military Road segment from Sally Gap to Laragh.





20170615

Mud

Last night I watched a film called Mud. Like most fiction the plot is full of holes and the end is I suppose intentionally ambiguous. But one thing the film does well is in defining those two much bandied and ill-used words "good" and "love". Towards the end Mud tells protagonist Ellis that he is good and without doubt this is true; immature and mixed up though he is. Ellis returns the compliment but Mud and the viewer are not so sure. The briefly but oft spoken leitmotif "I love you" that starts as a platitude, grows to a hope, but becomes reality when Ellis wakes, after being treated for a snake bite, in the company of his dysfunctional parents.


It seems to me that "good" is by very nature one sided - it does not demand and often fails to be acknowledged. But "love", despite what we are taught, is not really love until it is returned.  It is like conception: unless the sperm and the egg come together and unite, no fruit can follow.  One can be good (and One is) but it takes two to love.

And I am not alone in ranking this film highly, i.e. one that I could gladly watch again.

This morning I read of one Bhupinder Singh, a volunteer handling donations, said [of survivors of the disastrous fire at Grenfell Tower]: "It is times like this that the best of our community comes out. This is where you find out how good it is to live in England and how good it is to be a Londoner." Doubtless London is not unique in this way and, living in Ireland, I no longer think the British are the bee's knees, and being British (or at least English) I may be biased, but there is something in me that concurs with Bhupinder's sentiment, ethnic minority though he or she may be from the name!


20170612

Thou shalt not nine

No more news about T, but here's what the mother of the boy who was electrocuted has just posted on her FB page:

Brothers

It's been a super rough day for my baby. He's had some fingers amputated, developed a cough, fevers, had to have an x ray and blood test. Things have to get better from here. #ashercraig You are the strongest little man ever and God has HUGE plans for you despite all these troubles. So proud of my entire family and support network. We'd be so broken without family and God in this.

Now if that don't tug at your heartstrings but at the same time bring admiration for that mother, I don't know what will.

20170609

Historic thunderstorm hits

Historic because in the 35 years I have lived here this is only the second overhead thunderstorm that I can recall. The first was ages ago and it was particularly memorable because it sort of circled us so lasted quite a long time, long enough for me to go running in it. I stood in the forestry area with rain sluicing over me Mowgli style, lightning all around.

But this one, which occurred yesterday evening, chose as its debut our Thursday meeting of all times. How can one properly enjoy a thunderstorm when one is meant to be in a meeting? It turned out that I missed a bit of it anyway because I noticed Meg (the dog) wandering past the window in the pouring rain, and then wandering back somewhat desultorily. Meg is also historic - not only virtually deaf but also quite arthritic and has just had a stroke - so a bit decrepit.  I look at her and wonder which of us is the more decrepit: I think, I hope for my sake, she has overtaken me (dog years passing somewhat faster than man years).

So I left the meeting to go and rescue Meg. She often ensconces herself in the porch of my office so that where I initially took her. The entrance to my office is at the lowest corner of the courtyard so is subject to flash flooding: the porch floor being not much higher than the outside. You then step up from the porch to the office proper. This corner of the courtyard was starting to flood by this time and I soon realised that the porch was in jeopardy too so I transferred said bedraggled and somewhat senile dog into my office. By this time she was shivering with wet and cold.


It rained and it rained and it rained. Piglet told himself that never in all his life, and he was goodness knows how old--three, was it, or four?--never had he seen so much rain. Days and days and days. Until the water rose above the threshold and started flooding the porch. At its zenith I suppose there was 3 or 4 cm of water over the porch floor - thankfully a ways to go before gaining my office!

Meg ensconced

The flood waters rising

The zenith

What it looked like outside
Only later did we realise that the storm had taken out our PBX (local telephone exchange). On opening it this morning there was evidence of a discharge and the whole thing was dead. I have ordered a replacement. In retrospect if I had unplugged the incoming lines the unit might have been saved. Retrospect is not all that helpful.

Moreover, this afternoon I was called to a neighbour's house where the storm had destroyed a plug-top adaptor supplying their cordless 'phone, had fused a couple of outside lights, and had exploded the fuse inside their automatic gate controller.

I don't think any of these artefacts were due to direct hits: a direct lighting hit would surely be much more destructive. Rather it is just static "in the air" but a bit scary how susceptible electronic gadgetry is to an EMP. How fragile we are when faced with an Act Of God.

20170606

Trees



Trees, along with many other natural features, are so beautiful. I took these pictures on our property a few weeks ago after it had rained and whilst the leaves were still fresh.  You can of course click on the images to increase their size.







Strictly this last photo is not a tree but it somehow found its way in.  But it is our land.

