Wednesday, April 30, 2008

charity stuff

puchi puchi
My “I don’t believe it award for best product of the year has to go to this: the Puchi-puchi

It is – no kidding – an electronic keyring device which replicates the sound and feeling of popping bubblewrap.


Ok – I’ve been banging on about a charity project, so I need to work out what it’s going to be? Well, here are a few ideas I’m toying with:

Run for water
Quite simple this one – I run the marathon to raise money for getting fresh water to remote parts of Africa.

It’s a clear, tangible, measurable benefit
In some ways it’s the easiest idea to set in motion.
I really need to get fit, but I don’t seem to be able to apply myself to doing it without a target – this provides a target.

I’m told running a marathon is quite tiring
I’m pretty lazy

Baby podcasts
I had this idea a few weeks ago: babies seem to be mesmerised by repeating shapes, colours and motions… it seems to be their way of learning about the world – trying to figure out how patterns, rhythms and repetitions work seems to give them a way of working out the world. Later, when they’re older, they look for more complicated patterns, objects, and eventually letters.

I thought it would be fun to create a video podcast for babies – in other words, a set of animations that you could download to your ipod, and show to a baby – they’d love watching the moving shapes and colours and it would keep them quiet (it certainly works with George). It’s a little like having a book to distract them, but it would be abstract animations designed for their level…

I’d upload them to the Internet and charge a couple of quid for downloads… I think it’d be simple to do, get a lot of publicity and, be fun.

The animations would be easy and fun to do.
There are mechanisms for creating paid downloads pretty simply – I could set it all up online.
I’m not a charity, so I’d have to find a way for it all to get paid to a charity without my intervention.
It might not generate any income at all
The babies would almost certainly eat the ipods

Stock-Aid: Ok – pay attention because this could get complicated. When a magazine, newspaper, book publisher or designer is looking for pictures, and they can’t afford to hire an illustrator or photographer, generally, their first stop is a stock library. The idea here is that they can buy (for anywhere between £1 and £500) royalty free pictures. The stock library takes about50% and the rest goes to the photographer or illustrator.

Stock isn’t just pictures, it can be music, 3d models, video footage or a range of other creative works. Once the user has paid for them, they can use them in whatever production they’re making and they don’t have to worry about copyright….

Now, I’ve got my work on a whole range of stock sites… here are a few:

From these I get payments every time anyone downloads one of my pictures, models, video clips, etc. earnings from these range from a few pounds to thousands per year…

Now, here’s my idea:
Get these sites to set up an account into which I and any other artist who wants to contribute, can upload pictures, etc. we want to donate. At the end of every month, the money earned gets sent to a charity (I’m suggesting Oxfam).

Setting up an account with these sites is easy and quick to do and it wouldn’t require the site owner to do anything very much to do it.
Once set up, artists from all over the world could contribute and any proceeds would go to the charity.
It would keep on earning indefinitely – and the payouts would increase as more images were added.

It’s an established system which I know works

I suggested this to one site (shutterstock) a couple of years ago and they reacted very badly against the idea for some reason - they even threatened to close my account.

I also have a mad idea involving satellites and rainforests – but I think that’s not one for the moment…

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Press days
When George was in hospital I wrote in this blog that I was restricting my ipod listening to happy songs… It would be a while, I said before I played any Bob Dylan. Well, I’m in a good enough mood – so I played some today on the way to the Autodesk press event I attended.

This was an event to promote the new releases from Autodesk – primarily from my point of view, 3ds max – the main 3d package I use. As I write about the software for various magazines, I get asked to go to these events and see what the company’s up to.

What they’re usually up to, and this was no exception, is renting some rooms in a very posh hotel, and spending the day going through powerpoint presentations about market sectors and growth opportunities. They soften the blow with a nice lunch and a bag of promotional pens.

On this occasion, it was a 2 day event involving a stayover in the very posh hotel (this was on Hyde Park Corner). I only went for the 2nd day, and didn’t take them up on the hotel offer. I thought it would be a bit cheeky to ask for a family room for George and Lisa – but maybe next time!

Most of the day was spent listening to customer testimonials -which was more interesting than it sounds, because they were actually people like top architects, games designers and film effects people talking variously about the fact that the cars in TV commercials are almost never real cars (because the real cars often haven’t been made when the commercials are put together!) and the fact that new buildings can now be made more environmentally friendly because the architects can know exactly how much glare they’re going to get from the sun in any room before the building is built by using a light meter in a 3d model – so workers in the buildings don’t have to close their blinds and turn the lights on.

The day ended with someone demonstrating the features of the new release of 3d studio – he was very apologetic and thought we all wanted to go home, although in reality, it was his part of the event that we’d all come to see.

The event started at 9am so going to it involved me joining the shuffling hoards of commuters on the London underground. A daily migration I’ve successfuly arranged my life to avoid.

As a single, paranoid body, we shuffled an inch at a time through Bond Street Station, each worrying that everyone else in the crowd was planning to barge us, pickpocket us or
Blow us up.

I changed trains and got off a stop later at Marble arch expecting the same crush there, but instead, the platform was all but empty. The stairs and the escalator stretched away in front of me with just a couple of travellers dotted over it.

Marble Arch is a short walk from Bond St, so why do people not just get off there and avoid the crush?

We get so used to following the tracks of our habits that we follow them without thinking – and never look up to see if there’s a different way or something else going on. Nowhere is this more obvious than the London train networks…

A couple of weeks ago, a famous children’s TV presenter hung himself in Paddington Station. It’s one of the busiest places in one of the busiest cities in the world and yet nobody noticed him going in, and his body lay undiscovered for a week.

A million people didn’t see him.

Maybe I shouldn’t listen to Bob Dylan on the tube.

Monday, April 28, 2008

not high enough
Friday night we went for drinks at the top of the Gherkin – courtesy of Sam’s new flatmate who works there. Looking down on the whole of London, we drank champagne and watched the sun go down (or would have if it wasn’t so cloudy).

From the top bar, you can see the whole city stretching out in every direction, but you can’t talk about it because the pointed dome of the roof creates terrible acoustics – turning the chatter of the bar into a deafening row.

Looking down on the city you really get a sense of how it’s laid out, but what I noticed most of all was how flat it all is. Spreading out from the Thames, there doesn’t seem to be any kind of gradient anywhere – everything for miles around is just a few feet above the level of the river. When you pass over the Thames at high tide, you can see how close it comes to the top of its metal banks.

If the Thames ever flooded, it really wouldn’t take much to sink this city. Global warming doesn’t need to do much.

The weekend
With my 40th party and work deadlines looming, and our house due to be full for the next week or so – with us having to meet people and do things every day – we decided to take this weekend away.

Now, we’ve tried this before with mixed results… booking into a cheap hotel, we’ve discovered is often worse than staying at home. We’ve found various places where we’ve been given single beds pushed together, hotels where we had to eat our breakfast in our room because there was no dining room, and even one hotel room in Manchester where when I drew the curtains, I discovered the room had no windows!

We’ve come back from these weekends away even more tired than when we left.

We decided not to risk it this time and we shelled out for an expensive hotel room in a cheap town (Malmaison in Reading).

Sometimes you just have to be extravagant. This weekend we were, and it was great. They’d just had the hotel fitted out and we couldn’t fault any of it It was so relaxing – we even got a babysitter to come to the hotel room so we could go down and have dinner in the restaurant where the wairess seemed to already know so much about us already that I thought she was going to ask about the party!

However, I’m glad she didn’t…. Lisa and I had to spend at least some of the weekend diffusing an argument which threatened to stop my 40th birthday party in its tracks… I won’t go into details here, but suffice to say our negotiating skills have been put to the test and we’ve now taken over organising the night’s itinerary….

Anyway, hopefully we’re back on track and I’ve now got to go down to the venue tonight to try to persuade the pub to get appropriate drinks in.

On the way to Reading, there was traffic all the way out of London and although George is great in the car travelling at above 20 mph, as soon as you drop below that speed, he goes off like a bomb, screaming and crying.

I finally realised where the absurd plot from the movie Speed originated.

The writer was obviously travelling through a city with a baby. It’s so obvious to me now.

When we stopped, I was mortified to discover that I’d put him into the car seat with one of his legs trapped in a really uncomfortable position– so he had every right to cry….

Things that aren’t advertised

Why is it that some things are advertised to death and others never get any airtime at all? There doesn’t seem to be any logic in the products that are and aren’t advertised…

Loads of ads for toothbrushes… none for scrubbing brushes.
Loads of ads for cars… none for motorbikes
Loads of ads for beer… none for wine

Who decides?
There was a time when lawnmowers were all over the airwaves… but now it’s vacuum cleaners… do people use mowers less now, or hoover more? I don’t think so.

Suits you sir
Over the weekend, I tried to buy a suit for the party… in the end I got three pairs of jeans and no suit… it was a pretty close call, and involved an abortive visit to “Suits you”… by the time five different people had asked me whether I was after something special, what size I was and how they could help me, and I’d tried to tell them all as rapidly as I could to bugger off, I was so annoyed by them, I never even got to find out whether they had anything I might have wanted to buy.

