Sunday, 31 January 2010

All Quiet on the Western Front

A relatively quiet week. Work is continuing apace; we had an interesting education day on Friday. An early start at Portsmouth meant that we had to stay overnight the preceeding Thursday. This gave a chance for team to meet up and have a quiet beer together. It is always good to meet up and have a chat with everybody. The way that we work today such occasions are few and far between. It also gave me a chance to reacquaint myself with Gales HSB , a wonderful pint, at the Still and West - a great pub.

I am a Catenian, the Catenians are a Catholic businessman's organisation, it is mainly social in nature and our main aim is to support one another, our families and our faith. This months edition of Catena, our monthly magazine, had some interesting letters about the re admittance of the Society of St. Pius X to the church. I am not quite sure where I stand on this; I just hope and pray that all debates and discussions are conducted in a friendly and civilised manner. I guess that either the Society has changed or modified its views or that the Church realises that it should not have been excluded in the first place.
The major problems that all religions face is that such debates are often fueled with rancour which was not quite what Jesus intended. I guess that we have to accept that as we are all imperfect the church , being made up of imperfect people, will be imperfect to.

One of the other lodge owners send some photos of the site in Devon taken when it was-17 Centigrade. It looks somewhat cold!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Thoughts on the week gone by

I guess this will now be normal Blogging routine; that is a weekly post unless there is something dramatic happening.

Work is now back to normal; IBM announced its full year results and considering the economic climate they were excellent. I have been very busy which is a good sign, long may it continue.

Julia and I managed to catch the "Sacred made Real" exhibition at the National Gallery. This is an exhibition of Spanish Painting and Sculpture, 1600-1700. It includes  Spanish polychrome wooden sculptures. There was another small exhibition detailing how these remarkable sculptures are made. It was a very moving and uplifting experience viewing stunning works of art. It is too late to urge you all to see it as the last day is today.

Painting and polychrome wooden sculpture

At church we started a course for Catechists which I found informative, useful and interesting. There were sixty of us from local parishes taking part. It is always good to meet new people and be able to learn from their experiences. Mary who ran it did a superb job. We have some homework to do before the next session in a few weeks time. I must do it early or else I will forget!
Sadly moves are afoot to bring in the new English translation of the Mass. The language seems stilted and awkward. It is meant to be truer to the original Latin; but why fix something that is not broken? It seems designed to drive people away from the Church. I really cannot understand what is happening. On one hand the Church is keen to reach out and make special accommodation to those in the C of E who are wish to join over the issue of women priests. Yet at the  same time it is going out of the way to upset the existing flock. As a post-Vatican II convert to Catholicism I do not understand the Latin mass nor find it meaningful in any way. I have signed the petition asking for the introduction of this new rite to be delayed. I am not sure what effect this will have. I shall start following this development with renewed interest.
If we are to use a universal language for the Mass the most logical to my mind would be Aramaic; the language used by our Lord. But to have a literal translation of the Latin Mass means using English language in a most bizarre way that is not spoken by anyone.
I suspect that various power struggles and games are being played out in high places. I wonder if that is what our Lord wanted some 2000 years ago?

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Back In Blighty

I returned after my trip late Friday evening to find that all the snow had gone; England was back to a green land again! Being driven back home on the M25 the traffic was back , although at 9 pm there were no traffic jams thank heavens.

Reflecting on the past week it had been a good trip. I managed to see something of Boston and will definitely return for a holiday with Julia. It  will probably in the autumn so that we can spend a few days looking at the New England trees which are spectacular as the leaves change colour.

The business side was good too. We had some fruitful discussions and I learnt a lot. The team are a great bunch of people and we are working with a good innovative exciting product. It is just a pity that the UK senior management managed to upset the whole of the UK labour force by the changes to the pension system; it is worth listening to the discussions that took place in the House of Commons that I posted yesterday. It is interesting that we now have a new UK General Manager whether this is a direct result of the pensions backlash I will never know. I first met Stephen some twenty years ago when he was working as a contractor for IBM in our education centre in Brussels. Then he was setting up lab sessions and was a technical dogsbody; now he is running the country from an IBM perspective. Proof that if you have the ability and determination you can make it to the top which is one of the great things about IBM.

Now it is back to the rain and listening to see how we are faring in the Test Match in South Africa; not too well by the sound of things. Life is back to normal.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

IBM and Pensions

There is much unhappiness with changes to the pension scheme. This has been deabted in the House of commons, click here to listen to the debate.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

New Year

The new day dawns
Heralding the start of another year
He sits
He waits
Wondering what the new age will bring
One day closer to the inevitable
The only thing certain in life

What will he do?
Wait until it strikes
Ripping the life blood from him
Extinguishing the soul that lies within

He pauses.
Then he begins
Girding his loins he strides forth
Waiting to take on all
He is ready for today
And tomorrow
Knowing that whilst he is here
He will rise to the challenge
Life is for the living
And he is alive

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Boston Rocks

I managed a Trolley Tour of Boston and would strongly recommend them to anyone visiting Boston for the first time. You get a narrated tour of Boston the historical sites and you can get on and off as many times as you like and go round as often as you want. I did a complete tour then went round again, this time getting off at places I wanted to explore. With only a limited time (shame I had to work) there was lots that I didn't see. But I managed to get a flavour of the city. I visited the USS Constitution the oldest boat in the US Navy and the first to take a British frigate in the war of 1812.

