Aussie Pilgrims Progress

Spotted and purchased at a Christian book store a couple of weeks ago, another of Kel Richards “Aussie” series of Christian fiction. Not fiction like his detective novels, more fiction like The Message by Eugene Peterson.

Originally I purchased The Aussie Bible a few years ago. I like to think of myself as at least a little sophisticated but I believe most people reading these would find the strine a little over the top.

As an example, view Luke 5:1-11 over on Kel’s site:

When he’d finished, he turned to Simon and said, “Pull out into the deeper water and drop your nets.”
“Fair go!” complained Simon. “We’ve fished all night and haven’t even caught a tiddler. But, okay, if you reckon, well, we’ll do it.”

As I say, mostly okay, a little cringe worthy. But hey, if it brings people to God’s word, it’s all good. The Aussie Bible follows Jesus life & death & resurrection.

Since then, Kel put out a series of short stories, parables and poems called “Aussie Yarns.” In the author’s own words:

“Aussie Yarns is a book of parables and short stories set in Australia, told in Australian language and there is a principle behind every punchline. Each of the short stories and parables sets out to say something about the Christian gospel,” Richards explains.

Well there you go, I might as well have not written that intro. A bit harder to get into, but at least it wasn’t irreverent at all. It mostly follows the story of a country policemen catching out people lying to him.

Apparently Kel has also recently released More Aussie Bible, but I haven’t read it so I don’t feel qualified to venture an opinion. It attempts to retell parts of Genesis, Proverbs, John’s gospel and the first letter of John.

But the book I just finished was Aussie Pilgrims Progress. The original was written in 17th Century olde english by John Bunyan and it a bit difficult to get your head around some parts in 21st Century Australia.

The full text appears to be available on Wikisource. As a teaser, here’s an excerpt from the first chapter:

As I walk’d through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place, where was a Denn; And I laid me down in that place to sleep: And as I slept I dreamed a Dream. I dreamed, and behold I saw a Man cloathed with Raggs, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own House, a Book in his hand, and a great burden upon his Back. I looked and saw him open the Book, and Read therein; and as he read, he wept and trembled: and not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry; saying, what shall I do?
In this plight therefore he went home, and refrained himself as long as he could, that his Wife and Children should not perceive his distress; but he could not be silent long, because that his trouble increased: wherefore at length he brake his mind to his Wife and Children; and thus he began to talk to them, O my dear Wife, said he, and you the Children of my bowels, I your dear friend am in my self undone, by reason of a burden that lieth hard upon me: moreover, I am for certain informed, that this our City will be burned with fire from Heaven, in which fearful overthrow, both my self, with thee, my Wife, and you my sweet babes, shall miserably come to ruine; except (the which, yet I see not) some way of escape can be found, whereby we may be delivered. At this his Relations were sore amazed; not for that they believed, that what he had said to them was true, but because they thought, that some frenzy distemper had got into his head: therefore, it drawing towards night, and they hoping that sleep might settle his brains, with all hast they got him to bed; but the night was as troublesome to him as the day: wherefore instead of sleeping, he spent it in sighs and tears. So when the morning was come, they would know how he did; and he told them worse and worse. He also set to talking to them again, but they began to be hardened; they also thought to drive away his distemper by harsh and surly carriages to him: sometimes they would deride, sometimes they would chide, and sometimes they would quite neglect him: wherefore he began to retire himself to his Chamber to pray for, and pity them; and also to condole his own misery: he would also walk solitarily in the Fields, sometimes reading, and sometimes praying: and thus for some days he spent his time.

A little hard to understand, no? My Grandpa, who still enjoys his KJV, could probably read it fine. I struggle.

Sydney Anglicans has a page dedicated to Aussie Pilgrim’s Progress. They haven’t got a lot of their own content there, but they’ve reprinted Kel’s introduction and pretty much the first chapter of the book. Have a read. I’ll wait.