If they’d maybe got out of my way for long enough for me to see the rails, I might have bought something, but that was never going to be an option.

“can I help you?”
“yes, I’d like somebody who’s never met me, doesn’t know what I’m looking for and doesn’t have any idea of what I wear, to sell me whatever they’re trying to get rid of, please”

In fact, actually…. Just leave me alone. Maybe I could try making my own mind up.

The first wave
We’ve been trying to drop George’s night feed and it seems to be working… he wakes up occasionally but it seems to be working. We’ve also just introduced him to the idea of breakfast (an idea he seems to like as much as he liked the concept of Lunch and Tea).

Last night, putting him to bed, I showed him (as I always do) his reflection in the mirror so that he could say goodnight to it. It’s part of our bedtime routine which involves splashing in the bath, eating, drinking and saying hello to Mr. Elephant…. The whole process takes about 45 minutes.

Anyway, I said goodnight to Mirror George and waved as I turned the bathroom light off, and suddenly George waved back! So cute… he’s now waving hello and goodbye to everyone and everything…. Mainly because Lisa keeps encouraging him to!

Friday, April 25, 2008

I looked after George on Thursday during the day. I think I’m getting better at it because I actually managed to do some things around the house rather than just looking after him! – Lisa got home early and we went to see her new flat (looks good) – then she went out for the evening with some other new mothers!

finishing the book
I finished the book today – or at least the initial version. There are bound to be changes and a few bits to add, but it’s great to get it off my list of current projects for the moment.

The section I left until last was the introduction… it’s much easier to write the intro to something once you’ve done the rest of it – by then you ought to have some idea of what it’s about.

It took a while though because I couldn’t work out what I was trying to say… or maybe it was just because I somehow felt more precious about the last section I wrote – as though the whole book hinged on it – which of course it doesn’t.

When writing’s difficult like that, you just have to work your way through it – get down at least something that’s roughly right – after all, you can change it later, and you’ll have a much better idea of what you need to change once you do.

I sometimes hear other writers talk about writer’s block. I’m not sure I take it too seriously. I think it’s a luxury you only allow yourself if you don’t have a deadline. How many writers on daily newspapers fail to deliver copy because they’re not feeling inspired? Not many… and certainly not twice.

Yes, everybody has bad days and everyone has times when they don’t deliver their best work, but I think it’s a bit self indulgent to simply grind to a halt for days or weeks at a time…

After all – most of the time, when you read back the work you’ve struggled over, it’s just as good as and sometimes better than the work you do when things just flow.

When you find writing difficult, it can be for a few different reasons. Sometimes it’s because you’re worried about the work and just need to get over it. Sometimes it’s because you’re thinking about other things and just need to focus. And sometimes it’s because writing just IS difficult – it requires you to solve problems and work out exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it – in which case, whether you do it now or in six months time, you have to buckle down and solve those probems.

You don’t get to be a writer by talking about writing. You only get to be a writer by writing. When it’s easy. When it’s hard. And when you’re on a deadline, hung over or just bored sick of it.

More pics
Nature got in contact again today – looks like just as I got ahead of myself by completing the book, I’ve got another tight deadline looming….

Still, that’s for next week.

For now, Lisa, George and I are taking a break – we’ve booked into a hotel in Reading and as a big luxury, we’ve got a babysitter to come to the hotel room and look after George on Saturday night.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mary arrived back on a visit from China - as usual, she was rushing around trying to see friends and family. She stayed over Monday and Tuesday. Looks like this is going to be the last chance she’ll get to come over before the whole of China goes mad in an attempt to make the Olympics into something other than a PR disaster.

As a foreign journalist there, it’ll be a tricky time – it sounds like the government are taking their first faltering steps into becoming PR savvy and it’s not working out very well. They’re typically heavy handed and it’ll be a while before they’re as sophisticated as our lot.

However, they are at least learning that there are different shades to getting your PR right – it’s not just about having one message for one audience – you have to balance a whole lot of different people and peoples.

And that’s important because PR isn’t just propaganda – it’s only a short step from seeing spin as central to your ability to do politics to making public feeling one of the drivers behind your decision making….. and China could do with a bit more of that just as much as the west could do with a bit less of it.

Spent the day on Tuesday with George – Gillian came over and we took him for a long walk in the park which was nice. In the evening I met up with Mary again and some of her friends – which is always interesting as they tend to be a pretty politically active bunch.

One of them was a mover and shaker in one of the charities (War on Want I think)…. He might be good to talk to once I decide what I’m going to do – but he seems to be more about the political side than the money raising side – he seemed to have more fingers in more pies than just being part of one charity….

Still wondering what I am going to do in terms of a charity project, but it will probably involve Africa… I look at the “local” charities and worthy as they are, we’re just so much better off to start with than the developing world that our problems really pale into insignificance…

When we got home – about midnight – George decided to give me about an hour an a half before waking up and starting to cry.

I couldn’t stop him and ended up leaving him to cry and just shutting the door so I couldn’t hear him! Actually, I could probably have got him to sleep if I’d persevered, but he has to learn to do it himself. Anyway, I was so tired and if I’d stayed with him much longer, I’d have got annoyed with him – so I thought it was better to just leave him.

This week is hard at work and in the evening, so we could really do without George waking up…. I guess that’s not his problem though! He’ll do what he’ll do.

Lisa is trying to book us into a hotel for the weekend – we need to get away!

Today was one of those Front Crawl days – where you take one look at the finish line, dive in and just keep swimming with your head down until you hit the other side.

Late last night, I got an email from a client in America who wanted an animation of a bottle (with a personality) for part of a video for children on recycling. The trouble is, they wanted it by Thursday (and I’m looking after George on Thursday). Adding that to the carbon nanotubes I had to get finished (the animation was rendered overnight) for the documentarymakers who were asking Science Photo Library for them (although whether they’ll be used, I still don’t know), you get a busy day.

Unfortunately, I still also have the book (another two chapters on my list to grab pictures for today) and the animation for the ethical investment fund manager and things begin to look hectic.

By the end of the day, I’m pretty well there on most of it. The book chapters are done (but not posted), the bottle animation is previewed and confirmed with the client – but now needs to be rendered in full size). The fund management animation looks good, but needs a little tweaking - right now the animation (which is quite complex) just starts up all guns blazing immediately. It needs to slow its pace a little to give viewers a chance to get orientated within (pompus phrase coming up) “the world of the story” before everything starts animating all over the place.

That’s a day’s work….

Monday, April 21, 2008

We both needed this weekend to be a relaxing one. And it sort of was…. We didn’t do much on Saturday except visit Darren and Kate for dinner (and our first ever game of Wii tennis... Wii Games are really simplistic (effectively tennis was just pushing one button) but because you actually have to move as though you’re playing tennis, it’s great fun…

Anyway, Sunday we also didn’t do much – except walk round to Peckham so I could take a look at Lisa’s new flat (she got the news this afternoon that her offer has been accepted – so we just have to find the money now).

The flat is a modern one right near Peckham Rye station. It’ll be a good rental investment although it’s not at all what Lisa would usually go for.

More on that later….

Even though we managed to get most of the weekend off, it doesn’t seem to have been enough. This whole week is going to be very busy – we’re hardly going to see each other and have things on every night as well as both being busy at work… I think we’re going to try to book into a hotel somewhere for the weekend for a bit of a break before the onslaut of next week (with the deadline for the advert, my book and the run-up to my 40th party.

Over the weekend, I had a little time to think. And I think it’s about time I did some charity work…. Not sure what yet, but some ideas are emerging…..

Was pleased to see my next door neighbour was on the BAFTA television awards last night. She presented one award and won one as well. I’ll have to make a point of watching Gavin and Stacy (she’s Stacy) – it sounds as though it’s doing very well.

Friday, April 18, 2008

housing market - time to buy

loft extension
We got a strange letter from the council a couple of days ago. Apparently someone has complained about our loft extension – asking the council to check whether planning permission has been granted for it.

Of course, we sought all the required permissions before we started and were told it only needed building regulations permission – however planning say they don’t have anything to do with the building regulations department (which sounds absolutely preposterous if it’s true).

Anyway – they’ve got to come and see the extension, which isn’t a problem. The only thing we’re left wondering is who decided to complain to the council and why?

It would have to be someone living nearby… there are a couple of candidates I can think of, but I don’t want to think too much about it – no point getting paranoid about your neighbors if you can help it.

The thing is, there are two other newer (and identical) loft extensions which have gone up in our road since ours – one by the same contractors – the other still being done. So if ours is being complained about I wonder if theirs are too? Perhaps someone’s just fed up with the number of loft extensions being put in….

Our next door but one neighbour – who had theirs done just after ours was actually threatened in the street by the guy living opposite just for having his loft done. This guy also decided that since my neighbour’s house didn’t have a roof, his car shouldn’t either… so he took a sledgehammer and smashed it to pieces… it was a Porsche too (I didn’t laugh).

Anyway, the attacker was sectioned, so it’s unlikely to be him.

