Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Christopher’s Summer 2005 Manchester Weblog - Postscript

It took me a few weeks to pull together the last bit of my trip to Manchester.  The following entry covers my final day and my trip home.  Word to the wise...never ride with a lost cabbie or sit on a plane with someone drinking vodka straight from the bottle.

Okay, I know I have been home three weeks now, but I have been wanting to share with you my final day and flight home from Manchester.  I mean, after all, since it was me, you knew that things would not be normal.

When last I had written it was Friday and I was busy getting ready for coming home.  Of course there are always last minute things to do, like making a billons copies of German articles and books that I just can’t seem to find in the US.  So, I spent a good deal of time at the Rylands library “making copies.” Finishing that work, I hoped onto the bus to head back to Didsbury. One stop after I got on, a young Muslim man got on the bus and came up to the upper deck and sat across from me.  Now, in Manchester this is nothing unusual, but this was a week after the bombings in London, and this young man was, well, scary. He was very nervous, carry a large backpack, wearing a heavy jacket (on an 80 degree day).  Well, as you might well guess, everyone (including the two Muslim men who had been talking very loudly and messing around at the front of the bus) became quiet and stared at this young man.  He just sat there, staring forward, fiddling with his backpack.  For two miles we all just sat there, in dead quiet (which is strange on a bus in Manchester because normally people are all talking on their cell phones or instant messaging on their phones so you hear people clicking away).  When he finally got off the bus there was a noticeable exhalation and everyone started to breath again.  Then, as if it was ingrained in all of us, we all seemed to be thinking, “Was that racist of me?” Well, I don’t have an answer. All I know is that it certainly makes you think twice nowadays about hoping on a bus anywhere in the world.


Posted by Christopher on 08/23 at 02:43 PM
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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Christopher’s Manchester Weblog - Summer 2005 - Days 14-18 - Fanta Orange, British Accents and Chine

More on life in Manchester in the summer of 2005.

Well, its been almost a week since I wrote to you all, and its finally time to catch up on what has been going on here.

For the most part with me, being sick, resting, watching the rain fall (in torrents sometimes), revising my thesis, photocopying articles, and reading have been what I have been doing.  Not too exciting huh?  Now you know why I have not written before now.  That having been said, a few things I noticed in the course of daily life here this week…

Food Products – The UK must have become the repository for all those old food products we used to have in the US, but no longer do (because they are hideous, ineffective, etc.).  There are times when I have expect to see a Woolco’s and a Shakey’s Pizzareia over here.  But, given the, em, British taste on things, there are a few products you might recognize:


Posted by Christopher on 07/14 at 09:56 AM
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Christopher’s Manchester Weblog - Summer 2005 - Days 11, 12, and 13 - Buses, noise and communion

More on my summer in Manchester

Since it was a holiday weekend where you all are at (definitely not here, trust me, other than “Good Riddance to bad Colonies” day), I thought I would combine the last few days into one message.


Having several sets of errands to work through, I decided to make Friday a day to get out and about.  I haven’t traveled much in Manchester via the bus this time, so today was the day.  And what a day for the bus.

First to downtown to check on a few items.  The ride down was uneventful, but I was fortunate enough to come downtown on an arts day.  So all along one boulevard of the walking mall there were all these artists setup to sell their latest “masterpieces.”

Now, I am no art critic (well, we all are…but you know what I mean) but all I can tell you is that I think the critics of postmodernism are correct.  They say that when a culture loses the concept of truth that buetey has to follow.  Based on the artwork on display Friday, their case has been proven.  I mean my gosh, I wouldn’t even give this artwork to my worst enemies, or even to Dallas Seminary (an inside seminary joke for those interested).  Hideous?  Not quite the right word.  Pedistrian? No, that is too soft.  Lets just use the ancient Latin word – Bleech!  I mean, Alethea with her paints does better work.  And, strangest of all, people were buying this stuff. The thought occurred to me that if I had been smart, I would have packed a few of A.N. Morton’s finest in my bag and I probably could have made a small fortune on Friday. 