Back? As you probably noticed, once your eyesight came back after the massive cringe endured during “As I was carrying my swag on the wallaby track – somewhere out past the back o’Bourke – I came across a big coolibah tree beside a billabong” you probably found it easier to understand the point of the message coming across. It could be you, me or my cousins from out Bathurst way in this story. And I guess that’s where the connection this book makes to me comes from. Someone like me going through similar or worse struggles, but doggedly staying on the path God has given us.

I found the overly obvious naming strategy a bit daggy. I mean, why couldn’t it be “Daryl the boofhead” or “Clarence who was faithful” rather than “Boofhead” and “Faithful”, but I guess that’s a criticism of Bunyan rather than Richards. And I probably don’t have a right to do that, not least until a Christian allegory I write and publish affects so many people and so skilfully describes the challenges that face a Christian on their journey.

You might read the book and meet a character that is a little close for comfort. I know I did. And if we get a wakeup call it was probably worth the effort to read the book. Or even to purchase it if you come across it in a store.

Movember update

Halfway Mo

Movember is kicking along. Walking along the street or around your place of business you are noticing more and more moustaches on faces. Often it’s people who you wouldn’t have expected to have the necessary character and humour to support a cause in such a public fashion.

My total amount of money raised (as at 7pm 14/11/2006) is $335. Thanks to everyone who has donated for supporting men’s health and making me feel not so silly while I’m growing my moustache.

Continue reading “Movember update”

Brewhouse Lalor Park

I went out to a pub last night with some friends. Nothing special, it wasn’t an Irish pub, or a German one, really just a local tavern. But it had some redeeming features.

Hunter Lager and steak

Firstly, for Tim, it had bargain steaks. $7 for a cook-your-own 300g porterhouse with a big pile of salad was pretty good. The marinate was nice, though perhaps we were a bit enthusiastic looking at the mess we left on the BBQ.

Secondly, for Priscilla, it was local. Not too far out of the way and a courtesy bus if you are so inclined.

Thirdly, for Graham, it had free lemon squash. Part of a ‘responsible service of alcohol’ program, they supply water and soft drink for free.

But most importantly for me, they brew their own beer.

The Brewhouse Lalor Park is part of a new chain of pubs in Sydney operated by the Premier Venues Group. They also have pubs in St Marys, Doonside and Belmore.

An important part of the group seems to be the Hunter Beer Company. This is the “in house” boutique brewery that provides the rather delicious beer available at the Brewhouse.

Regular Australian commercial beers are available bottled and on tap at the pub as well, but why have hamburger when you can have steak? On their website they detail four beers they make:

  • Hunter Kolsch
  • Hunter Lager
  • Hunter Ginger
  • Hunter Bock

All of these are European style lagers with alcohol percentage by volume of 4.5-5.5%. At Lalor Park they had the Lager and Bock, but the extra two beers were “Hunter Blonde” and “Hunter Oktoberfest Lager”.

Hunter Blonde was a very pale beer that was fresh and easy drinking but compared to the others a little on the bland side.

Hunter Oktoberfest Lager was the best beer available, in my opinion. It was a little darker that the regular Lager and had a much stronger hop flavour. It wasn’t really bitter, but quite fruity actually. Easy to drink and I was relishing every mouthful.

The great thing about these beers was that although you could describe them as a craft beer or even boutique, they were priced the same as any of the better known Aussie beers available at the bar. The Oktoberfest seemed to be the most pricey but even it was only $3.40 a schooner.

If you live near one of them and enjoy a tasty beer, I recommend visiting your local Brewhouse.

Tweaking Ubuntu’s desktop

I bailed on DesktopBSD a couple of weeks ago when the new Ubuntu Edgy Eft came out. Installed as the lone OS on my laptop it is now set-up and doing all the things I use it for.

Changing the video driver to use the official one (fglrx) from ATI rather than the open source (radeon) one was simple and effective, although it must be said that the open source radeon driver seems light years in front of the equivalent nv driver for Nvidia cards. With Nvidia cards you basicly have no choice but to use the proprietary one to get decent performance.