He also told the police when questioned that he’d been making bombs, so the bomb squad cordoned off the street – but like almost all terrorist enquiries, nothing was found….he’ll probably have added to the statistics that are being used by the government to persuade us that the terrorist threat is real and immediate!

Self fulfilling prophecies and all that…

Lisa’s mum has been looking after George yesterday (because Lisa was at work) and today (because she’s got a private occupational therapy assessment job).

Meanwhile, Lisa’s put in an offer for a flat in Peckham… The offer is a lot lower than the asking price, but they’re considering it seriously… the sellers are builders and they probably just want to get out of the market as soon as possible (they’ve got an entire block of 8 flats to shift).

If she gets it, it’ll be a good investment.

Ok – given that the housing market is plummeting by all accounts (except the accounts of the estate agents who all seem keen to blame the press – until I tell them I’m a journalist) and given that I think it’ll go a lot further down – why is now a good time for Lisa to buy another flat?

Well, bizarrely, this is actually quite a cautious move for us.

Lisa made a good profit from selling her flat in Chiswick and if the housing market was in a better state, we’d probably be thinking about buying two or maybe three properties with it – so that their rent covered their mortgages.

As it is, there’s a good chance prices will drop before they rise and that mortgages will be harder to get and the interest rates will go up. And that would leave us in a difficult situation – if the rates went up, the rent wouldn’t cover the mortgage and we’d have to put in extra money every month…

Not good.

And especially not good if we have another baby and Lisa finds herself unable to work… (two children in nursery comes out at £120 per day around here – and taking tax into account that means you have to earn £40,000 per year or more just to break even!)

Instead we’re going for one small flat in an upcoming area which Lisa can virtually buy outright… that means no mortgage to speak of and whether prices or mortgage rates go up or down is pretty much irrelevant.

Lisa will still get an income every month which if she’s not working, can be used to help offset the effects on us.

So really, this time it’s about reducing exposure to the markets not increasing it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Dirty dancing and dirty nappies

Different cries
You’re always told when you have a baby that you’ll get to recognise what his different cries actually mean.

I don’t think this is really true – I mean you can tell when they’re hurting or really angry, but most of the time it’s more of a process of elimination. George is only ever in pain, bored, tired, dirty or hungry. There’s not much difference between a hungry cry and a dirty cry – but in reality, you know that if he’s had enough sleep and enough food and he’s been changed then he must just be bored.

And that’s how it was last night…

Trouble is, it’s easy enough to be nice to him when you know there’s something wrong. Once you get to the stage where you’ve done everything you can, and you know he’s just being niggly you tend to have less patience with him.

I think I got like that by the end of yesterday night, and Lisa got like it by the end of today.

It’s so good knowing neither of us is in charge for days at a time!

I am, however, getting used to the one or two days a week of looking after him. I’m taking on more work, so it’s a bit of a strain having to take a day a week off (not that I begrudge doing it – he’s lovely most of the time – and it gives me time to get a bit of perspective).

I am able, when he takes his naps to leap onto the laptop and get a few minutes of answering emails and doing other non-intensive work done, so I don’t fall too far behind.

I don’t actually plan to get anything done on these days, so it’s useful to be able to snatch the odd half hour when he’s asleep to catch up – or at least get things prepared so that the days I am at work aren’t continually interrupted by bitty little jobs like invoicing, emailing and doing bits of research and corrections.

Another new project
Jobs from the Google advertising I’m doing aren’t flooding in, but they’re coming at a steady rate and when they do come they’re substantial jobs…

Another new one turned up yesterday from an investment firm. They want to explain a new ethical investment product to potential investors and need some graphics to do it. They’re not sure if they need animated or still pictures and like a lot of people who are now looking for graphics work, they spend most of their time doing other things, so I’m going to give them a rough version of a few different concepts with different budgets to help them work out just what they need.

It meant spending most of the day doing work that might not actually turn into a firm commission – I think you’re supposed to call this “pitching” but I don’t think I will.

It’s worthwhile doing this sometimes because it helps to clarify what’s needed from both sides and if you’re both working on very different notions of the job, it will all fall apart sometime anyway! in addition, most of the time, clients are surprised at just how much is possible – and by offering it in a visual form, you often get the chance to apply your own ideas which would probably be rejected if you tried to simply explain them.

Dirty dancing and dirty nappies
Had the radio on looking after George yesterday. The song “The time of my life” from “dirty dancing came on.

I hate that song – to me it was the soundtrack to the miserable end of countless teenage parties. The last-chance song for everyone who could to grab a partner and everyone who couldn’t (which invariably included me) to pretend they were too drunk or too tired to be depressed about it and prepare for the long cold walk home.

Hearing that song never ceases to remind me just how bad those times were and how thankful I am to have left all that behind.

Then I looked down – I was in the middle of changing George’s third dirty nappy of the day.

Could that really be true? Could I really have caught myself thinking that I’d rather be changing dirty nappies than going to a teenage party?

I realised that, yes, it was true. And not just because I’ve grown out of teenage parties – I never did enjoy them. True I looked forward to them tremendously – as potential high points in my depressing teenage life – but they were always dreadful disappointments and served only to fuel my misery if I’m honest.

Ok – maybe if I knew then what I know now – that things would get better. That this wasn’t life – that I wouldn’t always feel the way I did then – then maybe I’d have been less panicked by the sight of everyone else having a good time (or at least pretending to). If I knew then that my life would be as good as it is now – I might have had the confidence to enjoy those moments – or at least leave.

But I didn’t – and, no, I wouldn’t swap dirty nappies for dirty dancing – not for a second.

I’m not a celebrity
It sounds like I was suicidal in my teenage years – but I wasn’t. if I’d believed in God, then I might have been. If I’d thought there was an afterlife – I might have yearned to visit it.

But no – it’s a bit like “I’m a celebrity Get me out of here” – if you really believe that the moment you decide to end the game, there’s a helicopter waiting to take you to a world of hot baths and cold wine, you’re more than likely to do it. If you don’t believe you’re a celebrity – well, then you’ve got no choice – you eat your widgety grubs, you get on with it and you work to make life better.

And I’m so glad I did. Lack of faith saved me.

Monday, April 14, 2008

George now has a place at his (Or actually our) chosen nursery for June. We went to sign him in on Saturday. The place is usually pretty relaxed considering the number of young children running around. But this was their open day and it was bedlam…mainly I think because the parents of East Dulwich are willing to kill to get places at a good nursery - anyway we’ve put our deposit down and we’re in!

I carried George around while Lisa filled in the forms. George had probably never seen so many children before…. Lisa had been to meet Sofia’s new baby, Elwin on Friday and George had thrown a jealous fit when she’d picked the other baby up – but today, George was happy to see the other kids rushing around smiling.

Although, I did see him looking at some helium balloons with a resigned air of puzzlement….”well that puts my theory of gravitation out the window” I could almost see him thinking.

Lisa has had to sign up with the same osteopath who calmed George down last week – her shoulder has been very painful and the osteopath said he gets this all the time – babies get heavier and parents don’t realise they’re using shoulder muscles they never needed before. Come to think of it, I’ve had similar shoulder strains… mind you, I am nearly 40….

The marathon meal
Saturday night I left Lisa and George and had dinner with Evelyn, Martin and Ellen. Evelyn was running the marathon on Sunday and was having a last boost of carbs before the big race.

I noticed this at Victoria station:

apparently they have toilets for daleks… that’s useful to know.

the marathon
Anyway…. on Sunday we went to watch the marathon – we met up with Russ and Pietro along with Pietro’s dad. We’d decided to watch for half an hour or so, but amazingly (considering there were 35,000 runners) we saw Evelyn.

She seemed to be doing well and although she later said things got a lot tougher later on, she finished the course and is now suffering….

We on the other hand applauded and cheered a few more people (George of course thought all the applause was for him) and then found a rather posh restaurant in Shad Thames who didn’t mind having George and who were offering a bit of a deal on Sunday lunch. Luckily George was having a fantastic day – he was happy and friendly all the way through.. and didn’t make any fuss in the restaurant.

On the bus on the way home, we were sitting opposite someone who’d just run the marathon. She wasn’t best pleased when the bus without warning turned round and headed back the wrong way. When we eventually got off in the rain, we had to find another bus to get home…the driver was apparently supposed to have made an announcement, but didn’t. By the time we’d waited for another bus, the runner was seizing up. We even offered to get her a cab, but we couldn’t find one.

Weddings and Dimetrodons
Today I managed to get most of the next video newsletter written and finished off another chapter of the book… Strangely, both pieces of writing featured tutorials on how to shoot a wedding video….

Hopefully the book will be done ahead of deadline which will be great because the advert – which I’m supposed to be making for Maltese TV is going to be a big rush. The person dealing with me has been off for a few days and is now sorting through a mass of emails before getting to mine – and I really need some info and photos from him before I can do any more work on the add….

The end of the month will be tough at this rate so if I can get the book finished early it’ll be very useful.