20170605

Moreton Bay Rail Link

This post emanates from our recent trip to Mango Hill to visit our daughter K. Mainly for the purposes of running (barefoot) I had in advance prepared a map for my OruxMaps app using MOBAC and there are screenshots of some of the resulting tracks in my recent post where I draw attention to the cycle/pedestrian way that accompanies the rail link.

Coming from Ireland where such infrastructure is sadly lacking, I remain pleasantly gobsmacked by the proliferation of cycle/pedestrian ways throughout Brisbane.  This one that follows the railway is great but leaves me wondering - why would I cycle, run or walk when I could take a train or, alternatively, why would I pay to take a train when I could cycle, run or walk?

The housing estate K's house is on is still being built but I had not realised until today that the nearby rail link joining Petrie to Kippa Ring is also new, being first opened in October 2016.  Doubtless this has in turn spawned the housing developments. The YouTube clip below is a time lapse of the construction of Mango Hill station.





The track is of course the usual Queensland narrow gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) as is evident from my picture below.  Traction is obtained from the overhead catenary at 25kV. As I could not figure where the rail-side transformers get their power from I took a picture of one so that I could research later. But although I found the manufacturer I am still in the dark about how the units are connected.





Thou shalt not eight

In science we consider a theory to be ratified if observation of its effects are repeatable. In contrast J reminded us in church yesterday that miracles are not "repeatable".  Just because a particular miraculous healing has been witnessed does not necessarily imply that all such sufferers can expect healing. Thus miracles cannot, by definition, be proven to have occurred.

The boy T with leukemia whose progress I have been following has now been discharged from hospital and will from now on be seen in "Day Beds".  The consultant is really pleased with his progress and the parents are calling this an ongoing miracle, a notion I am prepared to subscribe to, and have asked for continued prayer. But he's not out of the woods yet.

Meanwhile I have become involved with another case that needs ongoing prayer. Two year old A sustained "full thickness burns to both his hands, has had three surgeries already and has a lot more ahead of him" after being electrocuted when grasping a broken power socket board. The prognosis is another three weeks or so in hospital, skin grafts, and maybe hospital visits and ongoing surgeries for the next 14 years of his life. If you, my reader, have any faith please add A to your prayer list.

20170602

Barefoot running Mango Hill

Some of the longer barefoot runs I did in Mango Hill, Brisbane. The existence of a track does not imply a recommended right of way as I cheated a few times but generally I followed paved cycle or pedestrian routes.

5.63 miles on 18th May

10.7 miles on 21st May

4.95 miles on 26th May

9.16 miles om 28th May

6.97 miles on 30th May

8.42 miles om 1st June

Most of the pavements are concrete and the concrete is made from the local, very abrasive sand, which eroded the soles of my feet so badly that after my last run my foot was bleeding. The photo shows my foot after the penultimate run - but it is amazing how the human body copes.


Poor foot

Maryvale Rd

Petrie - Kippa Ring line

Morning Dew, North Lakes golf course

Cycle-way crossing Freshwater Creek 

Path alongside Freshwater Creek

Close to K's residence

One of the North Lakes

Balstrup Road South

Kippa Ring service leaving Murrumba Station
 
Cycle-way crossing Bruce Highway

Petrie and Kippa Ring yet to be explored!

20170531

The strange case of being me

Reading A boy made of blocks about how a father gets to cope with his autistic son made me think again about myself. Of course when I was a boy there was no such thing as autism - it hadn't been invented. Sufferers were diagnosed otherwise e.g. introverted, unsociable, selfish...

Today we went shopping at Chermside, a huge shopping mall in Brisbane. Typically both K and A managed to purchase almost the whole shebang whilst I came away with nothing. At one stage I was sent off by K to find A who was in another store a ways away called Daiso - I couldn't find Daiso and no-one I asked had heard of it: I could feel panic arising - like, what if I can find neither K nor A; what if people think I am senile (they probably do anyway)? Needless to say I eventually succeeded in my mission but it made me think.

Some sites maintain that every one of us is on the autistic spectrum: We all experience key symptoms 'just to varying degrees' whilst another site decries this saying any such admission depends on redefining autism. I decided to take an online test and got the result of: A higher than average score that is above the clinical threshold. 80% of those diagnosed with autism or a related disorder scored 32 or above in this test like you, but that score doesn't mean you definitely have autism. Thus I might or might not be autistic. I admit that my answers to some of the questions might have been a bit biased because I know what I would like to be, but it looks like I definitely am at least something.

I am of course painfully aware of Jerome K Jerome's self diagnosis - but another malady I might suffer is dyslexia (which I can spell with the help of Google) about which I have posted before - particularly when it comes to strings of characters e.g. a telephone number or an order-code. I can attempt to memorise a written string in order to type it on the computer only to be fully aware that I cannot recall which order the characters come. If I were to make the mistake unwittingly it would be one thing but I am actually aware that the characters have somehow got out of order in that brief time they were held in my mind. This problem occurs mostly with digits but can also affect my spelling for which I am notorious. Although prevalent, I have learned to manage my "dyslexia" e.g. by splitting a telephone number into several manageable parts and transfer part by part, or using a spell-checker. A plain dictionary fails when I cannot even think how the first few letters of a word go, and sometimes I am so far out that even the Google search engine fails to recognise it!