Posted by Christopher on 07/14 at 09:54 AM
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Christopher’s Manchester Weblog - Summer 2005 - Days 8,9, and 10 - Tyndale, the Trip Home and Launda

Return to Manchester…

Well, its been a few days, largely because of the lack of email.  So here is the catch-up on everything beginning with Tuesday:


You would think that still being under 35 that all the running around on Monday would not have left me in bad shape at all for Tuesday.  You would be wrong.  Meant to wakeup at 645 so I could pop down to Starbucks to use their internet connection, but 6:45 came and went, and I finally leaned how to use the snooze button on my alarm clock.  Finally at 7:30 I figured it was now or never if I was to make breakfast. 

One of the many things that I forgot to take with me on this trip was my good razor.  So I bought a packet of cheapie razors at Boots. The reason I discovered they were so cheap is that they were single blade razors.  All I can is that it’s a good thing my platelet count is up these days, or I would have found out how good the ambulance services are in Cambridge. After much blood and even more cursing, I was shaved, showered, and dressed and on my way to breakfast.  I would have worried about the appearance of my scarred and still bleeding face but, this is Tyndale, where the folks with doctorates dress like bums and the grad students look like they are trying to impress someone (which, we are of course).  I think the green tie I was wearing took the focus off of bleeding.

Breakfast was a non meat affair!  It also was devoid of anything nutritious.  I believe I now the derivation of the term “continental breakfast” now.  If you come to Cambridge from the Continent, you wont have any money for anything other than a roll and a croissant. 


Posted by Christopher on 07/14 at 09:53 AM
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Christopher’s Manchester Weblog - Summer 2005 - Monday June 27 - Day 7 - Going to Tyndale

Day 7 - Academic Conference!!!

Well, good news is that I woke up today, so the Codeine and chloroform didn’t kill me.  Actually, slept quite well.  Ate breakfast and packed my bags. Today I had to carry the small army on my back again, so it was a long walk to the Tube and then to Kings Cross.  This time I got to the take the train direct to Cambridge.  Nice and easy trip.  Boy was the train crowded.  I guess there are lots of workers who live in Cambridge and work in London, and many people who just go to Cambridge “for lunch.” Hmmm. 


Posted by Christopher on 07/14 at 09:49 AM
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Christopher’s Manchester Weblog - Summer 2005 - Days 3 and 4 - Fashion Updates, Cues and Hot Water

Days 3 and 4 of this summer’s trip

Thursday and Friday were relatively quiet days, so I though I would just combine them into a single entry…

British Fashion Update

Several of you wanted an update on English women’s “fashion.” As you may know, for the past several years the “in-thing” has been to show as much midriff (the bellybutton for those of us who don’t use midriff in polite conversation) as is humanly possible. I am glad to inform you that the bottom of shirts and the top of pants have risen slightly since last year!  This is particularly good news since the London Times just had a very long article about the fact that waistlines among the Brits, especially women, have continued to expand.  This years fashions seem to have changed to accommodate this growing problem.

However, I am sad to inform you that there is clearly a fabric shortage crisis here in the United Kingdom. There clearly is not enough fabric to go around for this change in lengthening the bottom of shirts and the top of pants.  This crisis has called for radical measures. Given the clear dearth of cloth, they have added this additional fabric to cover the “bellybutton expression area” by taking it from elsewhere in the shirt.  As you might have guessed…

This year’s fashion focus is to show as much of the “white meat” of the woman as possible while not yet qualifying for a “Page Three” pictorial (for those who like me had never heard of “Page 3 girls,” these are the women who pose topless on page 3 of many of the newssheets here, for no other reason than to…actually I have no reason why there are nude women staring at you opposite an article about the Tories continuing search for a new party leader). 

Thursday I took my first trip to downtown since arriving, and from the time I stepped onto the train I knew that the fashion change was not an isolated one.  Teen girls, college women, professionals, mothers, and literally every women who is not a Muslim it seems in this city, has adopted the “ready for breast feeding” clothing.  To give you a picture, image a sharp V cut that goes down to near the diaphragm, while using as little material as possible to connect the shoulder with the rest of the top.  There you go…they fixed the midriff while using not one bolt more of cloth!  Those ingenious British designers.

As I walked through the city all I could think of was that Barbara Walters, who started a nationwide furor among the Lactavists (breast-feeding women who are proud of it and militant) because she commented about how inappropriate it is to feed on the plane would have passed out if she walked the streets of Manchester.  Mind you that none of these women were actually feeding a baby (as you well know from previous weblogs, no one has children in this country), but they were ready for the occasion. 