I’m also still trying to make some prehistoric missing links for science photo library – Dimetrodon was my project for this afternoon and he’s coming on well (although he still needs some realistic skin textures… oh, and some teeth:

Friday, April 11, 2008

After we’d bathed George on Tuesday night, we turned him over on his front to dry him and suddenly he turned himself back, giggling at us. It’s the first time he’s actually rolled.

This is great – but I’m sure it ushers in a whole new range of difficulties… once he figures out how to do it whenever he wants to, we won’t be able to leave him for a second without him disappearing off on his own….

As it is, he’s two hands full. I think he’s about to become 3.

The butcher, the baker and the fishmonger
There’s a new fishmonger on Lordship Lane (well, he’s been there a year or so) – almost opposite the hugely successful butcher. Talking to him yesterday, we discovered this is not an accident. The butcher saw the shop was empty and had a word with his up-market fishmonger friends… it seems there’s a conspiracy to drive Lordship Lane and the restaurants around it up the cullanary ladder…. And it seems the fishmonger has now had a word with a grocer friend of his, so there’ll be a new grocer soon…

We’re still looking at flats – with more of a concentration on 1 bedroom smaller flats (since the forecast doesn’t look good for the housing market in the next few years). At the moment there are three in the running…. But that could change at any time.

I actually did get around to sorting out my tax today (or some of it at least)… and I found out that there are a few unpaid invoices I didn’t realise had been left so I’ve had to chase them up.

Hopefully doing some of my tax early this year means I don’t have to panic too much over it in January. I hope I’ll get a chance to do the rest of it, but that’s not looking likely for a while…..

Little Boxes
I also managed to design a cardboard box…. Ok, that’s not as exciting as a 3d dinosaur, but it’s something I really need to get right for this maltese advert… it’s got to look really realistic.

Why can’t I just get a real cardboard box, you might ask….

Well, I’ve got to fill a warehouse, then disintegrate it into a whirlwind… and I can’t do that with real boxes….

Anyway –continuing in the series of bits they left out of the bible - the gospel according to St Peter - it's not actually very helpful stuff I don't think - rather anti-jewish!

I can see why they left it out. What I can't see is why (if this has anything to do with Peter at all - most of the gospels were assigned pretty randomly) they decided to keep Peter as their leader - if I was going to be so cavalier about what I kept and what I through out, I'd probably edit him out altogether.

mind you - I'd edit out the current pope and his predecessor too - so maybe it's good that it's not up to me.

BUT of the Jews none washed his hands, neither Herod nor any one of his judges. And when they had refused to wash them, Pilate rose up. And then Herod the king commandeth that the Lord be taken saying to them, What things soever I commanded you to do unto him, do.
And there was standing there Joseph the friend of Pilate and of the Lord; and, knowing that they were about to crucify him, he came to Pilate and asked the body of the Lord for burial. And Pilate sent to Herod and asked his body. And Herod said, Brother Pilate, even if no one has asked for him, we purposed to bury him, especially as the sabbath draweth on: for it is written in the law, that the sun set not upon one that hath been put to death.
And he delivered him to the people on the day before the unleavened bread, their feast. And they took the Lord and pushed him as they ran, and said, Let us drag away the Son of God, having obtained power over him. And they clothed him with purple, and set him on the seat of judgment, saying, Judge righteously, 0 king of Israel. And one of them brought a crown of thorns and put it on the head of the Lord. And others stood and spat in his eyes, and others smote his cheeks: others pricked him with a reed; and some scourged him, saying, With this honor let us honor the Son of God.
And they brought two malefactors, and they crucified the Lord between them. But he held his peace, as though having no pain. And when they had raised the cross, they wrote the title: This is the king of Israel. And having set his garments before him they parted them among them, and cast lots for them. And one of those malefactors reproached them, saying, We for the evils that we have done have suffered thus, but this man, who hath become the Saviour of men, what wrong hath he done to you? And they, being angered at him, commanded that his legs should not be broken, that he might die in torment.
And it was noon, and darkness came over all Judaea: and they were troubled and distressed, lest the sun had set, whilst he was yet alive: [for] it is written for them, that the sun set not on him that hath been put to death. And one of them said, Give him to drink gall with vinegar. And they mixed and gave him to drink, and fulfilled all things, and accomplished their sins against their own head. And many went about with lamps, supposing that it was night, and fell down. And the Lord cried out, saying, My power, my power, thou hast forsaken me. And when he had said it he was taken up. And in that hour the vail of the temple of Jerusalem was rent in twain.
And then they drew out the nails from the hands of the Lord, and laid him upon the earth, and the whole earth quaked, and great fear arose. Then the sun shone, and it was found the ninth hour: and the Jews rejoiced, and gave his body to Joseph that he might bury it, since he had seen what good things he had done. And he took the Lord, and washed him, and rolled him in a linen cloth, and brought him to his own tomb, which was called the Garden of Joseph.
Then the Jews and the elders and the priests, perceiving what evil they had done to themselves, began to lament and to say, Woe for our sins: the judgment hath drawn nigh, and the end of Jerusalem. And I with my companions was grieved; and being wounded in mind we hid ourselves: for we were being sought for by them as malefactors, and as wishing to set fire to the temple. And upon all these things we fasted and sat mourning and weeping night and day until the sabbath.
But the scribes and Pharisees and elders being gathered together one with another, when they heard that all the people murmured and beat their breasts saying, If by his death these most mighty signs have come to pass, see how righteous he is, -the elders were afraid and came to Pilate beseeching him and saying, Give us soldiers, that we may guard his sepulchre for three days, lest his disciples come and steal him away, and the people suppose that he is risen from the dead and do us evil. And Pilate gave them Petronius the centurion with soldiers to guard the tomb. And with them came elders and scribes to the sepulchre, and having rolled a great stone together with the centurion and the soldiers, they all together who were there set it at the door of the sepulchre; and they affixed seven seals, and they pitched a tent there and guarded it. And early in the morning as the sabbath was drawing on, there came a multitude from Jerusalem and the region round about, that they might see the sepulchre that was sealed.
And in the night in which the Lord's day was drawing on, as the soldiers kept guard two by two in a watch, there was a great voice in the heaven; and they saw the heavens opened, and two men descend from thence with great light and approach the tomb. And that stone which was put at the door rolled of itself and made way in part; and the tomb was opened, and both the young men entered in.
When therefore those soldiers saw it, they awakened the centurion and the elders; for they too were hard by keeping guard. And as they declared what things they had seen, again they see three men come forth from the tomb, and two of them supporting one, and a cross following them: and of the two the head reached unto the heaven, but the head of him who was lead by them overpassed the heavens. And they heard a voice from the heavens, saying, Thou hast preached to them that sleep. And a response was heard from the cross, Yea.
They therefore considered one with another whether to go away and shew these things to Pilate. And while they yet thought thereon, the heavens again are seen to open, and a certain man to descend and enter into the sepulchre. When the centurion and they that were with him saw these things, they hastened in the night to Pilate, leaving the tomb which they were watching, and declared all things which they had seen, being greatly distressed and saying, Truly he was the Son of God. Pilate answered and said, I am pure from the blood of the Son of God: but it was ye who determined this. Then they all drew near and besought him and entreated him to command the centurion and the soldiers to say nothing of the things which they had seen: For it is better, say they, for us to be guilty of the greatest sin before God, and not to fall into the hands of the people of the Jews and to be stoned. Pilate therefore commanded the centurion and the soldiers to say nothing.
And at dawn upon the Lord's day Mary Magdalene, a disciple of the Lord, fearing because of the Jews, since they were burning with wrath, had not done at the Lord's sepulchre the things which women are wont to do for those that die and for those that are beloved by them -- she took her friends with her and came to the sepulchre where he was laid. And they feared lest the Jews should see them, and they said, Although on that day on which he was crucified we could not weep and lament, yet now let us do these things at his sepulchre. But who shall roll away for us the stone that was laid at the door of the sepulchre, that we may enter in and sit by him and do the things that are due? For the stone was great, and we fear lest some one see us. And if we cannot, yet if we but set at the door the things which we bring as a memorial of him, we will weep and lament, until we come unto our home.
And, they went and found the tomb opened, and coming near they looked in there; and they see there a certain young man sitting in the midst of the tomb, beautiful and clothed in a robe exceeding bright; who said to them, Wherefore are ye come? Whom seek ye? Him that was crucified? He is risen and gone. But if ye believe not, look in and see the place where he lay, that he is not [here] ; for he is risen and gone thither, whence he was sent. Then the women feared and fled.
Now it was the last day of the unleavened bread, and many were going forth, returning to their homes, as the feast was ended. But we, the twelve disciples of the Lord, wept and were grieved: and each one, being grieved for that which was come to pass, departed to his home. But I Simon Peter and Andrew my brother took our nets and went to the sea; and there was with us Levi the son of Alphaeus, whom the Lord.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Yesterday was a day of looking after George and going to see flats. The one in the morning wasn’t very spectacular, but in the afternoon, Lisa got home a bit early and we went to see three different flats with a slightly lower price tag than the ones we’d seen in our road…. These are the kind of thing that might be possible as a way to make ends meet in a couple of years when Lisa stops working, we have two children and the mortgage deal on our own house runs out forcing us to buy into what I think will be a much worse deal (property prices are falling and interest rates are getting worse – it’s time to get security for the coming storms, I think)

Anyway, more on that as it develops.

