Braains!Well, it’s Halloween here in the US. My boss invited us all to his house for a Halloween party. Me being me, I left it till the last minute to prepare. By the time I got to Wal-Mart all the good costumes were taken.

I thought it would have been cool to go as a cat or something, but that requires a lot of planning, then I considered a dentist (because, after all, eating all those sweets is going to make you dread the dentist). But dentist would also require some complex props (like a drill or somethig).

I needed something scary that didn’t require props. On inspiration from wikihow (how to look like a zombie) I decided I might try Zombie.

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Scriptural tolerance for homosexuality

I was discussing the problem that religious people face when confronted by homosexuality. I was discussing it with someone who could be considered a fundamentalist who was actively lobbying against gay rights.

Now, of course, I am pro-gay and I believe that one can explain away the apparent scriptural condemnation of homosexuality in much the same way as we explain away things like pork, women speaking in church and having long hair. Still, it is quite valid (and even necessary) for a Christian who still feels homosexuality is wrong to be able to still express their Christianity in the way that they feel is most appropriate.

I started thinking about what the scriptural answer to this would be. Here is my highly biased response to her.

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Texas State Fair

Big TexI went to the Texas State Fair over the weekend! It’s a real cultural experience. I arrived as early as I could (read midday) and stayed until 8pm (making it a full day). The photo album is available on Flickr. Big Tex (pictured on the right) is the official mascot of the Texas State Fair. As I walked past, he was making an announcement for ESPN with a deep booming country twang.

I spent the first few hours just walking around, making sure I got to see every part of the park. It’s a massive complex in downtown Dallas, built around the “Cotton Bowl” stadium. I bought some coupons ($10 for 20) and got an ice cream for 6 coupons. I realised I would need more coupons.

All over the park, a number of shows were staggered throughout the day. Bagpipes, pig racing, dog shows, car shows and bunnies. All the things you would expect from a county fair. In this way, it made me remember fondly the times I had spent at the Royal Easter Show back in South Africa.

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Consumerist community

Those of you who know me will know I am a creature of habit. I tend to do the same things over and over again for days, weeks, months, years on end. I remember fondly the time when I used to cook spaghetti bolognaise (my favourite meal) for dinner every night. I did it so often Sarah can’t stand the sight or smell of it anymore.

This is not restricted to my own cooking, I tend to do this when I eat out too. I can think of many examples. What generally happens in any service industry is I become a “regular”. Being a regular has its privileges (like free food or preferential treatment) but the most important one of all is that human connection you develop with the people behind the counter. You see, by virtue of my predictable behaviour, I have a habit (pun intended) of becoming a fixture in other people’s lives. They actually look forward to seeing me, they expect me. It’s like seeing an old friend, or being visited by the milkman. Often we don’t exchange anything but a smile some pleasantries and some money, but I have come to realise that this relationship is as important and as meaningful as any other.

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Web Cam

Sarah got me a web-cam for my birthday. I have been fiddling with some trial software (called conquercam) for getting my webcam data published on my website.

The idea is so that I can set it up so you can see what my view is like while I am at work. I have a wireless router all set up so I hope to have the laptop pointing at the scenery while I am out.

See the example image on the right. I hope this works.

Korea goes Nuclear

Nuclear Detonation?Reports are filtering in from around the world that Korea has actually gone ahead with their threat and performed a nuclear test.

The image on the right (click for bigger view) is taken from Google Earth and shows data I have combined from news reports and seismic activity information.

Looks like the makers of “Team America World Police” were right. Kim Jong Il is one crazy bugger.

Here’s hoping the world’s response is measured, even-handed but firm. May God forgive us for unleashing the power of the atom on the world with such arrogance.

Data from here and here and here.

Going Postal

It’s my friend Alastair’s birthday soon and I saw something that reminded me of him, so I got it. I don’t normally give birthday gifts, not because I don’t care, but because I don’t normally know what to get and don’t just want to get something for the sake of it.

Anyway, I got his address on Saturday evening and wanted to post it to him this morning. Many of my colleagues had complained bitterly about the postal service (or lack thereof) in the US, but I was optimistic. I drove to the post office this Sunday at around midday and was disappointed but not surprised: they were closed.

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Connecting Flights

PufferWell, I mentioned that my trip back from Portland was “harrowing”, so I thought I should elaborate. It makes for a short but all too familiar story. It all starts with something known as the “puffer” (no, it’s not dirty, well, as far as I know anyway). The puffer is the machine shown on the right.

I was making my way through security, taking off my shoes, my bracelet and glasses and trying to juggle all of that in my hands. For some reason the security guards always seem to pick me for special treatment. Maybe it’s because they can sense that I am reasonably amiable and I’m not in too much of a hurry, so they can afford to mess me around a bit.

Or maybe it’s because I try to do things efficiently and they get annoyed watching me standing there with my shoes in my hand, all metallic things conveniently stuffed into one of them. Maybe they think: “I’ll show that smug bastard what airport security is all about.”

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In Confidence

We had a security briefing on Friday. Basically, explaining to us that most of the stuff we’re working on has been or will be classified and even that stuff which isn’t shouldn’t be bandied about. Not only should we keep information from spies (who look like Russians) but we also have to keep this information from everyone else as well. So basically I can’t talk about anything. Now, if I was the sort of person who likes keeping secrets I would be really chuffed about that, but really, I love talking about my work, so keeping mum is kind of sad, it really is very interesting work…

We started talking about security clearance. My clearance is still being worked on (hopefully will be done by the time I am finished). One of the guys mentioned that back in the day, being a “closet gay” could have caused someone problems when it came to seeking security clearance. I blushed visibly.

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You’re not from around here are you?

NachosPeople have been asking me to post more. The only thing is, I am saving up for my trip to Vegas over Christmas, so I am not really getting up to much in the way of wacky hyjinks. That said, perhaps a little social commentary on food mixed in with the mundane minutiae of my daily life will do. Despite the rather enigmatic title to this post, this post is mostly about food.

One thing I can immediately say about the food here is that Texans don’t really know the meaning of “portion control”. The image on the right is of some nachos I had in Austin. This sort of dish is what’s known as “tex mex“. Mexican food, done the way Texans like it. That is to say, not authentic like mamá used to make. Tex-Mex usually carries with it negative connotations of “lower class” food. To be honest, Tex-Mex ain’t so bad.

The curious thing about this particular dish, though, is that it was the entrée! I specifically asked the waiter how big the entrée was and he said it was “quite small”. I had about half of them then got up to find the waiter.

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