Monthly Archives: September 2007

Winners and Losers

Last night I went into my local Kroger’s to buy some lactose-free milk.

I initially balked at the price – nearly $4 for a half-gallon carton – but I don’t mind paying more for better service, so I grabbed one and headed to the checkouts.

Only three cashers were on duty.
The lines were long.
The U-scans were broken; they do not accept cash.
They have been broken since the store opened about a year ago.

If I am going to pay the cashier, I am not using U-scan.
And if I want to stand in line I will shop at Wal-Mart.

So I put the milk back in the cooler and went to the Meijer’s a little farther down the road.
There, I purchased their store brand milk for $2.80.
And did not have to stand in line.

I ain’t shopping there again until you do.
And make sure that you ALWAYS have enough cashiers.
You lose.

Meijer’s: You won. Keep it up!


It’s “International Talk Like a Pirate day”


Pirate Keyboard



London Memories

The good, the bad, the ugly and… the French?

I write this in England. In my Mother’s house. In the room in which I that I grew up; the room in which my marriage began and spent its first five years before we went forth on our own voyage of discovery.

And I don’t feel a thing. No nostalgia; no attachment; no sense of history or belonging. This simply isn’t home anymore.
So much water has passed under the bridge; so much time has passed since we last slept here about fifteen years ago.

This is not a rich part of London, but it has come down in a big way since we left. With the bypass built, the area has become a quiet back road and most of the local businesses have closed. In spite of all of the money that has been spent beautifying the area, crime and vandalism have increased dramatically. Many houses – including this one – have bars on the windows and grilles over the doorways. The smell of fear is a barely palpable undertone. People no longer greet each other in the street. Few of them know their neighbours anymore.

Most pedestrians hurry past each other with looks of annoyance and boredom, or spend their time yapping on their cell phones. Sometimes –  but rarely – they speak English. It is rare to see a smile. Joy is in short supply in this neighbourhood.

It’s good to be here, but I’m glad I’m not staying.

I’ve come to the end of the circle, only to find that but it’s not the place where I began. It’s true; you never really go home…

I leave with the following observations:

  • Inch-wide round black stains on pavements everywhere. The cause? Discarded chewing gum. Perhaps the chewing-gum companies should be made to pay for the cleanup…
  • Cellphones here are smaller, sleeker and nicer-looking than the ones currently available in the US, and cellphone, cable and Internet services are substantially cheaper. Why are we content to pay so much for so little?
  • Rude women who push in line and talk loudly… in French. Coincidence? I think not…
  • Incredibly tiny, cute cars that get great gas mileage. Shame we won’t see them here anytime soon, since Americans equate size with safety.
  • Mini-roundabouts everywhere. Like their American equivalent, the four-way stop sign, they replace an unequal share of priority with an equal share of confusion.
  • The world’s most pointless speedbumps.
  • Broadband: $15 per month with a free router. When are we going to see a deal like that?
  • Souvenir T-shirts that are kind enough to remind us that London is, in fact, in England. Great for those who failed geography, methinks!
  • People standing in line for half an hour or more in the bank… and they can’t even threaten to take their business elsewhere, as all of the other banks offer equally abysmal service.
  • Clothes here are generally of a higher quality, and last a lot longer.
  • Petrol: about $2 per litre. The reason? Taxes. About 85% goes to the Government. Not bad for a net exporter of oil…

Now Reading: Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

Christ Church London

I have reviewed many things here on my little corner of the web… books, movies, games, but… a church?

Milady spotted this Church’s webpage, and thought it looked interesting; so we decided to check it out.

CCL began just under three years ago. They meet in, of all places, a theatre (since it is in London, the spelling is correct) in the middle of London’s entertainment district.On exiting the station, there were Tee-shirt-clad “hosts” on hand to help you find the place (about a minute’s walk from Picadilly Circus Station). One of these hosts – a young Asian girl called Julia – greeted us and escorted us to our seats just as the worship service began.

The music was lively and upbeat – almost the opposite of what we were used to, but that was no bad thing – and most of the songs were new to us.

The praise team were backed up by a band of guitars, drums and keyboards. The music was boisterous and exuberant, without being oppressively loud.

The place was hopping – literally. Most of the congregation appeared to be under thirty – again, the polar opposite of my home church. It was abundantly clear that this was a party in the Lord’s house. I cannot remember the last time that I was so moved by a worship experience. Surrounded by so many young people seeking God’s face, it was almost impossible not to be.

Eventually, things calmed down, and they took an offering while Pastor made some announcements. I found out that this church had been founded three years ago and was growing in leaps and bounds (they were planning on opening the balcony in the near future, as the stalls were full!).

The guest speaker that day was Mike Pilavachi; he pastored a Church in Watford, from whence a young man named Matt Redman came. Mike came across as an ordinary man with an extraordinary purpose. He spoke from Samuel 2; I felt like this message had been written with me in mind.As the service drew to a close, there was an extended time of what I can only describe as earnest prayer. While members prayed with seekers, the Pastor dismissed the rest of us.

There was a reception held in, of all places, the bar, where newcomers were welcome to socialize, which we did. The people were friendly and open.I am amazed to find this place in the middle of, of all places, London. Amidst the decadence, the hedonism, the bright lights and razzamatazz, the last thing I expected to find was such a gem of a church. For me, this was an unexpected glimpse into what a healthy church should look like.