What I should have done today:
Sorted out my tax for the last year (which for some reason ends on the 4th of April every year) and filed all my recipts ready for sorting through later.
Got my invoicing up to date and chased up outstanding stuff.
Talked to some of the magazines about what work I should be doing over the next month.

What I did today:
Did most of the illustration of the end Permian extinction I’m making for Raoul at the Natural History Museum.
Designed some prehistoric creatures for a long overdue series of illustrations for Science Photo Library – on evolutionary missing links (the first land creature, the first bird, the first mammal – that kind of thing). Actually, it turns out they’re not really missing at all – there’s good fossil evidence for most of them – lucky really otherwise I wouldn’t be able to reconstruct them.

It’s a whole lot more interesting than doing my tax.

The trouble is that everything is more interesting than tax, so it’s usually the 20th January before I do it… not a good move since I have to pay the bill on the 31st and it’s almost always a huge shock!

I also can’t help thinking I need to update my website – I’m putting a lot of money into advertising it now, so it probably needs to look a bit more corporate….

Anyway, tomorrow is another day with George… so Friday is tax day…

Well, maybe.

I also (very briefly) tried out secondlife for the first time. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do as everyone keeps going on about it and as someone who does 3d stuff most of the time, I really ought to be aware of this major phenomenon…

In case you’ve never met secondlife it’s basically a 3d videogame in which you make up the rules yourself. You pick a look for your character, then wander around in a virtual world meeting other virtual people controlling their characters anywhere in the world. The idea is that you can buy, or build objects, places, whatever you like…It’s not all that advanced, but there’s a huge variety of places and events built by people, so it’s probably worth exploring once I get time….

Monday, April 7, 2008

On Saturday we went to take a look at some flats at the end of the road. Lisa came back wanting to buy one and rent it out. She really wants to do something with the money she got from selling her Chiswick property – but these flats are a bit high-spec. They’re in the £350,000 range, so she’d have to have a big mortgage, and when we talked about it at dinner, we came to the conclusion that if we’re planning to have another baby then she’ll probably loose her job, and then there will be nursery and school fees in the next few years, so we’ll probably be pretty strapped for cash at that point.

If the flat rented out all the time, it would probably be OK, but there are always months when it would be empty and if we’re just making ends meet on my salary, we’d be very stretched.

Plus, the property market’s a bit uncertain right now. By which I mean it’s probably in freefall, but the estate agents and banks don’t want to tell us because they don’t want us to worry our little heads over it.

My fear is that if the banks find lending difficult, they’ll put up their rates, and make mortgages more difficult to get. Which means if we’ve got a lot of big mortgages we’ll be hit hard and we don’t have the cash to cover it. Added to that, our home’s mortgage deal expires in 2 years, so we’ll have to find a new one and that’s unlikely to be as good a deal….

Times will be tough if we don’t think ahead.

Saturday night Sam, Abi, Nathan and Jane came over to have a film night and look after George while we went out for dinner on our own.

We woke up to a thick carpet of snow – the first of the year. We’re told that this year it’s going to be colder than usual all round the world because of some current in the Pacific somewhere…. But that this doesn’t mean global warming isn’t happening….

Doctor Who
The first episode of the new season of Doctor Who was on Saturday… a really rubbish time-slot placed it just when children are being put to bed, so I think a lot of people won’t be watching.

But I got to see it on Sunday morning. It was fun – and I’m a bit of a sucker for the satirical stories – slimming pills turning people’s fat into little cuddly monsters. Great fun – and George is definitely one of the monsters:

We went to Sam’s for a late lunch with Lisa’s parents, Ian, Nathan and Jane – which as expected lasted most of the afternoon.

For the first time, we gave George food at the end of the day as well as lunchtime. However, he got to bed quite late because
On Sunday, the Olympic torch was paraded through London and the event turned into a display of protest against China’s involvement in Tibet. There are questions on the news today about how badly wrong it all went – how much of a PR disaster it was considering London is hosting the next Olympics. How the government allowing this protest made them and the UK look bad because the torch carrying ought to be a chance for people to show how enthusiastic they are about sport…

I don’t think it’s true. In this country we don’t orchestrate our public displays of enthusiasm. We put on events and people decide for themselves what they feel about them… sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it’s bad, but at least it’s honest.

Yesterday people showed what they thought about Tibet… come onto the streets of London next weekend and you’ll see what Londoners think about sport!

Anyway – I haven’t posted a lost gospel for a few days, so here’s the Gospel according to Thomas (that’s doubting Thomas – the one disciple who actually seemed to be able to think for himself):

