Yes, it's Friday the Thirteenth. And not just this month, but next month too.
It won't be a particularly happy one round these parts, but not for what you might think is the obvious reason. This evening at church we have a memorial service for a parishioner, John, who succumbed to brain cancer three weeks ago after a long battle. He leaves a widow and two young daughters. Our contemporary band at church - Radiance - is playing all the music for the service, something that is both a great honor and a great responsibility. With my surgery and other people's schedules we have had a hard time finding time to rehearse, but last night everything came together nicely, so I think we're ready. It's weird playing guitar sitting down - well, not weird, but as I haven't played that way much it is more awkward than I'd like. The hand angles are all slightly different, for example.
We have quite a bit of music, and the offertory song is one that I first heard during the weekend Sue died. I was driving from a friend's house back to mine on the morning of the day they did the organ transplants and turned on the radio, decided for once to listen to the local Christian station, and tuned into the middle of How You Live. The line that caught my ear right away was, "So go to the ball games and go to the ballet...". We had season tickets for both. It was too late to try to use it for Sue's service, but we have some great singers who can pull this off so we'll be playing it tonight.
I usually don't do memes, but that's because most of the ones I see are the 250 question types that teenagers seem to like filling in. The one Maggi tagged me for is more intriguing - also a lot fewer questions. And wow, what illustrious company!
Anyway, five things you probably didn't know about me...
1) I didn't get my driver's license until I was 26 years old. In the US this would be unthinkable - un-American, even. However, in the England of the seventies there were a few reasons - lack of opportunity and the inherent poverty of students and the cost of owning even the most modest of rustbuckets. It was strange, though, because my Dad was all over teaching my next younger brother how to drive, but not me. I guess I never pushed for it. And somehow, I had promised myself I would get my pilot's license before I got my driver's license. Well, that didn't happen either, because...
2) ...I only have one good eye. Yes, I was born with eyes of two different focal lengths. What the brain does is essentially disconnect one of them from its fine focusing task and just uses the other. This is one of the causes of amblyopia or "lazy eye". The disconnected eye, having nothing much to do, just amuses itself. Caught early enough, the condition can be managed, but it has to be no later than age 5. Given the parlous state of the National Health Service, the likelihood of that was slim. There was a brief attempt at correction too late, but it was, well, too late. "What has this got to do with flying?", you ask (remembering the end of item 1)). Well, with only one good eye, it's pretty difficult to have normal depth perception. You need two good eyes, slightly separated, to be able to judge distances. Oh, there are other ways, but the two eyes method was what God intended us to use. Now, driving is difficult enough without depth perception (I do have other distance cues, though, like how big things are, etc.) but flying is another thing altogether. I had a few flying lessons, and it's a bit freaky landing on a grass field when you can't tell whether you're 50 feet up or 5 feet up. It makes a lot of difference in how hard you hit the ground coming down. Not to mention just being generally disconcerting. Anyway, the upshot was no pilot's license for me (as if I could have afforded to fly in England anyway...)
3) I have a Masters in Management from Antioch University Seattle. In the late nineties I decided I'd like to get an MBA or something like it. However, the need to get a "hard" finance type MBA didn't appeal, and as I already had a Ph.D., the academic necessity to prove myself wasn't really there either. A friend of mine had attended the Graduate Management Program at AUS and found it to be interesting. Now, given that AUS is 99.9999 on a scale of 1 to 100 in "liberal", and my friend was a devotee of Rush Limbaugh, this was a potentially volatile mix. He went because his boss (a director) suggested he go somewhere where people didn't think like he did. It turned out to be a good experience for him, so I thought I'd give it a try. It was pretty good for the first year, with excellent faculty. The second year, not so much. One good faculty member was assigned to our class, along with one absolutely dreadful one. However, my classmates were awesome, and it turned out one of them who worked at Microsoft was Terri, Rose McGowan's mother. (Who's Rose McGowan? She was the girl who was killed by the garage door in Scream, and later became the replacement for Shannen Doherty on Charmed). At the time we were in the program, Rose was engaged to Marilyn Manson. Terri bought him a Teletubby for Christmas.
4) I lived in Scotland for two years, from when I was eight to ten years old. Not much of a revelation, you might say, but somehow in those years I went from being a totally average student to, usually, the top of the class most of the time. Obviously at that age it's difficult to pin down what the difference was, but the only thing I can say for sure is that it was more rigorous, and more was expected of students. When I moved back to England, school was much easier.
5) I love to read chick-lit. Well, probably not just any kind. It all started when I was browsing a Christian bookstore. I always keep an eye out for books to use with teenagers in youth group, or books that might make good gifts. One day I stumbled on the Diary of a Teenage Girl series by Melody Carlson. I thought, what the heck, and bought a copy of the first one. Carlson manages to write books with Christian themes without bludgeoning the reader over the head with faith or with bad theology. I liked the book and recommended it to a few teens and their moms. They liked it, and then I started getting recommendations back from the girls in our youth group about the books they were reading. It ended up as a sort of informal book club. So that's how I ended up reading Megan McCafferty's books (Sloppy Firsts, etc...), and Louise Rennison's (the Georgia Nicolson books - hilarious) and Ann Brashares' Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books (and yes, I cried at the movie...) From there, Amazon is pretty relentless at pointing out similar material, so there are others, but they are the cornerstone of this relatively new, um, craze of mine or whatever. I do think it gives me a bit more insight into what's going on with our teenage girls, and I can definitely see some of the issues surface once in a while. I recommend these books to the guys in our youth group. Honestly, I think it would give them great insight into the psyche of the fair sex, but no, they choose to remain ignorant and continue to go up in flames (much like the Hindenburg) on a fairly regular basis...
So there you have it - more than you ever wanted to know, probably. Lacking a clue of who to ping to continue this, I'll defer that until I've had time to think...
Once again I am in the beautiful, busy city of Cambridge in England for a technical meeting with a whole raft of people working on the Silent Aircraft Initiative. I've never been much of a fan of traveling alone, and this is my first trip alone since the last time I was here back in June 2005.
The flight over was fun - it's always fun being pampered in business class - especially on the incomparable British Airways. This time around I had a rear facing window seat, which allowed me to snap a few pictures of Mt. Rainier to the south after we took off. Here's one: Mt Rainier is that fuzzy dark grey blob to the left in the layer just under the pink.
Anyway, it was also the most perfect way to see the wing of the 747 do its thing.
An added bonus of this trip is that I get to meet Maggi Dawn again. If everything works out OK, we're having lunch today. Then this evening it's off to dinner at Magdalene College, followed by the all day meeting on Friday at, of all places, Robinson College, which is where Maggi hangs her professional hat.
I'm hoping to get to The Imperial War Museum at Duxford again, as their fantastic remodel of their old main hangar, "Airspace", is now open, although not totally complete. I may get there today or possibly Saturday on the way back to Heathrow.
Given that my next birthday will be my (gasp!) 50th, this is very timely.
If I had not only unlimited finds but also a magic wand, and given that my birthday falls right at the end of the baseball playoffs, I would celebrate it by getting as many of my friends and relatives together her in Seattle as humanly possible, and we'd all go to the baseball game where the Mariners win the World Series. That would be followed by a cruise around Puget Sound with lots of fireworks (some fired from the Space Needle, right) and a giant party at Salty's on Alki (that's pronounced Al-kye, not Al-kee, btw).
The next day we'd have a thanksgiving service for the Mariners World Series win, followed by Sue and I renewing our marriage vows and rededicating ourselves to each other for our second half-century (she turns 50 four months before I do and it will come right after our 28th anniversary).