In case you are wondering…no, undergarments for the topside of the female body seem also to be out this year….again I can only surmise a fabric shortage.  If you are wondering if this creates any temptations for a man far from his gorgeous wife for four long weeks, let me assure you.  These are still English women.  Temptation is not a problem, as it wasn’t when I was being blinded by the bellybuttons the past two summers. 


Posted by Christopher on 07/14 at 09:38 AM
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Christopher’s Manchester Weblog - Summer 2005 - Wednesday June 22 - Day 2 - Professors and Birds

Another update, this time from day 2 in Manchester

Wednesday marked my first full day in Manchester, which meant the joys of being awoken at 4am by the birds that don’t seem to realize that sunrise and time to wake-up are NOT the same thing.  As short as the days are in the winter here, the summer days more than make-up for it.

I don’t know if you knew this, but the idea for daylight savings time came from an Englishman.  Back in 1907 this man was up at dawn, overseeing deliveries, and realized that here was all this wonderful sunshine (as rare an English commodity as good teeth), and everyone was in bed instead of out enjoying it.  So he proposed and parliament passed a change to the time, moving wakeup “time” back an hour.  What it means in Manchester is that finally gets dark after midnight, which means that it doesn’t get dark here at all each day (does that make any sense?).  Personally, in Colorado Springs I love daylight savings time…in Manchester I could only love it if given a slingshot to convince the birds to leave my window til a godly hour comes!

Actually, it is very weird to walk the city at night (as I do on my late night constitutionals) and see people out eating and drinking and talking, in outdoor cafes, at 10:30!  The Brits really do love both their sunshine and their chance to celebrate.  I do wonder though it all this late night activity explains why everything in the city seems to run a bit sloooowwww here in the summer.

So, I met with Dr. Noble, my erstwhile professor and mentor for my doctorate.  He is currently reading for the first time the entire Pannenberg Systematics, so he was full of questions for me.  I had mailed him the first four chapters a week ago Monday, which meant that they arrived here Tuesday about an hour after my lengthy trip from the airport ended.  Got to love the postal system that says, “International Express - 2 to 4 days.”


Posted by Christopher on 07/14 at 09:36 AM
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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Christopher’s Manchester Weblog - Summer 2005 - Tuesday June 21 - Day 1 - Man without a Country

Promise to the reader - I am not making this up!

Greetings from Manchester,

I am alive and well in beautiful sunny Manchester.  Would have written Day 1 and 2 on Tuesday, but jet lag won out and I basically slept from 1pm Tuesday Manchester time til 4 this morning, and again from 830 to 1030.

I am sure that you are all waiting with baited breath for the story of my travel.  You know, one of these times, I will have to make up a story, so that you have something interesting to read…but not this time.

The trip began Monday with Tanya and I riding up to Denver.  Great time to visit for the last time for a month. She dropped me off at the Park-N-Ride on Parker/I-225, where I caught the bus to the airport.  Good deal - $6 for the trip and they even put your luggage on the bus for you (the driver looked at me like I was transporting my twin in my suitcase). 

The perfect time to check in at United!  9:10am and I went straight up to the check-in desk.  Nice woman, told me I could probably catch any of the three early flight to Chicago if I wanted.  I did.  So, through security and to Concourse B. Caught the 10:35 flight to Chicago, with no problems, no snafus, not even a hiccup. 


Posted by Christopher on 06/22 at 09:15 AM
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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Visit 2 - Days 12 and 13 - Of Patch Panels and Flights Home

Wanted to give everyone a heads up on what happened Friday and how my trip home went.

Friday was a great day to remind me why I am a theologian and not a) an accountant b) a computer engineer or c) anything that requires physical labour. 

I literally spent the entire day working alongside the Dead of the College setting up the patch panels for the network in the new library.  This involved: 1) stripping wires 2) cutting down wires to go into patch panels 3) poking in four two wire sets of wires into each and every little hole on the patch panel 4) tying down all the wires so they don?t elope with one another and go and make new networks 5) lather, rinse and repeat. 

Wow, I would love to tell you this was thrilling work.  Imagine, hot humid day, wearing pants, shirt, and bright (hot) work vest, standing on hard concrete floors, bending over in a little space, using a little tool to punch down wires, all while experience intestinal duress ? Yes, it beats EuroDisney, but it certainly did not change my calling to be a theologian. 