Translated by Thomas O. Lambdin
These are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke and which Didymos Judas Thomas wrote down.
(1) And he said, "Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not experience death."
(2) Jesus said, "Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the All."
(3) Jesus said, "If those who lead you say to you, 'See, the kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty."
(4) Jesus said, "The man old in days will not hesitate to ask a small child seven days old about the place of life, and he will live. For many who are first will become last, and they will become one and the same."
(5) Jesus said, "Recognize what is in your sight, and that which is hidden from you will become plain to you . For there is nothing hidden which will not become manifest."
(6) His disciples questioned him and said to him, "Do you want us to fast? How shall we pray? Shall we give alms? What diet shall we observe?" Jesus said, "Do not tell lies, and do not do what you hate, for all things are plain in the sight of heaven. For nothing hidden will not become manifest, and nothing covered will remain without being uncovered."
(7) Jesus said, "Blessed is the lion which becomes man when consumed by man; and cursed is the man whom the lion consumes, and the lion becomes man."
(8) And he said, "The man is like a wise fisherman who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of small fish. Among them the wise fisherman found a fine large fish. He threw all the small fish back into the sea and chose the large fish without difficulty. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear."
(9) Jesus said, "Now the sower went out, took a handful (of seeds), and scattered them. Some fell on the road; the birds came and gathered them up. Others fell on the rock, did not take root in the soil, and did not produce ears. And others fell on thorns; they choked the seed(s) and worms ate them. And others fell on the good soil and it produced good fruit: it bore sixty per measure and a hundred and twenty per measure."
(10) Jesus said, "I have cast fire upon the world, and see, I am guarding it until it blazes."
(11) Jesus said, "This heaven will pass away, and the one above it will pass away. The dead are not alive, and the living will not die. In the days when you consumed what is dead, you made it what is alive. When you come to dwell in the light, what will you do? On the day when you were one you became two. But when you become two, what will you do?"
(12) The disciples said to Jesus, "We know that you will depart from us. Who is to be our leader?" Jesus said to them, "Wherever you are, you are to go to James the righteous, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being."
(13) Jesus said to his disciples, "Compare me to someone and tell me whom I am like." Simon Peter said to him, "You are like a righteous angel." Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher." Thomas said to him, "Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying whom you are like." Jesus said, "I am not your master. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring which I have measured out." And he took him and withdrew and told him three things. When Thomas returned to his companions, they asked him, "What did Jesus say to you?" Thomas said to them, "If I tell you one of the things which he told me, you will pick up stones and throw them at me; a fire will come out of the stones and burn you up."
(14) Jesus said to them, "If you fast, you will give rise to sin for yourselves; and if you pray, you will be condemned; and if you give alms, you will do harm to your spirits. When you go into any land and walk about in the districts, if they receive you, eat what they will set before you, and heal the sick among them. For what goes into your mouth will not defile you, but that which issues from your mouth - it is that which will defile you."
(15) Jesus said, "When you see one who was not born of woman, prostrate yourselves on your faces and worship him. That one is your father."
(16) Jesus said, "Men think, perhaps, that it is peace which I have come to cast upon the world. They do not know that it is dissension which I have come to cast upon the earth: fire, sword, and war. For there will be five in a house: three will be against two, and two against three, the father against the son, and the son against the father. And they will stand solitary."
(17) Jesus said, "I shall give you what no eye has seen and what no ear has heard and what no hand has touched and what has never occurred to the human mind."
(18) The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us how our end will be." Jesus said, "Have you discovered, then, the beginning, that you look for the end? For where the beginning is, there will the end be. Blessed is he who will take his place in the beginning; he will know the end and will not experience death."
(19) Jesus said, "Blessed is he who came into being before he came into being. If you become my disciples and listen to my words, these stones will minister to you. For there are five trees for you in Paradise which remain undisturbed summer and winter and whose leaves do not fall. Whoever becomes acquainted with them will not experience death."
(20) The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us what the kingdom of heaven is like." He said to them, "It is like a mustard seed. It is the smallest of all seeds. But when it falls on tilled soil, it produces a great plant and becomes a shelter for birds of the sky."
(21) Mary said to Jesus, "Whom are your disciples like?" He said, "They are like children who have settled in a field which is not theirs. When the owners of the field come, they will say, 'Let us have back our field.' They (will) undress in their presence in order to let them have back their field and to give it back to them. Therefore I say, if the owner of a house knows that the thief is coming, he will begin his vigil before he comes and will not let him dig through into his house of his domain to carry away his goods. You, then, be on your guard against the world. Arm yourselves with great strength lest the robbers find a way to come to you, for the difficulty which you expect will (surely) materialize. Let there be among you a man of understanding. When the grain ripened, he came quickly with his sickle in his hand and reaped it. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear."
(22) Jesus saw infants being suckled. He said to his disciples, "These infants being suckled are like those who enter the kingdom." They said to him, "Shall we then, as children, enter the kingdom?" Jesus said to them, "When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female; and when you fashion eyes in the place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, and a likeness in place of a likeness; then will you enter the kingdom."
(23) Jesus said, "I shall choose you, one out of a thousand, and two out of ten thousand, and they shall stand as a single one."
(24) His disciples said to him, "Show us the place where you are, since it is necessary for us to seek it." He said to them, "Whoever has ears, let him hear. There is light within a man of light, and he lights up the whole world. If he does not shine, he is darkness."
(25) Jesus said, "Love your brother like your soul, guard him like the pupil of your eye."
(26) Jesus said, "You see the mote in your brother's eye, but you do not see the beam in your own eye. When you cast the beam out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to cast the mote from your brother's eye."
(27) "If you do not fast as regards the world, you will not find the kingdom. If you do not observe the Sabbath as a Sabbath, you will not see the father."
(28) Jesus said, "I took my place in the midst of the world, and I appeared to them in flesh. I found all of them intoxicated; I found none of them thirsty. And my soul became afflicted for the sons of men, because they are blind in their hearts and do not have sight; for empty they came into the world, and empty too they seek to leave the world. But for the moment they are intoxicated. When they shake off their wine, then they will repent."
(29) Jesus said, "If the flesh came into being because of spirit, it is a wonder. But if spirit came into being because of the body, it is a wonder of wonders. Indeed, I am amazed at how this great wealth has made its home in this poverty."
(30) Jesus said, "Where there are three gods, they are gods. Where there are two or one, I am with him."
(31) Jesus said, "No prophet is accepted in his own village; no physician heals those who know him."
(32) Jesus said, "A city being built on a high mountain and fortified cannot fall, nor can it be hidden."
(33) Jesus said, "Preach from your housetops that which you will hear in your ear. For no one lights a lamp and puts it under a bushel, nor does he put it in a hidden place, but rather he sets it on a lampstand so that everyone who enters and leaves will see its light."
(34) Jesus said, "If a blind man leads a blind man, they will both fall into a pit."
(35) Jesus said, "It is not possible for anyone to enter the house of a strong man and take it by force unless he binds his hands; then he will (be able to) ransack his house."
(36) Jesus said, "Do not be concerned from morning until evening and from evening until morning about what you will wear."
(37) His disciples said, "When will you become revealed to us and when shall we see you?" Jesus said, "When you disrobe without being ashamed and take up your garments and place them under your feet like little children and tread on them, then will you see the son of the living one, and you will not be afraid"
(38) Jesus said, "Many times have you desired to hear these words which I am saying to you, and you have no one else to hear them from. There will be days when you will look for me and will not find me."
(39) Jesus said, "The pharisees and the scribes have taken the keys of knowledge (gnosis) and hidden them. They themselves have not entered, nor have they allowed to enter those who wish to. You, however, be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves."
(40) Jesus said, "A grapevine has been planted outside of the father, but being unsound, it will be pulled up by its roots and destroyed."
(41) Jesus said, "Whoever has something in his hand will receive more, and whoever has nothing will be deprived of even the little he has."
(42) Jesus said, "Become passers-by."
(43) His disciples said to him, "Who are you, that you should say these things to us?" "You do not realize who I am from what I say to you, but you have become like the Jews, for they (either) love the tree and hate its fruit (or) love the fruit and hate the tree."
(44) Jesus said, "Whoever blasphemes against the father will be forgiven, and whoever blasphemes against the son will be forgiven, but whoever blasphemes against the holy spirit will not be forgiven either on earth or in heaven."
(45) Jesus said, "Grapes are not harvested from thorns, nor are figs gathered from thistles, for they do not produce fruit. A good man brings forth good from his storehouse; an evil man brings forth evil things from his evil storehouse, which is in his heart, and says evil things. For out of the abundance of the heart he brings forth evil things."
(46) Jesus said, "Among those born of women, from Adam until John the Baptist, there is no one so superior to John the Baptist that his eyes should not be lowered (before him). Yet I have said, whichever one of you comes to be a child will be acquainted with the kingdom and will become superior to John."
(47) Jesus said, "It is impossible for a man to mount two horses or to stretch two bows. And it is impossible for a servant to serve two masters; otherwise, he will honor the one and treat the other contemptuously. No man drinks old wine and immediately desires to drink new wine. And new wine is not put into old wineskins, lest they burst; nor is old wine put into a new wineskin, lest it spoil it. An old patch is not sewn onto a new garment, because a tear would result."
(48) Jesus said, "If two make peace with each other in this one house, they will say to the mountain, 'Move Away,' and it will move away."
(49) Jesus said, "Blessed are the solitary and elect, for you will find the kingdom. For you are from it, and to it you will return."
(50) Jesus said, "If they say to you, 'Where did you come from?', say to them, 'We came from the light, the place where the light came into being on its own accord and established itself and became manifest through their image.' If they say to you, 'Is it you?', say, 'We are its children, we are the elect of the living father.' If they ask you, 'What is the sign of your father in you?', say to them, 'It is movement and repose.'"
(51) His disciples said to him, "When will the repose of the dead come about, and when will the new world come?" He said to them, "What you look forward to has already come, but you do not recognize it."
(52) His disciples said to him, "Twenty-four prophets spoke in Israel, and all of them spoke in you." He said to them, "You have omitted the one living in your presence and have spoken (only) of the dead."
(53) His disciples said to him, "Is circumcision beneficial or not?" He said to them, "If it were beneficial, their father would beget them already circumcised from their mother. Rather, the true circumcision in spirit has become completely profitable."
(54) Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven."
(55) Jesus said, "Whoever does not hate his father and his mother cannot become a disciple to me. And whoever does not hate his brothers and sisters and take up his cross in my way will not be worthy of me."
(56) Jesus said, "Whoever has come to understand the world has found (only) a corpse, and whoever has found a corpse is superior to the world."
(57) Jesus said, "The kingdom of the father is like a man who had good seed. His enemy came by night and sowed weeds among the good seed. The man did not allow them to pull up the weeds; he said to them, 'I am afraid that you will go intending to pull up the weeds and pull up the wheat along with them.' For on the day of the harvest the weeds will be plainly visible, and they will be pulled up and burned."
(58) Jesus said, "Blessed is the man who has suffered and found life."
(59) Jesus said, "Take heed of the living one while you are alive, lest you die and seek to see him and be unable to do so."
(60) a Samaritan carrying a lamb on his way to Judea. He said to his disciples, "That man is round about the lamb." They said to him, "So that he may kill it and eat it." He said to them, "While it is alive, he will not eat it, but only when he has killed it and it has become a corpse." They said to him, "He cannot do so otherwise." He said to them, "You too, look for a place for yourself within repose, lest you become a corpse and be eaten."
(61) Jesus said, "Two will rest on a bed: the one will die, and the other will live." Salome said, "Who are you, man, that you ... have come up on my couch and eaten from my table?" Jesus said to her, "I am he who exists from the undivided. I was given some of the things of my father." <...> "I am your disciple." <...> "Therefore I say, if he is destroyed, he will be filled with light, but if he is divided, he will be filled with darkness."
(62) Jesus said, "It is to those who are worthy of my mysteries that I tell my mysteries. Do not let your left (hand) know what your right (hand) is doing."
(63) Jesus said, "There was a rich man who had much money. He said, 'I shall put my money to use so that I may sow, reap, plant, and fill my storehouse with produce, with the result that I shall lack nothing.' Such were his intentions, but that same night he died. Let him who has ears hear."
(64) Jesus said, "A man had received visitors. And when he had prepared the dinner, he sent his servant to invite the guests. He went to the first one and said to him, 'My master invites you.' He said, 'I have claims against some merchants. They are coming to me this evening. I must go and give them my orders. I ask to be excused from the dinner.' He went to another and said to him, 'My master has invited you.' He said to him, 'I have just bought a house and am required for the day. I shall not have any spare time.' He went to another and said to him, 'My master invites you.' He said to him, 'My friend is going to get married, and I am to prepare the banquet. I shall not be able to come. I ask to be excused from the dinner.' He went to another and said to him, 'My master invites you.' He said to him, 'I have just bought a farm, and I am on my way to collect the rent. I shall not be able to come. I ask to be excused.' The servant returned and said to his master, 'Those whom you invited to the dinner have asked to be excused.' The master said to his servant, 'Go outside to the streets and bring back those whom you happen to meet, so that they may dine.' Businessmen and merchants will not enter the places of my father."
(65) He said, "There was a good man who owned a vineyard. He leased it to tenant farmers so that they might work it and he might collect the produce from them. He sent his servant so that the tenants might give him the produce of the vineyard. They seized his servant and beat him, all but killing him. The servant went back and told his master. The master said, 'Perhaps he did not recognize them.' He sent another servant. The tenants beat this one as well. Then the owner sent his son and said, 'Perhaps they will show respect to my son.' Because the tenants knew that it was he who was the heir to the vineyard, they seized him and killed him. Let him who has ears hear."
(66) Jesus said, "Show me the stone which the builders have rejected. That one is the cornerstone."
(67) Jesus said, "If one who knows the all still feels a personal deficiency, he is completely deficient."
(68) Jesus said, "Blessed are you when you are hated and persecuted. Wherever you have been persecuted they will find no place."
(69) Jesus said, "Blessed are they who have been persecuted within themselves. It is they who have truly come to know the father. Blessed are the hungry, for the belly of him who desires will be filled."
(70) Jesus said, "That which you have will save you if you bring it forth from yourselves. That which you do not have within you will kill you if you do not have it within you."
(71) Jesus said, "I shall destroy this house, and no one will be able to build it [...]."
(72) A man said to him, "Tell my brothers to divide my father's possessions with me." He said to him, "O man, who has made me a divider?" He turned to his disciples and said to them, "I am not a divider, am I?"
(73) Jesus said, "The harvest is great but the laborers are few. Beseech the Lord, therefore, to send out laborers to the harvest."
(74) He said, "O Lord, there are many around the drinking trough, but there is nothing in the cistern."
(75) Jesus said, "Many are standing at the door, but it is the solitary who will enter the bridal chamber."
(76) Jesus said, "The kingdom of the father is like a merchant who had a consignment of merchandise and who discovered a pearl. That merchant was shrewd. He sold the merchandise and bought the pearl alone for himself. You too, seek his unfailing and enduring treasure where no moth comes near to devour and no worm destroys."
(77) Jesus said, "It is I who am the light which is above them all. It is I who am the all. From me did the all come forth, and unto me did the all extend. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there."
(78) Jesus said, "Why have you come out into the desert? To see a reed shaken by the wind? And to see a man clothed in fine garments like your kings and your great men? Upon them are the fine garments, and they are unable to discern the truth."
(79) A woman from the crowd said to him, "Blessed are the womb which bore you and the breasts which nourished you." He said to her, "Blessed are those who have heard the word of the father and have truly kept it. For there will be days when you will say, 'Blessed are the womb which has not conceived and the breasts which have not given milk.'"
(80) Jesus said, "He who has recognized the world has found the body, but he who has found the body is superior to the world."
(81) Jesus said, "Let him who has grown rich be king, and let him who possesses power renounce it."
(82) Jesus said, "He who is near me is near the fire, and he who is far from me is far from the kingdom."
(83) Jesus said, "The images are manifest to man, but the light in them remains concealed in the image of the light of the father. He will become manifest, but his image will remain concealed by his light."
(84) Jesus said, "When you see your likeness, you rejoice. But when you see your images which came into being before you, and which neither die not become manifest, how much you will have to bear!"
(85) Jesus said, "Adam came into being from a great power and a great wealth, but he did not become worthy of you. For had he been worthy, he would not have experienced death."
(86) Jesus said, "The foxes have their holes and the birds have their nests, but the son of man has no place to lay his head and rest."
(87) Jesus said, "Wretched is the body that is dependant upon a body, and wretched is the soul that is dependent on these two."
(88) Jesus said, "The angels and the prophets will come to you and give to you those things you (already) have. And you too, give them those things which you have, and say to yourselves, 'When will they come and take what is theirs?'"
(89) Jesus said, "Why do you wash the outside of the cup? Do you not realize that he who made the inside is the same one who made the outside?"
(90) Jesus said, "Come unto me, for my yoke is easy and my lordship is mild, and you will find repose for yourselves."
(91) They said to him, "Tell us who you are so that we may believe in you." He said to them, "You read the face of the sky and of the earth, but you have not recognized the one who is before you, and you do not know how to read this moment."
(92) Jesus said, "Seek and you will find. Yet, what you asked me about in former times and which I did not tell you then, now I do desire to tell, but you do not inquire after it."
(93) "Do not give what is holy to dogs, lest they throw them on the dung-heap. Do not throw the pearls to swine, lest they [...] it [...]."
(94) Jesus said, "He who seeks will find, and he who knocks will be let in."
(95) Jesus said, "If you have money, do not lend it at interest, but give it to one from whom you will not get it back."
(96) Jesus said, "The kingdom of the father is like a certain woman. She took a little leaven, concealed it in some dough, and made it into large loaves. Let him who has ears hear."
(97) Jesus said, "The kingdom of the father is like a certain woman who was carrying a jar full of meal. While she was walking on the road, still some distance from home, the handle of the jar broke and the meal emptied out behind her on the road. She did not realize it; she had noticed no accident. When she reached her house, she set the jar down and found it empty."
(98) Jesus said, "The kingdom of the father is like a certain man who wanted to kill a powerful man. In his own house he drew his sword and stuck it into the wall in order to find out whether his hand could carry through. Then he slew the powerful man."
(99) The disciples said to him, "Your brothers and your mother are standing outside." He said to them, "Those here who do the will of my father are my brothers and my mother. It is they who will enter the kingdom of my father."
(100) They showed Jesus a gold coin and said to him, "Caesar's men demand taxes from us." He said to them, "Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar, give God what belongs to God, and give me what is mine."
(101) "Whoever does not hate his father and his mother as I do cannot become a disciple to me. And whoever does not love his father and his mother as I do cannot become a disciple to me. For my mother [...], but my true mother gave me life."
(102) Jesus said, "Woe to the pharisees, for they are like a dog sleeping in the manger of oxen, for neither does he eat nor does he let the oxen eat."
(103) Jesus said, "Fortunate is the man who knows where the brigands will enter, so that he may get up, muster his domain, and arm himself before they invade."
(104) They said to Jesus, "Come, let us pray today and let us fast." Jesus said, "What is the sin that I have committed, or wherein have I been defeated? But when the bridegroom leaves the bridal chamber, then let them fast and pray."
(105) Jesus said, "He who knows the father and the mother will be called the son of a harlot."
(106) Jesus said, "When you make the two one, you will become the sons of man, and when you say, 'Mountain, move away,' it will move away."
(107) Jesus said, "The kingdom is like a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. One of them, the largest, went astray. He left the ninety-nine sheep and looked for that one until he found it. When he had gone to such trouble, he said to the sheep, 'I care for you more than the ninety-nine.'"
(108) Jesus said, "He who will drink from my mouth will become like me. I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him."
(109) Jesus said, "The kingdom is like a man who had a hidden treasure in his field without knowing it. And after he died, he left it to his son. The son did not know (about the treasure). He inherited the field and sold it. And the one who bought it went plowing and found the treasure. He began to lend money at interest to whomever he wished."
(110) Jesus said, "Whoever finds the world and becomes rich, let him renounce the world."
(111) Jesus said, "The heavens and the earth will be rolled up in your presence. And the one who lives from the living one will not see death." Does not Jesus say, "Whoever finds himself is superior to the world?"
(112) Jesus said, "Woe to the flesh that depends on the soul; woe to the soul that depends on the flesh."
(113) His disciples said to him, "When will the kingdom come?" "It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying 'here it is' or 'there it is.' Rather, the kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it."
(114) Simon Peter said to him, "Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life." Jesus said, "I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven."
The Gospel According to Thomas