I saw where Paul Revere started his famous ride to warn the troops that the British were coming. He was a fascinating man. he had 16 children; 8 by each of his two wives. His first wife died giving birth to the eighth, he remarried five months later!
Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year
The old state capitol was an interesting building, outside it is the spot where th Boston massacre took place which was one of the events that Samuel Adams used to stir up anti-British feeling amongst the colonists. I walked around Granary Cemetry where some of the founding fathers are buried.


Then across Boston Common

Then to one of the more recent Boston landmarks, "Cheers".

Here I discovered Samuel Adams Winter Ale.  We spent a very happy four years in America when I was on assignment; met some wonderful friends and saw fabulous sites and had good food. But the two things that let America down is its cheese and its beer. How anyone can drink "Bud" and think it a beer is completely beyond me. The rise of the micro-brewery has gone some way to redeem the beer situation and whilst Winter ale does not reach the heights of say Landlord, London Pride, Otter, Doom etc it is a palatable pint.

That sadly was all I had time for apart from a quick bite to eat in the Faneuil Hall/Quincy Hall Marketplace. Boston is a fascinating city, very cold in winter but well worth a visit. I will be back in warmer weather; this time with Julia as I know that she will love it.

Monday, 11 January 2010


Well I arrived OK and by heavens it is cold, makes Blighty seem almost warm at freezing: here it is about -7 Celsiius or 19 Fahrenheit.
The flight was OK although I am not that impressed by American Airlines. It took over an hour to check in, the self service machines were not accepting people with checked luggage so I had to join the queue which was long and painful. The in flight entertainment was rudimentary to say the least and they charge extra for alcohol. Still I did manage to read the Sunday Times and have a sleep.

I arrived and cleared the airport by about 15:30; so I just checked into the hotel dumped by bags and headed for the water taxi to go the main city centre. I made for the North End of town which I had been told was the "Little Italy" of Boston. Found a great restaurant and after a good meal with a couple of glasses of red I felt nicely warmed up. I then to had to brave the bitter cold and caught the water taxi back to the hotel where I had to thaw out again before retiring for an early night. Let's hope the rest of the trip is as good.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Saturday's Musings

The end of the first full week in January 2010 and we are still surrounded by the white stuff. It looks very pretty but I think that most of us are starting to get fed up with it and wish that "Global Warming" would return. I am lucky in that I can work form home and have done so all week. Those that have to travel in are not so fortunate as not only is it cold but they have had to contend with the vagaries of the public transport
system which tends to cease at the first sign of snow.


Work has been relatively quiet this week which has given me a chance to do all the things that I wasn't able to do during the year end rush; filing and archiving of documents, reading all the stuff that I had put to one side for later. This should put me in good stead for the rest of the year. I have also been saying goodbye to colleagues who are leaving IBM. This has been brought about by draconian changes to our pension scheme, in particular the vast penalties which will be charged in the future to those taking early retirement. Currently someone retiring at 57 would lose 9% of their accrued pension, in future this will be over 40%. Consequently many people are going earlier than they would have wished. Most of us see this as a no cost redundancy scheme, instead of offering people money to go they are saying go now or we will punish you later. This may a harsh judgment on what has taken place, but I doubt it.
I am fortunate in that the pension scheme which I am on pays out at 63 which I reach in October. I will probably stay on for a few months as one can now work and draw a company pension; more of that in future posts.

Politics has been interesting this week. There was an attempted "coup" against the prime minister by members of his own party who wanted an internal Labour Party election on "our" Gordon's future as its leader and hence Prime Minister. On the surface nothing happened  in that no election will take place. However the Prime Minister's position has been weakened and he has been forced to adopt some polices that he was reluctant to do. Namely that the country is in mess and that there will have to be severe cuts in public expenditure if we are to get on an even keel. He was still talking about "investment" earlier in the week. Now the talk is of austerity, I do wonder what kind of fools he takes us for.

Religion as always plays a large part in my life. As some of you know I am in my propaedeutic year of formation to the Permanent Diaconate. This means that I have been accepted for training but there is this year of further discernment and contemplation before it starts. As with all things in the Catholic Church nothing happens quickly. I have started reading a two volume tome on Catholicism by Richard McBrien loaned to me by Father Tom our Parish Priest. It is talking about Vatican II and the effect that this had had on the Church and how it is still trying to resolve some of these issues. It is interesting but not a light read, no doubt a taste of things to come in the formal trainng.

Next week,  well tomorrow Sunday actually, I fly out to Boston on business. The forecast daytime high is -7 C or 19 F so I doubt if I will doing much sight seeing; a pity as I have not been to Boston before although I will be working some 50 miles north east west of the city. I am wondering whether to take the book with me. On the one hand a long flight gives you time to read; but in the past I have it difficult to concentrate on long flights. I guess that I should take it with me and make the effort.

Friday, 8 January 2010

England's Green and Pleasant Land

First Post

Well at the beginning of 2010 I thought that I should start a Family Website/Blog. I used to have one until the service provider, no names no pack drill, suddenly decided to take the site down without warning. Thanks to the Burlesdon Blogger run by my friend Max I decided that if he could run one so could I.

I trust that you all had a good Christmas and New Year and that you are enjoying the white stuff that seems to be covering all of England's "Green and Pleasant Land".

We had a good time, the weekend before Christmas we, that is all our children plus other halves, gathered together. It was the first time that we have all been together since I turned 60 a couple of years ago. For the very first time we have a photo of the whole group.

Back row: Barry, David, Emma (Lawrie's partner), Lawrie, Julia, Andrew, Gaew (Andrew's wife)
Front row: Helena, Sam (her boyfriend)