Posted by Christopher on 08/10 at 03:10 AM
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Saturday, August 07, 2004

Visit 2 - Days 10 and 11 - Of Printing, Presenting, and Travel Woes

Sorry this did not go out Thursday night, but I quite simply fell asleep while trying to type. Wednesday and Thursday were packed days. Not exactly ?fun filled? but filled with something.

Wednesday morning dawned early (sounds like the start to that silly novel that Snoopy has been trying to write since the 1950s) and I was up and out of bed at 6. Had to get the last few edits done on my 10K proposal submission that morning, so as soon as I was awake I had grabed my laptop and headed under the tree on the back 40 where I do all my work (when it is not, as Thursday night, doing its best Hurrican Keswick impression and flooding the grounds).

By 9 am I was done, ready to print it out and hand it in and start working on the presentation I had to make.  I was thinking that with 24 hours to work on my presentation, I could write a nice 10 page article that surveyed the sweep of my thesis, and, who knows, maybe even submit it to the Scottish Journal of Theology.  Well that was my plan at least.


Posted by Christopher on 08/07 at 03:08 AM
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Saturday, July 31, 2004

Visit 2 - Days 4 and 5a - A Great Conference

Hello Friends.

Stepped out of the conference to send a quick hello and let you all know things are going great.  Now that i have found my way around i have been enjoying downtown London far greater than I ever imagined. Dining out at a pub called the Mad Hatter.  Great Lectures at Kings College (with the big statue of George III, who i reminded my English friends was the one we rebelled against).  Dodging traffic (I have now begun to look right! - Of course, when I get half way across I am forgetting to look left). 


Posted by Christopher on 07/31 at 03:04 AM
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Friday, July 30, 2004

Visit 2 - Day 3 - Warning, do not travel with Christopher Morton

Sorry for the delay in sending these out. Had to by CD-RW to burn these files and take it to Kinkos.  No
where in London can I hook up my laptop.

So, I wake up at 3:30 Wednesday morning, knowing that I have to catch a 4:30 bus to make my 5:15 Manchester
to London train.  Alarm goes off (I set it at some point the previous night, though I have no
recollection of doing so).  Shower, shave, pack my bags (realize that somehow I can to England with only
one running shoe ? oops), and head out at 5:20.  Walk part way, realize I left my confirmation number in my
room, run back to the room, grab the paper, run back to my bags, and then on to the bus stop.  Its 430, its
raining, its dark (barely), and I am ready to go.  The plan ? work on the train, figuring that 8500 words
cant take that long to write.  Bus comes a little late (4:43), so I am a little worried about making my
train.  That worry goes away when I get on board.  The driver tells me the fare is 85p.  I give him a ten
pound note.  He yells at me: ?It 4:30 in the bloody morning and your giving me ten pound note!!!?  Ah,
that?s all I have.  ?Dumb American, do you think I want to count out coins all morning.?  I guess he has
low job satisfaction. So, I slink to my seat, nine 1 pound coins in my hand (I think he had special
?sticky? coins, because they are all covered with gum and the like.  We head on our way. Pick up and drop
off passengers.  Arrive at the end of the line at 5:03. I have 12 minutes to walk the 10 minute walk,
get my tickets from the machine and make the train.  I walk fast, get there at 5:11. It takes a few minutes
to get my tickets, I run to the train, literally stop in front of the door, and the whistle goes to take
off.  I quick jump on!  I made it.  This is going to a good trip after all.  Find my seat, and realize ? they
have no power ports.  Oh well, I guess I will work til the machine dies, which it does about 1:30 later.  At
that point, I have 3000 words written.  Uneventful trip.  Beautiful morning.  Realize I am way
overdressed (75 in London today). 


Posted by Christopher on 07/30 at 03:02 AM
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Visit 2 - Days 1 and 2 - Getting to England One Line at a Time

Hello all,

Well, I have returned to England and ready to fill you all in on the trials and travails of getting here.