Thursday, April 3, 2008

quantam computers and Mary Magdalene

Mum came up last night and spent today looking after George while Lisa was at work. She did well considering she hasn’t changed a nappy for a good few years….

George seems happy and slept through the night. He’s added to his ability to cause harm, though, as well as now having two teeth, he managed to punch me in the eye this morning – very painful.

Still, at least he didn’t scratch.

Last night, I tried to make dinner. I must have been more tired than I thought because I kept dropping things and doing everything wrong.

I’d bought some mackerel (which were a bit passed their sell by date anyway) and had decided to try to fillet them. I made a total hash of it and ended up with a pile of mashed fish – still full of bones and not really fresh enough to do anything with.

I opted to make them into fishcakes (so I could blitz them in the food processor and get rid of the bones) and added lots of curry powder to try to get something worth eating out of them. Sam was eating with us and she wants to get slim for our joint 40th birthday party (invites should be going out in the next few days) – she’s on this weightwatchers thing called the “core plan” which basically bans you from eating anything other than brown rice and vegetables – so I was a bit limited by that.

Anyway, I got half way through the cooking and so much of the food was going on the floor and up the walls that Lisa and Sam took over and sent me into the sitting room….

Anyway, I suspect we’ll all be tired tonight too – Lisa because of her 2nd day back at work, Mum because of George and me because not only have I had to write a chapter of the book today, I’ve also had to do more design work for the advert I’m making for Maltese TV and half way through the day I got an email from Nature wanting another illustration.