So I took an online test and got a score of 140, where:
A negative score (less than zero) = Very low possibility of dyslexia
0 – 75 = Moderate possibility of dyslexia
76 – 150 = Strong possibility of dyslexia
Above 150 = Very strong possibility of dyslexia
If your score indicated a strong possibility of dyslexia you may want to consider being fully diagnosed by an educational psychologist.  Er... no.

So what? you ask. The what is fear, guilt and embarrassment e.g. when I fail to recall someone's name, of when I fail to do the accepted small-talk thing, or when I feel just so very different to what I perceive to be average. Sure, there's good reason for anyone to try to overcome their limitations and this I do to varying degrees. Like when I draw a diagram of a conference table and try to write down delegate's names as they stand up and announce themselves: in this task I rarely have time to do the job properly and anyway the whole thing is upset once the delegates leave the table and start to mingle.

As a child I have a strong memory of my mother driving my older sister and me to one of her friend's birthday party and on arriving I would not even get out of the car. I threw such a paddy that my mother eventually gave up and took me home. I have always hated parties - I mean - what are parties for? True there is the remote possibility of nice things to eat but in such surroundings? And thus I never had either my own 18th or 21st birthday party.

I cannot and have no desire to dance. I do not enjoy either watching or participating in competitive sport. I will play but am not good at word games like Scrabble or Boggle. I cannot act on stage or impersonate. And yet as a teenager I sang a duet, and on another occasion a solo, in a school concert, and was applauded. I could do this because I enjoy singing and thus it was "me" and whilst doing it in front of the audience I was not performing, I was being me (although the initial having to stand up in front was scary).

Which is why I like running barefoot alone.  Now I have mostly overcome the strange comments I can be myself, have time to think, no pressure to perform or compete, no need to remember strings or how to spell. No need to talk. No need to try to be someone I am not.


20170527

Oz report 3 GOR day 3

Strictly the next few photos belong to Day 2, evening thereof, but I figures the Day 2 post was getting a bit long.

Evening light at Port Fairy beach

Our second Airbnb

Breakwater with lighthouse in distance

Lone evening paddle surfer, Life of Pi?

Having eaten, slept and leisurely eaten again we checked out the lighthouse on Griffiths Island, which marked the most westerly point of our Oz trip, before embarking on the journey back to Melbourne and our third Airbnb.



Between Port Fairy and Warrnambool is Tower Hill, a volcanic feature best described by the map below, a nature reserve and the subject of a famous painting. Not famous to me, mind you. We drove the one-way road entering by the westerly isthmus where we saw two emus, but this was a place with many nature trails that might occupy a whole day exploring. Maybe next time. But will there be a next time? It is sobering at my age to wonder whether I will ever get to see places I visit again.

Tower Hill à la Google Maps

Eugene von Guérard’s famous 1855 painting of Tower Hill
Westerly isthmus

These two emus posed just for us

View of the lake as we exited Tower Hill

Our route from Warrnambool to Geelong follows the A1 road which in turn follows the Warrnambool railway line, single track in broad gauge (5' 3"), stopping at Camperdown for lunch and to check out the Leura Maar, another volcanic feature. Indeed the whole of this vast flat plain across which we travelled is dotted with the remnants of inactive volcanoes. I imagine a desolate and fiery landscape those many thousand years ago. Conveniently there is a paved road that takes us virtually to the summit of Mt Leura, but to surmount the conical Mt Sugarloaf required walking which we were apparently not up to in this instance. Maybe next time...

Leura Maar, we parked at the red marker, those lakes are also craters

In Oz you must always do as instructed

Read all about it

The dreaded hooded picnicker

Mt Sugarloaf

Train on the Warrnambool line

With a view from the top

Lake Corangamite (not to be confused with Vegemite), and other inactive volcanoes

The original crater rim referred to in the plaque

The plaque referred to above

Thence to Colac where we had a McDonald's loo break...


Lake Colac

And then to St Kilda suburb of Melbourne for our third Airbnb experience extraordinaire complete with rooftop infinity pool.

Infinity

Melbourne and Yarra River

Panic

Let him that glorieth glory in this

The 7th floor apartment, Airbnb No.3

Melbourne at night

Made in Australia

Day 4 was spent in Melbourne's Victoria Market and apart from a single photo place marker I make no further comments. Although the lunch was good. And so ended our fantastic holiday within a holiday.

Queen Victoria Market

Ethnic lunch
Melbourne trams are everywhere