Monday started out great.  Got to the airport at 10:30 for my 1:53 flight.  Checked in by 11, heading to
terminal B and had plenty of time to do some work.  I did some work, used the restroom, came out and saw in
flashing print - Flight 248 to Chicago - Cancelled - See Gate Agent.  Lets be clear, this is not what I
wanted to see.  But, hey, no reason to panic. Still had two hours til flight time and have an extra 1:40
in Chicago, so no problem, right?


Posted by Christopher on 07/30 at 02:57 AM
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Thursday, July 08, 2004

Days 15 and 16 - Just ready to come home

Well, I am just waiting for my ride to the airport, so a couple of quick thoughts on what I have noticed this trip around (since the past two days were boring to say the least):

?  The definition of a salad in England is very different than the States.  A salad here is composed of brown leaves, wishing to be dead but unable to get all the way there.  As green as this country is you think a green salad would be easy.  Word of advice, never order the Ceaser salad at the Bell Tower pub?I don?t think I need to explain.

?  No matter how long I am here I am still looking left instead of right to cross the street.  Funny thing is that the only motorists who have ?flipped me the #1 sign? the entire time I am here are Muslim drivers ? three of them so far.

?  You know that the world changed after the Madrid bombings when you go to the train station and there is no a single waste basket to be seen anywhere.  I finally gave my bag of trash to the conductor. Not sure he appreciated that.

?  They have something going on here called the Manchester Cow Parade. This is some sort of worldwide art thing where all these life-size cow statues are shipped to a city, painted by local artists, and then displayed all over the city.  The previous two spots were Kansas City and Dallas.  Hmmm, KC, Dallas, Manchester???  You have no idea how weird it is to see all these painted cows all over town.  Kind of a weird, alien takeover thing.

?  You know you are eating at the same place too many times when you enter the pub, and they tell you take a seat, bring you your drink and ask if I am putting this on my VISA.  Hope they didn?t memorize the numbers.

?  In a country known for a lot of things except food, I have ate well here, smelled lots of flowers (The flowers here are gorgeous, but not one has had any smell ? plastic?), and generally starting feeling at home.

?  Why are cigarettes here so cheap and pipe tobacco so expensive?  And why will some coffee houses let you smoke a cig but not a pipe?  I was under the impression that pipes smelled better.  Maybe that is just me.

So, I am ready to return to Colorado, work hard for three weeks, and come back over for my next conference and?to defend my progress for the first year and present my findings.  Until the 27th then, hope to see you in person.

Posted by Christopher on 07/08 at 02:51 AM
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Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Days 13 and 14 - These things always happen to me

Well, its Monday morning here in Manchester and I wanted to give you all an update on my trip to Oxford and my Sunday in Manchester.  I was just able to send out the Weblog for last week, since the internet has once again decided to visit our lovely college.  Sorry for the delay?

Speaking of delays.  In the year I have been coming to Manchester I have made three previous trips to Oxford.  Its my hang out place ? love the museums, the cathedrals, and bookstores, the food, the pubs.  I love going there, even though I had always taken the first train out in the morning (5:15) and it meant some rather expensive taxi rides.  Not this time though, I was smart.  I booked the 715 train out.  Plenty of time to take the bus or intra-city train (which was down for repairs until last Friday).  So, I awoke at 5:20, showered, packed, and said goodbye to Phil (since he was heading home that day) and headed out at 6:15.  An hour to get to downtown, a mere 4 miles away. No problem?.

Problem.  First, I waited for a bus (they were supposed to be running starting at 6).  Well, yes they were, but unknown to me many of the bus companies in town have had problems with their unions, and the drivers have been performing a slowdown this year to bring about new negotiations.  So? 6:20, 6:30, 6:35.  Panic set in.  I decided I had better sprint down to the train platform and catch the next train to downtown.  I ran (in my dress shoes ?ouch), umbrella out (it was pouring, of course) the mile to the train platform.  Run up the platform?no train.  I wait, I wait.  7am, no train.  Oh boy.  Turns out they had some electrical issues that morning in restarting the line (don?t they test these things before they say they are ?in-service??), so, consequently, the first train did not run that morning until 7:30.  Back I ran, past bustop and bustop, trying to catch the first bus I could.  7:10, 7:15?7:20.  I had missed my train. 


Posted by Christopher on 07/06 at 02:49 AM
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"Jesus does not give recipes that show the way to God as other teachers of religion do. He is himself the way." Karl Barth


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