This one’s for an article on Topological quantum computing – and given that I don’t know what that is, and they’re expecting the initial draft of the illustration today, I’ve been quite busy.

I’ve eventually come up with something involving coffee cups made out of donuts… don’t ask. I still don’t understand it.

Anyway, for a bit of light relief, here’s the gospel of Mary Magdalene….
It’s a bit short and there’s a lot missing. She also seems quite keen on her own importance. Mind you, I guess you had to be as the only woman there – especially when they’re all pretty derogatory about her if the other gospels are anything to go by.

She definitely does imply she shagged him though!

(this one isn't copyrighted, by the way)

The Gospel According to Mary Magdalene
Chapter 4
(Pages 1 to 6 of the manuscript, containing chapters 1 - 3, are lost. The extant text starts on page 7...)
. . . Will matter then be destroyed or not?
22) The Savior said, All nature, all formations, all creatures exist in and with one another, and they will be resolved again into their own roots.
23) For the nature of matter is resolved into the roots of its own nature alone.
24) He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
25) Peter said to him, Since you have explained everything to us, tell us this also: What is the sin of the world?
26) The Savior said There is no sin, but it is you who make sin when you do the things that are like the nature of adultery, which is called sin.
27) That is why the Good came into your midst, to the essence of every nature in order to restore it to its root.
28) Then He continued and said, That is why you become sick and die, for you are deprived of the one who can heal you.
29) He who has a mind to understand, let him understand.
30) Matter gave birth to a passion that has no equal, which proceeded from something contrary to nature. Then there arises a disturbance in its whole body.
31) That is why I said to you, Be of good courage, and if you are discouraged be encouraged in the presence of the different forms of nature.
32) He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
33) When the Blessed One had said this, He greeted them all,saying, Peace be with you. Receive my peace unto yourselves.
34) Beware that no one lead you astray saying Lo here or lo there! For the Son of Man is within you.
35) Follow after Him!
36) Those who seek Him will find Him.
37) Go then and preach the gospel of the Kingdom.
38) Do not lay down any rules beyond what I appointed you, and do not give a law like the lawgiver lest you be constrained by it.
39) When He said this He departed.
Chapter 5
1) But they were grieved. They wept greatly, saying, How shall we go to the Gentiles and preach the gospel of the Kingdom of the Son of Man? If they did not spare Him, how will they spare us?
2) Then Mary stood up, greeted them all, and said to her brethren, Do not weep and do not grieve nor be irresolute, for His grace will be entirely with you and will protect you.
3) But rather, let us praise His greatness, for He has prepared us and made us into Men.
4) When Mary said this, she turned their hearts to the Good, and they began to discuss the words of the Savior.
5) Peter said to Mary, Sister we know that the Savior loved you more than the rest of woman.
6) Tell us the words of the Savior which you remember which you know, but we do not, nor have we heard them.
7) Mary answered and said, What is hidden from you I will proclaim to you.
8) And she began to speak to them these words: I, she said, I saw the Lord in a vision and I said to Him, Lord I saw you today in a vision. He answered and said to me,
9) Blessed are you that you did not waver at the sight of Me. For where the mind is there is the treasure.
10) I said to Him, Lord, how does he who sees the vision see it, through the soul or through the spirit?
11) The Savior answered and said, He does not see through the soul nor through the spirit, but the mind that is between the two that is what sees the vision and it is [...]
(pages 11 - 14 are missing from the manuscript)
Chapter 8:
. . . it.
10) And desire said, I did not see you descending, but now I see you ascending. Why do you lie since you belong to me?
11) The soul answered and said, I saw you. You did not see me nor recognize me. I served you as a garment and you did not know me.
12) When it said this, it (the soul) went away rejoicing greatly.
13) Again it came to the third power, which is called ignorance.
14) The power questioned the soul, saying, Where are you going? In wickedness are you bound. But you are bound; do not judge!
15) And the soul said, Why do you judge me, although I have not judged?
16) I was bound, though I have not bound.
17) I was not recognized. But I have recognized that the All is being dissolved, both the earthly things and the heavenly.
18) When the soul had overcome the third power, it went upwards and saw the fourth power, which took seven forms.
19) The first form is darkness, the second desire, the third ignorance, the fourth is the excitement of death, the fifth is the kingdom of the flesh, the sixth is the foolish wisdom of flesh, the seventh is the wrathful wisdom. These are the seven powers of wrath.
20) They asked the soul, Whence do you come slayer of men, or where are you going, conqueror of space?
21) The soul answered and said, What binds me has been slain, and what turns me about has been overcome,
22) and my desire has been ended, and ignorance has died.
23) In a aeon I was released from a world, and in a Type from a type, and from the fetter of oblivion which is transient.
24) From this time on will I attain to the rest of the time, of the season, of the aeon, in silence.
Chapter 9
1) When Mary had said this, she fell silent, since it was to this point that the Savior had spoken with her.
2) But Andrew answered and said to the brethren, Say what you wish to say about what she has said. I at least do not believe that the Savior said this. For certainly these teachings are strange ideas.
3) Peter answered and spoke concerning these same things.
4) He questioned them about the Savior: Did He really speak privately with a woman and not openly to us? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did He prefer her to us?
5) Then Mary wept and said to Peter, My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I have thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Savior?
6) Levi answered and said to Peter, Peter you have always been hot tempered.
7) Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries.
8) But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well.
9) That is why He loved her more than us. Rather let us be ashamed and put on the perfect Man, and separate as He commanded us and preach the gospel, not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Savior said.
10) And when they heard this they began to go forth to proclaim and to preach.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

the lost gospel of Judas

I now discover - rather bizzarely that I can't publish because it's copyright! That's right, National Geographic own it (or at least the only translation of it that appears to have been made....

anyway, you can download it here

lady diana and the lost gospel of judas

back to work
Yesterday was Lisa’s first day back at work and my first day off work looking after George.

Not too bad, all things considered. He started the day early (about 4am), but got back to sleep and did plenty of sleeping throughout the day. I did have to take him to the doctors for some (routine) injections – which he didn’t much like, but didn’t complain too much.

We played on the trampoline for a while – he does like to have you bounce around him. In fact generally he likes everything which wears you out without him having to actually do anything.

Lisa’s work seems to function along the same lines for her. It hasn’t really kicked off yet but probably will tomorrow.

It looks like I’ve got another big job to do – A TV advert for a Maltese version of Argos – sounds like fun and quite a challenge…. Deadline at the end of the month – just when the book needs to be finished…

Diana inquest
The inquest into the death of lady Diana looks as though it’s going to find no evidence of a conspiracy…The problem the royal family is facing over this, however isn’t evidence, it’s truth. It’s the same problem the Catholic church faced over the Da Vinci Code.

It’s not that there’s any evidence to suggest that the Royal family had Diana Killed. It’s just that we’ve had a monarchy for a thousand years, and there are certain things we’ve come to expect from them. The evidence says they’re completely innocent, but given what we’ve seen them do over the past thousand years, not having anything to do with Diana’s death would just be so out of character for them.

It takes a lot of believing.

In the same way, the Catholic church found themselves having to deny that they’d been trying to kill of the family of Christ with secret assassins – not because there was any specific truth in the book – but because people had tuned into the underlying truth that the church has covered up just this kind of thing time and time again down the years.

I saw a documentary a couple of weeks ago about the church’s rejection of several other gospels which had at least as much validity as those of Mark and John (apparently the Gospels of Mark and John never claimed to be written by or on behalf of those disciples – the church just needed names for them and invented them).

Anyway the one that puzzled me was the gospel of Peter – i.e. the first Pope. The founder of the church, the leader of the disciples. Apparently he wrote a gospel, but later when they came to assemble the bible, they decided it just didn’t fit in with the product they were trying to sell, so they junked it.

And that’s my problem – not that they left out parts – they were the church, so they’ve got a perfect right to edit the bible to tell their story.

My problem is twofold:

First that they left out really very central important accounts. As a journalist you’re constantly reminded that you have to edit the material you have to tell the story as you understand it in the best way you can. But it’s unethical to ignore the central core ideas because they don’t suit your view – you wouldn’t cover a murder trial and leave out the verdict.

And second is that the other gospels weren’t just left out, they were deleted – almost entirely - from history by what must have been a sustained campaign of suppression – and even though we know about them now, they’re not even mentioned by the practitioners of the church. This is bad. Very bad.

If Shakespeare had written a whole load of other plays that didn’t make it into his collected works – either because they weren’t good enough or for some other reason – we might not consider them in the same way as Hamlet – but we’d still publish them. We’d still study them. We’d still recognise them and allow them to help us gain an understanding of Shakespeare’s work.

Not including material in the Bible is one thing. Failing to even recognise or discuss material which you know exists and which has as much validity as that which is included in the Bible (and some of it more validity) is something else entirely.

These gospels are (or claim with as much evidence as any of the gospels) the story of the life of Christ – so can someone who isn’t familiar with this material call themselves a priest? Or even a practicing Christian?

I don’t think so.

So, even though I’m not a Christian, In the interests of fairness, I’ll publish the gospel of Judas here in the next post!