I still can’t seem to get Ubuntu to detect and use my wireless card, a dodgy Netgear PCMCIA WG511v2 that is made in China, using approved methods. Getting Ndiswrapper going was simple enough, but NetworkManager still doesn’t recognise that I have a working Internet connection, despite the fact Gnome itself is happy to.

I got DVD playback happening with Ogle as Totem didn’t want to play ball. Totem is happy playing back my DivX files and mp3’s though. I considered Amarok but it’s QT look jarred with the smooth GTK appearance of all my other programs. So instead Rhythmbox gets a start again as music jukebox and is working fine.

Gaim is set-up, working with my MSN, yahoo, ICQ and googletalk accounts. And pleasantly the weather is displayed in the task bar. My wallpaper is this shot from Canberra’s Telstra Tower that I found on Wikipedia.

Wallpaper thumbnail

One thing that was frustrating me was the placement of the tool bars. In Gnome, by default there is a bar across the top of the screen for start menu, quick launch bar and task bar. There is also a bar across the bottom of the screen that shows a window list, workspace switcher and minimize all. This arrangement works fine on my 1280×1024 CRT monitor, but takes up too much screen real estate on my 14 inch wide-screen laptop.

The solution I’ve come up with should look familiar to many Mac OS users. I have consolidated the two bars into the one at top of screen and removed the quick launch bar. This puts space at a bit of a premium, but I am coping. I installed gdesklets and have configured its starterbar which looks a lot like the Apple dock. It looks and works quite well now.

I’m still working on getting the PPTP VPN connection to my work going, but other than that I think the system is very usable and definitely able to replace XP for daily use.

Double-edge Safety Razor

Double-edge safety razor

Taking on the Movember challenge has meant taking a renewed interest in shaving. I pretty much find shaving a chore, always irritating my skin and taking up valuable sleep time – not shaving means you can sleep in a few minutes more!

I’ve tried an electric razor, but that was even worse. I tried an old Remington corded jobby back in the mid nineties and around the turn on the century I splurged some money getting a proper cordless super-duper Braun unit, but used the money back guarantee as 4 weeks of red raw neck was enough for me.

Since then I’ve used various incarnations of Gillette or Schick products whenever work or life has demanded it, but been generally happy to allow my facial hair to grow. Part of that may be as much attributed to my weak chin as to razor bumps however.

Reading How to get that perfect shave on the US Today show website has made me think a bit more about it. To hear them tell of it, shaving ought to be a manly pleasure and doing it right separates the real men from the wanna-bes.

So I went out and started looking for a Double-edge safety razor. And kept looking. Although I could find them on the Internet at places like Classic Shaving I couldn’t find an Australian distributor for the highly regarded Merkur razors. It was difficult to find any kind of DE razor at all – I’d never even seen one before.

In the end I purchased a “Gunmetal Safety Razor Set” from The Shaver Shop. The kit comes with 5 razor blades which should be enough to last for 4-6 shaves each, apparently. Additional blades are $9/5 pack from the Shaver Shop, but are cheaper at your local supermarket and cheaper than branded cartridges that I used previously.

Shaver Shop Safety Razor Set

Using it for the first time was a little intimidating, but soon I was enjoying the sharpness of the blade and control over what you are doing. After a couple of uses my neck is still covered in bumps, so my technique is obviously not perfect yet.

The next step on improving my shaving experience will be getting a “badger hair shaving brush”. Apparently this is the best thing you can do to improve the quality of your shave and how well your skin copes with it.

I heartily recommend trying a DE safety razor to anyone who finds shaving a bit of a chore. You will enjoy shaving for a change, your skin will thank you and your partner will appreciate it too.

More info: Wikipedia: Shaving Cool Tools: Merkur classic review DE Razor History

Sponsor Dan’s mo – REGO 2487 Sponsor Graham’s mo – REGO 27059